Sometimes it seems like a distant relative. Like when life is so busy that you barely have time to keep up, let alone think clearly with all that’s happening.
Other times rest might feel like that not-so-great friend who just keeps coming around. Times of loneliness can feel this way, when your calendar is empty, not by choice but simply because you don’t have any friends. Or when you’re suffering from an illness or depression and rest is the only thing that you feel capable of, but really you long for more.
I’ve lived in the midst of both kinds of scenarios and they can be equally challenging if we don’t have a proper balance.
This summer, rest for our family has taken on several forms. I guess I think of rest in different categories: sleep, refreshment, respite, productivity, and spiritual growth.
SLEEP. We have been going on about a year of a child who doesn’t sleep well. She just turned two so you’d think that by now we would have everyone sleeping through the night. Nope. Uninterrupted sleep is hit or miss. So, we’re trying to get everyone to sleep better. What does this look like?
For starters, we finally got the girls a clock that can be set to light up a different color when they are allowed to get out of bed. Amazingly, this has forced them to sleep in later in the morning. We should have gotten one of these years ago!
I’ve been setting my alarm a little bit later than normal. This has resulted in less quiet in the mornings. However, I feel more rested as time goes on and right now getting sleep has been a priority.
When I can, I take a nap. And about once a week our older girls are required to lay down on their beds in an attempt to get them to go to sleep. It doesn’t always work, but forcing ourselves to stop in the middle of the day has been helpful for everyone.
Over the weekend we transitioned Jennavieve (nigthttime party girl) into a toddler bed and she is doing much better at night. She’s woken up a few times, but it’s only lasted about 15 minutes instead of two hours. Praise the Lord!
REFRESHMENT. We spent last week at the beach in NC with some good friends. We had no schedule, no big plans, no demands. We ate, played at the beach, napped, read, watched movies, talked, and enjoyed one another’s company. Taking a break from our normal routine was just what we needed. And even though the kids didn’t sleep great while we were there, we still ended our week feeling overall refreshed and ready to jump back into our rhythm at home.
And, coming up in a few weeks, Bradley and I are heading on a big vacation without the kids!! We’ve only ever been away from the kids for a couple of nights at a time, and I’ve either been in the midst of pregnancy morning sickness, breastfeeding, or we were house-hunting. This time we’re getting away for a week, at the beach, and we’re flying on an airplane. I don’t even remember the last time I flew somewhere without a child on my lap. Needless to say, I am super excited!
RESPITE. Breaks from normalcy. Typically, we don’t watch movies in the middle of the day. However, I’ve let the girls watch an occasional movie or episodes of Little House on the Prairie during the afternoon. It’s hot outside and playing in the backyard isn’t always an option. Plus, this provides me with a break to either work on something that requires no distractions, or to read a book.
I have been reading more in the afternoons, again something I don’t normally do. But it’s been a good break from my normal household duties.
PRODUCTIVITY. To some this seems the opposite of restful. But, because there are other breaks built into my day, I’m finding time to get some things done that I’ve been wanting to do. Things like sewing, taking my time cooking a meal, painting, hanging things on the walls, organizing closets. Sometimes that actual doing of these things isn’t restful, but in the end my mind can rest because I’m not thinking about when I’ll be able to get something done.
Sometimes, though, taking my time to cook a meal that I know we really like, even if it means I spend an entire afternoon in the kitchen, is restful. If all of my children are occupied, either with naps or play time in their rooms, I can enjoy the art of being in my kitchen uninterrupted. This is fulfilling to me and provides me with room to think.
SPIRITUAL GROWTH. True rest comes from being in the presence of the Lord. I’ve been in need of varied methods of Bible study and spiritual nourishment this summer. I started a new Bible study, I’m sitting down to pray and reflect throughout my day. There are several books that I’m working through right now, ones that point me to the Word of God and bring me closer to the Lord. We spend a good bit of time in the car throughout the week, so I’ve made it a point to have worship music playing. It’s good for my soul, and I love that the kids are singing along in praise to the Lord.
Rest is defined differently for each of us, I realize that, and this list is not meant to be a ‘do this and you’ll feel rested’ kind of list. It’s simply what is working for our family this summer.
What makes you feel rested?