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on the benefits of taking a break without kids
Well I say any relationship…. maybe that’s a bit of a sweeping generalisation. Maybe not for yours if the thought of spending one night away from your designated small people (or person) fills you with something akin to horror. If that’s how your cookie crumbles then I salute you… as I simultaneously furrow my brow in wonder at what that feels like.
I mean, don’t get me wrong, it goes without saying that H is our be all and end all, our raison d’etre – pretty much 24/7, 365 days a year. And that’s precisely why I (and I think I speak for Mr OS too – so then… ) we, need a getaway by ourselves every once in a while.
In the past, these mini escapes have been few and far between but now that H is getting older and developing firmer friendships, little pockets of time by ourselves are becoming more commonplace. Not least due to the two French school trips – one four day and one eight day stint within the last two months!
For her first four day trip, we’d planned a weekend escape that included plenty of down time and going to see Jack Savoretti play at Bereleigh Estate. The Saturday evening concert part we did make in the end but the rest of the time from Friday through Sunday was spent in hospital after my mum fell and broke her hip.
Fast forward to Monday 16 July, after one teary-eyed goodbye (from me) the day before as our girl boarded the coach for her second major adventure sans parents. When your child goes away for a long time, distraction is the name of the game… and I was so glad to have the distraction of a 24hr escape for the two of us.
our escape destination… pennyhill park hotel and spa!
Pennyhill Park had invited us to come and stay a few months earlier and I had deferred until the big school trip knowing that we would benefit hugely from a break a deux.
Part of the Exclusive Hotels collection, this hotel and spa in Surrey (I mean come on… you had me at spa!), is perfect for a grown ups trip. We had the option of going for a detox or a retox package. With the latter accompanied by a bottle of champagne in our room, I’m sure you can guess which one we picked!
After checking in and exploring we headed into The Ascot Bar for a delicious afternoon tea that was well worth deferring lunch for.
A bottomless pot of Earl Grey, sandwiches, a glass of champagne, freshly baked scones and beautiful pastries were the perfect accompaniment for a spot of people watching from our vantage point over the pool.
Buttercup Junior Suite – our home for the night
To kill time before our massages that had been booked for us, I choose lounging around in our abode for the night – the spacious Buttercup Junior Suite – and Mr OS went off for a swim. We then headed over to the spa for a 5:00pm Energising Massage which I was entirely ready for.
As always, the timing of kids is spot on and just as I was about to meet my therapist, H called from France for the first time to say she was tired, missing home and hadn’t enjoyed the dingy sailing part of the day one iota. Her exact words? “I thought I was going to die!!!”
Cue the wandering, over zealous mind of an over anxious parent!
W E A R I N G : Sunnies – RayBan frames with prescription lenses | Earrings – part of a set from Topshop | Dress – hush (size 16 left) – alternatives here & here | Bamboo Ark Tote – Cult Gaia | Sandals (last year) Topshop : this style similar
Thankfully, by the end of the treatment (Hello scalp massage to finish off – my most favourite thing in the world!), some semblance of calm and perspective had been restored to my being. Note to self: teens are prone to a lot of over exaggeration – especially when extremely over tired.
After partaking of the side by side baths in our huge bathroom and the bottle of Tattinger that had been delivered to our room, we headed off for dinner in The Brasserie and can I just say… Chateaubriand for two was the perfect accompaniment for some much needed, over-dinner chat.
Oh how I love those long over-dinner chats – they remind me of the days when it was just the two of us. The early, giddy romantic days that weren’t overrun by a plethora of practical arrangements and endless discussions about what needs to happen in the next hour, day, week, month… and following years. No distraction from the needs of children (and dogs) means that you have time to talk. Like really talk.
And right there is my reason for the importance of taking a break without kids.
In the same way that before you were in a relationship you were a healthy thriving individual, before you became parents, you were a couple. Escaping somewhere, even for just 24 hours, gives you the time to pause, breath, unwind and then reconnect. Something that you sometimes don’t even realise you need to do so badly until you do it.
T H E R E ‘ S A L O T T O B E S A I D
F O R F R I V O L I T Y J U S T F O R T H E S A K E O F I T…
They say that the family that plays together stays together and that includes playing together when you’re not with your kids. When the daily routine of chores, responsibility and a never ending mental To Do list that runs on a loop in my head is removed, we quickly revert to having fun again. There’s a lot to be said for stupidity, laughter and frivolity just for the sake of it.
Taking a break makes you a better parent when you reform as a family again. Your kids have taken another small step towards independence and you return refreshed and revitalised. All those who’ve reached the ends of their tethers on a repeat basis will know that kids are a lot easier to deal with when you’re not on your knees from tiredness and stress.
And I think it’s worth acknowledging that you’ll miss them whilst you’re apart… and probably spend an inordinate amount of time talking about them. Or in our case, FaceTiming with a tired 13 year old in a tent from a campsite in France! That’s okay – there’s no rule to say you shouldn’t talk about them – they’re part of your life and part of you.
T H O S E C O N V E R S A T I O N S A R E A N
E S S E N T I A L P A R T O F K N O W I N G W E ‘ R E O N T H E S A M E P A G E . . .
When it comes to all important talking part, some of the conversations you can have about the little ears without the little ears listening (or the little mouths interrupting for that matter), may be some of the most beneficial you’ll have. They are for us and form an essential part of knowing we’re on the same page and the same team. Parenting is one huge extended game of tag-teaming, whether that team mate comes in the form of a partner, extended family or a network of friends. We all need help and a sounding board at various times and strategy discussions are vital!
Going away for an escape also means luxuriating in having someone else take care of the domestics. And the opportunity to indulge in one my favourite treats – room service!
W E A R I N G : White Cotton Bodas Short Robe – Figleaves c/o
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast in our suite via the delivery of a hamper – possibly the best way to provide room service I’ve seen in a long time! With a later checkout time we got to enjoy more lounging by the pool and time to soak up those last few moments of calm before real life, hospital visits and the rest of the work week started beckoning us back into it’s clutches.
Pennyhill Park couldn’t have had any idea of just how welcome the opportunity for this break was when they invited us to come and visit but I like to think it was one of those serendipitous moments… when things happen for a reason and at just the right time.
My recommendation to any parent of any number of kids who thinks they might be in need of a break? Check in – first of all with yourselves. When was the last time you got to be spontaneous? Laugh at silly things, remember why you fell in love with, married or moved in with him or her in the first place? Let’s face it – in the daily grind of life, even taking time to check in with our mood and feelings is a rare treat, let alone all the other stuff that you might be missing out on.
Make the arrangements. Save the money. Book the babysitter or align it with a school trip or a sleepover. Make a booking and get away for 24 hours. And then book it in the diary to do it again in a few months time.
You won’t regret it.
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We stayed as very happy guests of Pennyhill Park and I’m so pleased to be able to share our experience of this fabulous hotel for the blog. Thank you so much for inviting us to stay!