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Seriously, What is a ‘Momcation’ — & Do I Deserve One?

“I had such a good time doing nothing, but the best was sleeping late,” my friend said.

Her voice carried a new, relaxed tone, and it melted through the phone into my brain. While my MBF (Mom Best Friend) gave me the deets on her trip away from spouses, kids, pets, and the constant wrangling of snacks, I couldn’t help but wonder how I’d feel doing the same. This magical recharge time even had a name: a “Momcation”.

Really, I had no idea taking a break from motherhood was ever an option. But listening to my MBF spill the beans about her vacation kept that classic movie line spinning in my head: I’ll have what she’s having. My friend sounded more grounded and calmer than she had in forever, and I wanted some of that. It blew my mind that it was all the result of the gift of alone time.

Listening to my MBF spill the beans about her vacation kept that classic movie line spinning in my head: I’ll have what she’s having.

Over the last two years, quarantine and a year of virtual learning with my second grader gave me the gift of family time. While I adore quality time with my crew, the in-your-face aspect of the constant questioning, organizing, and not being able to finish one single — hang on a second — thought, had me wondering how some extended “me time” would feel.

Daydreams involving time to myself that didn’t include grocery shopping or power naps during carpool took over my brain. When I’m performing mundane tasks like fixing my kid’s 207th lunchtime hotdog in a row, I imagine serving myself a little hot beach action. When straightening my bed, I wonder what it feels like to still be in it. These mini-reveries bring an instant calm, and I sink into the notion that giving myself a break is a fabulous idea. What would it be like to connect with my own feelings instead of always anticipating and prioritizing everyone else’s?

Then my mom guilt rushes in to inform me I don’t deserve anything this “extravagant”, and my vacay goals come to an end. Plus, I’m not sure my family would be able to survive without me.

“Honey, where do these go?” my husband asks, holding up a dirty pair of kid-sized socks.

In instances such as these, I generally give a quick and decisive response that sounds a lot like, “They go in the hamper.” Then I move on with my day. But now that this Momcation idea is out there, my husband’s question stops me in my tracks. If he can’t find the dirty clothes hamper where it has lived for over three years, how will he find more important things like food and the TV remotes without me?

Not feeling completely confident in my family’s ability to manage without my momming know-how, I just have to steal moments alone. And that’s exactly what it feels like — stealing. While my son catches up on Minecraft, I sneak in a yoga pose. While my husband and kid work on homework, I binge 10 minutes of the latest streaming craze on my phone. My self-care routine doesn’t feel all that caring when it’s rushed through, the same way I rush through Target trying to find the last Nespresso pods. My time inevitably gets pushed to the bottom of my to-do list, and that one downward dog pose isn’t exactly moving me into a state of relaxed bliss.

Taking time out resets my mental and emotional state, and studies show it lessens stress, anxiety, and boosts self-esteem.

I’ve read all the articles and seen all the studies preaching that practicing self-care is a must. Taking time out resets my mental and emotional state, and studies show it lessens stress, anxiety, and boosts self-esteem. I’m easier to be around and would have more space to be present for my family. But even with all these great benefits, it’s hard to move through the mom guilt that tells me I must be on call. My habit is to make my family my top priority, leaving little room for myself — and lately, I’m not so sure any of us are benefiting from this mindset.

Over these last years, the continuous self-rejection I inflict slowly eats away at my patience — and my self-worth. I notice the effects in moments like when my son dances into the room asking me for a snack while I’m practicing my daily yoga pose. I can feel buckets of frustration rise as I stop mid-down dog to grab him the appropriate amount of cheese crackers. So I don’t get my 1.7 minutes of “me-time” on that day. Isn’t that what being a mom is all about? But my reaction feels way too big for such a tiny, innocent interruption. So again, I find myself considering the “extravagance” of a Momcation to remind me, well … about me.

“Honey, how would you feel if I took a vacation … alone?” I asked my husband while making yet another lunch.

Without hesitation, I heard my husband say, “I think that’s a great idea!”

That’s when we talked seriously about scheduling, how much a trip like this would set us back, and if he could survive without me. After telling me he’d be fine without me (and showing me where the TV remotes were), we talked budget. This wouldn’t be my Eat, Pray, Love moment, but a practical/comfy trip. And unlike my MBF who was gone for a full five days, I felt best leaving for a weekend.

My husband and I laughed so hard tears rolled down our faces when we actually tried to find a time to make this happen. I told him I’d need a vacation simply from organizing it all, but as he continued to support my Momcation, I realized this might be doable — and then I felt that rumble of conflicted guilt in my belly, telling me to dream smaller. So, the real question remained: Would I do it?

The answer is, I’m working on it. I haven’t yet taken my Momcation, but I’m slowly taking steps to plan one I’d enjoy. As I become more excited about taking care of myself, my mom guilt doesn’t rush in so fast and furious. That big guilt lets me know how much I value my role as a mom, but I also need to value myself. So, do I deserve a Momcation? You bet. I just may have to start with longer yoga poses and time outs, and work up from there.

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