My wife Rosie is, without doubt, the most amazing mum to our little boy Teddy. During the working week, while I’m stuck in the office, she gives him constant love and attention, from the second he wakes up in the morning to the moment she tucks him into bed each night. And throughout this gruelling 12 hour shift, somehow she manages to remain jolly, patient and fun for Teddy, while still running errands, cooking, cleaning and generally keeping the house from burning down. She’s nothing short of amazing and I really don’t know how she does it.
But when you work that hard every single day, with hardly any breaks or real time off, it must take a huge toll on your health and mental wellbeing in the long run. Which is why I think she (and all parents) deserves a proper break from it all from time to time. A little space to breathe. A moment just for herself, to rest and recuperate, to come up for air, and just generally recharge her batteries.
So when I was invited to experience the launch of a brand new luxury 24 hour retreat for new and not-so-new parents from the award-winning, family wellbeing experts &Breathe, I had just the person in mind to go in my place.
And so, last month, off Rosie and Teddy went to test out this amazing sounding retreat, which promised to help re-build “your balanced lifestyle through expert guidance, feel-good fitness, nourishing delicious food and indulging spa treatments” – all in a luxury hotel (with free childcare!) in the heart of the Hampshire countryside.
I was gutted to miss it (as I do love a massage), but was so happy to know that Rosie would be getting the treat she so thoroughly deserved. The only proviso; she had to write about what she got up to for my blog!
So here it is. Rosie’s first ever post on YOU THE DADDY; her review of the new &Breathe Postnatal Retreat at the Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire.
And, my God, it sounds amazing!
Fitness gear, check. Swimwear, check. Relaxation mode, check! And with that, Teddy and I were off to sample the newest &Breathe experience at The Four Seasons Hotel in Hampshire. And we couldn’t have been more excited!
We’d been instructed by the organisers to pack light (as &Breathe provide most of the toddler kit you’ll need, from cots and cutlery to swim nappies and strollers) so no major logistical planning was required. It was just a matter of chucking a few things in a bag and off we went!
We only live half an hour from the hotel so Teddy caught a quick 40 winks on the way while I prepared myself for some deep relaxation courtesy of the mellow tunes of Classic FM on the car radio.
As we pulled into the Four Seasons’ beautiful driveway, with the impressive country house hotel in the distance ahead of us, it was time for Teddy’s wake up call. “Come on Bear, wake up, we’re here…look at the cows! Moooooo!”
We were met by &Breathe’s lovely founder Clio, who welcomed us into the most comfortable and stylish sitting room I’ve ever seen, while our bags were whisked off to our room.
Teddy immediately starting checking out the contents of the antique furniture, opening every cupboard door and drawer he could find, as the other guests started to arrive, each with their little one firmly in tow. There was Christina from This Mama Does, Lisa from The Hotbed Collective and Amy from The Fourth Trimester magazine; all such lovely girls who I was excited to spend the next 24 hours with.
When Teddy and I were shown to our room, it was amazing.
Big, bright and spacious (with a huge bed all for me!), filled with so many thoughtful touches for our stay, from chocolates and a draw full of tea bags for me, to miniature Childs Farm goodies, bath toys and even a teddy bear for my Teddy. They really had though of everything!
After a short breather to get settled in, the whole group of mums convened with our babies in the wonderful Four Seasons’ dining room for a delicious light lunch, to get to know each other before our afternoon of Pilates and workouts began with &Breathe’s in-house personal trainer Caroline Bragg; an expert in pre and postnatal fitness and wellbeing.
Excited and ready to relax, stretch and pay our bodies more attention than they’ve had since our babies were born, we all made our way to the hotel’s airy exercise studio that opened out onto a little garden.
While &Breathe’s Clio (a mum herself) did a brilliant job keeping our respective children entertained outside (and making sure we didn’t tread on them when they ventured back into the studio to see what we were up to), for the next three hours we were sympathetically and professionally brought back into the world of fitness and mindfulness by the lovely Caroline.
Through a specially designed session of Pilates, breathing and core strength exercises, she reminded us of what our bodies needed after having a child. It’s so hard to find time for self-care when you have a baby constantly hanging off you, so this was a serious treat.
Half way through, Clio brought out some delicious protein balls which she’d whipped up to maintain our energy levels (Clio I need the recipe please!), which the kids loved just as much as we did (Teddy definitely had more than his fair share).
Suitably fuelled, it was time to move onto the more strenuous heart pumping part of the session. I’m not going to lie – I was puffed by the end but boy, did it feel good! I used to really enjoy going for a run or doing a work out at home and have really missed the feeling of putting my body to the test. So, this was just what I needed and left me wanting more.
Overall, it was such a fun afternoon, with lots of giggles between us mums as the toddlers attempted stretches and wiggled their hips to the music. Most importantly, I felt so relaxed and comfortable in the knowledge that Caroline knew what our bodies had been through while understanding our individual limitations and needs.
Feeling re-energised, it was now time to feed the little people before bath and bedtime, so we headed back to the hotel dining room, which was well stocked with obliging and friendly staff to look after us. Nothing was too much trouble for them and we were never made to feel bad about the noise or mess our children were making, which made the whole process all the more relaxing.
With full bellies and everyone seriously zonked, we headed back to our rooms for the most luxurious bath time Teddy will ever have. I mean, he looked like a little prince in his huge bath surrounded by fluffy white towels and marble floors.
Just as we’d finished in the bath, there was a knock at the door. It was Teddy’s warm milk, being hand delivered, ready for his evening bottle – service or what?!!
After his milk and a bedtime story, Teddy was out like a light and it was my turn to sample our palatial bathroom and the giant tub. Absolute bliss!
After my leisurely soak, all scrubbed up and ready for ‘adult time’, like clock work there was another knock at the door as our own designated Four Seasons’ babysitter arrived ahead of the evening’s entertainment.
With Teddy asleep and a watchful eye keeping him safe, it meant I could fully relax with the girls down at the bar.
A gin and tonic was handed to me as soon as I arrived and us grown-ups settled in for the evening. We chatted all about how amazing this experience was and how we were so grateful not to have to think about putting a wash on or whether the dishwasher needed emptying. We were a group of likeminded people away with their kids but still having time off. It was pure heaven!
As was the food, I might add; three courses of delicious and beautifully presented dishes from the incredible chefs at the hotel’s newly opened restaurant, Wild Carrot…a serious treat!
Full, and unable to hold back the yawns any longer, I headed up to our room, relieved the babysitter of her duties, and sunk into the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept in. It was a shame that Giles couldn’t make it – he was staying in London that night for a work event – but I wasn’t complaining. He snores…a lot.
A total dream, Teddy didn’t make a peep the entire night and we both woke up, blissfully content, at 7:30am ready for an indulgent breakfast.
My immediate need for copious cups of Earl Grey tea and blueberry pancakes was seen to by the wonderful waitresses as soon as we sat down, and Teddy was thrilled to try corn flakes for the first time and be reunited with his toddler chums from the day before.
And then, it was time for the biggest treat of them all.
We all headed over to the hotel nursery with our toddlers in tow, where we were greeted by a gaggle of qualified nannies and the most enormous array of beautiful toys, to keep our little ones happy for a few hours, while we snuck off for some us-time. The kids were so excited, they didn’t even look back when we left!
Feeling like teenagers with a free pass, Christina, Amy and I quite literally skipped off, heading straight to the hotel spa for an exercise in pure indulgence.
I can’t really explain just how excited we all were; our kids in childcare and us in the spa, each with an hour long massage and time by ourselves to enjoy in the pool, steam rooms and sauna.
It was an absolute dream as we floated from one experience to the next in our fluffy white robes and hotel flip flops…if only we could have stopped the clock!
And the whole experience was topped off by a lovely goodbye gift from the spa of mums’ massage oil by Little Butterfly (which is safe for babies too). I’ll be getting that out later when I get home…
In a state of soporific bliss, we picked up the babes who had had the best couple of hours together at nursery, Teddy getting especially attached to a plastic iron (which just shows what I spend most of my time doing at home!).
As we headed back to reception to check out, I felt so refreshed and relaxed I wanted nothing more than to get back into my giant hotel bed for an afternoon nap. But it was time to go home sadly, so no such luck…
Instead Teddy fell asleep in his car seat and I drove home reflecting on what a special time we had just had.
Because, sometimes as a Mum, you just need a little space to breathe. A moment for yourself, to come up for air. And this experience did just that.
So, thank you Clio and all the team at &Breathe for the most amazing 24 hours. We had an absolute ball…now, when’s the next one?!
The &Breathe Postnatal Retreats at Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire will run in May, June, September and November 2018, with prices starting from £495 for mum and baby/toddler, which includes a one night full board residential stay (lunch, pre-dinner drinks, supper and breakfast the next day), one Spa treatment, all fitness and wellbeing classes as well as an amazing goody bag!
If you’d like to experience it for yourself (or treat your other half), you can book your place here on one of the four upcoming dates. But be quick, there’s sure to sell out fast!
- 16 May 2018
- 10 June 2018
- 17 September 2018
- November 2018 (date to be announced)
- Luxury 5* accommodation with all baby/toddler equipment provided;
- Relaxed buffet lunch when you arrive so you can chow down with or without baby;
- Super dinner and pre-dinner drinks with all the amazing new mamas you’ll meet during your stay;
- Breakfast the next day for you and little ones;
- Baby-listening during the evening so you can enjoy dinner in peace (with bookable babysitters available too);
- Cardio Exercise Class with our Head PT, Caroline Bragg to raise your heartrate and release endorphins;
- Pelvic Floor and Pilates Session to tackle your core and learn about taking care of your all-important pelvic floor;
- Expert Q&A;
- Optional meditation and mindfulness workshop;
- Light refreshments available during sessions;
- Relaxing spa treatment;
- Creche facilities during &Breathe activities sessions;
- Plenty of time to get to know some other awesome mamas;
- &Breathe expert advice and support;
- &Breathe goody bags.