Andrea Nair: Connect-Four Parenting


Momcation: My Parenting Sanity Saver

Here's what happened on my first plane trip after kids:

Taking a solo vacation - and why it's important |

Laura Markham, PhD recently wrote about “radical self care” on her Facebook page. I love the word radical as is applies to taking care of ourselves as parents. I am certainly a radically different parent when I am rested and my buckets are full than when I’m not.

A few years ago I discovered something that recharges my soul, rests my eyes, and calms my mind: one short trip a year ALL BY MYSELF.

You may have heard of Babymoons or Staycations (which for parents isn’t really a “cation”), but do you know about Momcations and Dadcations, too? A Momcation is a trip away from the house, children, partner, and responsibilities. It’s up to the mom or dad if (s)he wants to take a friend along, but I’m a bit of an introvert so I like to travel by myself. I fill the goofy/ fun part of me by saving my one Momcation a year for an annual conference called Mom 2.0 Summit, which is in Laguna Beach, CA at the end of April this year. I get the best of both worlds: travelling alone to a beautiful place, which has super people and fun times there.

When my children and travel budget were little, I’d do just a night or two away in our nearby big city. For added rest, instead of driving the very busy highway for two hours, I’d book myself a train ticket: smiling all the way. Here's a train selfie:

Taking a solo vacation

My friends without children would be so excited for me to have a big night out in the city, then inevitably be disappointed when they found out I had a long leisurely meal out by myself, followed by a bath, and flopping into bed by 9am. The whole night I’d say: I’m doing WHAT I WANT, WHEN I WANT, HOW I WANT! I’d often smile thinking, I am not being interrupted — people must have watched me and wondered what the heck I was up to: sitting by myself, smiling.

Last year my husband and I decided to each have a five-day trip alone. I used my Momcation to go to last year’s Mom 2.0 conference in Phoenix, AZ. It was one of the first post-baby airplane trips I went on by myself. My husband was getting really tired of my shout-outs while packing: “HEY! I can just take a carry-on!” and “I’m just packing MY STUFF! WEEEE!” The eye-rolling started when I finished packing my little carry-on then wheeled it around the house shouting, “Look at me with only this little bag—no kid suitcases, backpacks, food bags, or strollers! HAHA!”

I could hardly sleep the night before my Phoenix trip so the alarm didn’t need to go off at 4am to wake me for my early morning drive to the city to catch my noon flight. I picked up my purse and one bag, feeling terribly out of whack for not have fifty pounds of gear looped over all of my appendages. Skipping out of the house, I headed for the (Canadian-US) border to get to the Detroit airport.

I have a NEXUS card so I pulled into that border lane around 6am, full of excitement. The border guard said, “Travelling alone? Where are you headed? Please roll down the back windows.” I just about shouted at him, “WOOHOO! Yes, I’m travelling alone to Phoenix for a conference!” He looked a bit startled so I quickly said, “Sorry, first time without the kids.” He smiled, handed my card back and said, “Have a great trip, Ma’am.” (I’ll forgive him the “Ma’am.”)

I pulled into the Detroit airport just over an hour later after parking my car, easily grabbing the lot shuttle, and breezing into the self-check in. There wasn’t anyone in the check in line so I went to the Airline attendant and asked if there happened to be an earlier flight to Phoenix. She said, “Actually, there’s one leaving in twenty minutes. But you’d have to get through security and check in with the desk on the other side to pay the change fee and get a new boarding pass. I doubt you’ll make it.” My eyes widened — “I’m going to try!” If I didn’t make it, I’d be waiting in that airport for four hours.

She shouted after me as I peeled away from her, “Good luck!”

Adrenaline shooting through me, I ran with my one purse and one wheelie bag through the airport to the security line. Thankfully they had a “secure traveller lane” which accepted my NEXUS card so within minutes, I was through and on my way to find that desk “on the other side.”

Sweating and panting already, I raced up to the desk, pleaded with the attended to let me try to get on that plane, and summoned my best I really need this face. Shaking her head, she said, alriiiight in a slow, drawl. Boarding pass in hand, feeling almost ready to explode with happiness, I zigzagged around the hall trying to find the monitor, which had the gate information on it. A kind man must have figured out what I was doing and pointed at it. I hollered a “thank you” as I ran away from him.

I frantically scanned the moving board to discover the gate I needed was AT THE VERY END OF THE LONG TERMINAL. If you’re familiar with Detroit airport, it was gate A76. I looked up to see the express train pulling away on the elevated track. “OH SHIT” I actually shouted into a crowd of people (and children—sorry!) as I watched the train go away, looking down the long hallway, not able to see the end. I had 6 minutes to get there.

In a second I made the decision to just go for it! I threw my purse over me, grabbed my wheelie bag and started sprinting. At about gate A63, my scarf started to unfurl, leaving a long train of fabric behind me, partly choking me. I must have been a sight to see and hear! The bag wheels were loud on the smooth floor, my feet pounding as I ran, scarf trailing, hair in my face, with sweat forming on my forehead.

I think I started laughing kind of hysterically at A70 because I could hear the boarding call for the flight but could hardly keep running. I made myself go on, panting up behind the last person in line. People turned around, looking at me, at which point in my head I did the “Superstar” jump pose. Now I wish I had actually done it.

Taking a solo vacation as mom

Smiling the biggest smile I could, I handed my boarding pass and ID over to the flight attend, then calmly walked on the gateway to the plane. Heart pounding, I felt free, happy, and goofy. I had just been given the gift of four more hours in Phoenix than planned.

I wanted to shout at the people seated next to me: “I can sleep! I can eat! I can watch a movie! YEEHA!” as they methodically opened their newspapers.

The trip itself was amazing: I hiked, toured around, lounged by the pool, and read on my own, in addition to visiting with and learning from great people. I arrived back home feeling refreshed and ready to be a mom again. I find even just thinking about these annual Momcations helpful. I'm already incredibly excited for my upcoming trip at the end of April.

Mom's need vacations, too!

I took the banner picture at the top by myself with a selfie-stick, which doubled as a rattle-snake defender. It was funny fending off the other people at the top of the hill offering to take the picture for me. I just kept thinking, I want to do this my way! Do you go on Momcations? I’d love to hear where you’ve gone or your funny anecdote: please post that here in the comments or over on my Facebook page.

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