Here’s the thing...I don’t think I'm a selfish person or a terrible parent (well at least not most days), but every time I bring up that I take a week or so each year away from my family as a “mummy sabbatical” to recharge my batteries. Family and friends look at me with combination of surprise and disgust. They splutter things like “you’re doing what?" Anyone would have thought I had told them I was running off to have an affair with Prince Harry (sorry my fantasy).
For approximately 355 days of the year like most women with families, I give most of my time, energy and resources to the people who matter most - my family. Sure every now and then I might treat myself with a girls night out, a movie, or a tacky magazine - but most of the time I'm thinking about how I can support and improve the lives of my family, even when I'm at my paid day job.
Once a year I take 5-10 days leave from my family to attend to my needs. I can do anything I choose from visiting a friend to attending a silent retreat (not that I have tried the second option yet). I can eat out, not eat at all, watch movies, read, sing, laugh, dance, cry, cook and swim...in fact I can do anything that supports me as a woman to get back in touch with who I am, what I want in life, and reflect on how I'm actually going.
A “mummy sabbatical” allows me to do four things:
2. Learn something new
3. Reflect on the past and improve on the future.
4. Unplug from daily routine - even unplug from the online world.
After all we wouldn’t conduct our paid working life without reviewing how we are going or taking annual leave to rest up; then why should we treat being a mum any different? After all it’s the most important job there is. If we don’t take a break in life we burn out and we shatter, which makes us ineffective parents, as well as unhappy and unsatisfied human beings.
I know what you’re about to say, but this sabbatical stuff is only for middle class women who are working right and who have choices?
Actually it’s for all women, especially women who do not get a break from 24/7 on call parenting. I truly believe we were not supposed to do this parenting gig solo. We were supposed to do it with the village supporting us.