I love lazy evenings with friends. Staying up far too late to catch up on our busy lives, the bitching about our children that is interspersed with proclamations of our love for them.
But at the end of a string of long weeks where grubby hands have rubbed away my defenses and left me raw and hanging onto a rope that is threatening to snap, sometimes I need to be alone.
Alone and in a space that is not my responsibility. A room that is cleaned by someone other than me, and where nobody talks to me or expects me to fix anything. A hotel. By myself.
Here are the things I’ve learned over years of the occasional solo escape.
Reserve the fanciest hotel room you can reasonably afford. Putting yourself in debt is not going to help you, but a hotel of questionable cleanliness and weird smells isn’t going to be much different than your own house. Keep an eye out for great online deals.
Consider what amenities you will actually use. I always try to get a hotel with a hot tub, because that sounds so grown up and posh. At least, it does until I get down there and it’s full of kids running back and forth between the hot tub and the pool. Again, if I wanted to yell at children I could have just stayed home.
Order room service.
If you can’t justify that expense, stop and pick up takeout on your way. Under no circumstances should you leave your hotel room for anything short of spa services. Eat in bed, in your underwear, and drink something refreshing. And by refreshing I mean full of alcohol.
The next few hours are yours. Do you hear me? Yours! You control the remote! You can leave the door wide open while you pee and nobody will bother you. Nobody is asking you questions! You are the queen in this country of one, so be a kind and benevolent leader to yourself. Do what you want to do, not the things you feel like you should. Whether you want to watch trashy TV, build a pillow fort, or read a great book you, the decision is completely up to you. There is no time wasted as long as you’re enjoying yourself.
The main attraction. Tonight you will sleep – not like a baby – but like an exhausted mother with a king-size bed all to herself. You are in charge of the thermostat. Lights? You decide. White noise? You decide. Jump into the bed and roll around until you find the perfect spot, and then stretch out like a starfish. Make sure the hotel alarm clock is turned off. Do whatever you need to do to ensure great sleep, whether that’s meds or a stuffed teddy bear. After five continuous hours of sleep you may wake up. Do not let your body fool you! It is no longer used to real sleep, so you will have to be firm in your decision to sleep more.
Imagine it! Sheets with no weird stains or smells (one would hope)! You are guaranteed a night free of the choking sounds of your cat blarfing up hairballs at the end of the bed. You will not wake up with your child’s nose inches from your own, wondering how long she’s been standing there. You will wake up slowly, lazily. Alone.
Make your expectations clear.
Pity the husband who texts his wife to ask things that could be Googled. Anything important enough to interrupt you would be better handled with a call to 911. And you, you resist the urge to check in. He is not a babysitter, he’s a competent adult capable of keeping your children alive for 24 hours without your input. They may eat cereal for dinner, but it’ll make them remember the time more fondly, and maybe urge you to do it again.
Try to hold onto that feeling of blissed-out calm as you return to the chaos of your home. When you walk in the door to the sounds of screaming, let your head go back to the peace and comfort of that hotel room. As your children refuse everything you offer for dinner, remember how last night someone brought dinner to you. Keep this feeling close, because you’ll need it. And when you can no longer grasp hold of any tendrils of serenity it may be time to start saving for the next night out.