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These Retreats Provide Much Needed Respite for Parents of Kids With Disabilities

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It is no secret parents raising kids with disabilities could use some rest. As common as this need for respite is, many parents don’t get the luxury of taking a break.

That’s where A Mother’s Rest comes in. Founded earlier this year by Andrea Roberts, A Mother’s Rest organizes retreats where parents of kids with disabilities can prioritize their own well-being.

Its mission is personal for Roberts, who has a 15-year-old son with Down syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and sensory processing disorder (SPD).

“The health of parents is critically overlooked in so many ways. As a mom myself, I have struggled with severe fatigue and depression, mostly from lack of adequate, uninterrupted sleep for 15 years straight,” Roberts told The Mighty. “I fully understand the physical and emotional toll that takes on parents and caregivers. Yes, our kids have to come first, but too often, moms and dads come never.”

When Roberts learned her great-great-aunt’s Virginia farmhouse was available for sale, she wondered how to save it — to keep as a small escape for herself. Then she had an idea.

“I realized how many other moms probably need that same thing, someplace quiet, safe, available at a moment’s notice and affordable, where they can just sleep,” Roberts said, and thus, A Mother’s Rest was born.

While the retreats are primarily for moms, they hold two retreats for dads, one couple’s retreat and at least one “Mommy and Me” or “Daddy and Me” retreat for parents and their typical children per year.

Each retreat is laid back and has no speakers or planned activities. It is a time for recuperative rest with others who understand the fatigue and challenges that come with parenting a child with disabilities.

The trips are hosted at a bed and breakfast as opposed to a hotel or convention center to provide an intimate setting. All retreats run Friday to Monday. The goal is to be as welcoming, inclusive and accessible as possible. Breakfast is provided, but women are free to choose what to do with their time. Some women sit in their room, take baths, read books, or enjoy coffee or wine as they visit with each other. For those who do not feel like being social, that is OK, too. “We, in our own community, need to take care of our own,” she explained. “Stay in your room, don’t shower, nobody cares.”

There is no application to attend other than reasonable proof you have a child with disabilities. Each retreat has its own page listing trip details as well as pricing. On average, a retreat costs around $200 plus food and travel. To offset costs, A Mother’s Rest offers payment plans and gift certificates to those who need financial assistance.

“My goal in the future is for these retreats to be free, that will come in time when we have corporate and foundation sponsors at the ready,” Roberts added. “We are still building up to that.”

“I wasn’t sure this weekend was for me,” one mom who attended a retreat told Roberts. “As the weekend unfolded I didn’t even realize just how much I needed it. I was enjoying myself and sharing deep things. It has been so long since I have had close or deep relationships with women that can relate to me or my life.”

To learn more, and apply for a retreat, visit A Mother’s Rest

Originally published: August 15, 2017
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