Look, it's not easy, but it's necessary in my life to occasionally travel without my babies. I'm a person first, before a wife and before a mother. I have this urge to just be me and it's important to fill it before anything else, so you can be a good wife and mother. There are countless articles about taking time for yourself in order to preserve your mental health and I 100% agree.
I take time for myself in smalls ways, every day. I escape to the bathroom where nobody can (should) bother me. So for 5 minutes I'm alone and I can just, do absolutely nothing. I do it at night in bed, loose myself in my phone for 30 minutes of mindless scrolling. The little things that require zero energy, planning or thought are what keep me balanced daily.
Every week, I do something a little bigger like movies with my husband, getting my eyebrows done or a pedicure, kid free. These always feel like a treat and a welcomed break from the day to day monotony of home life. I want to add working out to this list but I haven't worked out in weeks so I can't, in good conscience claim it as a weekly activity!
Every year I do something big without my children that makes me so excited. I take a girls trip somewhere far away and absolutely disconnect from my responsibilities. I plan a little, by laying out the children's clothes and grocery shopping. I know my husband can do it but I like to help him because parenting solo is hard and the little things help. Then I leave. It's scary and I miss my babies so much and I cry when I'm driving away...seriously I do. By the time I get to my destination though, I am unbothered. I have the best time just being me and I am yearning to get back to my husband and babies by the last day. When I get back, I feel motivated and appreciative for my family.
This year, I went to Aruba with some of my college girlfriends and we had an amazing time. My little baby was 8 months old and I'm still breastfeeding him so it was a little more challenging than my last trip when Maci was 2 and was already weaned. (I took a trip a when Maci was 5 months old so I have had a little experience). I got a few questions about traveling without my baby while breastfeeding so I thought I'd share. My babies didn't have any problems nursing once I got back, btw. I hope this helps!
Here are my top tips:
1. Pump as much milk as you can in the months leading up to your trip. I say months because pumping is a chore and it's good to give yourself time to store enough to feed your baby while you're gone.
2. Buy a can of formula for supplementing. I am a breastfeeding advocate and I actually have anxiety when shopping for formula. (I'll address that in another post) The last thing you want to do is stress over whether baby has enough pumped milk while you're supposed to be relaxing. If the pumped milk runs out, your caregiver will already have a formula that you feel comfortable with your baby having until you get back.
3. Invest in a double electric pump. They're free through your insurance so get one. I used Medela with Maci but I far prefer the Spectra I have now. It's smaller, has less parts, it's very quiet and has a timer.
4. Pump 4 times a day on your trip. This one is going to depend on the individual, the age of your baby, how effective you are at getting the milk out, etc. I pumped 4 times a day so I could keep up my supply and sleep through the night. When I woke up in the morning, my boobs were completely full but not in a lot of pain.
5. Pour the milk down the drain. If you're going out of the country, it's not worth it to try to save the milk you pump. You could freeze it but then you'd have to keep a cooler with fresh ice with you all through the airport, on the plane, or your cruise ship, etc. Then you'd have to ship it home in dry ice, which is very expensive, or carry it through customs which would be such a hassle. This trip is supposed to be relaxing, not work. Say a prayer and dump it. Or drink it if you feel that strongly about it...might cure your hangover :)
6. That's it, have fun!