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Why a Solo Momcation Might Be the Cure for Your Pandemic Burnout

See recent posts by Meg St-Esprit

As the COVID-19 pandemic drags on and shorter days and colder weather encroach on much of the nation, we are becoming weary. Weary of virtual school, cancelled vacations, and never-ending days at our homes. In particular, mothers are statistically bearing the brunt of much of the stress of the pandemic. Four times more women have left the workforce than men in 2020, mostly due to the responsibility of childcare and virtual schooling falling on their shoulders. Even with many two-parent opposite-gendered couples both working from home, much research shows that the brunt of the household tasks still falls to mothers. 

With travel restrictions in place across much of the nation and top health professionals urging us to stay close to home, what are exhausted moms to do? Many are turning to safe, solo  “staycations” in hotels or rentals in their own town. I myself am a mother to four kids under age 9, in a school district that has been virtual since March. With a full-time writing career, this situation began to crush me emotionally as fall hit. My husband booked a hotel room for me just a few minutes away from our house so I could enjoy a solo “momcation.” I stayed at a Candlewood Suites just outside of Pittsburgh. As part of the IHG hotel group, my hotel boasted a “Way of Clean” promise, and I felt safe staying there during the pandemic. 

I’m not the only parent taking part in this much-needed trend. 

Mai Trinh, a widowed mom of three in the metro DC area, has been traveling safely with her kids within the state the entire pandemic. Packing their own food and choosing contactless check-in Airbnb SuperHost properties or Getaway House cabins allowed them to get away all summer, and also showed her exactly what she needs for herself. As a corporate wellness speaker and health educator/counselor for Mai Health Now, the weight of her career in light of the pandemic has really worn her down. The trips with her kids showed her how much she will benefit from a solo mom-cation, so one is in the works right now. “I think, as mothers, we absolutely have to put on the oxygen masks first before we put it on our kids. You can’t pour from an empty cup. My motto is practice self-care unapologetically like your life depends on it, because it does.”

Also in the DC metro area, Hannah Greico took Trinh’s advice to unapologetically claim some self-care this fall after schooling her three children while both she and her husband work from home. As a writer, she has frequently taken trips alone to work, but this weekend in a hotel 5 miles from her house was decidedly not about work. “I needed a quiet space to breathe. I needed to nap. To wake up whenever my body wanted to wake up. To watch bad tv and eat junk food and just listen to the silence.” She wrote two short stories for the pleasure of it, watched 5 movies, and had Instacart delivered right to the hotel lobby for contactless sustenance. 

In Nashville, teacher Miriam Brooks enjoyed a night to herself courtesy of her husband Ryan, who could tell the mother of three who has been virtually teaching all school year was burned out. She’s not new to teaching, but learning to teach virtually requires a new skill set. Even if she is “alone” in her bedroom teaching, there are always 3 to 4 other people in her house. “I chose a room on an upper floor so I could enjoy a little bit of Nashville without all the tourists.” She watched TV, read, and had a contactless DoorDash delivery. “I was alone,” for the first time in 9 months. 

For moms looking to plan a staycation like these women did, it just takes some careful consideration of travel guidelines in your area—and an attention to detail for your own pampering experience. As shown above, many hotel or guest house companies will be very transparent with their COVID-safety protocols, and you do not have to go far from your home to find a safe location to take a time-out. 

After the weight of caring for others for months on end, it can be difficult to shift gears and focus on self. For many of the women we talked to, spa treatments helped them get into a relaxing mindset. These bath bombs by Level Naturals turn even a regular hotel bathtub into an oasis (though spring for the big tub, if you can). For those sensitive to overly-fragranced products, these are the perfect clean solution. Add in a face mask- charcoal is very popular right now and the Dead Sea Mud Mask by Majestic Pure Cosmeceuticals is a winner. With no tiny fingers sliding under the door asking when you are done, you might actually enjoy a bath for once. 

Once snuggled up in your comfiest waistband in that giant bed alone, sit and enjoy the quiet for just a moment. Hotel beds are notoriously light on blankets, so I brought along my own  Pedipocket throw. It has a pouch for your feet and is the softest blanket I have ever owned. Usually I have to fight my kids for it, but for my staycation, it was all mine. Drizly can drop off a contactless wine delivery, and the new canned wine trend is perfect for hotel rooms or cabins that might not have glasses. House Wine Sangria in a can is the perfect combo of sweet fruit with an off-dry wine base. Many of the staycation moms that I talked to split their time at the hotel between reading and watching movies. A few popular book choices were Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, How Is This My lLife? By J.R. Mason, and In the Deep by Loreth Ann White. Most hotels and guest homes are now equipped with smart TV’s, so be sure to bring your Netflix or Amazon Prime login information along. 

As the pandemic continues, and many families continue to attempt to exist virtually from the safety of their own home, it will become more critical than ever that moms take time to care for their own well-being. Whether that is a coffee alone in their minivan or a weekend alone in a local hotel, there are so many creative ways to claim a bit of well-being during this uncertain season. 

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