I have loved retreats since I went on my first retreat as a freshman in high school. Retreating has taught me the power of stopping and going within to hear my soul speak. I receive guidance from my internal GPS through these intentional pauses, breathing room, and the break from ordinary time which is captured on a retreat. A retreat becomes my permission statement to leave the doing behind and rejuvenate.
Retreats look very different since motherhood. I don’t have the same freedom of weekends away anymore. When I went on a recent coaching retreat to Sedona, it required every bit of planning (all the way down to handing my baby girl over to my husband at LAX, and jumping on another flight) to coordinate the weekend. As a mom, my need for solitude and space is even deeper. I am frequently touched out by the end of the day, dreaming about a true room of my own, a secret oasis where I can escape, and not be found until I’m ready to reappear. In my coaching work with moms, there is a general statement I hear echoed: “All I want is room to breathe.” I started to think about my own breathing room: what it looked like, along with the boundaries I needed to have in order to create more breathing room in my own life.
I’ve recently linked up with the creators of Story Of Mum, and have found an online community of creative mamas who speak my language. The mission of Story of Mum is for moms to be creative, share our stories, explore what it means to be us, and play. Story of Mum connects moms online and through retreats, recently launching a DIY Mamas’ Retreat Kit.
I LOVE the idea of a DIY Mamas’ Retreat Kit because it eliminates all of the obstacles which prevent me as a pretty busy mama from retreating more often:
1. I love retreating, but travel can be expensive, difficult to coordinate (yes – even down to my LAX baby drop) and take too much time away from family. With the guidelines for a retreat at your fingertips, you can hold a retreat in your own home, at the beach, or find a place which would be soothing to you and some friends. I’m planning to host my first retreat for mamas at the local Nan Tolbert Nurturing Center in April. I chose this because the setting is familiar to moms in my area, and I immediately feel myself relax upon entering the space.
2. Sure, I’d love to retreat (like for a month!!!) but finances are tight. Costs for retreats can add up because there are so many components involved. Space rental, food, supplies, and a facilitator’s time & sweat equity are part of the overhead costs. Hosting a DIY Mamas’ Retreat can keep costs down (or be virtually nothing). Maybe each mama brings something delicious? Maybe each mama brings craft supplies for the guided creative play in the DIY Mamas’ Retreat Kit (or pays a nominal cost for supplies?) Maybe you host the event at home or at a beach/park so there is no overhead with a space rental?
3. I’d love to retreat, but remember – I’ve got kids. Think about the timing for your retreat so that more mamas can attend. I’m offering my retreats on Saturdays because most of my mamas have an easier time with childcare on a day their partner is available. Are your mama friends looking for something during the week or in the evenings? Know your own schedules and rhythms for a time which feels rejuvenating and enjoyable – (as a mom with young kids, I’m often in bed early when my day starts before sunrise).
4. I’d love to retreat, but what would we DO? I wouldn’t have the first idea about what to plan or do when everyone gets there. This is one of the reasons I really enjoy the DIY Mamas Retreat Kit. It gives this sacred time a structure, and not in a how-to kind of guide but more of a cup of tea way of organizing a retreat. Some of my favorite pieces include:
- Lovely invitations which begin with the sentence: “I think you are brilliant.” (If everyone used that sentence with me, I’d probably say YES more often). The invitations also share what the retreat is about: time to rest, eat, stretch, share what inspires us, listen and learn from each other, be heard, and most of all make some time for us. And what to bring: your lovely self, something that inspires you, a question you would like to explore, something delicious to eat, comfy clothes and a yoga mat.
- Timeline: from introductions (which don’t feel like icebreakers and seem much more soulful), stretching, inspiration, crafting compliments, listening, gratitude and encouragement, and of course – eating.
- DIY yoga: no teacher is necessary
- Creative play: something about coming together with other women to create is heart-filled connection time for me
So WHY is it so important to retreat?
I hold quarterly DIY Mamas’ Retreats with my mama friends and those few hours of being heard and valued sustain me for three months. In those short hours, I’ve been inspired to re-evaluate the things I wasted time worrying about, focus on what really matters, and see my future more clearly. Spending time with the mothers in my life – these beautiful, clever, funny women who I have barely managed to exchange a full sentence with over play parks and school runs and excitable children in recent years – has been a sweet revelation. I have started to see my own wisdom and strengths through the eyes of others, blessed with the opportunity to contribute and celebrate all that we do, growing in confidence and self-belief. The retreats have cemented a powerful support system for us all – we are confidantes, mentors, and cheerleaders. I’m calmer, clearer, and a better mother – because I know I have this space to be heard. It’s the perfect combination of community, creativity and cake. – DIY Mamas’ Retreat Kit
I can’t wait to use parts of the DIY Mamas’ Retreat Kit at my first retreat next month. If you are interested in retreating with me, leave a comment below. And know when you receive an invitation with “You are Brilliant” – I mean it; because you are brilliant for taking extraordinary care of yourself so you can do the same for your family. And for mama friends who are further away, I’d encourage you to purchase the DIY Mamas’ Retreat Kit to connect, build, and inspire other mamas as we all walk together on our sacred journeys of motherhood.