The momcation, a glorious trip that moms take without kids, has become a popular buzzword in parenting communities everywhere. In the past, this same trip would have been called a “girls’ weekend” or even something as simple as “girls’ night out.” But a momcation is something even more than that. Girl time is something we’ve done since the days of slumber parties – it’s simply female bonding and it happened well before we had kids and will hopefully continue long after our nests our empty. A momcation, on the other hand, implies a greater meaning. In short, a momcation isn’t just a vacation as a mom, it’s a vacation from mothering.
Now, before anyone thinks that I’m saying you ever get to stop being a mom (we all know that’s not the case), let me be clear. There aren’t many of us that would trade the amazing undertaking of being a mom. It’s a privilege and an honor to love and care for the tiny, then not-so-tiny, humans we created. But a break, however long it might be, from the responsibilities and duties that come with mom-hood, is something we all desperately need – and science has my back on this one.
Why we need a momcation according to the experts.
If you know someone who regularly works 100 hours a week, including weekends, you probably wouldn’t hesitate to say that they deserve some time off. Well guess what? That someone is very likely you.
In 2017, the online news source, Salon, reported on a study commissioned by the Welch’s company. The study found that among the 2,000 working moms surveyed, all with kids between the ages of five and 12, most began their day just after 6am and ended their “duties” around 8:30pm – seven days a week. That averages out to 14 hours a day, or 98 hours a week. For stay-at-home or part-time working moms, we all know those hours are about the same, because even if we’re not in an office, we’re still juggling household responsibilities and care giving tasks.
So, yeah, we could all use a break.
In fact, to take it one step further, some experts insist that momcations aren’t a luxury – they’re a necessity. Dayna M. Kurtz, LMSW, CPT and director of the Anna Keefe Women’s Center at the Training Institute for Mental Health in New York, gave an interview with Parents.com in which she concluded, “We need to reframe how we think about mothers taking time off from mothering. [Momcations] should be considered an integral part of what I call ‘mothercare’—one of a host of activities that restore and revitalize the emotional and physical energy we need to provide healthy, loving care for our children.”
But what does a momcation mean?
When you’re a mom, finding time and money for a date night, much less a solo vacation, can be a challenge. Between the search for childcare and the guilt of spending money on anything other than the family at large, we struggle to justify something so luxurious as a vacation for ourselves. Throw in a healthy dose of mom-guilt at the thought of being away from our kids, and it doesn’t take long for us to talk ourselves out of a manicure, much less a momcation.
But a momcation doesn’t have to be an epic adventure. A momcation can be anything that allows you to separate from your day-to-day life, however briefly. Naturally, we all have different financial and time constraints. Some of us have grandparents down the street who would love nothing more than to take over for two weeks while we use our considerable disposable income to go on a Caribbean holiday; others of us are single parents with little support, financial or familial. Needless to say, the spectrum is wide.
But, a momcation can come in many forms. It can be a solo trip to a tropical island, or it can be a girls’ weekend at the beach. It can even be as simple as staying at a girlfriends’ house for the night without the kids. The main point, however, is that instead of talking ourselves out of a momcation, it’s time to start thinking about the possibilities – and the benefits.
What are the benefits of a momcation?
A momcation is something so incredible sounding that it’s easy to glorify. The reality, however, is that a momcation is not a cure-all for our parenting stresses. But it can have some incredible benefits – and I say this from first-hand experience.
A momcation allows us a chance to reconnect with ourselves in ways that are impossible in the chaos of daily life; and that can actually make us a better mom. Whether it’s reading a book by the pool, sleeping in a little later than normal, or just remembering that our given name isn’t “mom,” time by ourselves (or more specifically, without kids) can rejuvenate and refresh us, allowing us to reset our priorities and perspectives, gain some much-needed mental and physical rest, and return to our families a less-stressed version of ourselves. Needless to say, this less-stressed you is likely to return home a happier, healthier mother and wife or partner.
Likewise, a momcation actually gives us the opportunity to miss our families and be excited about returning to them. Whether you’re in the camp that never wants to be away from your kids and partner, or you are the mom who stares longingly at travel sites wishing you could disappear for a month, being away from the people we love the most only increases our love and appreciation for them. After all, “absence makes the heart grow fonder,” especially when that absence is longer than a morning at preschool.
Realistic Momcation Planning
It’s not hard to convince most women that a momcation is a brilliant idea…in theory. But mom-guilt, financial constraints, and childcare worries are not just obstacles for many, they’re total road blocks.
If you’ve got a limitless supply of time, money, and childcare, then all you need to do is read the benefits above, pack your bags, and go. But for others among us, the obstacles above need to be addressed practically.
With that in mind, here are a few ways that you can make your momcation dreams a reality:
Get over your mom-guilt.
Mom-guilt is real. We feel guilty for taking a shower that’s too long or putting our kids in front of the TV so that we can make dinner in peace – so how on earth are we going to justify a vacation that’s all about us? It’s simple. Just do it. Pack that mom-guilt in a box and shove it in the closet. It will be there if you want to unpack it when you get back, but you might just find that it can stay in the closet a little longer. Read over the benefits above and remember that being a good mom isn’t about your constant physical presence as much as it is about your mental presence. Give yourself a chance to miss your family and you’ll be a better mom for it.
Plan an affordable get-away.
If money is holding you back, remember that a momcation is not about pampering yourself physically, it’s about giving yourself a mental break. You don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve this goal. Keep an eye out for deals on your favorite travel sites – even if it’s just for a hotel a few miles away. Go visit a favorite out-of-town relative for the weekend. Grab some girlfriends and split the cost of accommodations at the beach…better yet, go off-season and get even better deals. Just remember that you don’t have to be elaborate. It’s not about the setting, it’s about your self-care.
Get creative with childcare.
It’s great if you’ve got family support for childcare, can afford a full-time nanny, or have a partner that’s willing and able to step in, but if childcare is a concern, consider a trade. Find a trusted friend who would be willing to take your kids for a weekend while you get away, then offer to do the same for them. Or maybe your sister’s husband wants to bring his kids to stay with your partner and kids for the weekend, while you go stay with her in her empty house. Ask your spouse or partner to take the reins for a weekend or two each year for you, then offer to do the same for them – allowing you both some needed space. Just remember that (almost) anything is possible if you get creative – even childcare.
The bottom line is that instead of finding excuses for not taking a momcation, it might just be time to start prioritizing the benefits. Parenting is hard and like any job that demands our constant attention, energy, and focus, it’s easy to burn out.
However you make a momcation happen, we just hope that you will make it happen for yourself, and ultimately, for your family. Because you work hard, mama – and you deserve it.