We’ve left our two kids before while my husband and I went away for a weekend here or there, and both kids have stayed at my parents’ house for a few days during summers or school breaks, but this is the first time we’ve had my parents take over our daily routine while we leave the kids for a vacation. I’m wondering if it’s worth all the trouble.
Yes, of course it will be worth it when we sleep in past dawn, eat at restaurants that don’t provide crayons, or talk without interruption, but in the near term, there is a lot of planning and work to prepare to have someone take on the parenting roles in our house. I’ve typed up over two pages of notes, explaining where the doctor’s office is located, how school carpool works, and what to feed the turtle. Alarm codes, how to work the remotes, booster seat rules, what to pack for lunch, and where to find a spare key are included too (there is nothing like the time we arrived relaxed in Mendocino only to have my phone ring with my mom asking me where I left the key). There is a daily schedule as well, explaining when to be at softball, piano or Spanish. Still, I’m still nervous.
We’re flying away this trip and as soon as I booked the tickets, I freaked out about both my husband and I on the same plane. I look forward to sitting next to him on the flight, but if we hit even the slightest turbulence, I’ll picture my orphaned kids and regret the decision not to split up for the journey. I worried about the same thing the only other time my husband and I have flown together as parents, leaving behind our daughter, who was an only child at the time. We spent the first three days of our romantic trip to Paris in bed catching up on sleep. I felt like we went into a coma between the time change, jet lag, and exhaustion from parenting a nearly two year old. We woke up at odd hours, sometimes only knowing it was morning thanks to the coffee smell reaching our room from downstairs. Yet every time we called home, our daughter was having a great time and she’d have to be cajoled into coming to the phone.
For the kids, this is sort of a vacation too, as my parents are notoriously lenient with bedtimes, sugar, and television. But unlike during summer break, my parents will have to pay the consequences of being indulgent. Extending their bedtimes hurts when it’s time to wake up in the morning for school. My mom always complains that I am too strict with some things, but dealing with our daily routine may remind her why the rules are there.
I hope to come back feeling refreshed from a break from the kids, and I expect to have a perverse pleasure in seeing my parents worn out from being on kid duty. It’s a reminder that while parenting looks easy from the outside, it really knocks you down like a wrestler with a folding chair.