Better than an Ocado delivery...
Clover Stroud is an author, horsewoman and mother of five, ranging from late teens to a year and a half. We visited her at home to bring her our rejuvenating Home Retreat - when your mealtimes are like batch cooking marathons, you need a break away from the aga. Here, Clover tells you what it's like:
"PERHAPS it was my own fault for having so many children, but when my fifth baby arrived last summer, the exhaustion that enveloped me redefined what it really meant to feel “tired.” In the early, milky weeks of non-stop breastfeeding and very little sleep, day and night almost seemed to smudge into one. My body felt completely owned by my baby, my mind dominated by trying to give my elder four children the love and attention they also needed. With everyone from a teenager starting A-levels to a newborn baby to care for, it’s true to say that finding even five minutes “self care” was a completely impossible task. By Christmas, I was running on empty.
And then I met Clio Wood, founder of &Breathe Postnatal, who has been running award winning post-natal holidays for new families from Manoir La Croix de la Jugie, her family home in south west France, since 2015, a year after her daughter was born.
“But how can I get a family of seven to France?” I wailed, until Clio offered to come to me, in rural Oxfordshire, to lay on a day retreat, so that I didn’t even need to leave the house.
Clio set up the retreats to provide new mums with a spa-like experience, without the hassle of having to go anywhere. It runs on the same principles as Clio’s French retreats, where new parents are offered tailor made exercise regimes, nurturing massage and delicious meals, with childcare laid on at the same time.
The Home Retreats are popular with groups of new mums, and for £1000, Clio will provide a full day of self-care and nurture for up to 6 mums and babies - per person, just a fraction of the cost of your usual spa day (where childcare is a problem). “I wanted to give new mums a chance to get together and have a really gorgeous, nurturing day together, in the comfort of one of their own houses,” Clio explained.
Clio arrived with personal trainer Caroline Bragg, who specializes in post-natal fitness and put me through my paces with some fitness and pilates, and postnatal doula and holistic massage therapist, Sanita Ellis. Caroline is also a qualified actress, so was brilliant at entertaining the kids while Sanita gave me a deeply relaxing massage, and Clio cooked a delicious meal. It was a bit like having a trio of fairy godmothers arrive at my house for a few hours to sprinkle some fairy dust of love and nurture at a moment when I felt exhausted.
&Breathe gave me a chance to think about myself, and look after myself, for the first time since my son had been born four months before. &Breathe is also aptly named, since the day allowed me to do just that: breathe deeply and enjoy my children, without feeling like a harassed mother hen.
Book your Home Retreat with us here.
Clover Stroud's memoir, The Wild Other: a memoir of love, adventure and how to be brave, is out now. Follow Clover on Instagram, Twitter or visit her website.