A few times a year I get invitations to go out of town sans the fam. The occasion varies: it may be work related, a church retreat or the CrossFit girls’ weekend. I look forward to these times as a means of refreshing and recharging – honestly it does make me a better wife and mom. But the work leading up to it can be the anti-vacation. Putting all the moving pieces together to make it happen sometimes feels like the moving mountains … or getting your child to eat his veggies. You feel like you truly need a miracle to see it come to reality.
The way the calendar fell this year, two of my weekends happened back to back. Up until the last second I was not sure I would go on either one of them. One was for work (so I felt like I had to go), and one was for church (and so I felt like I needed to go). I had ruled out going on both because I just felt like it was too much time away from my family and I did not want to put that burden on my husband. May is our busiest month of the year, but October is our second busiest. Without seeking counsel from my husband I just decided I would go on the work weekend, because: four days away, with friends, at a beachy barrier island. I then concluded that the church weekend, although benefitting my soul, it was going to be just too much on my family since it was the following weekend. But my husband knows how to love me very well and sometimes (well, most of the time) knows how to care for my needs better than I do. Like most women I tend to put my needs on the back burner to care for everyone else, until the world comes crashing down and I realize my lack of self-care. Like a good personal assistant (he and I joke that he’s my “PA”), Tim booked my weekend in the mountains with my church friends and then told me later. Bam! The planning was on.
I had to make sure Tim knew who had to be where and at what time: the October after school activities, parties, weekend activities, and the like all stack up this month. Did everyone have the right clothes for school and all of those activities? Contacting other moms as back up drivers in case problems arose on the double-booked parts of the calendar. Making sure there was enough food in the house. Did they have clean water bottles? Making sure presents were bought and wrapped for the weekend parties.
I did marginally well on the prep – certainly better going into the first weekend than the second. The week in between the two getaways was Spirit Week at school, so not only was I unpacking and then prepping for the next weekend away, I was making and conjuring up a different costume for each child each day according to the Spirit Week themes. Thankfully my middle child went easy on me and for his “vacation day” costume, came up with the idea of doing a Staycation: pajamas, a snuggy and slippers. I think he saw my full-on duct tape / hand-constructed anime-inspired outfit for my daughter earlier in the week and decided he would give me a break.
Tim’s response to the my concerns around preparations was (as usual) pretty low key. So, banking on his confidence, I headed into the start of each weekend away escaping without too much guilt … that was, until I talked to the other moms about their prep. That layered on the guilt that I had not done enough prep and my family might struggle.
Here are my top 8 things to prep before getting out of town … at least 7 of which I did not accomplish myself.
8. Making a written schedule for the husband for each child and each hour you are out of town, including the sleep, meals, and bathing schedule.
7. Cross referencing each child’s schedule with the other detailed printouts.
6. The “do-not” lists. Do-not-play, do-not-eat, do-not-watch, and do-not-listen lists. So your children don’t con your husband into letting them dabble in anything you have previously said no to.
5. Laying out perfectly coordinated and ironed outfits for each child, each day and each activity/ game that will happen over the weekend. Including some alternate approved choices in case of wardrobe rebellion.
4. Printing list of all potential phone numbers for neighbors, friends, the school, the doctor, the dentist. As well as alternate activity choices in case the games get rained out or the scheduled playdates get cancelled because of sickness.
3. Food prepping, labeling individual meals for each person and freezing them .
2. Sticky Noting the house with reminders and love notes. For example, please remember to flush the potty, Love Mom. Or these dishes are clean, please put them away in the proper cabinet, Love Mom. My favorite: Hands off! That chocolate is mine, Love Mom.
1.Printed out schedule for the dog, when he goes out, when he eats and what to do if he gets lost.
Honestly, moms, it is so hard to get away but so valuable to your mental health and gives you time to reflect on all the many blessings you have in the everydayness of your family. Although getting away is hard, it is beneficial. And your family puts the icing on the cake when you return: so loving and happy to have you home, they jump around when you walk in the door. That time away makes plain to them how important you are in their lives. I was so thankful to come home to happy squeals of “Moooooommmmy is home,” hand written cards and flowers and a very well picked up house. They tried really hard to have me not walk home into chaos (one of my pet peeve-total buzz kills). I was truly appreciative and thankful, especially to my husband who acknowledges how hard moms work and works so hard to make it happen for me to get away.
I would love to hear your stories below in the comments on how you prep to go away or if you even take that bold step out! Come back and see what I am up to next, with money saving tips on reinvigorating your tired holiday decorations, Fall fashion update and decorating a jaw dropping table the Holidays.