My Kids Were Gone For 8 Days: Here’s What I Learned

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Eva Amurri shares what she learned from her kids being away for 8 days

One of the best parts of getting divorced is also the worst: a changed relationship to parenting your children. By “changed” I mean that it isn’t what it was before, for better or worse. For some it means spending less time with their kids. For some, it means spending MORE quality time with their kids. Some co-parenting couples divvy it up 50/50. Some don’t. In my particular situation, Ian and I mostly have the kids at our house except for every other weekend and every other vacation. For Holidays, we usually play it by ear and mostly we spend them together as a whole family unit. As a result, that makes for a lot of togetherness, and not a lot of time without the kiddos home with us!

So, when Kyle was taking the kids for their February Break, and Ian and I were NOT traveling anywhere during that time…we ended up home while the kids were gone for 8 days. And it was WILD. It was at times heavenly, and at other times extremely hard. It was strange and quiet, and blissful. It was empty, and by the end, it was full with a new energy in our relationship as partners and parents. The whole thing was an education on many different levels, and it inspired me to write a blog post today about all the things I realized and learned.

I like sharing things like this, not in spite of them making me vulnerable to lots of opinions and Hot Takes, but because of it. The truth is that we all have a very different, but collective, parenting experience. But we seldom hear about the raw truths of it because we fear the blowback. I’ve realized that unless we know that other experiences may overlap with our own, we can feel extremely alienated on our parenting journeys. I hope the below makes you feel less alone– not necessarily because you feel the same, but maybe because you feel exactly DIFFERENT than I feel, and that it makes you feel more of a right to your own experience being what it is. In any case, here’s what I learned when my kids were gone for 8 days…

Working From Home With Kids Isn’t Productive

I know that WFH has become the norm, but if you have kids just know that the concept is total bullshit. I do it too, and thank goodness I’m my own boss because I didn’t even realize how unproductive I have become until my kids were gone and I increased my workday productivity by approximately 200%. That is not an exaggeration. There is a slight chance that my children are exceptionally needy, but I don’t think I’m the only parent who loses hours of work time by having to cater to the unexpected and numerous needs of my children. Whether or not one is sick, running late, having to be picked up early, or just breathing…I end up having to drop what I’m doing at least once a day for various reasons. I basically got two weeks of work done in one week, and now I’m rethinking everything. Also WHY is the school day not the same hours as the workday. Riddle me THAT.

FaceTiming Your Kids Too Much Is Bad For Everyone

Of course, I missed my kids when they were away, and of course, they missed me. But whenever I would Facetime them, either they or I left feeling anxious or sad. It’s really hard to be in a groove or routine and then be reminded of the thing that you are carrying in the back of your mind all day. I liked receiving texts and images of the kids while they were gone, but it did make me sad when I saw them. I’d read too much into why they were tired or anxious, and then it spun me out a little. For no good reason. I’ll probably be texting them more and Facetiming less next time.

Kids Can Become A Crutch

I didn’t even realize how much focusing on the kids had become a crutch for Ian and I until they were gone. So much of our daily life revolves around them. I know this is typical for most couples and families, and honestly, it’s not all that bad. It’s important to really lean into the parenting years, especially the early parenting years because you only have so much time before they start spending more time with their peers than they spend with you. And YET, I didn’t realize until the kids were gone for over a week that so much of Ian and my interaction had become kid-centric and not couple-centric. Even our conversations! We realized quickly that we deserved to invest more energy into us as a couple and to spend time together at the end of the day rather than just getting the kids to bed and then jumping back into work or emails. We ended up laughing so much more, being silly, enjoying dinner time instead of plowing through it and left the week much stronger than how we started.


I Use My Kids As An Excuse

And I bet there is at least ONE area of your life where YOU do the same. Yes, I’m talking to you! Ian and I went to Canyon Ranch (a wellness retreat) for three days when the kids were gone. Physical activity is a major focus there, and I was excited to try new things and be active. And I realized through the process that I actually do love working out! The classes were fun and challenging, and it was great to prove to myself that my body can support me in what I choose to do! In my regular life, when I weigh me working out with me getting things done for the kids (or being with them), the kids always win. The irony is that choosing myself and my needs from time to time actually makes me healthier, raises my endorphins, and probably makes me a better mom. I noticed that I use the kids and the needs I perceive for them in my head as taking precedence over what I know I need for me. Plus, there isn’t a ton of truth to those “needs”. Will my kids suffer if I take an hour to spend time exercising for my own physical and mental health? They most certainly won’t. I realized that while kids are a great excuse for getting out of social plans (LOLZ), they really shouldn’t be an excuse to avoid things I need to be doing to be the best version of myself.

Silence Is Meditative

I’ve been realizing lately that sometimes when I feel frustration, anxiety, or exhaustion, I’m actually overstimulated. I think it’s pretty normal for somebody with three small children to get overstimulated and “over touched” sometimes, but I don’t think I’ve been giving myself any kind of credit there. I really come down hard on myself when I feel anything negative at all while spending time with my kids. I realized when my kids were gone that it’s so important for me to experience silence sometimes. More than just being calming, the lack of noise ends up feeling so meditative and regenerative for me. I ended up just sitting and staring at the wall sometimes while they were gone, and while that sounds (and probably looks) insane, it really helped me clear my head and center myself. Now I need to find ways of achieving this more regularly when they’re home, so I’m working on that part now!


Staying At Home Without Kids = An Actual Vacation

As it turns out, you can have an actual vacation in your own house as long as your kids are somewhere else. Yes, it actually felt like we were on a vacay! After day two, our house was spotless…and it stayed that way. We slept in, we got to sit on our comfy furniture for longer than five minutes at a time, and we had access to our full closets and cabinets of toiletries without having to pack a suitcase, go through TSA, or board a plane! And staying home costs zero dollars! It was kind of heavenly. We also could go out to dinner and take jaunts to NYC without having to rush home to relieve a babysitter. Just having our own life, but without time constraints, felt blissful in itself!

I Don’t Know What I Used To Do All Day

I know people without kids will get offended by this, and I don’t mean it offensively at all…but I truly don’t know how I filled up an entire day before I had kids. What did I rush around about? Why wasn’t I on time? What did I worry about? What did I think about? I literally feel like I can’t even remember how anything felt stressful before I had the stress and responsibility of keeping three humans alive and well. And, taking a break from that responsibility, I felt like a little lost lamb at times. The house needs to be cleaned? Check. Now what? Work needs to get done? Check. Now what? I need to read and respond to my entire Inbox? Check. Now what. I realized that I should have had more hobbies before I had children and lost all my worldly time…but I didn’t and now I can’t. So joke’s on me, what a sucker.


Everyone’s Nervous System Deserves A Break

Ian made a joke on day 4 of the kids being gone that he didn’t recognize his own body when it wasn’t going into Fight Or Flight every five minutes responding to the kids. We laughed because you laugh so you don’t cry sometimes, but it did really get me thinking. As a side-note to the conversation about overstimulation, it’s so real that as parents our nervous systems are constantly in overdrive. Part of that is a good thing: we care SO FREAKING MUCH about these little humans and everything they go through affects us so deeply. But then when you take a break from them, and your nervous system finally settles into a more healthy place, you realize how deeply it exhausts you to operate on that level at all times. For me, medication helped with this, but I think there is definitely more that I can do regularly to make sure my nerves don’t get burnt out. By the time the kids came home, I was so much more grounded, patient, and happy, and that’s the version of me that we both deserve.

My Kids Make Me A Better Person

For all the challenges of Parenthood, one thing is for sure: it can be the most transformative experience if you let it! While the early years of parenthood can feel more like survival, I noticed in the last five years or so that I have learned the vast majority about myself as a human by being a Mom. How I respond to challenges, how I find bravery in the face of adversity, how I access compassion and empathy: all of these things are things that my kids have brought out in me the most. I’m simply better because of them. I wouldn’t be who I am without the entire package of who they are. When they were gone, it made me feel a little lost. Not because I couldn’t get along with my day, but because so many of the parts that I love about myself are connected to who I am daily for them. It made me grateful for everything they’ve taught me, and it also helped me realize that it’s time to get reacquainted with who I am without them. Before I know it, they’ll be more grown up. They won’t need me in the same ways, they won’t be with me constantly in the same ways, and my identity as a person needs to reflect that as well. I’ll always be their Mom, and I was a woman before that. It’s nice to see the evolution of my womanhood, and I’m excited to keep exploring where that will end up.


Photographs by Julia Dags | Copyright © 2024 Happily Eva After, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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  1. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you again for sharing so many of your feelings and perspectives! You should do a guest blog with Kyle’s perspective on 8 days WITH the kids. It would be interesting to hear his perspective on eight days with the kids not being the “primary” parent.

    02.28.24 Reply
  2. Polly says:

    Loved this post!

    02.28.24 Reply
  3. Sarah says:

    A hilarious and enjoyable read. Kids truly are chaos, but an addictive kind. It’s so easy to forget the importance of properly recharging your batteries and remembering your individual self and needs, sans kids. I’m glad you and Ian did that and with your staycation in your quiet, clean house! It really is a friggin luxury when you’re a parent of three. Thank you for sharing your life and your kids with us, I’ve followed you for years (pre-kids and now just had my second) and your perspective and honesty helps make everything a little easier! x

    02.29.24 Reply