I love my trips away with my girlfriends. They are few and far between but when they come around it’s a really exciting time. Let me tell you why girly trips are so important to me.
After Sukh and I married, we spent all our time together. At this point, we were trying to build a good life for us. We worked hard to save up to buy a house and make it a home. Holidays came once a year and we had a fabulous time.
Me and Bal chilling in Bodrum, Turkey
RAISING A FAMILY WAS MY PRIORITY
Then Shalini came along and all of our time went into raising our baby. I don’t remember ever leaving her for longer than an evening. Trips to the cinema were a special treat for us and we would drop Shalini off with my parents. When I returned to work, my mother-in-law would look after her. I felt so guilty leaving her all day because I had gone back full time. The evenings and weekends were precious and I wanted to spend all my time with my little girl.
TIME AWAY WASN’T AN OPTION
My close friends – Bal, Shivani and Meera – went on a few holidays together at this time. Even though I wanted to join them, I didn’t ever raise the subject with Sukh. I just assumed it wouldn’t be possible. My friends were still single at this time. They didn’t have the commitments I did, so I passed up the opportunities. I felt they only had that freedom because they weren’t married or didn’t have kids. I was wrong – but I’ll come to that later.
MY FIRST BREAK AS A MUM
Bal was tying the knot and we organised a hen weekend for her in Bath. She’s my best friend and so there wasn’t even a question mark as to whether I would go or not. Shalini was around eighteen months old then. Sukh assured me he would be fine. He was a a hands-on dad from day one. He knew how to dress, feed, bathe and even comb her hair. So I had nothing to worry about.
But I still felt guilty for leaving her and the feeling lasted the whole trip down. I sent a few texts to Sukh to make sure they were OK and there were even a couple of phone calls. Was Shalini missing me? Had she eaten? Was she OK? Sukh told me top put my phone away all weekend and to just let loose. He said if he needed to, he would contact me.
I HAVE AN IDENTITY OF MY OWN
That weekend I had a blast. We did lots of fun activities and I really enjoyed myself. But the best part was just being with my friends, having time to chat over a cup of coffee, talking about random things and indulging in girly gossip. I missed Shalini terribly but I also felt invigorated. I remembered what it was like to be me. Being a wife and mother are big parts of my life but I also have an identity of my own.
When I returned from Bath, I hugged Shalini so tight and cuddled her into the evening. I was so glad to be home and see my baby but I had returned revitalised. The weekend had been like a breath of fresh air. I was able to offer the best of myself to Shalini because I was relaxed and refreshed.
Bal and Meera in Rome
TAKING TIME OUT
I didn’t go on my first holiday abroad with the girls until after Shivam was born. Our first trip together was to Madrid. By now, Bal had been married for a couple of years and was expecting twins. That brings me back to my earlier point. My belief that only singletons could go on trips abroad was such a misconception. My weekend in Bath had taught me that it’s so important to take time out for yourself too. And seeing Bal so raring to go and not having to second guess herself was an inspiration. I regretted the times I hadn’t gone away with them before.
Madrid was a beautiful trip and everything I had wanted it to be. We did lots of sightseeing, had lazy lunches and did lots of shopping. It was a glorious few days. I returned feeling rejuvenated and this time I felt no guilt at all. I missed my kids, of course, but I also enjoyed having time away from them.
MOTHERHOOD IS TOUGH
Motherhood is everything to me but anyone who says it isn’t difficult is lying or they have secret super powers that I don’t. It’s rewarding and fun but it’s also a nightmare at times when your kids have tantrums over the smallest thing. Or they just don’t listen to you because they want to be defiant for no reason.
You have to be switched on at all times. You’re responsible for somebody else 24-7. Eyes in the back of your head is a must. It’s such a normal thing and I do it every day without thinking about it.
ALL MUMS NEED SOME ‘ME’ TIME
Life is hectic. I work full-time and sometimes I am so stressed, I’m at breaking point. I know so many mums who feel the same way. And sometimes you just need time-out for yourself. I’m not just talking about some ‘me’ time when the kids are in bed. That usually involves me plonking down on the sofa in front of the TV. That isn’t really ‘quality me-time’ because I’m so tired from my day at work and then the usual evening routine that it’s simply time to catch my breath.
I’m not even referring to an evening out, although those are very much needed and embraced with open arms. A few short hours out of the house, away from my usual routine do me the world of good. A trip to the cinema or an evening meal with the girls is lovely.
IT’S BENEFICIAL BOTH WAYS
But I’m talking about quantity of time as well as quality. A few days away makes all the difference. To me and my kids. I know they miss me a lot when I’m away. It’s great when they come running to me on my return and hug me so tight. I know they appreciate me being back home (for all of two minutes before normal life resumes).
Sukh and I travel abroad for work. It may be a break from home but work trips aren’t the same. It may seem like that to the parent left holding the fort. Read about ‘My Single Parent Test’ when Sukh went to work at the Olympics for five weeks.
When we’re working abroad, we’re on someone else’s time. We can’t just chill out when we want to. More often than not, we actually return more exhausted than when we left! (Check out my post on leaving Sukh a ‘handover’ before I head off for a work trip).
DADS ALSO NEED TIME-OUT
Sukh had never taken a holiday abroad with the lads until earlier this year when he went to his cousin’s stag in Las Vegas. He’s come close a few times but for some reason or other, it just didn’t happen.
I’ve always pushed him to take a holiday away from me and the kids for the reasons I have spoken about. When he returned from Vegas he was like a different person. I think it was nice for him to be stress-free for a few days and just enjoy himself. I think he has itchy feet again and that’s great. I’m pushing him to book his next trip!
A CHANCE TO RECHARGE
For me, a holiday with the girls is a chance to do things that make me happy. A chance for me to talk to my girlfriends about anything and everything. To feel pampered and relaxed. To chill by the pool or shop to my heart’s content.
Since Madrid, I’ve been to Rome with the girls, Bodrum in Turkey and we just returned from a few days in Majorca. All of those holidays were short trips but that was all I needed. They gave me a new burst of energy.
And it’s because I value those that I love most – Sukh and the kids – that these trips are so important. If I’m at my best, I can offer my best to my family. I can only offer half of me if I’m exhausted all the time. I can’t wait for the next one!
Here are some photos from my previous holidays:
Read about my stay alone in Mumbai here.