The practice of getting away without my kids is not something I understood the value of, until I started doing it.
My first trip away came when I stopped nursing my second child. She was a year old, my older one was three and a half and one of my best friends convinced me it was time to reclaim the parts of my identity that weren’t associated with being a mother.
I was hesitant. The babies were too small, my husband was a very willing caretaker but he didn’t know the details I did and mostly, I was afraid I was somehow being irresponsible as a mother. After all, wasn’t I supposed to be there for them all the time? Isn’t that what I signed up for when I popped them out into the world?
That line of thinking is so dangerously flawed. Society put an incredible amount of pressure on moms to shed all other avatars and constantly give up their own happiness for that of their families. How can that be good for anyone? Secondly, there is no hard and fast rule for what makes a “good mother”; what works for one family may not work for another. Finally – it’s physically impossible – to be available and everywhere, 24/7, a goal if you pursue is sure to lead to disappointment.
So somewhere in my hormonal head, I knew this, and agreed to go.
At least I’ll get a good night’s sleep, I said to myself.
The trip was amazing. All of two days in which I slept late, slept in, ate when I wanted, went to the bathroom alone, and lazed, doing absolutely nothing. It wasn’t about a fancy hotel, or an exotic location. It was about me taking a couple of precious days to focus on myself. And it was priceless.
I returned home to two welcoming kids and an even more welcoming husband. I’ve since decided to travel once a year (twice if I am lucky) without my family. Here are the clear benefits I’ve experienced:
Benefits of a Getaway:
- Breaking out of the rut: From the school run to work to homework and tennis lessons and supermarketing, our routines are relentless and soul-sucking. Even weekends are packed, and the brain and body are exhausted from constantly making and missing deadlines. Get away to give yourself a break from schedules, to wake up to no agenda, and to not have to be anywhere on time. It’s amazingly revitalizing.
- Down time: What is that? Exactly. Getaways are a great time to slow down a bit. As mums, our lives are a never-ending stream of errands, tasks, and obligations, and it’s essential to give our bodies a chance to stop and recharge. Whether you choose to spend your getaway at a spa, or in bustling around a big city, make sure you make the most of the opportunity to be still for a few minutes.
- Bringing Sexy Back: Let’s face it. As much as I try to make my mom digs trendy and hot, it’s often a losing battle against practicality and stain-proofness. When I’m packing for a getaway I pack my whites, my silks, and my stilettos and revel in the lack of pragmatism and whimsy of it all.
- Time with your girlfriends: As we get older, our strong female bonds get us through the bad times, and help us celebrate the good. But often that’s restricted to a quick phone call between the day’s tasks, or a night out with the responsibilities of the next day luring you home by midnight. Getting away with a girlfriend or two is a great way to bond and to indulge a little with all-night chats, cocktail marathons or long hikes – whatever floats your boat. For me, growing up with an older sister, I miss getting dressed for a night out in company. On my 2014 getaway to Istanbul, one of the highlights was the pre-party dress up session in our hotel room with music, wine and make-up. I’m pretty sure those evenings were more fun than the parties we ended up at after!
- Enhancing the family dynamic: The nice thing about removing yourself from the center of your family temporarily is that others get a chance to step in. Dad may establish a new sense of confidence knowing that he can get by without you (even if it is with the help of his mum), or at minimum he may have a new appreciation for all the things you do. Big kids may step up to look after little ones, and little ones will learn that mummy always comes back when she goes away (mine went through this one).
Ideas for a getaway:
Whether you are going alone or with a friend, here are some ideas for getaways:
- A volunteer trip: Giving back to the community adds another element to your getaway.
- Education trip: Learn a new language, to cook a certain cuisine or a particular kind of dance on a skill-focused trip to another region or country.
- Health-focused: A wellness retreat, yoga and meditation, weight loss, spa are a great way to hit some goals and get some time out.
- City Break: Hop over to a nearby city for an urban treat of art, restaurants and shopping.
- Staycation: Stay in town, but not in your home. It’s too tempting to run errands or focus on your to-do list when you are in your own house. Stay in a suburb or in a hotel and reap all the benefits above.
Final note: Getting away with your partner is important as well. But the getaway I’m suggesting here is one where you travel without your immediate family to reconnect with the person you were before you became someone’s mother or significant other. And when you do find her, you’ll vow never to let her go again.