A COMPLETE GUIDE TO TEMPORARY CHILD ABANDONMENT

Yes, we all love our little ones very much; however, I strongly believe that sometimes the best thing we can do for our families (and, of course, for ourselves) is to ditch the offspring in favour of an evening off – a night to reconnect with friends, to remember why we chose our spouses, or even to simply give ourselves the chance to turn inward and spend some quality time alone.

My personal favourite way to detach myself from the tiny ball and chain, is to send him over to one of his grandparents’ for a solid 24 hour stay (yes, I am admittedly EXTREMELY lucky that both sets of grands are ready and willing to take on the challenge!). 

There should be zero guilt attached to leaving our kids in the capable hands of others, even when our only real reason for doing so is for because we need a fucking break. When we leave our kids behind in favour of an evening of adult company, the kids themselves actually reap multiple noteworthy benefits too!  

Off the top of my head:

  • They learn that you have a healthy, fulfilling life outside of being their parent (which, in the future, will help them deal with the reality that the world does not, in fact, revolve around them)
  • They learn to play by a new set of rules (thus, making them more adaptable to different forms of authority)
  • They figure out that a change in scenery is exciting, rather than scary (especially if they spend the night out)
  • They get a little timeout from you too (they’re probably just as tired of your shit as you are of theirs)
  • They will actually be excited to see you once their “vacation” is over

The benefits for you are equally plentiful:

  • Friendship maintenance (you’ll need those friends in a few years when your kid thinks spending time with you is ‘like, totes not cool’)
  • Reconnecting with your partner (sure you’ll probably talk about your baby’s shit consistency here or there, but even just people watching together or making senseless commentary on decor/food/strength of cocktails will remind you of what life was like pre-children)
  • Demonstrating that you implicitly trust your child’s caregivers (grandparents especially love feeling like you genuinely trust them to keep your kids alive and nothing annoys them more than feeling like you think they’re incapable. THEY RAISED YOU FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, AND YOU’RE FINE…for the most part)
  • Your brain genuinely gets to power down (you don’t realize how much energy you expend constantly scanning for potential danger, thinking of stimulating activities, prepping meals, administering meals, doing bath time, making sure nails are clipped, constantly tidying… ok maybe you DO realize how much energy you expend… all the better reason to TAKE A BREAK!)

If you haven’t taken the plunge into temporary child abandonment (and I mean that in the least evil way possible, of course), then I strongly suggest you start, and start NOW.

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But I can’t leave her! I’m her only source of nutrition!

Now is the time to get acquainted with your best frenemy: le breast pump. I exclusively breastfed for 6 months, but once my little guy started sleeping through the night (even with 1 wake-up), I would occasionally pump before heading to bed and toss the bag of expressed milk in the freezer. Once I accumulated about 10 of these, I was good to go. Don’t forget that you’ll pump a few times while baby is not around, so your frozen supply will be replenished by the time baby comes home. (I also always sent more milk than I needed to… because what if I wanted to sleep in? One must always be thinking 12 hours ahead in such situations.)

But my baby won’t take a bottle.

You’d be surprised at how fast your baby will figure out that the bottle = the only way he’s getting food. Sure there might be a protest at the beginning, but he’ll quickly figure out that mommy’s boobs are gone for the night, so bottles are now his new best friends. (Mine would actually ONLY take a bottle if I was absolutely nowhere to be found… if he could see or smell me, it was over).

But my parents and inlaws are useless!

That’s really shitty because now you’re going to have to find and PAY for a caregiver (always better to find someone certified and/or extremely highly recommended by a good friend), but mark my words, that will be money well spent! Even if it’s just a dinner & drinks hang rather than a whole 24 hour stint, a night out of the house in dry-clean-only clothing will be worth the hassle – I promise. Added bonus: You lay down the rules and they stick to ’em, because it’s their JOB and they want to keep it.

But I can’t find a sitter I trust.

Ok fine. Have you tried http://www.canadiannanny.ca? It’s a great place to peruse lots of worthy candidates and post your own classified with exactly what you’re looking for. And how about posting on one of your FB mommy groups and asking for some highly recommended people in your area that suit your price range? Still no go? Remember that nanny you always see at the playground that watches the kid that plays with yours? Ask her. Many offer part time / evening help and she’s obviously already THERE. Failing all that, remind yourself of the dude that knocked you up a while back because he is perfectly capable of being alone with your child for a few hours. Girls night, anyone?

But how will I get over the guilt?

Did you not read all the benefits I outlined above? Go read them again.

But my toddler only can only fall asleep if I put him down at exactly 8:00pm, after a 7-minute-long bath, a massage, and 2 books. His room must be 24 degrees celsius and his noise machine needs to be on the third loudest setting.

Calm the fuck down. She’s a baby; not the Queen of Shiva. You’d be SHOCKED at how fast diva tendencies will go out the window once she realizes that new caregivers = new rules (and in my experience, after a few hours with anyone who is willing to play as hard as they do a.k.a. anyone who isn’t as exhausted as you are, a toddler is likely to pass out with the lights on wearing her jeans and shoes).

But I’m so out of the loop – I wouldn’t even know where to go!

Don’t worry, mama; we got you. This is actually a question that we get asked ALL THE TIME, so Aleks and I have compiled a little directory of our favourite night-out spots in Toronto for your convenience. You’re welcome. Now you have no excuse.

PRE-DRINKS & APPS

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DINNER
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NIGHT CAP
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