Of course, she adores her daughters, but to prevent her from going crazy, Yvonne (44) also likes to move to a holiday home on her own.
I’ve been in the car for over an hour and a half when I turn onto the Weg door het Dijkwater. At the top of the hill on that narrow country road the view is so wonderfully wide that I naturally slow down. And that’s exactly where I feel I’m coming home, my shoulders drop and the corners of my mouth curl up. In less than ten minutes I will be back in our lovely family home in Zeeland. Spacious enough for my whole family, but especially nice for a few days me, myself and my Macbook.
Sometimes I need that, being alone. And not an evening on the couch when my daughters (9 and 11) are in bed and my husband Sjoerd is up. I want to get away from home for a few nights to recharge. I don’t do it much, even though I know that after three days I come back a lot nicer.
This time I waited too long. After all the lockdowns, classes in quarantine, children at home with corona, followed by sick teachers and no replacement (the kids at home again), I know how many study days and holidays I don’t want to keep balls in the air anymore, but all at the same time. throwing ground. For weeks I’ve felt that my fuse is short and I’ve been barking around the house more often than I would like. I bang on doors, can have little (read: nothing), I have a lot to do, but hardly anything comes out of my hands.
“I don’t want to keep balls in the air anymore, but throw them all on the ground at the same time”
I prioritize everything and everyone except myself. A sweet – and honest – neighbor notices that the sparkle has disappeared from my eyes. And when I sigh for the umpteenth time that I prefer to go to Zeeland alone, Sjoerd makes the decision for me. He sees my struggle (and probably is tired of my mood too). “Pack your things and the keys and just go, I’ll adjust my agenda and arrange it with the kids.” Apparently I need that kick in the ass. I throw some clothes in a bag, get some good food and hug our daughters. Bye, see you in a few days.
I’m not the only one who does and needs this. My friend Anke (45) goes away for one or two nights about three times a year: “You never get space, you have to take it. Since I realized that, I occasionally book a nice hotel, preferably on the beach or in the woods. Sometimes with some work or a book, but I also try to leave without expectations. Then I can feel how I am and what I want.
“You never get space, you have to take it”
On my own I can organize my stream of thoughts, ideas and plans, make them smaller and get goals out of them. I look ahead, that gives me focus in the chaos of everyday life. I make sure that everything is arranged at home for the children before departure. Yet I still feel a sense of guilt. Can I make this? But I park that, because I really become a happier person when I can be alone with myself for a while.”
I recognize that feeling of guilt and sometimes prevents me from going. Although I know very well that they can spare me at home. Besides, I think the atmosphere will only get better now that this thundercloud has flown. As soon as I open the door to the cottage, I know I was right to leave.
The fact that it is familiar territory may make a difference. I don’t have to get used to it, I know where everything is and what there is to do in the area. I tidy up my things and settle in on the veranda with a glass of wine and a book. All I hear is the rustle of the palm tree leaves. There is no one to call me, who wants to tell me more about the day or want one more kiss before the night begins.
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Sleeping is a thing though. In my life I have spent more nights with Sjoerd by my side than without him. I know it can take me hours to fall asleep without the regularity of his breathing. I take that for granted, with the prospect of rushing start-ups, lunchboxes and chattering children.
For Marlies (38) the nights are exactly the reason why she dreads going out alone: “I can worry quite a bit and get lost in it as soon as I’m in bed. When it’s dark, everything seems bigger than it is. I don’t always manage to stop my thoughts. My friend often only needs to say something reassuring or hold my hand to calm me down. At home I have this ‘under control’ and that is a nice feeling. The funny thing is, I’m fine being alone. When my boyfriend travels for work or is out with friends, I also sleep alone. In the end it goes well. But then I’ll be home. Another place feels like ‘next level’ to me, an extra challenge that I’m not sure I would dare to take on.”
Creativity and solutions
Because I left fairly hurriedly, I just have to work this time. Without the rhythm of school, sports and clubs, a day seems like a long time. I’m really making progress, I can check more and more things off my list. In between I put on my sports suit for my regular run towards the water. While running I feel how space is created for creativity, how solutions for some business worries arise almost automatically and ideas arise in my head. Laughing, I return and write proposals, quotes and take notes for new stories.
“When my whole house is full, I find it difficult to withdraw”
Anke recognizes this: “When you are alone, 24 hours feel much longer than at home. That means that two nights are enough for me to recharge. When my whole house is full, I find it difficult to withdraw. In a nice hotel I mainly want to be alone, go for a walk, drink coffee with a book, sit on a stone and stare straight ahead. To visualize what comes up in those days, I always take markers and a sketchbook with me. This could be a plan I’m excited about in the near future or just a few pictures.”
Lighter by the hour
Two nights away from home feels like a week to me. I’m getting more done than recently and the satisfaction that comes with makes me feel lighter by the hour. I also enjoy the silence, the endless views, the fact that one day I meet three people (80+) and that nobody wants anything from me. I walk on a deserted beach, with my laptop in a backpack. There is nothing like the sound of the sea. I peer over the waves and laugh at myself. I stand here, with my bare feet in the surf and my head in the direction of the sun, enjoying a game.
“Two nights away from home feels like a week to me”
I notice that the change of environment not only fuels my productivity, but also my creativity. As a freelancer, I don’t have a boss who expects me in the open-plan office every morning at nine o’clock. But what good is freelance freedom if you don’t take it? I just don’t always have to leave home at night for that, I think. As nice as that is, I can’t and don’t want to be away for half a week every month. Although… I intend to change workplaces more often and to compile a list of nice coffee shops and terraces in the area.
At a beach bar I open my laptop again and continue typing happily. That evening I text Monique (45), a friend who I know would like to go away alone for a few nights. Enthusiastically I tell you how much I like it, so all by myself and ask her why she hasn’t left yet. “It’s not happening. Until I plan it, it won’t happen. But the weeks fill up quickly and I can always think of reasons not to go. And besides: when I go away for a few days, I think it’s important to sit in a nice place and not in a cheap hotel. Secretly I found a house in the woods, but it is quite expensive and I find it difficult to give myself this as a present.”
I realize what a luxury it is that my parents bought this house a few years ago. I think this is an extremely nice place. Not only because it is familiar, also the silence and peace ensure that I come to myself.
Monique hopes for a last minute offer, she texts. “Although that also means that I don’t plan it at home, leave quite unexpectedly and leave my boyfriend behind with the children. And whether that can be arranged… I am looking forward to rest and being alone. I think it gives me space to think. That sounds heavier than it is, by the way. I just want to be with myself and no one else.”
After three days I drive home again, secretly I would have liked to stay a little longer. On the other hand, I also want to see my treasures again. I feel relaxed, tidy and recharged. My head is emptier and my fuse longer. I can take it again, I feel that. I intend to do this more often. And preferably preventive and not waiting until the weather is code red in my head.
This article is featured in the Kek Mama Summer Special 2022.
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