I abandoned my kids last weekend. Yep. I packed my bags, drove 280 kilometers away, and spent an entire weekend completely by myself. OK, OK, I didn’t abandon my kids. I took a weekend off. Because mamas need a break. So Do daddies.
But the way some people react to me taking my annual weekend off, you’d think I’d fed my kids to the wolves. On the contrary, I left them with their very capable father, who also gets a full 4 days off each year. So it’s only fair Mama gets 4 days off too, right?
Each year, both my husband and I take 4 full days completely off. No work, no kids, no real responsibilities. My husband has been going camping with his old friends (whom he’s know since grade 4) for as long as I can remember. Each year, they take off to a different provincial park in Ontario, and have a great time.
When our son was a newborn, hubby’s friends were planning their annual camping trip. My hubby was unsure about going, since our son would only be two months old at the time of the trip. So I told him: “you can go on the camping trip no matter how old the kids are, as long as I get a weekend off, too.” And so our tradition of annual weekends off started. An older couple we knew also shared that they had this tradition, and we thought it was a great idea.
Up until this year, I would take my days off one day here and one day there, because my kids were young and I breastfed them for such a long time. I didn’t want to leave my breastfed babies for too long.
But this year, everyone is out of diapers, no one is breastfeeding anymore, and so I took my full 4 days in a row, and I had a great time. Did I miss my kids? Sure! But I also had a great time and have no regrets.
I bought myself a 2-day pass to Canada’s Wonderland (Vaughan, ON’s amusement park) and headed out to Toronto on Friday morning. I went straight to the park and spent an awesome day riding Canada’s tallest roller coaster and a bunch of other fun rides. I love going to amusement parks by myself (but that’s a post for another day).
After a great day at the park, I headed out to my friends’ apartment in Etobicoke. We had a great time chatting, and I got an awesome night’s sleep. In the morning, we chatted some more, and then my friend took me to this super fun Groove Dance class. I had a blast and got a great workout. After class, we crossed the road and went to this lovely little Polish restaurant, Cafe Polonez. We had some delicious cauliflower soup (quite possibly the best soup I’ve ever tasted), and of course, some awesome pierogi. I like mine a bit more fried, but I guess in the traditional Polish style they’re only slightly pan-fried (that’s a big guess. I’ve never been to Poland. Yet.).
After dropping my friend back up at her place, I headed out to the airbnb 1-bedroom apartment I rented for two nights in Richmond Hill, ON. It’s a lovely, newly renovated 1-bedroom on a quiet street in a cute neighbourhood, only a 26-minute drive to Canada’s Wonderland.
I hung out for the afternoon and then headed out swing dancing at Dovercourt House. It was fun, and I met some nice people and saw an old friend as well. When the dance was over, I headed back to my little apartment and had a great night’s sleep.
On Sunday I just hung out, went to church, watched a couple of episodes of House, M.D. (can’t believe it’s taken me this long to watch this), had a nap, and did some reading. Mostly, I just hung out, relaxed, and enjoyed a complete day off.
On Monday I headed out to Canada’s Wonderland again. The plan was to spend most of the day in the water park, but unfortunately there was a lot of thunder and torrential rainstorms, so I packed up and left early. In the end, I’m glad it worked out that way, because it took a long time to get home with the traffic, so it was nice that I left earlier than planned.
Coming home after a full weekend of with no responsibilities, I feel totally refreshed, and I was so happy to see my husband and kids again. I have no regrets about taking this much-needed time off.
I recommend that all parents take a weekend off (at least) each year, alone, go do something they enjoy. Whether it’s camping with old friends, going to dance classes, or spending all day at an amusement park, doing something all by yourself can help you relax and return to your loved ones recharged and ready to go.
I think taking time off alone is not only healthy, but necessary for those of us who spend most of our time in family duty mode. For homeschooling parents, it’s doubly needed. Some people may criticize you for it, or may not understand why you do it. That’s their prerogative. You don’t have to explain yourself to anybody, and you don’t have to have a reason for taking a break, other than you just need one.
Mamas need a break. So do daddies. This is extra important if you’re the primary caregiver.
All working parents get vacation, why shouldn’t you? Just because you’re not getting paid for it, doesn’t mean you’re not working.
So take that break, enjoy it, and come back fully recharged to continue to do the super important work of raising kids.
So when will you take your next break? What will you do?