Mid-December, I was in a transition to a new position at my company. I took advantage of the situation and requested a few weeks of time off work to recharge. I was going to spend two of those weeks with our kids since they were out of school. But the first week was for me, and me alone—a kind of “solo staycation.”
In preparation for this week-long solo staycation, excitement brought me much to think about. What was I going to do from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. while the kids were at school? I knew for certain I did not want to spend a minute of that time wondering what I should do. I’m a big planner and the uncertainty makes me uneasy.
Plan solo staycation fun
A week earlier, I went to a dentist and told her about my upcoming solo staycation and how much I looked forward to some time alone. She says, “You know, it’s nice to have that time to really clean your home and organize.” I rolled my eyes on this statement.
“Ha!,” I said, “No, thank you. The last thing I want to do is spend my precious week cleaning and organizing.” I don’t remember the last time I had time to spend with me. I missed me. I wanted to be selfish: to embrace me, to listen to me, to feel my presence, to listen to my thoughts when they are not bombarded with home, work, and life… everything one usually looks forward to doing with someone very special.
I made a list of things I enjoyed doing by myself:
- Read a book
- Go through a magazine over coffee at a coffee shop
- Get a massage
- Go to a sauna and jacuzzi
- Go for a walk
I asked my closest friends what they would do if they had this time. They suggested catching up with friends, go to lunch, etc. Pass. Pass. Pass. It was time to catch up with ME.
Fight off the musts
A few days before my solo staycation, I began going through Pinterest for ideas. All of a sudden, all these long-lost home projects creeped up on me. I found myself making lists of things that needed to get done at home. Of course, now that my focus was away from work, all other projects showed their faces. And my gates were open. How does a working mom not use free time to catch up?
Then again… what happened to my thirst for self-care? My tendency for low-prioritizing myself was exactly why I had this thirst for solitude. And that tendency was taking over again.
This is when I ran into Suze Orman’s article in the January issue of O Magazine. Basically, before making any purchases, you have to ask yourself three questions. Is it kind? Is it necessary? And is it true? I applied this concept to my to-do list.
A purchase is only kind when it is within your means. Necessary is pretty self-explanatory: do you really, really need it or is it a want? And finally, true relates to the core of your intentions. Is it truly something you need right now, or are you making the purchase to fill an inner hole of some sort.
Over a conversation with my husband (who, by the way, is a pro at coming up with excuses to delay projects), I realized a lot of the things on my home projects to-do list were not even necessary, let alone within my means. We took some projects completely out of the to-do list. What a freeing experience when a task is crossed off of your list without taking much of your time or effort! Some projects were postponed—we were fine all this time, and I assured myself we would be fine for another week, so I could keep calm and rest on, for goodness sake.
Bask in guilt-free freedom
Come the big week, I had gone through all the roadblocks and mental prep to finally be spoiled and rest. I went to Barnes & Noble, bought a big cup of chai latte and a book by my favorite author, Paulo Coelho, and began pouring out my heart into my journal. The book became the bridge to areas I had sealed off the past few years, and getting everything on paper was a very uplifting experience.
The next few days, I cried, I napped, I read… a lot, I wrote… a lot. I sat on my couch and stared out at the big tree out in the front yard like I used to do for days during my complete bedrest when I carried the twins. I breathed and cleared my head. I detoxed my heart and began my days with more spring.
When asked how my time off was going, I answered with “Great! I’m gathering all my marbles back together. And even found a few I didn’t know I had lost.”
And every time I remembered the changes in my career coming up in January, I couldn’t stop smiling. The past three years, the combination of being a primary caregiver to three kids 5 and under and being the primary manager for a startup tech company evolved me into a machine more than a person. After so many battles both internally and externally with people who kept persuading me to stay, I finally stepped up for myself and chose life over achievement.
And this is the beginning of my journey back to life.
I hope the circumstances will align for you to take your own solo staycation.
7 thoughts on “My Solo Staycation: A Working Mom’s Week to Herself”
Omg I love the solo staycation! A whole week sounds like a dream!
It was a dream for me for a very long time. When that time off was approved from the higher-up, I couldn’t believe it. I became like a hungry wild animal who finds a meal. Watching out for anybody and anything that could possible take it away from me. And of course, something did come up! A client sent us a signed Agreement to deploy and asked that we come for training that week. You should have seen my face! Few weeks later, they cancelled the trip because of internal issue. Again, you should have seen my face!! I finally got it and consumed it as I wished. It was perfect!
I have been a working mom for nearly eight years. I work for a great company where I earn a lot of paid time off. Well, the hours were just building and building, I was feeling very burnt out at home and at work, and my husband suggested that I take a week off. I said for what? What would I do? His reply – nothing, anything. The kids would be at school and daycare, he would be at work. I was on the fence about it, it seemed really selfish to me. I talked to my boss about it, she’s a great mentor, and she encouraged me to do it too. So I took a full week off in November that year, and it was WONDERFUL. I got over the guilt after the first couple days and then I enjoyed the freedom – I did whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. And I’ve taken that same week off every year since. If it’s possible for you to take some time off to yourself, I say to go for it. I was always so concerned about keeping all my time off for “what if”. Of course I still keep my time off bank sufficient enough to cover the necessities, but if I need some time for me, I try to take it. My “me week” is exactly the recharge that I needed, and I look forward to it each year.
Renee, thank you for sharing your story. It’s refreshing to hear that you have the available time and that you take advantage of it. There is that subconscious belief in us that if we are going to take a week off, we better plan something out… do something grand like going to a vacation with the whole family, but really what we need the most as over-worked moms is that time to be alone and recharge. I truly hope more and more women have the opportunity to make this time for themselves.
It has taken a long time for me to realize that taking care of me is not a selfish act. And what they say is true…a happier mom makes for a happier family 🙂
Which Paulo Coehlo book were you reading?? I started reading his books this year and I love him too.
It’s called ‘Aleph’. Really interesting book, no different then any others… bring your highlighter with you because there will be a lot of that happening. How can someone have such beautiful way of expressing such beautiful concepts? I am in awe.