Day 21: The Gilligan Hat – How to escape the island and save your sanity

Ruthie The Gilligan Hat 18 Comments

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Day 21 Gilligan hatI’d had it up to my eyeballs.  As soon as my husband returned home from work, I announced, “I’m going out.  BY MYSELF”.

He looked at me as if I’d personally insulted him.

Or maybe he was just panic-stricken at the thought of being left alone with 4 kids, ages 1-8.

He realized I wasn’t kidding when I strode out of the bedroom, dressed in non-wrinkled, spit-up free clothing,  and said goodbye.

“We could go with you…”  I heard his whine/plea as I shut the door firmly behind me.

I climbed in the mom-van, and my neighbor (who is also my dad) yelled from his yard, “You’re not escaping, are you?!”  a sarcastic grin on his face.


I just needed some freaking SPACE!

You know what I’m talking about, mama.  You’re feeling closed in, squeezed tight by the pressure on all sides (including the bathroom door).

If you don’t get some air soon, you’re going down, and you’re taking your tribe with you.

It’s time to put on the Gilligan hat and escape de island, mon.


All moms need space

I don’t care if you’re mom of the year and you homeschool 18 kids and love being pregnant.


If you don’t, I want to meet you because truly, you must be an angel (playing with my heart).

Moms of toddlers deal with whining children and crumby floors.

The grade school mama fights the homework war.

Teenager mama seeks to gain the upper hand on the mental front.

The mother of young adults wonders how she ever got through life without her kids telling her what to do.

(Or maybe it’s just the kids who wonder.)

And most moms are in 2 or more of these phases at the same time.


Regardless of what transition of parenting you find yourself in, you need a break in order to save your sanity. Click To Tweet


…not to mention the safety of your children.


1.  Girlfriend time

As a young mama, I felt quite content with my hubby and baby girl.  But my friend, Reg, began calling to chat a couple times a week.

She was mentoring me, and I didn’t even realize it – teaching me that hubby can’t be my “all” all the time.

(She had five kids.  She possessed inner tribal knowledge I had yet to learn.)

He can’t possibly fill that need for girl chats and heart to hearts.

Call your girlfriend.  Hash out your problems so you won’t dump all over the hubs as soon as he gets home.


Meet a friend for lunch.


Join a mom’s-day-out group.


Organize a girl’s night out once a month.


Because girlfriend, you need girlfriends.

Dig your roots down deep and establish meaty relationships so that when the tough times come (and they will), you’ve got your posse.


2.  Alone time

Day 21 fishingI don’t know about you, but I need this.  Just time to think and wonder and pray and take a few breaths.

That day I left my husband with all the kids and hopped in the mom-van, I went to the mall and walked around for hours.

Retail therapy, I tell ya.

Actually, I bought very little, because we had very little.

But just the feeling of walking around without some kid hanging off my coat tails was freeing, somehow.

Get a neighborhood teen to come over and watch the kids while you spend a luxurious hour in the hammock out back with a book.

Become inventive and get some solitude.


3.  Hobby time


The only reason I would take up jogging is so that I could hear heavy breathing again. ~Erma Bombeck


A hobby is something a mom needs to keep in her back pocket when she needs a refreshing pick-me-up.

Here are a few ideas:

Fishing (after all – Gilligan did wear a fishing hat)









_____________(fill in your favorite hobby)

And no, facebook does not count.  Get off the computer.

My hobbies are reading, exercising, cross-stitching, playing the piano, and writing.


A hobby is something that doesn't drain you - it exhilarates, even though it may be challenging. Click To Tweet


My mom loved to sew.  She made all my clothes from the time I was little until I married – she even made my wedding dress and the bridal party gowns!

In the evenings, when the family watched TV or just hung out, she’d always have her handiwork with her.

Double win when a hobby benefits the fam and saves money.


Maybe you’re knitting hats and scarves in scarlet for everyone this winter.

…(Proverbs 31:21)

Or crocheting baby booties as a shower gift.

I’m counting on making bank with this hat book so my husband can retire and we can sail Norwegian Cruise Lines down the Danube River.

(Insert laugh here.)

If you don’t have a hobby – get one.  It’ll relax you, and you don’t have to necessarily be away from the family to do it. 

Sort of a mental escape, if you will.



4.  Husband time

Day 21 knittingYou know how it is – you’re surrounded by children every time the two of you are together. It’s not exactly conversation mojo.

Interruptions abound with children around.

The two of you need alone time to talk.


Get a sitter every 1-2 weeks, or trade out with another couple.


A friend of mine has creative date nights with her husband at home after the kids are in bed.


Couple’s retreats are beneficial because you learn about your spouse and how he thinks (or doesn’t think).


Take short trips out of town. (Or at least a 3 hour tour.)


I know it’s not easy.  The kids have ballgames and ballet practice.  You have church commitments and other things going.

Plan time with your spouse – it won’t happen unless you do.

Figure out your budget and make it a priority because once the kids leave someday, you will need something in common with that guy.

Otherwise you’ll just sit there staring at him, wondering who he is.

He’ll wonder who you are too.

You morph into different people through the years.  Growth does that to a person.  So does child rearing.


Make sure you and your husband are growing together and not apart. Click To Tweet


When the kids began to leave, I must confess –  I worried.

It had been 26 years since we’d been alone.

That’s a long time.

Jim’s job takes him out of town quite frequently, and I’ve been burning the home fires alone for years.

So, I began traveling with him.

Did I mention his corporate office is in the gulf of Florida?

Yeah…that was a hard choice.

We got a driving camper and began traveling a bit.   When we walk the beach in the evenings, Jim brings the metal detector and I hold the shovel.

So far, all we’ve found is bottle lids and paper clips, but we’re hopeful.



So give yourself a break, mama.  Find girlfriend time, alone time, hobby time, and hubby time.


Don the Gilligan hat, break open a coconut, and make a run for it. Click To Tweet


Trust me, the natives will be glad you did.


Seven people set sail on what is scheduled to be a three hour sight-seeing tour on the charter boat The Minnow, get caught in a storm and end up stranded on an uncharted tropical island together. The comedy comes from the failed attempts at escaping the island and the interaction of the very diverse group.

Viewers of the venerable series would be correct to ponder the impossible number of guests who visited the islands, the incredible versatility of the common coconut and the fact that the castaways somehow managed to win the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.


Day 22: The Money Hat!

Comments 18

  1. What a great idea for a series! I love the title of this one. I am going to have to go back and read the others. How true this is! I am with you on the almost empty nester. I still have 2 teens at home, but it is getting close. But I remember the day like you described very well.

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      I’m feelin’ ya, Robyn! You know it’s looming – they’ll be leaving soon. I’ve wrestled with this for a while now – empty nesting is not fun, but necessary for their growth and ours as well! Thanks for your kind words too and for the visit! 🙂

  2. You continue to write great words!!! We’ve done many of these things over the years, and started doing at home date nights when everyone was little and we moved to the country; no babysitter you get creative 🙂 Kiddos gave us a 20th anniversary dinner date a couple of years ago. Sat us on the deck with candles, served each course and left us, peeking out the window only minimally to see if we needed anything. It was WONDERFUL!

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      AHHHH!!! That’s soooo sweet, I’m glad you shared! The year we were to celebrate 25, we had too much going – homeschool graduation and a wedding!
      The kids surprised us with a CRUISE!!! I almost died crying. They really do notice and appreciate what we do for them, and it’s so sweet when they do! Always love hearing from you and – thanks for the affirmation and encouragement! 🙂

  3. OMW, you absolutely crack me up. I love Erma Bombeck and just know she has to be in heaven, surely she is, right? Love reading your posts and thinking back to three kids and crazy. SO FUN. YSFAM

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      Hahaha I know, I loved her so much growing up! Always wanted to write like her. Of course she’s in heaven! 😉 I’m loving this too. I’ve got to figure out how to do the whole ebook thing tho. If I ever get some time!!! xoxo

  4. This is good stuff…and made me laugh so it’s a win-win. I’m the one with 2 teens still at home and the other sort of gone (student missionary for the year) who says, “Mooom, I got this!” But those days of never pottying alone are firmly in my memory!

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      Once one has lived those days, one never forgets, eh, Carol? lol. Funny now – not so funny back then! A student missionary – Word of Life? Thanks for the kind words, everyone needs a good laugh now and then!

  5. I literally laughed out loud when you wrote that your husband said “we could go with you”…….Been there done that! I am past that now but ohhhhhhhhh the memories.

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  6. Your series is so so good! I’m not a mom but I always take something away from your posts. I am so thankful for the girlfriends I have been blessed with!

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  7. So true! That will be me next year (4 children ages 1-8) so it’s really easy for me to put myself in your shoes in this story. I am getting out my Gilligan hat very soon. I am a month away from having another baby so I’ve got plans for a final “baby moon” with the husband and hopefully a girls night out all before I got into labor.

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      Bless your heart, Natalie! YES. Escape the island! Soon! It’s about to get real for you! But oh, I am so thankful for my kids, they are such a blessing to me now. All that hard work was worth it all. Enjoy that baby moon and girlfriend time! 🙂

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      Oh girl. I can tell you about that first hand. Older teens/young adults are just getting wound up around 9PM. It gets cray cray around here when mine are all home from college. Good news is, once they reach a certain age, you buy ear plugs and head to bed. Thanks for stopping by – I remember those early days of early bed times too!

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