09 Nov

Power of Moms Retreat Review

Posted by Jenna, Under reviews

A few weeks ago I mentioned I was headed to a Power of Moms retreat in Chicago*. A friend from Dallas is a part of the organization and has been telling me about it for months, and I have a friend here in Chicago who was going to this particular get-together, so I had high expectations about the retreat. Career women have professional development conferences, seminars, and retreats. Motherhood should be treated the same way, as a life’s work that we can improve at over time, as we seek out help from those who have more experience or innovative methods.

You know my recent realizations about blogging and taking time away? The seed for this was planted at this retreat. We talked about Deliberate Motherhood, Boundaries, Saying No (really important for me), and Integrative Nutrition (among other things, those were the ones that really stood out to me. What I liked most about this day was that we weren’t focusing on potty training, temper tantrums, or how to get our kids to tell the truth. This was about us. Being mothers, women, friends, spouses. Parenting issues were brought up, as they always are, but the conversation always circled back to what we as individual could and should change, instead of focusing on how we can change others (like our husbands or children).

I arrived just as things were about to get started, and found an intimate and diverse group made up of about 15 women. Single moms, moms going through divorce, young moms, step-moms, moms attempting to balance a career and a family. This retreat was quite small too, usually there are dozens of women in attendance, which means that finding someone going through something similar to your own experiences wouldn’t be difficult at all.

The three presenters from that day. Beth, author of Real Moms Love to Eat (and also our host for the day), Saren, co-creator of Power of Moms, and Lori, creator of Momnificient.

Saren started by telling us a little bit about Power of Moms, as well as the two other presenters we would have for the day. She has a blog called Five Kids in Five Years and she happens to be the daughter of Richard and Linda Eyre, famous authors of several parenting books with nine children of their own. I think helping out parents must be in her genes.

Our second block of time was spent listening to Lori discuss Boundaries. My favorite quote from her: If I don’t make the decision for myself, someone will make the decision for me. While she spoke I thought a lot about boundaries, priorities, and finding balance in my own life. The section on Saying No was particularly important for me, and since then I’ve been doing a much better job eliminating unwanted clutter. A great example of this is the listserv I’m a part of for my church. When someone needs something, like a babysitter or advice or someone to fill out a survey, I feel this strange personal responsibility to meed their need. Like I’m letting everyone down if I don’t reorganize my life to somehow make it fit. My friend at the retreat? She said she feels the exact same way when she gets those emails! It also happens when I get emails about the partner’s club for UofC MBA students. We signed up and paid a fee when we first moved here because everyone said it would be absolutely essential to our survival, but over time I realized I had wasted my money with that one and it wasn’t something I need. Still though, every time they send out an email about an activity or need, I feel this guilt for not attending or filling it.

Now though, I have boundaries. And I don’t feel bad for saying no. Saren had an excellent suggestion, to use phrases like “That doesn’t work for me at this time,” or “I don’t think that’s a good fit for my family right now,” if I’m ever feeling confronted directly.

Right before lunch, Beth talked about how we should think about feeding ourselves. Not just nutrition, but education, relationships, exercise, and other important building blocks that make up a healthy lifestyle. I filled out this chart and felt like so many areas were getting my time and attention, nutrition, education, social, but my relationships (like my time with husband) were really suffering. Yet another nudge toward restructuring my life.

Lunch was DELICIOUS. I want it all again right now.

These are the type of salads I want to start making and keeping in the fridge at all times.


I was kind of hoping we would keep going, but I looked at my watch and realized our time was up. I did walk away with a few goodies.

The first is a copy of Lori’s workbook (pictured just behind that stack of books) called The Energy Equation. I was sold on it when I flipped it open and it fell right to a page titled CLUTTER IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT and discussed the importance of having a work environment free of clutter, and walked through step-by-step how to eliminate that clutter. That’s what I need, someone to break it down and help it feel manageable, because this office is a nightmare and right now I don’t enjoy this space where I’m trying to get so much done. I’m excited to go through the workbook from beginning to end and declutter my environment, relationships, my finances, and myself. After my experience with the Francypants business makeover, I knew that this would be a good fit for me as well.

And I also have an advance copy of Beth’s book (coming out in January) to review*. I’ve made it through a few chapters, and I”m actually really excited about the way she has structured this approach to making over your nutrition habits. No gimmicks (I wouldn’t have agreed to review the book if I did), just one woman who loves to eat assuring women that it’s possible to fuel your body in a positive way and actually enjoy it. In some ways her approach reminds me of Overcoming Overeating, and I’m really excited to share my full review with you.

I do have one negative thing to say about the event… it was too short. I told Saren as we were leaving that I wasn’t ready to go, I wanted to spend some more time really getting deeper into these issues and exploring ideas for how we can change. If you’re in Arizona, they are having a premium retreat in Gilbert on the 19th of November, 9am-5pm. The Power of Moms retreat information page also mentioned upcoming events in California, Australia, and Utah.

Motherhood is hard. I think Power of Moms has some of the information I (we) are missing when trying to solve the puzzle of how to do it best.

*I attended this Power of Moms retreat gratis, in exchange for this review.
**Beth provided me a copy of her book free of charge, in exchange for a review.

19 Comments


  1. I read a blog post about how mothers, more specifically stay at home mothers, need to treat motherhood like a career.

    Some of the things this woman wrote about included:

    Getting up in the morning and getting dressed. People aren’t allowed to show up to their place of work in pajamas with out their hair fixed, so don’t do it with your own job (aka motherhood).

    She also wrote about how people with traditional careers research things they need to know and more mothers need to do this in their career as mothers. Stop taking things at face value, research and evaluate and make informed decisions.

    There was also a component that stay at home mothers or mother in general don’t have “staff meetings”. Staff meetings, in a traditional work environment, are used to bounce ideas off one another, to update statuses and to form a sense of community. She went on to say how mothers need to have staff meetings (much like the retreat you went to Jenna) in order to stay relevant and to create a sense of community.

    There were other things she wrote about too (ARGH! I wish I had the article). But I thought what she wrote was valuable. Now I’m going to search relentlessly on Google for this article.

    Jenna Reply:

    I think the getting up and getting dressed part is so important!

    Grace Reply:

    I hope you post the article here if you find it because it sounds very interesting (at least to me as a housewife). I am a huge believer in research-based decision making, and where better to apply it than parenting (where myths and half-truths abound)?

    And I totally agree with Jenna that getting dressed (in real matching outfits and makeup, not just sweatpants) is so important. Whenever I’ve let that go, I get depressed.

    Meg @ Moments Like This Reply:

    I’m still searching, ha! But I read it almost two years ago (right before the birth of my daughter) and there was no Pinterest to keep track of things, lol

    Marissa C Reply:

    Some of those things are really really good…but as a current “corporate dweller” DYING to be a SAHM, I don’t want my life as a mom to mirror my life as an employee!

    Meg @ Moments Like This Reply:

    An employee only in the sense that mothers should have a drive to do their job well and seek outside influences (ie. other staff members or coworkers in the traditional sense) to help them be the best they can be..in the case of the SAHM that would be other moms.

    Rachel Reply:

    I’d love to read that too! I’m just discovering how important it is to research things and not take things at face value even from the “experts.”

    This retreat sounds amazing. I hope the come to an area near me!

    Rachel Reply:

    Also, it seems like such a weird thing to say “get up and get dressed” but some days it really doesn’t seem worth the effort. I don’t mean that in a depressed, ‘life isn’t worth it’ way. Just in a ‘I’m not going anywhere and no one will see me’ slacker kind of way, if you know what I mean. It makes a big difference in my attitude though and a big difference in the way our day goes.

    Life On Mulberry Reply:

    I have had those “nobody will see me, I’m not going to bother with how I look” days as well, where I don’t get properly dressed/showered in the morning. But then I found that there are some afternoons where I probably should have left the house to run an errand that I don’t feel like getting to because I’m still in sweats and glasses. Getting dressed each morning changes my attitude!

    Rebekah Reply:

    I work from home and have the same attitude some days. Am trying to figure out how to have an established work routine. My husband and I often have staff meetings about our finances, family ministry, clients, etc. It helps so much to share my struggles with him and have him offer tips and advice. Or just pray for me.

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  2. I love events like this that really motivate and inspire me. Sometimes I have a hard time putting what I learned into action after though. It sounds like you’ve been able to follow-through – good for you and the family! xox

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  3. It’s funny you mentioned saying no. John and I joke about how we can’t wait to have kids so that we can use them as an excuse to get out of everything.

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  4. This sounds like an awesome event! I would love to attend sometime.

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  5. Katherine (a.k.a Sparkles) says:

    This sounds like an awesome event i wish were in my area so i could go!!!

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  6. Another great boundary-setting phrase (learned at seminary, particularly to use in church settings): “I’m going to have to prayerfully consider that.” Of course, you then need to answer eventually, but I like that it makes it clear that I’m reflecting about how best to be a good steward of my time, and making those decisions based on prayerful reflection, not peer pressure.

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  7. “Motherhood should be treated the same way, as a life’s work that we can improve at over time, as we seek out help from those who have more experience or innovative methods.” That statement is exactly what I want motherhood to be from me. This American idea that we have to do it on our own? I’m convinced something evil has sold that idea to us. It takes a community to do it excellently. And, I posted a recipe for lemon orzo salad that looks almost identical to the one in the photo: http://www.honeysucklelife.com/2011/10/11/lemon-orzo-salad/. If you try, let me know what you think.

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  8. That food sure looks delicious- I want it all right now too! Thanks, Rebekah for a recipe. But yes, balancing facets of life is an art. It takes practice and self-reflection, then resolve. I’m glad that retreat could provide some insights for you.

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  9. This sounds so amazing! What a great opportunity.

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  10. Yay! I’m glad you went! I attended my Learning Circle tonight (which Saren is a member of).

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      I'm a farm-raised almost-crunchy stroller-pushing picture-taking lifestyle-blog-writing gastronomy-obsessed divine-seeking thrift-store-combing cheese-inhaling pavement-pounding laughter-sprinkling lover of individuality and taking chances.
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