WHITNEY: Declare parental independence
Happy Independence Day!
I know you probably celebrated our nation’s freedom last weekend by grilling and chilling with friends and family. Yay America. Go U.S. We’re #1. #TheseColorsDontRun
Let’s talk about parental freedom though, because this is the parenting page and you can find the good political stuff on page 4 with Jim Crees.
And because, after all, this is the peak of summer and I wanna make sure you’re living right.
Last weekend, we took a chance to hit the reset button. Some old friends from out of town called us up and said, “Hey, we want to come up for a classic Big Rapids tubing trip. Can we do that? And can we stay with you?” Without a moment’s hesitation, the husband and I said yes. Of course. Get here soon!
We’re lucky. This year, my in-laws are camping nearby for the season, so arranging a sitter was no hassle. The kiddo went down the road to stay the night in the camper with grandma and grandpa while mom and dad did adult things with their friends. And by “adult things” I mean both of us going to the same place at the same time without one of us spending said time entertaining the kid and therefore mostly missing the point of going some place with other adults.
So we spent a day on the river and a night out on the town, and let me tell you, it was exactly what I needed.
Even if you’re not a full-time stay-at-home parent, chances are you need to hit the reset button too.
Parenting is hard work. There is, of course, the obvious nitty gritty of the thing: the cooking, the cleaning and the wrangling of children which sometimes leaves you lifeless on the couch at the end of the day. But the drain is in the details sometimes. Like when you realize it’s been days since you spoke to another adult who isn’t your spouse, and even when you’ve spoken to your spouse the conversation has turned to the kids. Or when you realize you’ve properly dressed and bathed your child, but it’s been … days since you’ve shown yourself the same kindness.
If you’re not mindful, you’ll lose yourself in those details. One day you’ll wake up and your kids will be gone and you’ll have no hobbies or interests or prospects and you’ll become the parent whose incessant phone calls they’re forced to screen. Or so I’m told. Obviously I haven’t gotten that far.
Anyway, we took a day off. And it felt good. And because it’s Independence Day, I want to encourage you to reclaim a little bit of your parental independence before summer is over.
Take an afternoon to grab a coffee and browse a book shop alone.
Rent an R-rated movie and enjoy it with a bottle of wine after bedtime.
Get a sitter and make a date with your spouse. And may I recommend hitting a local dive instead of the nicest place in town? Pick a place where you can relax and reconnect without worrying about keeping your napkin in your lap. Talk about anything but the kids.
Find a way to find yourself again, and relish the moment a bit.
Asserting your independence is an American as apple pie. Just remember the idea applies to you as much as it applies to this nation. (Cue the screeching bald eagle.)
Whitney Gronski-Buffa is the Pioneer’s parenting columnist. After four years reporting and editing at the paper, she’s stepped back to spend more time with her family. Read more here each week and reach her at email@example.com.