How to Take a Spiritual Retreat When You Can’t Get Away

I’ve always needed to retreat spiritually, to run away for an afternoon or spend a weekend away in quiet.spiritual retreat

I’m an introvert and a workaholic.  I’ll fill up every available space in my day with to-do list items and then crash from the emotional overload from the noise.

I must get away in order to be healthy: spiritually, emotionally, physically.  My sanity and spiritual well-being pretty much depend on my escaping periodically to drink deep of quiet and solitude.

That was true before I had kids.

Now I have four little people who don’t fully understand the sacredness of “Mommy Time Out” at the kitchen table with my tea and my Bible.

When I sit down, alarms go off all over my house that only children can hear.  It’s a secret alert system that lets them know, “Mom is about to sit down.  Quick, find something to ask her for!!”

Just when I need to retreat the most in life is when it’s hardest to get away.

My husband sweetly holds down the fort so I can go for a walk.  But I sneak in the door sheepishly and guiltily after an hour because he has paced the house with the fussy baby and played referee in a sibling squabble.  After just one hour without mom, my house has turned into a wrestling arena.

When I was in college, I read a book that still sits dog-eared, highlighted, underlined, and Post-it note-covered on my shelf called Quiet Places: A Woman’s Guide to Personal Retreat by Jane Rubeitta.

This month, I’m learning to Retreat and Refresh in order to pursue the presence of God, so I’ve pulled my worn copy of her book down off its treasured place on my bookshelf and am reading it through slow again.songofsolomon2, photo from

But this time I’m reading her book as a mom with 4 kids, not a single college girl who could “retreat” simply by trekking from the campus parking lot to my first class of the day.

How exactly do you take a retreat when you can barely slip away for 60 minutes after dinner?

Let’s be honest.  There’s no easy answer here.  I’m not going to pretend and push a heavy burden of “you must get away even when it’s hard” down on your shoulders.

Some of you are single moms or homeschooling moms and I feel so whiny complaining about how hard it is for me when I think of what it costs you to retreat for a few short minutes.

Yet, time away with God is what we crave, what our souls need so that we don’t suffocate and die from spiritual dehydration.

The truth is some of these ideas will work for you and some won’t.  Some you can fit in when school is in session if you don’t home-school. Some of them require effort and help from a spouse or a friend.

Here are some ways to take a spiritual retreat without breaking the bank or staying away overnight:

  •  Spend some time in your garden.quietplaces
  • Take a walk alone.
  • Exercise without watching TV.
  • Take an afternoon field trip: Visit the library, a museum, botanical garden, the beach, or a bookstore for an afternoon, but go by yourself.  Sit and read.  Walk a little.  Journal some, read some, rest a lot.
  • Slow down with some fast food:  Meet up with God for a date, just the two of you.  Treat yourself to an ice cream sundae or a cup of coffee.  Sit in the corner booth by yourself with your Bible.  The only words you say to another human that day might be, “I’ll have one scoop of chocolate, please.”
  • Take a bubble bath—just be sure to lock the bathroom door so little ones can’t continue to pester you long after they are supposed to be in bed
  • Early morning cuppa:  I’m not one to wake early before my kids.  I’m a young mom and sometimes snagging a few more minutes of sleep in the morning is the most spiritual, holy thing I can do.  But every so often, an early rise for a quiet time on your back deck before the little ones emerge from their beds is worth it.
  • Mommy time out:  When you simply cannot get away, a Mommy Time Out is worth a try.  Set the timer in the kitchen and announce that mommy is unavailable for 15 minutes unless there’s an emergency.  This takes training!  Everything seems like an emergency to a four-year-old.  Keep on trying, redirecting and training until your children understand the sacredness of the Mommy Time Out and then treat them to a game of Candy Land or a special snack when they’ve given you the time you need.

How do you “retreat and refresh?”  Do you have any ideas for how to take a spiritual retreat without going away overnight? 

To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below!  Won’t you join me this month as I Retreat and Refresh?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2014 Heather King

5 thoughts on “How to Take a Spiritual Retreat When You Can’t Get Away

  1. Vickie Smith says:

    When I was a young mom, I struggled with having long devotional periods – it just didn’t happen. I learned to take one Bible verse and just meditate on it throughout the day while doing tasks such as dishes or vacuuming. It was then also that I developed the habit of shutting myself off once kids were in bed and reading the Word and praying. I know well meaning people always say the best time is in the morning – start your day with there Lord. Well, for me, my best was at night. It was quiet and I went to bed meditating on the Word. When I woke up to the hustle and bustle of the day, I was refreshed because I had been communing with God in my spirit all night. I even developed the habit of listening the Bible on CD while I sleeping (using a pillow speaker). Fortunately, this is just a season and there will be time for more retreating later, but for now, enjoy the season and be creative. You are worshiping through the serving and God will make sure you get refreshed. (Godly helpful husbands are such a blessing, too).

  2. Jenn says:

    Just ran across this as I was looking for a devotion to share on rest for a retreat committee meeting tonight, and wishing I had time to run home before the meeting to grab my well worn copy of this treasure! Thanks friend!

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