10 Thoughts Every Mom Has On Her First Vacation Away From Her Baby

When I first was presented with the opportunity to go away for a week on a Carnival Cruise without my then 15 month old son, I thought, “I can’t do that.” But as I weighed my options, I realized I could and I should!

Nick has left us a few times for work, but also bachelor parties and “guys weekends,” all of course with my blessing. I’ve left for work but never just pleasure. This was his chance to reciprocate the gift of freedom.

So, off I went with one of my girlfriends on a 7 day, 6 night cruise in the Eastern Caribbean on Carnival Conquest.

Sarah and her friend relaxing on beach chairs

Here are the stages I went though from the beginning to end that I think all moms can relate to…

1. “I can’t believe I’m leaving my baby for 6 whole nights! I’m going to miss him so much, I’m going to cry.”

This was how I felt leaving at 5 am the morning I left for my cruise. Tommy nursed before I was picked up by a cab and wouldn’t go back to sleep so I left the house with him hysterical in his crib. I was heart broken and wondered if this was a bad idea.

2. “I can’t believe I had to waste so much room in my luggage on a stupid breast pump.”

The most annoying part about traveling away from your child when nursing is having to pump. The pump and accessories take up so much space and are heavy. I originally had hoped to be done breastfeeding by the trip, but at least maybe Tommy would wean himself by the time I got back. It’s also a huge pain to factor in the 15 minutes of pumping first thing in the morning and before bed.

3. “I can’t believe I can have a margarita after lunch AND be able to take a nap afterwards if I want? Helloooo vacation!”

As soon as we got on the ship, I indulged in a margarita from the BlueIguana Tequila Bar and laid out by the pool. It was marvelous to be able to relax and have the luxury to take a nap during our regular playground run or, alternatively, not have to worry about being tipsy for a bed time routine.

Hand holding up a pink margarita with a pool behind on the Carnival Conquest

4. “Did I just get 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep? Oh my gosh, I feel like an entirely new woman.”

The beds in our cabin were so comfortable. I slept like a baby who has been properly sleep trained, not my son. After our first night, I quickly realized that although I was invited on the cruise for work, it was going to feel like a vacation with the extra sleep alone.

5. “I wonder what Tommy is doing???”

I couldn’t stop thinking about Tommy on day 2. How did he sleep? Did he wake up early or sleep through the night? Is he drinking whole milk? On the ship we had wifi so I could text and video chat him at home, but our schedules never were in sync and I would have to wait until day 4 to finally see Tommy’s face. He did not care to see me in case you were wondering.

Screenshot of Sarah trying to FaceTime her husband

6. “I will lie here in this beach chair or float and I will relax. Please do not disturb this momma. I plan to do absolutely nothing for the next 4-6 hours except eat and drink. ”

As a mom, you never get to just ‘be’ unless it’s after your child has gone to bed and you are home on your couch. You’re constantly moving, playing defense against all objects entering the child’s mouth or falling off some random structure they have managed to climb. On the cruise, I seriously just laid out basking in the sun or floated in the water. It was prime relaxation. I didn’t have to think about making dinner reservations, I didn’t have to worry about traffic or any logistics for the next day. Cruises I learned are great for removing any required planning in advance once you’re on the ship. It’s quite nice!

Sarah laying on a beach float on the beach

7. “I want to stay up late because I can sleep in!!! But oh my gosh I’m so tired and I can go to bed whenever I want…”

Oh the bed time dilemma. At home, I hate staying up late because regardless Tommy wakes up early! On vacation, I could stay up late and go out to the clubs onboard, but I was always so tired and didn’t want to get too off schedule because I knew as soon as I’d get home, I’d have to jump right back into the routine.

8. “Am I a mom? Do I have a child back home? Who am I? I feel like a different woman.”

After about 5 days on the ship, I was back into a routine of waking up, working out, eating breakfast, laying out, etc… I honestly felt like my pre-mom self. I almost forgot that I usually have a small child to take care of with me 24/7. This was partly because I hadn’t heard much from back home. I was given a serious lack of updates for better or worse.

My favorite part was being able to wake up and go to the gym. It reminded me of how easy mornings used to be! I was even able to put off pumping until after my workout and by the end of the trip, the amount of milk I was producing was cut in half. It’s amazing what a little sleep, relaxation and fun can do in such a short amount of time.

Sarah sitting in a pool chair on the Carnival Conquest

9. “Oh my goodness, he looks about Tommy’s age! Tommy would have loved this! I miss him but I’m also so glad he’s not here… hehe 😇 .”

Ok, so Carnival is a family friendly cruise and there were a ton of families on the ship. I saw a few kids around Tommy’s age (maybe 2-5 max) and while at times I did think he would have enjoyed certain pools and beaches, I was pretty pumped to be child-free. Personally, I would suggest waiting until kids are potty trained to take a cruise as they can’t go swimming in the pools on the ship and the babysitting at night starts around when they would be going to bed. They have a kids club but I think older kids would get more out of it as they like to play with each other more than little guys who still play side by side. A cruise is definitely an awesome family vacation opportunity once kids are past infant/toddler phases.

10. “I need to do this more often but I’m ready to go back home!”

Seven days was the perfect amount of time. Any less and I would not have felt fully rested. I was excited to see my family and be a full time mom again! Seriously though, I could not wait to see Nick and my munchkin. I even offered to do bedtime routine as soon as I got home, my least favorite “routine.”

I think it was really great that I was able to get away and recharge my mom batteries. I’ve travelled without Tommy for work but never this long and never having this much fun. Carnival knows how to have a good time and I honestly felt like I was on Spring Break. It reminded me that being a mom doesn’t mean losing your identity. So often I’ve taken vacations and come back home feeling exhausted and needing a detox. I returned home feeling excited to be back and enthusiastic about my career and spending time with my family. Thank you, Carnival, for this amazing opportunity and showing me how wonderful a cruise vacation can be.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind.