self-care, solitude, and community

When was the last time you went on a retreat? I had not been on a retreat since I was in college. For many moms, myself included, it is hard to take the time for self-care. However, I was able to go on a retreat and learned about self-care, solitude, and community.

Shortly after we relocated to Washington 4 years ago, the church we started attending had their annual women’s retreat. The idea of having a weekend away from my then 3 year old and 1 year old seemed like a fantasy…maybe a mirage even.

I did not end up with the kids who were perfect little sleepers, so even by these ages they liked to wake me up between 1 and 4 times per night. I have not exactly figured out why.

Sometimes it is a bad dream, and other times I think they want to make sure I am still here, or for my youngest, she just wants to go to the bathroom and get another hug at 3:30am. Sigh…I digress.

The first women’s retreat

I have to admit I was both excited and a tad nervous heading into this first retreat. What would it be like? Would I be forced into awkward situations with people I didn’t know? Who would my roommates be?

And how would my husband handle solo parenting and how would my girls handle his solo parenting for a weekend?

It turned out I had nothing to worry about. I met a lot of great ladies who were a part of my new church whom I may not have met any other way. Our church has 4 services so I don’t often see the Saturday night or 3rd service Sunday folks.

I also discovered that these retreats were perhaps not full of rest and relaxation, although some of that was by choice. Saturday afternoon we had a few hours of free time as well as Friday and Saturday evenings.

I could have opted for an early bedtime but, I didn’t choose that route. Instead, I stayed up far later than I normally do when I am at home and played games and chatted with new friends.

Coming home

When I returned home on Sunday afternoon, I can’t say I felt completely refreshed. I was more sleep-deprived, but my spirit was refreshed. I had been able to connect with other ladies and also with Jesus.

It was wonderful to have a couple of days off from my normal wife and mother roles. I loved having other people provide the food, clean up after meals, and make my bed.

I have attended that same retreat for 5 years now. A few things have changed since the first time I attended. I know a lot more of the ladies, as I have gotten more involved in the church (yay MOPS!).

I have also learned to honor myself and my own needs in how I spend my time during the retreat. Being true to myself and making choices in alignment with my needs makes a world of difference in how refreshed I feel come Sunday afternoon.

review and accountability with goals

I love socializing and making new friends, but I also need time alone to regroup and reflect. Having a balance in how my time is spent has been very helpful and life-giving.

Have you had an opportunity to do something outside of your comfort zone? Being willing to be a bit uncomfortable by putting myself out there has made a big difference in my life.

Friendships are important. I would say critical even, to living a healthy and balanced life. When life gets hard, I have needed close friends I could lean on to support and encourage me. I made some of those friendships by going on this very retreat.

An added bonus for me was that although it was also initially outside my husband’s and kids’ comfort zones to have me gone for a couple of days, it was good for all of them too.

You may find your kids, in some ways annoyingly, behave better for him than they do for you. It is good to be missed, and it helps them appreciate you more, and it is important to take care of yourself!

This age and stage of life can feel less than simple a lot of times. Self-care, solitude, and community are important. You are important. If you get an opportunity to go outside your comfort zone and make new friends, I encourage you to take it.

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