So, wow. I haven’t felt this light in ages. I just got back a few days ago from my first ever mama retreat in almost 8 years of being a mama. (!). And let me tell you. It was AhMAZing!!! It was definitely all that I hoped it would be.
It wasn’t that I was on cloud 9 the entire time I was gone, but it was this amazing mental quiet, this rest, this letting go of having to do, to be, to give so much, for a little while.
I love being a mother more than anything in the world, but mamas need breaks, too. This mama sure did.
How Did This Happen?
For the past couple of years I’ve been a member of Leonie Dawson’s Shining Biz + Life Academy. About a month ago they announced a live workshop in Denver. It would be a free, day-long event, with training, masterminding, yoga, photography, and best of all, gathering in person to connect with other Academy members.
All I had to do was get there and stay a couple of nights. I found a great deal on Frontier and the perfect place to stay on Airbnb.
Although I could have roomed with another lady at a hotel, I decided to maximize my alone time so I just enjoy the bliss of silence and time to myself. As an introvert, I need that quiet time, and I knew I’d have a lot of time for people and interaction at the workshop.
I felt like this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. And my mama retreat was long overdue.
My husband wasn’t completely excited about me going, but I reassured him that it would be fine and it would be a good opportunity for my daughter and him to have special time together.
It had been so long since I’d flown, and longer since I’d traveled alone… So I asked a friend who travels regularly for recommendations, and his advice helped me feel more sure about my decision to rent a car and stay at an Airbnb.
Next, a small carry-on suitcase was in order. (I’d long since gotten rid of my old, cheap, big ones and just used various bags for weekends to Grandmomma’s or other short trips.) I did my research on Amazon and bought a really good one that fit under the seat for easy access on the plane.
It fit plenty of clothes for my two-day trip, plus toiletries. I also took a backpack as my “purse,” and I carried both on the plane since I didn’t want to have to wait to pick up my bag or take the off chance that it might get lost.
My favorite pens are Uniball Vision, but they’re rollerball which tend to leak on planes. So I bought some new ballpoint pens and found a blue gel pen at home to bring for all my note-taking and journaling. I also bought a new purple Yoobi college-ruled notebook. (Does anyone else get a thrill from new “school supplies”!?)
And I packed my Leonie workbook, just in case. And some snacks and an empty water bottle.
I loaded up my phone with podcasts and brought both of my Kindles (Paperwhite and Fire). I ended up only reading my Paperwhite and didn’t even use my Fire or listen to any of the podcasts. I think I just needed the silence and mental space.
Two things I didn’t take but wish I had are a small purse to hold my wallet for when I did want to carry a purse, and eye drops. I think the airplane and the amazingly wonderful low humidity of Denver left my eyes over-dry. But for the most part I’m happy with my packing and glad I didn’t take too much stuff.
Oh! And I also missed my John Denver cd’s. I had to get by with singing “Rocky Mountain High” a capella.
For planning, I tried to keep everything as simple as possible. I had thought I might try to see some sights in Denver. Then I realized how little extra time I’d have beyond the workshop, so I decided to maybe visit the Botanical Garden on Friday morning. Since I love our local Botanical Garden and am a member there, I knew I’d love some quiet time at Denver’s as well. Plus, it would be free.
I was really exhausted on Friday, so I decided to just stay in bed as long as possible, reading, journaling, reflecting on the teaching from the workshop, and then getting ready to go. I’m so glad I did.
Relaxing in bed with a cup of coffee and my Kindle is bliss.
One thing I’m really glad I did is print out the maps I needed… from the airport to the house where I stayed, and from the house to the workshop venue. Those definitely came in handy, as did having Google Maps on my phone.
Some Tips For Your Mama Retreat
If you don’t have a lot of time, keep your trip simple. Think about what you most want to get out of it. If it’s peace and solitude and rest, and no one needing you for anything for a little while, then I highly recommend you keep it very simple. I’m happy I decided not to try to squeeze in as much sight-seeing as possible.
After the workshop I was going to meet some new friends for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Unfortunately, there was a turn that wasn’t mentioned so I ended up choosing the wrong direction, and got lost… Luckily I found my way back to my starting point, but I was getting a bit stressed because my phone was black. Not only would it not start, it also wouldn’t even charge. I was starting to freak out, but I decided to take out the battery and put it back in. That magically brought it back to life.
I called my new friend and got directions and made it to the restaurant pretty directly, although she’d mentioned it was easy to pass, and it was (and I did). After some quick calls home to check on my daughters, I met my friends and had a really fun dinner with new friends. I’m so happy I did that even though I was feeling pretty wiped out after the workshop and my time was two hours ahead of Denver time.
Let Go of the Outcome
It’s fine to have hopes and expectations about what you’ll get out of your retreat, but it’s good to also let go of attachment to what actually happens. I wanted to have peace and quiet and relaxation. While I did get those things, I also got some stress, from driving in rush hour traffic, to getting lost a bit, to the phone going dead and not charging, wishing I’d taken more pictures, and just feeling generally worn out physically much of the time. Oh, and also being a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t have time to get a closer look at those beautiful mountains. Instead I just felt so happy to see them every time I got in the car to drive somewhere.
I really just accepted everything as it came, as it was, and enjoyed myself.
I arrived a little late to the yoga class, the first event of the morning, and there was a split second where I thought about not joining in. But I had intended to do yoga and was so looking forward to it, and so I did it. And it was very good and relaxing and energizing, and it didn’t matter that I joined in a little late or that I didn’t have a mat.
At the end of the class the teacher suggested we pick a word as an intention for the day. My words were “open” and “peace.” And I can say that my day was characterized by peace and by me being open to everything it brought. It was good.
I knew I wanted quiet time to rest and relax when I wasn’t at the workshop. So I purposefully stayed by myself at an Airbnb rather than at a hotel. I searched and read reviews to find the perfect place through Airbnb. I am so happy with my decision. It was so quiet and beautiful and comfy, and my host was so nice. It was all I’d hoped, and I saved a lot of money over staying at a hotel, too.
Limit Your Contact with the Outside World
I recommend minimizing contact with your children’s caregivers, and try not to call too close to their bedtime. You literally are far away and unable to do anything directly about what’s going on at home. And it’s good and fine for your husband or parents to handle things in their own way. And good for them to have their own special time together. And good for you to have your own time, too. Of course do what you feel comfortable with, but I’d try to keep it to a minimum.
I also had a short talk with my husband in which I tried to express that he not worry me with small things I couldn’t do anything about.
Mindfully Tell Them
I decided not to tell my 3-year-old until a couple of days before the trip. Her understanding of time is different, and I knew that once I told her she’d be expecting it to happen very soon. I also told her very gradually, keeping the focus on the special time she was going to have with Daddy, what she would be doing (her normal routine of going to playgroup, maybe going to the park, going out to eat, playing, etc), and the very important fact that I would come back soon. She sang a song she learned in Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that goes, “Grown Ups Come Back.” And I agreed! Momma always comes back. I think the way I told her worked really well. I also tried to mention during times she was feeling happy and involved in something.
My older daughter was with her dad for the first night I was gone, and then the next day her Granddaddy picked her up from school and took her to his house for a special visit. I think they had a wonderful time together, even though it rained the whole time. They watched good movies, made sundaes, went out to eat, she played with their kitty, and just had a good time soaking up love and attention. I know she missed me and I missed her, but I’m glad they got that special time together while I got to take that time for myself.
How Did It Go?
I think it went really well. It went excellent the first day and she napped and went to sleep well. The second night Adrian said he thought he probably ended up putting her to bed too late which kind of had a ripple effect of her not coping as well with me not being there. She ended up having a hard time going to sleep and then woke up in the night with a wet bed and really wanted me then, too. And she was probably tired the next day which left her somewhat cranky… But you know what? They handled it fine. He took her to the park, to the candy store, and to Chick-fil-A. He learned how hard it really is to get work done while taking care of her, too. I think he has a little more appreciation of all I do.
My Most Important Advice For You
I highly recommend taking a mama-only trip! If you’ve been thinking maybe you need to do this, my answer to you is, “YES! Do it, do it, do it!”
Wherever you are in your mothering journey, you need some time to yourself. If you’re still breastfeeding, you might not be able to get away for as long as you will later, but even a few hours can work wonders when you’re in the thick of intense mothering and can barely remember what it’s like to have a little time for just you.
Now that I’m home I can really feel the difference. I knew I needed that break, and I knew I was carrying a heavy load of stress, but the feeling of having released that is really good and hard to describe and unexpected, even though it’s what I really wanted to get out of my trip.
I will try to share more in another post soon about my experience at the workshop. I loved it. It was full of heart-felt business and life teaching and wonderful connection with an amazing and diverse group of women. I’m thrilled and thankful that I was able to attend.
Postscript: I will also add here at the end that I had a pretty typical experience of coming down from the mountain… Meaning, life and its characteristic stresses didn’t hold back for long. In the past few days I’ve dealt with some really difficult, stressful times. While the blanket of peace that had descended couldn’t last forever, I still feel more peaceful and less anxious than before. It was good, and I’m still reaping the benefits.
While we can’t live forever on the mountaintop, those experiences are good for the soul.
What is your dream retreat? Tell me about it in the comments below.
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