Why Mothers Need A Yearly Revolution (aka Retreat)

By February 8, 2013General

Turn around, bright eyes...photo credit

(I’m buried in speech prep for a couple conferences I have coming up this weekend and next, but I wanted to share with you a habit I’ve developed that has had a HUGE impact on me. A yearly retreat. I usually take mine in the Spring. Perhaps it’s time to start planning one of your own?)

Why You Need a Revolution

Revolution: a full rotation; a turning around.

When we have any sort of new beginning, a new baby, a new move, a new year, we often start off with good intentions and focus.

But like a blindfolded child playing pin the tail on the donkey, it’s easy to get turned around and headed in the wrong direction.

We need regular time of revolution, turning around, to refocus our eyes, hearts and actions back to Jesus and the narrow yet grand purpose to which He has called us.

We need the opportunity to take the blindfold off, see where we’ve come and make sure we are headed in the right direction.

For me, these times of revolution come during a yearly retreat.

Why You Need To Own It

CEO’s take them. Pastor’s take them. Football stars take them. God does too.

Whether you call it a vacation, sabbatical, time out or Sunday, it’s clear that EVERYONE needs time to step back, evaluate, rest, redirect and recharge.

Mothers are no different.

It’s not selfish. It’s not extravagant.

It’s necessary.

We need to unclutter our lives just as much as we unclutter the toys from our minivan.

Picture It With Me

28:365Photo credit

Imagine.

Imagine sleeping in.

Imagine the quietness to truly listen.

Imagine rest that refreshes.

Imagine time for vision.

Imagine stepping back from your balancing act long enough to let the unimportant things fall and the important ones rise.

Imagine the freedom of finally realizing we only need to juggle 3 things and not 12.

Imagine having a simple, focused plan.

Imagine your own yearly personal revolution.

Squash Excuses

I know there are probably a gazillion reasons why you can’t have a yearly retreat running through your head.

I’m here to squash them. In love.

    Β 

  • We don’t have the money.
  • You don’t have to have your retreat this weekend. It could be in a couple months and you could save $50 for one night at a small hotel.
    Also? Friends houses are free. Offer to host a friends’ retreat one weekend and then they can host yours the next.
    .Β 

  • I don’t have the time.
  • You are never too busy for things that are important.Β 

  • My husband couldn’t handle the kids.
  • Yes he can. Besides, he can practice. Or, again, you can swap weekends with a friend and watch each other’s kids.Β 

  • I’ve never been away from the kids.
  • All the more reason…

My point is that it’s only an excuse if you believe it. Otherwise, it’s simply an obstacle to plan around.

Why You Need To Believe It’s Possible

So do you believe it’s important? Do you believe that it’s worth it? Do you believe that you need it?

Then come back on Monday and we’ll plan it. Where to go, what to do and how to make it happen. Our revolution.

Action Time: Have you ever taken a retreat? Tell us about it.

Or…

What is keeping you from having a yearly retreat? How can you overcome that obstacle?

Leave a Comment

Comments

62 Comments

  • christa says:

    I do get away, probably more than most, even though sometimes a little work is wrapped in, too. However, one of the best things I’ve done – and will repeat soon – is driving a couple hours away with a dear friend to a prayer retreat center, run by Catholic priests, where we spent 24 hours in silent retreat. For around $80, we had private rooms (simple, clean, comfy, no TVs or phones), green grounds to walk, quiet reading & Chapel areas, and 3 delicious meals prepared by the priests. My friend and I talked on the way there and during meals…otherwise, it was quiet time with the Father, reading, napping, thinking, journaling…no excuses. πŸ™‚

    You’re right – such an opportunity for grace and re-strengthening.

  • I haven’t had a retreat, but I’m increasingly feeling the need for one. My biggest excuse is leaving my kids. I have control “issues” I suppose. πŸ˜‰ I would love just a couple of days away alone to rest and recharge my batteries. You’ve definitely given me something to think about.

  • Kristi says:

    I’ve done a getaway with some girlfriends before. College bff’s that live states apart. We got together in a cabin and had a little retreat. (and a spa day at a quaint spa). This was all pre-kids. We need to plan again soon! I loved the chance to journal and sit in peace!

    • Kat says:

      Kristi,
      Planning it with other people certainly helps ensure that it really happens. And if you included a local friend, it makes it easier on the husbands too. They have a little support group. πŸ™‚ I’ve taken my past two retreats with a friend and it’s been great.

  • I’ve never taken a retreat from my 2yo and husband — but it’s becoming increasingly clear that my husband and I need a retreat too. As wonderful as being a parent is, I also work from home and my mind is in gear as long as I’m awake — so it would be very nice to just unplug for a while and not have to constantly be thinking about the 15 tasks I should be doing!

  • Sarah says:

    After 5 years of being a SAHM (with no family in town or a babysitter mind you) I took a break to myself. It wasn’t a vacation with my husband or a vacation to myself either, it was more of a forced “I-need-a-moment-of-clairty!” I drove 8 hours to a family house in a town I grew up. The same place we visit as a family several times a year, but this time it was different. I transformed it, or it transformed me. I was alone – no kids, no husband – just me and my dogs for 4 days. During this time I re-evaluated my personal goals as an individual. I made decisions for MYSELF, not being completely selfish or discounting the other members of my family — but without feeling obligated to compromise. I took some very big steps with confidence and they were probably the best decisions I’ve made in a long time…. I was in need of redirection.

    • Kat says:

      Yay, Sarah! It’s so great to hear stories like that. I think it encourages other moms to really see how valuable it is. I’m so glad you got that time to recharge!

  • Christin says:

    The first time I’d ever taken a retreat since I became a mom almost 9 years ago was at Relevant last year. That’s my retreat. At the time I didn’t plan on it being a yearly thing for me. I considered it a blessing and miracle I even got to go once.

    But after being home a few weeks after the conference, I quietly brought up the possibility of doing it again, and even perhaps yearly, and my husband was all for it. Like you stated, he believes I need it.

    So, that’s my retreat. πŸ™‚

  • Anne says:

    I am still nursing, so I’m not doing an overnight quite yet, but I try to do a “mini-retreat” every 6-8 weeks. I’m in a pretty intense stage of parenting right now and I really need the time away to clear my head. I’m a much better woman, wife and mom when I have regular solitude!

    “You are never too busy for things that are important.” So true! We had to axe a lot of stuff from our schedules when we had our fourth child. Those tough decisions helped me see what I valued the most. Because if it’s truly a Most Important Thing, I can find a place for it in my life.

    Looking forward to the follow-up posts you have planned!

    • Kat says:

      Anne,
      Really, your name (I love Anne of Green Gables) and the name of your blog (I love P&P too) are just perfect. Clearly, we are kindred spirits…

      I think it’s amazing that you have the decisiveness to have a mini-retreat in this season of motherhood. It’s the season when moms get so burnt out but also feel so needed that they “can’t” get away. I’ve been there.

      Good for you…and your family!

    • Valerie says:

      Anne, can you tell me how you take a “mini-retreat” for nursing mothers? I need this!

      • Anne says:

        Valerie, this is going to be underwhelming. I’ve had friends go away for a night or two while nursing and they just pumped, but for me that seems like way too much hassle for what I’d get out of it! (Also the pumping thing has not worked so well for me.) So I keep it really simple–I deck out my bedroom–which is a favorite peaceful place for me–with my materials (books, files, paper, pens, music mostly) and send my older children to a friend’s.

        Then I have my mom or husband keep the baby and they bring him to me at feeding time–THAT is what makes it possible. I don’t do overnight–but about an 8-hour-day is pretty amazing for my sense of well-being!

      • Valerie says:

        I see. Thank you! That is genius. Where is this idea in all the mommy books???

  • I took a retreat last year. Actually my husband planned it. The circumstances were pretty serious at the time, though. I had just been put on medical leave from a very stressful job I had been at for 2 years, due to stress, anxiety and depression. I had been on full-steam ahead for months. My stress was not so much my kids (however they ARE older teens!) as it was my job. Hubby rented a place for a week in historic Savannah, drove down with me, helped me get settled, stayed one night and then left me to be all alone. It was awesome!
    I love how you squashed the excuses. Your world will not fall apart over 24 hours, but YOU might if you don’t take it!
    Bernice

    • Kat says:

      Bernice,
      What a WONDERFUL husband you have!!! Go give him a hug.

      And a whole week in historic Savannah? That sounds incredible. I hope it did wonders for you.

      “Your world will not fall apart over 24 hours, but YOU might if you donÒ€ℒt take it!” Brilliant.

  • I’m always hesitant to do this…for several reasons:
    #1) The overwhelming “I need me time” or “it’s all about me” focus of general society (hold on…wait for my conclusion πŸ™‚
    #2) I’m afraid of the overwhelming state my home may be in when I return (finding myself asking…is it really worth it?)
    #3) My guy works REALLY long hours without the possibility of a retreat (so I feel guilty about adding more to his plate…almost feels unkind).
    #4) We have some “special needs” issue within our crew (nothing major, but it’s still not easy to pass the baton to someone else without feeling like the kiddo(s) may suffer).
    #5) I savor the time when we have a break as a family (and have a hard time transferring possible “family time” to my own “retreat time”).
    #6) I truly enjoy our crew (and get sad about letting go of those precious moments–we lost a child a while ago–and I think it make me even a little more careful about how we spend our time).
    #7) If I’m going to go somewhere–I feel like that time with my guy is a higher priority (if that’s on the back-burner…it’s hard to take time out for a personal retreat).

    All that said—I also think these recollecting, reflecting, refreshing times are a MUST. And it helps me to realize it doesn’t always have to mean BIG or LONG retreats (though right now I really need one :).
    I agree with you Kat–that even with all the reasons not to do this–the benefits between me and the Lord, me and my husband, me and the kiddos…outweigh all the negatives.

    Starts small maybe if you struggle with this like I do–just the freedom to take a nice, long, quiet walk…the most I’ve ever done is a night away…but everyone (not just me) ends up a little healthier and thankful any time I do make this a priority.

    • Kat says:

      Yes, yes and yes!

      It definitely doesn’t have to be huge. We’re all in different seasons, stages and personality levels.

      Being an introvert I LOVE the alone time. But for you, a retreat WITH your husband might be the kind of retreat you need, with a couple hours alone to pray and plan.

      Or perhaps a few hours away while on a family vacation.

      I love your input because the goal of my series is to help moms realize what they need. And not everyone needs the same sort of retreat. It all depends on your personality, family situation and life stage.

      The ultimate goal is just to make sure we’re continually refocusing our eyes and hearts on Jesus, whether that’s from a cabin in the woods or our own back porch.

      Thanks Kara for sharing your heart!

  • Katie says:

    This is so timely for me. I have been pregnant and/or nursing for the last 3 years and just weaned my baby girl about a month and a half ago. We are taking a little time out before our next little one so I have been thinking about taking a night or two away to refresh. I haven’t spent more than 4 hours away from my littlest since she was born (except during an evening if we go on a date while she sleeps). I. Am. So. Ready. Thank you for this, Kat!!! I can’t wait to hear what you have to say on Wednesday!

    • Kat says:

      Katie,
      It sounds like you’re at just the stage I was when I took my first retreat. I hope you’re able to make it happen!

  • Suzie says:

    When I took this photo, I was just enjoying the day.

  • I love retreats! Sadly I haven’t taken one for many years. I had two children back to back but since this year baby number three will be weaned, I’m letting my hubby know that the only thing I want for Mother’s Day this year is time. His time, taking care of our children and time for me to be refreshed.

    Thanks for the inspiration Kat!

  • Joyce says:

    Our church’s women’s ministry is organizing a half-day retreat…there will be some group time but there is also some time for ourselves. I think that is perfect for me.

    “ItÒ€ℒs not selfish. ItÒ€ℒs not extravagant. ItÒ€ℒs necessary.”
    I love that. I think as mothers if we wear ourselves out, that is no good for anyone. When we take time out for ourselves, whether it’s a few minutes or hours, it can be a great thing for our family…because when we come back we will be more refreshed. I know I cherish my family more when I spend a little time away (which for the last 4 years hasn’t been more than 4 hrs :p at a time)..we all miss each other a little, and it’s great finding out what we each did while I was away.

    • Kat says:

      Joyce,
      That’s just brilliant that your church is doing a retreat with time set aside for solitude. So many “retreats” are just so busy that we’re often worn out by the time it’s over.

      I hope you have a great time!

  • Joy says:

    Last October, I left my kids and hubby for 2 nights (a first!) and made my way to gorgeous Cavendish, Prince Edward Island. I rented a little cabin by the beach and spent practically the entire retreat outside, revelling in the soul-filling beauty of the ocean and the autumn colours. I don’t really know how to describe the impact of this retreat, but suffice it to say that it was life-changing. I had no idea just how empty I had become, spiritually and emotionally. While I agree with the comments here regarding the dangers of the “me first” mentality, this rare choice to take care of my own needs was one I do not regret. I know it’s cliche, but if we don’t get filled up occasionally, we’ll be left with nothing to give in the long run. A yearly retreat? Highly recommended!

    • Kat says:

      Joy,
      PEI?!!! Oh, that’s a dream of mine. I’m trying to indoctrinate my daughters with Anne of Green Gables so that I can plan a mother daughter trip there when they’re a bit older.

      I imagine it was just amazing!

      • PEI sounds dreamy!

        I am also planning to indoctrinate my girls with Anne of Green Gables and take them on a mother daughter trip there. It’s been in the cards since my first was very young. Can’t wait until it actually happens!

  • MicheleK says:

    I already have my first mommy overnighter planned for mid-May! Another inexpensive place is to check with a nearby convent. I am not Catholic, but the Benedictine Sisters near us rent out rooms or little cabins for $28 for a full day (no overnight) , $45 for an overnight and you bring your own food, up to $68 for an overnight with meals.
    I agree ladies … hard to get away… critical to get away!
    Blessings to you all!

  • Lauren says:

    I already have a vacation planned with my girlfriends this summer. I’d love to do more than just sit on the beach, though. All of the women going are married and/or mothers, so I’m hoping we can all spend some time learning from each other and growing in a more spiritual sense. But I’m not exactly sure how to make that happen, so I’m looking forward to the “what to do” on Wednesday.

  • I am just catching up after our cross country move but I had to say Amen, Amen and Amen to this! I have a military husband so sometimes my ‘retreat’ is when he is gone and both kids are at sleepovers. We women are creative creatures and we need this.

  • Susan Herold says:

    I go in the fall. One of my favorite seasons. Even with two kids with birthdays in September and the school routine starting and all the other obstacles you can think of. It is really not negotiable. (Well, last year I didn’t go.) But I already have my reservation this fall at my favorite place to relax. Fort Wilderness in McNaughton, WI. Nature all around you, a nice cabin, food prepared for you, great coffee, great company and always excellent Biblical teaching. My favorite place is the swing that is right on the edge of the lake and morning hikes watching the sun come up. (Yeah, I usually don’t know how to sleep in until the 3rd day when we are leaving.) Now you got me excited for Fall! : )

  • Valerie says:

    This is a good repost that I think a lot of women need to read. Even before I became a mom I went on a yearly vacation with my girlfriends. We usually do some sort of volunteer work for one of the five days we are away. The rest of the time, I lay on the beach with a margarita or mojito in hand and RELAX. I have continued to go away every year with the same girlfriends (this makes year 10) and try to plan mini-getaways with them throughout the year as well (we live in different states). I need this to recharge me in every way- as a mom, a woman, a wife, an employee.

    On the other side of the coin, my husband goes away for a golf outing every year with all of his friends and takes mini camping vacations throughout the year.

    Now we are finally ready to get away together and leave our 2 year old at home while we take an adult only vacation. Where should we go!!??!!??

  • Kelli says:

    I FINALLY took sort of one this past Nov. I flew down to Vancouver Island to stay with my SIL and hubby but I had to take the baby Bc I was still nursing. That was fine because he’s the neurotypical one and an absolute joyful blessing to everyone he sees. The autistics stayed home with Daddy πŸ™‚ I LOVED it and actually had a much harder time once back because it just wasn’t long enough and I had NO desire to go back to the grind πŸ™
    However this year I am determined to go alone! And I quite often think of just driving 5 min away to a hotel for a night to eat, sleep and THINK by myself πŸ™‚ I think I’ll do that this spring. The convent getaways sound divine! Wish I had that option around here.

    • Kat Lee says:

      Kelli,
      That’s how mine usually were. I just got a hotel room a few minutes from my house. It wasn’t fancy, just intentional and so refreshing… Hope you are able to make it happen for you this year!

  • Beth says:

    I am really thinking I need this, and I need it AWAY from the house because even when I try to steal some “me” time at home, there is always something to take care of. I did go with my sister last year to the e-women conference and it was 2 days with God and women and it was great (and going again this year). I wish there had been some down time to really have time for clarity. We also have a girls weekend every year with some close friends, not much down time either but a great way to recharge! (our weekend included lots of fun but I was also pleased it included some calm dinners, ALL 9 of us went to church and many of us went on morning runs).

    Now I just need to put one on the calendar for me alone!! Thanks for the inspiration and the push!

    • Kat Lee says:

      You’re welcome Beth! Honestly, I think planning “down time” is the hardest part because we are so geared to DO things. We often feel like resting and re-envisioning isn’t worth our efforts or that it is a want rather than a need. I pray you get it on your calendar and that it is a powerful time for you!

  • Michelle Good says:

    Kat I hope your speeches are coming along good! I’m not sure how you have time for all that and stalk my house too! πŸ™‚

    I finally got up the courage to email this lady in my small group and ask if she would be willing to mentor me. Still had no idea what that would like when I sent the email. 2 days later you posted your blog about finding a mentor. It really helped clarify my goals for this relationship so thank you!

    And then my husband took the kids to his mom’s for 4 days and it’s just me and dog at home (moment of pause for the envious sighs πŸ™‚ ). Again still not sure how I would utilize this time, but grateful for it. Then you posted about the yearly retreat my first day solo! Going to read “ahead” on the ideas of what to do on my retreat and do those tomorrow.

    God is really using you Kat..thank you for being His servant!

    • Kat Lee says:

      Michelle,
      How funny! God just knows what we need…

      And I use video surveillance… πŸ™‚ I pray it was a restful and refreshing weekend for you!

  • Laura says:

    I take two retreats and look forward to them every year. I have always taken one to visit my Grandmother after Christmas with my Mother. My Grandmother lives alone in the country and looks forward to our visit as much as we do! I’ve started taking a yearly silent retreat at a Montserrat church locally too. It has been amazing. They really make you a much better mother to get away and recharge.

  • Amy says:

    I hadn’t planned it as a retreat, but it became one to me, and I was blessed by our Women’s Conference and hearing you speak today! I really am a bit speechless about the whole experience of learning you are local and gaining such wisdom from your words. You are a true inspiration.

    “Jesus is My Matchbook” Go for it. πŸ™‚

    • Kat Lee says:

      Amy,
      I’m so glad you were blessed by the conference. Our church never ceases to amaze me. Such a blessing.

      Oh yeeeah…Jesus is my Matchbook. Love it!

  • Liz says:

    I like what Anne had to say about taking mini retreats if you have very small or nursing babies. I did go see a movie once since our baby was born last March. Do you have any other ideas for recreating in a limited amount of time?

  • Amy says:

    Every few months we have a mini prayer retreat at our church on Saturday mornings from 7 am to 10 am. We start with 15 minutes of worship songs together, then we gather for the last 15 minutes to share anything we want about our time alone with God. The rest of the time we are by ourselves anywhere inside the church or outside. It costs no money and is so unbelievably refreshing.

  • Missy says:

    The time I spend renewing my mind, I find, is as valuable if it’s for 8 hours as if it’s been 4 days. Sometimes, just the act of unplugging and being alone for a few short hours is all the mini-retreat I need. Other times, I need the full, go away overnite experience to get my mind into a state of solitude. I’m so glad you are encouraging this in us mamas, Kat. It is vital. And I’m thinking even of Jesus “getting away to pray, alone.”

    • Kat Lee says:

      Missy,
      I agree, even a few hours can be so refreshing! Wow. I don’t even know what I’d do with 4 days! πŸ™‚

      Good point about Jesus modeling times of retreat…

  • charity says:

    Every year my husband takes the kids to his parents leaving me in our home -alone – for a long weekend. It’s virtually free, the kids get fed & loved by grandma, he gets to watch sports all weekend – I have the house to myself to write, plan, pray, listen, wait, accomplish purposeful things and projects I might not otherwise be able to do.

  • Heather says:

    Kat, is it recommended that this retreat be done alone without other women?

    • Kat Lee says:

      Heather,
      I think anything will work just fine as long as you’re able to get some intentional time alone with God to journal and pray and listen. It really depends on your situation and personality. An extrovert will possibly need less time to process. An introvert might thrive with extra alone time.

  • What a great idea, you are so right in all the points you covered. Yes there can be a lot of guilt in leaving the kids, yes there is the fear that maybe my husband as great as he is wouldn’t be able to quite manage but I could do with some time out. I think it’s time to start planning my yearly retreat, thanks for sharing.

    Fitnessbuster supporting you in improving your fitness and nutrition.

  • Dawn says:

    This is SO good. I’ve thought about this often, but, as my family and I (including 2 small ones) get ready to move overseas for a season, I (and my husband) are realizing that it is CRUCIAL for me to get away for a time. Not that it’s a surprise, but moving overseas takes an enormous amount of preparation and emotional energy and high-stress as your baseline can only go on for so long before sometime gives. Whew! My husband and I are sitting down tonight to put dates on the calendar for each of us to have a retreat … yeah! Thx so much for sharing.

  • AnaLisa says:

    Oh thats exactly what I need!!! I am in NEED of one forsure….I don’t get much alone time or anything like that..sometimes a girl has gotta have some πŸ™‚

    Love your encouragement!! Thanks!!
    -AnaLisa @ analisascorner.com

  • […] line: Everyone needs a break.Β As Kat says, “It’s not selfish. It’s not extravagant. It’s […]

  • […] remember: a friend’s house is free. As Kat mentions, you could always trade hosting retreats with a […]

  • […] baby-toddler stages,Β  a solo overnight trip seems shrouded with obstacles. However, I love what Kat says about such obstacles: you just plan around […]

  • Sandy says:

    This is a great idea. I was wondering if anyone has come across some sort of resource to use in the planning time. I’m so burnt out that I can’t even think straight sometimes, so I’m slightly afraid to take the time away, but not even know what to do! Thanks!