It’s been a tough 14 months since I became a mum. Sleepless nights, a teething baby, weaning, returning to work and buying (or trying to buy) a house have taken their toll. I’m a shadow of my former self. A withered wreck of a previously spirited and carefree soul. Okay, maybe I’m taking it a little too far but you get the point. ‘Me time’ is something of a foreign concept to me these days. So when the opportunity arose to visit the Christchurch Harbour Hotel and Spa you can imagine how I jumped (and when I say ‘jumped’ I mean ‘destroyed everything that stood in my path with the ferocity of a rabid dog’) at the chance.
I went on a sunny Friday morning. Just me. No husband. No baby. No buggy. No changing bag. No wipes. No bottles. No resigned acceptance that at some point during the day I’d most likely find myself elbow deep in poo and breathing through my mouth in the baby change area of the nearest Wetherspoon.
I left the flat we were staying in and hopped into a cab feeling like Kate Winslet arriving in LA in a budget version of The Holiday (fewer palm trees, more Co-ops). The hotel loomed in the distance, a beacon of all things blissful.
On arrival I was issued with a towel and robe and descended the stairs into a tranquil oasis of calm. Aside from the occasional shriek from a nearby hen party all I could hear was the bubbling of the Jacuzzi and the rhythmic splatter of water from the showers. I slipped through the door to the sauna, spread my towel on the bench and lay down. If you’re a mum (or dad) you’ll know that the previously uncomplicated act of laying down, particularly during the day, is the holy grail of treats. To actually lay down uninterrupted by screams, demands or the incessant babbling of the Teletubbies is a an experience to be embraced with the kind of enthusiasm usually only reserved for winning the EuroMillions.
I spent the rest of the morning hopping from one activity to another – a swim in the pool, a soak in the jaccuzi, a sweat in the steam room and a timeout in the salt room. All this was followed by a dreamy back massage that left me questioning why I don’t make time to do these things more often. I need to do these things to be a good mum and yet I’m so busy trying to be a good mum that I can’t seem to find the time to do them. A catch 22 if there ever was one.
After a morning of blissful escapism I made my way to the restaurant for afternoon tea. Any previous concerns or embarrassment I had about eating alone were obliterated by the prospect of actually enjoying a cup of tea and a cake (or three) without having to wipe, cajole or entertain. Don’t get me wrong; I love spending time with my son and wouldn’t swap him for all the spa days and afternoon teas in the world but still, it was nice to just sit, drink tea and
scroll through Twitter contemplate life without having to worry about anyone else.
Freshly made scones, hefty dollops of clotted cream and sticky strawberry jam soon filled me up leaving little space for sandwiches and cake. The sun shone on the open terrace overlooking the harbour and sailing boats bobbed on the water. I could get used to this. Equally, though, I was ready to return to my family. It might be hectic, it might be exhausting but without them it would also be meaningless. After my morning’s respite I felt rested, relaxed and more than ready to step back into my role. And if it all got too much? Well that’s what lockable bathroom doors and the massive box of sandwiches and cake I was taking on my way were for.