A Day Won’t Hurt: Why Spending Time Away From Your Kids Matters

It was not until my daughter was 1 year and 3 months old that I finally had the courage to leave her with my husband and my mom for more than an hour. It felt odd to say the least. It felt like a part of me was missing. Unintentionally adding insult to injury, people kept asking me where my daughter was. I smiled in response, while my heart silently yearns for her. I glance at my watch one too many times to check how much time I have left until I’m with her again.

But I’d be lying if I say I didn’t enjoy the time off. It was liberating.

Since then, I’ve been away from my daughter more times than I want to. Though these are mostly for work, time away from her made me realize two important things: I need it, and you do too!

There are so many reasons why, but let me summarize my thoughts in five:

A Day Won't Hurt: Why Spending Time Away From Your Kids Matter

You become more emotionally attuned to yourself.

Since my daughter was born, my world revolved around her – her feeding, her comfort, her needs. I sacrificed sleep. I’d rush meal times and bath times. I gave up me-time.

I hear my thoughts, but they’re muffled. I know my needs but I threw them on the back seat. In my mind, I am a mother. My daughter’s needs come first.

When I spent time away from my daughter for the first time, my own feelings surfaced. I heard them louder.

For the first time, I bravely told myself: I have needs too that can’t be pushed to the side all the time.

You rekindle your passion.

I’ve been working from home since my daughter was three months old. I am with her 24/7. I mom hard.

I am proud of this, but it’s also challenging for me to find an identity distinct from being mom when I’m with her. I’m sure that I’m not a public speaker nor a writer when I am changing nappies or preparing her meal. I am not a writing teacher nor an author when I play finger puppets and sing, “Baby Shark” for the nth time in a row. In all of these, I am mom.

I love being one. However, there was me before becoming a mom, and this me is important.

When I left my daughter at home so I could host an event, I felt so alive.

It’s like I met a part of myself that I haven’t been in touch with for a long time.

You deepen your connection with others.

I can’t tell you how many times I felt so alone in the presence of people.

When I became a mom, my world turned upside down. Replying to messages became such a chore, and as an effect, my ties with friends started to weaken. I would only be in touch with a few – not that this is a problem – but I do miss having conversations without having to worry about soothing a crying baby from time to time.

Knowing my child wasn’t just a few steps away from me made me reconnect with people in such a deep way. After a long time, I was able to see a world outside motherhood again!

One of the best parts in having these conversations is that the people I talk to would pacify my inevitable mom guilt out of the blue.

“Take it one day at a time.”

“She’s safe and sound.”

A day won’t hurt.

These and more made me think about how genuine human connection can do wonders for a mother’s soul.

You see your routine from a new perspective.

On most days, I wake up in the morning knowing how my day will run. With my daughter’s routine set and my own schedule plotted alongside hers, things get done.

While structure is good and beneficial for us here at home, it could also make me feel robotic. It makes me want to break free from the mold of everyday. It has a tendency to dull my perspective in life that brings me to think, “Is this really all there is to my life now?”

This is why even the thought of being away from my daughter for a short while is both scary and exciting.

When it finally happened, I found a deeper appreciation to what felt like a never-ending routine.

It did feel so freeing to be away from her, but there was this nagging feeling somewhere that tells me:

I can’t wait to go back home. 

You become a better parent.

Needless to say, my daughter’s shriek when she saw me after I was away for a few hours was everything. Her cuddle felt like a puzzle piece that filled a void.

Being away from her for a few hours made me realize these important things:

That to be beside her is still one of my favorite places to be.

That to play with her still goes at the top of my favorite activities.

That I am a mother, and I am myself too.

That my child is my responsibility, and I am my own responsibility too.

That to take care of myself means to take care of her better.

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