It’s not a "Momcation," it’s a relaxing evening.

By Devorah Lev-Tov
February 09, 2020
James Baigrie/Courtesy of Whitney Hotel

As the working mother of a four-year-old boy, I rarely have time to myself. My son wakes me up at 7 a.m. (on a good day), so mornings are particularly brutal. A 2018 survey found that getting a child ready for school involves asking kids at least twice each morning to get dressed, brush their teeth, and for god’s sake, put on their freaking shoes. And by the end of the week, the time it takes getting our kids out the door each morning adds up to an extra day of work. Not to mention after school and evenings (I now understand the glory of frozen fish sticks).

If that doesn’t clarify the state of a parent’s stress-level, I don’t know what can. But here’s another thing: weekends are totally different for parents. Before being a mom, I would make it through the long workweek by looking forward to the weekend — the time I finally had to myself to do whatever I wanted, or, you know, just take a shower. But now, instead of being a time to relax and enjoy time off from work, weekends are the time when there’s no daycare, school, or camp. Hello, 48-hours with zero alone time. And if we do manage to take some time here or there to ourselves, we often feel guilty about not doing something work- or child-related instead.

James Baigrie/Courtesy of Whitney Hotel

Don’t get me wrong, I love my son and husband, but the lack of time to myself builds and builds as the weeks go on. Crafting a racecar out of Lego is fun the first and maybe second time in a day but by the fourth time I want to tear my hair out. As a travel writer, I’ve been lucky enough to be able to spend some solo travel time away from my family. Even though I’m working during those trips, I realized that simply sleeping alone for one night in a hotel room restored me like nothing else could — no extravagant “Momcation” needed (although if you can pull that off, go for it!). A combination of feeling slightly pampered and the lack of worrying about the needs of others was all I needed to begin the never-ending parenting cycle all over again.

Related: I Only Travel With One of My Kids at a Time — Here’s Why

Last July, my husband agreed to watch our son alone for one night so I could visit the new Whitney Hotel in Boston. As soon as I saw the large tiled rain shower, cozy robe, and plush bed with monogrammed tweed blanket, I knew this was my new heaven. But even if it had been a Motel 6 I would have been thrilled, as long as it was clean and quiet. Yes, I missed reading books to my son and kissing him goodnight but the relaxing evening of dining alone at the hotel’s restaurant — in silence — and snuggling up with a book before falling into a blissful, 12-hour sleep was healing and invigorating.

Abbey Soclof, a married mother of two toddlers who works in fundraising and lives in Manhattan, spent a night alone at the Time Nyack hotel, about an hour north of Manhattan, last summer.

“My husband participated in a year-long fellowship program last year that took him away from home a few times, for a few nights each. I was so jealous that he was getting a full night sleep and having ‘away time,’ says Soclof. “I really just needed a night and a day to myself.” She spent her day off with a drink by the pool, wandering around the charming town of Nyack, taking herself out for dinner, and getting a good night’s sleep. She left the next day feeling great, only wishing it had been longer.

Meg Cohen, a physician in Baltimore with two children, can relate. “We lived in a one floor condo when my son was about 4 months old. Anytime I heard him cry, I was unable to sleep, even if my husband would get up and help,” recalls Cohen. “One day I just woke up and thought, ‘I need to sleep all day today.’ So I checked myself into a Marriott Courtyard around 9 or 10 a.m. and slept pretty much all day.” When her husband said he had things under control, she spent the night there, awaking feeling refreshed and rested.

James Baigrie/Courtesy of Whitney Hotel

Cohen echoes what many mothers feel: “I think it can be hard to completely relax when we are with our children. And we are often jumped on, climbed on, crawled on, by our kids all day — never left alone to use the bathroom, take a shower, or eat a meal — so getting a break and getting time to ourselves is a real luxury.”

Of course, not everyone can afford to spend a night in a hotel, or you may not have a partner or caregiver able to watch your children overnight. So while a night off is certainly well deserved for any parent (and according to a recent study on the stress levels of American mothers, truly necessary), there is a certain amount of privilege being exercised for those able to do it. If possible, think outside the box and look into using reward points for even the lowest category hotel, talk to friends and family who might have a vacation home or a spare room (in a childfree home) you can use, or see if your children can have a sleepover at someone else’s house so you can be in your home alone.

Uninterrupted alone time is vital for mothers to see themselves as people with needs and wants beyond their careers and kids. Just one quiet night alone can be enough to get back on track…for a little while, anyway.

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