My best friend lives halfway across the country and getting together is vital to both our sanities. So what do we do when meeting over coffee won’t work? We prioritize weekends away. Some folks say, “I could never do that.” Some folks ask how we do it.
We Communicate With Our Families
You think you can’t ask. You think they can’t make it without you. Stop thinking and start talking. Whether you’re married or a single mom, someone needs to help in your absence. Find your person (or people) and be real with them. For us, it’s our husbands, but these same tips can apply to that dependable family member or friend.
- State your desire. Perhaps your partner loves to problem solve. You might just need to say, “I’d really love time with my friend this fall. Can you help me figure out how to swing that?” Or maybe you’re like me and find it easiest to present him with all the logistics beforehand.
- Be sure you’re allowing him his own time with his own hobbies and friends. Be aware of the relationship’s give and take, without keeping score.
- Come home from your own trip happy. You may be exhausted, but re-enter with exuberance to see them. Everyone should see that time away makes momma better.
We Plan Months Ahead
We juggle her work constraints and our school calendar. Her children are independent; mine is still in middle school. But, if you have littles, we feel for you. It’s still doable. Trust me on this one. And I believe children are better for the independence and relationships formed when mom is away. Preparing those left behind is key.
- Leave them with food and clothing. I’m not going to lie. I have planned every meal and snack. Sometimes I return to find everything still there because they’ve gone out to eat or gotten delivery. (Don’t get mad. Remember, when you get back, any and everything you find is good if everyone is safe!) I’ve also been known to lay out changes of clothing marked with days to wear them (and come home to find everyone wearing the same thing I left them in).
- Figure out transportation and sitters. My husband could be called to work any time. I always have a backup plan for him. Often it is a different person for each day I’m gone, but someone is a designated emergency contact in my absence and they are aware that they are.
- Suggest activities. My goal is for them to enjoy my time away as much as I do. I’m going to want to do it again. It’s a great time for them to see that movie they’ve been waiting to see. I also plan playdates. You’re the best judge of what will be fun for your children and easiest for the one left caregiving. I used to schedule somewhere my husband could drop ours off for a few hours. Now, I know which friends are low maintenance and schedule them to be dropped off at our home.
Finding the money to visit long distance friends can be the most daunting challenge of all. Be realistic. This may be a once a year thing for you. But I’ve found the more we do it, the more we’ve fallen into patterns. My family gets how to survive and we can guesstimate how much it will really cost. For us, I expect to spend $500 twice a year. Yikes! Did I mention that this is a necessity?
- Only one of us flies; the other drives and pays for lodging. We both live near small airports and are willing to drive an hour or so to a larger one. Our first visit doing this, she flew into Charlotte and I drove to pick her up. We stayed at a downtown hotel, with two nights costing about the same as a round trip flight. Yep, we splurged on that room and loved it. On our latest visit when we somehow managed four nights together, we spent about the same amount by using airbnb.
- We grocery shop. Sound boring? I can remember standing in the freezer aisle unable to choose which single serving entree I wanted. You can have anything you want to eat. You don’t have to share. You don’t have to eat according to someone else’s likes and dislikes. Do you realize the freedom in this? There will inevitably be cookies, diet Coke, and rum on the shopping list. Even then, the food budget is minimal. Microwave and mini fridge is essential. Figure out if eating out every meal is essential to you.
- We are easily entertained. We’re best friends, remember? It can be great fun to window shop. I love a hotel pool and hot tub. Redbox always has something we haven’t seen. And on our last trip, we chased waterfalls – all free for the looking. What do you and yours like to do while you’re laughing and solving the world’s problems…
Treat yourself. You deserve it. My husband figures he’s saving money over what the counseling bill would be if I didn’t see her. (Though I do sometimes still need professional counseling!)