How to Enjoy Rest

how to enjoy rest as a mother

Rest is one of those things we all think we love, and we all want (and need) more of. But in reality, when given an opportunity to rest, we mamas tend to do one of two things: start going insane, or simply try to avoid it at all costs.

The baby's asleep. You’ve got half an hour, what do you do?

a) lie down and think about all the things you should be doing, or how much you need to go to sleep, and how tired you are, and then how frustrating it is you're not sleeping yet, and - DAMMIT THE BABY'S AWAKE.

b) race around and try to DO ALL THE THINGS. End up with a slightly tidier house, and far less energy.

The toddler's sleeping. You've got maybe an hour, maybe a bit longer. What do you do?

a) consider all the things you could do with this much sought after freedom. Should you start a language? Declutter? Bake something? Call a friend? Check Facebook? Clean the kitchen? Do another load of washing? Read a book? Have a nap? What's the most important thing aaahh?!?!

b) Watch Netflix or scroll through social feeds.

We don't know how to really use our rest time well. The truth is, when we get the chance to rest, it can be so frustrating and feel so uncomfortable that we really would rather not rest. It feels better, we reason, to get jobs ticked off our list than it does to have lied down for half an hour. But does it really feel better?

Perhaps physical and emotional rest is not easy, but it gives us energy to keep going. It ensures our health is maintained beneath the surface. It helps us to stay positive and sane when we are surrounded by little ones with constant demands.

So how do we actually enjoy rest? Here are a few tips I've learned along the way:

  • Have scheduled days for rest, and scheduled days for 'getting things done' during break times. That way, you don't feel lazy or like you need to justify the rest. It also means you can leave the stress and thinking about jobs until the time allocated for doing them.
  • Don't go on screens. Screens wire us up instead of helping us relax.
  • Don't worry about sleeping. What I mean is, if you lie down to sleep, it will be hard to relax when you hear a noise or when you feel the clock ticking away your remaining time. Instead, lie down with the objective of 'resting' with your eyes closed, and you'll probably find it easier to drift off. And if you don't fall asleep, it has still been productive rest time for your body.
  • Have a nice place to be. Find a nice spot in the sun or shade, clear away the baby/toddler stuff, and make it a place you really enjoy sitting/lying/resting in. It's far easier to find rest when you like the environment you're in.
  • Go outside for fresh air for a few minutes. This helps clear the mind and free up your soul for rest, instead of feeling cramped and like you need to be productive indoors.
  • Physically write down your ideas and to-do list items so you can just get them out of your head. Tuck it away somewhere so it's not shouting at you whenever you get rest time. It can come out on your days when you're going to 'get stuff done'.
  • Get away from where you can hear the baby. I found this really gave me the break I needed. I knew if my baby woke up and was crying for a few minutes while I was outside watering the garden, she would be ok. Not being able to hear her allowed part of my mind to switch off, that motherhood part that is always on call. Even just the act of switching it off for a minute was a massive rest - just like when you restart a computer.
  • Do some research about the effects of pregnancy and early motherhood on your body. It will help justify why rest is so important, with science and future health perspectives, rather than just 'because it's nice'. I found this podcast really helpful: LADIES WE NEED TO TALK.

So there you have it. A few tips that I have learned through my first two and a half year as a mum.

Now I'd love to hear from you:

  • Do you struggle to enjoy rest?
  • What helps you to enjoy rest more?