Weary moms deserve spa goodness

A brief getaway exfoliates parental stress and restores clarity.

I’m a little stunned I’m writing a spa piece. Until a few days ago I was a spa virgin. True. Not a single heavenly massage or visit to steam room nirvana. What kept this hard working mom away? A skeptical perspective spas were heavier on indulgence than wellness. A reluctance to invest in myself. A bias that a few hours of high-priced touch and relaxation were overrated.


I was so naïve…


Pathway to wellness

Today’s spas feel indulgent, but they’re way beyond fluff. A safe place to empty our angst and rejuvenate, a parent on the pathway to wellness can return to family life feeling more centered and calm.

 As much as we may profess understanding mind-body-spirit connections, it can take a nudge from our typical surroundings to truly “get it.” When our bodies are thoughtfully attended to, our minds open to aspects of wellness the daily grind erases.

Why it’s okay to invest in our wellness

Believing I wasn’t worthy of nurturance at a spa was probably my most significant issue, and maybe you can relate. So accustomed to serving the needs of others, parents frequently overlook the threat of overload and collapse. Our reserves can dip, leaving our immune systems at risk. It can take courage to step out of a care-giving role to allow ourselves to be nurtured.

You are worthy. So is your family. You’ll return to your responsibilities with positive energy and gratitude. The refreshment will leave you better equipped to give.


How spas deliver

There are facilities offering inexpensive treatments, but I personally recommend spending more (and perhaps visiting less). I experienced two amazing spas in Chicago.

 The Elysian’s spa located on the 4th floor of a luxury hotel in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood surpassed my expectations. The architecture and deco décor will transport you to Paris! The masterfully designed intimate 14,000 square foot space feels a world away.

 No chance of falling asleep during my therapeutic Elysian massage, the therapist Maureen managed to force every ounce of tension from this weary mom’s muscles. At one point, I nearly began weeping (but not from pain!). I am told such a reaction is common as energy and toxins are released. 

 The massage was followed by a dip in a saline lap pool (no drying chlorine here!), tranquil conversation with my companion in the sauna, a head-clearing steam, and a soak in the Elysian’s gorgeous whirlpool bath. Would I eat Ramen noodles for a month to repeat the experience? Affirmative!

 It was also a pleasure to visit Valeo in Chicago’s J.W. Marriott. If the Elysian is a sparkly Parisian boutique, Valeo is a 20,000 square foot womb-like temple from another era. My facial by Cheryl was customized for unique midlife issues (fine lines, loss of elasticity, dryness) and felt both meditative and heavenly. I floated from the ultra quiet room with rehydrated and polished skin, advice to properly care for it, and nourishing effects which lingered.

 Valeo features the only Clarity Chambers in the United Sates, and I was anxious to experience this modern take on ancient Greek, Roman, and Turkish bathing rituals. The chamber felt harmoniously balanced for all the senses. Reclining on an enormous marble “belly” stone heated from within, the outside world melts away as a fire dances nearby in modern stainless steel housing. Do the chambers produce clarity? In my relaxed state, a handful of story ideas bubbled into consciousness (and truth be told, I took mental notes pondering how I might recreate my own clarity chamber at home). I realized quickly recreating a chamber would be impossible, so I will return to Valeo!


Wellness without bankruptcy

World class spa services cost more than those at the strip mall with good reason, but don’t be misguided. If you’re flexible about travel times, a luxurious room at the Elysian or JW Marriott can be booked for under $200 per night. Even if you decide to pass on a massage, the inclusive spa amenities will wow you. If you were budgeting $600 for a 6-night stay at a mediocre property, consider instead finding fulfillment at a quality location for 3-nights.

 Consider a spa gift certificate for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and the holidays—it makes everyone feel cherished.


Smart tips from a spa first-timer

• Check out exclusive hotels and spas online you assume are out of your price range—you may be pleasantly surprised.

• Arrive 20 minutes early to your spa service appointment—you’ll have time to talk with your therapist, sip something refreshing, and prepare for nirvana.

• Make sure you let your therapist know about recent procedures, injuries, allergies, or sensitivities.

• Sip water the entire time at the spa.

• Ask questions about skincare, fitness, and nutrition. The experts will send you away equipped with great advice to jumpstart healthy new habits.

• Challenge the voices that say only superficial people and narcissists belong at the spa. Wellness is not reserved for an exclusive club.


Michele Ranard is a busy mom still on cloud nine from so much spa goodness. She has a husband, two children, and a master’s in counseling. Visit her blogs at cheekychicmama.blogspot.com and hellolovelyinc.blogspot.com.



The Elysian Chicago – www.elysianhotels.com


 JW Marriott – www.JWMarriott.com