I could feel it creeping up on me as we inched closer and closer to the last leg of summer. I’d been home with the kids 24/7 for almost three months, waking each morning to find them staring at me enthusiastically for a new adventurous experience, and I was
losing my mind starting to feel a bit run down. Clearly, that “mental load” everyone keeps talking is real, and it was taking its toll.
Plus, my other responsibilities didn’t exactly go on hiatus once summer hit. In fact, they multiplied. Discovering the Netflix continuous loop (total lifesaver) and having to feed the kids so many damn times a day had definitely hurt my wanna-be crunchy mom status. But hey, I was doing what I needed to survive.
When we weren’t listening to nonstop screen-time negotiations (read: whining) or breaking up intense kung-fu fights between our boys, my husband and I were shuttling the kids back and forth from camps, play dates, pool parties, and “educational” field trips. By mid-July, we were officially summered out.
And that’s precisely when we decided it was time to take a break from raising our little humans. At least, for 36 glorious hours while the grandparents took them off our hands.
We pushed aside the mounting guilt of abandoning our children during their summer break, and settled on a mini-break to the Lake Austin Resort in an attempt to get it together. I’ll be honest, prepping to leave the kids behind for two whole nights was no small feat, but we pushed our way through it with grim determination.
And let me just cut to the chase here: It. Was. GLORIOUS.
Though brief, the trip itself was nothing short of a revelation for me. It felt incredibly brave just to simply show up for myself, especially at a time that was so incredibly inconvenient. But I did it anyway, because as I’ve since learned, there can be no real quality in my relationships with others if I constantly ignore the one that I have with myself.
Here are five things that happened during that mindful break from my kiddos:
1. I lightened the mental load — big time.
See those feet on the left in the photo below? That’s me getting my zen on at the spa, totally blissed out. My husband’s are on the right — he’s getting his zen on near the lake.
It felt utterly luxurious to walk around this earth without having to worry about another human being besides myself. I wasn’t thinking of whether the milk had gone bad or whose teeth cleaning still needed to be scheduled or how I was going to maneuver swim classes and music classes across town from each other. I basically took a break from parenting and adulting to let my mind wander free from the responsibilities of life. Take it from me: It’s a beautiful thing.
2. I hung out with grown-ups.
Sometimes it’s hard to even admit to myself how little interaction I can have with an adult on any given day. My children, their friends, classmates, and teammates preoccupy most of my day, but even then it’s hard to admit to myself how little I talk to adults on any given day. But on this getaway, I chatted with so many interesting characters and remembered what an excellent conversationalist I can be (you know, when I’m not being constantly interrupted by the lovable creatures that I birthed).
3. My kids missed me and our life together.
Getting a break from us gave my kids a newfound appreciation for their home, their parents, and the life we work so hard to weave together for them. And honestly, the love showered on me for the first three hours after returning seems like reason enough to book another vacation without them soon. (Hah!) Plus, it gave them a crucial opportunity to flex their own independence around their daily routine.
4. I remembered my identity aside from motherhood.
There’s a strange power in being solitary and still for a while. By removing myself from my daily routine, I gave myself a minute to remember the audacious, ambitious girl I was before becoming a mother. In the 36 hours that I was away from home, I took a cooking class, tarot reading class, cruised on Lake Austin in a speedboat, learned how to use a foam roller with a purpose (turns out, it can be done), had a mystical spa treatment, and chatted with a fascinating storyteller.
5. I connected with my husband — I mean really, truly connected.
There are plenty of excuses I give for why my husband and I aren’t able to regularly schedule date nights or even try to do trips away from the kids. It’s never the right time to take a break like this, but I’m so glad we somehow did. It was a commitment that I made not just to myself, but also to my best friend and husband. In order for our family to be strong, our relationship has to be stronger. So we took the opportunity and managed to leisurely laugh and talk about all the common interests we share outside of parenthood.
After those 36 hours of kid-free bliss were up, I came away with a renewed and fresh perspective — one that followed me back home and made me a more mindful and playful parent in the days that have followed. Turns out, that’s all I needed to hit the reset button; and I’m so glad I did.