An average day as a mom to small children can be messy, emotionally intense, and physically draining. You need next level scheduling skills to coordinate school drop-offs, sports events, extracurricular classes, birthday parties, and bake sales. You have to multitask while dishing out hugs, prepping dinner, cleaning up, and keeping on top of all the demands of running a family and a home.
It’s no wonder then that many women experience burnout and in fact, according to a recent study, moms don’t enjoy parenting as much as dads. Enter the concept of the momcation. A vacation just for you, no kids allowed. You should also leave your partner at home, this break is just for you. It’s a time to unwind, relax, and take a break from all your mom duties. But can you really go on a trip without your kids and not be consumed with guilt? I travelled to the Dominican Republic for a wellness break all by myself at the luxurious Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana, here are my top tips for a guilt-free momcation of your own.
Prep Your Kids
Children need stability and a reliable schedule, so don’t surprise them with your travel plans. Before I left for my trip, I sat my son down and explained exactly what was going to happen. I made a calendar for him so he could see when Mommy would be home and I promised to bring him back a souvenir, which took the sting out of my absence.
Arrange Great Childcare
Organizing amazing childcare is really important for your children and your own peace of mind while you are away. If your partner can’t do 24-7 for a week straight (we all know that that’s tough for anyone) or you’re doing the solo-parenting thing, it’s necessary to have a back-up. Whether you rely on family or friends or pay for professional care, choose someone who has already cared for your child in the past — this isn’t the time to try out someone new. Make sure they have up-to-date First Aid and CPR qualifications and leave detailed instructions about where you are and how you can be contacted in an emergency.
Choose an Adults Resort
I chose the Zoëtry Agua Punta Cana because, although kids are technically allowed, it is definitely a high-end, adult-focused property. In fact, I didn’t see any small kids during my entire stay. The absence of a kid’s playground or slide in the pool had a dual effect; it helped me not to obsess over missing my kid, and it meant that I wasn’t bothered by anyone else’s children either. One of the best things about a vacation without your kids is that all the usual worry and stress that accompanies travelling with kids is missing. You don’t need to worry about checking that the room is kid-proofed or scanning the menu to try and find something that your fussy little gastronome might eat. You only need to worry about yourself.
Focus on your Needs, for a Change
Being a mom often means that you come last. We tend to prioritize our children’s needs and wants above our own, which might make us good moms for the most part, but is exhausting in the long term. This time away is your chance to focus on you. It’s the ultimate expression of self-care, so zero in on what you need in a vacation. I love outdoor adventures and holistic treatments, which is why I chose a resort with a beautiful spa, and a wellness program where I could take yoga classes on the beach and attend a smudge stick-making workshop among other things. I also swam in the ocean and went horseback riding through the surf.
Switch off From Social Media
I called my son and video chatted every day, but for the rest of the time I tried to stay offline. On the first day I was away I posted a picture of the beach and someone replied with a tongue in cheek comment about how I was abandoning my kid. I knew she was kidding but it was enough to keep me off the internet for the rest of the trip.
Resist the Guilt Trap
It’s a cliché but it’s true: you really can’t pour from an empty cup. Being a mom is hard work, it’s all-encompassing, and it can feel like a relentless battle sometimes, but it’s also a wonderful privilege to have children. This contrast makes it so difficult for moms to express their frustrations without feeling like a failure. That’s why taking time out for yourself is so important.
While I was away, I got a lot of sleep, which immediately helped to lower my stress and make me feel human again. I relaxed at the beach. I ate delicious meals without having to fix my child’s food first. I was able to exercise and meditate, take long baths and spend a leisurely day at the spa. For once, I was the priority. When it was time to go home, I was relaxed and ready to see my little one. I had missed him so much and found I returned a more patient and productive parent.
Although a momcation is an amazing gift to yourself, it might not be financially possible for every family. If a solo trip isn’t in the cards, try to take a weekend away somewhere local or even just a day to yourself. After all, we all need a break sometimes, with no guilt attached.