As an introvert mom to four and Catholic school teacher, I know two things to be true. I love working with youth and being a mom. I also know that I am often overstimulated, and that in order to do my job and my parenting well, I need to set aside regular time to rest.
Easier said than done in the day-to-day hustle and bustle, but when I don’t rest, many of my less-than-amazing traits shine through. The impatience, the feeling overwhelmed, the irritability. The need has always been there, but rest has looked different at different phases of life for me. There hasn’t been a magic rest recipe that has worked well all the time. There have been times when I have tried to rigidly schedule rest, but I found that certain days I need certain things more than others, and sometimes the scheduled “rest” didn’t match what I needed at all, and therefore it felt more like a burden than anything else.
So I let go of the rigidity, and recently, here is what I’ve done that I’ve found helpful. And I hope some of you may find it helpful, too.
I started by making a list of things that recharge me. Things that, for me, constitute as rest. Some items on the list were a hot bath, reading a book, enjoying a nice glass of wine with my husband, writing or creating something, taking a walk, prayer, journaling, just sitting in a quiet space, taking a nap, doing a workout, and so on.
And then, rather than sticking to some regimented schedule of predetermined rest activities, I allow myself the freedom to choose what would best help me in that given moment. I do this by taking care to be mindful throughout the week of how I’m feeling. Am I overstimulated? Maybe I need to let my husband take care of making dinner so I can go enjoy a quiet bath when he gets home from work. Am I low energy? Some days, I might cure feeling tired with an energetic workout. Others, I may shut my eyes for a little while for a nap.
I’ve learned that right now a lot of my rest involves accepting the introvert inside me and stepping away from people for a little while, whatever that looks like. When I do that, I’m much better for everyone when I return.
One thing that remains relatively constant is setting aside regular time to pray. This often happens early in the morning, before the rest of the house has stirred. It’s not natural for me to get up at 5:00 AM, or even 5:30, but it is the best chance I have at quiet before the day begins for everyone else in my home. I do this four or five times per week, and it acts as an anchor to my days.
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It can be very easy for us moms to push aside our need for rest, to put the needs of others above our own. #CatholicMom
It can be very easy for us moms to push aside our need for rest, to put the needs of others above our own. I often smile when I think that even God rested, and I feel the value of rest in my soul when I see how much better I am for those I love and serve when I prioritize resting too.
Rest will not look the same for every person, and it probably won’t look the same every day, but if we can take time to recognize the things that recharge us, and allow ourselves to take the time when needed, then I trust that we are better equipped to live our calling in whatever phase of life God has us in today.
(Note: This article originally appeared on Catholic Mom)