Have a Relaxing Break – With Baby Talk to any new mum, especially first time round, and the universal chorus – after the ‘bundle of joy’ overture – is ‘I’d no idea it would be so exhausting’, Rhian Hepple, mother of 14-month old Dylan, explains,‘When they’re born, you feel responsible 24/7 and you just can’t take a break. Then as they get older, you have more and more things to do, like teaching them to eat – and clearing up your lovingly pureed food when they throw it on the floor....’
Spending a weekend with Dylan at Mamaheaven mother-and-baby yoga retreat was ‘a life-changing experience’ for Rhian. ‘It was wonderful to find a place where I could be with my baby – so no separation anxiety – but also have a bit of peace and space for me.’ Like many super-conscientious new mothers, Rhian had been putting her own needs far down her long ‘To Do’ list. ‘I forgot I still matter. The most important thing I learned at Mamaheaven was that it’s OK to take time out form being a mum now and again and that doesn’t mean you are a bad mum. Being constantly on demand as a parent is very exhausting. Doing some yoga or reading a book for an hour can make you feel human again.’
Mamaheaven was set up in 2005 by seven friends, including nutritionist and chef Daphne Lambert, who has been running the organic hotel Penrhos Court, where the courses are held, for 25 years. As well as yoga, the ten or so mothers on each weekend retreat can have a massage or chiropractic session, learn baby massage and listen to ‘inspirational’ (Rhian’s word) talks about nutrition and natural living, while their babies are lovingly cared for in the creche run by a qualified Montessori teacher. ‘All the mums agreed we felt part of a family and were quite secure about leaving our babies with the childminders. Dylan blossomed with all the fuss,’ said Rhian.
Spas and hotels nationwide now offer ante- and post-natal pampering ‘babymoons’ for one or both parents (helpful websites are goodbirthgetaway.co.uk and ineedpampering.com). These are quite costly – though a voucher would make a perfect Christmas present from all the family. But there are simple ways to make being a mum a little easier, says mother-of-two and psychology graduate Tania Smith, one of the moving spirits behind Mamaheaven.
•Stop! Don’t wash up, tidy up or use the phone – just play with your baby: attention is more important than toys.
•Read What Mothers Do Especially When It Looks Like Nothing by Naomi Stadlen, published by Piatkus Books. To order a copy from the YOU Bookshop for £7.99 post-free, call 0845 606 4204, or visit you-bookshop.co.uk.
•Child-swap with a friend so each of you can have some time for yourself.
•Try mother and baby yoga – it’s bonding, fun and will help keep you fit and happy.
•Think before buying equipment for your baby – most of it is unnecessary.
•Reduce your work hours. You can always increase them later when the children are older. Your baby is only a baby for a very short time
•Take as much care of yourself as you do of your baby.