One of the things I hear most often when people hear I have all three kids at home with me instead of sending them out to school, playgroup, or a babysitter is 'How do you manage? Don't you ever need a break from your kids?'
Its true, I definitely need some tricks up my sleeve to be able to manage, it's not always so easy, and I do need breaks from my kids to not have 'Mommy overload'.
Fortunately my husband doesn't have the longest workday, and is able to take over for me when he comes back, giving me a well deserved break. (Though try as he might, he still hasn't managed to get the nursing part yet, leaving me with only 75% freedom.)
Anyone who's a mom probably has experienced similar though- when I'm home, even if I've passed on the torch of parental responsibility to Mike, my kids know to come directly to me when they want something, throwing themselves in a hard belly slam on the floor, kicking and flailing, wailing in a voice that could shatter glass and wake the dead simultaneously, "I want Mommy to get me water!" for half an hour straight, while Mike stands there with the desired drink, a bemused expression on his face. (Or maybe I'm just lucky like that.)
Yet somehow, when I'm not around, they manage just fine without me. (Can you believe it? The fabric of the universe, surprisingly, did not fall apart the second I walked out the door.) You may say I love going out without the children, but that would be an understatement.
I try to make sure I have regular fun times without my kids (at this stage in my life, any time without the kids automatically becomes a fun time) both at a friend's house, and going to the city or to go grocery shopping. Sometimes I feel a little bit guilty that I'm leaving my kids (they try their very best to guilt trip me, what with their weepy eyes, and their trying to run onto the bus with me, crying "Mommy, don't go!"), but then I realize that I'm doing what I need to do to be a better mother. (And anyhow, when I take them along with me after they beg to come, and 5 minutes into the trip, they start whining, "I want to go home, I miss Daddy." I try to tie a string around my finger so that next time, I learn my lesson and leave them home.)
But either way, whether or not its a good idea or a bad idea to leave them with dad so I can have so alone time, the fact of the matter is- its a whole lot cheaper to go by my lonesome to the city or to run errands, a fact made very clear to me during my trip by myself to the city today.
(P.S. Any time I say alone, I mean just me and the baby. We're attached at the breast. I never leave the home without her unless she's napping and I'm making a quick run to the corner grocery store.
P.P.S. When I say leaving the kids home, I mean leaving them with my husband, not by themselves. Just making that clear.)
Extra Kids, Extra Transportation Costs
No, I don't have a car. In our family, we travel everywhere by our own two feet, and on buses, and on trains. Going by car, you don't pay per person (unless your family is large enough that you don't fit in one car anymore and need to take 2), but on the bus, I have to pay for kids. When my kids come on the bus with me, I have to pay for 2 fares, which doubles the cost of transportation...
Oh, wait, that math is faulty.
Traveling with kids doesn't double the fare. It often quadruples it.
Isn't it amazing how kids can have all the energy in the world when it's time for bed, bouncing around non stop till the wee hours of the morning, have enough energy to run back and forth from the park many times a day, not to mention all the climbing up and down the jungle gym, but have them walk with you even a short distance on an errand and they'll drag their feet, complaining about their fatigue, claiming they can't walk another step, so you end up wearing the baby, pushing the preschooler in the stroller, and trying to encourage the kindergartener to please walk, but he doesn't want to, and starts whining that he's too tired, so even though you have only one block left to go, you pay for bus fare for all three of you to travel that short distance. (Never mind the fact that you only took the kids along because they really wanted to come, despite not wanting them along for reasons like this.)
So, not only do you pay double fare, you pay quadruple fare, because you pay for twice as many seats on twice as many buses. If you're lucky. If you're not lucky, its three times as many buses.
Extra Kids, Extra Cost for Food
You were a responsible mom. You knew there was a good chance you'd miss the bus for doing so, but you pack along a nice, nutritious snack and meal to eat while you're out, making sure to pack things that travel well, taste good, and that are filling, so you don't end up being that mom, the mom who has starving kids because she forgot that little kids need to eat every 10 minutes round the clock, so she ends up filling their growling belly with overpriced, unhealthy junk food while out.
Or you become that mom anyhow, because your kids aren't gonna let that kid have that ridiculously unhealthy *wrapped in shiny crinkly plastic* treat while they only get a healthy, homemade treat that doesn't have any appealing colorful wrappers, so they put on a terrific display of willpower, letting you know that this is a game of wills, them against you, and you know that a 3 year old's will is less pliable than mom's. Or at least my 3 year old. (Did I ever mention that Ike can scream an hour straight over stupidity, so loudly and so emphatically that he often collapses from exhaustion and starts snoring in the middle of his tantrum, rather than give in?)
And since you don't want other people to think you're that parent, you know, the one who has kids that actually don't behave like angels in public, you quickly purchase whatever chemical filled overpriced snack they've been eyeing, in the hopes that they'll stop making a scene in public and move on. (And they do. At least until they see the next *really cool sugar laden zero nutrition* piece of junk.)
And of course, the cost of that junk adds up.
So yes, traveling with kids.
Hmmm, maybe not.
Unless absolutely necessary.
Better just leave them at home.
It's much cheaper that way.
And better for your sanity.
My kids are perfect angels.
Especially when traveling.
Most of the time.
P.S. In case it wasn't abundantly clear, I love my kids to pieces, really enjoy spending time with them, but just really appreciate Mommy time.
And yes, my kids for the most part are well behaved.
Just with a really strong will. (Especially Ike. He's been that way from day 1.)
Wonder where they get that from?