Guest Post from Tabatha Mansfield: Practical Ways Moms of Littles Can Find Rest
As Spring Run focuses on rest this summer, I was asked to compile some practical ways that moms of newborns and/or toddlers can get rest. And yet, I think it’s ironic that I am writing about something that seems so foreign right now. In between countless feedings of our newborn, broken sleep throughout the night that is equal to power naps at best, and trying to keep my toddlers active, learning, and away from the drano all natural drain cleaner, I think “rest” must apply to everyone but moms.
The days post college when I traveled to a quaint coffee shop in a nearby town to read, journal, and refuel on my days off are long gone. Gone. As a mother, there is no such thing as a day off, and alone time is a distant memory; no matter where I go in the house, at least one kiddo is trailing right behind. I love being a mother and wouldn’t trade it for all the “rest” in the world. So then, what’s the answer? Should I and fellow moms of young children accept that until we are empty nesters rest is not feasible? Thankfully, I’ve found there are some ways we can enjoy rest much sooner.
Here are a few ideas of ways we moms of littles can refuel and get rest during this season of life:
–Accept help from others. I find accepting help from others to be one of the hardest things because for whatever reason, deep down I feel like I should be self-sufficient and able to take care of everything myself…even though I am reminded on a daily basis by my less than perfect housekeeping skills, parenting fails, and an annoying problem called sin, that this couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is a humbling, transforming experience to say yes to someone bringing you a meal, to someone you trust watching your kids for a few hours so you can actually check something off your beautiful to-do list or get out for a Starbucks run to run a few errands, and to another mom picking up your child from school one day. No matter how small, allowing people to help gives us rest, blesses the person doing the act of service, reminds us of the importance of community, and serves as a visible reminder of Christ’s love. The great thing is that it won’t be long until we can bless others in the same way, and in the meantime, we can find little, creative ways to love and serve.
–Get up earlier than your kids or carve out time after they go to bed. A few years ago when our son began sleeping through the night, I was able to set my alarm earlier than when he and his sister would get up for the day. During this time I would read the scriptures, journal, dream, and plan for the day/week ahead. It was wonderful. This quiet time made a huge difference in my perspective and encouraged my faith before the day kicked off full force. Likewise, I know other moms who get up earlier than their kids so that they can workout, shower, or get a head start on the day. Now that we have a newborn, getting up earlier than the kids isn’t a reality so I have to carve out the time at night after they go to bed (only problem with that is trying to stay awake myself!). So regardless of when, be intentional to carve out some quiet time each day.
–Take a nap. I used to be the girl who had a hard time napping during the day or while traveling, but ever since becoming a mother, I find I can sleep anytime the opportunity presents itself. In fact, ever since our littlest guy arrived, I have fallen asleep sitting up more times than I care to admit. You know, the kind of exhausted, anything but pretty, type of sleep. If you can squeeze in a nap, do it. If nothing else, put on a television show for the kids, grab a blanket and go to sleep for a few minutes. I know it works. Someone once told me it works like a charm.
–Enlist your spouse’s help in getting rest. If you’re married, talk to your spouse about finding a small time daily when he can spend time with the kids so that you can do what refuels you. For many years, Pastor John Piper used to play with the kids after dinner for an hour each day so that his wife could go upstairs and spend time with the Lord. He prioritized this time because he knew it was essential for her. Communicate with your husband and see if there is a time in the day when you can get away. No worries if it’s for less time than Saint Piper gave his wife. Baby steps.
–Go outside. It’s amazing what the beauty of God’s creation can do to bring about refreshment. Recently on a tough day, I grabbed the baby monitor while the kids were napping and went outside on the back deck just to catch my breath. It was so peaceful, and by the time I went back in the house, I was refreshed and had a better perspective on things.
-Talk to another mom. Just knowing I’m not alone during this season is so encouraging. Picking up the phone to chat or text with another mom (whether a new mom or a grandmother) or finding a time to meet for coffee or a glass of wine helps provide rest.
–Sit at the feet of Jesus. This past year, our Moms of Young Children group at Spring Run looked at the gospel of Luke where a lady, Martha, hosts Jesus at her house. She becomes irritated when her sister, Mary, sits at Jesus’s feet to listen to him teach rather than helping her serve. Martha boldly asks Jesus to tell her sister to help. (Note to self: great story to share with my toddlers about not being a tattle-tale!). Jesus responds, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41, ESV) I wrote out this verse and replaced my name for Martha’s because I desperately need this daily reminder – that in the midst of all the to-do’s, all the should-be’s, and all the busyness, only one thing is necessary.
Time at the feet of Jesus brings me strength and rest. And the beauty of that? I can spend time at His feet in the midst of a messy room with the kids by hitting my knees to pray and find rest; I can talk to Him throughout the day in an ongoing conversation that takes place in an interruption-rich environment, whether at home or at work; and I can read the scriptures and be reminded of the power of the gospel and the love of my Savior even if I only have a few minutes before my little people start coloring the walls or my newborn needs another diaper.