Get drunk. Get naked. Sleep.
That’s my top three tips for your first holiday without your baby. I joke, I joke… well kind of. There was a lot of all three on our first holiday away without R. D and I went to Nerja for five nights recently. We were invited to a friends wedding (which incidentally was bloody incredible) but also wanted to make the effort to spend some much-needed time together after almost a whole year of parenthood.
In the run up to the holiday I was a bit of a mess. Even though it was a holiday that we had known about since before R was born, so you would have thought I would have had plenty of time to get my head around it. We made the decision to go without him very early on, and both sets of grandparents had offered to take care of him. D’s mum came to stay in our house and look after R, so there was no stress there. However leaving your baby for the first time is always going to be nerve-wracking, and there were a couple of nights that I spent in tears. I worried about if he would be ok, if he would be scared or miss us, and how I would feel leaving him. I was incredibly excited for the holiday but also concerned that I would be a weepy mess, and would ruin it for myself. The feeling is hard to describe. Realistically I knew that he was going to be fine, he has spent a lot of time with D’s mum, he’s a happy little chap, and nothing was going to go wrong. But when I started thinking about leaving him I would feel sick to my stomach, and totally empty apart from a sadness at what I was doing.
I also had a couple of really horrid anxious moments, where I would start thinking about what could go wrong, about bad situations that could happen and immediately my thoughts would spiral out of control.
And the guilt. Oh holy hell the guilt is real. I felt like a totally crap parent for even wanting to leave him. Whilst I knew that I wanted to go on this holiday and go without him, I felt like I was failing for saying that. That I should put him first and that means being with him always.
Except it doesn’t.
Because holy bloody hell we needed that holiday. We held hands, drank cocktails, skinny dipped, and most of all caught up with all of our wonderful friends that were gathered there for the wedding. We wandered around, explored, and chilled out for hours on the beach. It was brilliant. Even the flight was fantastic, I read for the whole way there – uninterrupted by thoughts of nappy changes, lunches to be made, washing to be done, and tiny hands pulling at me to play.
Did we miss him when we were out there? That’s the question that we were asked over and over again. And the answer is, well of course we did – but it wasn’t as difficult as I had built it up to be in my head. I think I pestered poor Granny with texts a little too often, but with video calls and Whatsapp we could keep in touch and reassure me that everything was going ok. I was also enjoying myself so much, and it was brilliant just to turn my brain off.
Despite copious amounts of cocktails and not as much sleep as I had planned, I have returned from holiday feeling completely refreshed. I am excited to start back at work tomorrow ,a few days off writing feels like a week long holiday, and I can feel that I have more patience to sit and play with R, to try making new meals for him, to get up during the night. I just feel like a whole new person. Totally cliched I know, but I do.
I’m of the opinion that in being a parent it is important to look after yourself, and your relationship with your partner. Part of that for me is getting away and spending time together. I also need time alone to recharge, to think about things, to relax. D and I could go out and be a bit badly behaved without having to think about getting up early and parenting on a hangover. Which is, for those of you wondering – the absolute worst. Noisy toys, stinky bums to wipe, and little fingers trying to pick your eyelashes off is not something you want to face when your burps taste of last nights tequila.
I know some of you will read this and think oh my god, how the hell are they leaving their baby, I can’t ever leave mine even for a night. And that’s ok. You need to do what you feel happiest doing.
For me, the time away was amazing. The memories will last forever. However coming back home and picking up my baby who seems to have turned into a little boy in the five days we were apart saddened me. He has a new little giggle, that I didn’t hear for the first time. He is so much more confident in standing up, and I haven’t seen that happen either. I’ll hold him a little longer tonight, kiss his forehead as he falls asleep, and make plans for a family holiday together soon.
And then plan another getaway with D, because man that was goooooooood.