A beautiful house overlooking the ocean, the sound of waves rolling in and out on the beach below, seagulls flying by and 2 blissful days to just stop and think about who I am, where I’m going and what I want to be. This was the retreat I had to have.
Breakdowns and break throughs
I left my family last weekend. It was something I’d been secretly fantasising about doing for a long time, and you know something’s wrong when that happens. Not because I don’t love them. I love them too much probably. But because I needed something for me. Since my daughter was born two and a half years ago we’ve been together almost constantly, she comes to meetings with me, she comes to the bathroom with me, she sleeps in my bed, she eats my dinner – you get the picture. And I love that, anyone who has a toddler can probably relate, I love being so close to her and being able to have so much time with her every day. It’s beautiful and I’m so grateful to have this gorgeous daughter that I always wished for.
But lately I’ve been feeling burnt out and like I’m never getting any down time. My husband has been working weekends and 6 weeks of school holidays has been exhausting and has made achieving any ‘work’ on my business a whole lot harder.
I travelled with work recently to Brisbane and Sydney, and although I had a break from my family responsibilities, I spent the whole time working, with such long days that by day 3 I’d ended up in bed with a debilitating migraine. At this point I knew something had to change and that to continue like this would not be helpful for my family, my business or my health.
Turns out I’m not alone, a recent study found that 88% of working mums suffer stress-related health problems. One of the respondents said: “We’re living in a “half-changed world” – women have many more professional opportunities than did the last generation, but our importance as mothers and wives and to ourselves has not been taken into account.”
Interestingly the survey asked people what was the hardest part about being a working parent. Not surprisingly, “Guilt that I can’t do everything well” was the top answer with 41% saying this was the hardest thing, outranking, not enough time to themselves (16%), with their kids (24%) or with their partners (5%).
And for me this couldn’t be more true. Even though I knew logically I needed a break for my own health, the conflicting emotions and feelings of guilt about leaving my family for 2 nights on an un-work-related trip were intense, upsetting and overwhelming.
I opened up about how I was feeling in the AusMumpreneur Network private facebook group and the outpouring of support from the members was incredible. I’m certainly not the only one who battles with this and opening up and talking about how I was feeling really helped me deal with this and gave me the courage to stick with my decision to go.
The real breakthrough for me though, came while I was at the retreat itself. Our mindfulness teacher and psychologist Therese was talking about flight or fight and how often the emotions and feelings that we have are not necessarily always conscious decisions but primal instincts that have been a part of our DNA for thousands of years. Suddenly it made sense to me, the fear and emotions I felt around leaving my baby behind, was my minds way of keeping us safe; a strong maternal instinct to care for my baby in action. But once I realised what it was, and that it was just my concern for my baby to be safe as mothers have done and been programmed to do for thousands of years, I was able to reassure myself that she was completely and totally fine and that I was completely and totally fine too. So simple, yet so
and a powerful lesson in not giving in to the irrational thoughts and feelings that hold us back by trying to keep us safe in some way.
Slowing down, focusing on the breath and letting go of unhelpful thoughts were just some of the activities we did over the weekend to help us be more mindful. We had a really lovely mindful walk, which involved not talking to anyone else, slowing right down to almost stand still and taking small gentle steps along the beach. I’m a fast walker so to make myself go that slowly was difficult at first but once I got past that and got into the rhythm of slowing down it was amazing and I began noticing the smallest of details around me, the shadows made by seaweed on the sand, the wallabies in the hills beside the beach, the colours and textures of the rocks, the sound of the waves, the smell of the salt air, the teeny tiny crabs scurrying past me.
I’d really recommend considering a retreat or an event in another city where you can relax and focus on yourself and your needs for a few days, it has been such a wonderful experience for me and I’m already looking forward to planning our #AusMumtribe Retreat. There’s so much more I could write about of what I learnt, how I felt, the karaoke and ukuleles, the meditations, the connections, the business planning and the beautiful people I spent the weekend with but I must get back to getting things ready for our upcoming 28 day challenge which starts soon!
Let me know in the comments below if you think you’d love to come on a retreat with us sometime soon too.