Right now I’m headed on a short interstate trip for work. I was up this morning before the sun and the rest of the household (including the dog). Last night I was a maniac on a mission. I was multi-tasking like only a working mum knows how.
My list of things to do in a short few hours, looked liked this:
Help kids with homework
Sort dinner for that night and the next
Taxi girls to and from afterschool activities
Pack my suitcase
Write out lists and instructions for our girls’ schedules for my husband and my mum (I’m very lucky to have my mums help and my husband is an amazing dad, but let’s be clear, he needs lists and that’s ok).
Sign permission slips and pack daughters bag for school excursion
Throw on a couple of loads of washing
Layout uniforms for school for next couple of mornings
Layout netball and dancing uniforms for next couple of afternoons
…………..You get the gist.
Going away for just a couple of days takes effort, organisation and preparation.
It would be easy to list all of the inconveniences that comes with having a job that requires you to get on a plane reasonably frequently BUT, I really do love it. I have to admit, my girls are a little older now (7 and 10) and it was a lot more difficult when they were in the baby and toddler years. Now I look forward to and relish in my little interstate and occasional international jaunts knowing that my family are fine for a short time without me. And the part I love the most? The time alone on the plane with no internet connection and no one to talk to (admission: If you get the pleasure of sitting next to me on a plane, I will not chew your ear off and I will respect your private time. On the flip side don’t mistake my lack of conversation as rudeness, I am just indulging in a rare opportunity of silence). I totally lap this time up. I write, I listen to podcasts, I read or I simply sit and stare out the window. All things I find difficult to build in to my usually busy routine at home.
And then there’s the hotel. More solitude, room service, breakfast for one, a bathroom to myself, my choice of TV channel …..Sound a little self-centred and self-indulgent? Well yes it is and why not?
After being away and being unapologetically focussed on myself for even 48 hours, I return to my family and my job feeling renewed, reinvigorated and inspired. The silence and solitude brings such a sense of calm and peace that I otherwise can’t seem to find amongst the lists, never ending washing pile and hectic schedules.
In writing this I’m letting you all in on a little secret. I don’t let on to my husband and kids that I enjoy this time quite as much as I do. I will often be asked by my daughters when I return home how I enjoyed my ‘holiday’ to which I respond “It wasn’t a holiday, I was away for work”. It’s now become somewhat of a running joke. I think they know. How could they not recognise the relaxed, calm and happy state in which I return from these ‘work’ trips away? In a sense, yes it is a holiday. A holiday of the mind.
I often question myself that if what I find when I travel for work is a state of mind, then why do I need to go somewhere to access it? I understand logically that I don’t, but I also realise just how hard it is for a busy mum to give herself permission to languish in time, space and silence. But the benefits to how I interact as a leader, parent, wife, sister, daughter and friend as a result of my mind holiday, are hard to dispute. And like most women I know, I must work harder at taking time out, caring for myself and stopping once in a while. I know I don’t need to take off down the run way to do that, but it sure does make it easier!