By Lakshmi Govindrajan Javeri
Which parent doesn’t imagine a holiday without kids? A holiday with kids is often not a holiday; it’s a business trip full of tantrums, over-expectations, sales skills tested in getting them out for sightseeing, and endless days of fatigue. Valentine’s Day is as good a day as any, to remember the love that may have given rise to the very children who should sometimes be left behind.
If the mind tells you that you and your husband deserve a little time off from children and responsibilities, your wretched heart would yearn for those booger-bums most of the time you’re holidaying. And if your heart seeks some time out from parental responsibilities, your overactive mind will drive you insane with scheduling and planning your child’s days in your absence. You cannot win this one without feeling bad about it. Even a teensy bit.
Nevertheless, you should be able to take off guilt-free. For the most part at least. “Anxiety works both ways. I would love for my husband and I to go on more holidays alone, but we often can’t because of school schedules and finding suitable options for guardians. So we try and work it out that the time we’re away, our son has a few days of school and a few days of holidays. That way, waking up early and sending off to school doesn’t get too intense for my in-laws. At the same time, entertaining him for days on end is not an option either. Everybody’s happy,” says Tanvi Garg, a copywriter from Mumbai.
Garg also believes that when a couple goes on a holiday, it becomes a learning experience for all involved. “The kids learn to respect their parents’ space while also learning to be more independent and dealing with all kinds of emotions on their own; the parents learn to let go and that although they are pivotal in their child’s life, their child is mostly okay without them. And the grandparents or other caregivers in the case of a joint family realise just what all goes into raising a child of today, because we all know that although they’ve raised kids of their own…they haven’t raised them in the world of today,” she adds.
If finding a good caregiver is not a problem and grandparents or relatives are easily on hand for this job, that’s half the battle won. Ajay Sheth is a businessman who met his wife in high school. They’ve been married over 12 years, with a courtship of eight years that preceded it. Every year, he and his wife take off for a minimum of four days without their children. “My wife and I are very hands-on. Although we live with my parents and brother, the parenting responsibilities and chores are largely split between my wife, me and our live-in nanny. So my parents tend to play that cursory role of overseeing the maid who actually does a bulk of the cleaning, picking up and dropping from school duties in our absence. We make sure to schedule a few play-dates with friends who are more than happy to chip in. This way, we don’t come back to grandparents who are exhausted looking after our kids. Sure, we’re lucky to have a setup like this, but then what’s the point of living in a joint family if occasionally the others don’t help carry this weight?” says Ajay.
He adds that between school timings, extra classes and play-dates, the kids have their days planned out for them, and the grandparents and uncle too get to enjoy their usual lives while stepping into supervisory roles in the parents’ absence.
Re-establish one’s identity
Parents are so caught up playing so many roles and fostering so many relationships in their lives, the one relationship that is often put on the backburner is of romantic love. Couples compromise on time together over familial and work duties and responsibilities, so taking time off is critical to the health of any relationship.
Aamina Shroff and her husband have a pact to do an annual trip without their children, even if it’s for a short duration. “For years after our twins were born, my husband and I couldn’t even imagine a holiday without the children. So, we made it a point to have fortnightly date nights or a weekend away from the kids who were having sleepovers with cousins. We made do with that one Saturday night or Friday night every few months.”
She adds, “My husband was the one who mooted the idea first that we should go without the kids as his sister was not travelling in the Christmas break one way. That way our kids get to be with their cousins, and we get time off. Now it’s a yearly tradition for us to just remind ourselves of who we were when the kids weren’t in the picture. We play a lot of roles in our lives, but we often forget to be ourselves. Taking time off kids, gives us a shot at that.”