I recently took a trip all by myself. I had a meeting in San Diego for the magazine I work for, and I tacked on some extra days to visit friends, family, and my soulmate, the ocean.
At the airport, I kissed my hubby and kids goodbye, went through security, then waited for my plane to board. And as I stood there in Southwest’s boarding group B, I had an epiphany.
I wasn’t fielding dozens of questions. I wasn’t asking who needed to pee. I wasn’t telling anyone to take their mouth off of anything.
I was just standing there.
And the gloriousness of that simple experience drove home the fact that I really, really needed this.
I am a mom of three kids, ages 14, 10, and 6. My husband and I work from home and we homeschool. Our family spends a lot—A LOT—of time together. And that’s wonderful, most of the time. I wouldn’t trade it.
However, I have always loved alone time. When I was a kid, I would spend hours playing in my bedroom by myself. I crave solitude. And that’s hard with the lifestyle we’ve chosen. I have to make sure I carve out time to be alone, even if it’s just running to the store or spending a couple of hours writing in a coffee shop.
But I didn’t realize until I was standing there in the airport that those bits of stolen solitude aren’t enough anymore. What I really needed was a Momcation—some time away from motherhood and wifehood and all of the wonderful, difficult, blessed, consuming details that entails.
That feels a little weird to admit, honestly. I clearly remember having no desire for a Momcation when my kids were little. The idea sounded a little ridiculous, and to be honest, I was probably a little judgy about moms who said they wanted to leave their kids. If you have babies and toddlers, you might not feel that urge either.
But now our munchkins are older, and my story has changed. I craved a Momcation. And now that I’ve had one, I think a little separation was good for all of us.
Here are ten reasons a Momcation might be a good idea for you, too.
1. Motherhood is a full-time job. Admittedly, homeschooling adds an extra level of “full-timeness” to my motherhood, but even when your kids are in school, you’re doing mom things. Folding laundry, making doctor’s appointments, volunteering in the classroom, making snacks for a sports team—there’s always something.
The idea of taking a vacation from all of that used to sound indulgent to me. But now I think it’s good for moms to have a legitimate break. Even if you don’t think of motherhood as a “job,” it’s still a full-time endeavor. Imagine not having to think about anyone else’s eating, sleeping, pooping, or learning for a few days. If that sounds like a dream come true, you might need a Momcation.
2. Your kids will be okay without you. If you have a reliable, loving caregiver who is willing to stay with your children, take that blessing and run with it. I was fortunate to be able to leave the kids with my husband, which was ideal. I felt very little guilt or worry about being gone, whereas if my husband and I had left the kids with someone else, I would have fretted more over how they were doing.
As long as you know they’re in good hands, your kids will survive your absence. It’s good for them—and you—to know that firsthand.
3. Your kids won’t be 100% okay without you. Your kids will miss you. They’ll feel like a part of them is missing. And that’s a good thing. Kids don’t always recognize how much you do or how much your presence impacts their daily lives. Giving them a chance to miss you can help them develop the important virtues of gratitude and appreciation.
4. Your spouse (or other caregivers) will get a better sense of what you do. In a similar vein, there are often so many things moms do that are just a given. That looks different in every family, but my husband remarked multiple times, “I didn’t realize how much you do.” And this is a man who does most of our house cleaning and cooking, even when I’m here. He’s already appreciative of what I do, but scheduling, shuffling, schooling, organizing, and such aren’t as apparent on the surface, so it was eye-opening for him to wrestle with it all for a bit.
5. Your family will get a chance to bond more fully with each other. When a parent is gone, the dynamic of the family shifts a bit. And that’s not a bad thing, temporarily. In fact, it can force your kids to rely more on each other, to help one another out more, and even to bond through squabbles without the option of calling on you to referee.
Mom is irreplaceable, of course, but when your kids don’t have you readily available, they find other means. They might learn that Dad can sing lullabies, too. Or they might find that Grandma makes better pancakes than you do. Removing yourself for just a little while may actually help your family create bonds that they wouldn’t otherwise.
6. Your kids will grow in your absence. Have you ever noticed a leap in your kids’ vocabulary, emotional maturity, cognitive abilities, etc. after you go on a family trip? The same thing happens when you go on a trip and they stay home. I was gone just over a week, and I was amazed at how much the kids grew and changed in that time.
Life is kind of hard when Mom’s gone. Everything is a bit “off” and kids have to draw on skills and character traits that they might not normally have to use. They experience daily life in a different way, which sparks new discoveries and learning.
7. Your family’s annoying habits will magically become endearing. There’s a reason they say absence makes the heart grow fonder. All of those little irritations and small annoyances that build up on a daily basis take their proper place in the larger scheme of things when you get some distance from them.
8. You’ll be amazed at the way your kids sound on the telephone. Some of you might talk to your kids on the phone regularly, but I don’t have that opportunity very often. And oh, my gosh. My middle child sounded SO much older than I expected her to when I talked to her on the phone. She’s growing up so fast now. And our youngest sounded way younger than I thought he would. He’s grown so much physically in recent months that I’d forgotten how little he still is. It was good to get that perspective.
9. You will remember who you are. Being a mom is a huge part of who I am, obviously. But it’s not all of me. I was a woman before I had kids, and sometimes that woman gets lost in the melee of motherhood.
I read an entire half of a book I’ve been trying to read for months on one leg of a flight. I walked in the ocean and breathed deeply and didn’t worry about where the kids were. I put myself and nobody else to bed. I stood there—just stood there—waiting for the plane to board. I enjoyed spending time in my own head without feeling like I should be doing something else. These simple things were unexpectedly centering. In fact, I think they were the best part of getting away for a bit.
10. You will love coming home. As hard as it was to leave southern California in February, being greeted by my family at the airport was pure joy. Seeing my kids’ sweet faces was like cocoa on a cold day, and the five of us driving home in the car felt homey and right. Reunions are lovely.
Returning to the hubbub of daily life wasn’t easy, but it was awesome to step into it with a fresh perspective. I found myself being more patient, more outwardly loving, more focused on what is good about our family.
If you feel the need for a Momcation, I highly encourage it. If you don’t feel the need for one yet, tuck the idea away in your head. It doesn’t have to be fancy—just away. It doesn’t have to be long—just long enough. No guilt for taking a break, Mamas. If you feel like you need it, it would probably be good for you.
And it might just be good for your family, too.
Related post: “Me Time” Is Bullshit Once You’re a Mother