Once I had kids, the idea of “resting” quickly became an elusive concept. Before motherhood, I felt like I could gauge my physical and emotional energy levels and do what was needed to fill up. Even in challenging seasons of life, there would eventually be a break, a weekend or a night off to spend time recharging. Now? Resting takes much more planning and intentionality.
There are times when we set up a babysitter and arrange an evening out, but then by the end of the day all I want to do is crawl into my favorite gray sweatpants and huddle up in the corner of my couch. Other days, I need time alone to process whatever life has thrown at me. I’ll get my journal, make a cup of coffee and plan to spend a few moments thinking and writing during the kids’ nap. Then they’ll decide it’s a good day to revolt against sleep, and my agenda quickly flies out the window.
Rest is challenging. It’s countercultural, and I’ve found it incredibly hard to do as a mom. But it’s essential, because the alternative to rest isn’t necessarily productivity. Often, the alternative is burnout.
Right now, sometimes rest means getting dressed up and going to dinner with a few girls, even if I feel like I could fall asleep at 7 o’clock. I am a homebody and an introvert, but I have found that I desperately need those nights away. I need to put on my nice jeans, get out of the house and laugh with friends for a couple hours.
Other times, rest means letting myself read a book instead of doing the dishes, ordering takeout or eating dinner on paper plates (because the pile in the sink is one spoon away from its tipping point, and I just don’t have it in me to tackle that right now). Rest sometimes means giving up my incessant need for multi-tasking and allowing myself to play with my kids without trying to check emails and fold clothes simultaneously. It means slowing down, taking time for myself, and, as the ever wise Brene Brown once said, “letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.”
Mama, have you rested at all lately? Have you taken the time to fill up in some way? Might I encourage you today to block time off in your calendar, learn the magic word “no” and use it to protect your schedule, trade babysitting with another family, go on a date night, read a book, sign up for that yoga class you’ve been thinking about for months, have friends over after the kids are in bed, buy yourself flowers, make your favorite dessert, sit in the backyard on a beautiful night, take a nap – do whatever you need to do to play, laugh, fill up, enjoy, slow down, think.
You are doing wonderful, beautiful, messy, hard work. You are giving of yourself in ways that you probably never even imagined. You have a thousand things grasping for your attention. And you, Mama, need to rest.
7-Minute Blackberry Crisp
Yields 2 Servings
¼ cup quick cooking oats
3 Tablespoons melted butter
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1-2 Tablespoons brown sugar, lightly packed*
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
Pinch of salt
1 heaping cup chopped fresh blackberries
Mix together the oats, melted butter, flour, sugar, cloves and salt. Spread about a tablespoon of the mixture in each of two microwave safe mugs or ramekins (make sure they’re at least 6 ounces in capacity). Add the blackberries on top, dividing the berries evenly between the two dishes. Top with the rest of the oat mixture.
For easier cleanup, place the mugs/ramekins on a paper towel or plate in case the fruit spills over while cooking. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbly and hot. Let stand a couple minutes before serving. Serve with vanilla ice cream if desired. Enjoy!
*If I am eating this as-is, I use 2 tablespoons of sugar. However, if I’m eating it with whipped cream or ice cream, I use 1 tablespoon of brown sugar so it’s not overly sweet.
Words and photos by Sarah Hauser.