Why is that? And when did it become such a bad thing to take a vacation, or even just a day to yourself? When did being a mother require you to spend every single hour with your child until they ship off to college at age 18? (I remember my parents going on vacation every year without me. I never resented them for it. In fact, I liked getting to spend a week with gram on the farm, or as I got older, having the house to myself. Not once did it ever cross my mind that they were being bad parents, it just seemed a normal way of life. People worked, people took vacations. Sometimes those vacations didn’t include the kids.)
You can’t go horseback riding on the beach in Nevis with a toddler.
At a recent conference I attended in Detroit, it was mentioned that mothers today spend more hours a day with their children than they did in the 1960s. And that was when most women were stay-at-home moms! Today, mothers may be spending less hours cooking and cleaning, but we’re making it up with time spent with the kids. Add in a job and you have moms who work all day only to come home and work their “second job.” If anyone deserves a few days off, it’s the modern mom.
So why are we so quick to judge each other for taking that time off? I asked some of my mom friends if they ever go away without the kids and I was astonished to hear the answer “yes” from 90% of them. Most of them aren’t posting photos of their happy (and quiet!) kid-less getaways on Facebook. Is it out of shame? Also interesting: Many of my non-American friends don’t feel the guilt I do as a mom when I step away. In fact, these European moms were shocked to hear that I even felt bad to take a day off, as it’s such a normal part of life for them. As author Pamela Druckerman of Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting said: “Yet the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this.
So yes, it’s time to stop feeling guilty, and to stop shaming other parents for taking a little time off to recharge as well. Here are a few tips on how you, too, can learn to slip away without the kids:
1. Make sure all necessary documents are ready in case of emergency.
Have living wills prepared (if both parents are going to be away together), and have a notarized letter of consent for the caregiver staying with the children allowing them to have medical procedures performed if the worst should happen.
2. You don’t have to go far.
Even taking an overnight or day trip to a local spa or hotel counts! You may be surprised by how recharged you feel even if you’re only away for 24 hours (or less.)
3. Get a cheap international plan with FaceTime or texts.
You can always log on your phone or iPad internationally via WiFi for free, and most resorts offer it. You can even use Facebook for free messaging instead of texts. But, just in case of an emergency, I usually get a cheap international plan for about $30 that consists of approximately 50 minutes of phone time and 50 texts. Plus, it’s always fun to FaceTime the kids from the beach.
4. Affordable getaways are possible.
There are tons of great (and cheap) options if you want to get away for a few days. For international vacations, I use Jetsetter.com;Groupon and LivingSocial.com always have great weekend or day trips available based on your location as well.
5. Don’t feel guilty to set sail with your friends.
Think of all the cool things you can do without the babies in tow—zip-lining in Puerto Rico, conch diving in Turks and Caicos, exploring the local fishing towns and food in Barbados.
Have you traveled without the kids lately? How did you feel leaving them at home? Let us know in the comments section below!