Women – especially moms – tend to take care of everything and everyone but themselves. And as important as our daily responsibilities might be, there is real value in taking a moment to rediscover what it is we want out of life, to re-establish our priorities and our passions. A wonderful way to kick-start this process is a night out, or even a weekend getaway, with our special girlfriends.
Still, most moms, when they receive a friend’s call, text or email invitation for this type of getaway, have their initial exhilaration and excitement dashed by nagging feelings of anxiety and guilt about the idea of not being there to care for the rest of the humans in our homes.
But children benefit from having moms who keep their identities intact through time with close friends. “The adult connections we have with other moms help us recharge our batteries so that we can be at our optimal performance with our children,” says Woodland Hills-based therapist Janice Weiss, LMFT, who has been in practice more than 18 years. “The work we need to do is to keep ourselves connected internally and honor ourselves as women, and the value of this very important job we are doing. We are creating the next generation. What’s more important than that?”
Getaways with friends also offer time for frank conversations about the complexity of balancing motherhood, careers and relationships. “As we talk with our girlfriends, in our own space, we hopefully come away realizing we are well intentioned at being the best we can be,” says Weiss.
A weekend away, a leisurely spa day or even a brief girls’ night out offers the opportunity to experience everything from unstoppable laughter to life-changing leaps of faith. When we give ourselves space to breathe, our senses seem to heighten. Creative juices start flowing again. Everything tastes better. (Maybe it’s because we are ordering what we really want, instead of what the kids will like.) Music sounds better as it awakens our spirit.
One quick and creative recipe for a great girls’ night is Paint Nite (www.paintnite.com), a series of events held at restaurants all over L.A., where people come together to paint and play. “Paint Nite allows moms to get together out of the house, away from the kids, and enjoy a not-so-typical night out with friends,” says co-founder Sean McGrail. “While catching up, with a glass of wine in hand, women can enjoy being creative – something that they probably never get a chance to do while at home taking care of the kids.”
“Moms are so happy as they come out with their paintings,” says artist Elizabeth Grebler, who has hosted more than 150 Paint Nite parties. “They say that when they get home from Paint Nite, their kids want to keep their paintings and hang them in their bedrooms. It’s great for kids to see their moms out of the house doing something creative.”
Doing something indulgent is another guaranteed mom refresher. To that end, Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village (2 Dole Dr., Westlake Village; 818-575-3100; www.fourseasons.com/westlakevillage) offers Wow Me Wednesdays. Created by Four Seasons Senior Spa Director for North America Damien Craft, who is also a local father of two girls, the program offers moms childcare from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., a massage or facial, and access to the outdoor adult serenity pool, steam room, sauna, hot tub and relaxation lounge for just $119.
“A day or two at the spa gives moms a chance to talk about everything from relationships and health to life in general … but mainly about their husbands,” says Craft. “All I have to say is, my hat’s off to the ladies!” (He then rushed home from work to relieve his wife of child-watching duty, so she could enjoy a well-deserved girls’ night out.)
Beyond the Wednesday program, the hotel is a mom magnet every day of the week. “I constantly see groups of moms enjoying spa days, moms nights and overnights,” says publicity director Morgan Fukumoto. “We have so much to offer, from our new sustained-living menu to our newly opened wine tasting room featuring Malibu Wines.”
Another superbly situated mom’s getaway destination is Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes (100 Terranea Way; 310-265-2800; www.terranea.com), overlooking the Pacific Ocean. “It’s a guilt-free getaway,” says Terranea’s Director of All Things Fun Marissa Edwards. “It’s a place that’s close enough to home where, amazingly, at the end of a good adult trip, I can hear moms saying, ‘I can’t wait to come here with my family.’ After a great weekend away, moms are also excited to see the kids again.” In fact, some women arrive on Friday or Saturday with girlfriends, and have their families join them on Sunday.
“We have a wonderful spa and gorgeous pool in an environment overlooking the ocean,” Edwards says. “Our spa is unique in that we keep the doors open so you can hear the crashing sounds of the ocean and feel the very natural, crisp breeze and salty air.”
On Sept. 21, Terranea will host its second annual Seaside Yoga event, including group ocean-side yoga and other yoga-related fun. Last year’s event included a lululemon trunk show and complimentary yoga classes all month.
Moms visiting Terranea also participate in wellness activities, yoga classes, circuit training on the outdoor trail or spin classes overlooking the ocean. But many also just unwind. “Women love to relax by the pool and just be,” says Edwards. “They hang out and watch the sunset or unwind to live entertainment Friday and Saturday in the lobby bar. Moms just want to be together, read magazines, talk, spend time being adults and not worry about the kids for just a few moments.”
No One Is the Boss
The fellowship of moms sharing a getaway is every bit as important as the setting. Every November for the past 10 years, Aguora Hills stay-at-home mom of two Lisa Leib and six close friends head to their “home away from home” for a weekend. At this one-bedroom Carpinteria Beach condo, PJ’s til noon, all the tabloid magazines one could possibly enjoy and the empowering anthem, “No One Is The Boss Of Us,” give these friends space to rejuvenate.
Jenny Star, a Westside mother of three, believes that letting go of her “mommy mind” for 48 hours, at least once a year, has many priceless benefits. After a recent weekend away in Ojai with three close friends, she felt reconnected to her female self (which is very different than her mommy self). “We just want a little uninterrupted adult conversation,” says Star. “It’s incredible how taking a step away from our personal struggles and challenges helps us calm down and get a fresh perspective on life.” She says it’s good for the whole family when Mommy gets away for a night or two, and that when Dad takes over, the kids realize that he is competent and capable, too. “Even though they may not do things our way, (the right way) no one dies of starvation and this time allows for new experiences with Dad.”
Eventually, though, our moment of space with close friends has to come to a close. And while we might return to all the dirty laundry that piled up while we were gone, we also are greeted with hugs and kisses – and arrive more peaceful, more appreciative of our families, and much less reactive than when we left. Good for us, great for our families.
Lisa Castillo is a local writer and mom.