Freedom from children and family for six whole days

If you follow me on social media, you’ll probably be aware that I’ve just spent six days apart from my family. Four of those days were spent in the glorious city of Melbourne in Australia. The other two days were spent aboard a Qantas Airbus A380-800 travelling to and from the aforementioned, glorious location.

freedom, children, child free, travelling, Melbourne, Australia

I may have felt a bit like this when I got to spend six days without the pressure of family life, but it wasn’t so straightforward.

I am the main carer for my kids. It’s my wife that works full time. Let me summarise the above paragraph in a few short words;

I HAVE JUST SPENT SIX DAYS WITHOUT MY CHILDREN OR WIFE.

It wasn’t until I was on my journey home the true magnitude of this struck me. How many stay at home parents, be they mums or dads, ever spend that amount of time apart from their offspring?

Sure, I spend the odd night apart my family, I always have done. Until now, I think the longest must have been two and a half days when I attended my brother’s stag do at the Wilderness Festival last summer. The other big difference being Wilderness takes place in Oxfordshire, less than a hundred miles from home. Melbourne is, well, just a bit further away.

Over the past seven years, I have become accustomed to having kids around me. As a stay at home dad, the school run, grazed knees and domestic solitude are second nature to me. Not having to deal with all of this for the best part of a week was enlightening. Here are a few thoughts and reflections on what it was like being apart from my family for such a long period of time.

Going out at night was a different experience

I went out every evening with the team I was working with. You might imagine that, let off the leash, we were up until six in the morning knocking back flaming Sambucas. This was not the case at all.

We enjoyed a few drinks on a couple of evenings. Even so, events were finished by 10pm. Speaking for myself, I had no desire to plough on until the early morning as I would have done in my pre-fatherhood days. These days I am pre-programmed to avoid hangovers because we all know they don’t mix with children. It seems that I live by this mantra even when apart from the kids.

Conversation did not revolve around children

Following on from the above, I noticed that I was in a unique position. Many of the guys I was with had kids, but they were either working mums or dads that frequently travel or they had grown up children.

As a stay at home parent, this was the first time I’d left my kids for an elongated period of time. The other guys were used to being apart from their offspring. For me, this was a new situation. In my world, conversation in social situations often focuses on children. Sure, kids were discussed, but it was noticeable that children didn’t dominate conversation as they frequently do when I’m at home.

Eating without interruption

Every night we went out somewhere to eat. For six whole days, I ate in cafes or restaurants (and aircraft) without a constant stream of “daddy can I have….”, dropped cutlery and spilled drinks. I’d forgotten what this was like! It is a completely different experience.

 I went walkabout

walking, Australia, children, freedom, Melbourne, walking

I love these shoes and I tend to live in them when I’m at home. They are not, however, walking boots and I would urge you to think carefully about your choice of footwear if you’re going to take yourself on a walking tour of a foreign city.

I walked around Melbourne and I walked and I walked and I walked. Although 11,000 miles from home, I know the centre of that city in impeccable detail. On one occasion I even found myself giving directions to a couple of lost tourists.

I walked so much I got massive blisters on both my feet. The blisters were so large that, come my last day in Melbourne, I had difficulty walking. The first thing I did when I got home was to lance them (oh the relief this provided!).

I never get to walk so much when I’m at home. My kids simply can’t keep up with me and they tire much more easily. Having the opportunity to explore on foot for hours was refreshing.

 The kids were always on my mind

Australia, Melbourne, flag, freedom, children

Helen, my eldest daughter, drew this. It’s her interpretation of the Australian flag and I took it with me.

Helen, the oldest of my two daughters, had told me several times she didn’t want me to go. On the day I flew out to Australia, I dropped her off at school and then dashed straight to Heathrow to catch my flight. Soppy old fool that I am, I was choking back tears when I left her on the steps of her classroom and confess I let a few roll down my cheeks when I got back to the car. I simply didn’t want to be apart from my family and, I’ll admit, I was worried about being away from them.

Sure, I got over this, especially when I started exploring Melbourne the following day. Even so, my kids and my wife Gill were a constant, invisible presence. We spoke and swapped text messages every day and one of the first things I did was to go gift shopping for them. You can take the man away from his kids and wife. . .

It was a reminder of the working world

While I was in Melbourne, I took part in two days’ worth of meetings with people who have full time jobs. Sure, this blog is a job for me that I fit around my family, but I generally sit at a desk on my own at home. Being in an office environment was a reminder to me of what it was like to be in this position. I enjoyed it and it made for a pleasant change.

 It was fun, I enjoyed myself but I am 100% parent

My six, child free days were fun. I enjoyed having the opportunity to explore a foreign city without direct responsibility for anybody. Not, you understand, that I was absolved of my parental responsibility. The family was always on my mind and I was constantly wanting updates to ensure the childminder who stepped in to do the school runs etc did everything asked of her (she went above and beyond the call of duty).

As it happens, I did make a mistake. Helen had been invited to a birthday party that took place while I was away. I put it on the wrong date on the family calendar so, rather embarrassingly, she missed it. This, however, was the biggest thing to go wrong in my absence.

The one thing I took away from this experience is that, wherever I am in the world, I simply cannot really leave my family. Sure, I can travel to the other side of the world, but they are always present. It may have been refreshing to have a break and get some adult time on my own, but I was over the moon to be reunited with my wife and kids. To quote a clichéd lyric from a dull, over-hyped rock song, you can check out, but you can never leave. That’s my experience anyway.

How do you think you would find spending such a long period of time away from your family? Have you been separated from your children for a long period of time for some reason? Are you a stay at home parent? Do you think being a stay at home parent would find such a situation more emotionally challenging? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to know what you think.

 


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38 Comments

  1. April 25, 2016 / 9:09 pm

    Wow the trip sounds pretty fabulous even though 6 days is probably very short and intense when it’s all the way to Australia. I’ve only had one day away yet and it felt odd but I did love the sleep 🙂

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 26, 2016 / 1:36 pm

      Yes, intense is the word. Nonetheless, it was a great experience helping out with a superb cause.

  2. April 26, 2016 / 11:48 am

    I travel for work to the states sometimes and although I miss my huubby and son loads, I also like getting away for a bit and doing my own things. eating in peace, travelling in peace, suiting myself. being me -not mummy me! #TwinklyTuesday

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 26, 2016 / 1:35 pm

      Yeah, I get that. A weekend is fine for but for this sentimental stay at home dad, six days was a long time!

  3. April 27, 2016 / 10:12 am

    Wow – what an amazing trip. The longest I’ve spent away was 6 hours – enough time for me to drive to Liverpool, run the marathon and drive home lol #sharewithme

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 6:55 am

      I am sure you will get your chance one day. Good luck when the time comes.

  4. April 27, 2016 / 12:55 pm

    Last Sept I got away for a golf trip with my buds for five days. My wife was very concerned leading up to it, but it turns out none of us were as young and crazy as we used to be. Around 10-11 we were all about ready to call it a night. It was fun, but I was surprised how much I missed the fam

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 6:54 am

      Jeremy, I think you and I have a lot in common! The best hting is, my wife kept the dometic wheels turning with no major issues (as I knew she would).

  5. April 27, 2016 / 9:59 pm

    I only got to be away from my 3 kids for the first time over a year ago when a bunch of mum friends and I went off to Dublin for the weekend. I messaged my hubby once and that was it. None of us rang home because we were all so deliriously happy to get away! And my hubby is extremely hands-on and competent, albeit in a non fun practical way, with the kids. I love my kids but I’m not a mumsy mum who needs to be with them all the time as I really treasure my time alone…but I am with them all the time lol! Lovely to read that there are dads out there who are wrapped up in their families unlike the useless unpresent men I know far too many of. Thanks for the awards good wishes btw #twinklytuesday

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 6:53 am

      Well, yes, I could have left my family unbothered by my calls etc but I wanted to speak to them. I am, as I say, a soppy old fool. As for the useless men you speak of….are they truly useless or did they start off with all the correct intentions when they became dads…only for everything to go awry? There are, of course, useless men out there and I would never deny it. In many cases ‘maternal gatekeeping’ can be the issue that leads to “deadbeat dads”. If you aren’t familiar with the term; mum has baby, she takes months of work (if not leaves the workforce altogether). Child(ren) and mother form a very strong bond. Perhaps dad makes a simple mistake or two with the kids and this strengthens mums idea that she is best at dealing with the children. By accident or design, she freezes father out; she organises all birthday parties, goes to parent’s evening, gets invovled with the PTA without even referencing hr partner. Father is effectively frozen out or at least has his role in the family and with the kids diminished. After years of this he essentially can’t claw his way back in and a what materialises is a deadbeat dad. It’s a viscous circle and one I have seen with some of my friends. I’ll leave you with that controversial thought!

  6. April 28, 2016 / 6:49 am

    Gosh, Australia for six days! Wonderful and intense at the same time. What I want to know was how did you cope with the jetlag upon your return? #coolmumclub

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 6:38 am

      Jet lag was quite easy to be honest. That said, I did find myself taking Nytol most evenings!

  7. April 28, 2016 / 12:39 pm

    Wow you must feel like a whole new man! I wonder how long it will take to revert??? Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub mister!

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 6:33 am

      You know what, the time difference was pretty easy in both directions. I was amazed how quickly I switched. Only took a few days.

  8. April 28, 2016 / 1:04 pm

    Wow what an absolute treat? I’ve never spent that long away from my children but I’d miss them too – such a long time even if not the main carer – my husband works away a lot and he really misses them (and me of course!). Nice to have had some ‘me time’ though – I do crave it from time to time. A lovely read from a dad’s perspective so thank you for sharing #coolmumclub

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 6:32 am

      Glad you enjoyed the post and hope you get the “me time” you crave. Word of advice, you don’t have to travel quite so far to get it!!

  9. April 28, 2016 / 4:29 pm

    You perfectly capture the duality of enjoying time away from family and missing it simultaneously. x

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 6:29 am

      Thanks Jen. You have much more experience of this than me! Look forward to seeing you at #BML16.

  10. Joanna @mumbalance
    April 28, 2016 / 8:15 pm

    Wow! Six whole days… I have a toddler and a 3 month old and I am dreaming of 6 hours peace… But you are right, whenever a parent is away from their kids his/her thoughts will be with them. And the partner of course.
    I’m glad you enjoyed your trip!
    #sharewithme

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 6:28 am

      It was a great trip and sure you will getthe chance to spend a bit of time away from your lot soon enough. Just be warned; you’ll miss them!

  11. April 28, 2016 / 10:34 pm

    Lovely to have time away and just as lovely to see them all again! #Sharewithme

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 6:27 am

      Oh it certainly was Fiona. Bit weird doing it so far from home but it was great nonetheless.

  12. April 30, 2016 / 4:30 am

    Since Buddy was born 7 years ago and, I became a SAHD I’ve not spent one night away from at least one of the children.

    It would be nice to eat one hot dinner uninterrupted but that aside I think I’d miss them too much.

    • John Adams
      Author
      April 30, 2016 / 6:19 am

      Yeah, I kinda get what you mean. This is why i was such a mess when I did the school drop off. Although to be honest, it was the distance as much as anything. Even if I’d been in Scotland or France, home would have been just a few hours away if I needed to dash. There’s also the issue of temperamental Icelandic volcanoes. Remember when that happened a few years ago? It was weeks if not months until all visitors to Australia we repatriated!

  13. May 3, 2016 / 7:13 pm

    Abandoning post is always bitter sweet. I try and embrace the opportunities because they are few and far between. I miss the family and love my freedom in, probably, equal measures!
    #coolmumclub

  14. May 4, 2016 / 9:03 am

    OH it’s lovely to get away and have some adult time and exploring a foreign city is so amazing but once we become parents we are always parents and family never leave us you are so right. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  15. May 17, 2016 / 8:54 pm

    It is so weird being away from children, for anything that’s out of the norm. I work full time but have only been away from N for 2 days for blogging conferences. But even at weekends going food shopping, when he stays on the farm, it feels like I’ve lost a limb although now it happens more often i’m getting used to it. A week would be hard, but probably harder on the OH who’d have no idea about having N for that amount of time while working.

    • John Adams
      Author
      May 19, 2016 / 4:17 am

      It was a little odd at times. It was nice to be able to behave like a grown up for several days but it confirmed what I already know; I am 100% dad and love being around my family! That said,. I had no qualms leaving the kids with Mrs Adams. My concern was simply the upheaval, not that she wouldn’t know how ot manage and when I returned things were considerably more peaceful than I expected.