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DIY Retreats for Catholic Homeschool Moms

As we head into the New Year, I think that Lisa Mladinich and Jenny Bales podcast interview on DIY retreats for Catholic homeschool mothers needs to be revisited.

Homeschooling takes a lot of energy! Even with the best laid plans and best curricula at your disposal, you’re going to get tired. You’re going to need to recharge. It is therefore important that we structure time for rest into our homeschooling plans so that we don’t get burned out. And I’m not just talking about an occasional nap—I’m talking about something more substantial, more long term; more akin to a retreat.

The problem, of course, is that Catholic homeschooling moms seldom have time for a traditional retreat. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t options! With a little planning, you can have a successful DIY retreat without leaving your home.

Before we dive into the basics of a DIY retreat, we should ask a more fundamental question: What constitutes a retreat?

What is a Retreat and Why Do We Need Them?

In conventional language, retreat means stepping away or backing off; in military terms, a retreat means withdrawing from the field of battle. The same principle is at the heart of a spiritual retreat. A spiritual retreat is a kind of stepping away or withdrawal from the usual routine of life. We step back from the workaday world to open up space for prayer and reflection. It is a way of reorienting ourselves spiritually by recommitting to what is most important.

This is of particular relevance to Catholic homeschooling moms. Homeschooling moms must approach times for spiritual reflection with intentionality. Homeschool mom life is full of non-stop activity. As a mom, there is of course cooking, cleaning, laundry, and attending to the bodily needs of our children. When you add in homeschooling, you are also the teacher; during school hours you are teaching and guiding your children. There is rarely a break; it fills our lives—in a good way, but also sometimes in an exhausting way. We might find it hard to get the opportunities to simply pause and reconnect with God.

Preparing for a Retreat

Before you begin your retreat, it is good to prepare yourself spiritually. Go to confession as soon as possible, ideally before the retreat time begins. You can also make other spiritual resolutions, like renewing your baptismal vows and your confirmation promises. It is also helpful to receive Holy Communion as frequently as possible and to spend time in Holy Adoration. Finally, make a determined, practical resolution that you will draw closer to God during your retreat time. These preparatory steps will dispose you to reap all the graces God wants to lavish on you during retreat time!

The Structure of a Retreat

Various ways to do a stay-at-home retreat, but there are certain best practices to follow. Sr. Ann Shields, a well-known speaker and retreat leader for Renewal Ministries, offers the following advice for your home retreat:

  1. Notify family and friends of your intentions; tell them the time frame and ask them to pray for you.
  2. Get rid of distractions! Turn off computers, TV, and cell phones for the duration of the retreat.
  3. Try to remain in place; stay in one or two rooms so you don’t get distracted trying to clean or organize something.
  4. Decide on the materials you need: Bible, journal, notebook, spiritual reading material, etc.
  5. Reflect on what areas of your life you’d like to focus on. Ask yourself what impedes your growth in holiness:? Is it anxiety? Anger? Lack of forgiveness? Health problems that cause suffering? Perhaps it is an issue of discernment that is needed to obtain wisdom from the Lord; perhaps it is a major decision that will substantially affect your life and/or the life of your family?
  6. Spend some time each day of your retreat in the morning, afternoon and evening prayerfully reading the Bible. God’s word has the power to challenge, convict and console you. It has power to change your mind and heart, if you allow the word to take root. Talk to God about your life.

Perhaps you may feel a little guilty about taking this time to yourself; your motherly instincts may feel like you are neglecting your obligations. It is helpful to remember that your children and husband will thank you for taking this time away to focus on your spiritual life. How are you benefitting your household if you are short-tempered because you are burned out? Taking time to yourself is not something that detracts from your domestic life. No, it is an integral part of your domestic life, something that will bring grace to your family and relationships.

Heart of a Mother Retreats

What if you don’t feel knowledgeable or organized enough to set up your own DIY retreat? If that’s the case, we recommend Jenny Bales’ stay-at-home “Heart of a Mother” retreats packages. Jenny is a long time friend of Homeschool Connections who writes the Mom to Mom column on our blog. Jenny’s is an experienced retreat leader who had produced some excellent DIY retreat materials for homeschooling moms. Her retreat materials are structured for your schedule; they can be done in a day, alone or a group, or broken up over several days. They are broken up into several segments with all the reading and materials you will need included. Jenny’s retreats can be found on her website Heart of a Mother.

If you want to learn more about DIY homeschooling retreats, check out our Homeschooling Saints podcast interview with Jenny Bales discussing the value of retreats for homeschooling moms:


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Resources to help you in your Catholic homeschool…

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Homeschooling Saints Podcast

Good Counsel Careers

The Catholic Homeschool Conference

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