1. Parenting

Getting a Guilt-Free Breakaway

SAHDs Need Time Off, but Making it Happen Without Feeling Bad isn't so Simple


Talk about a tricky situation.

All you’ve been doing throughout the day is thinking about how badly you need a break from the madness of your household. Nothing in particular has happened, just a pile-up of too many hours with the kids.

As soon as your wife gets home, it’s your time for a little freedom and you can hardly wait.

Such anticipation is painful. You’ve been watching that clock, listening for the garage door to open. Taking the occasional stroll down the block hoping that you’ll see her car turn the corner.

She finally arrives and you are just about to drop the baby in her arms and take off and do anything but wipe another nose. Then the frazzled woman you love starts telling you all about her crappy day.

Your break suddenly doesn’t seem so important. Just as much as you haven’t had a second all day to yourself, neither has she. So if you leave her with the kids as soon as she gets home, you could be adding to her stress while alleviating yours.

It makes it hard to manage a guilt-free get away.

Still, getting your own time is a necessary evil. Becoming burnt out on this job isn’t going to benefit anyone in the family. Your wife and kids will understand that. But you also have to consider their needs as well, and they can’t have daddy running off every time he feels cramped.

So what are some ways you can get some time to yourself without feeling guilty?

Communicate Openly

Be open, honest, respectful, flexible and considerate with your spouse. Realize everything you want, she probably wants as well. If you both are aware of what each other needs, there will be less mental anguish when you get to fulfill those needs.

Never leave without telling her first or without a real reason. Just because you feel you had a crappy day is subjective. She might have had a worse day. Vent your separate frustrations together. That alone could remove much of the stress.

Talk to your spouse about what you’re feeling and why you need to get away. She’ll likely understand you need a breather.

Don’t be selfish. It’s true that all day, every day, you are with the family and at least she gets a change of pace by heading to work. That doesn’t mean she gets a break.

Hash out ways each of you can get a little time off. Throw in a little compromise: You get to go to the car show on Saturday, she gets a girls night out on Friday.

Plan Ahead

Make plans in advance to check out a game with some buddies. If it is circled on the calendar and common knowledge, all parties are going to feel better about the circumstances.

You also could figure out a set time when you get away. It could be every Tuesday afternoon or the third Saturday of the month. This kind of schedule gives you something to look forward to.

But remain flexible. If something important comes up, it’s not going to be the end of the world if you miss an outing. That Monday night softball game is a great way to blow off some steam, but it isn’t going to feel nice if your family hates you for it.

Be Resourceful

Get creative when you need to get away.

Maybe you are a night owl and the rest of the family isn’t. Use the time after everyone goes to be to let loose. Go to a late movie by yourself or watch those TV shows you love but the kids hate.

Or you could volunteer to run the errands. You get things done for everyone, but you have some time to clear your head. Even a chore like mowing the lawn could be a short escape.

Create an understanding with your spouse that gives each of you an out during really stressful occasions. There will be those days when you have to have an immediate break, and it could be as simple as having her watch the children after she gets home so you can take a shower.

More Understanding, Less Guilt

Whatever you do, don’t abuse any of this. Consider your family’s feelings as well as yours. Work together with your wife to take care of the kids and the house when you are both around. It will make the going easier during those times, and will lessen the stress for all.

If you are open about what you need and when you need it, chances are you’ll be rewarded with some time off. And if everyone is in the know, you probably won’t feel too bad about getting away for a bit.

Just don’t whine when it’s your wife’s turn.

  1. About.com
  2. Parenting
  3. Stay-at-Home Dads

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.