I sat on the beach today. For 2 1/2 hours. Alone.
I went all by myself, well, with two girlfriends, and a bag over my shoulder that only contained things for me (aka no diapers, wipes, shovels or goldfish crackers).
(This picture above is me on my wedding day, all carefree and loving life...)
I even took two magazines for me to actually sit and read. Sure, they were from months ago that I have not had time to read until now, but they were not the Parenting magazines I almost tossed into my bag. They were all girlie and about adult women things, not about how to tame my toddler's tantrum.
Packing for a solo beach trip included tossing a towel, a PB&J sandwich and some crackers and water, a couple of magazines, some sunscreen and sunglasses into a bag, grabbing my chair and taking off.
It did not include packing the following in the event I had taken my son along with me:
-diapers - the swimmy kind and the regular kind
-sand toys and shovels
-no chair because I cannot sit in it
-no magazines because I would not have time to read them
-more snacks than a child should eat in a day because for some reason they either get dumped in the sand or my child gets super hungry in the sun and by the water
-a cooler for milk and sippy cups
-change of clothes for before the beach and after
-an umbrella to keep away most of the sun
-3 types of hats to keep the sun away and because he'll end up tossing at least one into the water and refuse to wear it again wet
-arranging a beach meeting time that coincided with both nap times
-swim shorts and shirt
-reapplying sunblock every hour because of the fair baby skin
-saying "no" and "don't eat that, it dropped in the sand" and "share" and "it's not nice to throw rocks" and "don't eat sand" and "you don't know how to swim yet, so hold Mom's hand in the water..." etc.
-making sure the baby did not wander away toward strangers or the ocean.
-being completely exhausted after going to a place that once was relaxing.
Sure, going to the beach previously this summer with my toddler was honestly one of the most fun and exciting things I've done with him in his 17 months. His laugh at the waves crashing on his legs and splashing his face; his serious look on his face as he dug sand with two shovels; and seeing him interact with his cousins and friends - it was all priceless. I even got a headache from smiling and laughing so hard at how excited my son was at this new beach adventure.
However, sometimes a mom needs a day off to relax and not worry about all the responsibility it is of taking the baby to the beach.
So I did just that. I went to the beach childless.
With lots of encouragement from my babysitter that I needed a day off, too, and that Owen would be completely fine without me for a few hours, I made sure I listened to my guilt in the morning by taking Owen to a friend's pool early to spend quality time with him before going... and then I dropped him off at his babysitter's for lunch and nap time.
It was fantastic. I definitely recommend this to all mothers.
If it's not the beach, take yourself to get a pedicure or to get your hair done - and make them wash it, too so it takes longer! Go shopping for you, not for the kids or partner. Go for a massage. Take some time off. It completely rejuvenated me, made me feel almost like a person again (minus the zillions of times I checked my cell phone to be sure the babysitter had not called with an emergency), and was nice to just catch up with friends. We are allowed to take care of ourselves, too, every now and then. In fact, it's the only real way we can sustain taking care of everyone else so well.
So do it.
Go put some day in your calendar when you promise you'll give yourself a day off. Or at least 2 1/2 hours off! You deserve it.