So right, while it feels so wrong
I am sitting in the passenger’s seat, my house getting smaller and smaller behind me.
I can still see a fluffy little cloud of blonde messy hair at the door, waving goodbye. Grandma is holding said cloud, a still-warm-from-sleep little pajama-clad bundle of chub. Chubster sees us leaving but doesn’t mind. He is in the best hands known to childhood, aka Bubbie’s hands, the place dreams are made of and wishes are granted instantly.
I reach for a tissue as I complain about the “allergy season” that never ends. Hubby plays along, pretending to believe me as I dab my eyes at the corner where stubborn tears make their way out, no matter how hard I try to keep them in.
It is a mere few weeks ago that this same scene was what I was wishing for. Yet now, as it materialized, all I want to do is run back home, hug that little boy, make him some hot cocoa and never ever leave.
“It’s ok to crave a break from it all. Don’t be hard on yourself,” Rebbetzin Shternbuch was saying, while giving a shiur on the topic of “simchas habayis”. “And even more so, I highly recommend a break, once or twice a year. Insist on it. Get away for a few days. Just you and your husband, no kids.”
We must have all opened our mouths and eyes wide in horror, because she chuckled “What? Did I say something new?” Yes, it most definitely was something new. She was urging us to take that break we sometimes fantasize about, in full detail, while matching socks.
“But, but, but…The kids!!!” said one woman, aghast.
“The kids will benefit from this as well, in the long run. A recharged, cared for mother is a better mother. So it all pays off,” replied the Rebbetzin, calmly.
A full blown debate erupted now, everyone talking at once. This was a topic on which everyone had a passionate opinion.
“Recharging mommy’s batteries” is something every woman needs to look into. Its meaning is different for each and every one of us. For one it might be a morning at the local mall with a friend, for another a brisk walk while listening to a shiur on her headphones. Your sister might tell you that a trip to Target by herself is all she needs, while you know that a morning of “doing absolutely nothing” and lazing around in your pj’s does the trick for you. True, these are all great ways to recharge, but have you noticed that none of the above involve your husbands?
The Rebbetzin said the sacred words “away, with husband, without kids.” And we listened.
It was only for a few days, yet the guilt was huge and daunting.
It was only for a few days, yet it felt like weeks and was wonderfully refreshing.
Here are a few tips to help you and your kids manage the away time:
For children ages 0-2
- Make sure to notify the caregiver (bubbie, friend, aunt) about the child’s schedule, in as much detail as possible. Write it down if possible. For example: “Dovi likes to go to sleep with his yellow blankie but he uses it as a pillow, so roll it up under his head” or “Ahuva likes her bottles at room temperature, not hot.” These small details make a huge difference. Go through the child’s entire day and write all the details down.
- When packing follow the tips on this post here (click here) and pack each outfit in a separate ziploc bag along with the right socks and accessories. It might be a bit more time consuming but a tremendous help to the one caring for your child. Label each bag stating the name of the child and if the outfit is long-sleeved, short-sleeved, etc. or just write “for a hot day” or “for cooler weather”.
For children ages 2-6:
- Talk about your impending departure openly and in full detail. Get them ready for it. Discuss possible scenarios, like, “if you don’t like what Bubbie prepared for supper, what do you think you should do?” talking things through will help them come up with questions they might have and helps them feel comfortable with the change.
- Give your child your phone number (write it on a sticker and paste it on their briefcase or suitcase) and tell them they can call you anytime. They probably won’t, but just knowing that they can gives great comfort. Tell them that if you don’t pick up they should try 15 minutes later.
- Prepare a chart with how many days you will be away. Each day that passes can get crossed off at night with a marker or a sticker. This is very helpful for kids who are still confused with days and time. It also helps them see that it is not so long.
- If your child is going to stay by a friend, buy a small toy for that friend. Your child will be excited to open his suitcase and give it to him on that first day, which might be the hardest day of all.
For children ages 5 and up
- Pack with your child, and have him pick his favorite shirts, pj’s, and books.
- If you have time, buy your child something new. A new pj, new slippers, or even a brand new brush can make the whole thing a bit more fun.
- If your child is staying by a friend over Shabbos you can call the local candy store and have them deliver a candy platter as Shabbos party for the whole family. Sign it with your child’s name to make him feel extra special and remind him that you thought of him from afar.
- Call your children daily even if they do not call you.
- Hide a note inside their suitcase or briefcase, no matter how old they are.
Most of all, enjoy your getaway, and remember: it’s healthy for everyone, including the children.
Rebbetzin said so.