All the reasons you should leave the guilt behind, with the frozen meals
Momcation - planning a non-guilty pleasure
Was there ever a greater collective need for a momcation? The pandemic was especially difficult for moms. With the worst of it behind us travel has resumed and for some of us, the dream to get away, without any of the responsibilities of being a partner and mom.
A momcation can be taken solo or with friends. I’ve taken several multi-week trips without my family, to India, Southeast Asia and Europe. Part of the time was spent on my own, part with friends or on a a small group tour. The common ingredient was I left my husband and kids at home.
It is not an exaggeration to say a couple of those trips were life-changing. So I believe it’s worth all of the planning and possible dose of anxiety you may feel just before you leave. This gets me every time, but once I am away I usually feel great.
I hope some of my experiences will help inspire you to plan a trip, leave the Mom-guilt at home, and embrace the unique and special opportunity that comes with travel without your family.
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 you prioritize yourself. 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 important as well as caring for them.
I also think we set a great example by showing kids that when a dream is important to you, with effort you can make it happen: making dinners for the freezer, planning carpools, hiring a dog walker. 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 & a healthy marriage
In a healthy marriage, there are things that you do with your spouse and things you do separately. 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 space for themselves in other ways.
But if you like the idea of traveling without your family, it will require you to be honest about that, even if it means making your partner uncomfortable. I have had some uncomfortable conversations around this topic, but ultimately it made our marriage better. I was happier and it was easier to have more open conversations about other things. You can read more about that in Differentiation in a Midlife Marriage.
Besides, doesn’t absence makes the heart grow fonder? I like the experience of missing my husband while I am away. We’ve been married 23 years and rarely get the chance to miss each other. Being away reminds me how much I enjoy his company and chatting while we have coffee together in the mornings.
It creates independence in your family
When you share with your children about your trip, be ready to patiently answer all of their questions and concerns. Depending on their ages, they might be concerned about things that hadn’t even occurred to you. Who will pack my lunch?
I went to India for three weeks in 2017, when my sons were 14 and 17, and I came home to more independent children; the younger one learned how to cook and take the bus. If the rest of that trip had been a bust, it would have been worth it, for that alone.
We all matured in those three weeks and I realized I had been doing more for them than was necessary.
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, such as the need to care for someone else, a child, a 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 recovered and life returned to normal.
Then, 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 with limited mobility until I had surgery. After that, I spent several months recovering. I was not going anywhere during that period and dreamed of all of the places I would visit when I finally could.
Those experiences taught me a valuable lesson – when an opportunity to travel presents itself, and my family and I are sufficiently healthy, I jump a the chance enjoy EVERY. SECOND. I have no idea what next month or next year holds, for me, or the people I love. None of us do. We can plan for the future but there are no guarantees in life. 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!
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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 2023, 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.