I recently took a “short” trip away from home, sans baby, and I’m here to tell you why it is important for you, your baby, and your family. Read on for what worked, what didn’t work, and what I would do differently next time!
While it was hard to leave my husband alone with our 15 month old for multiple days, it was also well-needed as I hadn’t treated myself to some “me” time since our daughter was born. Something that I was both excited and nervous about at the same time, but in the end I was glad I went through with it.
So let’s recap. I decided to go on a girls’ trip this fall to a small town in northern Minnesota on the shores of Lake Superior. I was gone 4 WHOLE days, including travel time. First of all, my number one piece of advice would be NOT to book a flight at 6:45 AM, when the airport is over an hour away and you also have a concert to go to the night before. But I’ll be honest, that was just poor planning on my part.
I had a GREAT time with my girls, enjoying the simple, rustic pleasures of cabin life, shopping with money I don’t have, and drinking some good wine. I was able to re-vamp my active lifestyle, from running to hiking to yoga, with my childless friends. We enjoyed the beautiful fall colors, riding back roads in style on ATVs, and relaxing in the hot tub (that we may or may not have snuck in to while making friends).
We filled our days with tons of activities, and we relaxed at night without any sign of Elmo, nursery rhymes, or dirty diapers. No worries about checking my to-do list – because I didn’t have one! Although early bed times and early alarm clocks are now commonplace in my life, I was able to black out everything and actually SLEEP IN…finally able to catch up on a few hours of the sleep I’ve been lacking for the past year and a half!
Did I miss my little one? Heck yes. Any mother would be lying if they said they didn’t miss their child on a trip as long as this. Thankfully, I had cell service the entire time (something I wasn’t too sure of before the trip, causing a lot of anxiety). My wonderful husband sent me multiple pictures and updates every day. We tried facetime but ultimately that backfired, because she would see me and instantly start crying and wanting mommy. So, my advice, be weary of video calls as they can make things harder for the babes. But, receiving a video of her was one of the cutest and most treasured things I could’ve gotten while away.
With all that said and done, I really do think it was well worth the trip, and here’s why:
Everyone needs a break. Not even talking as a parent, but just life in general. We all go through stressful times, and sometimes a ‘getaway’ can be the answer. Not running away from your problems, but just taking a break.
Moms need a break, too. Especially in today’s society (although I don’t think it will change with breastfeeding and our natural role), women generally carry the so-called “burden of childcare”. I’d venture to say most of us love and cherish it and we are grateful to be with our kids, but it is hard work.
You learn the importance of taking time just for yourself. As stressed out, over-worked mothers we simply don’t function at our best. We aren’t the most patient or loving or willing to do what we need or may want for our kids, like giving them the attention they deserve and thrive off of. By taking care of YOUR needs, you can better take care of your children’s needs, thus creating a happier, healthier home.
This can also transcend into your daily life, giving you a reminder to take the time every week or every day for some self-love. Let’s face it, we all need reminders. Even when I put things in my calendar, planner, phone, and multiple to-do lists, I STILL need reminders. So taking a longer trip, to reconnect with old friends or family is a great reminder of the importance every single day to take time for you, just on a smaller level.
Explore the world, unplugged. With kids, it can sometimes be hard to get away from all the technology in our everyday lives. From TVs to ipads, phones, electronic toys and gadgets, smart watches… the list goes on! This trip I took was a great way to have fun, being outside for the majority of each and every day. I had the time to exercise again, walk around town, explore a new city and not worry about what time it was. Was it snack time? Are we getting close to nap time? Should we get back home for lunch time? Nope. No need to keep track, because I was on my own time, my own schedule. No need to check my phone for updates, reminders, or the time.
You love everyone a little more. OK, so you’re already convinced you can’t love your little bundle of joy any more than you do right now. That thought definitely ran through my mind after my little one was born. Then it ran back through my mind, again and again. Every time my girl would do something so cute, so sweet, so innocent, I was proven wrong, yet again. But spending a short time away from your family can really make you love them just a little bit more. Or at least you have that same feeling, which is a win-win for everyone! Spending a short time away from your loved ones can help you cherish the time when you’re together.
Here’s a few tips to planning your trip away from baby!
(of course, these are solely based on my perspective and personal feelings)
Go somewhere far. If you’re only a short drive away, it’s hard to really focus on anything but your “normal” life. This is your chance to visit a new place, or really get away on your getaway.
Stay connected. While it’s great to unplug throughout the day, you still want to receive updates. Definitely go somewhere with cell service or access to Wi-Fi, otherwise you will be constantly thinking about what is going on at home instead of being present with everyone else.
BUT, leave your phone in your purse! I loved getting daily updates, pictures, and videos, but that shouldn’t be the focus of your trip. Try not to constantly check your phone for messages and updates. The point of a vacation is to relax, unwind, and enjoy being in the moment.
Leave your little ones with someone whom you are comfortable. You will find comfort in knowing that your babes are under the care of someone you trust, and who really knows your kids. My husband took care of our little one, and we had her in daycare one day, where she’s been going for a couple months now. She loves her friends at daycare, and we know she will love being there when she’s not with mommy and daddy!
Plan your trip with people who are uplifting! We all have or have had those friends that just bring you down. I’ll admit it, sometimes I am probably that person. But this trip should be fun, not stressful. I initially was going to say, “plan your trip with other moms”, but changed it, because I have a super understanding friend who despite not having kids, just gets it. She may not have kids, but she has two dogs, which are almost the same thing. (Just kidding, you can’t leave your baby in a baby crate all day!) But my point is, she is understanding when I say I miss my little girl, acknowledges my feelings, and then we move on to something else. And that meant a lot to me when taking this solo trip, when other thoughts like ‘I am a bad mother for leaving my kid at home while mommy goes on vacation’ were running through my head. Moms or not, surround yourself with those you want to be around!
Don’t go when baby is sick. I left right as my little one was on the mend from croup, starting to feel better and sleep through the night. Unfortunately, she ended up having another bout of croup that took more trips to the doctor. I got a late night phone call from my husband, which only caused me more anxiety about not being home or being there for my daughter. I would have felt SO much better knowing that she was happy and healthy at home, instead of fighting off another virus and struggling to breathe, while I was miles away.
Length of stay? Four days was perfect. Not too short, not too long. Anything shorter than 3 days, with travel time would have felt very rushed, and anything longer than 4-5 days would be a little too long to be away for the first time! Find what works for you and your family.
Change up your wardrobe. Now’s your time for fashion freedom! I’ve gotten in the rut of wearing the same things on repeat. What’s comfy, what’s simple, what’s clean… and I have a closet full of clothes I never wear anymore now that I’m a mother! This is your time to feel your best, look your best, in whatever way that means to you. I was finally able to wear those dangle earrings without fear for the safety of my ear lobes. And I could wear that cute top that I never wanted to get dirty from tiny little hands full of raspberries and mac-n-cheese. So do a little digging into the back of your dresser drawers and see what you can enjoy wearing again!
Most important of all, have fun on this trip. Make it your trip, set goals (if you want) for what you want to accomplish and what the purpose of the trip will be. Plan ahead so that you’re not struggling last minute to get everything done. This is your time, to relax, to reconnect, to do whatever you want with this trip. Enjoy it. And don’t forget to #treatyoself