The reasons you should leave the guilt behind, with the casseroles!
Momcation Without Your Family - A Non-Guilty Pleasure
Was there ever a greater collective need for a Momcation? The pandemic has been especially tough on Moms who have shouldered much of the burden of home schooling and keeping kids safe. Women are reporting elevated levels of stress and depression. It has been an incredibly tough time, especially for Moms who work outside the home. (You can explore a deep dive on this topic in this New York Times special feature: Working Moms & Coronavirus.
But there’s reason to hope the worst of the pandemic is behind us, and dreams of travel seem possible once more. I’ve taken several multi-week trips without my family, to India, Southeast Asia and Europe. And I always feel anxious leading up to my departure. Mom guilt – we seem to be wired for it. But I have learned how much I benefit, so I want to convince you that it’s worth all of the planning and anxiety. Not only should you leave the Mom-guilt at home, you should embrace the unique and special opportunity that comes with travel without your family. Cue the Momcation!
Modeling Healthy Behavior for Your Children
Whether you are leaving for a three-week dream trip or a weekend away, you are showing your kids what it looks like when a parent does things for themselves. It’s not a bad thing for your children to understand that you have dreams beyond being a mother, and that caring for yourself is as important as caring for them.
And you’ll set a great example by demonstrating what it looks like when a dream is important enough that you take the steps necessary to make it happen (making dinners for the freezer, planning carpools or hiring a caregiver.) I think there’s enormous value in showing our kids that moms are not simply here to support and care for them. We are separate people with our own needs and dreams.
A Momcation & Differentiation in Your Marriage
In a healthy marriage, there are things that you do with your spouse and things you do separately – this is up to each partnership to navigate. There isn’t one right way for this to look; you need to find what works for the two of you. Some couples wouldn’t dream of traveling without each other. That’s fine. Perhaps they create differentiation in other ways.
But differentiation requires being honest about your wants and needs, even if it means making your partner uncomfortable. If you’ve decided you want to travel without your family and are brave enough to be open about that with your partner, good for you! I am cheering you on in every difficult conversation. I have had them myself. That is something to be proud of and feel good about. This will serve your marriage well, and besides, absence makes the heart grow fonder. I actually like the experience of missing my husband while I am away. We’ve been married 22 years and rarely get a chance to miss each other. It reminds me how much I enjoy his company when we are together.
It Creates Independence in Your Family
My sons learned how to cook and take the bus when I went to India for three weeks. If the rest of that trip had been a bust, it would have been worth it, for that alone.
I came home to more independent children and realized I had been doing more for them than I needed to. We all matured in those three weeks.
Take a Momcation When you Have the Chance
We will all have times in our life when we have to put our dreams on hold. It may be the need to care for someone else, such as a child, parent, or a spouse. When my son was sick with an undiagnosed illness in 2011, my needs took a backseat for months while I cared for him, sought answers and treatment. Thankfully, he got better and life returned to normal.
In 2016, I suddenly couldn’t walk around the block and learned I had a degenerative condition in my hip and needed a total hip replacement. I spent months in pain and not being able to move well, until I had surgery – and then months recovering. I was not going anywhere during that period and dreamed of all of the places I would visit when I finally could.
I’ve learned a valuable lesson from that – when I have the opportunity to travel, and my family and I are sufficiently healthy, well, I already have my bags packed and I will enjoy EVERY. SECOND. Because I have no idea what next month or next year holds, for me, or the people I love. We can plan for the future but there are no guarantees in life.
And then there are pandemics… I took a big trip to Asia in the fall of 2019 just a couple of months before the pandemic began (I’m in Laos in the main image of this post). You can imagine how grateful I am that I didn’t put it off.
Travel Can be Life Changing for Women
The other reasons not to feel guilty are entirely about you! A momcation can, at minimum, make you feel rested and rejuvenated. And it could change your life. Travel has enormous benefits for women; we spend so much of our lives focused on doing things for others. Travel allows us to put all of that attention on ourselves. It is inspiring, it can build confidence, it can introduce us to new interests. It can kickstart change.
I also find that distance from my family give me perspective on my life that is harder to find when I am immersed in my daily routine. It reminds me how it feels to be Susan, not mom, wife or dog walker. Travel can show us new things about ourselves, or remind us of things we’ve forgotten. It can inspire us to dream new dreams and help us see new possibilities for ourselves. And those are the most important reasons of all.
If you’ve taken vacations without your family, please share any tips you have, in the comments below!
More to Explore - Momcation Inspiration
If you are considering a Momcation, you might find some inspiration in Group Trips for Women. All of these tours depart in 2022, including the trip I took to India when I left my family behind for almost three weeks! It was one of my most incredible travel experiences. These group tours could work whether you are planning a vaca with companions or are an independent traveler.
Sometimes a shorter getaway is more manageable. This Guide to Girls Weekend Getaways in the U.S. has ideas for travelers of all types.)
And if your idea of a dream trip without the family happens to be the same as mine, I’ve written A Solo Trip to Paris – Complete Guide.