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It’s literally never occurred to me to take a vacation on my own. My fam doesn’t travel that often, so if I’m going anywhere, it’s with the kids and husband. Which is why, when I was invited on a trip for journalists to learn about The Palm Beaches area earlier this year, the first thing I did was check Expedia to see what it would cost to add flights and accommodations for my spouse and two schoolage boys.
As it turns out, my family wasn’t able to come. But my husband told me to go anyway, and even my manager was on board. So before I knew it, in the middle of a harsh Toronto winter, I was booked for a four-night trip to Florida. All. By. Myself.
I went away without my kids and I don’t feel guilty about itSpoiler: It was amazing, obviously. It doesn’t hurt that I was treated to some fancy-schmancy hotels, restaurants and attractions (Palm Beach is one of Florida’s wealthiest counties). But when it comes to a “mom-cation,” it’s really not where you stay or what you do that’s so rejuvenating. It’s getting a legit break from all your responsibilities, parental or otherwise.
1. Sleeping alone and uninterrupted is everything
As the song goes, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, and it’s a million percent true about sleep. At home, I feel happiest and safest sleeping alongside my hubby and waking up to kid cuddles at 7 a.m. But four days of sleeping alone (pretty much diagonal in my bed), then waking up at precisely the time my own body wanted to, was seriously amazing. The ridiculously comfy mattresses and bedding at the PGA National Resort & Spa and Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa were probably a factor, but even more was the quiet, the stillness and the knowledge that I was responsible for nobody’s needs but my own.
2. Spa treatments are way better when you can actually quiet your mind
I’ve never been super into facials and massages because as nice as they feel, I usually can’t clear my mind when I’m on the table. But when you’re on vacation alone, it’s a whole lot easier to be in the moment. While the aesthetician at the decadent Eau Spa was extracting, exfoliating and moisturizing, I was thinking about…nothing, really. Such bliss.
3. Food tastes better when there’s no planning or negotiating
On a trip with my kids, dinner means finding a restaurant that satisfies everyone, including my middle-schooler, who’s both picky and strictly gluten-free. It means arriving at 5:30 pm. It means making sure everyone else is happy before digging into my own meal. I don’t resent any of this—it’s parenthood and I’m grateful for it. And yet, late-night fine dining was pretty damn sweet. It’s not every day I get to sit down to a delicious multi-course meal, take my time eating it, and not stress about anyone melting down. (I’ll be back, Ironwood Steak & Seafood. So good).
4. I somehow still wished my family was around
I did my best to soak up every minute of freedom on my trip, and yet there were so many times I wished my kids were with me. My older son, a big Survivor fan, would have loved the atmosphere at Guanabanas, an open-air restaurant with woven tiki huts and banyan trees towering overhead, and the philosophy and history behind the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. As fun as it was for me, my six-year-old would have been thrilled by the PonTiki boat ride along the Juniper Inlet (where we spied the back of Tiger Woods’ house). And obviously, they’d both have gone nuts for the delicious milkshakes at Foxworth Fountain, an authentically vintage, old-fashioned soda fountain in nearby Delray Beach. I longed for my husband, too. Not that I missed him desperately—it was only a couple of days. But he’s a total foodie (whereas I’m way more safe in my food choices), so although I loved the fine dining experience at Florie’s, a restaurant created in partnership with three Michelin star chef Mauro Colagreco, he would have loved it even more.
It would be ridiculous and naive of me to recommend a solo trip to every mom out there. It’s just not feasible for many, probably even most, families. But if the opportunity to get away from your daily responsibilities arises in any form, don’t let guilt get in your way. I returned from my trip to Palm Beach feeling better than I had in a while—and the kids survived just fine.
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Grocery delivery is my version of self-care
Some of the writer’s costs were covered.