Why Taking a Momcation Isn't Just for Real Housewives and KardashiansFeb 14, 2022
In this episode, Stace and Steph have a conversation with Laura Guska, a stay-at-home mom to two small children, ages 3 and 15 months. Laura. Before becoming a mom, she was a 4th grade teacher and worked for an educational technology start up company supporting teachers and administrators across the country. After spending the majority of her "mom life" during a pandemic and dealing with a particularly difficult postpartum period with her second child, she was definitely exhausted, depleted, and in need of some time to herself. Then Laura did something amazing—she took a "momcation." 3 nights all alone, on vacation by the ocean.
While this may sound like an unattainable, luxurious pipe dream, today we are here to tell you that this is not the case. Listen on to discover why a momcation is NOT just for the spoiled Real Housewives type, and how you can make it work for you, no matter your budget or circumstances, because YOU DESERVE IT.
Pandemic Parenting Is No Joke
Many moms of young kids--including Laura--have spent the majority of their parenting time in a pandemic. Let that sink in--having logged fewer hours during “normal time” than during a pandemic. And all moms know that those early years can be brutal--being isolated and stressed about your family’s health compounds these challenges exponentially.
Laura used to love taking her oldest child on adventures in her fun Chicago neighborhood--and all of that came to a screeching halt in winter 20202, which, ironically, is when she became pregnant with her second child. To switch gears from having changes of scenery and outings in the city to being alone with a toddler (while pregnant, ugh!) was hard on her, and we bet other moms of littles out there can feel her pain.
When you’re “in the trenches,” the days can feel like swinging from vine to vine: a morning activity or class, a playground, nap time, errands, a playdate . . . imagine losing most of those vines.
What’s On the Other Side of Your “Plus”?
Stacey mentioned that she has a soft spot for other SAHMs, noting that it can be even harder for them to figure out “whats on the other side of their mother + . . . “
It’s a question worth asking, regardless of your work status. What IS on the other side of your plus? Artist, daydreamer, reader, sister, shower rockstar, advocate?
Laura shared a few really cool things on the other side of her plus, including a friend, something I think many of us forget to fully appreciate or value, especially during the mom years. One thing she said she kept coming back to was “helper.” That may resonate with a lot of you out there--so many moms are perennial caregivers, but as a teacher and ultimately a “helper OF teachers” in her career, Laura has a hard time remembering to help herself, too. She told us:
“ . . . My “plus” right now is actually just trying to find myself and put myself first a little bit more.”
Acknowledging and Honoring Our Postpartum Needs
Laura shared with us that after her second child, she was diagnosed with postpartum depression and anxiety, and that looking back, she may have experienced it with her firstborn, too. We talked about how easy it is to dismiss our postpartum struggles when they don’t resemble the stereotypical, classic understanding of postpartum depression: crying all the time, not able to get out of bed, severe sadness. Frequently, it can manifest more as anxiety, irritability, and rage, and those symptoms deserve equal attention and treatment.
Laura told us that therapy and other tools have been helping her start to uncover things to help her get better and help herself. Stacey also hit us with this major YES moment: “I feel like every mom can benefit from some sort of therapy after giving birth, because absolutely not just the environmental changes, but the hormonal changes that are happening in you.”
Stop Making Excuses and Just Do It!
When you’re struggling as a mom with young kids, it’s easy to justify those feelings. Laura said, “That's what I was doing with the pandemic. It's like, of course I'm having a hard time. Like I'm alone with my kids. I'm adjusting to having two kids. One has some special needs that I'm learning about and I'm trapped by myself and no one can come help me.”
But just because we can explain why we’re miserable doesn’t mean we should just suffer. So Laura took action. She explained that she felt guilty and didn’t want other people to feel bad for her. “Cause you feel like a horrible person when you feel like you're not enjoying it more than you're enjoying it.”
It’s SO easy to fall into “disclaimer mode,” where we try to minimize our problems because we know other people have it worse, and we don't want to come across as ungrateful. Have you heard this from us before? It feels like we talk about this ALL the time. Yes, we love our kids. Yes, we are thankful for our lives and families. But it’s also OK to admit that we aren’t happy or that we need some help.
So what did it take for Laura to finally acknowledge that it was time for a break? She told us, “I was definitely exhausted and overstimulated by just the day-to-day tasks that the kids needed and helping my husband, like I said, he works a lot too, so I try to take the load of the domestic work just to keep things afloat in the house. I was just really drained, you know, just kind of feeling like I'm on a hamster wheel. There's no end in sight. Why does everything seems so hard right now, is kind of where I was before the vacation.”
How To Give Yourself a Momcation And Work Within Your LImits
Laura’s “momcation” was legitimately badass, but don’t let that deter you. You can absolutely get the break that you need without traveling far or spending a fortune. But if you want to swoon and daydream (and maybe start planning and budgeting!), you have got to check out these vacation digs. Terranea, we know you want us to be your partners! ;)
But aside from dreamy surroundings, Laura knew she needed to address the most important factor: “Ultimately I was like, okay, what do I really need? I really need to get away and not worry about anything. Because that's what we're uncovering here. I'm always worrying about somebody else. So how do I do that? I need to be alone.”
I needed to be alone.
That break from caretaking and making decisions and instead having the opportunity to really unravel (in a good way!) and be present with yourself is the important part. Need more convincing on the results? Laura looked downright serene when she talked to us, and she said her vacation alone was “ . . . almost like a spiritual awakening. This is a new beginning. I'm recharging myself. I'm recharging my batteries. . . it was almost like a celebration of everything that's happened; of course, knowing there's more to come, but I can do it, but I need these moments to myself.”
When we are with our kids, it can be hard to be our true selves. Laura said, “When I was by myself I got to see who I was again. Going on this trip, I felt called back to this person I used to be. And it just reminded me of where my soul was.”
Here’s the thing, mother plussers: these opportunities to recharge and remember ourselves shouldn’t feel unrealistic, decadent, or inappropriate. We can work within our parameters to make it happen, even if it’s a sweet hotel deal twenty minutes from our house, with a weekend where family members jump in to help. Figure out what your obstacles are and work with them.
And there are a few important ways to make your momcations really count. #1, find a way to incorporate that sensation of peace and calm into your chaotic daily lives. Laura gave us a great idea--she took some videos of the ocean, and watches them for a minute of calm now that she’s back home. Repeat a mantra, close your eyes and remember how it felt, take a breath.
And the other thing? You can’t just take ONE break and expect it to sustain you for years. You’re gonna need another momcation, however big or small. We have to regularly allow ourselves breaks in order to stay whole.
Laura said, “It feels like it's always going to be a struggle just to ask for the thing that I need.” UGH. Yes! Why is that? When we asked her what she wanted listeners to know, she said, “If I could just say anything to them, it's prioritize yourself. Your kids are gonna be fine.” They will, really. And your partner will, too.
Mother Plusser Takeaways:
- Don’t dismiss the importance of your circumstances: pandemic parenting and the postpartum period are HARD.
- Remember how to help yourself when you’re a helper by nature.
- Stop making excuses--you deserve a break, really!
- Give yourself a momcation by working within your limits: you CAN find a solution within your timeframe, budget, and childcare restraints. Be creative and don’t give up!
- Sign up for our newsletter here to stay in the loop and get sweet freebies!
Listen to the episode here!
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