This past spring was nothing short of monumental, for I embarked on a journey that stood as not only a milestone, but as a life changing experience I get to cherish forever. For some people this is the normal, but for individuals like myself who barely have enough time to escape for a shower, this was a HUGE deal. I went on my very first vacation without my kids.
I woke up that morning with a huge knot in my stomach from both fear and excitement. I would kiss hubby and all six of my babies goodbye, and with just my bag and sister In law in toe, I hopped on a plane and made my way 6 hours over the Atlantic Ocean landing in the beautiful city of London, England.
I did it! I not only left the country for the first time and hovered over a massive body of water for six hours without completely loosing my mind, but I ACTUALLY left my kids home…with family…for days…without me! YEA! If you’ve ever been a worry wart of a mom who has never left their kids sides for longer than a few hours at a time, we’ll then you know this did not come easy!
As anxiety inducing as it was to separate from my kids for an extended trip across the world, I am so grateful that I did. Why? Because not only was I blessed with the opportunity to travel, but I was given a gift I had never received until then. A genuine, much needed break from the all consuming life that is motherhood. This trip ended up being SO good for me as well and my family and I’ll share with you why.
1. I Regained My Sense Of Self
At some point in my eleven years thus far of motherhood, anxiety and depression started to get the best of me. After evaluating my stressors and problem areas, I realized that a huge part of my struggles were due to having lost my sense of self. In embracing my ever changing role as mommy, I forgot the all too important task of self care and preservation.
I had become so consumed with becoming who I needed to be for my family and somehow let all that I loved and knew about myself before motherhood slip away. I have since made a point to occasionally indulge in the things that make me ME, and taking this trip was one of them.
I am a lover of culture, art and exploration. I am a lover of food, dancing and making best friends out of complete strangers and trekking around the streets of London reminded me of just that. It was nice reuniting with the original version of myself, and was happy to bring a little piece of her back home!
2. I Conquered Separation Anxiety
I may have been excited about skipping town for a little bit, but I was more than nervous about how I was going to deal with being away from my kids for an entire week while still being able to fully enjoy myself. And although this wasn’t their first time being away from home for an extended trip either, my proximity was unsettling and I still worried.
I worried about all the irrational things that could happen while I was away. I worried about getting caught up in the real life version of the movie Taken and never seeing them again! (Hush! Don’t laugh!) I worried about everything I didn’t need to worry about.
This trip ended up being just what I needed to finally put all of that anxiety to rest. It was the ultimate test of my ability to allow myself to be at peace with enjoying my alone time guilt free as well as trusting that my kids were ok, happy and healthy and having the time of their lives while I was away. We all passed with flying colors! As a result I am now anxiously waiting to start planning a second trip without reservation.
3. Traveling Changed My Mindset
It goes without saying that stepping away to take a breather can really turn your day around. Taking this vacation ended up completely changing my mindset which gave new light and meaning over my life. As I mentioned, just before my trip I was completely tapped out and this moment to break away couldn’t have come at a better time.
Being so far away from my normal in foreign territory helped me to reset in so many ways. I was able to de stress as I relaxed on my time, I was able to feed my soul as I marveled at all the city had to offer as well as opened my eyes and learned new things about the world outside of my little bubble. Best of all, being away allowed me to really reflect on how much of a true blessing my life really is. As hard as it is, I couldn’t wait to re-embrace the chaos!
By the end of the trip, I felt “normal” again. I felt even more grateful and blessed than I already did. I missed my family and couldn’t wait to bring this refreshed version of myself that they deserved to enjoy back home.
4. I Got To Bond On An Adult Level With My SIL
It pains me to say that along with slacking in self care I actually forgot how to interact with people my size! Yes, it sounds completely ridiculous, but it can and does happen. When you fail to make yourself important and are so used to being around and tailoring your life to accommodate miniature humans all day long, not only can your identity accidentally fall by the wayside, so can your ability to maintain or even form new relationships with adults!…this was unfortunately me (que the newfound social anxieties)!
When It comes to my sister-in-law, she is very dear to me. We are alike in many ways and share many common interests. While my husband and I have been in each others lives for decades now, we went through many changes very quickly, and I didn’t get much time to FULLY bond with my SIL.
So when she invited me on this trip I couldn’t wait! I couldn’t wait for the opportunity to have one on one time to not only bond with her on an adult level that I so craved but to connect and experience this as sisters. I can’t tell you how nice it was to feel and act like a normal 32 year old human being for five whole days! And to have experienced all these first with her was even cooler!
4. It Encouraged Exploration Through Experience
As parents we strive to raise and build up these awesome little human beings that the world just can’t get enough of. One thing I always hoped that I could give to my children was an understanding and appreciation of ALL that the world has to offer. I’ve always wanted them to have the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone to learn about, embrace and come to love other cultures aside from their own.
And while I can’t give them the first hand experience just yet, I spent just enough time in The UK myself to soak in enough of a share worthy experience that kept them looking at pictures and videos, souvenirs and asking questions for weeks. Me stepping out of the box has now encouraged my little tribe to want to step out of the box and for that I am thrilled.
All In All, You Won’t Regret It One Bit
These types of vacations don’t come often for a regular old mom of six like myself so I knew that this trip was going to be something amazing. I did have my reservations about going and even a bought of mom guilt for a short time. I had no idea how amazing it was going to be not just for me personally, but how beneficial it was going to subsequently turn out being for family as well. I came back a whole new momma. I don’t regret spending this time away not one bit, and needless to say, I’m looking forward to the next one!
How did you handle your first vacation away and how did it benefit you and your family?