How to Survive Parenthood? Take a Sabbatical!
When a friend told me that she takes full-length vacations from her family in the form of parenting sabbaticals, it struck a cord with me.
As the parent of a two-year-old and a nine-month-old, my life can get a little hectic. Like many new moms, I’ve had a rough couple of years in terms of baby-having. My first son had colic, my second was born with severe allergies, and I dealt with medical conditions that made both pregnancies extremely difficult.
I. Am. Spent.
I love my kids with all my heart and soul but a couple months ago, I reached a breaking point. I needed time away. I’ve tried doing the usual “mom therapy” of spa days and escapist trips to Target, but to no avail. When a friend told me that she takes actual full-length vacations from her family, it struck a cord with me. Something I totally would have judged as a poor parenting move in the past suddenly sounded like a stroke of genius (and isn’t that the way of it, with all of us being the perfect parents until we actually HAVE kids?).
In my friend’s case, she gets away on girlfriend trips. For me, it was a work trip. I’m often presented with opportunities to travel for my job, which I almost always turn down to stay home with my family. And then one of those emails trickled into my inbox, and a few days away from the family sounded, honestly, glorious. For once I jumped at the chance to stay in a hotel, and I loved every second of it.
I had a whole bed to myself, without any bottles or binkies or stuffies encroaching on my space. I took a bath (without baby shampoo!). I ordered room service and imbibed in some wine and yes, I worked. Truth be told, though, the work of exercising my brain in creative new ways seems effortless compared to the physically-demanding work of manning changing tables, whipping up baby food and lifting strollers in and out of cars. It was awesome and new and made me feel like I’m capable of something just for me. Something other than procreation.
I returned to my family refreshed, a feeling I hadn’t experienced in months. Stepping away and focusing on myself enabled me to properly take care of everyone else, and I encourage every parent to do the same. In my home, it’s now my husband’s turn to take a little break. I do hope that we’ll vacation together one day, but until that’s feasible we need to respect each other’s needs and tend to our own mental health.
Have you ever taken a parenting sabbatical?
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