I recently returned from my fourth annual 'Mama's Retreat'. Yes, for the last four years I have left behind my supportive (awesome!) hubby and my young children (now numbering three!) for a 24 hour escape to a local hotel....
Yep, just me, in blissful silence, with books, movies, room service and nothing but sweet, sweet TIME.
Sound too good to be true? It's not. Sound like something you want in on? You can!
Honestly, it's something I would encourage every mother who is so inclined to make happen. Just one night out of a whole year is not so much, is it? Yet it can make a huge difference in your mindset during daily life. If you plan for it, and get your partner on board (just send them a link to this post, heehee!), you can make it happen!
It is time to retreat, to refresh, to recharge and let's not forget - refocus.
If you are a mother of small children (and in my case, a SAHM), it can be so easy to get stuck in the cycle of mothering without intention. 'Cos we are just busy, busy, busy with the daily tasks of keeping little people alive (and even thriving!). We also don't tend to get an annual review for our work, you know?! A little getaway to not only recharge but just have time and space to think and ponder... and nap!... can work wonders going forward, helping to assess how things are going in the family, and what you might want things to be different in the future.
Inspired by my need for a little head space (and physical space too) after a very busy year four years ago, and then further motivated by the wonderful blog Inspired to Action I went on my first retreat three years ago, and now this little getaway is something I dream of (in certain moments of chaos!!) all year long. There is something to be said about stepping out of the every day life to help you reassess that life and dive back into it with renewed viguor.
What do you do there? Well that is really up to you and what you feel like you need. Absolutely exhausted? Then, sleep! Feeling like you want to reassess how things are going in the family, with your kids or with your parenting or marriage, or even to focus on some of your own personal growth and goals? Spend some time thinking, planning, rescheduling. Read, write, journal, set goals. Whatever you think is of value to you... but I encourage you (if you can) to plan what you want to work on in advance, so you have something ready to work through (turning up with nothing but an empty notebook can leave you feeling a little aimless and overwhelmed, I personally find!). And of course, spend some time doing whatever feels truly relaxing to you (watching a movie, going for a walk, reading, taking a bath, lying on the bed in a daze for an hour, etc).
For me, I have developed a little routine over the years. When I first arrive, it feels impossible to relax, after all, we are so used to being busy, busy, busy! (Plus, I'm so excited!). So I take off for a walk down the street by the hotel, to burn some energy and clear my head. I return to my room for a long peaceful shower. Now I can start to wind down!
Now, there is not much point in taking time to relax if you dive back into the same chaos you left, with no change in either your attitude or your approach. So, I like to take a good couple of hours to just sit on the bed, surrounded by papers. I pray, I read my Bible and do some Bible study. Spending time with God is the foundation of all my planning as my faith is core to who I am, so it's a good place for me to start! I usually refine my family mission statement and this year I also reflected on the page of family values and priorities my husband has recently developed (bless him!). I considered ways we can work to meet those goals for our children and family. I wrote notes and journeled, thinking about my goals for 2015. What's working, what's not. I thought about my challenges, my (many!) failings, things I want to work on, things I want to refocus on. One key thought I came away with is that our children are not the only ones growing up in this family! There is so much opportunity for personal growth in parenting (don't we know it?!) and yet it's so easy to brush over this in the busy-ness of day to day life with littles. This time of reflection helps me be more intentional about the year ahead.
|Surrounded by papers, Bible, notebook and a cuppa. I take a rare opportunity to really sit down and reflect.|
How rare and good it was to have pure unbroken time to sit and reflect and work through this stuff! It's too easy to rush through life without pausing and planning. I just love having an opportunity to stop and do this annually - while also having time left over to just relax too! ;)
After all that brain work, it was definitely time to chill out. I laid in bed, reading magazines and drinking cups of tea. I may have taken a teeny nap! Mmmm, decadent or what?! I later ordered room service for dinner and watched a DVD on my laptop. It.was.awesome.
It's funny how motherhood changes you.... in many ways of course. But for me, one thing in particular is that a decade ago I would have called myself one of the world's biggest extroverts, just getting so much energy from being with people. Now? With my daily life surrounded by very chatty, noisy, touchy (beloved!) little people, I crave solitude like you wouldn't believe. I just love this peaceful time, the sweet, sweet silence, the time on my own. Well, who knew? ;)
|Room service for dinner... while I watched a movie. Blissssssss. Although I sadly couldn't finish the huge rich|
brownie despite best efforts! So relaxed I forgot to take any more pics past this point!!
When I go home to my family, it is with renewed energy and appreciation. My cup is full, I am refreshed and ready to embrace my precious and rich and chaotic family life once more. No doubt, much like this year, the every day stresses come flooding back with relentless abandon and yet... I know my ability to cope with them is that much greater than it would have been before. I am more intentional, more mindful, more present.
And of course the kids and Dad have a fine old time while I am away.... the kids love special Daddy time, and I loooooove my hubby for being so supportive of this time for me. It is certainly never the 'perfect' time to go away, but we always manage to make it work at some point each year. He is a gem for being so on board with this :)
On a single income, this certainly isn't something we easily afford, but thanks to my dear husband's support, it's something we save and plan for. I always look for a really good deal on a last minute hotel booking website which helps of course :) There are lots of ways to make it possible if you are committed to making it happen but funds are tight - put away a few dollars each week, stay at a friend's house who is away, etc. If you are a single parent (props to you, mama!!!), you could work out a swap with another friend?
A mother's retreat can move from daydream to reality and I hope if this sounds appealing to you, you are able to make it happen. Let me know how it goes!!! As mothers it can be just too easy to get lost in our days of preparing meals, sweeping floors, rushing to work, putting on another load of laundry, caring and nurturing our children. A regular ritual of intentionally stepping outside of that, to retreat, refresh and refocus can be of invaluable worth.
And that sleep in? Waking up naturally, with only the sound of silence and not having to tend to anyone else, just for once? Let me tell you, it's priceless ;)
PS. If you are looking for resources to use on your retreat, you can create your own 'Mothers' Mission Statement' by downloading the free eBook at Inspired to Action here.