Thursday, 3 March 2016

Gentle Parenting Retreat Success!

On Sunday 28th of February I hosted the first ever Gentle Parenting Retreat in Berkshire.
After months of planning, organizing, emailing, buying resources, advertising, and dreaming it actually happened!  People committed to it, they showed up and it actually happened.  I couldn't quite believe it as people were walking through the door.  Everyone who had their name down came and it was so so wonderful.  All those mums together in the one place, sharing similar struggles, fears and hopes, there was a great atmosphere and energy in the place.

We began the day with some time to chat and have a cup of tea before moving through to the studio where I began my art workshop.  I hoped the workshop was relaxed and enjoyable.  I talked to the mums about listening to their inner critic, the critical voice in their heads. We thought about how we could turn the positive intention behind the negative voice into a positive affirmation or word to paint onto the front of their canvas, and a symbol to reflect their parenting journey.  I also taught some paint and collaging techniques.

I was pretty nervous before beginning the workshop.  I hadn't taught a group of adults as large as this before, and it's been a while since I have spoken in front of a group, but the women were so wonderful, kind and keen to have a go, it was very heartwarming.  The results of their creativity were astonishingly beautiful, the colours and images that were created spoke volumes.

After lunch we enjoyed a mindfulness workshop run by Tanya Forgan, we had time to open up about some of the challenges we find in gentle parenting, as well as learning techniques for using mindfulness in every day life.  We had a couple of wonderful guided meditations, with relaxation techniques which left us feeling relaxed and chilled out.

At the end of the day I couldn't stop smiling to myself, and have since had lots of positive feedback and interest in future Gentle Parenting Retreats. I felt the day was truly a success on so many levels, and I can't deny that I am proud of myself for pulling it all together, but of course know that it could never have happened if it wasn't for a fantastic group of mums who really believed in the event.  For me the aims of the day were absolutely achieved.  I wanted mums to be able to relax and reflect, to be able to refill their cups so they could return to their children re-energized and revitalized. I certainly returned home buzzing and filled with a renewed sense of being able to cope whatever new challenges arose. And I learnt some new relaxation techniques which I have already put into daily practice.

I feel like an internal shift has taken place since I began this project, I really do believe that this is in part due to the Shining Life Workbooks which have helped me set my goals and targets, plan ahead and reflect and review.  It has made me feel like I really can achieve my goals and dreams when I set my mind to it.  But it also seems to just all be happening at the right time, maybe a year ago, this just wouldn't have worked, but now it feels right.

I am excited to organise another retreat in the neat future, I feel for us mums it's something we need to do regularly as part of our self care.  In a funny conversation this week with a friend, we said that if we were to see the work we do as like a job that we were being paid for, the retreat would be classed as a day of professional development or a networking event.  In a paid job these things would be seen as important, essential even, but for some reason, because we aren't paid for our "work" this type of occasion is dismissed as self indulgent and a luxury. We really need to shift our thinking on this and invest in our own self care and development to help us become better parents, and more importantly better versions of ourselves.

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