Guess What, Moms? You Can Leave the Kids With Your Partner and It Will Be OK
by Lauren Hartmann
Photograph by Twenty20
"I wish I could have more time away from my kids." It's the lament of overwhelmed moms everywhere. With days that are filled with snack-making and tantrum-diffusing and the wiping of tiny behinds, how could we possibly get away? The answer—if you have a partner at home—is simple. Just say, "Hey. I'm going. K, bye."
For single moms or for those with extenuating circumstances, the answer isn't as simple, but for those of us who are in this parenting thing as a team of two, it shouldn't be rocket science.
Step 1: Decide you want to go.
Step 2: Let your partner know you are going to go.
Step 3: Go.
I truly believe that this problem of being overworked and not having enough downtime is one that we have created for ourselves by doing ALL THE THINGS and convincing ourselves we "can't" leave because our partner won't be able to do it the same way we would. But, really, what's the worst that could happen if we just said, "I'm out," and trusted them to be the capable humans that they are to hold down the fort?
There's always the possibility that we might come home to kids who had cold cereal for dinner and are wearing the wrong pajamas—but I think most of us could probably live with that. The thing is, if we continue to take on all the household/parenting tasks, why would our partners ever step up and take some of it on?
The answer is that most won't. I mean, if your partner was doing everything for you and you didn't have to, would you be anxious to offer up your services? I probably wouldn't.
Yes, you CAN leave your kids with your partner. It will be OK.
Our society puts so much pressure on mothers to do it all and continually feeds us the stereotype of the bumbling idiot husband and father that we've come to believe it as gospel. Apparently, we don't trust our partners enough to leave the kids home with them, unless it's truly necessary.
But here's the thing: Your partner is completely capable. He might not parent or tend to household tasks the exact same way that you would, but that's OK. Just because it's different, doesn't mean it's wrong.
Up until my third child was born, I struggled with this myself. I'm a total Type-A and I like to be in control of everything—even the minutiae of motherhood, like punctual bed times and teeth brushing—so I get why so many moms just can't let go. With a third child, though, I was overwhelmed and stressed all the time. The sheer logistics of it all were completely overwhelming.
Thankfully, I have a husband who recognized that I needed more alone time and suggested I make more time for it. At first, I was hesitant (what about bed time?!), but I knew I needed a break, so I let go and let him take over. And it was incredible! Not only did I feel refreshed and ready to be a better mom when I returned, but my kids had a blast. I realized that my husband being different from me means that he brings new and important things to our kids. and that it really is all right if everything isn't done the way I would do it.
So, to all you mamas out there: Yes, you CAN leave your kids with your partner. It will be OK. Go out and have a drink with some friends or read a magazine by yourself at a coffee shop. Do whatever you need to refuel your tank and come back an even better mom.