I love my son, that’s clear. My wife, too. Tons. But there’s not much better these days than a solo outing to, well…anywhere. Need something at the store? I’ll do it. Food run? I’ll go. Leave your sunglasses in Kabul? Sign me up. Is it the zombie apocalypse and Declan’s favorite toy is out of AA batteries? I’ll be the one to go outside. Don’t wait up.

Part of it is living in an apartment. Colleen and I were looking for excuses to leave these friendly confines BEFORE we had a kid. Now that there’s three of us instead of two, the need is higher and the bar is lower.

Mostly, a quick errand or work release is the chance to zone out for a few. As parents, we’re always on alert. (Almost) always watching. (Almost) always engaged in some way with the little guy who continues to grow both more independent and more in need of supervision.

The occasional solo outing is a reset button. A rare time to crank the music, think adult thoughts, and be on figurative cruise control.

Colleen and I are pretty good about dividing our outings. She gets one, I get one. If one of us is feeling particularly cooped up, the other might extend the offer of a little extra time away.

You can’t be on all the time. There’s all sorts of research out there about humans and focus in the workplace. Most of us can’t do effective work for 8 straight hours. Most of us can’t even do it for one hour. Breaks are necessary refreshers, allowing us to kick out consistently good work rather than mindless and mediocre drivel.

I think the same theory applies to parenthood. The time spent on one little run to the store can fuel hours of quality parental play and supervision. We don’t ask much. Just an outing and a coffee. Maybe a date night every now and then. These are the tools on which the home was built.