Us Time

So, recently we went on Vacation to the Mayan Riviera.  A special kind of Vacation, one that deserves to be capitalized.  Because this was a true, non-work involved, no baby allowed, only trashy novels and naps and margaritas allowed vacation.  There was no cooking, no cleaning, no laundry to be done, and no schedules (except for the odd dinner reservation because I take a weird pleasure out of making those). I didn’t even pack pants.

You’re probably rolling your eyes at me because my nauseating Instagram is full of pictures of trips and planes and various semi-novel and sometimes exotic locales.  And yeah, I lead a hashtag blessed life, I’m well-aware. But these trips aren’t really vacations. They mostly involve setting an alarm for an early wakeup while dealing with jet lag, getting hair and makeup ready and working at least eight hours before having a bleary-eyed dinner somewhere I usually don’t remember, and then hopping on a plane home a day later to relieve Grandmama or our (wonderful, please don’t ever leave us) nanny.  It’s all a mad, exhilarating rush that feels like running a marathon (I think. I wouldn’t know, y’all).  Even when we do schedule a family vacation, like we did to Maui over Christmas, I’m still cooking three meals a day and running around cleaning up after everyone, doing toddler laundry while negotiating with said toddler to “eat the damn avocado, you liked it yesterday” and of course keeping up with his sleep schedule which means home by noon for naps and home by 7 for bedtime prep and then tiptoeing around while he sleeps and we twiddle our thumbs and whisper-drink. That’s just a really expensive and warmer version of home coupled with the anxiety of an imminent plane ride that will involve me and my husband acting like circus clowns for 6 hours to entertain our offspring and keep him from screaming bloody murder (you are lucky, fellow travellers, that I am talented at circus clowning!).

So yeah. At one point, I looked at Charlie and said, “Please. Please let’s go on a brainless, all-inclusive trip to somewhere hot where I can wear white without worrying about someone smearing something on it and sleep past 7am and not wash a single goddamn dish for one whole blissful week?”

And off we went.

What’s crazy to me, though, is the amount of finger wagging and straight up shame I got thrown at me on social media for taking some time AWAY FROM MY CHILD.  Some people were downright stunned that I would exhibit such selfish parental behaviours as leaving my little boy to bask in the sun in bikinis with my husband. You know, my husband. The guy I’m still going to be with once my children are grown and gone, hopefully eating off the buffet on a cruise ship somewhere and ignoring their calls asking for money. When we got married and started a family, we made a vow not to forget that we were Team A, and Team A needed nurturing and top priority if we were going to raise healthy and loving children.  We’re avid fans of date nights as often as we can manage, and we try to schedule a few in a month if we can, all of which I overdress for, mostly because I’m so relieved to be out of my yoga pants.  But every once in awhile, to step outside of our life completely and remember that we’re not just Mommy and Daddy but still Jewel and Charlie… It’s essential for our connection and, frankly, for our sanity. And if it helps in raising our son to be a man who cherishes and appreciates his partner, then in my opinion, we’ve done our job.

I say all of this not in defense of my actions, because we all know I just don’t really feel shame like normal people do (as you can tell by my constant oversharing), but in the hopes that this will maybe alleviate someone else’s guilt about prioritizing their marriage and personal happiness. So here’s me saying don’t let people make you feel bad about it. Those people are just confused as to how the hell they got stuck in the rut they’re in, and it has nothing to do with how good of a parent you are. Take your breaks. Love your partner.  Love yourself.  Everyone will be better for it.

Okay?  Okay. Gotta go cuz I just remembered he’s not wearing a diaper.

 

69 Comments Add yours

  1. Nex says:

    Beautifully written and beautifully said, agree 100% with every point. It’s a shame you had to write it at all.

    1. Allison says:

      You are wonderful and amazing people and parents!! There should be more people out there like you guys. Thanks for sharing, and keep up the awesome work. 🙂

    2. Matthew says:

      Have to agree… People who have never had kids just don’t live in reality… You have to take care of yourself (Which means yourself and your spouse) so you can have the perspective you need to properly and calmly care for your children… If not, you get too wound up and do crazy things… Bravo Jewel…

  2. Tim Crawford says:

    Jewel- I can’t blame, nor will I criticize what you and your husband did with your getaway. For the first 20 of the 26 years my wife and I had together, everything we did was about the kids and things important to their lives with only 2 exceptions, our first and second anniversaries.

    After the second went to college, we started doing things together, just the 2 of us and for 2-1/2 years, it was great. No plans, no expectations, just fun. Then she was diagnosed with cancer and we fought it for 3-1/2 years until she finally went home.

    As wonderful and fulfilling as raising 2 great kids was, the time we had together, both pre and post diagnosis, was the best time of our lives. We lived as if tomorrow would never come because we knew, one day that would be the case.

    Don’t take the now for granted, don’t expect that tomorrow will come because there’s no guarantees. Live, laugh, love and ignore the haters. God bless you and your family as he has mine.

    1. Jim says:

      Tim – I’m sorry for your loss, but so very well said. My parents experienced the same thing, waiting for me to get out of “the nest” when they ran into the issue you had. Wishing you the best.

  3. Judy Waddle says:

    You go,Girl!!! I’m with you all the way!!

  4. Bob says:

    You are right. Please keep doing what you’re doing.

    Don’t think I need to say anything else.

  5. James B. says:

    Well put Jewel, some people don’t understand that at times people do need a simple break once and a while. You’re such an inspirational person. Thank you for all you have done and brought to light with this statement.

  6. Jeff Frane says:

    People are nuts. Not to mention a lot of people have no boundaries, apparently, and feel free to criticize complete strangers for how they live their lives. You kid(s) will be happier to have happy, well-adjusted parents. (And a gorgeous mom!) (And I guess dad’s not bad, either, but still…)

  7. Kelly Kuling says:

    So we’ll said Jewel! You two are the foundation of your family. Do what you need to do to keep that foundation strong. Teach your child how to be a good partner! Children learn what they live.
    Good job and love your blog.
    38 yrs strong here!

  8. Thomas M Fairgood says:

    As a father of two boys, and now the grandpa of two girls, I say ENJOY LIFE WHILE YOU CAN!!!! To Hell with morons who attempt to tell you how to live. Glad you two were able to get away. Enjoy your time and enjoy each other, the love for your child is not deminished because of this shirt trip.

  9. Colleen says:

    My parents didn’t go out much when my sisters and I were little because until I was seven, we lived miles away from our grandparents and my mom and dad didn’t have any money to do anything for themselves or pay for a sitter. When I became a teenager, I was the go-to babysitter for date nights (and grandma was the one for special anniversary trips that were overnight deals). My mom would have no trouble telling people to shove it for shaming parents. From what I’ve seen on your Instagram, your son is no worse for the wear because you and your husband want child-free time.

  10. Johnny V says:

    I think you mean fundamental or essential and not detrimental, which was probably a bad autocorrect.. But everything else is spot on and I’m glad you got some “couple” time.

  11. Michael says:

    The reason I am divorced is my ex couldn’t stop being “mommy” and resume being “wife”. You have a healthy attitude and your husband should treat you like a goddess for how lucky he is (if he doubts this, I’ll take him for a beer and tell him how the other half lives)

  12. Fernando Fernald says:

    people that criticize others should install a webcam on their houses and let us see how well they do on their life. I think Jewel’s no-kids vacation is highly recommended. Her kid will see how well their parents life and how much love is there and he will work to have the same when he is an adult.

  13. Dinah says:

    You are truly correct on this. One should have breaks from children. They need breaks from us just the same.

  14. Kate E says:

    Well said. Parents are supposed to teach their children how to live without them. Hard to do that if you never leave their side.

  15. Jeffrey says:

    This is absolute truth.

  16. Diane says:

    Right on!!

  17. Jenni says:

    I think it’s great y’all are going on vacation by yourselves! I have twin toddlerettes and they spend one weekend a month with grandparents so husband and I can focus on Us.

  18. Chelle says:

    Good on you and Charlie both for remembering to regularly shore up the foundation of your family.

  19. Rae D Stabosz says:

    You go girl! I can’t believe that you caught heck for your one on one with your man. Well actually, I can believe it, because I watch, with consternation, the “mommy shaming” my daughter’s, daughters-in-law, and their peers go through these days with every little item they share about their lives as wives and parents. And I am grateful that I raised my family before social media.

    But I guess I figured a working actress with as much respect as you get (Hi, Kaylee!) wouldn’t have to worry about the mommy wars. But you do.

    WHAT NONSENSE. A happy marriage is the best–absolutely best– gift you can offer your children for their own happiness. And that means “we” time. When I was raising my 7 kids, my mom or my sister would come stay over for a weekend in a regular basis so my husband and I could check in for a champagne and chocolates romantic getaway at our local Hilton.

    Good for you for taking a healthy break for the two of you! Keep it up. You will all have a better chance of a stable, loving family.

  20. Eileen says:

    Haters be hatin’

  21. Ron says:

    I hope the “he” in the last sentence is the child and not the husband.

  22. Kathy Royama says:

    Lol! You go girl! Teach the young one that all life is important, including your own! He will learn to take special time with special people just like you and Charlie are doing!

  23. Dawn Leonard says:

    ❤️ Sending our love from Indiana ❤️

  24. Angi says:

    You’re so awesome!

  25. Shelly says:

    I love this post. My baby is 11 now but I still totally relate to what you said. Family vacations are very often more exhausting for moms than normal daily life. A separate/kid-free vacation gives grandparents special time with the grandkids as well as time for parents to just be people. It’s a win-win for everyone. You do you and let the doubters suck it.

  26. Lena says:

    Jewel, I’m not a parent (nor am I even a wife- just currently a girlfriend with a boyfriend who is incredibly tolerant of my 100%-travel-requiring job!), but I applaud you and Charlie for approaching the marriage and parenting thing with such a balanced outlook! Somehow we’ve managed to build a society where taking time out for yourself or your relationship gets frowned upon, and you obviously must not be working hard enough at your job, your family, that sport you play in your off-time, whatever, if you step away from it for a little while to focus on something else in your life. And that is absurd, as is the idea that just because you follow someone on social media, you are then qualified to offer them advice or opinions on their life choices. Ridiculous!
    (I just re-read that, and realized it makes me sound about twice as old as I am…regardless, kudos to you guys for looking out for each other (as well as your kiddo!) and supporting each other’s needs! What a lovely partnership you’ve built!)

  27. Michelle Maloney-Mangold says:

    Thank you for this. My son is four weeks old today. I love him so much, but he just screamed for two hours and let’s just say I needed to read this.

  28. Rachel says:

    Love your thoughts on this subject! Go team A!!

  29. Wiredwizard says:

    You need a break from parentdom every once in a while. Cthulhu knows my parents did (until I went to boarding school). I say go forth & do what you need to do to maintain your sanity every once in a while & those who get on your case about it can stuff it. =thumbs up=

  30. Ryan says:

    Absolutely nothing wrong with taking a vacation while you can without the toddler … you work damn hard, are a loving parent and the trolls can take a hike. If you have the resources and support to be able to get away once in awhile then take advantage … my parents would do that occasionally and they were married for 32 years … got to keep your sanity to be the best parent you can be. Keep on rocking Jewel you are a national treasure.

  31. Mike says:

    Your name is Jewel for a reason. You so are!

    Good for you guys!

  32. Mark says:

    I’d give you an “atta boy” but you don’t need it. You know what you did is right. Took the wife and I 7 years after the birth of our first to take a long weekend in Vegas (talk about a weird f’ing place) and, since then, we’ve gone kid-free in Maui and Kaua’i.

    Keep flying, Jewel!

  33. Stefanie says:

    I completely agree, parents must be allowed to be more than just parents. And the children will benefit from it by having happier, more relaxed parents. For some, of course, it isn’t an option to go on a trip without the kids, some might not want to. But everyone needs to find their own way and nobody should be criticized for that.

  34. Mike says:

    Reads fine to me!

  35. Alex says:

    Some people will always criticise other’s choices – how they raise their children, how they live their lives, anything to take away from their own lives and their own problems.

    The internet has only exacerbated the problem in some ways. You guys deserve the very best, including the occasional break to recharge. Sounds like you had a fantastic time, too 🙂

  36. Mark Hoerrner says:

    When my bride and I married, we knew one thing for certain: we wanted to show our children what a loving relationship looked like. We took them to Disney (a lot, still do) and we took them on family vacations including going abroad. But we also took vacations (including at Disney) away from them. We have loved them dearly, but we love each other intensely and were a couple before they arrived and will be a couple long after they are gone and on to bigger things in their lives. You MUST make time for one another because kids need to know how long-term loving relationships work. I’ve seen way too many couples who focused on nothing but the kiddos for years just disintegrate later on. It’s gut-wrenching to watch a 20-year marriage disappear.

  37. Gary says:

    I really wish I had done a lot more of what you’ve done. I love my kids but I’m still Gary. Just because you have kids doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold until they move out or you retire. After doing the whole family thing it’s nice, and important, that once in a while you look after the very relationship that created your lovely family.

  38. D says:

    Well done you, shame you had to write something like this, but its awesome all the same. I’m not a wife, nor am i mother (or ever will be for that matter, not my thing) so perhaps its completely out of my wheel house but i remember seeing you posting about your vacation and thinking that it was cool and great idea. I see the toll parenting takes on my friends and i’m sure it’s no exception for you. i think it’s great you did this and all the people being negative to you can bugger off. You are the coolest. Me and my brother used to spend weekends and sometimes longer with our grand parents/their friends while my parents had their own time occasionally – i don’t believe i have been harmed in any way!

  39. D says:

    oh and my parents will have been married 50 years next year…..

  40. Vikki says:

    So beautifully put Jewel, that is the most healthiest attitude I’ve heard from a parent in a long time ❤️

  41. Frank says:

    How do you know that your kid doesn’t like margaritas and wanted to come along, too?!

    Seriously, people think they’re entitled to have you answer for their opinions of you. Ignore them. They just can’t admit to themselves that maybe they get a little tired of their kids once in a while. They still love them, yes. Always. But maybe they need to go visit grandma for a week while mommy and daddy try to salvage their sanity.

  42. Jane says:

    I do hope you’re not referring to Charlie in that last sentence … 😂😂😂

  43. Barbra R Kingman says:

    Well said. We spend all our energies and attentions on raising our children then one day they are off living their own lives. Too often at that point we look at our partner and realize we are looking at a stranger. The connection is gone and often it is too late or maybe we just don’t care to try to mend that connection. Take care of your connection .

  44. tizzy says:

    Good for the two of you, glad you got to take some time to enjoy just the two of you!

  45. Anonymous says:

    Those that hate on this the most are likely too weak to commit to doing this for themselves. So they shame others, sad.

  46. Frank says:

    We often forget to prioritize our own needs.

    As well, putting yourself second is teaching your kids to put you second. Respect of others begins with self respect.

    Caring for your partner and your relationship is a good thing to demonstrate to your kids, they learn by example. It is a responsibility to your relationship to work at it, to nurture it.

    This can apply to any personal responsibility, relationships or livelihood. We can’t raise children the best way possible if we don’t maintain our needs.

  47. Krista says:

    My husband and I have always tried to make time for adult-only no-kids Vacations (yes, it should be capitalized!). Anyone who tried shaming you for leaving your child in capable and loving hands…well, they’re idiots.

  48. Alicia says:

    When I was 18, the parents of about 6 of the kids I’d grown up with suddenly divorced. For all of them, once they were home without kids they realised that there was nothing else to their relationship. I reckon nurturing Team A is crucial.

  49. Leanne Girdwood says:

    Well, Jewel, I don’t usually put on my professional hat around here- but on this occasion I shall, with my thirty five years worth of helping families raise their babies behind me. You do you. Never mind anyone else. Happy parents raise happy babies.

    And I still gotta make Wilder his new Jayne hat. Come back to Melbourne so I can measure his head! 😀

  50. Amy says:

    My mum did the same thing in the 80s when I was young and got the same kind of shade from people. As the apparently abandoned kid, it didn’t bother me then or now.

  51. David James says:

    It’s about being adults not parents even for a short while. My wife and I tried to do that when our children were younger and then as life got busier the opportunities faded and in all honesty our relationship suffered. The children are older now and we can and are making the effort so it’s improving all the time.
    I fully agree with you Jewel so ignore the naysayers and enjoy the “recharging” time.

  52. Nicole says:

    I have only been away from my oldest child a handful of nights in her young life: A handful of business trips, nights when she sleeps over with her grandparents, and the hospital stay after I had her brother. I have never, not once, spent the night away from her brother (he’s 3). My husband and I took the kids with us on our honeymoon, even.

    This is all me; I hate being away from the kids, and miss them terribly when I have to be. But I have also come to accept that if I don’t get some time away from them on something like a regular basis, I become a horrible wife and mom — I’m grumpy, I nag, I snap, and I cook and clean with much unneeded slamming of things. So my husband has started nudging me out the door whenever possible, so I can spend a few hours alone — walking, reading, watching a movie with no animated characters, or even just shopping Target without tantruming children. Everyone’s happier when I come home. (That goes double for the little ones if I bring treats.)

    Parents need to recharge. I have never denied my husband his guy nights, but I somehow thought I was this Supermom who didn’t need personal time. Bullshit. We all do. Good on you for taking care of yourself, and to hell with anyone who thinks you shouldn’t.

  53. Jenna says:

    Jewel,
    Kids are wonderful, kids are lovely, kids are our future and our legacy.
    But our partners are the people that we have chose to spend our lives with, before the kids came along, and are the ones, if we’re lucky, we spend the rest of our days with, after the children leave home and start living their own independent lives.
    Kids are special and we should cherish every single moment that we get to spend with them, making memories both for ourselves and for them.
    The first time that me wife and I left our son with relatives was when we when I was the first time I ran the London Marathon. We’d decided that he wouldn’t enjoy the experience and would have more fun with his Aunt, Gran and cousins. He probably did, and it was less stressful for everyone not having to worry about where he was at all times. And having done 3 marathons to date, parenting is a lot harder work.
    Life has a way of ******** us over when we least expect it so every moment f happiness we can find is precious, whether that is with our children or our partners. We have to grab those times and enjoy them.
    Those people that roll their eyes at parents that are spending time together and away from their kids have to remember that the best thing for a child is a loving family. If that means that the parents get to have “me” time then benefits the children. They also have to remember that when the children are no longer around then it’s their partner/husband/wife that they turn to for companionship. If they don’t’ devote time to that relationship then they will find themselves alone.
    Congratulations to you and Charlie for being wonderful parents.

  54. Fiona says:

    I can’t think of any couple who deserved it more. 🙂

  55. Colleen Sasser says:

    Always enjoy your comments. Can’t agree with you more. I had a chance to get away for a week from my boys and never regretted it. They are all grown now with families of their own. So enjoy that husband!

  56. Dave Tremblay says:

    Hi Jewel,

    You’ve done nothing wrong.

    Studies show that it’s healthy to take time away from your children for your mental health.

    During infancy, psychologists say it’s actually okay for you to let your child cry and cry if you’re stressed. Seems kinda mean, but your child won’t die from only crying and if you’re at your limit, you need the break.

    I have 3 kids and i’m jealous that you can go away to a tropical vacation without any kids…I’ve never had one. But i’m happy for anyone who is able to because it sounds frickin’ awesome.

    All the best!

  57. rosie says:

    the other side of the coin is that kids also need time away from their parents once in a while, it’s great to stay with the grandparents for a night, a weekend, or a week or so just to get a different perspective. Grandparents share with kids a whole lot of life experience and history while grandkids offer their grandparents a new vitality so it’s a win/win/win situation … unbeatable!

  58. Illuminatus says:

    Totally agree. Parenting must be a damn hard job (I wouldn’t know, I don’t have kids) and you deserve some free time without worries. My parents did that too and I turned out fine.
    It was beneficial for all of us. My grandma got to spend time with her grandchildren, I got to spend time with her (I loved staying at her house) and my parents got a break.

  59. Phillip Parker says:

    Hey Jewel,

    I am so glad that you and Charlie were wise enough to make that agreement to be Team A early on and so glad you got to take a JUST YOU TIME trip. My wife and I are looking forward to escaping on one this summer. My wife and I have been married for 24 years this year. We also agreed to not only always try and show a unified force when dealing with the kids (sometimes Momma Bear can’t help but defend her cubs when she thinks I’m being to grumpy.) We also do our very best to never stop trying to Woo each other… I love being “That Guy” , the romantic hubby that my wife brags about, he friends are jealous over, and all her friends hubbies hate cuz I always “make them look bad.” We do date night pretty often now that the kids are older (two are out of the house now.)

    The two of ya’ll just look stunning together!! I might just have to get in Instagram finally just so I can see more pictures LOL

    Hope to see you at a Con/Expo one of these days… Need more Kaylee stuff for the family Firefly shrine in the office…

    lots of Love from Texas

  60. Love this, thank you for sharing. Ok sending this to my wife right now.

  61. Ruben says:

    Lovely idea and totally agree. Discussing starting a family my wife and I came to the realization that no matter what, the kids are with us only for a limited time. We had our first before getting married. We got married while pregnant for the second and we only spend 1 day of our honeymoon stay at a casino hotel alone because we missed our two year old too much. She loved the bedside jacuzzi. But when she was 5 and my son was 3 we dropped them off at grandmas because they rarely saw them and we left for two glorious weeks to France. Two reasons, we needed some us time. And we couldn’t afford 4 tickets plus hotels in France. Have only regretted not having a chance for some us time since then.

  62. David Hammer says:

    Well done, both on the post and it’s subject. Some people seem to equate wanting to spend time away from your kids with not loving them enough. In my experience, those people seem to have some guilt about their own parenting experience and are projecting that guilt on to others. You totally have the right attitude toward them. Because my kids are from a previous marriage, they spend every other weekend with their mom. My wife and I miss them while they’re gone and are always glad they’re back, but we take full advantage of their absence by taking time with each other. It’s a part of what makes our marriage a happy and strong one and in the end benefits the kids as well because we’re modeling a good marriage for them. Keep it up!

  63. John says:

    Don’t listen to all of those flapping heads Jewel, they speak without thinking. I’m glad you two enjoyed your well deserved and needed vacation. Big Firefly fan, stay shiny 🙂

  64. Erin says:

    This made my heart happy. I also don’t feel much shame in my own world. Work it sister- because pants are overrated.

    1. Jewel Staite says:

      hahaha xo

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