How can parents explain to young children that this is not rejection, nor lack of love? It is just that parents sometimes need time off, alone, without being contacted through any means.

  • how old are the children?
    – Chrys
    Jun 23, 2014 at 19:24
  • they are 9, 12. Jun 23, 2014 at 19:33
  • 1
    For how long are we talking about?
    – michelle
    Jun 24, 2014 at 3:09
  • 3
    This really needs some clarification. Going away for a weekend or something is just a logistical issue (planning and arranging who will watch them) while getting your kids to let you have an hour to take a bath or watch a movie is an issue of setting boundaries. Are there underlying abandonment issues that would cause them not to understand that you need to do thing on your own? Are your kids able to spend time alone doing thing or are they accustomed to being tended to 24/7?
    – Chris M
    Jun 24, 2014 at 13:29

1 Answer 1


Surely by now you have successfully gone to the bathroom without someone pounding on the door and asking "What are you doing in there?" - your solution to this situation is like that, but on a slightly larger scale.

If you want to be "off duty" in the early evening, now that they're staying up later, you can use just that wording. You could decree that after 9pm you won't be getting snacks, reading stories, or anything else non urgent. You'll be in your room reading or working or watching TV. They can be in their rooms or somewhere quiet but they should leave you in peace.

If you want to go away for a week or two vacation, and not even be contacted in that time, you will have to work up to it. Perhaps start with an overnight trip. (Your question is unclear about just how much alone time you need and whether both parents need it at once, or by turns.) You can establish what the norms are in your family and how frequently you need to be away from your children, and for how long. Emphasize the positives such as who will be with them instead. You don't need to tell them "I need to be alone" or "I need time off." Instead use the same tone as you would for a business trip or "family business" such as visiting a sick relative. "We need to go away for four days and X will be staying here with you. We won't be able to talk on the phone as much as usual but I'm looking forward to hearing all about the fun you had when we get back!"

Some people will tell you that you don't actually need alone time, at least not much longer than it takes to use the bathroom. I'm not going to argue with you about it. I went on plenty of trips without my kids, leaving their other parent at home with them. I went on plenty with them, too. I didn't feel the need for time without them myself. That doesn't matter though: this is your family. I will warn you that if you discuss this with your children using words like "rejection" and phrases like "lack of love" you will introduce a germ of an idea to them that probably wasn't there before. If you need to be alone, be alone. Just don't protest too much about why. I doubt you would discuss with them the details of which clients are important enough to need a visit, or why you chose to speak at a particular event, or the details of Aunt Susan's surgery, so take the same approach with your need for alone-ness.

  • 1
    +1 9 and 12 is more than old enough to tell them "I need some time to do some of the other things I like; please give me space just like I give it to you when you need it. You're both old enough now to do that." Though your question could be more specific (if you mean "I want to leave them home alone for a week," then the answer is really different).
    – mxyzplk
    Jun 23, 2014 at 22:09
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    @mxyzplk: you should write this ("hough your question could be more specific (if you mean "I want to leave them home alone for a week," then the answer is really different).") as a comment to the original question
    – BBM
    Jun 23, 2014 at 23:33

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