We are in the heyday of the American vacation -- at least as far as talking about them. It seems like every day there is another news article or study about how not enough Americans are taking time away from work and how it has a negative effect on productivity and efficiency at the office.
One study, for instance, shows that those who don’t take "sanity breaks" at work experience significantly more stress than those who do, both at home (48% and 41% respectively) and in the office (73% and 68%). It has also been tied to the radical decrease in CEO tenure, only 5.5 years today, down from 10 years in 1990.
But for all the talk about vacations that is going around, one population has been left out of the conversation: Stay at home moms!
Despite the fact that being a stay at home mom often has equal or even more demands as a full-time job, stay at home moms receive none of the perks of a job, including sick days, lunch breaks, and, yes, vacation time.
In fact, there is a significant stigma around parents taking a vacation separate from their children. According to a 2015 survey, only two in 10 parents felt comfortable taking a vacation without their child, especially younger children.
But this is exactly when parents most need a vacation. The first few years of raising a child are the most difficult time and the most likely to wear you out.
And, as it turns out, a little time away from mom and dad can do a child some good as well.
"Parenting and birth order research shows that a little benign neglect turns children into independent, out-of-the box thinkers," Katrin Schumann, author of Mothers Need Time-Outs Too, wrote in a piece for the New York Times. "When they’re too coddled and controlled, they risk becoming adults who lack resilience, humility and flexibility. Kids need space, too."
If the idea still makes you uncomfortable, start off small. Don’t fly to some exotic island or European city. Drive to a nearby city for a fancy dinner and a night at a nice hotel.
Or better yet, take a bus. Not only is it more economically friendly, it's also more environmentally friendly (each fully occupied charter bus has the potential to remove 55 cars from the highway, significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions). However, it will also make it more difficult for you to give into any second thoughts you might have during the night, forcing you to relax and enjoy yourself.
Chances are, you’ll find yourself more relaxed and better able to handle the stresses of motherhood after you get back. Indeed, these micro-vacations may be exactly what you need to recharge after a busy week -- or year -- of nonstop parenting.