My husband and I were shopping yesterday, and a very friendly and enthusiastic young male shop assistant asked us what we’d been up to. We were feeling pretty friendly and enthusiastic ourselves, and I immediately imparted the joyous information that we had spent the day childfree and alone, because our girls are in a playscheme for the week.
The young man in question clearly has very little experience of small children as yet, because whereas I already know that those of you with kids are thinking, “A week, alone, oooh!”, he simply looked puzzled, a touch pitying, and obviously thought that we were just didn’t know how to have a good time. Or, that we are evil parents who go around publicly admitting that we enjoy spending time away from our offspring.
Which, excluding the ‘evil’ part, is absolutely correct – and I refuse to feel ashamed. In fact, I’ll say it again: we enjoy spending time away from our children.
It is not until you have children that you realise exactly how precious time alone with your partner is. This is for the sake of both your sanity and your relationship, because if you do not have the time to function as a couple, then you stand the risk of forgetting that you ever were one, or, heaven forbid, why you were one.
This week, my husband and I are simply meandering. We are wandering at our leisure, and walking the dogs for miles to nowhere in particular. We are having lunches and coffees and reading papers. We are having long and intricate conversations, able to follow our trains of thought, and we are also having companionable silences, appreciating each moment of pure peace.
And we are doing it all without issuing military-style orders at two bickering siblings, whilst being told how bored they are, and listening to every sentence begin with, “(Insert child’s name) just called me a (insert child’s insult)”.
This kind of time together rewinds us back to when we were first together, and allows us an appreciation of the little things; his hand on the small of my back as we cross the road, sitting in the blissful nook of garden at Home Coffee, Southsea, and laughing so hard we can’t even speak.
Childfree time allows us to cosset our own relationship a little, and recharge our parenting batteries. We love our children more than life, but you can never forget that you love each other too.
First published in The Portsmouth News, Tuesday 11th August 2015