You probably think I’m going to tell you it’s important to plan a girls getaway because as a mom you need to make time for yourself in order to be able to give time back to your family; or that it gives your partner and kids a chance to bond with each other without you around; that a getaway gives you a chance to reclaim your freedom just for a short while and explore what the world has to offer, to remind you that you’re not just the cook-housekeeper-breadwinner-boogerwiper-diaperchanger—a multi-hyphenate role that has somehow become your life.
These points are all true, all important, and all so valuable to ensure that we moms continue to walk through life with balance, grace and sanity.
But in my experience, the real reason—the most important reason—to make time for a girls getaway is because it is a time to nurture some of the most important relationships in your life that, like it or not, function on autopilot for most of the year because we are just so damn busy.
I realized this important truth earlier this summer on a girls getaway to Prince Edward County.
Once we turned 30 and started procreating, my two girlfriends and I made a pact to go on a trip together once a year. The trip this summer was the second time we’ve gone away since that first time…when we were 30…and said we would do it every year.
But, life gets in the way–we all know that–which is why we were so thrilled to have 2 nights and 3 days of uninterrupted time together this summer.
The thing is, it’s not that we needed to catch up. The three of us stay in touch on a weekly basis. For the most part on any given day we all know what the other is up to: who has colds, who’s job is kicking their ass, and who might have time for a glass of wine (or 3) on a Thursday night after bed time.
What we needed on this getaway weekend was several layers deeper. We needed time to connect in a way that doesn’t happen in three hours over dinner; we needed to have so much time in each other’s presence that we ran out of things to talk about (although that never actually happens).
On the drive up, somewhere around Belleville, we found ourselves in a serious discussion about bullying, which stemmed from the controversy surrounding Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why. I ended up getting into how in the fifth grade I had been bullied, which led me to think about suicide at the time, just because I was so tired of the pain.
And my friends—who have been my friends for over 20 years—had never heard me tell this story.
I didn’t even realize that it was something I hadn’t confided in them because I have written about it so extensively in my personal life.
And right then is when it hit me why this time together is so crucial to the strength and longevity of our friendships: Even though we’ve known each other for years and have been through hell and highwater together, there is always more that we can learn about each other—and from each other—but to do that takes time.
If you think about it, we invest hours and hours into the relationships with our partners and children, and if I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a million times, “marriage takes work”.
And yet, somehow, we expect our friendships to be different, as though they are so infallible that they will withstand no work, being pushed to the back burner, deciding that it’s not necessary to respond to every text message, or that it’s okay to cancel last minute.
On one hand, I do feel that the test of a true friendship means that you can put them on the backburner if needed; that ignoring that text message isn’t the end of the world, and cancelling last minute is just a part of life. But, on the other hand, a little TLC never hurt anyone.
Enter: The Girls Getaway Weekend
If I know anything to be true, it’s the incredible value of friendships, especially the lifelong ones.
There is just an insanely miraculous feeling about being around someone who is not your parent or sibling and yet knows you through and through, in a way that not even your family does. This person has chosen you, for better or for worse, to do this thing called life with in much the same way as your spouse.
They’ve chosen to have you around their children, their families. To give you their precious free time when they have it. They’ve tacitly agreed to be there if you need them even if you haven’t spoken in weeks or months. These friendships are the pillars of strength that will hold you up when shit gets real.
And although times change as the years go by and it’s not realistic to devote the same amount of time and work into these friendships as we did when we were younger and had fewer demands, that deep level of connection still exists and is worth investing into.
All it takes is a little planning, a little money, and a few days set aside together for you to get down to those deeper layers that will remind you—not that you needed it—of why you chose them to be your people in the first place.
5 tips for planning your girls getaway
1) Decide that you’re going to do it, and then do it. No excuses.
Pick a place, pick a date and make sure everyone is agreed on the budget. Doing something local is usually easier on time constraints, the wallet and doesn’t require as much planning, so if it seems like a stretch to be able to get everyone to commit, I recommend a short road trip.
2) Delegate someone to book the hotel, someone to book excursions (if that applies) and someone to book restaurants.
Too many cooks in the kitchen making decisions on everything can make it stressful, but if each person has a job, no one feels left out, the trip gets booked and you can play to each person’s strengths.
3) Unplug as much as possible.
Of course, it’s fine to check in with your partner and the kids—you don’t want them to think you’ve finally made good on your threats to flee the country—but this time with your friends is so sacred. Treat it that way.
4) Don’t force yourselves to fill up the trip with plans. Pretend like you’re 17 again and just see where the day takes you, because that’s where the real memories (and bonding) will happen.
Case in point: Our second night in Prince Edward County, we were so tired from a day of hiking through Sandbanks and visiting the wineries (shoutout to Long Dog Winery who treated us like royalty and has the best wine in the county!) that we decided to stay in. We watched I Love You, Man from the random collection of DVDs at the Airbnb, ate 3 bags of chips and chocolate from Bulk Barn for our dinner, and were all asleep on the couch by 9:30pm. It was pretty much the best part of the trip.
5) Remember how good it was a year later so that, no matter how busy you are, you find the time to do it again.
Seriously. Do it again. Every single year. When you’re old and grey and looking back on your life, those girls getaway weekends are the times you will want to talk about: with each other, with your children, and even with your grandchildren (although by then they will have probably heard the stories a million times thanks to your being old and grey). These little out-of-the-ordinary moments are what life–and friendships–are made of.