‘The idea of leaving the kids behind is unthinkable.’ Composite: Guardian Design Team; Getty Images
Romesh Ranganathan’s midlife crisis

We’re having a romantic weekend away – just me, my wife… and the kids

Are we bringing them just so we’re not faced with the realisation that they’re the only thing keeping us together?


It was our 10-year wedding anniversary last week, and my wife and I decided to head to a hotel with the kids. This alone was a source of controversy among friends (and by friends, I mean my wife’s, as I obviously don’t discuss weekends away with my mates for fear of being called a boring bastard). Apparently, if you want to enjoy a romantic weekend away, there is absolutely no way you should take your children.

My wife and I always choose to go away with our children. When we got married, we couldn’t afford a long honeymoon, so we had a night away at a hotel. Our eldest son was just under one, and we didn’t want to be away from him, so we had him in a cot with us. I suspected that the appeal of this might wane as he got older and we had more kids. Obviously, when you have your first kid, it’s all one-to-one time and taking endless photos. By the time you have the third, you are happy to leave them in a cupboard for a week with a family-size box of cereal.

For me, though, it’s all about how often I am away for work: I already see the kids far less than I would like, so the idea of leaving them behind is unthinkable. Just this morning, as I was supposed to be finishing this column, my son said he had thought I was walking them to school, and looked a bit upset. So I stopped working and took them to school, only for him to not talk to me or say goodbye. Which means I’m now finishing this column on the train.

As for my wife, it might be that she doesn’t trust anyone else to look after the kids. A few years ago, we left them with my mum to go on a date. We arrived back at hers slightly later than planned, at about 1am, to find them eating sandwiches, because apparently they were hungry. I was left to explain to my mum that either they were hungry at 1am for the first time since breastfeeding, or she may have been reading the signals wrong.

For our anniversary weekend, we decided to splash out on something extra nice, and the hotel took care to make things enticing for the children. Unfortunately, this had the effect of the boys being extremely excited about where we were staying, and waking us up at 5am every day. We spent our days feeling knackered and, in the case of one of us, pretty grumpy. One of the kids also asked the waiter at the posh hotel restaurant if he could have a cheese sandwich instead of the dinner options. The waiter kindly sorted it out, over our incessant chants of, “We’re so sorry for putting you to this trouble.” Despite all this, I would still much rather have had the children there, than not.

This may read as very smug. But the weekend did make me suspect that it might be a damning indictment of our relationship rather than something to brag about. We had one dinner alone and challenged ourselves not to talk about the kids or logistical stuff for the entire evening. After five minutes of discussing films, and remembering that we have zero common ground there, we became elective mutes. Maybe we need to bring the kids with us, just so we’re not faced with the realisation that they’re the only thing keeping us together.

I’m being melodramatic, of course. Even so, I have just booked another weekend away, this time for the two of us. When my wife asks me what inspired it, I will have to think of another reason apart from: “I just want to see if this marriage works.”