As I type this tonight I am sitting in the kitchen of an incredibly beautiful home in the mountains of Montana. Next to me grading papers is my wonderful husband, Russ. We are allowing ourselves two hours to work in an otherwise completely relaxing day.
Yes, it’s true, we are taking a break ALONE.
Believe me, I feel guilty even sharing this because I know how rare it is for couples to get away. You may read this and feel that life stinks and you wish you were the one who was away on a trip. I honestly know how you feel and I wish each one of you could have a chance to get away like this.
Our trip was originally planned for last May in celebration of our 26th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately one of our children was not doing well and it wasn’t wise for us to leave. Five months later we tried again, and although I had my doubts the day before, we made it out the door.
It took a huge amount of work to make arrangements for the kids and create a schedule that covered every detail. I needed to make sure that all rides were worked out, the little ones had somebody caring for them at all times, there was simple food to cook, and all was right with their world. I was so stressed trying to sort it all out that I honestly wasn’t sure it was going to be worth it.
It has been.
Our friends’ home is located in a ski area and it is the off season. This weekend we saw only a few cars. Today we went for a six mile hike to Moose Lake (where there was no lake!!) and did not see another single person. The area is also known for bears, and although Russ was hoping to see some., I am rather relieved that we didn’t.
Parenting children from “hard places” is mentally taxing. When they are anxious or dysregulated, it is difficult for us to stay calm. I find it very hard to make decisions and think clearly much of the time. While we’ve been gone we have had complete conversations, talked through family issues, made plans, read books, prayed, worshiped, walked, watched movies, soaked in the hot tub, swam, listened to a lecture (while sharing a set of iPod earbuds), slept without interruption, cooked very simple but tasty food, and breathed deeply, very deeply.
I know how hard it is to get away — I do. I know there are so many reasons that we as couples and parents don’t make time for ourselves. But it is priceless.
I urge you to do what you can to make it happen, even if it is only for a day…although more would be good. It may require asking multiple people to help with your children. In our case, Dimples stayed with one friend for the entire time, the big kids covered the rest of the little kids, Sweet Pea helped for the weekend, and three other friends pitched in to help with the younger set on Monday and Tuesday.
We’ve had some tearful calls from the little ones, but overall they have done well and we will be home to tuck them in bed tomorrow night.
Last spring I wrote a series of posts about Restorative Sabbaticals, and had numerous people ask when I was going to get a rest myself. I am happy to say that my time arrived and it has been lovely.
[We've been home now since Tuesday and the kids did well while we were gone. It was worth the effort!]
Have you had a chance to take a break? What was the greatest benefit to you? Do you have any tips to offer other parents?