My name is RITA KOBRAK. I love travelling and I love Italy. The idea of mum and baby holidays came about while talking to other mums. Many said they did not feel brave enough to travel on their own with their babies and all the extra baggage that you need to take. This gave me the inspiration for mum and baby retreats in our lovely home in Tuscany.
I went about trying to make the house child friendly and every time we go over we take more toys and baby equipment. I had mainly worked in the travel business since leaving university and having worked in 12 different countries, loved my job, but it meant that I was away from home 8 months of the year, a great life if you don’t have children but impossible after having my beautiful daughter, Alessia 2 years ago. As travelling had been such a big part of my life, I started travelling with Alessia when she was 3 months old.

She is now 4 and has been on more than 50 flights to five different countries and is a great traveller. My husband is also a tour manager and often away so I love flying out to see him with Alessia in different parts of Europe. I have always wanted to start my own holiday business and love being with people, am good at organising and enjoy cooking and having guests stay at our house in Italy.

When we are there it is not unusual to have 10 relatives and friends over to stay for a few days. Years ago I have done some teaching and last year started teaching baby Italian at Cupcake, a fantastic mum and baby club and really enjoyed it. I wanted to combine all these passions in my new business venture. I think it is so important to feel passionate about what you do as that will see you through when the money is lacking. I am always coming up with new ideas for things to do and my husband keeps telling me to slow down and do one thing at a time!

What we do on our mum and baby breaks: Mums start the day with some light yoga with babies on the mats too while I prepare breakfast which we all have on the terrace. Late morning we do some mum and baby activities such as baby Italian,baby massage, bambino latino, and storytelling.

Afternoons are at leisure with on site baby sitter if mums want to nip down to the local village or bar, or maybe just want to read or swim. After tea and cake we have a group walk or cooking lesson before time to put little ones to bed and then we all gather for dinner outside on the terrace with lake view. On one of the days we visit the medieval town of Anghiari and traditional olive mill and have some local specialities with the owner Francesco and his family. If mums want, we can drop them off at the local shoe outlet for some retail therapy. On another afternoon mums can have spa treatments in the garden, while we take care of the little ones.

The rest of the summer we rent out the villa on a weekly basis (When we are not there). We are in the process of restoring the barn next door, a complicated but rewarding experience and so should have accommodation for 16 next year.(at the moment we can accommodate 10)

The whole idea of these mum and baby retreats has given me a new focus and means I can stay at home with my daughter and take her to Italy when I do the breaks. The hard thing for me is the marketing, PR and time I have had to spend on the computer as I did not have this sort of experience in my previous career. None of my friends can believe that I managed to do the mum and baby web site myself as I did not even own a computer before! I am still very much learning and will learn to do a blog next, but I enjoy the new challenges and aim to start cooking courses and olive picking breaks soon.

I am also looking at a place in Devon in April to see if we can offer the mum and baby breaks there next year. I love the networking part of starting your own business and have met some great people this year and the best thing is I get to spend quality time with my daughter and get to go to Italy lots. Eventually we plan to move there permanently. This year I have various mum and baby breaks planned, April / May and June and a family fitness break in September which is full on boot camp style with 4 classes per day with professional trainer, nutritional advice and healthy low GI meals

THE AUTHOR: Rita kobrak 07785 571292

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