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.
2. Get organised at home.
My husband was perfectly capable of looking after Toby in my absence, but this was his first full night of solo parenting, so it was only fair that we organised everything before I skipped off to cocktail hour.
The practical planning aspect also helped me stop worrying as much about leaving them both to it.
This was our organisational check-list:
- Prepare enough milk and bottles for baby Toby to survive without me. There were the pre-pumped breast milk sachets in the freezer as well as plenty of formula portions already measured out. The bottles were clean and lined up like little soldiers on the kitchen bench, ready for that 3am half-asleep fumble.
- A new bottle of Dymadon liquid paracetamol was strategically placed at the front of the bathroom cabinet as it’s always good to know where exactly to put your hands on the pain relief at 2am when holding a drooling, upset and feverish baby. The sweet strawberry flavour sure helps the medicine go down easily with no need for Mary Poppins.
- Nappies and wipes were stocked up at the change table and the nappy bag was replete with all the necessary items for any outings they might have in the mere 12 hours I was gone.
- Plenty of Toby’s baby onesies were also stacked by the change table in case of necessary outfit changes post poo-nami or wee-magaddon incidents.
- Emergency numbers for other mum friends and various helplines were stuck to the fridge door. Both grandmas were alerted to my absence should they wanted to ‘check in’ on the situation.
Organising that first night off from a young and mostly breastfed baby is certainly possible, but not without its challenges. Yes, I missed them both and I am sure they missed me (!) but I felt like a new woman after just a few fun hours away from being ‘mum’.
The peace of mind we felt from staying close to home and being organised meant that the two men and the babies survived in good spirits, so much so that we even managed to make it an almost annual tradition!
Have you had a first night off from your baby yet? What lengths did you have to go to in order to make it happen?
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Dymadon is great tasting oral liquid paracetamol for temporary pain and fever relief for babies and kids. It's suitable for babies from 1 month old. Ask for it by name at your local pharmacy.
ALWAYS READ THE LABEL. USE ONLY AS DIRECTED. INCORRECT USE COULD BE HARMFUL, IF SYMPTOMS PERSIST, CONSULT YOUR HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.