Today I’m preparing for a weekend away with some friends – SANS kids (or partners)!! To say that I am excited would be an understatement. But it’s more than that for me at this point – it’s almost a necessity. Ok, I will most certainly survive without it but it’s definitely help me to be the kind of mom I want to be. Let me explain…
It’s been a trying month. I started a new job, my partner traveled extensively, and the sickness has made its way around our house. Mama is tired. My ‘to do’ list is long and my patience is short. It’s time for a break.
But this isn’t the theme of my post. I want to help YOU to prepare for a night away – because YOU deserve it.
No need to be fancy or elaborate – sleeping at your parents house or crashing at a friends place is fine. We’re just looking for the opportunity to rest and restore your body and your soul and bring you back to the parent you want to be.
But I can’t leave my baby! My family won’t survive without me! What if someone needs me? No one else can handle it! This is impossible!
Are you anxious yet? Have you given up on the idea?
Don’t! Let’s work it out step by step…
Start incrementally. If you’ve never even left for an hour maybe starting with an overnight trip is too much. Build up to it, even if it takes a few months to get there.
The bedtime routine is a place where we often feel anxious that no one can do it like we can. It’s true – it will be different, but that doesn’t mean bad. Try letting your partner or other caregiver handle a few bedtimes first before your big night away.
I want you to be confident that there are others who will care for and love your children and take care of them in a way that doesn’t stress you out!
Do the practical preparations. I know, you already do so much. But I promise you – a little forethought here will make all the difference in you actually enjoying your time.
Are you exclusively breastfeeding? Start to build up a freezer stash a few days or weeks beforehand. Have a little extra for your own peace of mind.
Do you do most of the cooking? If thinking about your family eating take out or fast food stresses you out – make a simple dinner ahead of time so it’s there for them.
Maybe you want to even lay out all your kids clothes or plan activities for them. If that’s what makes it work for you – go ahead. But maybe consider my next point…
Let it go (let it go….I am one with the wind and sky…) When I was away I used to always ask what my kids ate, how they slept, what they were doing and so on. Truthfully, that was a way of checking up on everything. It didn’t help me relax because I then started to focus on what I thought they should be doing/eating/wearing.
Now, all I ask is: Are you having fun?
Allowing your partner or other caregivers the space to make these decisions helps empower them too. It builds their confidence as parents and makes the next time easier.
Expect a mess. This was a huge learning curve for me. I would get so frustrated at coming home from being away and the house being a disaster and nothing that ‘I would have done’ actually got done.
Now, I expect it to be messy when I get home and I try my best to let it go and I make sure my partner is involved in the clean up.
Do what’s fun for you. Plan something that is fun for you and not just what you feel like you should be doing when you are away.
For example, this weekend for my friends is starting with Black Friday shopping. That’s a HARD Pass for me – so I will be drinking coffee and creating blog posts and meeting up with them later.
If what you want to do is go to bed early and drink wine in your pajamas that is perfectly acceptable. This time is about eliminating pressures and responsibility so you do you, mom.
Call when you need to. There is no rule that you have to maintain radio silence. If it makes you feel better to call and say hi or send a quick text – do it!
Know your limits. If staying away for a certain amount of time causes you more stress and anxiety then don’t do that! Figure out the right balance of time between enough to relax and too much so you’re anxious.
Expect things will be done differently. This is ok. Ultimately what is important is that your children are loved, cared for, and safe. It doesn’t matter what they wear or what they eat for dinner that day. Hey – I fed my kid a cookie with her breakfast today because – Friday.
It’s ok that your kids get used to someone else caring for them and the way someone else does things. This will make it easier the next time you want a break.
Also, our kids are way more adaptable and resilient than we give them credit for sometimes.
Let it go. This time I’m talking about The Guilt. It’s ok to ask for and plan for time to take care of yourself. It’s not indulgent. It also doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It just means you also value yourself.
Lastly, I know this is not a reality for everyone. We don’t all have the support available. But can you find ways for rest and recovery throughout the week?
Could you find a friend or a mom’s group and trade off for a few hours? You watch their kids for a while and they do it in return?
We need to find ways to take care of ourselves and help take care of our mama friends. Even starting with a few hours here and there will help – it is amazing the healing powers of a good nap and a hot cup of coffee.