I love my husband. I love my kids. I don’t have much to complain about in those departments (not that this stops me from “light heartedly” complaining). But still, at least once a year, I need a full long weekend away with my girlfriends. And yes, if you have two sets of girlfriends (for instance, I have my tight crew from my 20s in Chicago, and now I have a crew from my seven years in the Bay Area), that means you need at least two weekends away each year.
Sure, we’re not starved of friend time; we can (and do) talk on the phone, see each other for meals, and get together with the families. And getting a weekend away is no small feat. Planning a time and location that works for everyone is nearly impossible in these hectic years of work and young kids. Money may be more of an issue for some friends than for others, so budgeting a trip that works for everyone can be a challenge. And for a lot of people, leaving your kids behind – especially while they’re still really young – triggers anxiety and guilt. But, I still think it’s necessary. Here’s why:
- Nobody knows you like your girlfriends know you. A lot of the time, your girlfriends pre-date your husband and kids. They knew you when you were a wild-haired bon vivant living beyond your means, when you went through that bad boy phase, and when you experimented with a juice cleanse that left you farting through class. They were there with you when you used to drink way too much cheap beer and wear clothes that would make you shield your kids’ eyes these days. With good friends, you reconnect like no time has gone by, even if you haven’t seen each other in ages. Seeing them makes you remember a part of yourself that might seem like a distant, crazy half-memory. Only now, your hair is way better and you have the benefit of hindsight to allow you to laugh (and laugh, and laugh) about your days of yore, as you sip sparkling wine poolside.
- Female relationships are good for the soul. Yes, I know. Men are great, too. And I have plenty of male friends! But nobody will get you like other women. Away on a trip with girlfriends, you will invariably talk about a range of subjects… gripes about your husbands, gossip about the acquaintances and exes, the latest news with the kids, politics and society, other friends (and enemies), movies and shows you like, books you’ve read, what’s been happening at work, your latest workout obsession, and more. You’ll vent, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll learn. In the end, time away with friends will leave you feeling restored, recharged, and closer than ever.
- Looking forward to a trip helps you get through hard times. Let’s face it, parenthood can be a bit of a drag sometimes. It’s not like I’m counting down the days, but knowing that a super-fun weekend with beloved friends is in the works really does wonders to pick up my mood.
- You need time away from your everyday obligations, whether you think you do or not. Listen, even generally speaking, you need a vacation! This is science talking. Vacations can break up the stress in your life and help you gain the perspective and strength you need to return ready to tackle anything life throws at you. Plus, I don’t think anyone can argue with a straight face that it’s not good to get away from the chaos and routine of parenting kids. If nothing else, you can sleep in. Remember that?
- Time away is good for everyone in the family. The first time I went on a girls’ trip after having a kid, my daughter was six months old. I was still breastfeeding, and the stress of prepping for the trip and planning all my pumping almost kept me from going. But in the end, I was so grateful to have gotten some “me” time that it was almost an afterthought when I learned that my husband and daughter had seemed to benefit from their “daddy-daughter” weekend too! They seemed closer when I returned and more connected. My husband, left 100% on his own, figured out a lot of the stuff that I usually took care of as the primary parent. He took a lot of pride in being able to handle kid duty on his own. And we found that my daughter really benefited from unbroken exposure to his different parenting style. As my kids have gotten older, this has played out again and again… everyone is happier and re-charged for time together when I return. Turns out, absence does make the heart grow fonder.
So: make it happen! It can be an annual tradition that I guarantee you won’t regret.