Humans need rest, just like every other living thing. All life has cycles of work and rest, and if there is no rest, there will soon be no life. Even an evergreen tree has dormant periods, despite looking bright and green all the time.
I knew the importance of rest going into motherhood, but for some reason, my beautiful and demanding son didn’t know that Sunday was my day off. He somehow missed the memo that on this “day of rest” he should sleep through the night, take long naps, not need to nurse on my bleeding breasts, and not cry so that I can be refreshed and a good mother for the remainder of the week.
Just how is a mother supposed to get some time off?
Just like all the different types of plant and animal life in this world, the best cycle of work and rest is different for each of us. You might need more than your mother did or than your neighbor who never seems to stop for a breath–but remember, even people who look like they never stop are either getting the amount of rest they need or they will soon burn out.
Often as mothers we are either working or feeling guilty that we’re not working (and sometimes both at once!) We need to learn to rest guilt-free because rest isn’t restful if we’re feeling guilty! Here’s what helps me.
Thursdays are “My Day,” and while I still have to change diapers, fix meals, kiss boo-boos, and wipe up messes, I give myself a break in little ways and refuse to feel guilty about anything. Here are some of the privileges I enjoy on My Day:
I fix food that I particularly enjoy or pop in a frozen pizza. I work hard to feed my family healthy meals the rest of the week, so I can allow myself to follow my cravings and energy level guilt-free because it’s my day OFF!
I use cloth diapers at home, but once a week, I take a break from the frequent changes by using disposables.
During afternoon naps or quiet time, I let myself do whatever I feel like doing, whether it’s collapsing with a book and a coffee, taking a nap, or working on a project nobody but me cares about. (And yes, I do all of this with no guilt.)
During the rest of the week I strictly control my computer time, but on My Day, I let myself read emails without answering, get lost surfing the internet, or watch some YouTube videos.
I like staying at home, so on My Day, I don’t schedule any appointments if I can help it, and I keep my “to do’s” to a minimum. This also frees me up to relax and enjoy the kids more since I’m not constantly trying to break away to get something done.
I’m blessed with a supportive husband who, on My Day, takes on some of my regular duties, like dinner dishes and bedtime routines, so I can use the evening for something I can’t normally do with kids around.
Every evening I do a quick wipe down of the bathroom and sweep of the floors, except on My Day, of course, and on one “joker” day per week. On days when I’m feeling too wiped out to do the evening chores, I use my “joker” and let myself skip them with a clear conscience. The house hardly even notices, and my family doesn’t notice at all!
No one can work on everything all the time! To help manage my load and avoid constantly feeling guilty, I schedule work for certain days and times. For example, I hate making phone calls, so Wednesday is my phone call day. The rest of the week I can avoid the phone without guilt.
A mother’s life is full of sacrifice, so we deserve some treats! I make fresh-squeezed OJ on the weekends, call my best friend on Fridays, and indulge my sweet tooth on My Day.
Even if there’s a lot of work that I need to do, Sunday is still an important day of rest for my family, so I try my best on that day to give them a break from nagging, complaining, and criticism. Instead, I just enjoy who they are and the stage of life we’re in.
Remember that I mentioned on My Day I let myself use my quiet time to do whatever I want, guilt-free? Well, today is My Day, and it’s also the deadline for Power of Moms’ article submissions.
I am not a writer. I am not an expert. I am just a young mom. Why should I take time away from my family to write, and will anyone be interested in what I have to say anyway? Well, it’s My Day, and that means I don’t listen to the voices of guilt and fear. I can write because I want to. Who knows? I might just get published, and maybe, just maybe, my contribution will make a difference for a fellow mom.
May we, as mothers, all remember that even evergreen trees need periods of rest in order to stay beautiful and fresh all the time. May we figure out small ways to make rest part of our weekly routine, even when parenting is “non-stop.”
QUESTION: What would you do if you had a break from your normal duties and gave yourself permission to do something for which you don’t normally have the time?
CHALLENGE: Think of one specific, ongoing duty you dislike. Decide how you could change it so that you get a break from it or make it easier on yourself at least once a week.
Image Source: Janet Stuecklin
Janet, you ARE a writer and this is FANTASTIC! I had a rather “guilt-full” day yesterday because I was so tired after several busy days in a row,, but I could have have just designated it my day off. Love it!
I am no longer raising children, but I am caring full-time for elderly relatives. A lot of your ideas resonate, and now I am looking for ways to take regular breaks. Thanks!
Saren Eyre Loosli says
SUCH excellent ideas, Janet! Thanks for using some of your precious personal time to share! I’m sitting here eating a cookie and enjoying a few minutes to read the latest posts on Power of Moms and I’m feeling extra good about the decision to just relax a bit before the kids get home from school after reading your article. I think I’ll make a habit of taking these last few minutes before the kids get home from school to re-charge and be ready for them and give myself a little break from my to-do list.
Wow! The concept of scheduling these types of activities is a breakthrough. Scheduling both the tasks you want to do and those you’d rather avoid seems to take some pressure off.
I schedule chores but not refreshing/relaxing activities. That leads to doing relaxing things on the days I’m wiped out — but then feeling guilty for not having more energy.
Cheryl Cardall says
I love this! We do need to recharge regularly! You are a writer, keep the articles coming!
Tiffany Hancock says
Janet Stuecklin says
Thanks for the comments! I’m happy my ideas are sparking your imaginations. That’s what I was hoping for. Happy guilt-free resting!
love this post!
Loved this post! Great ideas here. It’s easy to get caught up in all the have-tos and then (if you’re like me) crash and “waste time” and feel guilty about it. Thanks for offering up your solution on how to rest while still being a mom!
Janet Stuecklin says
Beth, I can totally relate to getting so burnt out that I “waste time.” Another trick I use to use the time when I don’t feel like doing anything is to keep a file of YouTube videos, articles, and other “fun” stuff people send me. I don’t watch them right away as it distracts me from the flow of work, but when I’m tuckered out I open the file and catch up with the fun stuff. It doesn’t elminate guilt, but it does help!
This post was awesome and came at a perfect time for me. I am talking to my husband tonight about scheduling in a guilt free me day once a week. My battery needs recharging and this concept was just the fuel I needed. Thank you!
Rachel Nielson says
I take a morning off every week. A good friend of mine watches my son for the morning, and I have four blissful hours to do whatever I want. I usually use the time to write. Another day of the week, I watch her boys for four hours, so she can have some time to herself as well.
I love the idea of giving the family a true day of rest on Sunday by letting them rest from my nagging, criticizing, etc. That would probably make our getting-ready-for-church times a lot more pleasant. Thanks!
What an amazing post!!!!
Janet, loved this article! I have been pondering this very week how to fit it all in my schedule without killing myself off. I’ve been parenting for over 24 years now and you’d think I would have all the answers but…..
Your suggestion of work cycles confirmed to me what had already been tumbling around in my mind. If I think I have to do all of those jobs e.v.e.r.y day I get completely overwhelmed. I’m going to sit down and schedule certain tasks for certain days and let go of the guilt so I can enjoy my last littles at home.
Way to use “your day” to write! And thank you.