Moms of a certain age will remember those commercials from the 70s with the weary woman looking to a bubble bath for stress release and relaxation. If you are old enough to remember those commercials, you’ve probably tiredly uttered those words unconsciously while rushing in from work or grocery shopping or dropping a kid off at some activity, getting dinner in the oven, checking homework, cleaning the bathroom, and fixing your husband an after-work cocktail. (Doesn’t everyone greet their husband at the door with a martini glass in hand?)
Oh, but if there was such a magic elixir as Calgon that could take you away from the hectic days with their to-do lists and piles of chores. Because, although many of us would love to pack our bags for a few days and leave the dishes and vacuuming behind, we have a hard time justifying the time, money, or shifting of our responsibilities to our husband/the grandparents/babysitters/friends that it would require. So what’s a weary mom to do when the Calgon runs out and the bath water gets cold?
The kids are on school break, my husband is off of work. I deserve time off of my “job”, too, right? If you’re sitting there reading this with a cup of cold coffee in front of you and kids screaming in the background, your answer is “right”, even if you don’t want to admit it.
Step 1: Repeat after me “My name is Mommy/Mom/Mother and I’m tired.”
That’s the first hurdle in taking a mom stay-cation. You have to admit to yourself and to your family that you are tired and frazzled, too. All the homework and sports practice and play rehearsal and school projects that your kids have been worn out by? Yeah, you’re worn out from helping them get through all that. New moms you, too. Late night nursing, potty-training, washing mashed peas out of sweaters and off the dog? You’re beyond exhausted. Hubby’s travel schedule, late dinner meetings, and early work hours have him tired? Yeah, being on your own with the kids has made you tired, too. Single mom? Yeah, you deserve a break. Working mom? Stay-at-home mom? Mom of teens, babies, toddlers, multiples, singles? Whatever. No contest here. We all get frayed at the edges sometimes.
Step 2: Warn the family.
They need to know that you are going on vacation. Depending on how self-sufficient you think your family is, you can catch up on laundry or fill the fridge or clean the house before you go on your break. Similar to whatever prep you may do before you pack up the family and hit the road on a real trip. This takes some effort, but you don’t want everything to be too chaotic during your stay-cation. For me, I stocked some basics – milk, bread, eggs, Pepsi, chips, coffee, and cookies – and decided we’d figure out the rest as we went along.
Step 3: Begin your stay-cation.
This is the easy part. You don’t have to pack, you don’t have to make hotel reservations or pick a flight. You just put on your favorite pair of sweats and a comfy tee and slip on a pair of fuzzy socks. Make a pot of coffee, pick up the TV remote or that novel that used to be on the best-sellers list or the July issue of your favorite magazine, find a comfy seat and sit in it. Don’t move until you’re ready.
I know. Your mind is buzzing already. But what will the children eat for breakfast? But what if they can’t find a pair of matching socks? What if my husband can’t find the plug adaptor to his electronic whatzit? Who’s going to do the laundry? What about the dishes? What will we eat?
Think about this. What would happen if you really weren’t there? What would happen if you had actually, for real, left your house and were sitting on a beach chair in Fiji drinking a mai tai out of a coconut? I bet the kids would figure out how to pour cereal into a bowl, add milk and a spoon, and eat it. Your kids would survive wearing non-matching socks for a few days. Your husband will turn on the electronic gadget that finds all his other electronic gizmos. The family will figure out how to do the laundry. Or they won’t. They will find the dishwashing soap or the stash of paper plates. They will discover the refrigerator or the local pizza delivery phone number. Whatever.
In the meantime, you get to enjoy the life you’ve worked so hard to put together. You get to read or catch up on TV dramas (I’ve finished the first season of Scandal in just a few late night marathons). You can beat your kids in Monopoly or get beat on the Wii. You can share a bucket of popcorn at a movie you all have been wanting to see. You can indulge in fast food or get dinner at your favorite restaurant. And if your OCD requires that you throw in a load of laundry every day, and that calms you, then give yourself a set time, say an hour, per day to do whatever chores you have to do. If you really do enjoy baking or cooking 4-course meals, go ahead and do that (but only if figure out a way not to be washing dishes for another hour, because you really can’t make me believe you enjoy that.) Then go back on vacation.
The laundry will be there when you get back. But your sanity? Whew! That’s fleeting.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!! See you in 2013!
(And if you really are in a beach chair with a fruity drink in a coconut, I'm very jealous, but still wish you a Happy New Year, too!