Pondering about Time Out
Time away from being with the children is a bit of a tricky subject, as I and many other parents struggle with admitting we need a bit of child-free time. Even when they've gone to bed in the evenings, there's a sense of still being "on call" if they need you.
Ben currently goes to a childminder two mornings a week, and even though it's quality time for me and baby James, I still feel that somehow I shouldn't need help from someone else, particularly as I'm not earning money during that time.
This reluctance to hand them over to someone else isn't something I would have predicted before becoming a parent. But it seems to be widespread, according to a recent survey of 309 parents on the website Findababysitter.com.
They found that 40% of UK parents take less than half of the healthy amount of time out from their children each week. And 37% don't have informal childcare to rely on such as friends, family or neighbours.
This is a public health concern, says child psychologist and parenting expert, Dr Claire Halsey.
She says: "Taking time out to recharge the batteries should be a necessity, rather than a luxury for parents, so we really need to see a mindshift from parents feeling guilty about using childcare to take time out.
"I recommend all parents to think of time out as a vital parenting skill, and advise them to take a minimum of 30 minutes every day, or 3.5 hours per week."
Fortunately I get a couple of hours to myself once a week when my partner takes the boys out, though that does mean no regular time out as a couple. Might have to set up an evening-swapping plan with some friends in the same boat!