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?


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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. shonni
    October 6, 2010

    I am so glad that ya’ll have been able to take this time away.
    Steve and I have also found that we must do this for ourselves when we can (which isn’t often…).

  2. coffeemom
    October 6, 2010

    SOOO happy for you two to have this time. It is so vital…and so hard to force yourselves to do it, I know. Bravo you guys! Great parenting choice – for you two but also for your kids. Enjoy every moment.

  3. learningpatience
    October 6, 2010

    Oh! I am SO thrilled for you! I am so glad that you feel it has been worth it! Yay! May your return home be full of smiles and fun greetings!

  4. Julie
    October 8, 2010

    Yeah for you, Lisa! I was wondering when your turn was coming. You deserved and needed this.

    It is hard to get away, and it is a lot of work setting everything up, but it is so worth it.

    We got away a few weeks ago to go hear Karyn Purvis. It was a double blessing. Time away and awesome teaching. We came home excited and refreshed and ready to try some new attitudes (ours).

  5. Teresa
    October 9, 2010

    Good for you! Glad you could get away and relax. 🙂

  6. Nancy
    October 11, 2010

    I needed to hear this… and I needed to hear this today. The timing is perfect. DH asked me just this morning if he thought we could get away in Nov for the weekend. For a marriage seminar out-of-state. My knee jerk reaction was of course not, how could we? I certainly can't ask anyone else to take care of my kiddos.
    Hmmmmm… I need to reconsider. I need to say yes. OK.
    Thank you again, Lisa!

  7. Paula
    October 11, 2010

    Way to go. 🙂

  8. Laurel
    October 12, 2010

    We have been married for 28 years … and are the parents of 12 children. We don't have ANY involved extended family (no grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc… involved in our lives).

    However, one of the biggest encouragements we have given to couples is to MAKE IT A PRIORITY to get away for AT LEAST A WEEKEND … AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR.

    Yes, it takes work. Yes, you must humble yourself to ask for help. But … it is WORTH IT!!!

    Lisa, I'm so glad that you and Russ were able to get away for a few days. Yea for you!

    Laurel 🙂

  9. Melodie`
    October 12, 2010

    So glad you got away…and I'm looking forward to my husband only retreat some day soon! Really enjoyed your post about being fun. I need to remember to not just take care of my kids but also have fun with them too! Good words as always!


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