Why Every Mum Needs A Tech (And Baby) Detox

Frazzled from the sleepless nights of motherhood and the stresses of starting a new business, and addicted, unhealthily so, to her mobile phone, Henrietta Harwood Smith, took off to the coast for a baby free weekend – without her mobile.

When I told my husband that I was a) going away with a girlfriend for two days (could he please look after our toddler?) and b) that I was doing a digital detox for 48 hours, he let out what only can be described as a guffaw.

We are all guilty of letting our phones rule our lives on some level and I feel that for me it has become an unhealthy ‘addiction’.

I wake up…check my phone… I have breakfast…check my phone…start working and it’s on overdrive and so the day goes on.

The worst is before bed when I manically reply to whatsapps mainly because if I don’t I fear I’ll forget. I was also not a believer in ‘failing to respond on holiday’ – people have 24 access to their phones and laptops so why not just reply, it used to drive me mad.

My husband truly thought that I wouldn’t be able to go the whole 48 hours without any form of technology…and so did I.

Things have notably got worse recently – having started a new business and trying to be a good mum, friend, daughter, sister and wife have all taken its toll.

Over a quick dinner one evening a friend and I booked an escape as a ‘pick me up’ and made a ‘no tech’ promise. We wanted a beach, within two hours of home (if there were any daddy day care dramas), amazing treatments and lovely food.

Cue some quick research and we found The Gallivant in Rye. I received a text the night before we left from my friend saying ‘What should I pack? Btw I feel like I’m just plastering over the cracks with cc cream which isn’t touching the sides’.

I felt exactly the same – frazzled didn’t even begin to cut it. Heading towards Dover down the M20 felt like a very good thing…sort of like we’d end up in France but without the commitment of actually having to go abroad. What we discovered was in our minds even better.

The Gallivant is on a long stretch of beach called Camber Sands. We both agreed that we’d never seen a beach like it either in the UK or abroad – the closest I could conjure was Santa Monica. Most importantly we were treated to miles upon miles of sandy coloured headspace with a gorgeous blue, calm sea in the distance.

Our phones were locked in the in room safe and our husbands were told to call the hotel landline in emergencies.

The hotel manager Roxanne was fully on board with our pact – her management skills are first class and she gave us fantastic local tips, how to get the most from our stay and ideas of things to do.

The first hour was notably odd – I definitely felt a bit naked. Thoughts such as ‘how did tea go, has my little one got her bunny, did I leave clean pyjamas’ together with ‘what’s happening on my work emails’ peppered my brain.

These controlling thoughts were not what we came for and a long heart to heart on a huge beach walk washed them away.

We didn’t have to be anywhere, we didn’t have to answer to anyone and most importantly we both had time to listen without any distractions.

A huge dinner of locally sourced food including some phenomenal fish and incredible British sparkling wine left us in a dreamy haze and we counted our lucky stars that two good night’s sleep were ahead of us.

Bizarrely a major bonus of The Gallivant is that they don’t offer twin rooms  – if we’d been sharing a room I know we would have gassed into the night. Instead we went our separate ways and a night of perfect slumber followed.

The morning brought slight anxiety – mainly due to the fact that we couldn’t check the weather for the day (and I was still trying not to stress about work, what was happening on my whatsapp chats without me and how everything was going at home), usually on holiday I know the hour by hour forecast.

However, there was no rain and that meant that our pre booked yoga session was going to happen on the beach.

Through The Elysian Centre in Rye we’d been put in touch with Carole Riggs who looked like a zen version of Goldie Hawn – she was sitting crossed legged meditating out to sea. She quickly informed us that she specialises in yoga for women and her aim is to bring about a sense of balance and help to ‘navigate the hormonal journeys the feminine cycles of life take us on’.

The words ‘let go’ were used consistently throughout our 90 mins of bliss, she also weaved in some very important lessons we had lost along the way.

As women we are constantly reacting – whether it be to our work, our family or our friends. We forget to breathe and taking time out each day even for a few minutes can be life changing not to mention a great example for the little ones. I can’t imagine meditating with my two year old but when she repeats ‘Mummy busy’ it does tug at my heart strings – sometimes it would be really great just not to be busy and be still…if only for a short time.

Following some quite spectacular facials on our last day and a much calmer mind I finally felt like me again, but a different and stronger me. It had taken a strong will to try and kick my tech addiction – the world was still turning and I took it that no news from home (on the hotel landline) meant good news.

Before heading back to work after mat leave I found it fascinating and rather insulting that the older generation sometimes still seem to question whether ‘women can have it all’ – ‘of course they can’ would have been my reactive response.

With good childcare and the desire to further one’s career, anything is possible, surely?

What I’ve realised is that having it all is possible, but the ‘all’ is way bigger than it ever was before.

As mums we are pulled in a million different physical and emotional directions and the likelihood is that we may be at very exciting yet full on points in our careers – my lesson learnt is that switching off from the outside world won’t set me back but propel me forwards.

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