The agenda? Chocolate-making classes, afternoons at the beach, and luxurious massages with tropical herbal oils. The mission? To somehow not feel guilty the entire time.
At the end of the last year, I saw one of my friends, a fellow work-at-home mom and entrepreneur, post a smiling selfie of herself at the beach. With the sun shining on her face, her caption explained how every year, she treats herself to a day away from her family to relax, rejuvenate, and asses her plan for next year. She looked completely relaxed and happy and looking at her picture, I felt, well, completely jealous.
I recognized at the time that my jealous wasn’t really jealousy that she had gone on vacation by herself, of course, but that I was actually wistful about the fact that she had taken what I perceived to be such a drastic step for herself and her business. I wish I could do something like that! I thought to myself.
But deep down, I couldn’t fathom possibly doing something like that. Leave my husband alone with our four kids eight and under? What would people think of me?! A move like that would pretty much make me the world’s most selfish mother, wouldn’t it?!
Or would it?
It turns out that the world doesn’t stop if you leave your family for a day or two, guys. It also turns out that taking a literal time-out for yourself as a mom, a wife, a business owner or just a freaking human being does not make you selfish. In fact, I’m starting to think it makes you downright smart.
Last week, I went to an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana without my husband or my four kids and despite the fact that I completely panicked about leaving the country alone for the first time in eleven years, I did it. And I had an incredible, life-changing time; I hit the beach, read actual paper books for the first time in forever, ate delicious food without helping anyone else cut theirs up, drank the best coffee ever (or maybe it’s just better when it’s actually hot??), toured the Dominican Republic, went horseback riding, took a chocolate-making class, and even — get ready for it — enjoyed a luxurious massage with tropical oils at the resort spa.
I had to snap my own totally relaxed and happy selfie just to commemorate the occasion, because if I hadn’t been there myself, I wouldn’t have believed it was happening either.
I’m not sure what anyone else thinks of the fact that I took this trip by myself, but honestly, after doing it, I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was an important investment in myself and my business and if I’m allowed to say such a thing, I’m even a teensy bit proud of myself. It was terrifying to leave the country for me — I’m a huge homebody and I was so afraid of all the million things that could go wrong. So it feels good to have overcome that fear and remember that deep down, underneath my mom label and my wife label, I’m still me.
I’ve learned that as moms, we hold ourselves back in so many ways. We convince ourselves that things will fall apart without us, we tell ourselves we’re “fine, that we don’t need anything,” that there are so many more important things to worry about in the world, that we’re happy, really.
But sometimes, it takes getting away to realize just how good it feels to take that deep breath and really, truly relax. I’m not saying you necessarily need to fly out of the country and go on an epic adventure like I did, but taking time to step out of your normal routine and hand over the reigns to someone else for a change feels so darn good, you guys.
Last year, when I saw my friend’s picture, I wondered how on earth she could possible have pulled leaving her family to get away by herself. Now, however, I know that if you have ever dreamed of getting away as a mom, it’s totally possible — and completely worth it.
I vote that every mom should take time out for herself every year, to reflect and recharge. Maybe it’s an afternoon in a coffee shop, maybe it’s a trip away, but whatever it is, I know that my mentality towards getting away alone as a mom has definitely changed. I will never again think of a mom leaving her family as “selfish,” but as a mom who is making a smart move for her own health.
Where would you go on your own self-retreat?