I've been a mother for 4-and-a-half years and the same thing happens every time I leave my kids overnight.
It starts with a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. It's a little bit of anxiousness (you know the feeling you'd get before writing an exam), and a little bit of uncertainty (as if you're about to make a big purchase but not sure if you're buying the right thing), and a pile of guilt (you know the, 'I'm the worst mom in the world right now' feeling).
Just as my stomach starts to ache, a little voice in my head pipes up, taking advantage of my moment of weakness. It goes something like this:
Do you really need to go to this conference? You don't even have the energy to network. What if it's a total bust? You don't deserve this vacation, you should be taking your kids with you! What if it's too hard to be away...maybe it's better just to stay home.
That voice, if given enough air time, can be very persuasive.
Around this time the kids usually chime in (if they're old enough to talk). If they're too little, it's almost worst. Either you're getting a whole lot of "Mommy, please don't go. I'm going to miss you so so so much. Why can't you bring me with you?" Or, you're getting those sweet little eyes that don't actually understand what's going on, but don't like the look of the suitcase by the front door or the fact that you're voice is shaky because you're trying to choke back tears as you explain what's going on.
I've always loved to travel and go on adventures. Now, something that was once my greatest passion has became my greatest challenge.
But I can tell you something, having just returned home from an incredible two nights at the BlissDom Canada blogging and social media conference—it's TOTALLY worth it!
This time, like every time I've gone away, my kids survived. And, I got to remember what it was like to be a person. To wake up and take my time getting out of bed. To enjoy a leisurely breakfast. To spend a day conversing with adults, taking part in intelligent discussions, and making plans based on what I wanted to do and how I was feeling. For two whole days I didn't have to wipe anyone's bottom, I didn't have to beg anyone to eat their breakfast, I didn't have to hold anyone's hand or wipe food off anyone's face. And while, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't give up these things for anything—a few days off is a luxury.
Interestingly, I was able to put all of my worries and stresses out of mind for the duration of the trip. I didn't think about the groceries I'd need when I got home, or how much laundry I had to do, or how much work was waiting for me. I didn't think about money, or trying to build up my business to make enough of it to pay for childcare. I let my mind go on vacation. And, as you can probably guess, so much creativity came to me in those two days.
And when I got home, after hugging both kids and basking in their excitement, it only took about five minutes for all that I'd put out of mind to come flooding back. Because it's always going to be there. But every so often it's so great not to have to be there with it!
So here's my advice. If you're feeling nervous about leaving your kids; if you're turning down opportunities because you think they won't be okay without you; if you're making yourself feel guilty because you desperately want to go away, but think that makes you a bad mom—DO IT ANYWAY.
1. Calm your uneasy stomach with a glass (or bottle!) of wine and/or a cup of tea.
2. Shut down that doubting voice by making a list of all the great things you're going to accomplish or enjoy while you're away.
3. Ease your kids' minds by assuring them that you'll be back soon, and you'll both be better off with a mommy who is happy, relaxed, and putting herself first.
4. Then pack your bag. Get in a car. Get on a plane. Walk out the door. And make that trip happen. Start with one night. And trust me when I say, it will take a very short time for you to start to feel amazing. You'll get reacquainted with the person you used to be before you started going by the name of Mom—and I guarantee you, you're going to love it!
Now my only question is, when can I go away again!?