Why and How To Take a Weekly Retreat

By April 13, 2011General


Read Part 1 of this series here.

I know it sounds extravagant, out of reach or even impossible for you, but today I want to encourage you to plan a weekly retreat.

Why Take a Weekly Retreat

Why do people love the New Year so much? Because it’s a fresh start. A chance to let go of last years mistakes and cling to next years dreams.

Imagine how it would affect your attitude and outlook if you had that fresh start every week? 

That’s what a weekly retreat does for me.

No matter how rough last week was, Saturday morning I let go and move on. I plan for the next week, fully aware that I have a blank canvas in front of me.

I use my retreat time to catch up and even get ahead. Ideally, my week doesn’t happen to me, I happen to it.

Booyah.

I LOVE this time. This is my lifeblood. An opportunity to step back, review what I did last week and what I’ll do next week. An extended period of peace and quiet when I can focus, plan and brainstorm. A chance for me to make sure my busyness is headed in the right direction.

The best thing about a weekly retreat is that when you’re refreshed and prepared for the coming week, you AND your family benefit.

What To Do During Your Weekly Retreat

Coffee for one

Here are some things you can do during your weekly time:
1. Pray and journal
2. Menu Plan
3. Create shopping list
4. Calendar review for the week
5. Organize to-do list — Select projects and tasks for the week.
6. Inbox zero — processing and reply to emails and try to your email inbox to zero.
7. Sort and process papers from the week.
8. Write letters – your weekly retreat is the perfect time to do some good old fashioned letter writing.
9. Organize photos
10. Enjoy the bliss of drinking your coffee while it’s still hot, actually having time to taste your food and savoring the silence.
11. Something from your list of 5 things that refresh you.

Basically, this is the time to get things done that require concentration and focus or things that truly refresh you.

My weekly retreat usually involves tea, weekly planning and lots of writing.

Where To Have Your Weekly Retreat

BN chair

Finding a retreat location can be a challenge, especially if your retreat time starts early in the morning or if you are on a tight budget. Here are some ideas:

1. Coffee Shop – These are great because they are likely to be open whenever you want to have your retreat. And if you get hungry or thirsty, they have everything you need.

2. Bookstore – who doesn’t love to just BE in a bookstore? Bookstores are great for your weekly retreat because you have lots of reading material right at your fingertips.

3. Library – another great spot. The bonus is that its much quieter at the library than at a coffee shop.

4. A friend’s house – ask a friend if you can commandeer a room for the morning. When your friend has her retreat, offer a room in your home.

5. A lobby – if there is a large hotel, office building or college campus in your town they might have a nice lobby where you could spend your time.

6. Whatever works – your car at the park, your closet in your room, your garage, the kids playhouse. Anywhere you can focus and relax.

For me, it really helps to leave my house. I can focus better if I don’t hear the chaos sweet voices of my kids.

Figure out what works best for you.

How To Get Your Own Weekly Retreat

1. His & Hers Weekly Retreats – I have an amazing husband. He sacrifices sleeping in on Saturdays to take care of the kids so I can get away.

We also swap at some point during the weekend so he gets some time away to refresh as well.

It benefits him because our home runs more smoothly and I spent less time during the week locked in the bathroom while the kids watch Chuggington Reruns because I’m so overwhelmed. Or something like that.

2. Trade – each week with another mom. One week, she watches your kids, the next week, you watch her kids.

3. Nap time – If you’re already quite busy, or prefer not to take time away from your family due to an already busy schedule, you could have your retreat during nap time. Just be sure to have it in a room where you won’t be distracted by dirty dishes, laundry or other chores. (I actually have a bean bag, blanket and lamp in my closet. )

4. Family — If you have family in town, pehaps they’d be willing to watch the kids one morning or evening each week.

5. Early Morning Cartoons — If there’s no one who can watch your kids, perhaps you could wake up early get breakfast all ready for the kids and queue up their favorite cartoons. You should be able to snag an hour or so this way. I promise it won’t make their eyes square.

6. School or Mother’s Day Out Program — if your kids are in school or mother’s day out, and you don’t have that time allotted for anything specific, that’s the perfect time to get in a little retreat.

How Long Is A Weekly Retreat?

It’s entirely up to you! Just knowing that your time is a mental restart for the coming week might be all you need to feel refreshed. So, a few minutes to review your calendar at a coffee shop or in your office would suffice.

Or perhaps you homeschool, your kids don’t nap and you work part time out of the house. You might need a more time to process the week, plan and recharge.

Many of you are somewhere in the middle and the amount of time you need is something you’ll have to determine through trial and error.

The more intentional you are about preparing and refreshing, the less time you’ll need.

Don’t Make Excuses, Make Plans

Writing Tools
A peaceful and refreshing home requires a peaceful and refreshed mother. If you’re exhausted, overwhelmed and stressed, your home will reflect that. 

There are a thousand reasons not to have a weekly retreat, but the benefit of finding a way to steal away for that small chunk of time each week is amazing. It’s wonderful to greet Monday feeling focused, refreshed and prepared for the week to come.

Time For Action

Action Step: Talk to your spouse or a friend today about scheduling a weekly retreat time.

Community question: What would be your ideal weekly retreat spot?

And if you have any questions or tips, please feel free to share them in the comments as well.

(This post is part of WFMW.)

Leave a Comment

Comments

40 Comments

  • Kat,
    These are some fantastic ideas! I love that you have a bean bag chair in your closet! I think it is so crucial that moms take the time to recharge. Many times we *have* the time, but don’t take it for ourselves because we feel guilty or selfish, but we need to do it for ourselves (reference Kat’s mentioning that she may have possibly locked herself in the bathroom a time or two, who hasnt?)
    Great post!
    Bernice

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Bernice,
      Yes, I love my closet. Sometimes after I’ve put the kids to bed at night, I’ll just sit in there quietly for a few minutes to relax before tackling the dishes.

  • Avatar Beth W. says:

    For the past couple of months my husband (who’s schedule allows it during this season!) has been watching my daughter on friday morning while I go to a chiropractor appt alone and then to Panera with my bible, journal, and devotional books. It has made a HUGE difference for the tone of our family and for me personally for me to get that time. I love this post and will be sharing it with others.

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Beth,
      That just sounds lovely! Panera is a favorite of mine. I’m SO glad you’ve been able to have that time. Such a blessing!

  • yes, yes, YES! I started having a weekly retreat when my eldest was around 1 year old…(he’s now nearly 6 and we’ve added another one to our crew as well) it was tough at first, feeling guilty and all that, but NO more – just like you, I’ve come to look at it as a life line. I usually take 2 hours sometime on the weekend. It’s a beautiful thing. 🙂

    Next year I’ll have some more time built into my week when our youngest starts preschool a few mornings a week.

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Heidi,
      Mine starts preschool next year too. I can’t even imagine what that’s going to be like. Three mornings alone. I’ll be glad to get my Saturday mornings back!

  • Avatar Becky says:

    I like how you gave very practical tips for making a weekly retreat actually happen. My poor excuse for not doing this is “I don’t have time.” But I know that a weekly retreat/planning ritual will actually free up *more* time throughout my week.

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Becky,
      It does! I used to stay up late trying to “get things done” but since I was tired already, I was horribly unproductive. Now I just do what I need during my retreat time and I get it done more quickly because I can focus.

  • I love the *idea* of taking a weekly retreat, but I have yet to implement one. I do have a lot of “quiet” time during the week (while kids are sleeping/resting), but having a weekly escape from the house sans kids sounds absolutely divine! I need to figure out a time/place for this to happen…

    • Avatar Kat says:

      What if you just had your regular morning time at a coffee shop on Saturday or Sunday? It’s amazing what just the change of location can do.

      And then you can set one naptime aside each week to focus on your weekly planning. Or you could even make that one naptime your weekly retreat by being sitting in a cozy spot with a nice cup of tea, music and your Bible and planner.

      • Avatar flyinjuju says:

        Kat, I love the idea of setting aside one naptime for the planning and then having coffee out. Love your blog by the way. I love things that give me an action plan with steps, so your blog is a godsend. I started following you from Emily and your recent trip. You have amazing tools. Thanks

  • Avatar Peggy says:

    I really LOVED this alot! I passed it along to my girlfriends on facebook! Thank you!

  • Avatar Q says:

    My mother’s house in the CO Rockies, 40 acres of heaven back to national forest. Delish!

  • Avatar Karin says:

    I’m so glad I found you Kat! You are invaluable!

  • Avatar Deanna says:

    Thank you for this post Kat! Sometimes I read your posts and think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” I am sure that this simple retreat will really refresh me and help me to be a better wife and mom – and I am excited to implement it into my weekly schedule.

  • Avatar Nikki says:

    Great post! I loved “Ideally, my week doesn’t happen to me, I happen to it.”

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me as I have been praying about this as of late. I only have one toddler at home with me right now and am having a hard time accepting I need weekly getaways to rejuvenate. I mean, how can I be overwhelmed with just one child?!? That’s what my pride has been telling me anyway.

    My family deserves the best I can give. Even the workplace accepts people need time off the clock. …. and you can only have your kids watch so many Chuggington reruns 🙂

    So thank you for helping me settle my inner battle! I will be implementing my weekly retreats starting tomorrow! Barnes & Noble, please save me a comfy seat.

  • Avatar Karissa says:

    Just find your blog from Sally’s link…after having our fifth baby 6 weeks ago I’m having a much harder time running our household than I expected. This post is inspiring and my sweet hubby would probably happily give up his Saturday morning sleep to give me a ‘fresh start’ perspective to the week to come. Thanks for the ideas!

  • Avatar Lyn says:

    Barnes and Noble ………..or………..the big library downtown

  • Avatar Joyce says:

    This is great Kat! Thanks! I do most of my planning during the girls’ naptime right now, but soon my older one will no longer nap, so I will probably switch to early morning? I’ll decide when the time comes. Sometimes even a few minutes to plan/look at the calendar/catch your breath helps.

  • Avatar Lara says:

    I just love that you said “Booyah.” And my mom is so great. I get a day each week to go write while she watches my wild ones. Love.

  • Avatar Erica says:

    Your keyboard looks awesome! How sad is it that after reading such an inspiring post all I can think about is what a looser I am for letting my poor keyboard get so banged up. It’s dirty, has pernament marker graffiti, and is missing more than one key… I am going to spend my weekly retreat budgeting for a new clean keyboard I’m going to keep away from my kids!

  • Avatar Jennifer says:

    What a great idea! One of my biggest complaints is that I don’t get a break–my two oldest (5 and 3 1/2) haven’t napped since they were 2, and my almost 2-year-old takes her nap when the other kids are home from preschool. I literally don’t have a minute without children during the day. I tell my husband all the time that I just need a break. So I think I’m going to take it!

    Honestly, I don’t want to use that time to plan–I like the idea of organizing photos. I’ve wanted to make a photo book since Christmas of the holidays and winter, and it still hasn’t happened! Great suggestions!

  • […] Yadda yadda yadda, I digress. {from what i don’t know} Anywhoo, back to the wandering. This popped up in Reeder from Inspired to Action. BAM! {said like emeril lagasse} Hello weekly retreat!! […]

  • Avatar Mindy says:

    Love your posts, Kat – you’re such a blessing! 🙂

    I try to take some time Sunday afternoon to decompress, read the paper, coupon, plan for the week and maybe even snooze a little! I do like having a day (sometimes it works better on Saturday) to plan/catch-up/organize the week ahead, It makes all the difference, especially if the coming week involves me being out of the house alot.

  • Avatar Shawn Koca says:

    I am very lucky. Our daughter is a senior in high school and tends to sleep in on the weekends. Hubby works every Saturday so I have the house completely and wholly to myself. What a perfect happenstance for my weekly retreat. I’m not the type of person to sit in a book store or coffee shop by myself and if I would go with a friend…it would turn into a gab fest rather than planning/reflection time. I’m a home body and enjoy being in my home…especially when it is neat and organized and tidy!
    Starting this Saturday, I will have a structured time designated strictly to my weekly retreat! I love this!!!!!

  • Avatar Beth West says:

    A weekly retreat sounds like such a great idea! Thanks for encouraging us in this.

    My ideal place would be my rose covered cottage/studio by the sea. Which I don’t have yet BTW. But I retreat there in my imagination. I think in real life it might have to be Barnes and Nobles. Are they still in business?

  • Avatar joy says:

    Love this idea. Anytime my husband takes the kids I just clean and then its chaos again and I get to nothing I’ve been meaning to. I have to start taking it outside.

  • Avatar Tola says:

    any place that you suggested looks great! Thanks for sharing that. We were just talking with a friend of mine that we really need that time alone.
    ~thanks~

  • Avatar Christin says:

    First, I love that picture of the coffee with the steam coming up. Nothing sadness goodness like hot coffee!

    I am finding more and more how much I need this. I used to refuse myself this time because I thought it was selfish. But on the contrary, if you’re intentional about how you spend this time, it is far from selfish. It is truly a need for everyone.
    I was stressing bad on Monday. Usually my husband or his mom takes my daughter to her ballet class on Monday evenings while I stay home with my other 4 children. Well, Monday I decided to take her—alone. I left the kids home with my husband (and he bathed them all while I was gone. SUPER DAD!!) And just having 30 minutes to myself with a hot coffee and a book (One Thousand Gifts!) was SOO refreshing! By the time I got home, I was on top of the world (or house). It was amazing.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me (an introvert, to boot), being around 5 children 24/7 is extremely challenging mentally and emotionally. That’s just the truth. That doesn’t mean I don’t like being around my children. I love it! But when you have 3 children 4 and under, whose needs are plentiful and I lack the time/capacity to have a moment to think straight for long periods of time, it can cause some emotional break downs. I don’t think that makes anyone “less of a mom”, I think it makes us human! We can only take so much before we need a break. We get tired, too…not just physically but mentally, emotionally, even spiritually. Training, raising, caring for children is demanding, exhausting, challenging (but extremely rewarding) work.

    It’s just like a job outside the home. Employees need breaks and vacations to step away and refresh. Moms shouldn’t be any different.

    Ok, sorry for the tangent. Ha ha. I just want to encourage other moms that it’s OK to take a break. You are not being selfish and it is not unreasonable. Even God rested on the 7th day. He did that as an example; as “permission” to take a break.

    I have to get out of my house so I don’t focus on all the things I need to be doing during my “retreat”. Starbucks works well for me. 🙂

  • Avatar Kathleen says:

    Wow. I used to be so good at this. But now that my kids are older, I found I didn’t feel the desperate need to get away as often. But, I still miss it. Thanks for reminding me. It makes such a difference when you feel like you are in control of your week, instead of reverse. You’ve given me much to think about. It would feel great to get all those things done in one sitting instead of piece-meal like I’m currently doing.

    I use to tell new moms, “It’s the good mommies who take time to recharge their batteries. Then they have the energy to be what God designed them to be.” I appears I need to take my own advice. 🙂

    Kathleen’s last blog..http://kathleen.peterro.com/?p=1090

  • Avatar Liberty says:

    I needed this puch so much! I have a dedicated prayer time in the morning, which sometimes incorporated a few of your points on Saturday, but I love the looking back to see what’s been accomplished and loking forward to what’s coming!
    Thank you! this post {is goingto } rock my world!
    Blessings!
    LIB

  • Avatar Courtney says:

    Three cheers for a weekly retreat! I love how you put it all together here. My weekly retreats happen sometimes at Starbucks, more often in a specific chair at home during nap time. It depends on the schedule, but I have learned the importance of making SURE I get some time to think straight, get organized, and do things that make me happy. Because you are so right – when Momma is frazzled, the house reflects that.

  • Avatar Sam says:

    Thanks for the reminder! I’ve been thinking about this for a while now and just haven’t brought it up with my husband. I think it will help if we both take a break weekly, that way we can both be refreshed since he works hard and then comes home and does more work around the house and with the kids. And I think this is a great time to start as we will be adding another baby to our house in about a month. And I’m all ready feeling the chaos beginning(mostly due to no energy to keep up on anything and feeling emotionally unstable due to being 35 weeks pregnant).
    Thanks again!

    Oh and when I do get out I love to hit up one of the great little coffee shops in our small town…coffee is a necessity when living in Alaska so they are everywhere(although I drink tea, since I don’t like coffee 🙂

  • Avatar Jennifer says:

    For the Starbucks cofffee lovers, if you bring an empty bag of Starbucks ground coffee, you can trade it in at a Starbucks for a free tall drip coffee. Since we brew Starbucks at home, we have tons of empty bags saved. Now I know when I am going to use them – during my weekly retreat! 🙂

  • You’ve shared some great ideas here! I’ve been practicing the habit of a weekly retreat since the beginning of this year. My wonderful, thoughtful, smart husband suggested Saturday afternoons at the local coffee shop. For less than $5, I enjoy a specialty coffee and big glass of ice water, listen to great background music, have free wi fi, and two or three hours to plan, email, write blog posts, organize my week or (gasp) maybe even just read for a bit. I come home energized, refreshed and ready to tell the coming week, “Bring it on!”.

  • Avatar selena says:

    I need this!!! My Saturday mornings are already work…but I’m trying to change that. Right now I struggle with finding time at all for school, work, blog…etc. I think I need to aim for this “retreat” where I don’t do work per se, but planning.

    Thank you for your wise words. You ROCK!

  • […] Why And How to Take a Weekly Retreat (Inspired to Action – for […]

  • […] Weekly Retreats Each week my mom blesses me with a day away. She takes over mommy duties and I sink into my favorite booth at Panera to write. It. is. glorious. It also helps me to set certain things aside during the week that I know I can get to when that weekly retreat comes around. […]

  • Avatar Laura says:

    Just wanted to say that this post is still helping people over a year later. I googled “weekly planning retreat” and this came up. I am a regular reader of your blog; it’s just good to revisit posts like this when needed.

    My husband is always encouraging me to take some time for myself more frequently because what happens if I don’t is things just blow up and then I NEED to leave (like right now – I’m actually at a coffee shop right now).

    Honestly, I very nearly burst into tears when I read about locking yourself in the bathroom while your kids watch Chuggington reruns. That is SO me. And then I blame myself for getting overwhelmed and not being able to stay on top of things.

    So…thanks. 🙂