Nine-year-olds have it easy. Running away from home is so simple at that age: Storm off to your room, grab a bag and a teddy bear, voice your outrage at your parents and then walk as far down the block as your stomach can handle.
Running away as a parent is a tougher task.
Parenting, whether solo or in a partnership, is a delicate balance of sanity and survival. One wrong move and it can feel like the entire well-balanced machine will fall apart. Still, that childish thrill of ditching all the obligations for a runaway mission remains and it’s well worth giving in to.
How do I know?
Recently, a fellow mom and I successfully ran away to Los Angeles for three days: No spouses, no kids, no parent-teacher conferences – just two women living their best pretend-we-have-energy-for-this lives.
What we lost in time monitoring the minutiae of our families’ day-to-day we gained in mental clarity. Whether you decide to run away yourself or are ready to plan a time-out for your favourite parent, keep these tips in mind.
Time it right: Pick a destination that will be warm and sunny when your week at home is going to be blustery and grey. Be gone just long enough to be envied but not so long that all of the routines you’ve put in place at home are abandoned: Three nights and four days worked for us. Leave the week of the school play or at a time when the parental tasks you deem most excruciating need to be done. Feign ignorance.
Live your dreams: When we landed, we dropped our bags, slipped into our heels and hit the night clubs! Just kidding: We slept. It was glorious. Uninterrupted, starfish-spreading sleep. No worrying about who’d brushed their teeth or where stuffed pals were, just a big, comfortable bed and the promise of not waking up to someone standing over you in the morning.
Location, location, location: Picking where to stay is a lot of fun when you aren’t limited to great kids’ clubs and zero-entry pools. We opted for boutique spots that offered funky decor and great proximity to the things we wanted to do most. In Venice, Calif., we stayed at The Kinney, where funky murals and bright colours made us feel young and hip, even when we weren’t, and put us steps from Abbot Kinney Boulevard – the street that GQ proclaimed was “The Coolest Block in America.” When we moved to mid-city, we maintained our cool factor with a stay at the creative enclave Farmer’s Daughter Hotel. That spot put us across the street from both CBS Studios and the Original Farmers Market, plus it upped our Instagram game thanks to a rubber-duck-strewn pool and plenty of comfortable communal spaces.
A distinct lack of chicken nuggets: There was no shortage of options for meals that were both caloric nightmares and the things dreams are made of. Breakfasts that aren’t just the “rushed coffees while pushing people out to a school bus” meals we usually had, are a must. At the classic Rose Café (rosecafevenice.com), the on-site bakery meant starting the day with a fresh pastry board (don’t miss the vanilla malt-cream-stuffed beignets). And at Great White (greatwhitevenice.com) in Venice, corn fritters stacked with avocado and topped with a perfectly poached egg and a blue smoothie bowl filled with homemade granola were shared with glee steps from the beach. With time all our own, dinner could go on for hours – and at the Tasting Kitchen (thetastingkitchen.com), it did. Menus change daily, everything is made and sold on the same day and produce is all from local farmers markets or cured in-house, so time spent in the dimly lit spot is both tasty and indulgent.
Do the things you can’t/won’t do with kids: Skip the hands-on museums and the backstage tours you can bring the kids to and instead book tickets to The Late Late Show with James Corden or Jimmy Kimmel Live (1iota.com). Kids aren’t welcome at either and they actually film in the afternoon, so you’ll get the celebrity sightings you’re after without the sleep sacrifice.
Give in to childish things: Just because the kids weren’t there didn’t mean we couldn’t embrace the things they’d love just as much as we did. We sussed-out the best pancakes in America at Du-par’s (dupars.net), where the recipe is so treasured it’s said to be kept in a safe in an undisclosed location. We snacked on things we’d have told the kids weren’t good for them. We hit the streets on a Bikes and Hikes LA (bikesandhikesla.com) tour that took us to the Venice Canals and Muscle Beach. Being without the kids meant we could have ice cream or champagne for breakfast and still be in the right.
Slide into home: Partying till 4 a.m. only so that you go home exhausted? That’s an option we didn’t take on this trip. Instead, we spent our time away slowing down, laughing hard, having the kind of conversations that would’ve been interrupted with little ones underfoot and remembering who we were, apart from being moms. Unlike my nine-year-old self, the return home required no coaxing. Running away as an adult is simply the break you need to remember how much you love what you left at home.