Friday, 4 May 2012

'Rest and Refocus' // My 2nd Annual Mama's Retreat

Today I 'went away' for 24 uninterrupted and precious hours on what is my second Annual (I hope!) Retreat... a Mama's Retreat, but more than that, a 'just me and God' retreat.

I didn't escape very far... in fact, just to an average kind of hotel a mere five minutes away but let me tell you, I felt like I was on the other side of the country! The purpose of this time away?

Rest, Reflect, Refocus, Refresh

It all started last year... in the midst of a mad and chaotic year, I started craving some quiet time and space. The kids were two and not-even-one. Mark was working crazy hours in a job he thankfully has since moved away from. We were renovating after just having sold one house and bought another. Life was busy, I was stressed. Imagine 24 hours away, I thought, just in a hotel somewhere doing nothing.... wouldn't that be bliss!! Just that - a silly fantasy I'm sure shared by many mothers of young children and anyone with a busy life!! Then I came across this amazing woman's blog Inspired to Action and her call to Mothers everywhere to plan an annual retreat for themselves. Want to be convinced about why and how you should also give it a go?? Go ahead and read here and here, then do what I did.... email the link to your hubby, heehee!! He got on that train quick smart, bless him!

When I read these posts, it made me not only crave the retreat even more, I was truly inspired to be even more purposeful about it and saw a deeper need for it. As the author says, if you just retreat but return to the exact same way things have been, you will only end up burnt out again! As well as rest (which, hey, we all need!) and sleeping and watching movies or whatever, I was inspired also to use the time to refocus and reflect on where I and my family were at (through various methods which I will get into later). Mark said - Let's make it happen - and so we did. Suffice to say - it was fantastic, I came back with my cup overflowing and my beloved husband insisted that we would be making it an annual thing. I did not even try to argue!!! ;) He is such a dear supportive husband, that guy! Last year it happened to be close to Mother's Day and we decided to keep it in that vicinity so we wouldn't forget (as if I could!) and it ties in well with the nurturing that Mother's Day signifies, which is handy!

I had started in the last few months to get excited once again about this upcoming time away. However, slicing out 24 hours from our schedules isn't always easy and I couldn't quite see how it would work out in the foreseeable future due to a myriad of reasons (like, you know, life!). Then all of a sudden yesterday Mark was going to have a short work day for various reasons and said 'Just go tomorrow'. Now, dear reader, as much as I would love to think of myself as wildly spontaneous, I rarely am with much relish. I am a planner, I like to know what is happening, and get my little mind around the upcoming events. So, I protested and gave multiple reasons why today simply could not work and my gentle husband listened, coaxed and then eventually just insisted all would be fine and that I should seize the day, book the hotel, and GO!!!!

So I did!

I jumped on the internet and through booked the cheapest hotel I could find that also had room service (not wanting to waste money on a fancy room just for myself!) and was out the door within an hour. Eek! I admit I always have torn and mixed feelings as I embark. Looking at the kid's cute faces, hearing them excitedly chat about making pizza with Daddy and so on, I hate to miss out on the family fun and at the last minute question what on earth I am doing this for!! I love being with my family!! But I know the time is important and valuable for them to have to themselves too, and I know I will actually benefit from this time and so.... out I went.

Walking into my hotel room, I felt my body physically relax to the extent I almost started weeping right then. A room of my own, no schedule or expectations, nobody to care for or talk to, nothing to clean, just quietness and time. Plus, sweet, sweet, silence! Deep breaths and so much gratitude for this space. Amazing!!

A little reading material!

So what did I do? I started off with a long and thoughtful walk in the glorious Autumn sunshiney afternoon then came back to a loooooong hot shower. After which, by 3.30pm I was snuggled up in the comfy big bed that I pretty much did not leave until the next day - oh the decadence! I sorta had a teensy nap (shock! unheard of!), and then curled up with a cuppa and launched into reading an incredible book I had purchased and been saving up for this very occasion - the heartwarming and inspiring Bloom by Kelle Hampton of Enjoying the Small Things... her blog is all kinds of wonderful, so please check it out if you are not already familiar.

Amazing book, coffee, chocolate..... bliss!!

After that rest and refreshment, I was ready to get serious and refocus. I spent a couple of hours in thought, prayer and meditation, reflecting on the year that has past and what is ahead in the year to come. I scribbled about five pages of notes, lists and ideas in my notebook - examining goals, thinking through my priorities, things that need to change, new ideas to implement. I reflected on the darling children - character traits and behaviours I want to focus on, and how to show them love and grace in better ways. Shortcomings in my mothering I wanted to work on. I considered ways I can better support my beloved and hardworking husband, and what things I need to have in my life to keep me balanced and functioning effectively. Examining what things need to be dropped out of our 'bucket', what things to add in to better reflect where we really want our time and energy going. I refined my 'Mission Statement' that I had written the year before, forcing me to think through who I am as a woman, believer, wife, mother, friend - and who I want to be - and how exactly I plan to get from A to B!

It was good. So good to step out of the day-to-day busyness - particularly the relentless busyness that comes from life with small children - and look at life with a bit of uninterrupted distance and perspective. What is it they say about an unexamined life? My life needs a little examining or it all too easily gets caught up in just getting by, saying yes, being busy, wearing out. To rethink whether the places where my time goes are truly where my priorities lie. To make sure the way I am living life is authentic to my faith and our values and goals. And to offer every aspect of this up to God for His blessing and His guidance. It was good.

Well, after this intense time of refocusing and reflection it was time for some relaxing!!!

Which pretty much involved watching a chick-flick on my laptop (in bed) whilst ordering room service for dinner and eating it (in bed), just kicking back, reading for aaaaages then eventually falling asleep... gleefully, just knowing the next morning I could sleep late, wake up slowly and (gasp) not need to immediately tend to anyone else!

Dessert. In bed. Watching movies. Woohoo!!!

What a day... what a blessed and rejuvenating day! I felt utterly grateful and utterly refreshed. One night of solitude a year... a small thing but quite a significant one really, especially in these hectic years of mothering little ones. I crave that dose of solitude and appreciate the opportunity to walk back into my chaotic, precious life with renewed vigour and intention.

Me. Reading. Happy.

Now.... who's ready to book their hotel room? Seriously... with a little planning, you can make it happen :) I promise you it is so, so worth it xx


  1. Wow wow wow, just inspirational. Sounds so refreshing. I am going to hunt that book down and have a read. Thank you for sharing. Just beautiful to read and remind me of the importance of taking time to rest and reflect and pray.

  2. Soo glad you had a nice time, Missy!!

  3. oh wow Kate! That is wonderful. You are awesome in how you tackle things in your life and family. I love reading your words ;) I think I will also have to read that book as I have already look at her blog and yes it is awesome. Thankyou for sharing a great way to refocus our lives and be grateful for the loved ones in our lives.

  4. Food for thought.....dangerous xx

  5. Ummm, this is genious! I will be speaking about this to Brian immediately!

    I, like you, really enjoy mulling over our life, re-focusing, setting goals and making plans. Generally that is all done on my head (or on my pinterest board bahaha) but really, I think this is perfect. I need this.

    Okay, and Bloom, can you send it to me when you're fininshed? ;) jokes, I think I will buy my own copy, sounds like an awesome book. (just had a thought, you should contact Kelle and let her know you're doing a review, maybe she will send you some free ones to give away!)

    1. DO IT!!!! I would be so happy if you also went on a little retreat! LOL Mark has said he has a lot of nervous husbands giving him grief for me giving their wives this idea, lol!!! :) Oh Andi, i think you would love it and be such a blessing and nourishment to you. im sure Brian would be so supportive... plan for it and it will happen! As for Bloom - i would love to lend it to you!! :) if you dont buy a copy i will bring it on my next trip to brisbane! good idea to let Kelle know, she is so inspiring xx

  6. Kate, just when I think you can't possibly bring more inspiration to my life...well, you go ahead and write a post like this!
    Thank you for sharing how this retreat came about (love that Mark saw the need and found ways to support you so it would actully happen) and how you used your time.
    You found a way to balance relaxing and being productive - so inspiring.
    I love that you spent the time reflecting and planning for the year to come. You are so right, if you don't set clear goals those things just don't happen.
    As for Bloom...well you know I love her blog and I am looking forward to reading it (THANK YOU by the way for the most generous, thoughtful gift. It means so much to me.)


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