This last year or so has highlighted so much that is wrong about our individualist society. I grew up with the message that I should work more, harder…push…bigger, better, faster, more. Even to the point of collapse. Mental health be damned. Just push through physical exhaustion or illness. The prosperity gospel perpetuates this mindset – just fake it ’til you make it. It’s dangerous and wrong.
We have witnessed some privileged rich and famous people taking breaks and stepping away from the limelight to protect themselves and set boundaries. It’s a great thing to see them modeling health for the rest of us, but if we as a society cannot allow for rest, it just spotlights the problems even more. We pride ourselves on our self-reliance and grit to our detriment.
Naysayers (and even I at times) wonder at what point do we push on with courage in the face of fear and adversity or just quit? When do we know what to do? Most of us don’t have that luxury – paid time off, savings for vacations, help with responsibilities.
How many people feel trapped by their circumstances and cannot or refuse to rest or quit? We see so much depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and more. What will it take to wake up and make systemic changes?
We live in a rat race society. I refuse to succumb to the hustle.
We have had seasons of rushing and I didn’t like it. We tried to fit in and do all the things – signing our kids up for every activity, volunteering for everything at church, doing, going, hurrying. I didn’t feel safe or content and I think our health suffered with the added stress.
I had to learn how to say no. And NO. is a complete sentence. I had to learn how to discern what we should and could do with our time, protecting our rest, limiting ourselves to what felt safe and sure.
Thankfully, we are in a season we are able to get enough sleep and rest. I don’t have to stay busy all the time.
My youngest is eleven. I remember the days when he was a baby and toddler and seemed never to sleep. I don’t really miss those times. I love having big kids and teens.
How we rest
I wake up naturally most mornings. I don’t like alarms. I don’t like to be rushed. I don’t think success is waking up before dawn, unless that’s natural and normal for someone. I don’t function well in the early morning.
I don’t make appointments for mornings if I can help it.
During summer, my kids each choose a camp realizing they have to plan to go to bed and wake up earlier to get ready.
Every morning, I refill the bird feeders and I sit on my deck with my tea and our two cats, watching the birds and damselflies. I inspect my garden for new blooms and ripe tomatoes. I love birds and gardening.
I make a hot breakfast for my three kids who live at home every weekday morning. My husband has weekend duty.
Most months, the kids and I do read alouds after breakfast.
The kids usually watch Netflix with their lunch of leftovers or homemade ramen.
Afternoons are usually carefree and easy. The kids work on science, history writing, arts and crafts, hiking and exploring, bug watching, reading, baking. I read or clean or run errands. We sometimes go to the library or a park. I try to schedule appointments in the afternoons – dentist, orthodontist, therapy, doctor, vision. My kids are now old enough that they can stay home alone for a couple hours so I can go by myself to my own appointments or just take the one child to their appointment. I don’t like rushing, so I leave with plenty of time to arrive safely without feeling anxious.
The kids have classes a few evenings a week. One does aerial gymnastics twice a week. One has art classes and ice skating. One plays elite baseball.
We try to have dinner together every night. Occasionally, we eat while watching a TV show and Fridays are usually homemade pizza and movie nights. Some nights are difficult to plan, with art, gymnastics, if my son has a baseball game or practice. I don’t like rushed meals. I don’t like having two dinnertimes. We try to have an early dinner (preferable) or a later dinner to accommodate these evenings. Often, on nights we don’t have activities, we go for a walk after dinner or play cards or board games.
While the kids don’t have a specific bedtime, I encourage winding down and getting in bed by about ten at night. I know this is when our bodies are ready for sleep. I feel the natural melatonin kicking in and my body temp lowers and I get sleepy. I teach my kids to listen to their bodies. We try to limit devices and screens before bed, plugging them in outside bedrooms, and turn off the WIFI at bedtime. We prioritize sleep so our kids grow well and perform at their best.
We worked hard to get here, to this place of peace and rest.
- time away
- permission to not be helpful
- something ‘“unproductive”
- connection to art and nature
- solitude to recharge
- a break from responsibility
- stillness to decompress
- safe space
- alone time at home
Resting is doing.
I am not about that capitalist grind. I don’t have a home business. I am not that boss mom or whatever. I realize how incredibly privileged I am to stay home as a mom and teacher. We have worked hard to get to this place.
I am introverted and highly sensitive. I don’t enjoy being busy. I don’t enjoy crowds or excessive noise.
I protect my kids’ time and childhood. We don’t overschedule. I want them to have lots of time to play instead of every moment of their day filled with programs.
I refuse to push my kids with their academics or make them hate their passions and hobbies by attempting entrepreneurship. They have freedom in our homeschool to explore and go at their own pace. They choose to take classes for art or sports or new activities with spaces and tools we don’t have in our home. We are in a place where my young teens can choose to do volunteer work for experience if they desire – since they legally cannot work yet. I don’t think that older teens or young adults should waste their time with unpaid work. Their time is valuable too and they should be paid for work.
My son chooses to do elite baseball and while I am so proud of him and his growth with the sport, I am not thrilled with missed or delayed meals or rushing to pack healthy portable snacks for games in the middle of breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I have stressed about games far from home and how my son will eat if there isn’t a grocery store nearby for me to acquire healthy choices. We observe with dismay the families who choose to eat greasy fast food during game breaks and then their boys play poorly and sluggishly. There are times when my husband has to take our son to practices or games and I have to take another of our children to a class or appointment. I can’t be everywhere at once.
My middle kids are in high school and I refuse to stress them out with tests, driving lessons, college prep, part time jobs, or volunteering. I offer them opportunities so they can make choices. I coach and guide and answer questions. I do so much research. I am constantly telling my kids to protect their time. I teach them to say no and manage their schedules wisely. There will be time enough for them to stress later. I don’t want to add any anxiety.
My eldest is on her own and I am sad for her hustle to survive and trying to be healthy and happy. Good paying jobs with a healthy work environment are scarce and having a certificate or college degree is no guarantee of insurance, competitive pay, or decent treatment.
I limit my interaction and time on social media. I encourage my kids to be careful online and protect their time. I am impressed that they can and do often walk away often to pursue other interests.
I love that my kids still like exploring and hiking in the woods, playing in the creek, biking, roller blading, skateboarding. They’re often the only kids I ever see outside. They ask to play cards or board games after dinner. They play Legos and Wii and Switch together if the weather is too much.
Fitness and exercise seems even to be stressful for many people. I refuse to overwork myself. I love programs that are short and intense and I do see results. Every evening after dinner, I walk about 45 minutes around this little pond park about a half mile from our house. It’s peaceful and I enjoy seeing the waterfowl, bunnies, sometimes deer or horned owls, even a coyote.
I take a bubble bath with Epsom salts every night before bed. I have chamomile tea and read or watch a show. This is my alone time and I protect it.
I still read a story to my son every night at bedtime. Then I usually read an eBook until I can’t see the words anymore and fall asleep. Screens before bed aren’t recommended. I turn off the blue light with settings and I haven’t noticed any problems.
How prioritizing rest helps:
- Better digestion
- Better nighttime sleep
- General contentedness
- Less stress
- Time for exercise
- Less forgetfulness
- Less anxiety
- Less clutter
- Deeper relationships
- Time for spontaneity
- Better immunity
It’s important we model rest for our children so they have better health. We don’t have to hustle like everyone else.
- The Comfort Book by Matt Haig
- Why We Can’t Sleep: Women’s New Midlife Crisis by Ada Calhoun
- Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Warren
- Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone by James Martin
- The Long Night: Readings and Stories to Help You through Depression by Jessica Kantrowitz
- Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation by Ruth Haley Barton
- Motherwhelmed: Challenging Norms, Untangling Truths, and Restoring Our Worth to the World by Beth Berry
- To Hell with the Hustle: Reclaiming Your Life in an Overworked, Overspent, and Overconnected World by Jefferson Bethke
- Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker
- Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman
- Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang
- Sacred Pauses: Spiritual Practices for Personal Renewal by April Yamaski
- Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May
- Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest by Bonnie Gray
- Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller
- The Nap Ministry
How do you prioritize rest?
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