Mother goes on holiday alone: ​​good for the whole family

Her son was almost four months old when Aniek Rooderkerk went on a five-day walking holiday to Poland on his own last week. Partly for the travel blog she writes, but mainly because she wanted to. “I love Thijmen, but it was also nice to be out of the baby bubble for a while.”

People around her warned Aniek when she told about her vacation plans. “They said they couldn’t do it, traveling so quickly without a baby. Or they said I would find it very exciting. But my husband is a very good father, he really doesn’t take better care of Thijmen than I do. So I had full confidence that it would all work out.”

Danique also likes to go on holiday without husband and children with full confidence. She and her husband have a blended family: two children aged 14, one aged 12 and one aged 7.

The first time she left alone was when her daughter (now 14) was about nine months old. “I then went to Curaçao for six days. I had had a very difficult pregnancy and my daughter cried a lot, which made me very tired. My partner at the time didn’t want to come, he thought it was too much trouble. But I really had need it. So I went with a friend.”

“Is everything ok at home?”

Danique says very honestly: yes, it was definitely exciting and complicated. “I was just a mother and people around me made it clear what they thought about it. I took that with me. So in Curaçao I regularly thought: ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ : I wouldn’t ‘t she Or: Now he is alone at home with a crying child. But things went well at home. Now I go away every now and then without problems – just like my husband sometimes does.”

Both women are surprised by the inequality that exists in this area. “My husband sometimes has to go to work for a few days,” says Aniek. “He never gets comments from others. Whereas my son has two parents who can both take care of him equally well.”

“The first few times I got a tsunami of comments that were like: can you do that to your child?”, says Danique. “Whereas I had girlfriends with partners who were away from home for work for six weeks and then home for three weeks. They were very often not there and no one asked them if the child was going to be okay. Why should it be any different when the father takes care of the child? My partner is a sensible person, he can handle the children just fine.”

Something to do with your husband?

Danique heard it last year after she had been in Curaçao for twelve days with a business partner and boyfriend during the day ‘full focus’ to be able to work on a big job – “and after that Full focus to be able to refuel on the beach’.

“After returning home, I presented the project to the client, a director of a large company. I said that we had worked on it in Curaçao. He asked: “Do you have children? So you have something to do with your husband?’ I said, “You travel a lot for work, don’t you? Do you have to make it up to your wife every time you come back?” Fortunately, he realized what a strange comment he had made.”

It is an old-fashioned idea that mothers cannot leave home for a few days or weeks, says health psychologist Gijs Coppens from OpenUp. “If people believe that, it says more about them. You shouldn’t underestimate children. If you have a healthy relationship with your children, they can handle it just fine.”

“A dad can’t breastfeed alone, so if you’re at that stage, going on holiday alone can be complicated. But most dads are very involved in parenting these days, they also take the kids to school or sports clubs and also cooks. They can really take care of their children.”

A little space for yourself

According to Coppens, it’s even good for everyone in the family if mom (or dad) occasionally goes away for a few days. “For the partner who is going away for a while, it is good to be able to see the family from a distance. Especially if you have children, you are sometimes living and there is little space for yourself outside of work and family. to go , you can come back recharged. In addition, sometimes it’s good to realize what you miss when you’re not with your family, and long for the company afterwards.”

But it can also be really good for the partner who stays at home and for the children if one of the parents is not there for a few days. “They build a bond with each other that they don’t develop when the other parent is there. For example, you have children who are very attracted to the mother. If they are alone with the other parent, their contact is strengthened.”

“And also that the rules can be different than when both parents are at home, it’s good for their bond. That they suddenly eat pancakes on a weekday evening, while the other parent is not allowed. It creates very beautiful, valuable memories for both parents and child.”

A gift for the partner

Danny agrees. “I really see my vacation as a gift to my partner. I give him time with the children in his own way. Because of course it’s different than when I’m there, I’m stricter than him. So both he and the children also see it like a party: he really makes something of it with food that they don’t get from me or a movie night at the weekend.”

And Aniek also sees how her husband enjoyed the time alone with their son. “He said afterwards: I really had quality time with Thijmen. Men have to go back to work quite quickly after the birth of their child, as a mother you have so many days alone with the child before you also have to work. He had that one-on-one time with Thijmen now, he was very happy about that. And I couldn’t have made my parents, who helped for that week, happier either. They went, putted, it was really a win-win-win situation.”

Aniek was so confident that it would work out that she chose a vacation where she was not always available. “We have a very healthy child, he’s never been sick. I think that makes it easier to leave. But of course I called or video called home a few times if I could.”

Danique applies the rule to herself: I must be able to be home within a day. “So I wouldn’t go to Australia without kids, but if I’m in Curaçao and take the first flight to Holland, I’ll be at the door no later than the next day.”

Don’t take any chances

She did it once when her 7-year-old son – who has kidney problems – was sick. “We looked at it the first day, but the second day he was sicker. I was in the Caribbean and decided: I want to go home. My husband works for KLM, so in such cases I can often come quickly by plane. You have to see , that when I got home he was already better. But still, I’d rather go back once too often than once too little. I’m not taking any chances on that. Even though I know my child is fine with his father .”

These are the moments that arouse the most guilt in parents when they are away: when their child is sick and – so they think – needs them very much. But that feeling is also unnecessary, says Coppens. “Of course, mothers often think they have to be there all the time, but this is not the case. A child who is sick needs a attachment figure. It can be a mother, but also a father, grandfather, grandmother or even a neighbor , as it is with. The most important thing – as during the rest of your absence – is that there is someone they know they can trust.”

No overnight bottles for a while

Aniek noticed when she came back from vacation that children don’t care who is with them. “I was happy that I had been able to sleep through the night without night bottles and was therefore really rested. But of course I also had moments when I thought: if only I could cuddle with Thijmen. I was really looking forward to that. But Thijmen was less more excited to see me than I was to see him. He looked at me and back at his grandmother sitting on his lap. He had obviously been having a great time.”

And no, this does not mean that the bond between mother and child has been damaged, says Coppens. “If you, as a parent, travel through Nepal for six months without contact with your child, that is of course a different story. But attachment and relationships develop over a number of years. If you go on holiday for one or two weeks, contact again and with your child and pay attention to your child with renewed energy when you get home, then there really is nothing wrong.”

This is also experienced by Danique, who has already been on holiday many times without her children. “We love to see and hug each other after such a vacation. And when I’m at home, I really enjoy my time with the kids.”

Aniek has already planned the next trip. “I cycle. There is a race planned in Italy in March. Then I will be in Tuscany without my husband and children for a few days. I am looking forward to both sports and travel. I don’t know how it will be when my son becomes monotonous, we’ll see, but as long as he, my husband and I are fine, when I’m not there, there will be trips.’

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