The Importance of Time Away From Your Kids
I know I’m usually sharing all sorts of ideas for activities with kids or ways to handle conflict lovingly, but today I want to talk about the importance of taking time AWAY from your kids.
We all need alone time but I hear from a lot of parents that they feel guilty when they take time away from their kids. Let me allay your fears. Yes, you are your child’s biggest influence and the people they most need to connect with, AND it’s absolutely healthy and good for them to develop relationships with other adults.
If you have a nanny, babysitter, aunt, uncle, or grandparent who loves your children, please give them the opportunity to have a closer relationship with your kids by going away for the weekend, having a date night, or going to a yoga class. It’s good for you and it’s also really good for your kids.
When young people have the opportunity to develop strong bonds with people other than their parents, they become more well rounded, better able to adapt, and they’re exposed to new ways of thinking and new ways of doing things. This all provides variety and learning that you can’t give to your kids otherwise.
A study recently came out showing that children who had two parents who participated in their upbringing, specifically, kids who had a relationship with their fathers as well as with their mothers had higher IQ’s than kids who only had a mother in their lives. In fact, researchers could tell who had had a father’s influence during childhood when they looked at the IQ scores of people in their 20’s!
What can we infer from this study? Well, I for one, think that if two parents are better than one parent, then even more caring adult influences are likely to benefit your child too.
Maybe I’m biased, because after my parents divorced and remarried, I ended up with four loving parents who cared for me, connected with me, and shared their world-views with me. I even spent a couple of school years going over to my grandparents’ house after school, so I had the opportunity to develop a strong bond with my grandma and grandpa.
As a kid, I loved getting new perspectives and ideas from the adults in my life and I often tried to emulate the best qualities I could find in each of them. As a result, I think I turned out to be a pretty great, well adjusted, and compassionate person. I also got the idea that I was a pretty lovable and likable person, because I had a bunch of wonderfully supportive adults who enjoyed my company.
OK, now that I’ve convinced you that it benefits your child to spend time away from you, what about the benefits to you?! When you get time away you’re able to look at things from a new perspective. You might get some new insights into a recurring dynamic at home, or you might just relax and enjoy yourself, allowing yourself to let go and stop being responsible for another human being for a moment. Ahhhh, that feels pretty good.
The other thing that happens when you take time and space from your kids, whether it’s a weekend away or a few hours every afternoon, is you actually miss them! And that’s a VERY good thing for you and for your kids. When you get the space you need and you find yourself longing for reconnection with your kids, I guarantee the quality of your interactions when you reconnect will be much better.
On the other hand, if you’d rather force yourself to spend all of your free time with your kids, feel guilty for even wanting some space, and then build castles of anger and resentment, I guess that’s a valid choice. It just seems like a lot less fun for everyone.
So, this week’s challenge is to foster your child’s relationship with another adult by taking time for yourself. Try really pampering yourself and see how much you can enjoy it. Really let go of any residual guilt you may have felt in the past and relish your alone time this week.