“Just give me a few seconds.” I find myself repeating this minutes after walking through the door after work. With my bag still over my shoulder, I’m trying to make it to the bedroom with my 4-year-old attached to my leg.
She refuses to let go and goes on to give me a blow-by-blow account of her day. I need a break, and a few stolen moments in the bathroom don’t count.
Sometimes I daydream of sitting on a cosy couch, mug in hand, besides a roaring fire or walking on a deserted beach with no one else in sight. All around me there is complete silence - no one asking for toast (cut in four squares) or shouting from the toilet, “I’m finished!”
The momcation is the latest travel trend that makes it all about mommies. But as the homemakers and keepers of the castle, we may need a little convincing when it comes to self-care. If you need a reason to pack a bag for a few days and head out on your own, we’ll give you six.
Science says you need this
A break is as good as a holiday, but for mothers of small children, it’s so much more. And now science has proven it as well.
Research scientists at the University of Tokyo extensively studied the role of oxytocin on peaceful associations and sociality in mammals, and what they found is that humans need connections outside their romantic relationships and mother-child bonds for their mental health to flourish. Their findings were published in Behaviour journal.
A mini break with your girlfriends could be the perfect answer to breaking the routine. Do something out of the ordinary like heading out on a road trip or booking a spa holiday.
Absence makes them appreciate you
Another thing a momcation does is change the family dynamic when you’re not around - making them more appreciative of you.
“Her spouse and children may have a better sense of how much she does and accomplishes on a daily basis,” psychologist Nava Silton told Good Morning America.
“It is critical for children to see that balance modelled for them and to carry that into their own child-rearing in future years. Ultimately, this may help children garner even more respect for their mothers,” she added.
It can strengthen your bond with your partner
A study, published in the Wisconsin Medical Journal, showed that women who took holidays at least twice a year were “less likely to become tense, depressed, or tired, and are more satisfied with their marriages”.
It’s a necessity, not a luxury
Dayna M Kurtz is the author of Mother Matters: A Holistic Guide To Being A Happy, Healthy Mom. During an interview with Parents.com, she addressed how momcations should be an integral part of what she’s coined as “momcare”.
“We need to reframe how we think about mothers taking time off from mothering,” Kurtz said. “Momcations are really a necessity, not just a luxury. They should be considered an integral part of what I call ‘mothercare’ - one of a host of activities that restore and revitalise the emotional and physical energy we need to provide healthy, loving care for our children.”
All you need is two days
A mom’s job is 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Taking a few days off to relax and recharge is not going to make you a bad mother. Instead, it’s an opportunity to reconnect with your identity outside motherhood. According to the experts, all you need is two days before mommy guilt kicks in.
Does it work? You bet
Cape Town journalist Tshego Lepule, 30, is a single mom to Tshepang, 8. “I try to make an effort at least once a year just to get away,” she says. In 2017, she and her sister spent New Year’s Eve in Bali before flying over to Thailand for a few days.
“Sometimes I just need a break. I miss him (Tshepang) but I need to recharge.” She jokes that three days into her holiday, she’s still on “mommy time”. “I would wake up at midnight to check on him before realising he’s not there.”
Mommy guilt aside, her advice is to go for it: “Every mom needs to do this!”