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Reconnecting with me

The restorative powers of alone time

Last week I got back from a two-week vacation in Europe “with no kids” for the first time in almost eight years. I went to celebrate the marriage of two beautiful friends. The first stop was the bachelorette in Amsterdam with the bride and a fantastic group of women, and then we proceeded on to Croatia for the wedding festivities where my husband David joined me. Prior to the trip I was a bundle of nerves with so many different emotions coursing through me. I was thrilled but anxious, excited but nervous, and wondered how I’d function without my three kids. Would they be okay, would I be okay? Should I leave them? But you need a break and some time alone with David (it had been so long), my subconscious would yell. I decided to just rip off the band aid in one fell swoop and go (for 14 long days). I knew the kids were in good hands being looked after by my mom so my mind was put a little at ease.

Enjoying the Porec sunset with my husband David (Manila Bulletin)

Enjoying the Porec sunset with my husband David (Manila Bulletin)

For the first few days in Amsterdam I felt a little lost. Like I was being blown around in a cyclone of activity, hampered by jet lag, and missing my children so terribly that my heart ached. A few days in I was able to acclimate and I discovered that I had really needed that time to indulge myself in relaxation, fun, and, most important, rest. What a treat it was to have nobody need anything from me. Not just my kids, but my husband, my helpers, and my family, too. No one yelling MUMMMMM!!

As I got into the groove I felt myself really release my tightly wound grip on everything in my life, my extreme need for control, and just move with the flow. I was happy to go wherever and do whatever I wanted without having to consult or think about anybody but myself. A definite luxury! The last time I remember being able to do that was just before my wedding over eight years ago when I took a solo trip to The Farm San Benito. But the very best part of my alone time was the peace and quiet. In my house the noise level is always set at decibel100.

Meandering around little Croatian towns (Manila Bulletin)

Meandering around little Croatian towns (Manila Bulletin)

Between the kids, the helpers, the dog, and my husband, someone is always yelling or barking (and I’m not talking about just the dog). I reveled in being able to listen to my mind and my body and what both needed at all times. Most of the time they both demanded leisure and pleasure.

When you’re in your routine of mommyhood, work, and life you get used to the pace you set for yourself and often don’t realize that you need a complete break from it all. This two-week holiday has been the magical answer to my run down emotional and physical state. After eight years of focusing primarily on other people it was extremely beneficial to be able to concentrate on just me for an extended period of time.

The other marvelous aspect of this vacation was that David joined me after a week, so we were able to really enjoy each other’s company again with no interruptions or distractions. We felt like we were on the honeymoon we never took. We sort of felt like newlyweds again. What a treat it’s been to reconnect with him! We try to make time for each other every week (scheduled date night) but work and life somehow get intertwined and even when we are alone together we are usually discussing the day-to-day issues of our family, household, or work. This invaluable time together had us exploring new cities, encountering delicious food, and just reveling in each other the way we used to before the kids came along.

All in all, I can say that this “time off” has been so therapeutic and not just worth it but essential for my emotional and mental state, as well as for my marriage. It may seem daunting to leave the children, but there comes a time when you need to work on yourself and nurture your relationship in order for the whole family dynamic to get refreshed. Everyone in your family benefits, most especially you. This will help you have a revitalized outlook that can only improve your family’s happiness and wellbeing.