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October 9, 2018
This summer, I took a mommyhood vacation. Well, actually, I worked all week while my kids and husband went on vacation. Even so, without two littles on my heels and in my arms for five days, it felt like a holiday getaway.
I’d taken way too much time off earlier in the year, leaving me short on summer vacay opportunities, so we decided to divide and conquer this time around. While my husband played on the beach with his side of the family and our children, I stayed behind and kept my job.
Of course I knew I would miss my girls the second they boarded the airplane but I also knew I had a rare opportunity to do a lot of the things I never do, things that never happen because it’s hard to coordinate everyone’s needs on a weekly basis and because, when my kids are around, I really like to hang out with them (if you want more help with wrangling young kids, click here for our free guide).
I went to a movie (it had been three years since my last in-theater experience), I met my girlfriends for drinks on Saturday night, I planned a fancy brunch on Sunday morning. The mid-morning yoga class I loved pre-babies was finally an option. No one called and asked when I would be home. I WAS FREE.
“And then you realized you didn’t really want to be free.”
INCORRECT. I loved it. The guilt was gone. My time was mine. I could choose.
It would not be that hard to replicate any of this in my normal life. Shocker: my life pre-kids was not THAT interesting. I like to romanticize it in my mind. I like to pine away for it but I don’t really have to because none of the things I wanted to do without the pull of responsibility were that extravagant. No, I can’t do them all in a 48-hour continuous stretch every weekend, but I CAN sprinkle them into a weekly and monthly routine, achieving that same college-era “I just finished finals for the summer and I am free as a bird” feeling— that feeling of no pressure, no obligation, no me-shaped hole in my heart.
Those who know me know I’m constantly preaching that moms can’t take good care of their littles until they start taking good care of themselves. It’s that my attitude, while I’m taking care of myself, is often with a sense that I’m on borrowed time or that my kids are wistfully wishing for me each time I go away for short periods of time. What if I could shift that? Is it possible be mindful about my parenting responses, about my perspective on the stage of motherhood I’m in, but also about my self-care moments? What if I could truly enjoy my opportunities for enjoyment, sans mom guilt and martyrdom?
In my pediatrics office, the moms I see who learn that mindset trick are happier and better-adjusted to their new mommy role. They care deeply about their children but they know that having healthy priorities means not always putting their kids first—sometimes it means consciously, mindfully, putting themselves first for discrete periods of time. On the other hand, the moms I see who never acknowledge their own needs or who live in a “less than” mentality, struggle more than they need to. Those moms never get to fully enjoy motherhood OR their own personhood.
When I reunited with my babies at the end of our journeys, I felt complete again —back with the people I loved the most. But, I didn’t regret the decision we made to let me have some moments by myself. My mommyhood vacation taught me a lot —mostly about how I didn’t need more TIME to get all the self-care I think I need, I just need more perspective.
Want more information about how to parent and cope when you’re a new mom? Check out our book, The Newborn Baby Blueprint: Preparing to Care For Your Infant and Yourself.
Looking for baby registry or baby shower gifts? You’ll love our Newborn Gift Boxes (in Baby Boy, Baby Girl, and Gender Neutral). They’re full of information, inspiration, and a little love for all the mamas and mamas-to-be in your life (including you!).
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