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The Weekend I Didn’t Know I Desperately Needed

Bethany Sita from The Happy Republic reflects on the benefits of making a solo weekend away a priority of self-care, especially for mums.

View of trees and hills in West Gippsland
Breathing in the vast views from The Ridge House. Image: Bethany Sita

Things didn’t go to plan. But that’s kind of the way the last 18 months have gone. It was supposed to be a wellness retreat with eight other women, but thanks to COVID restrictions, it ended up there could only be two. I was the second lucky lady that got to go check it out.

Even though I had organised my kids back at home for the weekend, reassuring my daughter I would in fact be back to take her to that birthday party later on Sunday afternoon, I still had a sense of guilt leaving. I hadn’t left them for two nights before. Would my husband cope? Was I asking too much of him and his parents to help? I always feel like the kids are solely my responsibility sometimes, and everyone else is just helping me look after them. Without dwelling too much on it, there was something telling me to just go. Pack that suitcase and just go.

I find it funny that I often talk about self-care; how critically important it is to our health, yet when I have the opportunity to have a whole weekend of self-care, I am hesitant to go. Practise what you preach Bethany! Just go. So...I went. And wow...what a weekend it was!

We only drove a little over an hour out of Melbourne, but there is just something about the country air. The crisp, fresh air that fills your lungs, that little bit more and makes you feel instantly good. Even though I had never been there, driving up to The Ridge House felt like I was coming back to my country home, it was familiar and welcoming. Being perched on top of a little hill surrounded by the beauty of nature made me stop in my tracks and just appreciate the moment and my surroundings.

Walking inside, those good vibes continued. A beautiful welcome spread was set up for us on the kitchen bench, all from local businesses as well as a special and delicious honey straight from their own property Green Hills Farm. Farm fresh eggs, a golden loaf of Real Bread by George local sourdough, fresh raspberry and rhubarb jam from Berridelish, gorgeous native blooms and more.

Looking around, I was genuinely blown away by how well designed the house was. Every little detail, from the incredible dried blooms everywhere to the pillows, doorstops and fully stocked kitchen, it genuinely felt like home. We had absolutely everything we needed. This wasn’t just a cute country house that had your bare essentials, this was a luxe, next-level home where every detail had been covered.

Gorgeous local food supplied by host extraordinaire, Kristy. Image: Bethany Sita

The guilt that I had about coming was slowly melting away as I took in our home for the next two nights and really appreciated what was in front of me. I had never stayed in a place with such attention to detail. It was very relaxing to know I didn’t have to rush out to get coffee or milk or worry about what was for dinner because it all had been taken care of.

On the stovetop we found a beautiful homemade napoli sauce and inside the fridge, fresh homemade pasta was ready to cook. The pot was already on the stove with water ready to boil.

Our host Kristy had also made a delicious apple and rhubarb crumble that was ready to reheat in the oven. As I said, and really appreciate as a busy working mother, every little detail was taken care of so I didn’t have to do it myself.

Being a health coach (just like our host actually), I truly appreciate and value the quality of fresh local produce and there is always something extra special about a meal made from scratch. There were games, books, magazines, recipe books and very importantly, wood chopped and ready to go for a fire in both living areas. Kristy had really thought of everything we would need.

It was the perfect spot to relax, unwind and really just slow down, which is something that isn’t always easy for me. We took a trip to the Warragul local farmer’s market on Saturday morning and picked up some local delights for our lunch and dinner. There was so much to explore around the property, as well as the surrounding area, however, the house was so comfortable we spent most of the time just connecting and being at peace with where we were. We enjoyed hot chocolate with marshmallows by the fire at night and did a lovely morning yoga session in the large front living room and absolutely loved our little visits from George the resident guinea fowl.

The Ridge House gave me the most beautiful space to stop, tune into myself and my needs and just be present and relax. Something every person should prioritise every once in a while as part of looking after their health and wellbeing. Even though I had a huge amount of guilt leaving my family and responsibilities, it was the exact thing I needed to do for myself. It was a beautiful weekend and I will definitely be back for more!

--Bethany Sita

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