It is better to be wanted than needed. – one of my mottos
What is a momcation?
It’s a vacation free of all caretaking responsibilities. This includes not just responsibilities to your children but the other key people in your life as well as any “outside of the home” work. It’s time all about you, doing whatever you feel like doing at the moment.
I just came back from my first “momcation”, which was for two and a half days to Miami. My husband watched our twelve-month-old son and I stayed at an Air BnB overlooking the water. It was a helpful getaway, albeit with many mixed emotions. However, it’s what I needed and I know I’ll be a better mother for it.
Here are a few tips if you’d like to plan your first momcation! And if you like warm weather I recommend Miami-there are many direct flights from DC.
1. As soon as you think you may be ready—book it!
The first six months after my son’s birth I was so overwhelmed with caring for him, my job, and my own physical recovery that I felt completely spent. I mostly got out of that place but I think it would have been easier if had I done my first momcation before he turned one.
I highly recommend leaving town for at least two days. I took a similar “vacation” and stayed at a local hotel a few months earlier and the pull of my beautiful son drew me back to him sooner than I had planned.
2. No matter the mixed emotions, get on that plane/train/car/bike…
I often have good clarity about my life, yet ever since I’ve become a mother each choice has been more mixed. The bonds we have with our children are tremendous, as is the care we give on a daily basis. I hated saying goodbye with tears in my eyes as my son cried for me when I went out the door. I teared up at the airport as well, and secretly wished I’d miss my flight.
A few days away will, in my opinion, have no impact on children as long as they are lovingly and safely cared for, but it can mean the world to a mom who hasn’t had a few days to herself in a very long time.
3. Make it truly all about you, and consider going solo for this reason
I can be a people pleaser, so if someone else is there I want to make sure they are happy. The slightest whiff of discontent or conflict puts me into a tailspin. Thus it was important for me to go off solo to have some time to truly focus on whatever I wanted.
What do I love to do solo? Sit in the sunshine, swim, read, take long city walks, and eat awesome fresh food. I made my trip all about this and enjoyed going to the beat of my own drum without worrying whether a long walk in the Miami heat was too much for someone else. It was great for me!
4. Don’t have too many expectations or too many plans
It’s a big transition to be without your babe, thus hard to predict how you’ll feel. If there’s something very important to you definitely plan it, but don’t over plan. I loved the freedom of doing what I felt like in the moment, something rare for moms as our schedules often revolve around our families.
I wanted to make sure I could get in some long swims, so before the trip I researched great public pools and called to be 100% sure they would be open. However other than that I had no plans, and since I did an Air BnB I was able to get great local recs to choose from.
5. Write and release…and learn
Let’s be real here. Even if you aren’t physically engaged in caretaking you’ll still be carrying the mental load of the responsibilities in your life. There’s no such thing as a true “momcation”, but you can embrace that and learn from the thoughts that come to mind. If you haven’t had a few days truly to yourself in over a year it’s hard to turn things “off” and you may have developed some patterns that you may want to unravel.
I recommend writing down all of these thoughts as they come to you and then trying to release them. You can deal with whatever they are when you get back and, for me, writing things down enabled me to not think about it as much.
6. For breastfeeding mamas…
I am still breastfeeding, which I never expected yet it has been the right choice for our family. This makes taking a momcation harder as I can’t travel without my pump and pumping schedule.
I propose doing at least one 48-hour practice stretch in your normal surroundings where you “take your boobs on vacation”. Through this I learned that I need to be extra vigilant with the pump. I had to pump more often than I fed at home since the pump is less efficient. I had to really check to make sure I’m getting out all the milk each time, and incorporate hand expression as needed.
Enjoy some time away to clear your mind, recharge, and refocus. Have you taken a momcation? Please let me know your experience in the comments.