Do Moms Need Vacations From Their Kids?

34 comments

Some years ago I caught a snippet of an Oprah show on moms who took vacations from their kids.

I can’t say it resonated with me particularly – these women were going away on retreats or for weeks at a time.

But I agree we all need a break from our kids now and then.

Sometimes it’s just to have an uninterrupted conversation.

Sometimes it’s to have a nap or an hour’s read.

Sometimes it’s to connect with our spouse.

Sometimes, it’s to take care of important work.

And sometimes, frankly, it’s to have a good cry.

There are times when we need to feel safe from the incessant demands, the noise, the peal of ‘I’m hungry!’ which seem on occasion to bombard us. To know we are absolutely not going to be disturbed.

And it’s not just the kids.

I remember a time when, with infants not yet on a sleeping schedule, I had by some miracle got the boys to nap at the same time.

They were asleep either side of me on the sofa and I daren’t move just in case they woke up. A sacrifice I was more than prepared to make.

I relaxed into this unexpected and unfamiliar experience of peace during daylight hours, slipped down the sofa just slightly, closed my eyes.

And then.

The garage door buzzed up, a roar of an open top sports car entered the enclosed space, music blaring. Doors were slammed, grocery bags banged, heavy footsteps clacked.

My husband had returned from his meeting.

I learned there and then that male energy does not peacefully coexist with a houseful of infants and a sleep-deprived female. My one chance at peace for possibly years had disappeared.

Phones – another bugbear of mine.

You know how your kids can be playing or eating quite happily when the phone rings and they suddenly start to fight, complain or throw food?

It was ridiculous.

One minute they’d be playing with blocks side by side, doing just what Dr. Brazelton said they should.

Then the phone would go and they’d suddenly be doing a creditable impression of Chucky.

Now they’re older, it’s playdates and classes and play rehearsals and homework.

Organization gone mad.

I feel I have to become one of those professional organizers just to be a mom!

I was complaining about this to another mom in the school parking lot last week. We were bemoaning our lot. We turned our engines off, windows wound down. Lasted half an hour. But, oh it was good.

Pure venting, it was. No solutions, just venting.

Venting. Cocaine for moms.

Yes, sometimes we need a break, a vacation. Even Superman went on one of those now and again so I’m sure Warrior Woman can too.

So where do you go to get away from the incessant? When it all gets too much or it’s about to?

I have friends who go to Hawaii. Other girlfriends have a spa weekend.

Me? I go into our sauna.

Alone.

And naked.

They never follow me there.

What do you think about taking a vacation from the kids? Is it necessary? Appropriate? Tell me what you think in the comments!

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Gretchen November 10, 2010 at 3:22 pm

I love your blog.

As a single mom, I get every-other-weekend free from my parenting-duties. I used to spend those weekends crying & pouting… but now I look forward to them. Those 2 days away from my mom-duty… make me a better mommy, when kiddo returns.

In between those weekends, I take my break after my daughter goes to bed…. a magazine, a glass of wine, or a cup of decaf… does wonders to calm my soul.

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Alison Golden November 10, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Aww, Gretchen. Thank you. I am always quietly shocked by who reads my blog 🙂

I’m so glad you’ve been able to turn those weekends around. I have to say there are times when I am a little bit envious…

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Green Bean
Twitter:
November 10, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Perfect timing! I haven’t had more than 3 minutes to myself all day because my oldest has been home “sick”. Not truly sick, just sick enough for school. It isn’t that we don’t love them. It’s just that we need a tiny, wee bit of time to take care of ourselves. To finish a thought. To take a few deep breathes and maybe even a couple of zzzzz’s.

Oh, and that naked sauna thing? That so wouldn’t work for me.
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Alison Golden November 10, 2010 at 5:01 pm

You mean they’d follow you in there? Even if you were naked?

Wait a couple of years. They so won’t 😉

And that ‘sick but not sick thing.’ Brainpop. Perhaps that’ll be tomorrow’s post.

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Mary E. Ulrich
Twitter:
November 11, 2010 at 2:05 am

“Brainpop”–love that word and idea.

I don’t know why we mothers are so hard on ourselves. We have such high expectations to do things perfectly–And there is no perfect.

And yea, the kids did follow me into my bath. It’s not quite as relaxing to have them pounding on the door 🙂 after I locked it and told them to go away–but they learned.

And you’re right about the school hours being a reprieve.
Mary E. Ulrich recently posted..Dream Plan for Aaron- 1989 Part 2My Profile

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Alison Golden November 11, 2010 at 2:25 pm

I shut my bathroom door too now. I never realized what a difference a simple action like that would make.

Brainpop is educational software I discovered when I was homeschooling. I still buy a subcription every year. I’ll blog about it one day.

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Melody
Twitter:
November 11, 2010 at 4:31 am

Hey Alison,

I dream of going on a vacation from my kids! Not for a week, but like 3 whole freakin’ months ;-)))

I’ve only escaped for about 5 days at the most…a couple hours away…to get a massage!

My girls are 13 and 11, so I don’t think it’s as hard to take a break as when they were younger. They are awesome girls who can get themselves ready for school and manage to get their homework done without assistance from me. WOO HOO

LOL on the moms becoming professional organizers! That’s what happened to me, LITERALLY, when my girls were 3 and 5. I need all the support I can get, so I rally my troops and motivate them, along with myself.

I absolutely love my “professional organizer” job;-))) Especially because of the amazing, awesome, down-to-earth ladies I meet.

Great article! Looking forward to many more from you! Thanks for keeping it real…and fun.
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Janet DeVito November 27, 2010 at 2:40 am

Melody, you crack me up!! Too funny! I love your style and sarcasm! I have raised 5 children and the only way I made it through was Vacationing FROM them!! LOL I even started a business to do exactly that! When I host our Girlfriend Getaways, I meet the funniest people! And the mood is always great….I think it is actually a fact that it is healthy for you!

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Alison Golden November 11, 2010 at 2:26 pm

I’m very intrigued by your blog post title, Melody. Must go check it out! 😉

Do you think being a professional organizer helps being a mom?

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Christy Smith November 13, 2010 at 3:56 pm

I am a step-mom, but we have our boys exactly 1/2 the time, so there can be a fairly dramatic difference in energy levels in the house when they are here vs. when they aren’t. I feel a bit selfish (as I know my husband does) when I think “gosh- I’d love to just have a minute of quiet!” when we don’t have them with us full-time.
I love the idea that you’ve found a place they won’t venture for when you need it- it is so important to have a little alone-time to gather your thoughts!

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Alison Golden November 13, 2010 at 4:01 pm

You know, Christy, I can relate to the differing energy levels. I feel like that between school and after school when they are home. The difference can be shocking to the system. I can imagine that it’s quite hard to go from no kids for several days then full-on kids for the next few. I keep saying this but those transitions are hard! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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Annie at Maximum Chaos November 14, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Alison,

I just discovered your blog and love it. I had to share your posting and link back to it. You totally have captured my mindset – parents (specifically moms) do need the occasional breaks from the wee ones and SO’s!

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Alison Golden November 14, 2010 at 7:56 pm

Hey, Annie, welcome! Thank you so much for sharing and linking. I do appreciate it. I’m glad the post resonated with you. We do need these occasional times separate and sometimes we just need to give ourselves permission.

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[Majorca Apartment] November 23, 2010 at 2:32 am

Luckily for me the school held a 2 week trip abroad for my two kids and I was able to go away for with my friends to Las Vegas without worry. The kids thoroughly enjoyed their trip and so did we. I feel sometimes you do just need to get away on your own and it makes the times with your children more special as I ended up missing them lots whilst I was away so didn’t take it for granted as much when I returned.

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Alison Golden November 23, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Wow, a two-week school trip! I have a week-long one coming up and with twins, they will both be gone. I am dreading it already.

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Janet DeVito November 27, 2010 at 2:42 am

I really do think that a “Happy wife, (mom) is a Happy Life” . Hey, let’s be honest…raising kids is stressful…and it is actually proven to be healthy to getaway from it all every once in a while. I raised 5 kids and am still here because I DID escape at least a few times a year!

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Janet DeVito November 27, 2010 at 2:44 am

NOT to mention that your KIDS might actually benefit from a “break” from YOU!! It is true! My kids used to love it when grandma or Aunt Jean came to stay with them….and then appreciated it when I came back!

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Alison Golden November 28, 2010 at 10:58 am

This is a good point, Janet. I loved visiting family by myself when I was a kid and enjoyed going back home too. Unfortunately, mine don’t have any family to go visit by themselves, so I have to do the leaving. And do it in short spurts. But school trips do the job just as well and I absolutely make sure I don’t volunteer on those. Then we all get a break from one another.

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Quincy November 28, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Hi! I don’t have children, but all of my friends do. I think it is absolutely necessary to take a vacation from them. Not only does it help the parents recharge their battery, but it also allows the child to develop some independence.

Sometimes a three-day weekend can help relieve stress from consecutive weeks full of scheduled events. The one thing about having children is that you’re always on their clock. A few days without being “on the clock” could make a huge difference, in my opinion.
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Alison Golden November 30, 2010 at 5:35 pm

That’s very true, Quincy, about being on their clock. Good point. And rather insightful if I may say so for someone who doesn’t have children. I hadn’t noticed that myself until you mentioned it! 🙂

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Lisa D Liguori
Twitter:
December 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm

As usual, another thought provoking post. I have to say, one of my least favorite movies is Thelma and Lousie. Only because, one of them (Is it Thelma, I can’t keep them straight) leaves her kids, and I mean just LEAVES her kids to go off on this adventure. HELLO.
Yes, we all need breaks, even from our most cherised positions in life – being moms to our kids, but just little bits at a time. IMHO.
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Alison Golden December 2, 2010 at 11:36 am

Hi Lisa:

I never watched Thelma and Louise all the way through. I couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. The bit I did watch, I found unpleasant. But I suppose it was a breakout movie of it’s time. I am shortly to have a break on my kids imposed on me by a 5 day school trip. Both gone at the same time. That will be quite an interesting experience, one I am currently not looking forward to one little bit :-/

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Janet DeVito December 2, 2010 at 2:07 pm

Alison! IN those 5 days, you will go through a few different emotions…one will be “Oh I miss them”, the other might be “OMG! I love this!” DOnt feel guilty….because they will be having THEIR fun!! Yes, they will miss you, but they will also have their “OMG I am having so much fun” moments!!

I really believe this with all my heart, that being away from your kids for 2, 3, 5 or more day breaks is actually healthy for everyone! Because of these mixed emotions, it does teach them (and YOU – as a future empty nester!) to grow and become more independent.

We went away about 2 or 3 times a year without the kids and they always looked at it like it was THEIR vacation! They had fun! And it did teach me to be able to be away from them without FREAKING OUT! or FEELING guilty! And the best is that when I returned…I felt so refreshed!!!!!

Thelma and Louise is a fantasy based movie. It is bordering on ridiculous, but still fun to watch if you like that kinda thing!!
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Alison Golden December 2, 2010 at 8:09 pm

Janet, as someone who is obviously experienced in this, how would suggest someone like me prepare for this empty nest? I am not an especially anxious mother at all but the idea of them both being away at once for so long with me staying at home is not as compelling as the time I went away to a hotel in New York by myself when they were 6.

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Janet DeVito December 3, 2010 at 3:44 am

ALison, It will feel weird that you are home while they are away. IF you were away, not so weird! SO give yourself something special to look forward to…something that you usually cannot do because of obligations with the kids. Lunch or Happy hour with a friend that you havent had time for. Treat yourself to a spa appt one evening, then home to a nice relaxing night watching tv or reading a book with a glass of wine. Close the blinds, blast music and dance around the house naked!! Do something that makes you have your own secret thoughts…so after they come home…you actually cherish the thoughts of when you were on your own!! Make these “alone” days special. You will actually find yourself looking forward to them again!

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Alison Golden December 3, 2010 at 5:04 pm

Thanks for the advice, Janet. I will try to do just that. Well, perhaps not the dancing naked thing…:)

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Stephanie Clay
Twitter:
February 8, 2011 at 8:29 pm

This was a great post. Yes we surely need a break from the kids every now and then. Just a quick refresher.
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Alison Golden May 11, 2011 at 10:48 pm

Makes all the diff, doesn’t it Stephanie? Then we come back refreshed and ready to get stuck in again. Thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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Linda
Twitter:
September 21, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Can I just say that I began my day with one of your posts, and now I’m ending with another…albeit, I’m about 10 months late to the party…:P.

Totally agree with the kids-free vacation. I believe it’s a parenting imperative, if not for the children, too. I always remember my (eternally patient) sister arriving at our house to watch Jr. as a toddler. He lit up when he saw her as he knew that the next few hours with Auntie Amy meant undivided attention and focus. Oh, and she always organized his play area…to this day he reminds me that I’m not as organized as she. “Really?”

I can’t imagine having twins, Alison–as blessed and beautiful as I’m sure every pair is. Some of us were just meant to end at uno.

May we all have the opportunity to vent on occasion!
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Alison Golden September 27, 2011 at 10:38 am

Hey, beginning the day with me and ending the day with me is fine *with* me, although the others in your life might not be so fine. 🙂

Aunties are wonderful aren’t they? I loved mine when I was a kid, even if they weren’t blood relatives. Somehow, mom is just mom and someone new so much more interesting!

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Janet devito September 22, 2011 at 4:32 am

During raising 5 kids, my hubby and I always took time to go away at least once a year without the kids. I truly believe that kept us “knowing each other as a couple and not just co parents”!
I also valued my time away with the girls and after a few years I started organizing womens getaways ….. The best thing I ever did! It kept me and my friends “knowing each other as BFFs and just girls” and not just lunch friends. It has been a great time to reconnect.

My advice….GETAWAY! And take time to nurture your adult relationships!

Janet (Girlsonacruise.com)

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Alison Golden September 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

You’re really passionate about this, Janet. I can tell 🙂 I know the universal refrain from friends who have gone away for girl weekends – “It was SUCH fun!” I get to go visit my family in England a couple times a year. The trip starts the moment I sit down at the flight gate and crack open my book. Ahhh…..

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Janet DeVito September 27, 2011 at 10:46 am

SO true! Sometimes I really enjoy flying alone to meet friends. Just having the option to do what “Janet” wants to do, without taking kids, hubby and everything else into consideration. It gets me back in touch with me! Makes me feel like I am spoining myself. Ahhhh….how simple things can restore you!
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c.lopez December 26, 2011 at 10:46 pm

My kids are 17,15, my youngest is about to be 14. I have never went on vacation and I need one really bad I just cant afford to take one. I have raised my kids alone for 17 years but as a mom I can dream…

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