It's Okay To Ditch The Kids Sometimes. In Fact, It's Good For Them.

by Annie Reneau
Africa Studio / Shutterstock

When my babies were babies, I couldn’t imagine ever wanting to leave them. I felt like they were a physical extension of me, like the cutting of their umbilical cord was just a symbolic gesture but not an actual separation of our beings. I loved being with them, holding them, snuggling them. I needed occasional short breaks, of course, but the idea of leaving them for any extended period of time was totally unfathomable to me.

Fast-forward a handful of years, and the idea of leaving my kids became more palatable — desirable, even. Motherhood is a full-time job, and everyone needs a real vacation from every kind of job on occasion. Most of us moms know this intellectually, but especially when our kids are little, making the emotional leap to leave our kids in pursuit of some personal fulfillment can sit funny in our hearts.

Embarking on my first “momcation” was scary and uncomfortable. I’d left my kids for an evening or even most of a day before, but I’d not left them for days at a time. I’d not put them into the overnight care of grandparents or other caregivers. I’d not experienced a real separation, and it was time.

It was hard, the first time, to feel that cord pulling so far. But it was also incredibly freeing. I didn’t realize how much of myself I’d been giving my family and how desperately I needed some time to regroup and recharge.

Not surprisingly, I worried about the kids though. What if they got scared in the middle of the night and wanted Mommy? What if something happened to them? What if they got hurt? What if something happened to me? What would that do to them?

I knew they’d survive my absence. I knew they’d ultimately be okay. What I didn’t expect was that they would blossom in ways I’d never anticipated while I was gone.

And now that they are even older and have been through many momcations without me there, I can definitively say that leaving them has not just been okay, but it’s actually been good for them. Now I purposefully schedule time away from them, not just for my benefit, but for theirs as well.

1. It gives them a chance to miss you.

Let’s face it, it’s pretty easy for kids to take us for granted. It’s not their fault — they’re just used to us always being there for them. That’s a good thing, but it’s also good for them to taste what it’s like when Mom isn’t there. The saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is popular for a reason. It’s true. My kids are much more grateful and appreciative of our relationship after I’ve been gone.

2. It forces them to be resilient.

When Mom is always there to lend comfort or support, kids know that they are loved and cared for. But sometimes that constant support can become a crutch. Having Mom gone provides a great opportunity to exercise their own problem-solving skills and find strength within themselves. Not that they can’t do that when we’re around, but that separation makes it happen.

3. It gives them a chance to rely on others.

I don’t know about your household, but in our home, Mom seems to be first line of defense. I get asked first about everything. I’m the one the kids usually come to for comfort or food or advice. It’s good for kids to be without that automatic go-to for a while. It teaches them that seeking help from a broad range of people is not only possible, but beneficial.

4. It gives you the chance to refuel, which makes you a better mom, which makes everyone happier.

We all love our kids, but that doesn’t mean we never need a break from them. A spent mom is not a gift to her kids. We’re no good to them if we’re running on empty all the time. And when we do get a chance to refuel, we’re able to give our kids the best of us — which is good for both us and them.

Many of us feel guilty when we think about leaving our kids, but we really shouldn’t. I’m always amazed at how my kids grow and change while I’m away from them. Yes, kids need their moms. But that doesn’t mean they need us all the time. A little separation can be a good thing for everyone.