Bridget Jones has nothing on a stressed-out mum when it comes to lusting after a mini-break – it's just that we don’t necessarily want the man along with us ...
As I type this, I’m sitting alone at a hotel desk in my luxe room for one.
I’m not related to the Packers, and lack even a tiny percentage of their income. Regardless, ever since my youngest turned three, I take 24 hours off the clock, every six months, and check in to totally check out.
For me, the cost is worthy and we budget for it. I lose less work time to stress-related illness because I take this time to totally unwind. My kids like me better – I come home relaxed, happy and ready to build more Lego (though I’ll never be relaxed enough to stand on the stuff without screaming). My husband appreciates the return to normalcy – he didn’t actually pledge to love, honour and cherish a fisherman’s wife, but there she is, up screeching and nit picking from the early hours as I approach the six month marker.
The only potential downside for the rest of the family is that I stop the intensity of my house cleaning efforts (I identified years ago that I start to clean like a … well, crazy woman … when I’m close to the edge).
It doesn’t have to be expensive - the time out to think only of yourself is key. Think about the last time you ate when and what you wanted, exercised when you felt like it (or if you felt like it), and read a book ... without thinking about something to do with one of your family members that may or may not need doing? I know, it's probably been quite some time.
Mums are great at the juggling act but sometimes you have to drop those balls, even just for an hour
When you're physically away from your home, it’s much like the effect camping had on emerging technology before wifi seemed to hit even remote bushlands. You can’t do anything about it, so you stop trying. You can’t get the dinner prepped, you can’t see the sock dropped on the floor or the washing pile teeter, so you switch off to it.
You may have experienced this phenomenon on relaxing family holidays – stopped thinking about work or keeping your house clean. Now imagine that philosophy applied to that constant ticking in your brain about what your kids' next need or want may be.
I know, and you are welcome.
There's one irony best stated up front: you will actually miss your family like crazy. At first, you may even feel at a loose end, and like it may have been a bad investment. This is normal. Ride it out and go and do something you wouldn’t dare do with kids in tow. Drink by the pool? Casual browse in a store filled with expensive glass objects within a child's reach? These things helped me ride out my early wistful thoughts, and now I sit here, typing by choice, and with my shoulders finally removed from their spot up around my ears. My breathing has physically slowed. Even the boffins have to agree this is good for mental and physical wellbeing.
This time around I had enough in the kitty for a luxe hotel stay – club facilities, gym, room service and all. I won’t lie; it is fabulous. But I’ve hit the six month mark on occasion with a less substantial budget, and have found stayz.com.au can often provide something special for a lot less. Last minute hotel deals can also be a great idea.
For those that need a little extra convincing (or something to copy and paste for their significant others), I asked a psychologist for a more esteemed rationale. Dr Carla Moore, director and psychologist at Here and Now Health, says this:
“Mums are great at the juggling act; business, work, house, kids, managing relationships - they are juggling all of the time. Sometimes you have to drop those balls, even just for an hour, a day, a weekend, because by not choosing to put them down, you can get yourself to the state that life will force you to.”
Example? Have you ever had that accident or illness caused by rushing around when you've had too much on? Find yourself lying on the couch, having your hubby or family members doing the school run, and realising life can indeed do without you for a day?
Dr Moore says being over-stressed and constant captain of the ship can lead to marriage breakdown, poor health, or losing your job.
“The smaller signs that you need a break might be headaches, having a constant short fuse with the kids or your partner, or feeling run down all the time. Before you hit panic mode, hear this: taking a time-out allows you to recharge, step back, assess what we actually need to be focussing on and what can be dropped, and just breathe.”
Do you take a regular mummy break? Have your say in the comments below.