Around two weeks after my daughter was born, I vividly recall racing up the stairs past my father-in-law, whilst running some errand for my breastfeeding wife (left breast, right breast, left breast again...I remember the ritual well) when I called out to him “am I EVER going to be able to just sit down and watch a movie in peace again?”. The short answer is yes. This memory prompted me to write today’s blog, which is based on taking time out from being a parent...and no, not eternally, merely temporarily! As you will well and truly know, parenting is probably the most demanding job, commanding all of your attention over vast periods of time – no financial gain (unless they grow up to be professional sportsmen/women or rock stars) and no paid time-off.
The question I guess I am asking here is: Is it okay to call timeout; to have some rest and relaxation away from your child and/or wife? Again, the answer is, quite simply, yes (in my option anyway). It is important to ask yourself how effective you are being as a parent if you are on the verge of burnout...if not there already? My poor daughter has to endure an impatient father when I start to tire. Little things leave me frustrated, often resulting in an unwarranted snap aimed right in her direction. It is not fair on her and it is not fair on me. So what is the answer? Simply request some time off. I have recently rediscovered my love for (field) hockey which gives me some time off one evening a week and Saturday afternoons (with a beer thrown in at the end of the game). The thing about taking time off is that it should be something that is genuinely refreshing – a trip into a nearby major city would certainly not constitute as a stress-free outing to me; a sports event and some ice cold beer however, would. I find that taking the time when needed is a perfect way for me to be a better father; without being unrealistic and selfish with regards to my wife – this practise definitely needs to be reciprocated if you want to avoid a marriage laden with resentment. Discuss. Plan the time off. Follow-through. This also allows each of you a guilt-free way to spend some leisure time away from parenthood. So, put your feet up, recline on the sofa and take a long, slow sip of that well-deserved, ice cold beer!