I love going on trips with my family. I love seeing the excitement my girls show when they experience new places. I love when my husband and I can really engage with my kids. But I often return home from our trips spent and exhausted. I spent all of my energy making sure my family had fun and that my kids were safe. As many of you know, family trips take a lot of mental and physical energy.
As beautiful as Seattle is in the summer, Seattle in the winter can be downright depressing. Seattleites are reluctant to admit this about their beloved hometown. Not seeing the sun for long stretches of time is really tough. It’s easy to get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). According the to National Institute of Mental Health, depression affects about 7% of all adults in the US, with more women affected than men. The NIH states that postpartum depression affects up to 15% of mothers.
As a mental health “treat” for myself, I take a mom vacation once a year. Just a 3 day trip with a few close mom friends to a sunny destination. I can’t be away for too many days because my husband might go crazy or get resentful with the kids by himself for too much longer. My youngest is 2 years old and is quite a handful. A “firecracker” as one friend calls her! My oldest is now 8 years old and is busy with her school and activities. Being a mom is a full-time job that requires an extraordinary amount of energy.
Last month, I went to Scottsdale, Arizona with my good mom friends, Jessica and Debbie. In the past several years, we’ve been to San Diego, San Francisco, and Palm Springs. By staying at an Airbnb instead of a hotel or resort, we each had our own bed and saved a fair bit of money too. The flight to Phoenix was only 3 hours so we spent more time relaxing instead of traveling. Ever since my kids were born, flying on airplanes with my children has been unpleasant, uncomfortable and often exhausting. Flying by myself now offers me the peace and solitude that I rarely find at home these days. It is a rare treat to watch a movie on the flight from beginning to end without interruptions.
As if you didn’t need any more convincing, here are 3 good reasons to go on a mom vacation.
1. REST. You will get true relaxation for your body and brain. No need to think about what your kids will eat or do that day. Waking up in the morning on your own time is a special treat.
2. CONNECT. You can bond with your tribe. Everyone needs a few close friends who can share your struggles and lift your spirits. I guarantee that you will have great conversations over dinner that probably would not happen with kids around. These mom vacations have helped me build a stronger circle of support for myself.
3. RESTORE. You can do the things that spark you joy. Hike up a mountain. Read a book. Relax by the pool. Shop for yourself. I did all of this in just 3 days and felt pampered.
Many mothers tend to feel extra guilty about leaving their kids for more than a day. But we all need do something good for ourselves on a regular basis. For me, mom vacations give me the energy to get through the long rainy Seattle winters and ward off seasonal affective disorder. My brain is allowed to think of other things besides my work and my family. I am given space to dream again. And afterwards, I come back home to my family as a happier wife and and more patient mother. A mom who smiles more and is less irritated when my kids leave a mess in the living room.