Feeling Depleted? Overwhelmed? Book the Ultimate Solo Trip for R&R
A solo trip? You mean, by yourself? Isn't that scary? What do you do? Don't you get bored? Hahahaha is all that comes to mind. My very first solo trip was booked when my youngest was 18 months old, and my eldest was just over three years. However, being fully responsible for two under two is no laughing matter. If you are a parent, I'm sure a thousand thoughts are swirling through your head right now. If you are an expat parent, you know the additional layered struggles.
While I did have 5,000lbs of mom guilt cemented to my shoulders, I was also about to break. Mentally, physically, and emotionally- I was wiped! The toll of being pulled in 20 different directions 24 hrs/day, stressing about feeding schedules, juggling nap times, constantly worrying about my one year old accidentally ending his own life, while comforting my newborn, all on a drop of sleep...ahhhh! I would frequently ask myself why I had a master's degree if this is what I'm doing with it.
I needed away. I desperately needed a break. But I was so ashamed to admit it. Plus, hello mom guilt. Ugh, I want to hide under my desk replaying that reel through my brain. I mean...do you spend your days wiping butts, cleaning up spills, breaking up fights, and taking deep breaths during tantrums? This was my life. I'm sure dealing with adolescent attitude and teenage angst makes a momma just as looney. Does any of this sound like your twilight zone?? Well, I have good news! You can run away! Escape the 24 hour madness while you still have a chance!!
"How?!" you may ask.
Are you married? Have a partner? Grandparent within driving distance? Trusted friend? Nanny across town? Favorite aunt? If you answered yes to any of the above questionsons, you are in luck my friend. These people are what we call a village, and it takes a mighty healthy one to raise a human being. Go over a weekend or bank holiday, or when businesses close for weird things. Somehow you can band together that village to watch your wee ones for a couple of days.
You deserve it, momma!
You may also say, "I can’t afford that!" Easy peasy. Do you receive gifts throughout the year? Birthday? Christmas? Anniversary? Other randomness?? Say "NO" to material things and take a rest! You’ll thank me later. Also, utilize the countless tools online to grab great discounts!
No-Brainer Ways to Save For Travel Right Now!
If I’ve caught your attention and your wheels are churning as to where you would go if this elusive dream were to take place, then take a second to answer these questions...
Do you truly want to relax?
Do you want to go someplace you’ve never been? Do you want to explore?
Do you want to drive or fly?
What is your budget?
Do you want all-inclusive on an island, AirBnb in the countryside, resort in the mountains, boutique hotel in the city?
How long do you want to be gone? (psst, I recommend at least two nights and two hours away)
The answers to these factors will point you in the right direction as you prep for your solo journey.
Four years ago, I took off on my first solo trip and landed in Malaysia. We were living in Singapore, and it's the neighboring brother country. (Literally, two brothers divided the land and founded the countries) Why didn't I go somewhere in Singapore? Um, maybe because I can travel from one side of the island to the other in 45 minutes?? I wanted to get.a.way. We didn't have a car, so I had to book a flight. And those AirAsia flights? Cheaper than a meal at Cracker Barrel!
As much as we travel as a family, I was baffled to be on a plane by myself. Not having to keep small ones occupied, sitting down, not kicking the seat in front of them, or throwing snacks and toys at others...hmmm, 1.5 hrs by myself on a plane?? YES, please! I'll take two!
This particular trip, I wanted to do nothing. Nada. I wanted to take care of nobody but myself. I didn't want to plan nor sightsee for nothing. To sit down at a restaurant, order food, have it delivered and enjoyed hot, and then have the dirty dishes magically disappear...what?? What is this sorcery?? There was nobody climbing on me, nursing, or throwing food in my face. Honestly, I kept hearing phantom cries throughout my dinner the first night. No one warned me those spooky phantom cries would never go away. Blasted children - stuck in my brain - following me to another country.
Aside from having a peaceful dinner. I was slowly realizing this solo trip would be the single best thing I could do for myself as a mother. This maiden voyage would soon turn into an annual non-negotiable.
So why go? Here are my top three:
This speaks for itself. Volumes. Having littles ones (multiple little ones) pretty much sealed the deal of not sleeping soundly. Even if the babes were sleeping a solid 10-12 hours, I was riddled with anxiety throughout the night. What if the baby suffocated on something? What if the toddler climbed out of his crib? What if the preschooler wakes me to pee at 3am? Or they simply just need momma in the middle of the night? Oh the worry and stress. It was a tough pill to swallow during motherhood, because I am not a natural worrier. It's easy for me to let things roll off my back and take advice with a grain of salt. But these tiny living beings I created knew nothing and needed me.
You see...I had a one year old who not only didn’t listen to the instructions I gave him, but he actually didn’t understand most things I said– simply because he was ONE. And even though I was trying to force independence on him, he was still needy, very very needy. Remember, he was one. Poor chap. All the while I banged my head against the wall trying to teach him things while nursing a wee one around the clock. Ay yi yi... If you’ve been there, you totally understand. Oh those first six months of having children so close in age made me question every decision I had ever made in life. The combined exhaustion and frustration is indescribable. Versions of this went on for almost year before I finally had a nervous breakdown. Hubby thought it best to send me away before I truly lost it.
I needed a breather. You need rest, momma. True uninterrupted quiet rest. You deserve it! And a bed to yourself isn't so bad either.
What are some hobbies or activities you enjoyed pre-motherhood? Practice yoga three times a week, avid hiker, or simply completing that thrilling novel? Reverting back to an old habit and digging into something I truly enjoyed was magical. Something for me and only me?
I chose yoga and scheduled a massage.
I also skirted off to explore the highest cable car in the world. I mean, why not? I know I said I wasn't going to leave the resort, but my adventurous self got the best of me.
What is your traditional work/life balance? Are you a stay at home mom? Do you work full time? At home? At the office? I found this time away from my traditional day-to-day routine gave me space to reassess my goals and vision for the future. Not having little people run my thoughts and actions gave me adequate time to sketch out a plan for my own future.
Where did Whitney want to be in the next year? How did I see myself five years down the road? What did my personal + professional life look like even ten years from now? It certainly wasn't at a European wellness resort lounging in a bath robe like my solo trip in Germany. But taking these trips afforded my mental space to open up. I could dig into my brain prior to it turning into motherhood mush.
Previously, I was a public educator but also enjoyed writing full time. As the boys grew, could I see myself back in a classroom teaching middle schoolers how to formulate a five paragraph essay? Could I make a steady income by solely focusing on writing? These precious days I had all to myself gave me a chance to get inside my own head. To truly break down what I wanted out of life. It allowed me to accept the love I had for my precious family, but also explore passions I had outside of being a wife + mom.
Tag, You're It!
Once you are back home - inside the walls of your life, discuss how your partner can also enjoy this sacred time away.
My husband and I both enjoy solo trips but for very different reasons. This mainly stems from our love of travel yet having polar opposite ways of enjoying new places. He would take off first thing in the morning and easily clock 20,000 steps sight-seeing. I received a pic of him doing this exact thing in Vienna on a solo weekend. He went to Jordan earlier in the year to ride camels and see the ruins.
Me? Last weekend, I was nestled in the Austrian Alps. Perfectly content and cozy. I like seeing the sights, but you'll catch me sipping coffee at a cafe or being in nature. He much prefers the energy of cities. I, on the other hand, am happiest on top of a mountain...preferably near a lake.
We rest and recharge in different ways. And that's a-okay! Our family also travels frequently, which is a blessing and a curse. It is extremely humbling to have already experienced such a vast amount of our gorgeous planet. However, it can be stressful, exhausting, and overwhelming to do it all with small children in tow.
These solo trips allow us time to rest, revert, and reassess in our own ways.
And for the one left behind? Think of the quality one-on-one time your children are getting with your significant other. That bonding time is priceless. When I took off to Austria last weekend with our one and only car, hubby had to be creative with the boys. He set up the tent in the front yard, and they cooked dinner over the fire pit and capped the night with s'mores. They had the time of their lives sleeping under the stars and having a special weekend with dad. Something tells me I wasn't missed!
What about group trips?
I am a huge fan of girlie getaways or guys' weekends! We fit them in when possible. For me, they are a different animal than what I get out of a solo trip. Traveling with my girlfriends is loads of non-stop fun. The chatting, sightseeing, shopping, and late nights are all welcomed. It's belly laughing. It's deepening friendships. It's also rejuvenating but in an entirely different facet.
Solo trips are about YOU. Going where you want. Eating when you want. Sleeping as long as you want. A bit of an indulgence. But whew! Momma can't take care of others unless she has taken care of herself.
*traveling during Covid times*
If you are worried about the risk of transmission, here are a few tips to limit exposure.
- book an AirBnB instead of resort
- drive over flying
- opt for a hike over shopping
- order room service or take out
If you are like me and want to relax as much as possible - doing minimal work, it is still possible to get away!
What did it for me..? I had peace knowing it was the first time in three years, I wasn’t nursing or pumping. The boys weren't literally attached to me. They were eating the same food, on the same nap schedule, attending the same school, and playing with the same friends. Not to mention, they adored playing with each other. If you truly don’t feel like you have it in you to leave your kids in someone else’s hands for a few days, pray about it!
Honestly, they *might* have way more fun while you are away 🙂 They will probably stay up later, eat more junk food, and watch a lifetime supply of cartoons, but I promise they will be a-okay! Don’t beat yourself up about it or the wonderful, glorious caretakers in charge of them while you are gone. Let loose of the reigns and relax. Your house will be standing and the kids will be in one piece when you return. Promise!
This took MONTHS for me to swallow. You’ve hired babysitters before, right? It’s the same thing. Leave a schedule, instructions, emergency contacts, etc... and walk out the door. Or, have full trust in your spouse that they will be just fine! Pack a backpack (because that’s all you’ll need for a couple of days away), get in the car or board that plane, take a deep breath, and r-e-l-a-x. The hours are yours. The space surrounding you is yours. No one is touching you, asking you for things, or questioning your ability to parent. You have put the proper people into place to care for your minions, and you only have to think of yourself. Imagine that! When was the last time THAT happened?? Years for most of us!
Still have questions?
Feel free to send me a message!
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What a honest and inspiring article! As a mom of two little girls I can fully relate to this craving for some time alone. Traveling by myself never really came to my mind though. I might dislike waking up alone and having breakfast by myself. But the more I think about it - sipping my coffee and browsing through the newspaper without interruptions - the more I like it. I will definitely try.
Thank you so much for sharing! I completely understand your sentiments. After having kids, being alone is a strange feeling in itself. Traveling solo is definitely a little odd at times, but returning to those little girls completely rested and refreshed is something else! I hope you can make it happen in 2021!