The Joys of Having Independent Children – Ahhh the sweet taste of freedom. Years ago my sister sat me down and said “You have no idea, it’s like getting your freedom back after years of not having it.” She was talking about that special age when the kids are able to care for themselves a little more and become more independent. I didn’t believe her until my day came.
The Joys of Having Independent Children
The joys of having independent children come when the kids are finally old enough to do things on their own a bit more and you don’t have to hover. Maybe it’s when they don’t need to be reminded about brushing their teeth and getting ready for bed. It could be when they can successfully wake up, shower and get ready for school on their own. Independence is one of those “kid milestones” that just creeps up and you realize life, in some ways, is getting a little easier. A friend of mine likens it to when “kids become more like cats and less like dogs”.
My kids are getting older, and quite responsible, honest and reliable. My husband and I discussed it and agreed that we were fine with short outings here and there with just us, and the kids left at home. The first time we tried it, we called the kids so many times they couldn’t figure us out. We were probably gone for about 20 minutes and hurried back home only to find them totally fine and a little disappointed that we had come back so soon from our errands.
There’s no concrete answer in the parenting handbook that says when a child is old enough to stay home alone by his/her self or is ready to baby-sit. It’s one of those parenting questions that is answered by the “you’ll know when you know” rule. My time, (and my children’s time) is now – and it is glorious!
Now, we’re up to about 2 hours and feeling pretty comfortable about it. My sister was right, the joys of having independent children means a huge break and a great time in our (my husband and myself) relationship where we can find us again.
It’s easy to fall into that parenting role and sometimes lose yourself a bit in the priorities of children. You don’t really know you’re living this way until you’re out and doing more of what you used to like doing. Up until now, every outing had the children in mind. If we go here, are they going to be entertained enough to not bother us? If we go there, will they have food our nut-allergic child can eat? If we go to the park to run, will they be able to keep up?
Now, we can take moments to do what we want to do. We make it all about us and it’s truly enjoyable. Nice dinners, long drives on a summer night, tennis, shopping and strolling at the mall… I can say (and see) now that I really missed this. I love my kids and I love the time I spend with them, but there are two other relationships I need to give some time to as well – me, and my marriage.
There are “baby-sitting” and home alone classes offered in Lake Orion and at Crittenton Hospital and Medical Center (Rochester Hills). The Crittenton class teaches basic skills, as well as CPR but it starts at 11 years old. We’ll be signing my son up for the class soon so he can have those skills as well. But until then, we’ve set up the “rules” and have him repeat them back to us before each outing. So far, so good, and we’re grateful to have reached this milestone.
The Joys of Having Independent Children – Sweet freedom!