A Break From My Regularly Scheduled Programming

Here's how little I cared about anything: check out my bed head in the one selfie I took at Torrey Pines. Adorbs.
Here's how little I cared about anything: check out my bed head from ten hours of sleep. Adorbs. I mean adorks.

I know the vitality cycle: In order to perform, maintain your sanity, stay strong, be happy, be able to focus, you must rest. A nightly sleep. Rest days during training blocks. Easy weeks after a tough race.

I understand and actively do all that regularly, but the concept of walking away from work—a small business I love to do—doesn't come naturally to me. Still, for about the last month, every cell in my body was politely requesting that I take a break—or something more important would fall apart in the next few weeks or months.

I spent August finishing Tales From Another Mother Runner, and climbing Pikes Peak, and getting Thing 1 and Thing 2 off to 6th and 3rd grade. Sarah and I traveled twice in September, in addition to planning for 2015. So I was already pretty wiped, and I know that winter is the hardest time for me, depression-wise. I needed to recharge so that I wouldn't just let October—and then November, and December, and so on—and the accompanying weariness and mental darkness just happen to me.

So I decided to take action. In the form of a staycation and a real vacation. I got the OK from Sarah to take 10 days off (thanks again, SBS!). I hung here in Denver for a week and barely touched the keyboard. It wasn't a see-the-town staycation, but rather a see-parts-of-my-house-I-never-see one. I cleaned out my office, a task I've been meaning to do for, oh, five years (hello bank statements from 2001! I've missed you!); I scrubbed floorboards (surprisingly fulfilling); I took a great trail run with a good pal for 90 minutes at 8 in the morning--and didn't stress that it was 40-minute-drive away; I cleaned closets and drawers and saw friends I haven't seen for too long. Doesn't sound super relaxing, but trust me: totally was.

Then, while Grant and the kids were in DC over school fall break—it's an annual tradition for the trio of them to travel together during that time—I took off for San Diego for three nights. By myself. With a stack of books, a journal, some sunscreen, a tankini, and no plan except to run 18 miles so I could keep up with Kelly, my first-time marathoner in our Saucony 26Strong Philly Marathon race. 

My idea of heaven. A run here, then a day on the beach below.
My idea of heaven. A run here, then a day on the beach below.

"Wait, you're going on vacation by yourself?" a few friends asked.
"You're going to be totally bored by Sunday afternoon," Grant said. (It should be noted: Grant isn't a huge fan of beach vacations.)
"What are you going to do, exactly?" one of my sisters asked.

Yes I am. No I won't. And read and read and read, think about some strategies for this winter, watch bad television, eat what I want when I want, talk to nobody, stay off my phone, don't check email, sit on the beach, walk on the beach, swim in the waves, watch the surfers in the waves and the dogs on the beach, wash sand off my feet, go to bed early, get up early, run. Repeat.

In my next life, I'm coming back as this happy dog.
In my next life, I'm coming back as this happy dog.

And that's exactly what I did. The most words I spoke were to my massage therapist; Grant decided he would fill one hour of my time with a massage, so yes, he gets a star husband award for that. It can't be overemphasized how much I enjoyed the quiet. No noise, unless I made it. That alone was worth the price of admission. Anybody who has an 8-year-old boy probably knows there is no volume button. Love that kid, but he's either talking, yelling, singing, grunting loudly—or he's asleep. And Amelia, while not as loud, has her own special way of exhausting me.

I returned feeling rested. And by rested, I mean ready to embrace a big year for AMR, love on my kids more, talk to my husband more, smile more. In other words, I'm won't just let life and motherhood and winter pummel me and hope I make it to spring in one piece.

From a pal. And the Gwenyth joke stems from a strength training move we did that morning that GP's trainer said he did to get her great legs.
From a pal as I landed in San Diego. (The Gwenyth joke stems from a strength training move we did that morning that GP's trainer said he did to get her great legs.)

I write this not so you can drool about my time in San Diego, but rather that you think about how something like this could fit into your life. I realize it's not the easiest to finagle, time- or finance-wise, but just like your body needs a break from training, you—all of you: your body, mind, spirit, soul, energy—need regular break to regroup, enjoy the silence, rest, and relax.

It could be a night where you send the family off to dinner and a movie, and you get your favorite take-out, ignore the dog hair and legos under the couch, and veg out. It could be a night where you do the same thing—but head to a hotel in town where you get your own bed. (Then sleep in, and go for a long run the next morning, delaying your return home.) It may be your own version of a staycation, where you take a few days off of work and tend to what needs tending. Or it may mean pulling the plug totally and taking a few days and nights for

Please know: I don't mean to preach. All I know is that it's taken me 11 years of motherhood to finally create some restorative time for myself that I knew I needed. Now I know I'm going to do it, in some shape or form, much more regularly.

Curious: Have you ever taken a solo vacation? Or time off just for some time off? Was it as restorative as I found it to be? 

41 responses to “A Break From My Regularly Scheduled Programming

  1. I did a raft trip down the Colorado…not by myself but I didn’t know anyone else on the trip and that was ok. Most were German kayakers so made some friends and got to learn something new. I hiked out by myself- I cried when I got to the top. I wanted to stay in the Grand Canyon forever…. (not really, I missed my daughter). I am comfortable being alone/by myself-especially running, cycling, hiking whatever. I am lucky though hubby likes to do all things active with me.

  2. I just flew home last night aftere 8 days completely alone. Well, actually I did a workshop for 5, where I did some interacting with people, but then stayed on in AZ for 3 days completely alone, poolside with books and journals and sun and quiet. I was soooo not bored and only mildly ready to return home!

  3. I think this counts. I had a business trip to Vegas this summer. I took a stack of books and magazines and after my work requirements were done for the day, I went to my room and never left. I ordered room service, took the hottest bath I could stand, watched sitcom reruns, lounged in my pajamas and – like you – just made no noise. The 2nd day, I walked down to the pool area for a while, but then retreated back to my room. I say I was the lamest visitor in Vegas ever, but it was blissful!

  4. Thanks for the reminder to slow down and take it easy. Your post was the final push I needed to finally take a relaxing soak in my jacuzzi tub. We moved in almost 3 months ago and this was my first time in the tub!

  5. I am actually at the beach now by myself. Try to do every October as I get those winter blues myself. It does wonders for the body, mind and soul. Love It!!

  6. Yep! Got back last week from a week at Disney. By myself. It was glorious. My husband is wonderful and took care of the kids and the house. 🙂
    Good for you for getting away.

  7. Congrats and yes, I totally take time to myself. The longest was last year at this time when I left for two weeks for a writing residency. My mother in law flew out to help my husband with the kids (who were 1 and 3 at the time). My own mom can be pretty judgmental about “all the time I take for myself,” (her words), but I just ignore her. I try to go away for at least an overnight every three months and relish in the time when I can take more than a night and go away. I try to encourage all my friends to do it, but I’ve discovered it’s harder for others. Some reasons are financial, others don’t have supportive partners, and still others don’t know how to leave the kids. AND some don’t need it. But I am always glad I take it.

  8. I used to do this once a year when I was younger… those pre-momma days. Recently I started wondering why I don’t do this anymore. Especially now that I am juggling marriage, kids, job, running, etc. Way more than those younger days. Your post is a great reminder to start looking for some time to do this again.

  9. That sounds wonderful! Mine wouldn’t be a beach–it would be a mountain cabin–but otherwise….read read read run run run sleep sleep sleep. I hope you read something good! :^)

  10. Ohh my gosh..I’m so jealous!! I sometimes take a day where I take the kids to daycare and take the day off of work so I can go and sit in Barnes n Noble for 3 hours, get lunch and shop or take a nap or do whatever I feel like doing. I’m really due for a day like this. But I had a baby earlier this year so I don’t have any vacation time left (don’t get me started on the lack of maternity leave in this country). I’m going to figure something out before Christmas though. Maybe cry to my employers until they ask me to take a day off (but hopefully not fire me!).

  11. Every year since the kiddo has been born my birthday present from my husband has been 24 hours in a hotel all by myself. Since my birthday is in February, I wait and cash it in during a warmer month so I can spend some time by the pool. It always includes a massage and a pedicure, too.

  12. Loved, loved, loved this, Dimity!

    Felt like I was on staycation with you! A similar, but different situation for me over the past weekend — my husband had a ‘boys’ weekend,’ leaving me and the 6-year-old home together for the weekend. Chores, and running, got done early each day and then we just went and did stuff — picked apples, watched women’s soccer, got pizza DELIVERED for the first time ever. It was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time.

  13. I finally realized this a couple of months ago. I have started a weekly mommy morning. Sunday mornings = short run, yoga & then coffee before grocery shopping. I usually run and yoga with a friend, but the rest is mommy time and it’s amazing. It’s what I need to recharge for the week and grocery shopping is great when I’m solo!

  14. Yes, many moons ago I spent a week on Maui all by myself in a hostel (ok, that isn’t quite alone) but I stayed in a private room. I had been on Oahu for work and decided to take advantage of being there already and stay longer. The hostel was dirt cheap even for my own room and offered daily guided tours to different parts of the island. All they asked was we tip the guide. DONE. It was amazing. I felt so connected to me! One day I hope to steal away from my family, now that I have one, and do it again. Maybe upgrade from the hostel.

  15. This sounds so nice. I’m glad you had some time away, Dimity. Next time can I tag along? I won’t even talk at all. You won’t even know I’m there. Ha.

    Ragnar was a bit like that for me. Time for me, time to just focus on myself, no home, kids, or husband. But a trip with no plans at all sounds wonderful. Being totally on my own timeline. I’m finding the older I get, I find more joy in the quiet solitude. Not bored at all.

    Thanks for sharing about your time!

  16. I’m happy you had a relaxing trip, and glad you wrote this to encourage other mothers to take time for themselves. A few years ago I took a solo trip to Mexico in the early fall, just before the kids and my husband’s schedule got too crazy ( they are all involved in fall sports). Got a few raised eyebrows and questions about going alone, which I found odd. It is now an annual solo vacation, and as much as I love traveling with family and friends, I cherish my “alone trip” to unplug, read, and run along the water.

  17. This is wonderful and timely and wonderful again. Thank you for the reminder and thank you for doing this for yourself. You are correct that the ripples of this time will be felt by many.

  18. For about the past 10 years I travel to Montana and stay with my mom. I try to plan it when SHE has downtime and not many of my many sibs are around. I have found it is totally is therapeutic, and a treasure in my life.

  19. When my children were little I used to revel in the Columbus Day holiday that I had off and they didn’t. Even hubby had to work that day. That day was my guilty pleasure for years. I would even dress for work in the morning so they wouldn’t know I was at home all day (which felt very devious at the time). It was a day for hair appointments, long walks and lunch with my sisters. It was glorious and restorative even if it was for just a day.

  20. So glad you enjoyed your time – gorgeous city. My first solo trip was last Feb to the Princess Half, courtesy of AMR. It was 2 months after my husband’s hip replacement, and 2 weeks after our 3 year old’s surgery, and I struggled with the guilt of going, leaving my family and my the middle school students I teach. Until I arrived. Then I allowed myself to be in the moment and regenerate, so I could help my family and students when I returned.
    This summer I went to visit a friend for a weekend – by myself. It was a great transition from teaching to mommy summer camp. May make this an annual treat.

  21. What a great way to spend your days. I love the balance of completing some nagging tasks while taking a few days to just enjoy. Way to go! I know this will pay huge dividends going forward.

  22. That sounds amazing and so therapeutic — I struggle with making myself a priority (what mom doesn’t?!) and I love that you took a few days off to reconnect with yourself. Definitely something I’d like to do sooner rather than later.

  23. I love this so much, Dimity! The older I become, the more I embrace that my introverted self craves and thrives when given time on my own. It’s rare these days with two little boys, but I’m aware of it and know when I need a break. So glad you took the time and that it was awesome! Here’s to a wonderful winter for you.

  24. Wonderful!! I just feel tension melting away reading your post. I would love to do this. I have had stay-cations, where my husband and kids were away for 2 days. Not quite long enough for me. It sounds wonderful and I hope someday to get a full week alone.

  25. I love everything about this post! Yes to some time alone – away from home -at a beautiful spot in northern MN on Lake Superior. With nothing to do, but sit in a comfy chair, look up from a book at the lake or walk along the beach and throw rocks into it. Now a days, I’m up there with family or friends – fun and I love it, but I can think back to a time up there by myself and it was heaven. I missed everyone after a couple of days but the time away was peaceful and grounding – no commotion around me or within me. So happy you took the time!

  26. Nice! I like vacations, but right now, I love it when I can be home all by myself – no husband or kids. So awesome that you got to do both!

  27. I spent almost 20 years home raising kids, taking care of the hubby and the house and didn’t take care of myself. That all came back to bite me in the a$$ and now I know better. Wish I had done some of this R&R along the way for ME. If I had been a runner back then I would have done at least one run out of town per year BY MYSELF (or with a group of mother runners).

  28. Amazing blog post today! I see this time and time again, mom’s who are burnt out and never take time for themselves. Its something I learned very early on-some me time, where me is the priority is very important.

  29. Good for you for getting some time to yourself. September 28 – a Sunday – was my birthday, and I took the next day off of work. With my husband at the office and my kid at school and a friend’s house afterwards, I took the day to catch up on projects that had been sitting around for over 18 months. While it may sound like work to some, it was very gratifying and I gave myself a private little cheer every time I finished something. I don’t have a ton of vacation time, but I would like to take more personal days in the future.

  30. Every year my sister and I take a sister trip to celebrate our birthdays. It feels so good to go away for that long weekend, and not have a care except about what we’re going to have for dinner that night. I also took a staycation in August–I stayed home for the first time since I don’t know when. My boys were already back in school and it was heaven. I felt recharged after both.

  31. Good for you, Dimity! A few years ago I spend five days in St. George, Utah with one of my girlfriends. We stayed at a spa/resort, enjoyed yoga, massages, LOTS of reading, wonderful healthy food, and a day-long hike through Zion National Park. I came home a MUCH happier mother and wife. You’re right, it’s hard to take that time and not feel a little selfish, but it’s so important. No regrets here!

  32. I would LOVE to do this. That sounds heavenly. I’ve been asking my husband for a weekend to myself for over a year. When I do get overwhelmed I find a day at home to go through the mail and my desk etc helps a ton for me to get back on center a bit to “tide me over”.

  33. What an awesome way to enjoy some me-time! Once my first marathon is over in November I plan to do something similiar and just take a day/night for myself! That newly refreshed feeling is one I am longing for and ready to see!

  34. So glad it was refreshing and you were able to recharge. I’ve never taken a vacation alone but would love to. I am trying out a small bit of rejuvenation today by staying home from work by myself! I plan to put on my house pants and AMR t-shirt (not the one that says “I Run Things”) and binge watch something on Netflix!

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