Family vacations are fantastic. Couples getaways are wonderful. Girls trips are lovely. But I’m here to tell you a Momcation, a trip just you, by yourself, is imperative. In my Pilates studio in Livermore, CA I preach to my clients all day about the need for self care of both body and mind. Yet I often fail to take my own advice. But not this time!
When I decided to take a trip like this of my own I hadn’t really heard of such a thing before. But I knew I needed some time alone. When I first started day dreaming about the idea I was in a weird place mentally and emotionally. I was overwhelmed by family life. Bogged down by stresses with my business. I was being short and irritable with everyone, especially my husband and kids. I literally felt like the walls were closing in on me and I needed to escape. It’s hard for me to admit these things. Mom guilt and all. But it’s the reality of where I was at and I’m sure many others are as well. So let’s just lay this out on the table – it’s totally ok to hate your family once and while ok. And I mean hate in the nicest way possible here.
So I told my hubby that I needed a trip by myself. I’m not sure he was too fond of the idea at first but he came around to it. And I knew I needed more than a day or two. I knew I needed enough time to decompress, miss everyone (you know how absence makes the heart grow fonder), and I needed some sunshine and the ocean. So I found a perfect little condo right on the beach in Malibu for 5 days and 4 nights. AHHHH heaven!!! I was ready to go!
As I told people about my trip I got a range of responses from “That’s amazing. You go girl!” to “Won’t you be bored?” to “I hate being alone. I could never do it.” to “Is that safe? A woman traveling alone?” and the all too real response “My husband couldn’t handle being alone with the kids that long.” But for me that was the point. I wanted alone time. I wanted to get bored. When was the last time you were really bored. Probably been a while if your life even remotely resembles mine. See I’m an only child. I grew up with my own space and my own time. I even paid extra in college to have my own private room in the dorms. Then after an attempt at living with roommates I decided it was better to live alone. And let me tell you it was magical. But that was like 16 years ago. I also thankfully knew I didn’t need to worry about anything back home because my husband is an awesome partner and father that can totally handle everything on his own.
Also, I like to call myself an extroverted introvert. In all honesty most would describe me as an extrovert. That’s how I come off. I’m social, interested in other people, thrive in group environments. But at the end of the day, or week, or year, I’m desperate for alone time to recharge. I like to say I only have a finite amount of extrovert energy and when it’s gone it’s gone and the only way to get it back is to retreat into my hole and let it regenerate.
So anyways, this trip was meant to refill 16 years of that depletion. Not saying my family depletes me but yeah I’m kind of saying that. Judge me if you will but that’s my reality.
So anyways back to my Momcation. The first day I was so surprised by how anxious I was at being alone. Not because I was fearful. But because I couldn’t settle into the quiet. The calm. I literally didn’t know what to do with myself. You know the scene from Talledega Nights where Ricky Bobby is doing an interview and he says “I don’t know what to do with my hands.” Or that feeling you have when you leave your cellphone at home. That’s exactly how I felt. I felt like I was missing something. Forgetting something. Lost with nothing to run to next. I slept terribly the first night. Tossing and turning. Everything was super comfortable but I was unsettled inside.
But when the sun rose on a new day and I awoke to the morning glow of the sunrise and the sound of the waves crashing below, I felt more calm wash over me. I was ready to embrace the quiet. The thought of nothing to do and nowhere to go. I resisted the urge to make phone calls. To check in on things back home. By the third day I had fully settled in. All I needed was the sound of the waves and the warmth of the sun. I stopped trying to fill the silence with music or the tv. I sat for longer periods of time reading my book or just basking in the sun. I did still get on my phone and scroll through social media. I have a serious addiction lol. More on that another time.
To be honest by the end of my trip I wasn’t quite ready to come home. I could have easily gone for another few days with that complete calm. But I was starting to miss my family and knew it was time to get back to my life. I wanted to use this trip to renew my soul, reignite my passion for my life and reflect on all the things I am grateful for and love about it. I wanted the trip to be long enough for me to decompress and have the mental capacity to do these things. And while I could have gone for longer I was able to do all of those things and headed home with a new perspective and appreciation for the beautiful mess, MY beautiful mess.
Here are 5 reasons you need to do this for yourself:
1) You need alone time.Being alone is a novel idea as a parent and spouse and it all can get a bit overwhelming but when you have time alone you realize how much you actually like your time with your family. If you usually feel uncomfortable being alone then you need a vacation like this most of all!
2) In the quiet you can hear the most.Sometimes you just need some silence. It might take a moment to get used to as I experienced but once you embrace it man does it sound good. You sure can do a lot of reflecting without all that noise pollution.
3) Catching up on rest. Rest is critical to being able to weather the storms of life. Without it, it feels like you are simply drowning. So finding that time to stop, breath, relax and rest refills your energy stores and gives you what you need to carry on through the tough times and really enjoy the good times.
4) Finding yourself.You were a person before you became a wife and mom. Reconnect with that person. What fills her bucket? What does she want for her future? What can she change when she gets home to not lose herself again? This is hard to do when you are running, running, running taking care of other people and other things so the time away alone helps you rediscover your inner you.
5) The ability to just be. Nowhere to go and nothing to do. Unless you want to and when you want to. It’s quite liberating to be completely in control of yourself and your own schedule. It’s freaky at first. And then simply amazing.
How can you make this happen?
Simple. Just do it!
I didn’t really do my trip on a budget per se. I didn’t splurge but there are things I could have done to save more money. But if budget is one of your hang ups here are some ideas.
1) See if you have any friends or family that have a vacation home or timeshare that you could use.
2) Drive. Go somewhere far enough away that it feels like an escape but save money on airfare by driving.
3) Get a place with a kitchen and bring your own food for at least breakfast and lunch. And your own alcohol.
4) If you own a business, see if you can couple your trip with something for the business. Then write off the trip.
What I learned:
1) Take the time! I suggest no less than 5 days because like I said it took me a moment to fully decompress and then soon after I started gearing up to come home. I needed more time for sure. I recognize this isn’t possible for everyone and something is certainly better than nothing but definitely go for at least 2 nights.
2) Silence and no plans is totally unnerving at first when you are used to being surrounded all the time. Embrace it and try not to just fill it with background noise or plans.
3) Eating alone is uncomfortable but get a drink and settle in. It’s fine.
4) You are safe!!!! Women travel about this globe alone all the time. Just be smart about it you’ll be fine.
5) Bring a journal and write down some of your realizations. I ended up writing a letter to my husband and each of my kids. And the words flowed.
6) Turn off the mom guilt. You deserve this time. Your family will be ok without you and probably better than before you left. You don’t have to do everything. Things may be done differently than you would or not as clean when you get home but you are not the only one who can do things in your household. Trust your spouse that they don’t have any desire whatsoever to kill or maim the children and then let it GOOOOO!
Taking this trip was literally the best self-care I could have ever done. I’d trade in all the massages, and pedicures, and spa days, to do this again. And I am going to. At least once every year. Because I feel like a better version of myself afterwards. A better wife. A better mom. A better me.