Mom. Mommy. Mother. Mamá. I hear it all day from five of my most cherished people. Five girls with five thousand different needs all day long certainly means this mami’s work is never done! As a stay-at-home mom, I discovered early on that I was earning a lot of vacation time but not using it. And as anyone with a full-time job knows, taking vacation is important. That’s why I travel without kids sometimes, and why I know it makes me a better mother.
Some of my favorite memories are the adult-only vacations I’ve taken with my girlfriends. We laugh, we smile, and I get to be “just Tania” for a bit. Like a lot of moms, she sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of sports, chores, dinners, and the loco life of parenting.
Let’s be clear. I love my children. I would do anything for them. In fact, that is why I decided to be a stay-at-home mom. It’s a lot of sacrifice, but with the right balance, my children and I both win. I miss them when I travel without them, and that state of missing them is what helps me be a better mom.
When I started to have children, I soon became M’s mom or A’s mom and so on. My friends would usually turn out to be the mothers of my children’s friends. I soon found my identity turning into a pure caretaker role. Playdates were how I rolled. As I dedicated myself to my children, I was losing a little bit of myself.
There just wasn’t time to dedicate to myself. I was happy to get a shower. And when I did try to make time for myself, I felt guilty. Guilty for feeling like a free woman when I went to get my nails done or went out to dinner with a friend. Real adult conversation. Peace and quiet. Relaxation. No one really made me feel guilty. I did it to myself.
Let it Go
Fast forward many years to the time when I found my Disney people. I remember my first solo trip. I went to Walt Disney World to meet some friends. I was super nervous. What if something happened to me? What if the kids got sick? Could my husband handle getting the kids to school by himself? (By the way yes, he could, he’s their dad!) What if this? What if that? It’s like having kids turned me into a neurotic worrier, not to mention the fact that I dislike flying.
Let’s just say I survived, had a great time, got a little homesick, missed my kids and husband, but I was glad I did it. Fast forward to today. I’ve done a whole lot more solo trips. For work, for runcations, and just for pure play. I got rid of the mom guilt.
I like to joke to my husband that I’m inspiring women everywhere. But you know what? Recently when a couple of friends said to me, “I’m going on a trip, because of you. If you can go as a mother of 5, then so can I,” it made me feel really good. Like high-five, fist bump good. Another bonus is you don’t feel the wrath of the schools by taking your kids out during the school year.
I’m not saving the world here. But I’m saying it’s okay to viajar without your children and not feel guilty about it. And we travel with our children all the time, too! If you’re the type who says, “Oh no, I could never do that. I could never leave my children..and gasp, go to Disney without them!” Well don’t do it. It won’t make you happy. Or try a staycation nearby as a trial run.
Have a Good Support System
Admittedly, I have a good support system. If I need her, my mom lives close by and will help care for the kids. My husband doesn’t need her to, but she enjoys it. If she’s not available, my husband will take care of them. Sometimes he’ll work from home part of the time while the kids are at school, but he gets them ready for school, makes their lunches, brushes their hair, takes them to activities, puts them to bed. All 5 of them. On his own. Because he’s their father.
Now one thing I try hard not to do is criticize when I come home. I noticed the sugary cereals, types of crackers, Lunchables, etc., that I don’t like to buy in the pantry when I came home, but whatever. He does what he has to do to make it work, and I need to shut my mouth and be grateful.
I know it isn’t possible for all mothers or fathers to be able to dash somewhere for the weekend or a week. Try going on a day trip or even an afternoon trip that will allow you to explore by yourself. If you do decide to travel solo or travel without kids, here are some packing tips.
Come Home Refreshed
So maybe I came home exhausted from my last trip, but I better not show it, because my support system just went to bat for me.
I’ll say it: It’s nice to only have to worry about feeding, dressing, and bathing myself when I’m gone. I’m Tania, not someone’s mom for a moment. The girl who likes to run, laugh, bailar whenever possible, eat a lot of dessert, make jokes, be crazy, wear funky costumes, and make ridiculous faces in pictures.
Being with friends is good for the soul. Traveling with your spouse is good for a marriage. Then I come home to my babies, knowing myself better, and as a better me. That always makes me a better mamá. Time to start planning my next trip.