by Nancy Solomon of Ciao Bambino

So it happened, even though I swore I wouldn’t become one of “those” moms who overscheduled everything, here I am, one of “those” moms. I recognize it, yet struggle with the guilt of not providing the opportunities for my third and fourth children that I did for my first and second children. So with that I shuttle one to hockey, the other to dance….you know the drill. To put it mildly, I’m burning the candle at both ends.

This is why I, and a group of mothers like me, carve out some coveted time and significant money in the hopes of replenishing our selves. Instead of missing those pre-kid nights out wining and dining, I have found what I miss the most, is simply a little silence and the ability to answer solely to myself for just a few days. So each February, we make our annual pilgrimage to Canyon Ranch in Lenox, MA. This is truly my “happy place” where I give myself the gift of reconnecting with myself.

Your stay at Canyon Ranch begins long before you arrive. First, I love having a date set on my calendar. We usually book the group nine months in advance. Each time I’m feeling overwhelmed, slowly from the back of my mind, that date emerges and I know that I have that time to rejuvenate. A few weeks before you go, they send a catalog of service options and classes that you can chose and book before your stay. You get to decide what you need, restoration, exploration or transformation. Really, the selection is extensive and amazing. Each year I push myself to try one health service and one form of exercise that I don’t have access to at home and never tried. Think, biofeedback, exercise and metabolism evaluation, sex therapy (ha, we can all use a few pointers on how to spice it up), ayurvedic health analysis, cooking classes, nia movement, water cardio, squash, the list goes on and on. What’s nice is because we go in February, we don’t have the draw of outside activities. I barely have enough time to exercise, get a massage, nap and eat. That’s plenty, so don’t worry about going at a time of year where it’s too cold, I view it as an advantage.

From the moment you drive up and see the old mansion (that has been expanded to incorporate all the facilities) you know that you are somewhere special. As you glide around in sweats and robes, you are bathed in natural light and surrounded in a peaceful quietness. I always spend the most of my time at the recently renovated the spa. It’s warm (remember we’re talking about February in the Northeast) and spacious. The steam room, sauna and lounge are the perfect starting and ending point of the day.

Now, my true “happy spot” is on a mushy down-stuffed couch next to the fire. They have people who just tend the fires. They crackle to perfection and as I read whichever book I’ve chosen for the trip I always drift off to sleep. It’s amazing; nobody even comes to wake me up- somehow my kids haven’t learned that whole lesson about waking a sleeping bear. So, while there are beautiful and airy spots, there are also quiet and cozy spots to drift away. Usually, after the first two days of exercising to a point of significant soreness, this becomes even more of my favorite spot.

Everyone always worries that you won’t have enough food or that you can’t drink a glass of wine. First of all, there’s a ton of food. You get as much as you want. If you want 4 entrees, go for it. The food is delicious and plentiful, if that’s what you need. Secondly, if you really would like wine or beer, you have a little fridge in your room for those items…and yes, we do hide it a bit as we come in. I think that you’ll find as you focus on treating your body well, those things will not be a concern.

The hardest part of the trip is the drive home. Although I’m excited to see everyone, I know that it will be another year before I will enjoy this beautiful and indulgent spot again. The good news is that I usually come home with a few more tools to keep my family and myself healthy throughout the year to come.

Nancy Solomon is an avid traveler and writer for Ciao Bambino. She lives outside Boston and has four children 9,8,5 and 1 with whom she enjoys sharing the world.