One week. That was all it took. Nothing was too different about that week – my husband went to work every day; I got up and cleaned, did laundry, ran errands. Nothing “exciting.” The only change was that our three-year old daughter went to Texas to see her grandparents for the week. We had a KID-FREE week at home! You may wonder, why was it a week that changed our lives and what is the big deal?
We have taken a few local weekend getaways and a few week-long vacations without our child. I like to think we are not like most parents in that way – we split our vacation time between traveling with and without her. But we have never stayed home and not had her here.
It was the week of July 4th in the USA. Lots to do around town and without having to worry about getting a babysitter, how much we would spend on a babysitter, what time we had to be home by, etc… if you are a parent, you know the list of worries when trying to plan a night or a few hours out! We had no obligations other than taking care of the house and work.
We got to sleep in on the weekend. Heck, I slept in during the week. We didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night for a cry down the hall. We didn’t have extra laundry and trash created by an extra little monster. Bedtime was not an hour-long ordeal. We got to celebrate our country’s independence at our annual neighborhood party without having to run back to the house or “trade-off” putting the kid to bed.
We had uninterrupted conversations! We had time to talk about our future, our jobs, our life…. and what changes we want to make.
After only a few days into our kid-free week, I remembered what it was like pre-child. I remembered why most of my friends with kids live near family. I remembered why I have friends that don’t have kids. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my little Jolie more than anything in this world. This week just put things in perspective for us.
It reminded us that we need more time for each other; more time for our own individual interests; more time for life outside of being a “mom” or “dad.” It’s not to say that these things were new “revelations.” We knew this from when we took our own vacations together and knew we needed to make changes, but then returned from those vacations and went right back to our old routines. This was more about our day-to-day life of the typical American grind… get up, go to work, come home, dinner, bath, bed, and do it all over again. Not so exciting huh?
So here is what we realized:
1. We need to either a) live closer to family or b) have our babysitter over much more often.
2. We need to get our house in order in case we want to make a move. We’ve pushed off house projects that needed to be done before trying to sell and need to tackle these.
3. I want a smaller home or if we stay, we need to rent out our basement as we don’t need so much space. I never thought I would fall into the American trap of the big house, car, etc. but I have and it’s making me miserable. Part of it is because I am home during the day and the house just stares back at me rubbing it in my face about how much stuff we have, how much we don’t use, and how we have not “grown into it with people” as my husband had said when we bought it (a topic for another time!).
4. We need to get rid of more things. If you have not already figured it out, I am type A, a minimalist and like NO clutter, where my husband… well, let’s just say he’s coming around after we almost thought about moving to Switzerland. We just have too much stuff and you would never know that we had a successful garage sale the week before this kid-free week!
5. My daughter has too much stuff. I have kept just about every toy she has ever been given and every piece of clothing from when she was a baby. She has wonderful family and friends that has given her more than any one little person needs. What she needs is a bigger college fund (hint, hint!).
6. We need to take better care of ourselves. This one is more for me but I hit a slump this summer, have barely written on my blog this last month and felt guilty over it, and just overall have not felt like my normal happy self.
7. We need to re-evaluate how we spend our money. I have a detailed budget that I keep, but at the end of the day other than our house, we have always spent more on travel, which leads to me to my last point:
8. We need to find a better balance between traveling and the everyday fun (and probably spend less on the house!).
Since that week over a month ago, we bought a pop-up pool to enjoy as a family. It’s only 3 feet deep but big enough for us to sit in and for Jolie to swim. Talk about enjoying the nice days!
We have made one weekend-day our “family” day and stuck to this no matter what work or projects we have to do. We have gone on a hike in a new place, had family visit and actually left the house, gone out to dinner for our favorite yet expensive-in-Ohio sushi, and overall tried to enjoy and appreciate each other’s company more.
We have also hired a handful of contractors to do most of the work around the house, from painting the exterior of the house to a ton of dry-wall and paint that needed to be done inside. Work will be finished in 2020… no really, hopefully by the end of September. It’s a bit nerve-racking but I know it will be worth it all when it’s done. I’m tired of the walls screaming “fix me!”
I have cleaned out kitchen cabinets, the pantry, bedroom drawers, the extra “baby” room stuffed full of toys, clothes, etc. I still have much more to do here but have made a great start with two trips to Goodwill, one trip to our local second-hand kids store to sell stuff, and of course been posting on Craigslist like there is no tomorrow.
We finally took our long-awaited vacation to Michigan and soon leave for Texas, and have even planned a kid-free weekend in the fall where I don’t have to have family fly into town to watch Jolie because I have asked for help from a local friend. Oh, I’ve also gone out to my favorite wine-tasting night with said-friend!
I’ve started working out again – biking more which I love to do with Jolie. I’ve been eating and cooking better for us collectively, and hopefully my writing will pick up again when Jolie starts preschool but I’m not going to feel guilty about it either way. I realized I can’t “do it all” and be happy!
We have many more potential changes coming which will be revealed if and when they come to fruition. For now, I would just like to thank my parents for taking Jolie for that one week to Texas. Who would have thought that it would be the week that changed our lives! THANK YOU!!!