It’s been eleven months since my baby was born. It’s been an emotional roller coaster, but it’s been an incredible journey at the same time. Life has been pretty busy and hectic, so it’s no wonder I’ve been craving some me time for quite some time.
My pre-baby carefree life seems like a distant memory now that I’ve become a mum. Do you remember those days off when you could do absolutely nothing? If that’s your way of relaxation. Those trips to the cinema, shopping trips, those date nights you used to have with your partner, it’s all fast forgotten when you become a first time mum.
There is suddenly someone else who has higher priorities than your own needs. Your focus and responsibility shift in a whole new direction. It’s so easy for us mums to forget about ourselves. We don’t have time to take a shower sometimes, never mind having time for the perfect mum retreat.
At first, even basic human needs such as food becomes a treat. Who’s got a time for cooking and eating when you have a newborn? Sleep, what the heck is that? Seriously, who has time to sleep or take a daytime nap with your baby, when there are a million things you need to do around the house, like the never ending washing and ironing cycle.
Grandparents to the rescue, …or not?
Having a baby abroad means there is no help from grandparents, no luxury of being able to call them when I’m exhausted when I want a minute to catch a breath.
Yes, it does get better with time. Or maybe you just become more resilient and accustomed to your current situation. Nevertheless, you still need a time for yourself. Even if it’s just a couple of hours now and then.
And I’m not talking about the time when my partner takes the little one out for a bit. That’s when I usually try to catch up on some housework. No, that’s definitely not my idea of me time. Even if I do get a chance to put my feet up, read a book, or something of that kind, I’m still in the same everyday surroundings, and I know that they can be back anytime.
Yes, it’s still helpful but…
I’m talking about the times when you can switch off completely. For me, that’s usually when visiting my family in Slovakia. This time we are staying almost four weeks. I really get spoilt rotten when I visit my parents. No cooking or housework to do. Because my mum doesn’t see me very often, she always cooks my favourite dishes. Grandparents are always happy to take my baby out for a walk.
What’s more, now that my baby eat solid foods and is no longer breastfed, I can even leave her for more than just a couple of hours. She no longer relies on me to be fed. Few months ago, my first attempt at leaving her with grandparents didn’t end well. I had to run back home when my mum called me telling me she doesn’t want to feed from a bottle. So, it’s an entirely different story now that she is older and more independent.
Even few hours without a baby makes a huge difference
You don’t need a full day (although I’d lie if I said it wouldn’t be nice) to re-energise your body and mind. 3-4 hours of child-free time and environment are a great start.
I couldn’t wait to enjoy those few hours of special treat that my brother-in-law gave my sister and me at our local wellness centre. So, that’s a wellness centre, and no babies involved? Yes pleeeease. We jumped at the opportunity when he and my mum offered to babysit our babies.
It felt a bit strange to leave my baby behind, but I also couldn’t wait to just enjoy few quiet hours in a pool and sauna without having to chase after an eleven-month-old and watching her every move to avoid any falls and accidents waiting to happen when the little explorers become mobile.
I don’t even remember when was the last time I’ve been to a wellness centre. I’m not a massive fan, I have to say, but this time, oh yes, I made the most of it. Finnish sauna, eucalyptus sauna, salt steam sauna, Jacuzzi, all set in a calming environment, it just felt so great and so refreshing. Just to be able to sit there, doing absolutely nothing and forget for a second about the everyday worries and struggles. The only thing that could really top it off for me would be a nice long massage. But that will have to wait till my next mum retreat. Or till I get back to the UK and get a massage from my partner. He’s pretty good at it too.
Now back to our current wellness treat. Yes, your baby is still there at the back of your mind. You wonder whether they will be okay without you.
But guess what? When we returned home all was okay. Babysitters survived in one piece, babies were happy too. In fact, when I went to see my daughter, she didn’t even bother to come and greet me. She was so busy having fun with others around. I wasn’t sure at that moment whether that’s good or bad thing. But any mixed feelings were soon replaced with feelings of relief that I can now leave her with someone else without feeling guilty about it.
So, that was the perfect mum retreat for me, my first since my baby was born. As I said, all it took was around four hours away from my day-to-day environment.
It doesn’t really matter what you do during your me time. You don’t have to visit a wellness centre. It can be as simple as catching up with your friend or taking a long walk at your local park. Whatever makes you happy and relaxed will do.
If you can get the help of your family, partner or a friend to look after your baby, then I suggest you make the most of that time. It will make you feel more present and focused again. You will feel like you can face the challenges of motherhood yet again, with more energy and a newfound sparkle.
What would be your perfect mum retreat? How do you recharge your energy, when the life gets tough?