In Melbourne, Bonnie Sumner takes time out from tots, toys and tantrums and gets her life back.

Yes, I'm one of those parents. My son is five; my daughter almost three, and I hadn't spent a single night away from them. Ugh. Somehow, life just gets in the way of having one.

Well, enough of that. My husband sensed this state of affairs had gone on too long (What gave it away? The loud sighs? Pyjamas in the middle of the day? Forgetting my own name?).

I needed at least one unbroken sleep and to read the paper in peace, so why not fly four hours for the pleasure? As a birthday present to myself, I booked a flight to Melbourne for three days and two nights of pure unadulterated alone time.

I last visited nearly decade ago, but this time instead of all-night partying the pleasure was in the simplest things: a bed to myself, a full night's sleep and waking without tiny fingers in my eye sockets, and eating a meal without forfeiting half to the small person on my lap pulling my hair.


I booked two nights at an Airbnb, my first time using this peer-to-peer accommodation service. Cheaper than a hotel but with more privacy, personalised service and better locations than most formal outlets, I was smitten.

My studio apartment was in Fitzroy, a leafy hipster suburb littered with great cafes and boutique stores, plenty of beards and vegan eateries (yes, I'm one of those too) and my host, Julia, made sure I had everything I needed before leaving me with a key, some local recommendations and three days in a sparkling clean apartment that stayed free of toys, food smears and bodily fluids.

There is so much to do in Melbourne - I could have gone to Richmond for the cafes, visited the Ceres Environment Park in East Brunswick, Melbourne Museum or the arthouse Cinema Nova in Carlton - but I didn't bother, because who wants to spend such a precious amount of time doing stuff when you can do almost nothing instead?

I got to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, which was a surprising treat. But mostly I walked - into and around town, down Smith St and through the bustling Edinburgh Gardens, back up Brunswick St and into Save Yourself for locally made T-shirts for the family, then Yong Green Food and my favourite restaurant, Smith & Daughters, for lunch - and then dinner again.

Walking around in 30C heat, and with new sandals, I had to beg a few plasters, but every blister was worth it. I wasn't in charge of anyone, I didn't have to plan and prepare, and I was free to let things happen, without cooking, carseats or tantrums.

My advice: wander aimlessly, catch a tram into town (or walk, it's only 20 minutes to Federation Square), eat copiously and take plenty of selfies to remember every glorious moment of freedom. Look, it's me reading the paper! Drinking coffee! Walking down the street! Talking with another adult! It felt like being released from prison. And, I admit, there was a lot of starfishing on my bed while reading Man Alone.

Even the airport queues were enjoyable (thanks to life's paradoxes, I have a new appreciation for things I used to gripe about).

My recommendation for a parenting reboot so you can enjoy every second with your children again? Take a break. Works a treat.

Getting there: Air New Zealand flies daily between Auckland and Melbourne.

Details: The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria runs until February 8.

Further information: See