The Mama Retreat

My preferred project organization (unfortunately)

What about the above photo is incompatible with life spent among three small children?

Answer: everything.

So, it began this way: when we arrived home from our U.K. trip in mid-summer, I started to think seriously about weaning. I was waffling on whether I wanted to end things entirely or continue on with nap time and bedtime nursing, because it’s so darn convenient. But J encouraged me to go ahead and wean fully, and I knew I was going to need some motivation. I remembered coming across an Instagram post in which a mother had taken a weekend away at a hotel to plan her homeschool year, and a dream was born.

With an August weekend set aside for a getaway, I had the motivation I needed to finish the job of weaning, and I could savor the last weeks of summer knowing that I’d have uninterrupted time to spread out and concentrate on putting together our school year.

Introvert dinner.

There was a lot of prep work involved to make the best of my time. I had to find an inexpensive Airbnb because, without a second car, I’d be stranded wherever I set up. I had to meal plan, bake and cook the things I’d be taking with me, unless I wanted to rely on an unknown kitchen. I also borrowed A Mother’s Rule of Life from a friend to review it and rethink my plan in light of three children. I gathered up planning supplies and texts I felt like I needed more time to review. I allotted my second (and last evening) for a tiny planning/dinner party with friends with whom I form a Tiny Catholic Co-op.

Admiring chicory on a walk

I am a pretty classic introvert, and with one thing and another, I hadn’t spent a night by myself since 2014. So to say I was excited is an understatement. I was elated — at least until I clambered out of the van with my bags amidst the girls’ evident distress and confusion. Still, because J is an excellent husband and an outstanding papa, he encouraged me to push through my doubts and I could fall asleep that night confident that everyone could handle my absence.

It was a fruitful time, and not long enough for me to tire of the solitude, but periodically I remembered that for many people this luxurious aloneness, unmitigated by a bustling, snuggly family, morphs into loneliness. I learned that I talk to myself constantly now, after years of narrating everyday life to littles. I remembered that if I sleep straight through the night, I will wake up with a bursting bladder but a clear mind, and that if I’m cooking without other people in the house, I’m probably going to burn something.

I found when I had a weekend to fill as I will that what I long for is orderly routine. It’s a difficult but not impossible goal for a house full of little people, and so I’ve doubled down on trying to set up a thoughtful school year schedule, buoyed through the interruptions by the renewal I experienced in my retreat weekend.

It’s not possible for every woman every year, as budgets and life phases fluctuate, but it’s clearly an idea that makes many moms wistful. It’s the best gift I’ve given myself in years, and one I hope you can find a chance to discover for yourself, too.

My lunatic fellow retreatant

One thought on “The Mama Retreat

  1. This was such a genius idea! I often lament the lack of pupil-less homeschool teacher planning days, but a retreat is even better.


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