I looked down at my son’s bag as picked him up from children’s church and saw the entire bottom was wet.
“Do you have any books in your bag?” I asked as nonchalantly as I could, wondering at the bulging bag that he’d seen the need to bring to church right after we’d spent the majority of the drive to church explaining why we thought it wasn’t the most wise thing to take his football to church.
“Then take them out!” I stood aghast at the tension I couldn’t stifle in my tone. I was pretty sure his brand new Bible with his silvery name stamp that he’d gotten at his baptism months ago was in there.
Out come both the extra-thick green and purple volumes of Dr. Seuss books, an electronic device, and that brand new Bible.
“You never leave books in a puddle of water! They are ruined!” Now my tone was way out of hand for my overstatement. They were water damaged, but after they dried, they would still be readable.
“I didn’t know!”
I heard the anxiety in his voice and realized that I needed to give myself a break so that I could give him one.
Stopping the Blame Cycle
Having grown up moved by words of blame and shame and having spent my adulthood shaken by shame statements, I’ve sought to not be bent by them. I’ve also sought to not use them as a native tongue with my own children. But there it went. Anxious, blaming tone and all.
I spent the drive home in exhausted silence. A long weekend in a hotel soaking in a homeschooling conference- listening to speaker after speaker remind us of the privilege of building relationships with our children and modeling and molding good character.
I’d worn myself out trying to gather as much information as I could with days book-ended by nights of difficult, sparse sleep. I was at the end of myself- bone tired. Unable to do the things I wanted to do, I marveled at my inability to apply the kind of loving-my-family things I’d just spent the weekend learning about.
Do You Need a Break?
Maybe like me, you’re a bit exhausted and overwhelmed. Maybe you’re even at the end of yourself. If you notice any of the following, perhaps it’s time to give yourself a break:
- Giving a harsh glare
- Tension you can’t shake
- Raising your tone more sharply than intended
- Inability to control the force of your statements
- Tired-soaked soul
- Forcefully throwing down an item you meant to place
- A gnawing edgy feeling inside
Love Does Not Mean Self-Neglect
If you catch yourself unable to share the love with those you love most, maybe it’s time to give yourself a break. Give yourself a break so that you can give those you love a break!
I often just keep pressing on. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve hit a wall by the afternoon- that head-tension, gut tension, completely exhausted feeling where I could easily drop off to sleep if I sit to read to my kids then. My tendency is to just keep pressing forward.
However, when days bleed into days of this I become unable to give anyone else a break. If I don’t care for my own self- body and soul- then I have nothing left to give. If I don’t allow myself a break, I’ll be unable to give anyone else one either.
Sometimes as moms or parents, we feel that sacrifice just goes with the territory. And it absolutely does. However, to love others well, we have to have something to give. We’ll have nothing to pour out if we don’t prioritize good self-care.
Take a Break
So if you haven’t had good self care- eating well, sleeping well, delighting in the little moments or the excursions you create to nurture your own soul with beauty, nature, rest- then, Friend, it’s time to do that. Take care of yourself.
When you notice yourself short and snappy and wound up like a jack-in-the box ready to pop out at anyone who makes a minor grate on your nerves, then it’s time to give yourself a break:
- Take a walk in nature
- Brew a cup of coffee or tea and take 10 minutes to actually sit down and simply enjoy it.
- Snag a power nap
- Read something you enjoy for 15 minutes
- Sing a song
- Lie down on the couch and just rest
- Meditate on Scripture
- Do something that delights your soul
Find out what delights you. Notice it. And then do something restful to yourself each day. Prioritize moments of delight. Give yourself the gift of a break.
Do it when you are desperate for one. Do it every day or as often as you can so you don’t get desperate. Don’t make it something to check off a list that will cause you more stress. Just try to do it when you can.
“But I can’t!,” you may be tempted to protest. “I have kids!”
All the more reason you can’t afford not to.
How Do I Make Space for a Break with Little People?
How on earth do you do this when you have little people all around, hovering in when you try to go to the bathroom or make a phone call.
Train Your Kids to Give Themselves a Break
Try creating a rest time bag for your kids with fun and restful (quiet) toys just for that time. Then when your kids seem extra snappy with each other, you can help them learn to enjoy a break for themselves. When they feel like playing together isn’t working, they can even call a rest time for themselves (and siblings can learn to respect that). When they are overwhelmed with a task they are working on and becoming frustrated, you can gently suggest a break before they come back to it. They can learn the benefit of taking a break and coming back to relationships and tasks with a clearer focus.
Declaring a Family Rest Time
You can model the need for rest to them by ensuring you and your family get it when needed. Perhaps you just schedule it every day. Post nap time, you might plan a time for your kids to have rest time on a blanket, in their beds, or in their rooms. Perhaps you simply, graciously declare it when you notice whine’s rising from the little ones or agitated responses given by older ones to younger ones. Perhaps you just declare it for yourself. You need a break- so it’s time for the younger people to take one, too. If that feels selfish, just try it and notice how much more capable of being gracious and kind to those little people you are after the rest. It’s worth it for them, too!
What else can you do to reclaim those moments of rest when you have little people?
- Find someone to help: A spouse a grandparent a friend you can swap help times with. My husband kindly watched the kids that Sunday so I could take a much-needed extended nap.
- Take everyone on a nature walk
- Snuggle up with them and read your Bible or book out loud to them
- Set them down at the table to color
- Give them a job they are trained to do on their own
- Have your kids work on a creative writing project while you sit at the table with them and journal
- Make a tent with blankets and tell let them play or read in it while you take your break
- Schedule coffee or fun with a friend and get a babysitter
- Turn on some music and sit your kids on the couch with a book to look at or some schoolwork to do
- Turn an an audio story for your kids to listen to
- Sing with your kids
- Hold them on the couch while they watch a video, put headphones in your ears to listen to an audio Bible or book or story, close your eyes and breathe deeply as you listen.
Take the breaks you need- even if they are tiny- so that you can have more to give to those you love. Give yourself room to breathe in your day. Plan it or take it when you need it. Don’t pressure yourself or feel guilty for not taking breaks- just take a deep breath and do it when you can and as you need.
When you take the time to be present with yourself- to reflect, think things through, and give yourself time to process life, you will be more present with those you love.
More Like This
This blog is designed with you in mind. My prayer is that you will scooch just a little closer to the Lord’s beckoning arm. That you will nestle in close to Him and learn from Him all He wants to speak to your soul. That He will breathe on you His rest.
Here on Sip Life Slowly and Enjoy It, you will find resources to help you embrace God with all you are, to engage in the relationships you care about with a fresh face erupting from a fresh heart- full and whole, celebrating the intricate good in your life.
Sometimes I offer recipes that might add flavor and health, other times I tell God stories of how God is working, and many times I share things to encourage. If you were encouraged, please like this blog and follow me below. You can also find siplifeslowly on whatever social media you like best Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. If you liked this, you might like:
- Strength Exchange
- Unfading Beauty: What Does Gentle and Quiet Really Mean?
- Carry Yourself Light
- That Familiar, Gnawing, Edgy Fatigue
Photo edited from Abbie Bernet’s photo on Unsplash
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