What’s Your Family’s Rest Plan?
“The days are long, but the years are short,” I heard a wise parent say, but there’s something about the endless calling of parenthood that both blesses beyond measure and exhausts beyond means. Parents are emotionally and physically invested in this occupation of preparing people to be the next generation of life-givers. In order to give our best, we need to be our best, and that requires something that isn’t given enough credit in our overly-caffeinated, deadline-driven, production-measuring society: rest. Finding time to pull away from the demands of life and pause long enough to restore our physical, emotional and spiritual selves may be the missing link to becoming the parent, spouse, friend and co-worker we most desire to be.
It sounds counterintuitive to rest when we feel pressured to strive. But like carving out time for our physical health, rest is exercise of a different sort, and its rewards are exponential. Creating a rest plan for yourself is purposeful, planned and personal.
The Purpose: Being purposeful about your rest plan means knowing your goals. What do you hope to achieve out of your rest—peaceful mindset, calm spirit, physical renewal or maybe a few more hours of sleep? What are the things you most need to pull away from in order to feel at peace and rested? It may be deadlines, to-do lists, schedules, other people or a certain physical space like a kitchen or cubicle. Where can you feel at rest? Some people feel most at rest out in nature, while others escape to a relaxing coffee shop like Black Dog Coffeehouse in Lenexa (www.BDCoffeehouse.com) or to the kitchen table with a hot cup of tea.
Busy parents often feel fatigued and overtired, but more sleep may not be the key to your feeling rested. You may find that scheduling an early morning walk or jog a few times each week actually increases your energy levels.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes some trial and error to discover your purpose in resting. Denise Williams, Shawnee, speaks to the difficulties of resting while being Mom to two young daughters and owner/operator of Denise Williams Photography: “I often read about how we need to rest our minds from the constant buzz of our busy lives. My mind knows I need rest and my body often tells me I need rest, but I have a hard time actually accomplishing this. I am very task-oriented and also a mom, both of which are not conducive to resting. The minute I have some kid-free time, my mind goes straight to thoughts of what I can get accomplished rather than resting or rejuvenating.”
Creating an effective rest plan has a learning curve, so be mindful of your goals, and the results will speak for themselves.
The Plan: Grab the family calendar and take an honest look at your family’s general rhythm and schedule. Think in terms of daily, weekly, monthly and yearly rest and record your plans with specific dates and times. Daily rest could be as simple as taking 10 minutes at the start of your day to sit quietly with your thoughts before kicking into work mode, or listening to a great audio book while you clean up the dinner dishes (ear buds and smartphones open up a world of mental rest opportunities!).
Weekly rest might include a weekend nap or a hike outdoors. Involve older kids in planning sessions and encourage them to consider the role they can play in creating a rest plan for the whole family. Lenexa mom Tara Gazaway shares, “We try to create margin in our week for unstructured time where we are free to choose activities as a family. It might be a big breakfast in our pajamas, board games or serving together somewhere in the community.” Monthly and yearly rest planning can take a bit more preparation. Family vacations, weekend getaways or local staycations are all great rest opportunities.
The key is to be creative and specific in your planning. How can the family rest together? How can Mom and Dad get the individual rest time they are need? Can the kids take over kitchen cleanup on Friday nights while parents relax? Can Dad do the Saturday morning routine while Mom sleeps in an extra hour? Can Mom or Dad prepare a cold breakfast Friday night that kids can independently serve themselves on Saturday morning while parents stay in bed? Mom, take the kids for a stroll around the neighborhood so Dad can come home from work and catch a few minutes to himself one night each week.
Perfect rest scenarios can be difficult to come by, especially with young children, so try to be fully present and in the moment for even the simplest of restful situations. Just having an attitude of gratitude for a few hours can actually be a rest in itself from the negative stream of consciousness many of us experience throughout the day.
The Personal: Rest is personal. Unfortunately, no one can rest on your behalf and leave you feeling rejuvenated and revived. Extroverts and introverts often rest differently. An extrovert can energize from a lunch date with friends, while introverts tend to gain their energy internally from quiet moments. Whether it’s for a family or individual, a rest plan needs to take into consideration the individual needs of the people involved. It takes time, and you will have failed attempts at rest. Just keep seeking those successes and revise your rest plan accordingly.
Jena Meyerpeter and her family are learning how to rest well in Lenexa.