When I opened the envelope from my husband on Christmas morning and realized it was a personalized itinerary for me – and only me – to take a solo staycation at the Hyatt in Huntington Beach over President’s Day weekend, I instantly burst into tears.
Since our son was born almost 6 years ago, I haven’t spent more than a few hours away from my family except for one weekend when I flew across the country to see my cousin’s baby. But then I was staying in her house, which was baby central, and helping as much as possible. So while it was an amazing visit and bonding experience that I would do every weekend if I could, it didn’t feel like an escape from my parenthood.
Now being a stay-at-home mom to two kids, quite honestly I’ve been feeling burnt out for a while. I love and appreciate the gift of being able to be present in my children’s lives all day long. This life is entirely my own choice. But I’ve also reached a point where like just once I’d like to be able to use the bathroom without having someone walk in unannounced to offer me a chewed up animal cracker or to show me the new lego set they just built. JUST ONCE. I needed a break, like a real one, to feel like myself again. Not mommy, or wife. Just me.
Here’s the list of things I aimed to do during my solo staycation:
- SLEEP IN
- SLEEP LATE
- Sit on the balcony and watch the sunset
- Order whatever I want from room service
- Binge watch a bunch of romcoms and TV shows my husband isn’t into
- Take a long bath
- Have a pina colada by the pool
- Do some pages in my adult coloring book
- Read a book for hours uninterrupted
- Did I mention SLEEP?
Yeah, it was a pretty ambitious list. Here’s what actually ended up happening.
First of all, it was the oddest feeling waving goodbye to my family as my Lyft driver pulled away from our house. Kinda like what I imagine astronauts feel as they’re rocketing away from Earth at 25,000 miles per hour.
And when I arrived at the hotel, it felt strange being solely responsible for checking myself in and then wheeling my own luggage down the hall as other people’s kids ran past me. All of a sudden, it was like the clock had reversed 15 years and I was childless and single again…okay with maybe a few more wrinkles than before.
Upon entering my room, I was utterly befuddled about what to do.
Nowadays, when we check into a hotel, I spend the first moments inspecting the room for broken/missing items, wiping down the TV remote/phone/other germy surfaces, and trying to keep my kids from pulling down the curtains. On this solo staycation however, I literally had no responsibilities…. And it felt great.
I had brought a bottle of wine from home, so I poured myself a glass and sat on the balcony overlooking the ocean to watch the sunset. This was my view:
Pretty sweet huh? #nofilter! Ten minutes of looking at the ocean without anyone needing anything from me, and I felt more relaxed than I had in years. Though to be honest, I could’ve been looking at a brick wall in a bare bones motel. It was the “without anyone needing anything from me” part that mattered most.
Anyway, then I ordered a ridiculous amount of unhealthy food from room service, and ate dessert on the bed. That one wasn’t even on my list, but it definitely should’ve been!
Then I binge watched hours and hours of shows I had been wanting to see forever. Ten episodes of Portlandia. The Royals (my new favorite). A cheesy rom-com tv movie starring future real life royal Meghan Markle. Two episodes of a forgettable Amazon Prime original series just because I could.
Though I probably could’ve passed out around 8pm just from my regular level of exhaustion, I somehow made it to 1am.
When I woke up the next morning and looked at my apple watch, I literally thought it had broken.
It said 12:57pm. WTF.
Yes friends, somehow I had managed to sleep for 12 straight hours! TWELVE! That is what 6 years of sleep deprivation will do to you. When I threw open the black out curtains, the day was in full swing. People who had probably gotten up at a normal hour were already leaving the beach. I literally haven’t slept this late since college.
Since my hubs had thoughtfully scheduled a massage at the hotel spa, and I needed to get there in less than an hour for it, I had to throw out my plans of sitting by the pool all morning and revise my list a bit. It now looked like this:
Solo Staycation Goals:
- SLEEP – Check.
- SLEEP IN – Yep.
- SLEEP LATE – Oh did I ever!
- Sit on the balcony and watch the sunset – Check.
- Order whatever I want from room service – Check.
- Binge watch a bunch of romcoms and TV shows my husband isn’t into – Checkity check check.
Take a long bath Have a pina colada by the pool
- Do some pages in my adult coloring book
- Read a book for hours uninterrupted – this could still happen!
- Did I mention SLEEP?
By a stroke of luck, the relaxation room at the Hyatt Pacific Waters Spa actually included an adult coloring book and colored pencils! How genius is that?? So instead of casually flipping through some tattered fashion magazine I’m not really interested in, I colored a butterfly and crossed another item off my list.
After my spa treatments, I had just enough time to change and meet my husband, who I had generously invited to have dinner with me at the hotel restaurant. I mean, this was really supposed to be a solo staycation, but I felt bad having all the fun so we hired a babysitter to watch the kids while he snuck out for a couple hours.
It was like a weird role play that couples who have been together for ages sometimes do. He picked me up at my room as if it were a date with a stranger. We had a lovely meal catching each other up on the events of our separate days. And then he walked me “home” to my door before heading back to reality and our two kids.
Check out the next day was a strict 11am and we had lunch plans with the grandparents anyway, so I read just a bit before going to bed at a more reasonable hour.
Did I mention how awesome it is to stretch out on a king size bed all by yourself??
This time I set my alarm (though I allowed myself to sleep a positively hedonistic 9 hours) and woke up with plenty of time to pack and eat breakfast while looking at that relaxing view once more. Then I trundled my suitcase out of the hotel into a Lyft, and back to join my family. While I didn’t check off every item on my solo staycation wish list, I thoroughly enjoyed the ones I did, especially that 12 hour nap.
I want to stress here that while it was amazing to be able to stay at this gorgeous resort for my solo staycation, I really would’ve been happy at a no frills motel. What’s important was getting away (from the chaos of parenting responsibilities) and getting reconnected with myself. Like, who I was before I had kids, who I still am deep down, and who I’ll be once they grow up and move out of the house. And just prioritizing myself for the first time in far too long.
It was a restorative and energizing little weekend, and one I wish every mom can take for herself.
If you can’t afford to spend the night away, consider doing a mini spa day with your girlfriends (or just yourself!) at someplace fun like Glen Ivy Hot Springs (in Corona) or Purify Sauna Lounge (much closer). If sweating it out isn’t your thing, the Orange County Moms Blog holds an annual event every spring called Bloom where moms can get pampered with free mini massages, fun giveaways, parenting advice, shopping, and free eats.
The point is, make time for yourself. Don’t wait 6 years to do it like I did. Yes mama, you deserve this!