Review; &Breathe post-natal retreat
&Breathe post-natal retreat at the Four Seasons, Hampshire
As a mum of 4, you’d have thought I’d have figured out by now that
a) having a baby is F**KING KNACKERING and
b) it’s quite a good plan when you’ve grown and expelled a human from inside you, and had zero hours of decent sleep for months, to occasionally take a little time for yourself and, y’know…..REST A BIT?!
Unfortunately for me - and everyone around me - I am monumentally shit at b)
Doesn’t matter how tired I am, how many ‘not coping’ alarm bells are screeching in my ears, how tearful, grouchy, wrinkled, batshit crazy or unbearable company I get, I just soldier on and on and on and on….until I break.
ROUND OF APPLAUSE PLEASE for being so awesome and smart.
After my 4th baby was born, for the first time in my life I was offered the chance go on a post-natal retreat.
In Morocco. For 4 days. With RELAXING TREATMENTS.
WOAH THERE!! A….retreat? Me?!
With….sun? And healthy, fresh, delicious food and drink?? And massage? And…..REST??!!
Sign me up for twins NOW.
Now, all obvious excitement aside, I need to confess right here that the idea of this kind of thing generally fills me with wincing dread.
Reasons? Oh, let’s see now:
— I loathe ‘organised events’.
— I like ‘organised relaxing’, even less than I like organised events.
— I don’t really like hanging out with other people when I’m trying to relax, whether in an organised way or not. (This is nothing to do with THEM and everything to do with me; I find social situations exhausting, I get anxious, overwhelmed and head-spinny, and I generally just want to sit alone in a corner and watch, rather than participate. I AM FUN!!!)
— I especially don’t like hanging out with other new mums, when I’m trying to get away from being a new mum.
— I hate exercising with other people.
— I hate eating out with lots of people.
— I am quite clearly a miserable antisocial grumpy old cow.
Oh, also….at the point at which I was offered this trip I was too post-natally exhausted to contemplate the idea of going to the effort of going somewhere to recover from post-natal exhaustion.
BUT….the wonderful people at &Breathe Post-natal, who organise and run these retreats, had quite clearly seen all of this before. Together with the kick-ass team at Fliss Hoad PR, they took my hand, and sorted everything out for us; within hours, our flights were booked, transfers sorted, all questions answered, and all fears allayed.
Boom! We were off.
And then…..my baby got ill. Like, super ill. All the flu in the flu-bank got dumped into our house, and we had to take her to get medical attention immediately. And….we had to cancel the trip with only a day to spare.
Let’s just say that guilt levels have rarely been so high. I was SO embarrassed to let them all down after everything they’d done for us. Being post-natally weakened by….erm….everything, I cried. A lot. I’m sure this helped.
Secretly I was kind of relieved; now I wouldn’t have to pretend to enjoy all that enforced relaxation in a room full of other hormonally challenged new mums, probably also crying, and relaxing in an organised way.
I was off the relaxation hook.
And then came the call. Would I like to try the 24-hour retreat in Hampshire, instead?
My baby was better. I had no reason to retreat from the retreat.
I was going to Hampshire. To relax. In an organised way. With other knackered new mums. Excellent news.
And ohhhhh, how glad am I that I did.
It was at the rather posh innit Four Seasons hotel – and I can honestly say that all four of those seasons were on banging form.
From the beautiful landscaped gardens to the exquisite pool, and immaculate bedrooms with idyllic views of the English countryside, this was relaxation I could get on board with.
The retreat itself was far, far less daunting than I’d feared. In fact, it was brilliantly thought out, perfectly executed, and all-round fantastic.
First up, you don’t have to partake in the organised activites.
It’s a retreat, not a prison. WIN ONE
Secondly, the more you DO take part in, the more you get to chat with other parents who, it turns out, are actually very nice, and are generally struggling with all the same things as you are, you can laugh about it all, pick up some tips and share stories of parental failure, and you feel a whole lot better about life in general. WIN TWO.
The exercise classes were cleverly paced for all different levels, so you could take them as easy or hard as you want and not feel like a sweaty, uncoordinated plonker (me, in any exercise class) on the front row or be bored at the back, and there was loads of free time to do whatever you like, from lounging by the huge pool to going for a (very muddy!) run around the stunning grounds, getting in some room service if you couldn’t be bothered to leave the room at all, or just….sleeping. WIN THREE, FOUR AND FIVE!
There was everything we could want for our baby, from gorgeous in-room changing and washing products and facilities to swimming nappies of all sizes, high chairs and baby crockery etc in the restaurant.
There was even a nanny booked for one evening for every person on the retreat, allowing the bar’s gin supply to be well and truly tested out.
For me, however, this was a no-go; I’ve never left any of my children with someone I don’t know very well, and I never want to. That’s just me though. Everyone else on the retreat did use the nanny, and appeared to have a far more enjoyable evening OFF without their babies than I was, letting their knackered hair down, laughing, and making new friends.
I felt more than a tad stupid sitting there with my 4-month-old daughter, breast-feeing her in the cocktail lounge, and then leaving just as the evening got going, like the world’s greatest party pooper, but there it is.
That’s my choice, and one I’m happiest with.
We left feeling truly relaxed, even after only one night away. Just the CHANGE was a huge bonus, the facilities were incredible, the whole thing so well organised (yes, organised AND fun!) and having our first swim with our baby was something we’ll never forget.
Huge thank you to all at &Breathe for forcing me to face my social fears, and actually LET GO for 24 hours. It was heaven, and did me the world of good.
If you want to find out about the &Breathe 24-hour retreats, which now also run at several other selected luxury properties around the UK, click HERE.