Carving Time For Rest

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.

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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.

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(Note: This article originally appeared on Catholic Mom)

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Strong But Not Superhuman

The Swells and Crests of Life

We had a period of time this fall into early winter where things were relatively calm. I remember thinking to myself during that time, Remember to appreciate this. Be thankful for this.

Because I’ve been around at least long enough to know that life comes in seasons, in swells and crests, and that something would come to stir up our temporarily calm seas.

Mary was in the hospital for two nights just before Christmas, and RSV spread through the rest of the family for most of Christmas break.

Then, in January we caught our breath.

In February, we lost my aunt to suicide, and we are still recovering from that loss. The pain continues to come in waves. There are good days, and there are difficult days. The air leaves my chest and my stomach sinks every time I go in the basement and see a pile of boxes there. All her stuff. Filled with clothes and baking supplies and art that I have no idea what to do with and no clue if or when or how I will be ready to see it, to touch it, to use it again.

Coming to terms with the pain she felt, our own powerlessness to do anything to change it, and the hope that my prayers can help her still all make for a complicated mix of emotions. I can’t control when the grief hits. And when it does, it isn’t always convenient.

And it just seems like right now there is an abundance of regular but personal and professional business that make finding balance more tricky than it is at other times. I’ve wanted to have time to write more on the blog, but it’s been difficult to find the words to say amidst all the sadness.

I’m struggling with knowing the best direction to take my novel, and in discerning if it’s time to let it rest for a bit and start something new. It’s tough for me to leave a thing unfinished, in any area of life. And it’s also tough for me when there is no clear end point. I can’t say for certain when it will be ‘done.’

We are making some positive, needed, good changes, like moving to a bigger home to account for the growing number of people in our family. I’ve started being asked to speak even in different states, which is super cool and exciting.

Managing Self-Care

But compartmentalizing is tricky for me. It’s tough for me to keep everything in it’s own separate baskets in my mind and things tend to spill over. Today, I wrote an outline for myself to make sure I’m managing my self-care. Blocking time to write, to read, to exercise, to sleep. To make sure I respect the rhythm of my own body and the way God has made me. I recharge my batteries by having time alone. By writing. By reading. And by prayer. If I don’t make it a priority, then I can go too long without making it happen, get caught up in the current, and I start to feel anxious.It was good to take time to actually write out those priorities.  And it’s amazing what a quiet hour by myself can do for my peace of mind and ability to be present for my family.

The long and short of it is, I need to remember to give myself a break! I can’t be All The Things All The Time to All The People. I can’t read an article while Mary is crawling on my lap. I can, however, set aside time specifically for Mary crawling on my lap and other kid related endeavors, and also set aside different time to read that article.

I am strong, but I am not a superhero. And I think consistently trying to do more than one thing well at one time is a way to drain this momma fast.

If I need some time to grieve, I need to take some time to grieve. Not grieve AND feed the kids dinner. Not grieve AND coach a teacher. I need to open up time to just let myself grieve, at least at some point during that day. And respect it. Likewise, I can’t write a super cool blog post AND interact with my kids (with any level of patience). I can work on house hunting/building stuff, but not at the same time as I pack my lunch.

It sounds so simple, but it is something I try and do so often! Not only am I going to do this one thing, but I’m going to do more than most other normal people and try and do more than one thing at the same time and then take pride in the fact that I am able to be so productive and efficient!

But at the end of the day, I just make myself tired.

So this is a good, recurring lesson for me. We won’t ever be able to finish All The Things when all is said and done. And learning to let myself take a slower pace, or set something aside for a while will only help maintain some much-needed balance. During the times when the seas are calm, but also when they are rougher too.

-Lorelei

What helps you keep balance when things get busy? Have you had seasons of your life where you learned new ways to keep a healthy perspective?

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