In Mummy-blog-land (and in real life) there are two camps when it comes to mums taking time out; one, says that we should do it, and another says we should always be there for our family, always working. I’m in the ‘do it’ camp! I see the need for rest, for rejuvenation in other people – my husband, in my kids, in my friends – I am sure I’m no different. How we do rest may differ from person to person, season of life to season of life but it does need to happen.
Mums are first of all a person – a whole person; we have spiritual, moral, emotional, social, intellectual, physical aspects of our life. Just like our kids, we need to be growing in every area of our life. We also wear many hats: we are more than ‘mum’. We are a woman, a Christian, a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter as well as a mum. We also take on different roles: we are a homemaker, we may have a paid job, and/or a volunteering commitment. Life is more than being a mum – though admittedly being a mum has encompassed a good portion of my life. It is one of the most important relationships in my life, and is one of the biggest influences in shaping my day. But I am more than being a mum.
The thing with finding time for ‘rest’ is how do we do that and keep control on all those other aspects of my life. Taking time to rest and rejuvenate should not be at the expense of high priority responsibilities. The dusting can wait, but dinner can’t (though it can be made simple!) Two things helped me take rest during the years when my children where young:
Understand what rests me. Some of us rejuvenate by being with people, others by being by themselves. Some by reading, some by physical exercise, some by being creative. For me, it is about being creative.
Train my children so I can take rest – one of the early lessons I learnt as a mum, was that as I trained my children to play independently and to focus on an activity for a period of time (instead of flitting from one thing to the next) then I could get the things done that I needed to do. This included taking times to rest. The more they needed me to entertain them, the less time I had for other things.
Finding time to Rest
During my children’s childhood years Peter worked away from home, and I had the children by myself for long blocks of time. I needed to find a way to create times of rest for myself, without relying on him to have the kids. When he was home it was mostly family time together – now he did take the kids for some daddy time, but that was a bonus. The day to day rest, was up to me.
When talking about rest, what do you think about? Do you see all that needs to be done, and feel you can’t take a day off? There are restraints on what we can do – time, money, energy all limit what we can do in terms of rest. To me, it is about taking what we have, taking the situation we are in, and finding time to look after ourselves. So regardless of what your family life looks like, what season of life, how many children, your husband’s work situation, the climate you live in etc – there is a way for you to find time to refresh.
- Create a regular rest time in your daily routine for your kids; nap time, reading time, dvd time. Resist the urge to rush around and tidy up and get work done – take the time to rest. If you need to do this twice in one day, do it – first time for you to do those focus tasks where you need quiet, and second time to rest
- Instead of doing all the chores by yourself, use chores as a training time with your kids – this way they stay occupied (as well as learning something), and you get your chores done. Admittedly, it will take longer, or so we think – how long does it take to do the chores, and constantly coming back to sort out whatever is happening with your kids. Work together, play together, rest together (at the same time).
- Recognise that we can refresh in many little ways without a complete time out from our kids: I used to sit on the bathroom floor while toddler would play in the bath. I’d just sit and listen to their laughter. I could feel the tensions of the day melt away (conversely I could make bath-time a stress by being rushed and demanding!) Playing music that calmed (or invigorated) my soul while I cleaned.
- Taking 5 with a cuppa and read a chapter of my book, while children played. Sit outside with a glass of water while the kids played outside. I used to cut roses, and put them in a vase. I could do that with kids underfoot even, but the beauty of roses in my house gave me a moment of rest.
- Rearrange your daily routine to make the most of restful opportunities. My friend had a season where she cooked dinner early in the afternoon, so she could be outdoors at sunset. The kids played and she just breathed.
- Leave the house and plan a fun day. Go to the library, the pool, the park, go for a bike ride, bushwalk, or visit a friend.
- Get your children to exercise with you – they can ride their bikes, while you walk/run. They can play in the park while you do your stretches or circuit.
- Swap child care with a friend one day a week, so that you get some child-free time fortnightly. Don’t be tempted to work!
- Don’t talk back when the kids talk through the bathroom door, simply tell them to sit and wait. You have the right to a moments peace in the bathroom! Also, make a specific time for your shower / beauty routine. Make sure the kids are doing something where they are safe and occupied, and make it happen.
- Have a stop work time at the end of the day – it may be dinner time, or an hour after dinner. But carve some time for yourself after the kids go to bed, before you go to bed. The chores will be there in the morning, and in the morning you can have your kids help you!
- Be honest with your husband. Women like to be martyrs… we push on anyway. Is there some way your husband can help you – I am sure you are helping your husband find a time to pause and rest from the tiredness of his day. If we don’t talk to our husbands, they won’t know what we need. Peter used to take the kids every 6 weeks or so for a Mums Day Off: he would take them out for an extended morning, have lunch and bring them back for their sleep/rest time – they would then have a video (yes, in the days of videos!) in the afternoon. We would have a simple meal from the freezer, can or take away so I didn’t have to cook. I enjoyed having the house to myself for several hours.
Things that stop us from taking rest
- Unreal expectations on what it means to get it done. It is important to get our tasks done – be it homemaking, homeschooling, or other commitments, but we need to have realistic expectations. Some things can wait, some things can’t. We need to have a serious look at what we expect to be done before we give ourselves a moment of rest.
- Don’t factor in rest as we organise our day: if we don’t see rest as important, if we don’t see ourselves as a whole person with many aspects, then we won’t value rest – we’ll tack it on to the end of the day when we get everything done. We will never get everything done – we need to prioritise the important things, and looking after ourselves is an important thing.
- We train our kids to respect other people, and forget to teach them that we, mum, is one of those ‘ other’ people. Our children need to see our needs are important, just like they respect dad, grandma, the neighbour or favourite aunty!
Rest – in whatever way you take it – strengthens our ability to cope. It gives a focus in our spirit, a calmness to our emotions, strength to our body, clarity to our mind.
I’m not advocating that you ignore your house, that you are out for coffee every morning – but we do need to see that we are a person, and we have a physical, emotional, social needs, and a part of meeting those needs is rest. We also need to see that rest doesn’t only happen by taking a nap or being completely child free. There will be seasons in our life, especially when our children are babies and toddlers, where it is hard to find time to rest, but it is also a season in life where we need to look after ourselves or we won’t be able to do our best in the things that are important.
- You can’t do it all – sometimes you need to ask for help
- #1 Tip for Mothers to go to the Bathroom Uninterrupted
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