At the airport, I realized it had been five years after nearly a decade of raising kids that I was taking a break from my family and spending some much-needed time with me. Yes — 5 years! Between COVID and the last few years of struggling in and out of hospitals to figure out my son’s breathing problems, I couldn’t find the time sooner. Yet, in the week leading up, I found my chest heavy and a feeling like I couldn’t do it. I could have been waking up at 3 a.m. to the sound of my son being unable to breathe again (I guess we’re back in croup season early!) OR the nagging inside me that the house wouldn’t be able to operate without me. But I and many other moms must do it, too. Why? The benefits to yourself and your family are far too worth it; everyone will benefit.

The benefits you’ll see when you prioritize self-care 

  • Time to reflect on your path — the highs, the lows, and anything you might be hanging onto that isn’t serving you
  • Getting a much-needed hygiene routine back in place
  • Nourishing yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally 
  • Everyone misses you and realizes that they can take on more of what you always do around the house
  • Showing your kids (especially daughters) that moms deserve a breakaway

Here are some tips that helped me through the need to get my time with myself, some mom friends, and mother nature to feel like a real human being again.

Step 1 — Stock the house with the essentials 

The panic leading up started dissipating as I tried to make all the essentials for the kids and the household accessible before I left. And no, not the ones that are easy to deliver via Instacart or DoorDash. That can all get sorted out. The ones I knew my spouse would not have the patience to figure out and deal with and likely need while I was gone, like my son’s inhaler medication that is hard to get at some pharmacies. And in doing so, I learned how difficult some essentials are to find — like children’s Tylenol or Motrin. I had seen a little bit about this on the news but hadn’t entirely realized that Children’s Motrin was the new TP or formula shortage type of product. I drove around a few stores, ensuring my kids’ midnight Tylenol and Motrin doses were stocked. 

Don’t forget pet essentials if you are in this boat! I, of course, ensured diapers and wipes were on the ready for my almost 2-year-old, but I also knew my husband would not be driving around to get our rabbits the only hay they like  — nor does he care to, which is fair. They are my responsibility with the kids when I’m home. I ensured our dog’s senior food was in ample supply to help her joints while I was away. Check and check! Once I did my constant “mom scenario of anything that could happen list” and ensured all living creatures could be kept alive through most of those pathways — I felt better about leaving.

Step 2 — Start enabling your kids to help more before you leave

I don’t know about you other moms out there, but for me — I do too much for my kids, which can almost border on a disservice to their growth and maturity. I get frustrated asking for the same things repeatedly and resentful at times, then find a way to do it myself to live up to the OCD life I demand of all of them. But before you go — start changing all of that! Or better — keep that changed when you get home.

One example was to have our girls take over the bunny care in our house. It all came to a head right before my trip when, for over 12 hours, the bunnies had no water after all my motivational pep talks to step it up, and I’d had enough. My husband and I decided to devise a plan: Assign our six and 9-year-old days and let them live up to the responsibility they strived for when we said yes to these furry creatures. If by the end of the month and on my trip, they couldn’t feed and keep them clean and Dad and I could go back to chasing a toddler, we were finding new homes one by one. Harsh, I know, but you know what — I felt that weight lift off me as I started packing my favorite swimsuits and yoga leggings for Mexico. And we threw some extra incentives like a candy store run or extra movie night once they hit the mark. Win for everyone! And I came home to a beautifully clean bunny hutch and thriving animals.

Enable Your Kiddos Tip #1 — Think of where they aren’t stepping up enough in the house to help your partner while you are away and alleviate your worries. Put extra incentives that work for your kids around it to ensure they get it done.

Step 3 — Sit with your spouse and go over the schedule 

I’ve learned in a few couples therapy sessions that good communication is the key to happiness in most marriages. We’ve tried and failed at a million co-parenting calendars via digital techniques. The best one is always to sit down once a week after the kids go to bed and talk through all the many decisions we, as moms, unilaterally make for our kids and ensure they can do all that while you are away. And not to say my husband doesn’t do his part, but there are just things I do regularly that I know will be a nightmare for him and take him more time to figure out while I’m gone that a quick meeting can solve. 

So talk through everything and go through each day you are away. Arm your husband with the numbers to the neighbors to call in case of emergency, and for me — having point people to help him on the ready was vital for this trip, especially when he went down with vertigo the very next day after I left. Luckily, it also wasn’t an overly heavy kid-scheduled weekend, but even if it was — another mom is happy to help and give to that mom karma circle that allows us all to get our much-deserved and needed time to unplug.

Enable Your Spouse Tip #1 — Talk through the kid’s schedule, help in place, what to pay for the help in the area, and any questions that might arise and that you typically handle.

Step 4 — Rethink how you pack for one

Packing is always a pain in the butt. I’m starting to have my kids lay out their things before trips, but I check everything and pack for everyone. The craziest thing about a mom retreat is that the time is plenty or moves differently, I should say when you aren’t frantically worrying about everything for everyone and just caring for yourself. Bring that book you’ve wanted to read for a year. For me, I brought notes and emails I hadn’t looked at in weeks and my computer to sit by the ocean and, you know — write this. But get what makes you happy. Those facial products I never have time to do or the supplements that make my body feel great when I remember to take them. Whatever it may be. The only thing I wound up being pissed about is double the sun hats, not realizing that when it’s just you — suddenly, those things aren’t hard to carry and maneuver through an airport.

Some books I’ve loved reading lately for inspiration are…

  • Big Magic
  • High Achiever
  • 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
  • The Great Alone
  • Verity

I almost canceled the retreat due to the never-ending “what if” mom fears inside me, and I’m so glad I didn’t and got much-needed time to myself. I hope I do it more often. Frolicking through waves, catching a few, staying up late chatting over wine and tequila, sitting by the fire, going in the hot tub too much, and listening to the waves during yoga as I let go of my need to control things is the best thing I could have done, and I’m sure for any mom. I returned to my house and my humans and my farm here more patient, fulfilled, and ready to crush the many demands of this everyday mom of three life.

Some helpful questions to ask as you plan a mom’s getaway:

  • What are my core passions? 
  • What makes me happy when I’m away from my kids or have extra time?
  • Who will do those things with me, or am I okay with going completely alone?
  • What trips, destinations, and retreats like what I’m looking for exist? 
  • When are the retreats, and do they align with our family’s schedule?
  • Can I afford to book it? Then ensure that trip and never look back!

Pro Tip for Mom RetreatersSquaremouth Insurance company was great to work with in case I had to move around anything last minute, which thankfully I did not.

Did I convince you? Check out Forbes’ top 25 mom retreats in California, and start rallying your mom friends to join you somewhere soon. Lean on this article when your mind says no, and do it anyway. Your family will thank you. You will Thank you. Namaste!