A few weeks ago, I packed an overnight bag, jumped on a tram to the next town over, and went and spent the night in a hotel. I wasn’t meeting anyone, or going anywhere special – I just went to be alone.
For 14 hours, I spoke to hardly a soul, and only had to think about myself and what I wanted to do. I drank one too many glasses of wine over a very peaceful dinner; I sprawled out on the king-sized bed and ate an obscene amount of chocolate truffles that I didn’t have to share. And then I slept, deeply and totally undisturbed. It was glorious, and worth every penny.
I know that some people will think this was indulgent and/or a bit odd; that they’d much prefer to spend the precious baby-free time and measly maternity leave pay on seeing friends or family. But let me tell you where my head was at and why the chance to be alone for a bit was so sorely needed.
I’m an only child, so I’ve always been very comfortable in my own company. Prior to meeting my husband, I lived by myself for the best part of four years; before the baby came along, I’d regularly (and happily) head off solo to write, or shop, or go to the cinema, or just sit quietly and breathe.
But, aside for a snatched hour or two, I never really get to be alone nowadays. 85% of my waking hours are spent with or in very close proximity to Elliot, and the rest of the time I’m almost always with at least one other person. As we approached the bank holiday weekend – and, with it the opportunity to book in a bit of ‘me’ time – I had a good think and realised the one thing I wanted more than anything was a sustained period of solitude.
Of course, I thought about Elliot while I was on my ‘Mum’s mini-break’. But I didn’t worry about him (he was with his very capable Dad), and, for once, I didn’t have to hand over every last inch of headspace to anticipating his needs. For someone who has real trouble switching off, it was a godsend. I left feeling refreshed and very, very grateful, not only that I was fortune enough to have both the financial and emotional support I needed to be able to treat myself to my night off guilt-free, but that I was able to return home to such a wonderful little family afterwards.
Motherhood is massively intense in a way that’s impossible to put into words; we all need a break every now and again, and a ‘break’ means different things to different people. Whether you love yoga, clubbing, walking, reading or whatever you MUST, if it’s at all possible, make time for time away – for the sake of your sanity and everyone’s happiness.
And if, like me, the thought of an unaccompanied night in a hotel sounds mega appealing, just go ahead. Obviously, I thoroughly recommend it.