Apres – Babymoon

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babymoonI’m a stay-at-home mom with seven-month and four-year old daughters. My husband works about fifteen minutes away, but long hours. He’s not around much to chip in with the parenting and household duties. Baby is still waking up twice a night, and then ready to start her day by 6:30 a.m. I’m also working on a novel once the nursing, laundry (so much laundry!), cooking, shopping, organizing, ballet-lessons, school runs, and the list goes on, is done.  

And while I really love being a mom, and appreciate the fact that I’m able to stay home with the baby—it can be exhausting. Moms do a lot! The level of both physical energy and mental focus required is more than I ever expected. I’m tired. Which is why, when my husband told me back in August that he was taking me to the Caribbean, JUST THE TWO OF US, I was ecstatic. We hadn’t been away, alone, for more than a night or two in almost five years, and now he was telling me that my mother-in-law had graciously agreed to watch our children so we could be away for five days!

My husband had planned (all in secret, mind you) a fabulous getaway to St. Thomas. Unfortunately, this year’s hurricane season battered the area. We were heartbroken for the people there, and beyond disappointed to miss the chance to visit (for now, anyway). But, as it turns out, Jamaica is typically far enough west to avoid the brunt of hurricane season and is therefore the perfect destination for early October.

Most of the hotels in Jamaica are all-inclusive, and it turns out that this change in our plans worked perfectly. In my opinion, there are two really great things about all-inclusive resorts—one is that everything is already paid for so you can eat and drink yourself insensate (if you so choose) and it all costs the same. The second is that there is very little to think about.

When you are a Mom, you are constantly thinking—are they getting enough fruits and veggies in their diet? Did I pick up the dry cleaning? Are they making friends at school? What should I make for the bake sale? Is the dog walking funny? The level of planning and just thinking in general is almost never required at an all-inclusive. There are only a few restaurants on property, so there’s no calling around trying to secure reservations and transportation—and most places have some sort of buffet-night, so you don’t even have to decide which of the three restaurants you want to eat at that night.

Our resort offered a variety of daily activities—yoga, dance classes, crafts, snorkeling, SCUBA, you name it. Even better, almost none of the classes required a sign-up beforehand, so I didn’t have to think too far ahead about those. If I wanted to eat, there was room-service and dining options 24 hours a day. In my daily life, I tend to watch every penny, and there was no thinking about what anything cost—is $49 too much for an entrée? There are no prices on the menu because you already paid for it! I didn’t even have to work out how much to tip my bartender, because there’s no tipping allowed!

Is this a piece about the wonders of the all-inclusive resort? No! It’s a piece about the merits of getting away for a couple of days and totally shutting off your brain. For four days, my job was not to take care of everyone and everything in my home, my job was to sit on my butt and relax. I didn’t have to think about anything. The toughest decision I made during those four days was whether to get the deep-tissue massage or the hot stone (I went deep-tissue).

The benefits of this vacation were two-fold. After seven months of waking up every two-hours, I needed to sleep through the night, and not set an alarm for a few days. Because we love our children, we needed to get away—not get away from them, per se, but to get away for them. I needed to step back and recharge. We missed them, of course, and being away from a baby is hard because they change so much at this age, but I owed it to them to take some time and get some sleep and do for me so that I could come back and do for them.

I also needed to connect with my husband. It’s easy for the marriage part of a marriage to fall by the wayside when you have small children. We weren’t “in trouble,” but it felt like we hadn’t really spent much time together in a long time. Sure, on a Friday night we put the kids to bed, put our jammies on and fire up the Netflix. But my husband is usually snoring long before the credits roll, and watching TV together isn’t really connecting on a meaningful level anyway. Stranger Things is awesome, but watching it isn’t really making memories that will last a lifetime.

Being away alone allowed us to connect on a meaningful level. We had our meals together without either of us getting up to fetch clean napkins or more water or ketchup. We sat on the beach and swam in the ocean and drank cocktails before dinner and had (uninterrupted) adult conversation during all of it. We connected, and we made memories. The craziness of our lives at home, him with a newish job, me (us) with a new-baby and a very active four-year old made the total relaxation of a tropical vacation feel all the more profound. I don’t know that I’ve felt that relaxed ever. And I think that’s so important—you gotta recharge those batteries.

I know that not everyone is lucky enough to have an energetic mother-in-law who is willing to look after a baby and a vivacious four-year old, and maybe finances won’t allow for five days out of the country. But I can’t recommend a few days of fun in the sun with no responsibilities enough. If you don’t have family to watch your littles, maybe a close friend or trusted nanny or babysitter? Perhaps you could watch your friend’s kids one weekend and they return the favor the next?

And it doesn’t even have to be in the sun, the no responsibilities part is the requirement. And you don’t have to get on a plane either—maybe a house or apartment swap (with takeout, no cooking!) and a pile of DVDs or books to consume? A staycation (with no kids!) can be very restorative as long as you’re disciplined enough to let the laundry pile up (I’m not!). And those discount apps always have great deals on midweek getaways. I found that just stopping every once in a while is priceless. When we got  home, my husband and I made a deal to try and find a way to have at least three to four days alone as a couple every year or so. Reconnecting as a couple and taking time to take care of me made me a better wife and a happier mom.

What are your thoughts on a mom get-away? Comment below?