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Ditch your kids and have your own summer vacation

Jill is a sometime runner and expert wine taster from sunny San Antonio. She has a degree in social psychology, one husband and three children. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Babble and she's regular...

How a kid-free weekend made me a better mom

I recently went away for a long weekend with my husband. Just my husband.

I could feed you a line about how we considered taking our three children… but no... never even on the table.

I left my children in capable hands with a responsible adult. A detailed list of instructions was taped to the fridge along with evacuation plans, alternate evacuation plans and emergency phone numbers.

My inner critic chastised me for planning a getaway that included spa treatments and a brewery tour while my kids were stuck at home eating Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and watching basic cable.

I went anyway.

When my husband and I approached airport security we unconsciously drifted toward the family and special assistance line. We saw a guy dressed as a giant yellow M&M in the duty-free shop (OK, that was just creepy) and I thought, "Oh, wouldn't the kids like that?" Then I caught myself getting in line with the families boarding with children. I thought an attack of mom guilt was inevitable. We hadn’t even left home and I wasn’t enjoying myself because I kept thinking, "You suck for leaving your kids."

Right then and there, I decided mom guilt could bite me.

I'd like to tell you I had a good time in spite of missing my kids but here's the thing: I didn't miss them a bit.

I didn't miss them at 5:30 a.m. when I rolled over and touched my husband. This is usually impossible because of the 4-year old wedged between us.

I didn't miss them when I heard, "When would you like to go to breakfast, darling?" instead of, "Mommy, I want cereal right now!"

I didn't miss my kids when I went straight to the buffet to get food — my food — instead of a complicated tag-team effort between me and my husband to put food in front of my hungry kids before they demolished the hotel dining room. I didn't miss them when I ate a meal without having to cut food that wasn’t mine. I didn't miss doing the walk of shame out of the hotel restaurant, leaving behind a trail of Cheerios and banana peels.

I didn't say "because I said so” or " use your inside voice” the entire weekend. I had grown-up drinks served in breakable glassware and caught a buzz in the middle of the day because I felt like it. I shopped without fear of what little sticky hands might break.

I called home at regular intervals. I talked to my little angels about important stuff, like what kind of surprise I was bringing and to assure them of my love. I enjoyed being me instead of the frazzled multitasking mom who tries to do a gazillion things at once.

I hugged my kids hard when I got home. I didn't complain about dirty faces or dirty floors. I sat on the couch and snuggled with my boys. Well, I sat on the couch while my lap was the focal point of "King of the Mountain," but it's all good.

Motherhood doesn't come with vacation days — we all know this — but getting a break gave me some mom momentum. Sometimes I feel like I’m just going through the motions, mentally checking things I should do off my list. Three blissful, child-free days of my own summer vacation was just what the doctor ordered to recharge.

So, I ditched my kids and had my own summer vacation. I didn’t let mommy guilt interfere with me time. Make some time for you, whether that be a kid-free trip, a date night, or just one kid-free hour (locking yourself in the bathroom with wine counts). It might give you a fresh perspective. At the very least, it makes the thought of tackling your laundry pile or watching another episode of Doc McStuffins a little more bearable.

More on parenting

Ways to give your relationship new life
Romantic getaways for couples
Mommy guilt: "You" time versus "kid" time

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