I’ve recently had a long weekend break to Spain with friends. A break WITHOUT kids!
I don’t do this sort of thing very often. In fact, since having my youngest back in 2013, I think I’ve had a total of three overnight trips away; two with my husband and one last year with friends. Why? because I guess, like many other mums, I feel guilty for taking time off. Guilty for leaving my children, when looking after the kids, feeding them and getting them to and from school is primarily MY job.
And before I went away, as with those three other breaks, I felt anxious; anxious about sorting out the childcare, anxious about ensuring that every day life complete with school runs and dinners would continue without too much disruption. I also had my usual thoughts about dying. For some reason, whenever I’ve had a break without the children, especially if this involves flying, I imagine scenarios where the plane might crash or an accident happens and I’ll never see my kids again.
I was picked up in a taxi at 4.20am with two of my friends and as soon as we reached the airport we had breakfast along with a glass of fizz and all my anxieties melted away; the holiday had officially started! We flew out to Malaga and were met by another two friends. We immediately dropped off our bags and headed out for a very long lazy paella lunch with wine and lots of talking and laughing. It was fantastic and set the tone for the rest of the weekend; namely eating, drinking, chatting and laughing.
Here’s what I loved about my child free break:
1 Sleeping In – Oh yes! Not being woken up at 6am by a small person is definitely a sign that you’re on holiday. So too is not having to get up at 4am or some other ungodly hour to change wet bedsheets / help someone to the toilet / soothe a nightmare.
2. Long Dinner and Lunches – How fabulous to sit by the sea and eat and drink without having to worry that a child was going to run off, or having to provide endless amounts of pens and colouring books or general entertainment to stop them getting bored. Or being able to enjoy some amazing seafood without a child asking “What’s this? I don’t like this? Can I have sausages?
3. Getting Ready to Go Out – Something as simple as getting changed at a leisurely pace, having a shower and putting make up on properly without having to stop to break up squabbles or deal with a child whining that they don’t want you to go out is definitely a good way to start an evening out.
4. Catching Up – Spending some real quality time rather than a couple of hours here or there with friends is such a tonic. We laughed so much, it was brilliant.
5. Sunshine – I hate the winter and the cold, dark evenings are liable to make me feel S.A.D, so seeing the sunshine, sitting by the sea on the beach in t.shirts getting a healthy dose of vitamin D was fabulous and lifted all our spirits.
How We All Benefited
It may only have been three and a half days, but that break away, enjoying the sun, the sea air and the laughter, was an absolute holiday. I felt like a completely different person when I returned. I was relaxed and refreshed. Of course I missed the kids and my husband and couldn’t wait to see them all. But sometimes it takes a bit of distance to make you appreciate what you have, and I definitely felt this. Just three and a half days away was enough to make me totally appreciate the girls, listen to them properly and breathe them in rather than the rushing around trying to do several things at once. Even when arguments broke out later on that same day that I arrived home, it didn’t irritate me or make me lose my patience as it often does.
My break was good for my husband because he took a day off work to deal with the school run (and all the fun that that entails) and spend some proper time with the girls over the weekend. I think it was a bit of an eye opener for him and made me realise what I have to put up with on a daily basis.
Finally, I think it was great for the girls to have some quality time alone with Daddy, and dare I say it, they may have even missed their Mum!
So, although a trip away takes a bit of forward planning, I’m determined to take more child-free breaks in the future; even if it’s once a year. It may seem a luxury, but it doesn’t have to be abroad; it could be even a stay at the next town for all I care, but mentally I think it’s essential. It’s vital to regain some time to just be me again. And in doing so, I truly believe that it benefits the whole family.
At least, that’s how I’m going to sell it to the husband next year!