Why Girls' Trips Will Make You A Better Mom
Going away may be the best thing you ever did for your family.
Years ago, friends invited me on a girls’ trip and I declined without hesitation. I was a stay-at-home mother and couldn’t imagine leaving my kids for two whole nights.
To begin with, who would take care of my young kids in my absence? They were little and needed help with almost everything. My husband was our sole breadwinner. How could I justify asking him to take time off from his job when I didn’t “work” or earn any income?
I didn’t have family around to enlist or a steady sitter, and even though I could have asked neighborhood friends to pitch in, I felt uncomfortable since they already had their own families to take care of.
I also wasn't sure I would have fun. My family depended on me, right? They needed me. What if the girls couldn't sleep, or they had a bad day at school? Did I even want to be away from them? After all, they were growing up so fast, and when they were out of the house there would be plenty of time for solo adventures.
So, in the name of being a "good mom," I deprived myself of a girls’ weekend. And worse, I robbed my family of an opportunity to get away from me.
Yes, that’s right. A decade later, I realize that the best thing I could have done for myself and for my family was to go away for a night or two with my girlfriends.
Friendships deserve nurturing
Going away with my girlfriends would have modeled for my children how much friendships matter, and that these bonds deserve to be nurtured, especially as you get older. I gave up an opportunity to spend quality time with my friends. It would have been a chance to have real conversations, not ones that abruptly ended with “Gotta go, dinner’s burning” or “Jenna needs help wiping her butt” into the end of the phone. I could have enjoyed great laughs — the kind that you think about years later and you can't help but burst into giggles again, praying that your Kegel exercises have been working.
Everyone needs a break
A night or two away would have allowed me to relax: to read a book, sleep a little later, do some extra yoga classes, or just go for a really long walk. At the time, I thought taking a break from my family would imply I didn’t appreciate how lucky I was to have the chance to stay home with my kids. But even happy people who love their jobs benefit from some time off.
I really did crave some time to myself, but I was too stubborn to admit it. Instead, I had moments of resentment and exhaustion that led to some grouchiness. Maybe two nights away would have recharged me.
Mom’s way isn’t the only way
I didn’t even ask my husband if he could rearrange his schedule and watch the kids. The home was MY responsibility. But my husband valued the work I did at home, keeping our family and house running smoothly. My role helped him be more productive at work, and he appreciated it — even if I sometimes felt like my contribution was less because it couldn't be valued in dollars. If he could have rearranged his schedule, he would have happily taken a day or two off to be with OUR kids. In fact, he might have enjoyed the opportunity to spend that kind of time with them. And if he had had to be at work, my neighborhood friends would have lent me a hand. All I needed to do was ask. But I was too prideful to ask for help, even though they would have wanted to return — without hesitation — the many favors that I had done for them.
I was so concerned that the kids would miss me doing things "my way," I didn't allow them to experience Dad (and themselves) doing it "his way," which could have been good, too. The kids would have been fine eating pizza bagels for dinner — and possibly breakfast and lunch — for two days. They might not have gotten a bath or been tucked it at the usual bedtime, but it would have been good for them. Maybe it would have made them appreciate me more when I returned. Or it might have made my kids realize how self-sufficient they could be if they had to. Either way, we all would have benefited from the short time apart.
Luckily, my girlfriends didn’t give up on me, and when I finally went, I realized how much I was missing. When people ask me now, I talk to my husband and if it works with our schedule, I grab my suitcase and go. And I know I am a better mom when I return.