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Moms, All You Need Is Love—And 24 Hours

Photograph by Twenty20

Last fall, my husband and I flew to Spain with our 20-month-old daughter. The food was incredible. The weather was perfect. We visited family and walked the beautiful streets of Madrid. We had a wonderful time. But it was not a vacation.

For parents of young children, there are no days off. No matter where you are, there are diapers to change, tantrums to manage, 5 a.m. wake-ups, picky eating and the constant task of entertaining and interacting with your child. Of course, all this is sometimes a joy and sometimes a burden, but it's always work.

Two weeks ago, my husband and I went on a child-free vacation for 24 hours. We drove 90 minutes away from our house to a pretty little town. We checked into a hotel. The food was OK. The weather was not bad. We didn't do much. But it was truly amazing! Just a single day with no toddler, no diapers, no crying and no nap schedule felt like the most peaceful and restorative break. We realized that while adult trips might be a thing of the past, managing to steal even one night on your own as a couple can feel like a real escape. It's a mini vacation, but it still counts!

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Getting away for one day means staying pretty close to home. You don't have to worry about air travel. There's no major financial investment. You can get back very quickly if some emergency should happen. (It won't.) And you can still have everything that vacations used to bring, just in mini form. You can reconnect with your partner. You can sleep in for one, whole, delicious night and morning. You can work on relaxing your level of tension and stress (you probably didn't even realize it was that bad, but it's that bad). And you can remember what it felt like—oh so long ago—to be a pre-baby couple.

We were that couple lingering over dinner in a restaurant with no need to rush home. I really missed being that couple.

Twenty-four hours doesn't sound like a long time, but when you have been chasing a toddler all day, oh my god, it feels like SO MANY HOURS. Every minute is so worth it, from the luxury of having nothing to do with your hands (seriously) to having a conversation with zero interruptions and focusing on only one activity at a time. My husband and I almost didn't know what to do with so much time. The frantic pace of family life wasn't there, so we simply let everything slow down. We wandered around the hotel. We watched silly things on TV. We lay by the pool. (I know, February in California.) We talked about things we had been saving up for months, because there wasn't enough time for a real discussion. We were that couple lingering over dinner in a restaurant with no need to rush home. I really missed being that couple.

I miss a lot of things about our pre-baby life. I miss the people we used to be. Young, skinny people. Bright, curious people who went to museums and movies and shows. Active people who hiked up mountains all morning and stuffed ourselves with tacos for lunch. Romantic people who got dressed up for special nights out. For 24 hours, we got to feel like those people again.

And then we went home. We went back to our amazing daughter who brings joy into our lives that those young, skinny people could never have imagined. We brought back with us a little more patience, a little more humor, a little more appreciation of each other. And it was enough. It was more than enough.

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So, I'm putting it out there. Take a vacation! A real one. You absolutely deserve it. All you need is a destination (you don't even have to leave your city), a place to stay and a trusted person to spend one night with your child. What you bring back might be even more delicious than the Spanish chocolate I brought home from Madrid; it'll be a little taste of what you love about your partner and yourself. ¡Buen viaje!

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