Vacation time: Psychologists explain why mothers need to go solo
When you’re a mother, it’s easy to feel guilty about taking time for yourself. Your responsibilities towards your kids can be overwhelming, and you may worry that they’ll suffer without you.
But the act of taking a little vacation without your kids, and even your partner, is actually a positive one.
Known also as a “momcation,” these types of solo holidays can work wonders for any mother. In fact, never taking one can actually be detrimental to you.
And that’s not just us saying it – this is a fact that experts know all too well! Being a mom is a full-time job, and what job doesn’t give you a few days off?
Here are some benefits of you going solo on that much-needed get-away:
1. YOU’LL GET A BREAK BEFORE YOU BURN OUT
This one goes without saying. As we said, being a mother is a full-time job, and although most mothers consider their happy, healthy children to be enough of a reward in lieu of payment, it can still get tiring. Still, there’s no humane job in the world that would require you to work 365 days a year with no break!
Sure, you might go on trips with your whole family sometimes, but that doesn’t give you the chance to take a break from that ever-so-demanding job. Think about it – is any vacation with your children really a vacation for you when you have to pack for them, keep tabs on them, and handle the eventual tantrums in a place you’re not familiar with?
We’re not picking on family vacations here, of course. They create amazing memories to be cherished and loved for years to come. But they’re not exactly momcation material; you need your own break alone to refuel in an environment that doesn’t require you to go full parent mode every few minutes.
What many stay-at-home moms don’t think about is just how much they do in a day for their children. You have to think about every single detail – clothes, food, even toilet time! Moms have to:
Get their kids up and dressed in the morning
Take their kids to extracurricular activities
Take on school-related responsibilities
Pick up after them (sometimes!)
Clean up constantly
Diffuse arguments and tantrums
This is a lot that you’re doing in a day, and worse still, you’re expected to do them. It’s easy to eventually get burned out if you have to do this 24/7 with no breaks and no me-time. More than one in ten of all parents actually experience high parental burnout once a week which affects their energy levels, positive thinking, and even parenting effectiveness. (1)
Taking a momcation can help prevent severe burnout, which can lead to other problems down the line: chronic stress, depression, anxiety, and more.
2. YOUR FAMILY WILL BENEFIT
Many mothers are afraid of leaving their families alone, worrying that they simply won’t be able to function without them. But as it turns out, your family may actually benefit from your occasional momcation, and maybe not for the reasons you think! Here’s how.
· IT SOLIDIFIES TRUST
If you have a partner you can trust – which, ideally, should go for any partner you’re committed to – then you can rest easy knowing that they can handle things at home. When you go on vacation, you might wonder if they’re up to the task, especially if you’re the one who usually handles kid-related things … but take a deep breath and use positive thinking!
When you happily leave your children with your partner, you are showing them that you trust them. You are indicating that you know they can take care of things just fine in your absence. This will also prepare you for the likelihood of future situations that may be more high-stress where your partner will have to be in charge at home.
· THEY WILL BOND
Of course, your children love your partner and their other caregivers, but when they see you the most, you have the strongest bond with them. Going on a momcation gives them a chance to bond with your partner a bit more.
On top of that, the small shift in the family dynamic while you’re gone may bring out some good in your kids. They may try to help each other out more or grow closer together since you’re not around to break up little arguments.
· YOUR PARTNER WILL UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU DO
As we mentioned previously if you’re the primary child-carer, then you do a ridiculous amount of work a day – and, unfortunately, you yourself may not realize the full extent of the effort you put in. If you don’t, then your partner may not, either.
A lot of what a mother does is considered an expected, given chore. When you allow your partner to take the reins for once, they get to see just how much you do. This will make them appreciate all the work you put in, and it can even improve your relationship.
3. YOU’LL REMEMBER THE PERSON THAT YOU ARE
Many mothers may become lost in their parenting job. It consumes them, becoming their entire personality. Of course, being a mother is definitely a large portion of your identity – but it should never be all of it. Don’t think this describes you? Well, think about this. When was the last time that you:
Bought something nice for yourself
Finished a TV series or a book
Took time for your hobbies
Spent time pampering yourself
Went out with friends to do something fun
Tried something new
Focused on achieving your own personal goals
Put your happiness first
Chances are that you’ve slowly lost yourself to motherhood. This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing, but it can be saddening – and it contributes to the deep dive in positive thinkingand overall happiness that happens when empty nest syndrome becomes something you have to deal with. (2)
When you travel on your own, you get to rediscover yourself. At last, you’re alone with your thoughts, free to explore your hobbies and think about the goals you have in life. You can go anywhere you want without worrying about child-friendliness. You can stay up as late as you want, watch whatever you want, and go shopping, dining, and sightseeing without the cries of children following you everywhere you go.
Remember, you don’t need to go on a fancy momcation to just be with yourself and enjoy your own company. As crucial as your kids are and as central as they are to your life, you are still the only person you can never truly be apart from. Make sure you’re acquainted with yourself.
4. YOUR KIDS WILL GROW
No one is discounting the fact that your kids will miss you when you go on vacation. They’re used to you being around for them constantly, so they’ll definitely feel your absence. It may take them a little while to get used to not having you around – but, even in just a short amount of time, they will grow.
To begin with, your children will gain maturity. Sure, your kids do have someone else looking after them whenever they’re away from home (at daycare or school), but they learn a lot in the brief time you’re away. You may be surprised to come back and find them to be smarter, calmer, and much more grown-up overall!
Why does this happen? The shifting dynamic means your children have to find certain traits buried within themselves to adapt. Their leadership abilities, patience, and skills they’ve learned come to the forefront; as they practice them throughout your momcation, they get better and better at them. By the time you come home, they’ll have grown so much!
This doesn’t mean that your kids are better off without you, so don’t think that! What it does mean, though, is that they will be fine while you’re gone. They’ll be able to look after themselves as your partner or other caregiver supervises them.
Plus, as selfish as it sounds, your children will gain more appreciation for you while you’re gone. They’ll miss you, realize how much you do for them, and realize that you have a gigantic impact on their everyday lives. This means they’ll be a little easier to work with when you come home, as they’ll see your daily tasks and chores with new eyes.
5. YOU’LL GROW TOO, AND COME BACK BETTER
It isn’t just your kids who will grow while you’re away on your momcation. You’ll grow, too. Traveling alone gives you a chance to expand your horizons as an individual, and that makes you advance in life. You’ll have the chance to see, think, and experience in new, transformative ways. Here are all the positive ways that travel can affect you: (3)
Makes you more creative
Allows you to transform
Educates you on other cultures
Helps you feel satisfied with life
Makes you more confident
Enhances relaxation and reduces stress
Makes you feel happy and boosts positive thinking
Lowers the risk of mental health disorders
Makes you stronger
Makes you feel more human
Why doesn’t this work when you take a vacationwith your whole family? Well, your mind is focusing on logistics during that time. You’re working overtime to get everything going smoothly, juggling multiple tasks at once, and focusing more on being a mother than being a traveler.
6. YOU’LL COME HOME REFRESHED
When it’s finally time for you to come home, you’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle everything. The things your family members do that were starting to feel annoying will become endearing again. You’ll see the bigger picture and appreciate your family even more for what they are.
Plus, you’ll miss your children so much when you’re gone that you’ll be thrilled to be back home. You’ll go from burned out to excited to get back to motherly tasks within a short momcation. Sure, getting back into the swing of things may be a challenge at first, but you’ll be well-rested and ready to take it all on.
Mumcations should be a staple of every mother’s year. There’s nothing wrong with needing a break from the hustle and bustle of life as a parent. It’s okay to get away from it all every now and then, and when your vacation is over, you’ll come home to the family you love so much!