I just spent the weekend away with five high school friends, who are also all fellow mums. We hired a house by the sea, we ate, drank, confessed and laughed our arses off! It was the break I needed and was long overdue.
On the way there I calculated that I hadn’t had a break from my gorgeous – yet demanding – little munchkins in three years. Needless to say, by the time we pulled into the street where our holiday house was, I was practically salivating at the thought of a seaside break from everything back home.
Within minutes I’d poured myself a drink and found a spot on the verandah, joining in excited conversation with my mates, with the sound of rolling waves the only noise in the background (so different to the usual background noise of my four kids). Instantly I started to unwind.
The whole weekend was magic and it gave me space to think about my life now I’m a mum-of-four.
Here are seven thoughts that really struck me while I was away.
1. I actually miss my kids
An hour or two into the mini-break, I really missed my kids. You know how it is: all the things that drive you crazy about them are the things you miss desperately when you’re away. I missed their noise, their cuddles, even their constant demands. For about an hour, anyway. Once I’d unpacked, had a glass or two of wine and got involved in conversation, I was totally fine. More than fine, in fact.
2. Hang on, I DON’T miss my kids
As much as I love them, it didn’t take me long to relax and enjoy my time away from my kids. Over the weekend I checked in with my husband once or twice, who reported dutifully that everything was fine, which was enough for me to let any guilt I had about being away disappear. Sure, I thought about them, and I looked forward to seeing them again, but I didn’t pine for them. I gave myself permission to stop being a mum for a minute and just be me.
3. Hey, check it out – I’m still me!
After we shared stories about motherhood and the stresses of raising kids, conversation soon swerved to other things, like life and dreams for the future. Of course, we also gossiped, drank too much, played card games and broke into song every time a ’90s classic came on the stereo. Amongst all that, I had a realisation – I still existed as a person underneath all the mum stuff. Deep down, I was still the same person I’d always been, and that weekend I got to do exactly what I wanted. I got to talk like an adult, eat and sleep whenever I chose to, and even got to the local market where I shopped for – get this – things for ME. Woohoo, I’m still in here!
4. Why did I wait so long for a break?
I was having such a great time away, that I started wondering why oh why I ‘d left it so long to give myself a break. All this time I’d been thinking how hard it was to organise a weekend away from the kids, and had felt bad for even thinking it at times. It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day routine and decide that the world would simply stop turning if you stepped out of the picture for a moment. But guess what? The world kept right on turning without me in the picture for a couple of days.
5. Brain – is that you?
When I’m with my kids, I find it hard to think. It’s almost impossible to get lost in thought, make plans for the future or even nut out a menu plan for the week when the kids are asking for snacks, drinks or noses to be wiped. Sometimes it feels like I’ve lost all contact with radio central, and am just running on autopilot. But while I was away from them, I got my brain back. I barely recognised it at first, but there it was, firing on all cylinders for two very happy days, letting me think all kinds of coherent, complete thoughts.
6. I am one lucky mama
Spending time with other people and hearing their stories gives you a new perspective on things. As a busy parent, it’s all too easy to feel trapped by problems and stress, but while I was away I learnt that everyone finds parenting tough, and everyone has their own stuff going on alongside it. I realised that I didn’t have it that tough after all, not by a long shot. It left me feeling very grateful for my lot.
7. Hanging out with other mums is the best
Let’s face it – chatting with people is pretty great but there’s nothing better than hanging out with fellow mum friends, who really know what you’re talking about. You can laugh, cry and share too much information with them and they’ll always have your back, because they get exactly what you’re going through.
I know I wasn’t the only one to feel refreshed and energised (okay and maybe a little bit hungover) after our break, and I’m definitely not the only one looking forward to the next one.
Need some support to be the best parent you can be? Our Parent Coach, Karina Lane, can help. Click to find out more or book a one-on-one session.