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I Admit It, I Need To Get Away From My Kid

Photograph by Twenty20

I really need to stay away from the comments section on the Internet, especially when it comes to parenting sites. There are a lot of topics that rile moms up, and one of them is child care.

I’m a stay-at-home mom, so it’s safe to say I’m with my daughter a lot. With the exception of leaving my daughter in the church nursery once a week for an hour and the occasional date night, she isn’t away from me much at all.

So it makes me cringe when internet moms boast about the fact that they haven’t spent more than an hour away from their children—in the last five years. As if there's some sort of prize to the mom who can make it the longest without ever leaving her children in the care of strangers.

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Moms already carry a lot of guilt when it comes to leaving their kids, so why are other moms piling onto it? I’ve seen moms scoffed at for wanting a night out when their baby is two weeks old. I’ve seen moms shamed for taking a girls’ weekend or an overnight away from their children.

But isn't wanting to be away from your child once in a while a totally normal thing for moms to feel?

I love being at home with my daughter. We're fortunate to live in an area full of things to do with a toddler during the day. I have a few friends who stay home too with their kids, so it’s not like I’m completely left on my own with only a baby for company during the day. I’ve been good at taking my once a week evenings out and feel like I can still have alone time with my husband.

But lately, that hasn’t been cutting it.

Staying at home with a 16-month-old is hard. Five days a week, from 6 a.m to 5:30 p.m., it’s my daughter and me. And she’s been cutting her molars lately. And refusing her naps. And randomly screeching at me for looking at her wrong.

But I want to also add something that no one likes to admit: It’s OK to want to get away.

After having a complete meltdown twice in one week (me, not her) I got on the phone to a good friend and blubbered for half an hour about how I need a break. Not just for once she’s in bed, but during the day, when my patience is at its thinnest.

That prompted me to join a local gym that offers free child care for up to two hours a day. Being on one income with multiple medical and school loans meant no money leftover for a gym membership. But when I looked at it as $50 a month in child care costs and a place I can bring her in order to do something for myself, it’s a damn steal.

I’ve been going for a week now and some days I even check her in just to sit out in the lobby to work for a solid two hours. My daughter is slowly adjusting to being away from me in the hands of the child care staff and it truly benefits both of us.

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So here's what I want to tell you now because you may not be feeling it: It’s OK to get away from your kids. It’s healthy for the both of you.

But I want to also add something that no one likes to admit: It’s OK to want to get away.

It’s OK to be a bit giddy dropping them off at the gym’s child care to work out for an hour without them. It’s OK to be happy that you aren’t with them for a bit while someone else cares for them.

It doesn’t mean the internet moms are better than you. It doesn’t mean you loathe to be around your kids. It means for a few hours a day, you are putting yourself and your mental health first. It’s a chance to renew yourself, to lift a fog you may never have thought was there, and get away for a bit.

Really, it’s OK.

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