Why do we feel so guilty for taking a break? We’re meant to parent like we don’t work and work like we’re not a parent. Squeeze in self-care, self-love, socialising, fun with friends, therapies, homework, sports, play dates, exercise, shopping, cooking, cleaning, family time, special occasions, another business on the side, social media and work towards actually achieving life-long dreams and goals. Add on all the additional stresses of an autism family, no wonder we occasionally need a break but still feel guilty for it. Go figure.
Super Dad and I were kindly offered and encouraged to attend a proper respite retreat. To escape, unwind and unplug for an entire weekend of health and wellness. Consisting of yoga, meditation, massages, plant-based food, no coffee, no alcohol, no tv and no phones or social media.
This type of getaway is something we’ve talked about and always wanted to do. It was like the universe knew exactly what we needed. We were overextended and exhausted, so the timing could not have been better.
Our regular respite usually includes food, alcohol, friends, occasions, exercise and time restraints. This was all about us, health, wellness and healing for a whole weekend.
We’ve never completely unplugged before, so this was a first on many levels. We were hesitant but needed to give ourselves permission to have a break from life and society to rest and restore.
We recruited Grandma and Grandad to stay at our house to look after the kids and left three pages of notes and instructions with emergency contact numbers if needed. We also organised for their support worker take them to basketball, so Grandma & Grandad weren’t too overwhelmed, and the kids weren’t missing out on their routine. A great opportunity for everyone to grow in further independence.
Often, it’s only one parent that gets to have a break at a time. We were extremely grateful for this opportunity to recharge at the same time together and are well-aware of how blessed we are to have the support for this to be possible.
We don’t stop, ever, but we did. We stopped.
Initially, it was hard to switch off, but gradually over the weekend we began to feel more relaxed. We’ve never experienced anything like it. It’s one thing to do a mediation session every now and then, It’s a whole other story committing to an entire weekend.
We engaged in various meditation, yoga and healing techniques in different rooms and environments with an array of passionate professionals. Stretching, relaxing our muscles, clearing our pathways, calming our minds, connecting our bodies, focusing on all the positives, and leaving all the negatives behind.
We nourished our bodies with nutritious food and didn’t feel hungry at all.
We usually wouldn’t go to sleep before 12am, but we were in bed at 9:30 the first night and then 7:30pm.
It was refreshing to embrace an extended break from my phone. It’s never far away from my hand and our tv is always on. They were out of reach, out of sight and out of mind. A specific goal for me moving forward will be reducing my screen time, limiting phone, tv and excess computer use.
I admit to still writing while we were away, but journalling was encouraged. The thoughts were flowing, turning wounds into wisdom.
We can’t go back to that crazy. Our lifestyle is not sustainable. We need to take the lessons we’ve learned, set healthy boundaries and apply them to our lives.
We’re now already going to bed earlier, eating healthier, setting boundaries, reassessing priorities and feeling calmer and more at peace.
My cup was empty and now it’s full. The true test will be maintaining it.
Maybe we don’t need to be everything for everyone all the time, maybe sometimes, I can just be me. We need to take a break, so we can be the best that we can be for our kids.
Special thanks to Rob and all the team for inspiring us and looking after us so well. We’re rested and restored.