The Discerning Blog


DIY Home Reader's Retreat

I am just dying to have a break, aren't you? I close my eyes and imagine it.

NOPE! Not Happening!

Not THIS Mama!

Not THIS House!

Not with MY Kids!

That is just setting myself up for failure!

But it seems so lovely, to think of escaping for the weekend (ok - let's be realistic - for many of us it can only be a day! Or less?)

I think it is doable, and worthwhile! How can we make this happen - you and I? How can we move beyond the beautiful unattainable pictures to the reality of a retreat - on the cheap - in our home (because Covid won't let us book a hotel - or even go to a coffee shop in Manitoba!)

Let's Ditch the Fear and Excuses

If this can happen, we have to want it. It will take some planning, and effort so we have to really be ready to invest. Are we ready to just go for it?! To step out, talk to our partner, set a date, figure out how we can make it work? Let's face it - the actual retreat part is the easy part, but since we can't just pay someone else to this for us (and some of wouldn't even if we could), we have to do for ourselves. We are strong people we can do this! (Preaching to myself there!)

Obstacles - There Will Be a Few

Every one of us has a different family dynamic and we will have different obstacles. None of us can't just show up to the dinner table Thursday evening and say, "Hey all, I'm having a retreat this weekend so I'll be hanging out in the guest suite Fri to Sunday. I know you'll all be so supportive and helpful and serve coffee, tea, snacks and meals at the appropriate intervals." (that makes me laugh!)

Childcare - who will take care of the kids?

Food - who's cooking while you're retreating? What will you eat and where? (will you be alone all the time or come to the dinner table?)

Chaos - what about the chaos? What about the disagreements you'll hear through that door that usually you'd deal with? How can you prepare for that?

Interruptions - What is acceptable to you?

Who's Invited - Is this a rotate in a family member retreat? A solitary retreat? A family retreat? I always imagine silence and being alone - that's probably not going to happen for too many hours in a row!


Childcare: Let's face it - ideally we'd love to send the kids out of the house - for the whole time! Can you trade retreat days with a friend?

Food: Let's face it, many of us are the cooks in our home. What meals can we prepare ahead with a note on them for someone else to pop in the oven? This means a menu plan, grocery shopping and prep time. If this is overwhelming then perhaps make a double of a recipe a week or two ahead and put it in the freezer!

Snacks: What's a retreat without yummy treats. You know what you need - make sure you add that to the list (and get some treats for the family. My experience is that treats keep them happy! Let's make them look forward to our retreats so they'll want to do it again!

Coffee - Tea Station: Can you set up a drink station in your space? A cooler with cold drinks, a kettle, coffee maker, your favorite mug...

Reciprocal / Co Operative Friend Retreats:

  1. Send all the spare adults and kids to one house! You have to have really cooperative partners for this, but it would be a blast to have a full day or two with a friend!

  2. Individual Co-Operative Retreats: You each set a date for a retreat and swap kids! No kids in the house when you have your time and extra fun - hopefully for everyone - when she retreats! You can consider splitting food prep (one does lunch and a snack - the other does supper or if it's a 2 day one takes care of food for 1 day and the other takes it for the second day), snack sharing (surprise treats!), book swapping...

What Does Your Retreat Look Like?

This is the fun part! Imagine what you would like to do! Your imagination is your only limitation. Consider planning some different i

deas - and yes - make a bit of a plan so you don't get bored or feel like you're wasting time!

  1. Unplug. Just don't bring it with you. Media and screens are just too distracting! They have become our go-to when we're not sure what else to do. This time is about doing something else.

  2. Rest. Expect to rest - to nap, reflect, dream. You likely need to wind down a bit before you can really relax! Consider writing in a journal. Jot down all the things that are distracting you, or worrying you (or that you feel like you should be doing right now) then close the book. Try to close them in a box until after the retreat.

  3. Meditate. Take some time for prayer, memorizing, focusing on the One who brings life.

  4. Reading. Check out that stack of books you checked out for today and see what interests you.

  5. Creativity. Use a writing prompt and do some creative writing, zen doodle, paint a picture

  6. Activity. Take a walk or a jog, do a Youtube workout or stretch class. Activity will refresh you.

How to Prepare

Now that you've thought about things to incorporate in your retreat - make a list. What will you need in your space to be able to make it convenient.

1. Acquire what you need: Make a shopping list and gather the items from your home so you don't have to run around looking for things on your retreat time. Here's a short list - you can probably think of other things or you can cross off the things that just aren't you.

  • order library books or from book store

  • journal and pens

  • Bible

  • bath items

  • candles

  • yoga mat

  • coffee/tea station items

  • cooler for cold drinks, fruits / veggies

  • snacks / treats

  • art supplies

  • music (make sure the device is charged - and ideally not internet capable!)

  • extra pillows, blankets

  • fresh flowers

2. Pack a Bag / Set The Scene: You bet! Nothing is exciting as getting ready to go out - even if you're staying in! Maybe you're the kind who likes everything pretty, instead of a bag you'll want to work on your space . Line up those books nice, get the candles out, arrange the bath items... Let the excitement build

3. Meal Plan and Prep: Make the lists - include the instructions - assign the tasks... Do everything you can do to make things run smoothly! Precut veggies and fruits, pre-make salads. (or buy it in bags this week!)

4. Prep the Family: Make sure they know what you want that day. They cannot read your mind, so when you say you are having a retreat explain what that means to you!

5. Prep You: You're getting excited. Are you starting to have visions of the perfect retreat after all this hard work? That is a great thing, but also be sure to prepare for interruptions. Know that nothing will be perfect and Good is Good Enough!

Time To Commit!

These are pretty brave words from someone who hasn't done this! But I want to Thank YOU! Thanks for helping me work through this... now I am ready to commit! It is time to start this process - make a plan - and make this retreat happen for me!

I would love to hear from You!

Have you done a home retreat? Tell me all about in the comments!

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