Self-care is a big buzzword right now. External and internal expectations on mamas are louder than ever before.
We face challenges unlike any faced by previous generations of women. Social media, media, infinite parenting philosophies, and the general sinful nature of our humanity has cultivated an exhausting, sometimes tormenting, atmosphere in which we live and desperately push to thrive.
Despite all of the expectations and demands, I believe our generation has a deep heartfelt desire to love our family faithfully, sacrificialy and as much like Christ as possible. I believe there is a revival in our country, especially among moms who desire to not just do motherhood well, but to do it as unto the Lord.
Our desire to be like Christ and rest in his grace, yet not look like a slacker or cheat our children in any respect, creates a heavy tension that deplete us body, mind, and soul.
We want it all. We believe we can be it all, have it all, and do it all, and all of THAT can wear us threadbare thin.
There are many self-care practices that we can implement routinely like observing Sabbath, frequent Bible Study and prayer, eating well, getting enough sleep, alone time with our husbands, and a daily "time out" for mom that can keep us energized for all of life's many demands. But, I have one practice that I've had in place over the past 2 years that has helped me feel more restored, peaceful, rejuvenated, and excited about life and faith than anything else: The Momcation.
A Momcation is simply a "mom vacation". It's a weekend (3 days or more preferably) where you go away from your family, away from your life, away from your to-do list and TOWARD God. You don't bring your husband, your laundry, or your social media. You bring yourself and anything that you KNOW will pour into your mind and spirit.
I think we can all see the beauty in this- an opportunity to meet God fully and attentively without any distraction, pressure, or physical demands, but there are some practical matters to attend to and four common objections to taking this step of ultimate self-care: Won't you feel guilty? How can you afford it? What are you "supposed to do"? Is it worth it? Let's take these one at a time.
1- Guilt: For years, the idea of doing this seemed amazing, but I felt horrible even considering it. I thought my husband would be offended that I didn't want to get away with him. I thought my children would feel abandoned or unwanted. I had a lot of objections.
I hate to openly admit this, but I finally got to a place of such exhaustion and overwhelm that I kind of wanted to run away and never come back. No one was doing anything wrong, but 2 babies in 2 years, a long season of sleep deprivation, little ones always touching me, two big girls that talk a LOT... I had just run out of myself. And I'd allowed my practice of consistent time with God to fall by the wayside. As a highly sensitive introvert, being a stay at home, homeschooling parent to 4 can get overwhelming without proper precautions.
After I "ran away" for a weekend out of desperation, I learned that many of my objections were just all out lies. Just like I do not begrudge my husband for getting out of town for the weekend to kayak down a river, he's happy for me to go "have fun" too. Our ideas of fun are very different, but he ultimately just wants me to be healthy, rested, and joyful. And my children feel the exact same way. Because they love me just the way I love them, they want me to have everything I need to feel whole. It's that simple, and we don't have to make it more complicated than that.
2- Finances: We now plan and budget around my semiannual getaway. It's a mandatory part of our household budget because my mental and physical health is mandatory. I spend roughly $600-800 each long weekend that I do this, but that's not necessary at all. As a matter of fact, we won't have that much this next time, so I'm going to look at all these other options as well:
- Find a friend with a vacation rental property who will let you stay for the cleaning fee on an unbooked weekend.
- Stay with a family member who understands your desire to "be invisible".
- Use credit cards for purchases and utilize points for hotel stays. Be sure to pay the cc each month though!
- Ask friends for their unused points or timeshare points they won't use.
- Stay locally at an airbnb. You don't have to go far away to be "away".
- Avoid tourist destinations.
- Take simple foods to eat in your room.
- Sell some stuff on ebay.
- Overall, get really intentional about it, and you'll likely be able to "find" an additional $25 a week to save toward this self-care.
3- So what do you even DO on this Momcation? Easy! You do anything you want. I load my phone with encouraging podcasts, take my most comfy clothes and essential oil diffuser, and pack a variety of books and journals, especially my Bible. Then I allow myself to do whatever I want.
If I'm hungry, I eat whatever I'd like. If I'm tired, I sleep. If I want to read, I read. I browse a favorite store, catch a movie, or journal. I always spend a ton of time in God's Word and in prayer. I also prepare a prayer list in advance to make sure my prayer time is very intentional. I cover every area of our lives in passionate prayer and spend as much time listening to God as I do talking.
4- Is it worth it? Without question, this is the BEST investment I make into my physical and mental health. (Though I recently shared my favorite health products if you'd like to check those out.) I'm a mom and wife, but I'm also a person.
I'd like to put myself first, without considering what someone else likes to eat or what they want to watch or do, on occasion. And that's TOTALLY OK TO DO. I need an opportunity to think complete thoughts and get a few nights of uninterrupted sleep. I need time to soak myself in God's Word and God's Will to be encouraged to go back to my family firmly on fire for God and on fire for serving and loving them well.
My body needs it. My soul needs it. My mind needs it.
Being a wife and a mom does not mean I cease to exist as a human with interests, preferences, and physical and mental needs. I need sleep, time to think whole and deep thoughts, time to pray, and time to pee alone. God knows that. God created me in His image. He also created REST and solitude and called our Savior to it often.
And when I'm at my best... Either coming off of a retreat weekend or looking forward to the next, my family gets my best.
Sometimes, we have to be reminded to put on our own oxygen mask first.
Charlotte Mason said it well:
"If mothers could learn to do for themselves what they do for their children when these are overdone, we should have happier households. Let the mother go out to play!"
I'd love to hear about your Momcation!!! Let me know your plans or how it went. I promise, you won't regret this investment in yourself and ultimately your family.