I think we all would agree that we would really like to incorporate more rest into the rhythm of our week, right? But the ironic thing that our modern generation of mothers faces is that rest, the very thing that gives us life and energy to accomplish all those important motherly things, is the one gift we often deny ourselves. Even when there's opportunity to take rest, we don't do it. Why is that?
I think there's many reasons for this, but one of the biggest is that our society tells us that the busier you are, the more important you must be. Productivity is self-worth. This was an issue I faced head on a couple years ago as I was ramping up an etsy business and blog and taking care of two very needy little ones. I kept allowing myself to get busier and busier until I was so exhausted that I lost focus on all the people in my life that I love the most. I was trying to find value in productivity and popularity and this idea that I had to be something other than, or more than exactly what God had for me in that season.
We are a busy generation. But we all know that God commands us to rest each week. REST IS A GIFT. It's an actual gift from God our loving father, given to us with good purpose. Our bodies were designed with limitations. And rest is where we go to find restoration and wisdom. I urge you not to deny yourself this, mamas.
I'm not expert at the balance of rest and productivity, but over these past six years as a mom, I've learned (the hard way) how to incorporate a rhythm of rest into my family life. This is so that I stay reliant on Jesus and stay refreshed enough to continue on with the hard work of mothering. Here are a few very practical ways I practice rest. And the good news is that I have found I am actually more productive when these are all in play.
1. Make a list of the weekly activities that drain me of energy. I have actually written these down and resigned to cut something out in the name of rest. For me it's often frivolous computer time. But perhaps for you it's keeping your house perfectly clean all the time or a child's activity that's no longer bringing them joy or value. Cut something out.
2. Pre-plan some Margin. We all need some margin for errors. Planning in some buffer time helps our week flow more efficiently. And it also allows for spontaneity which is super important to me.
3. Identify a physical location to be my sanctuary. For me, it's my bed. It's free from anything work related. But it can be any room in your house or even a coffee shop. Finding a place where you can go to retreat and rest helps keep it sacred.
4. Keep the Sabbath. I set apart one day of the week that's different from the other six and claim it for more rest than usual. No work or stress on that day, but just spend the day in reflection, gratitude and relaxation. For me this is often Saturdays. I even take a nap when I can!
5. Get away. A change of scenery does wonders for my soul. We plan big trips and little trips. We make time to see or do something new as often as possible.
6. Purge my home of clutter and excess. Ladies this is a great one. I can't tell you how freeing it is to practice regular purging of possessions. Get rid of anything that isn't bringing you function or happiness. You'll be amazed at how much more restful your home will feel if you don't have 8,000 toys to pick up every night, or the excessive clothing that creates more loads of laundry than needed.
7. Establish a system of communication with my husband and kids. Don't let yourself or your spouse get overburdened. Offer rest to each other when needed. Talk about the family calendar for the week ahead. Ask the kids to help out around the house too. Let them experience the rhythm of both work and rest.
8. Remember that life can go on functioning without me. I've realized that I can step away for a bit and let someone else help! They don't have to do it exactly like I would, but I let them help when I need a break.
Ladies, let's not set a family rhythm in which Mom runs herself ragged and a tone of unattainable productivity is modeled for our children. Let's obey God's command to rest and show our children that those who put their hope in the Lord will renew their strength each day.
I will leave you with an excerpt from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals:
"Lord of Creation,
Create in us a new rhythm of life
composed of hours that sustain rather than stress,
of days that deliver rather than destroy,
of time that tickles rather than tackles."
You can read more from Bri at her personal blog, Woven.