Before becoming a mom almost five years ago, one of my favorite ways to simultaneously decompress and hit the reset button on my life/career was by booking a hotel room for the night. I did this when I was single and after I was married—and that change of scenery was the oxygen mask to my self-care routine.
My rules were simple: The hotel had to be less than an hour away, include a spa, a bar/lounge and a prime area to people watch from over my laptop. As a freelancer, I designed my own schedule, and could book my mini excursions during “off” (a.k.a. dirt cheap) times. If a great hotel deal popped up, I’d glance at my calendar to confirm I could swing a night off the grid, and I'd book it.
Upon arrival, I had a strict kick-off schedule. I turned my phone completely off—no outside disruptions allowed—and indulged in one overpriced treat from the mini bar, followed by a long and leisurely bubble bath. After lounging post-bath in my robe and slippers, I usually went downstairs for dinner and drinks—and spent the rest of the night (and into the morning) writing, dreaming and plotting my next moves. During those overnights, I created proposals for some of my favorite projects to date and let go of some of my biggest anxieties.
And... I got some of the best and most uninterrupted nights of sleep my life. That sleep was truly the secret sauce to feeling ready to take over the world.
Then I became a mom. My daughter is truly my greatest accomplishment and being a mom my most meaningful promotion. But my alone time at hotels feels like a fever dream I hallucinated. A working mom, even a freelancing one, does not have the same flexibility. My husband’s schedule as a firefighter/paramedic rotates, which means he works two day shifts followed by two night shifts and every week, the days he’s on duty changes. So finding a night that he’s off, I’m available and the hotel deals are cheap is like winning the lottery.
So, I stopped looking for those opportune times in our daunting schedules and tried “recreating” hotel getaway vibes at home, squeezing it in when my husband was at work and my daughter asleep. Alas, it wasn’t the same. Why is my bathtub never as soothing as a hotel’s? Perhaps it’s all the Paw Patrol bath toys? And then there was sleep—something I don’t get in good quality since becoming a mom. I worry about my daughter, my husband, my career, my husband’s dangerous career and everyone’s future.
Truthfully, I only went on those overnights once or twice a year, but missing out on them altogether was affecting my creativity and productivity. I craved that night away—and not because I didn’t want to be with my family. On the contrary, I wanted my brain present for them and knew I had to scratch this itch to get there. Also, maybe I could revisit this whole sleep thing if I did go away?
You know the phrase, ask and you shall receive? Well, I magically got invited on an overnight trip, sponsored by SugarBear Sleep Vitamins, that checked all the boxes—hotel room (at a quaint, rustic inn), massage, quiet time, dinner, good convo and best of all? The promise of a wonderful night’s sleep.
My husband, serendipitously off from work that night, agreed this was a sign that it was time to revisit one of my favorite self-care rituals. So, I went for it—despite the fact that I was dubious of my mind cooperating. I worried I wouldn’t relax or sleep, but those were risks worth taking.
I went all in. I turned off my phone, indulged in a massage, wrote in my journal and chatted about my career goals with other working moms on the trip. It took a moment to get used to the idea that I was there to relax and reset and that I didn’t have to draw someone else’s bath or cut a PBJ in just the right Minnie Mouse shape. I tried not to feel guilty that I was in a calming room, filled with lavender and scented candles instead of choosing the right bedtime story or negotiating with my daughter to put her toys away. I tried not to worry about my next freelance project coming through or that our dreams of buying a house would get crushed if it didn’t. I tried to shut off my brain from replaying an annoying convo with a friend and wondering if I made the wrong decision in letting the magnet school deadline come and go without applying.
As those thoughts started killing my vibe, and as I fought the urge to turn my phone back on, I was offered some great advice via the event’s resident sleep expert. For starters, all those worries couldn't come to bed with me. I needed to keep a pad on my night table solely for writing down my anxieties, effectively getting them OUT of my head, before going to sleep.
I could do that.
I also needed to set a regular bedtime for myself. That way, I had a “deadline” for when I needed to wind down and be in bed each evening.
I could do that, too, as deadlines are a language I speak fluently.
Lastly, I needed to ask for help and remember that asking for it isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s a source of strength. So, if taking solo hotel retreats helped my productivity, creativity, focus and overall state of mind—then I needed to find ways to make them happen and ask for the help I needed to get me there.
That night, I packed it all in—massage, bath, journaling, meditating and SugarBear Vitamin-taking—and slept so soundly and peacefully I thought I was having an out-of-body experience when I woke up AFTER 6 a.m. the next morning. For me, that’s like sleeping until noon. I returned home worried that I’d lose my calm and forget my tools but so far, the glow of getting a good night’s sleep and the empowerment of knowing it’s OK to ask for help is working... and my next hotel overnight is already on the books.
Written by Lauren Brown West-Rosenthal for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.