One of the best Mothers Day gifts is a kid-free vacation

Mothers who go on trips without their kids or family in tow often return home rejuvenised and ready to tackle even more challenges. — Pixabay

What's the history behind the celebrated tradition that is Mothers Day? The annual occasion is not a modern invention, as several iterations of it have been documented throughout history.

During Ancient Greece, the Greeks held a spring festival that honoured Mother Earth’s daughter, the goddess Rhea – otherwise known as the “Mother Of Gods”.

In the 16th century, a special occasion called Mothering Sunday was celebrated during the Christian observance of Lent in Britain. It started off as a strictly religious Christian event, when people would gather at their “mother church” (the place of worship where they were baptised).

As servants would also get a day off, it meant that they too got to spend the day with their family. Mothering Sunday gradually evolved into a day of honouring maternal figures since they would bring flowers or gifts for their mothers during the gathering.

Today, Mothers Day in Britain is still celebrated three weeks before Easter Sunday each year.

Meanwhile, American activist Anna Jarvis was responsible for the founding of Mothers Day in the United States. In 1908 (or 1907, according to some reports), Jarvis held a memorial service as a tribute to all mothers at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church in West Virginia.

She specifically selected the second Sunday of May to be Mothers Day so that the celebration would always be close to her own mother’s death anniversary on May 9.

Jarvis started the Mothers Day movement as a way of honouring the sacrifices that mothers make. Her decision to advocate for it was inspired by her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, who formed the Mothers Day Work Clubs to fight poor health and hygiene that caused the death of countless children. Her mother even organised a Mother’s Friendship Day in the mid-1800s to bring people together in promoting friendship and peace.

Having inherited Ann’s persevering nature, Jarvis’ persistence eventually led to Mothers Day being officially celebrated since 1914, after it was declared a national holiday by then US president Woodrow Wilson.

The commercialisation of the holiday did cause grievance for Jarvis, as this overshadowed its true meaning. As such, let us honour her wish and focus on truly appreciating our mothers on Mothers Day, which falls on May 12 this year.

Of course, we do not mean we should forgo doing anything special for Mum. Go ahead and plan a nice meal or buy a nice gift, so long as it is something meaningful to them.

Even better, give them the chance to go on a “mumcation”. A portmanteau of mum and vacation, mumcation simply means the mother goes on a holiday on her own or with friends, but without the family or children tagging along.

Many mothers might worry about leaving their children behind when they spend a longer duration away from home, but many more actually wish for it. We spoke to mothers who have travelled without their little ones before and found out that with proper planning and a strong support system, there is no reason that we cannot let mothers enjoy a fun vacation on their own!

Yue Lyn (right) climbed Mount Kinabalu with a Vietnamese friend. — YUE LYNYue Lyn (right) climbed Mount Kinabalu with a Vietnamese friend. — YUE LYN

The tropical traveller

For Yue Lyn, 38, the pre-planning process of her mummy-only trips is a meticulous one. “First, I’ll have to pitch the idea to my parents about a month or so prior to the trip, in order to prepare them to look after my kids,” she said.

Grateful to have supportive and “sporting” parents who are willing to come over and stay at her house to help with the children, Yue Lyn would send a checklist to her father detailing their daily activities and also arrange for their transportation to and from school.

For their extra co-curriculum activities, her father and husband would take turns ferrying the children, with the former doing so on weekdays, and the latter on weekends.

“Since my sister has kids who are close in age with mine and are in the same activities and training classes, she also helps with the pick-ups and drop offs,” Yue Lyn said.

The mother of three had her first taste of travelling sans her little ones during a trip to Vietnam, though at the time she only had her firstborn child to worry about. “It was a trip to Danang and Hoi An for my sister’s bachelorette celebration,” she said.

“It was also a Mothers Day gift from my husband. I was hoping to wean my firstborn from breastfeeding and was told that going somewhere will help with the weaning. That didn’t work,” she shared with a laugh.

“I came back and continued breastfeeding for another six months.”

Yue Lyn looking radiant at her Bali getaway, when she was six months pregnant. — YUE LYNYue Lyn looking radiant at her Bali getaway, when she was six months pregnant. — YUE LYN

Her second trip wasn’t technically a solo one, if you factor in the baby that she was carrying at the time.

“I went to Bali (Indonesia) for a very good friend’s wedding. It was such a fulfilling trip albeit me being almost six months pregnant!”

She made new friends on the trip and returned feeling rejuvenated. “(I came home) with some good headspace and ready to embrace motherhood for the second time,” she added.

Last year, Yue Lyn once again entrusted her parents with her children – aged seven, five and two – for a short trip away from home. But this time around, she brought along her other half.

“For my birthday, my husband and I went to Singapore to catch a Weezer concert. It was lovely to have a couple’s trip for the first time, seven years after having children.”

About six months before that, Yue Lyn went on a holiday to Sabah, accompanied only by a friend from Vietnam. “The view from the summit was majestic and mind blowing,” she recounted her experience climbing Mount Kinabalu in March 2023.

In preparation for the climb, she trained at Batu Caves in Selangor, going up and down the steep stairs as many times as she could within an hour.

“That trip was one of my most memorable ones and a true test of how powerful the mind can be.”

Sharing her thoughts on whether travelling with children and without them are any different, Yue Lyn said, “It’s not exactly free and easy when travelling with children, because we have to plan according to their timing and the planning has to be done way ahead of time. Kids have endless energy!”

Family vacations are fun, but planning and preparing for one can be very challenging to some, especially mothers! — PexelsFamily vacations are fun, but planning and preparing for one can be very challenging to some, especially mothers! — Pexels

When travelling on her own, however, she realised that she had more free time to explore and do random things at her own pace.

Of course, as any mother naturally would, she missed her children whenever she was apart from them. “I would think of them from time to time, and I’d be thinking that it would be nice to have them with me too.”

With her trips typically lasting five days, she would check in on her family at least once a day.

Mothers, especially new or young ones, may feel apprehensive leaving their children in someone else’s care when they travel, either for work or leisure. Yue Lyn assured that as long as the pre-planning is done well, there is really no need to worry.

“It’s best to have your spouse and other trusted family members around, to ensure that your support system back home is solid and reliable,” she advised. A thorough to-do checklist helps too, she added.

“When the opportunity presents itself to travel sans kids, just go for it!” she encouraged. “That good mental reset is necessary and you will come back a better mother.”

The globetrotter

Dayana Rahman, 37, is a globe-trotting mother of three children, whose wanderlust has taken her to many corners of the world. Some of the beautiful destinations she has visited include France, Monaco, Spain, Germany and Hong Kong, but it was Japan that truly captured her heart.

Dayana loves visiting Yokohama, Japan. — DAYANA RAHMANDayana loves visiting Yokohama, Japan. — DAYANA RAHMAN

Having travelled to various parts of Japan, like Osaka, Hokkaido and Tokyo, she named the capital city of Yokohama in Kanagawa Prefecture as her favourite.

“I feel Japan’s peaceful atmosphere makes it an ideal place for me to unwind and recharge. That’s just one of the reasons why I love it. I believe taking a short break from our hectic daily routine is important for our well-being, especially if you’re a mother,” Dayana said.

Aside from Japan, she finds that France is also an interesting place to travel to. She enjoys the varied attractions there that are brimming with intriguing history and vibrant culture.

“In the port city of Marseille, for example, I was mesmerised by the beautiful Palais Longchamp and enjoyed the views of Vieux Port,” she shared, adding that another highlight for her was the iconic monument Arc De Triomphe in Paris.

Dayana said that apart from the sights, she also enjoyed all the culinary delights that she got to try at the places she has visited.

Since most of these trips were made with her friends – who are also mothers – she had to plan them months ahead, as everyone would probably have similar hectic schedules with their own children.

She also had to take into account who would be taking care of the children (currently aged 15, 10 and four) while she was away.

“My husband would take care of them, obviously, but if he were busy with work then my mother would chip in. I prefer to leave my kids with people I know and trust,” she shared.

Most of her mumcations are usually between five and seven days. She would keep in touch with her kids every day to make sure they were doing fine. “I would also share my travel experiences with them,” she said.

Dayana at the Arc De Triomphe in Paris. — DAYANA RAHMANDayana at the Arc De Triomphe in Paris. — DAYANA RAHMAN

She encourages other mums to go on occasional trips without their kids because travelling as a family can be challenging, especially when the itinerary has to be tweaked to suit everyone’s needs. For instance, some destinations may not be suitable for young children or have enough activities to keep them engaged and interested.

Going on an adults-only trip presents the opportunity to explore a destination through a different lens.

Dayana’s advice for mothers travelling without their kids is to always make sure they are in good hands before heading off on the trip, and to plan everything well. Drawing up a schedule for each child may also be useful for the family members who will be taking care of the children while you are away.

“You will feel more at ease on your holiday when you plan everything in advance,” she concluded.

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