Have you ever been in a situation where someone suggested that you do a particular self care activity and you just felt like laughing because it seemed so impossible? Or maybe you felt like crying.
Over the last 4 years since my son was born, a number of people have suggested that I go away for a weekend, go on a “mumcation” (did you know that’s a thing now?), or even just get away overnight to a hotel.
I can’t help but giggle a little inside. Had they met my son?! (One of them was my husband, so clearly he had! 😆)
Now, I know of plenty of mums who take time away from their family and LOVE it. They find it refreshing and their families cope just fine. I think this is FANTASTIC because clearly this is the right decision for them.
Up to this point, it just never felt right FOR ME. My step children are older and independent, plus they’ve always known me to travel frequently for work. But my little boy is extremely attached to me. I’ve written about our painful separation experiences before. Plus, to be honest, I never felt the desire to get away. I mean, I’ve even turned down paid work because it might require me to travel overnight. You might think that sounds crazy, but I’m confident in my decisions because they fit the current season of my life. It was never going to be forever.
New self care for a new season
A few months ago, Vikki from MeTreat, invited me to speak at one of her beautiful retreats for mums. I instantly wanted to do it BUT it involved going away overnight. Anxiety washed over me. I wasn’t sure how my son would cope, based on our past experiences. I wasn’t even sure how I would cope, having slept next to his little body almost every night for nearly 4 years. The attachment goes both ways for sure. But, my desire to support Vikki and teach mums at the retreat about realistic self care won out in the end, and I told Vikki I was in! Admittedly, I opted for her 1 night retreat, rather than a whole weekend away. And reserved the option to speak at the retreat but not stay overnight. Baby steps! 😉
When the time came to confirm my accommodation, I reflected. My son had been getting more comfortable with me not being there. He was starting to choose to do things with my husband, without me. He wasn’t always stuck to me like glue when we were at home. He was even ok with me using the bathroom by myself (about 60% of the time). I knew he would be in the best possible care with my husband and mother in law. However, emotional memories are so strong, and it was with a little trepidation, plus plenty of positive self-talk, that I paid my accomodation deposit.
Here’s the bit that makes my heart sing.
When I started to talk to my son about me going away, he seemed ok with it. He was fine when I said goodbye. When I called to talk to him, he was happy and my husband reported that all was going well. In the final test, when I walked in the door, he joyfully leapt into my arms, hugged and kissed me, and then it was like I’d never been away.
With him so happy and content, I was able to relax, be present at the retreat and have an absolutely amazing time!
I truly believe that this was because the timing and situation was right for us. It was the right season to do something different in terms of my self care. Because of this, the break did me SO much good. I wasn’t stressed, I wasn’t dealing with guilt or feeling distracted by what was going on at home. It was a huge step for us both and I’m converted – I love retreats!
I’m all about making self care realistic and right for YOU. For many mums, in their current season of life, self care is more likely to be just minutes squeezed into busy days. But, for those of you who are thinking that it might be the season to explore something like going on a retreat, let me tell you more…
The retreat details…
Firstly, I have to say, I was impressed with how much of a difference just 24 hours can make. Some may doubt that it would be long enough to really unwind but if that’s all that’s available to you in the current season, then I promise you, it will make a difference.
My stress levels started to fall as I drove through the countryside to the beautiful Continental House in Hepburn Springs, Victoria. I felt relaxed within minutes of stepping inside the guest house. I got settled in my peaceful and cozy room (with a double bed all to myself!) and then went to meet the other ladies attending the retreat. I don’t know if it was the environment, the nurturing tone that Vikki set for the retreat, or everyone’s natural way, but my most favourite thing about the retreat was the open, authentic and supportive way that everyone connected. We spoke at length about ourselves, our families, the highs and lows of motherhood and life, our fears and dreams. It was a perfect illustration of how we are wired for connection.
Over the 24 hours, we took part in a number of (optional) thoroughly enjoyable activities:
- A guided nature walk where we drank straight from the natural mineral springs
- Gentle yoga
- A group bathing ritual in a Turkish Hammam
- Guided chakra and sound bowl meditation with the lovely Sunita Pamamull.
- Reflection and sharing time.
We nourished our bodies with delicious and nutritious meals prepared for us (no detoxing, no strict diets and no washing up!) and after the retreat was finished, there was the option to have a massage (at an extra cost), however, I opted for a sneaky shopping trip in Daylesford before I began the drive home.
Are you wondering what the group bathing ritual is all about? I certainly was!
It was much less intimidating that it might sound. In fact, it was an experience that I won’t forget. The Turkish Hammam at Continental House was hand built by the owners, using imported authentic Turkish marble and bathing accessories. It is a warm, steamy and softly lit room, in which a massage therapist guided us through the ritual together. We had warm water poured over us, scrubbed our skin with mitts, had what felt like a blanket of bubbles poured over us, and then we were massaged through the bubbles. We relaxed on sarongs on the marble before having progressively cooler water poured over us. I completely lost track of time, but after the hour, I felt more relaxed that I’ve felt in ages (I can’t even remember the last time I felt that relaxed!). If you’d like to read more about this ritual, check out Vikki’s post here.
It was quite a lot packed into 24 hours, but since we weren’t responsible for the schedule and Vikki took such great care of us, it didn’t feel rushed at all. We were all so relaxed, that at the end of the night, we were all ready for bed instead of staying up to chat and relax (I actually dozed off during part of the meditation!). I opted for a bit of journalling first and then had a much earlier night than I would normally have at home.
The right fit for you and the current season
Self care is meant to be nourishing for your body, mind and / or spirit. If it is right for you and the current season of your life you are more likely to experience the benefits without the distractions, guilt, anxiety and worry. If you’re going to invest some of your precious time on self care, you want it to be worthwhile and impactful, right?
Here are some key thoughts to consider when selecting self care activities:
- Retreats are really a worthwhile investment of time and money if it’s something that you feel you want to do and it fits with the current season of your life. There is no particular time that you “should” do something like this, despite what well intentioned people may tell you.
- Take other people’s self care activities and suggestions as exactly that – ideas and suggestions. Run them through your filter of what you need and decide what is relevant for YOU.
- There’s no point in comparing self care activities – they don’t have to be the same. Our lives, preferences and families aren’t all the same, so neither will all our self care activities be the same.
- Every mum has the right to decide what is the right self care for her in each season of her life. Make your decision and back yourself. You know what you need better than anyone.
- A new season of life is a great opportunity to try some new self care activities. You might find something that you LOVE.
What’s the right self care for you in this current season of life? What do you need? What can you make work with the support that you have? What is your intuition telling you is the right thing to pursue?
What’s a new self care activity that you could try in this season?
P.S. If you’d like to find out more about MeTreat’s retreats, check out Vikki’s website or social media @metreatretreats. I highly recommend these beautiful experiences!