The lead-up to my first night away from baby Toby was an emotional rollercoaster. It was something not even a healthy amount of Googling could prepare me for (and believe me, I’ve Googled all kinds of parenting questions!).
We were about to move from Australia to the UK for a while, so to celebrate our last few months of living in the same city, my best friend and I wanted a whole baby-free night to ourselves.
We asked our obliging husbands to ‘look after’ or more accurately, parent, our offspring and we then spent plenty of time drinking tea and discussing this forthcoming first night of freedom.
The imagined hours of uninterrupted sleep was AH-mazing, but as I got ever closer to the night in question, other feelings crept in too.
I was still breastfeeding five-month-old Toby for the majority of his feeds. What if the poor guy missed me? What if I missed him? What if something disastrous happened while I was away from him: An earthquake? A military coup?!
To help myself relax and ditch at least a portion of the mother-guilt, I decided that organisation, flexibility and planning was key.
These were the two main strategies we came up with to ensure my deserved first night off ran as smoothly as possible:
1. Book something local and stay flexible.
Rather than heading to the Hunter Valley wineries as initially planned, we decided that logistically and emotionally, it was better if we stayed close to home.
We booked a beautiful waterfront hotel just 5km from our front door, meaning that we were only a few minutes from rescuing our respective husbands and babies if needed.
Our first night off was about the two of us having fun, not the scenery, and this way it meant we got maximum time-off for our bucks. We checked in at 2pm precisely for a few lazy hours of swimming, chatting and coffee, before I went home at 7pm to give Toby his normal bedtime feed. I returned to the hotel in time for cocktail hour, plenty of laughs with my dear friend and a delicious meal by the harbour before bed.
My yearned-for sleep was briefly interrupted by a quick middle-of-the-night breast pump to alleviate sore boobs and maybe a few irrational thoughts, but knowing we were close by made all the difference. I slept like the proverbial baby. We even squeezed in a hotel breakfast before going home for a hero’s welcome.