We’ve all heard of a honeymoon where you celebrate your love as newlyweds by having an intimate holiday together.
Late 2010’s we saw the rise of the babymoon, which for those of you who missed out on the memo like I did, it’s a holiday you have before two become three (or more).
The next phase that’s often celebrated is when you become an “empty nester”. That’s a lot of space between having a baby and the kids leaving home, so, I propose we create a new holiday that parents take on an annual basis – a Maplemoon.
A Maplemoon is a child-free holiday that couples take to connect with each other without the distraction of their children. Sure, honey is filled with sweetness, but maple syrup contains more minerals, has more depth of flavour and more stable energy levels than honey (and it’s a little bit more fattening…), so I think a Maplemoon is the perfect next step after a honeymoon.
Just like getting syrup out of the maple tree takes some effort, so does your relationship. So bring on the passion pancakes and let’s look at why we need to get that Maplemoon syrup to sweeten up your relationship.
I know many mother’s reading this will be thinking “I can’t leave my kids and go on a holiday without them”. I get it, I’ve only just done my first 10 days without them with my husband and we have been together for 15 years, and our children are 13 and 10. We never even had a honeymoon as we had kids first… The most time we had spent away from them as a couple was two days.
It’s so easy when you are a parent to put the needs of your children first, and the needs of your relationship second. But many relationship experts say that this is not the key to a healthy and happy partnership. Your spouse should not be competing with your kids for attention.
But if they are competing, your partner should win every time. This is the consensus of researchers and family experts, and it takes some serious contemplation to fully grasp that this advice should be heeded.
If you think deeply about it, children need to know that their parents love not only them, but each other too. Their sense of security grows as they see their parents loving each other. When the parental team breaks down, children become the biggest losers.
It’s so important that you not only play on the same team, but that you prioritise your relationship and continue growing together. The sleep deprivation, and challenge of raising little versions of yourselves is certainly not easy. The days go quickly and it’s easy to fall into the trap of Groundhog Day, merely giving each other tired nods as you cross paths in the kitchen.
Fact of the matter is, your children will be worse off from your healthy partnership ending, than they would be from spending some time away from you for date nights or a holiday.
The largest proportion of couples separating and divorcing are those who have been married for 9 years or less, which is about 43 percent of divorces. Couples who have been together for 20 years or more are now said to be experiencing a “20-year itch”. The Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) has found the risk of divorcing after 20 years of marriage has doubled in a generation.
The first 10 years of marriage still remains the danger period for most Australian couples – but the latest data points to the 20-year itch as another high divorce time. This trend can be attributed to a number of factors, but one that gets thrown around the most is that parents are staying together “because of the kids”. So, when they become “empty nesters”, the kids and other distractions that have kept them from acknowledging their lack of connection and fulfilment can no longer be ignored.
A Maplemoon is a holiday (7 days I think is perfect) where you get to reconnect and find new passions to do together. Think of it as a practice test for when the kids do leave home – what will your life together be like? What activities do you want to do together? If you don’t have any shared interests – this will be a good time to start finding some. Whether it be hiking, cards, bowling, cycling, fishing, arts… anything you can enjoy together as a couple.
It’s great to talk about life after kids and what you want to be doing together, not only once they leave home, but also when your working life ends and you have more free time. It’s a time to ensure that you are on the same page for your future, and work on any areas of your relationship that may need attention. It’s better to start now than to grow apart. A Maplemoon is a way to have some time together where you can remember what it was like BC (before children), let your hair down a little and drop some of your usual responsibilities.
As parents, we need to remember that we are our children’s number one role models. Showing them what a healthy and loving relationship looks like is one of the best things we can expose them to. Like preventing illness, we need to prevent complacency and boredom in our relationship by keeping the spark alive. Just as we schedule things like exercise, we need to schedule quality time with our spouse.
Taking time out to 100 percent focus on your relationship with weekly or fortnightly dinners, a walk down the beach, the odd weekend away together, or a Maplemoon is vital for a healthy and happy relationship.
Sure, it’s super weird to go on a holiday without the kids. First thing you’ll notice is how peaceful life is. Second is how much easier it is to get to things on time. Third is the brain space it frees up only having to think of each other.
The quality time together to laugh, have fun and be adults (and maybe a little bit childish) is something I highly recommend.