“A “successful” life has become a violent enterprise. We make war on our own bodies, pushing them beyond their limits; war on our children, because we cannot find enough time to be with them when they are hurt and afraid, and need our company; war on our spirit, because we are too preoccupied to listen to the quiet voices that seek to nourish and refresh us; war on our communities, because we are fearfully protecting what we have, and do not feel safe enough to be kind and generous; war on the earth, because we cannot take the time to place our feet on the ground and allow it to feed us, to taste its blessings and give thanks.” Thomas Merton
Modern motherhood. We are expected to do it all. We take care off the kids, the house, and have outside jobs. We volunteer and are involved with so many activities while getting up in the night with a new baby.
We have less help, more pressure, more expectations and less time.
Or so it seems. Making time for rest and renewal is vital for mothers. Stop the endless race, the never ending to do list, the over packed schedule. All this does is lead to overwhelm and you know what that leads to? A burn out, angry mama.
I’ve been there, bought the t-shirt. And I won’t go back, so I want to share with you the how.
How to have a more peaceful, joyfilled motherhood. How to live your life on mission. How to remove the overwhelm and distraction and live in the freedom God wants for you.
How to not just count down the minutes to bedtime so you can finally catch a break. How to truly enjoy your motherhood and your children’s childhood.
It’s simple really.
Rest and Renewal
Rest is biblical. We forget the command to rest but not the command to work hard. Our society and culture value hard work, success, money, and those things aren’t inherently bad to value when we value the other side equally. Rest, renewal, community, connection, space. But so often that second list gets missed.
God designed us for rhythms, it’s clear right from the story of creation and the call to a sabbath day. He worked hard creating for 6 days and on the 7th day He rested. And He calls us to this same rest. Deep, full, God focused rest.
Our day to day has a rhythm off work and then rest. Our body’s simply do not function well if we don’t get this balance right.
The Bible has a lot to say about rest, and I encourage you to go through it and research these verses and do some more study about rest. Until we value rest as God values rest we will forever be in the crazy cycle, over run, overworked, overwhelmed.
And if you find yourself not able to even think about rest you are functioning from a place of survival not a place of thriving. ow can we live out our God given mission when we are in survival mode? How can we serve others well if we aren’t able to even serve ourselves. When we get to the point of overwhelm and survival, serving others can become actions and not true service.
Jesus knew about rest and it’s importance because He is fully God and fully Man. He felt the pressures to preach and heal and reach the masses, yet he takes the time in his ministry to work hard and then rest. He wants to give us that same rest so we can live on mission for God.
Come to me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
Jesus knew this wasn’t just about physical rest, or ceasing from labour rather emotional rest. He knew we would be weary, we would have heavy emotions and feelings that weigh us down.
Jesus wants us to come to Him with it all. Not just our joy and thanksgiving but our overwhelm and our burdens. He is the true source of emotional rest. He knows when we are able to rest, we are able to hear the Father’s whispers. We are able to follow his leading. We are not so distracted by the world and we can live and love in a way He wants us to live and love.
So here are some tangible ways to function from a place of rest.
Keep the Sabbath Holy
Take one day and be obedient to God’s words about Sabbath. Don’t work, don’t shop, don’t numb your mind with technology or something else.
Sleep more, meditate, enjoy quality time with your family, read, sit with a cup of coffee. Don’t allow other activities to take away from this day.
It could be an afternoon 10 minute nap, a wind down schedule before bed, waking up slow and savoring your coffee. A long walk through the forest. Daily meditation and stretching. We all have different things that allow us to relax, calm down and get re centred. Schedule these things just like you schedule meetings don’t neglect your rest. This always mean you have something to look forward to no matter how crazy busy your day or week was.
Align Your Priorities
As a mother in 2021, we all have our unending to do list. Knowing how to prioritize this to do list is an important part to scheduled rest. If we are always trying to cross everything off we will never have that margin for rest. I have something called the “freed mama focus 5” for the week, and a smaller focus 3 for the day. I ensure those things are done so I feel productive and on track but anything beyond that is a bonus or can be pushed off to another week. Every week I do a brain dump of things that need to, or I want to get done. I organize them by context so nothing is missed.
Here are my context labels for my to do list >>> House/family/work/errands/phone or email/someday/waiting for/personal/to buy/would be nice/personal growth/relationships/finances and then I label them 1 to 4 in importance level and time required. Things that are urgent/important and will take less time get labeled with a 1, urgent and important with more time required gets a 2. Not urgent but little time gets a 3 and not urgent and a long time gets a 4 or just sits on my someday list until I have more margin to tackle it. This is in an automated productivity software before you think this sounds overwhelming, my computer does the prioritizing for me! from there I gather my focus 5 weekly and focus 3 daily and add them to my weekly planner. I even label them with next step to complete.
This level of micro organizing helps to keep my adhd brain focused so I am not wasting time on unimportant tasks or forgetting something important. This keeps me from getting overwhelmed by my to do list and allows me to easily schedule time for rest.
As a Christian, I have found this difficult in the past. God calls us to die to self daily and service and volunteering is a big part of this. But I don’t think God wants us serving to the point of overwhelm or physical exhaustion because then it becomes a legalism thing and not a heart posture. Or worse we are serving or volunteering in a “Holier than thou”way to keep up an appearance God never desired for us.
You do not have to say yes to every ministry opportunity and every way to help someone. You do not have to sacrifice your mental health or family for the sake of service. Your family is your first ministry. Your health is a priority so you can continue to serve for years to come and not function from an overwhelmed survival mode. You do not have to be instantly available and answer every text or phone call immedietly. People have more access to us than ever before in today’s culture but that does not mean we have to be available for anything at a moments notice!
Ask for Help
Delegation is a huge part to a balanced motherhood. We often take on the majority off the responsibilities in our home but communicate your needs to your husband and raise capacle children! You are their mom, not their maid.
It is one thing to love and care for your family from a place of loving sacrifice, it is another to do it out of a resentful responsibility. Especially if you work outside the home. Look around is everyone else relaxing while you are cooking and cleaning? That’s not a healthy family picture.
Husbands often need some direction and prompting but are happy to help. They love you!
Kids love routine and feeling like they contribute. Make a big deal about it and celebrate thier help, they are willing! We often take all the work on ourselves and then kids get used to it! I will save more helpful hints for delegation to another podcast but a good place to start is a family meeting where you communicate the home tasks and allow the kids to pick which ones they can help with!
Enjoy God's Creation
Oh nature. It is so good for the soul! Some of us like the great outdoors more than others but I think it’s fair to say we call all enjoy the beauty of a sunset or a waterfall. There is so much evidence that being in nature relaxes us, boosts our mood, and gives us more energy! Take advantage of that beautiful gift.
Check your screen time often and see if it aligns with your priorities. This is a time suck that only modern mothers have had to deal with. Check your motives with social media. Check your mood after scrolling. Screens are a tool and a source of entertainment but don’t them distract from your real life. Healthy screen limits are so important to your over all well being and scrolling IG for hours is not biblical rest, that’s called distraction.
Rest is Necessary
It is ok to strive for a well lived and full life but so often our priorities are not right and we end up with an overwhelmed distracted life in the process. Which steals the peace and joy from our day to day actions and our relationships! So make sure you prioritize rest! I hope you take some of these helpful hints to heart and can live a more balanced full and beautiful life on mission.