I’m a stay-at-home mom. For me, this means that my day startsaround 6:30 a.m. when the baby wakes up. Oftentimes, my day starts earlier, if the baby wakes up at 4 a.m. and I can’t fall back to sleep. My preschooler usually joins us in the kitchen around 7:00 a.m.
As a mom, you know that my day includes, but is not limited to: school-runs, grocery shopping, butt-wiping, laundry, dry-cleaning, paying bills, preparing meals, organizing play-dates, organizing closets, picking up prescriptions, doctor’s appointments, vacuuming… I could go on, but you know the drill, you do it too.
Add to this, my name being called for smaller (but sometimes larger) requests no fewer than four thousand times a day, sometimes more. It’s a lot of fun being a mom. It’s extremely rewarding, I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it’s also exhausting. It’s constant.
The level of energy and focus that my children require is extremely high. I also have a husband who also enjoys my attention and works long hours so isn’t always available to take much of the parenting pressure off. Thank God the cat doesn’t need much…
I do try and go “off the clock” at a certain point in the day—around 9:00 p.m. I stop picking up toys and sweeping up Cheerios and work on my own writing, pick up a book, or try to get current with a series (I’m almost done with season two of The Crown).
But if you’re a mom, you never really go “off the clock.” If your baby wakes up with a fever, or your preschooler needs some water — there you are. Mom’s sick? Better take some DayQuil and get on with it. Sick days are not part of the benefits package offered with being a mother.
But if being a mother is a full-time job (and, at the moment, it is my full time “job”) why shouldn’t you get some of the time-off associated with a regular job? You wouldn’t work for a corporation that offered no sick-time or vacation, would you? Of course not. Everyone needs a break to preserve their sanity and better enable them to do the job they’ve been hired to do. So too, with moms.
Now, I’m not talking about an hour a week for self-care — that yoga-class, or mani-pedi or This Is Us… Those are great, and you deserve them, but they are not enough. I’m talking about a minimum of 24 hours without hearing the words “Mom,” “Mommy,” or “Honey,” directed at you by someone who needs or expects something from you. You need and deserve a Mom-cation.
I’ve written before about the importance of getting away as a couple, but this is for you and you alone. No partners allowed. The reason for this is that you need time to do exactly what you want, and only what you want.
If you’re a mom, you’re probably a people-pleaser, and if your partner’s with you, you are likely to succumb to his or her needs at the expense of your own. On your Mom-cation, you should only watch a sci-fi or action film if that’s what YOU want to do. Meeting someone else’s needs before your own is absolutely forbidden.
I personally need a good balance of silence, exercise (preferably outside), and a little culture. Here are the rules:
- No one else is allowed on your Mom-cation. Unless you want a girl’s weekend with someone who requires nothing more from you than company.
- It must be at least 24 hours. Ideally you will treat yourself to a hotel with blackout curtains and room service.
- No alarm clocks — unless you really want to catch a beautiful sunrise.
- No work. No laundry, no vacuuming, no drafting a budget proposal for your day-job.
- If possible, Mom-cations should happen at least twice per year.
As you can see, the rules are pretty fluid. The only real rule is that you take care of you and you alone. My first year as a mom, I was able to take a weekend to myself and head to an inn and spa in the Catskills. I got a massage, took a long bath and ate dinner without feeding anyone else at the same time. It was heavenly.
Budget doesn’t always allow for such extravagance (although there was some savvy Groupon-ing involved with that one), but I don’t need a fancy inn either. This last weekend my husband packed up the kids and headed to his mothers. I ate my vegetarian dinner in silence, watched Wild on DVD, read a little, slept until 8:00 a.m. and took a four-mile walk in the sunshine.
I didn’t pick up a toy, wipe another person’s nose, or fold a piece of laundry. It was actually a struggle for me to step over those toys on the floor of the playroom, but it was worth it. My head was clear on my walk, and when I got home, and my family was there, I felt rejuvenated and ready to give 100% of myself to them again. But I can’t do it without recharging those batteries, and I don’t think you should have to, either