Time away from motherhood provides women a time to find balance in their lives and reflect.— Hollye Grayson, California-based family therapist and mother of two
A mom often spends her days tripping over action figures, soothing her infant’s emerging teeth and defusing the tantrums of a toddler. Exhaustion sets in, and, with a little luck, she may get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep. to bless her tired bones.
The fast-paced life of a mother can run down even the most fit and healthy mom if she doesn’t make time for herself.
Ramani Durvasula, a Los Angeles-based family therapist and mother, notes that mothering has turned into a competitive sport in our society. The result is burnout and "suboptimal" mothering.
“Interestingly, mothers are often best at taking care of everyone but themselves," Durvasula said. "Mothers are so accustomed to monitoring their children and families around the clock that they forget that it drains energy from them.”
A momcation is a brief break from mothering. Unlike a family vacation, which she may have to plan, this vacation is just for Mom. It may be just what she needs to refresh herself and renew her passion for parenting. Momcations offer benefits for the entire family, too.
Making time to relax is not always a priority for busy moms. In fact, finishing a phone call or having lunch with a girlfriend often takes a backseat to the family’s needs.
Hollye Grayson, a Brentwood, California, family therapist and mother of two, said mothers often sacrifice their own mental and physical health needs. It's another reason a little planned time away from the kids is a good idea.
“Time away from motherhood provides women a time to find balance in their lives and reflect,” Grayson said.
Momcations also benefit the rest of the family, said Michele Iaia, a Pennsylvania-based family therapist and mother.
“Momcations not only allow us become reacquainted with ourselves and others, but also encourages those we’ve left behind to try on new roles," she said. "Dad getting in touch with his inner mom -- even if only for a week -- requires flexibility. The kids’ roles also shift a bit, and it helps them become more tolerant of change.”
Even more, when mom is away, she gets a chance to energize and renew her love for herself and her family. As an added bonus, the family, after taking on new roles, may appreciate mom more when she returns.
Grayson learned firsthand that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” When she returned from a recent momcation, her 10-year-old daughter said she missed her mom taking her to school, which is often a difficult time of the day for them both.
“It is a very rewarding experience to be missed by your family,” Grayson said.
It can also be rewarding to discover more about yourself and your fellow moms. When Iaia began taking momcations with a group of girlfriends, she said she learned how to ward off anxieties about motherhood.
“In our circumscribed roles as mother and wife, many women tend to lose sight of their bolder, livelier selves,” Iaia said. “In the spirit of collective disclosure, we have reminisced about things we should have forgotten and confessed to stuff we shouldn’t have done. We’ve listened to each other’s problems, helped make life-changing decisions and heightened our awareness about the state of our lives.”
The momcation should be just the opposite of a family vacation. Forget about kid-friendly venues or keeping a hectic schedule to see multiple events.
“The first few days of the trip you may still find yourself humming Barney tunes and eating as quickly as you can without chewing your food, but that soon passes,” Grayson said. “You won’t have to cut anyone’s food before you eat your own, and you can go to restaurants that do not offer a children’s menu and do not have highchairs.”
The getaway destination can be some exotic land. It can also be as simple as a spa or a bed and breakfast in a neighboring town.
Grayson’s momcations have taken her to Paris just to walk and shop, to a ranch in Arizona and to elaborate spas.
“Moms usually don’t get much of a chance to take care of themselves by taking exercise classes or getting spa treatments,” she said. “A spa trip is so mentally rewarding.”
Amy Williams, a specialist with Adventure Media in Colorado, recommends Get in Shape Getaways offered by the YMCA. The program offers activities such as tai chi, mountain biking, dance, archery, yoga and hiking.
An artistic retreat where moms can view and create paintings, outdoor sculptures and photography may awaken their artistic flair. Moms who want to relax and quench their palates may want to travel to a wine country resort or opt for a cooking seminar at a Breckenridge resort, Williams said.
The other primary goal of a momcation should be to make memories.
“Spending time with a friend on a momcation brings you back to your own childhood -- you can laugh and be silly all you want,” Grayson said. “On my recent trip, my girlfriend took photos of people we met and things we did. I downloaded them on my phone so I can go back to that place or remember the laugh we had whenever I want.”
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