If you follow me on Instagram you will be familiar with a story I told about my desperate attempt for some well-deserved rest and relaxation only to be thwarted by, yep you guessed it, life. I had planned a solo day at home when the kids were out of the house. My Mum was to pick the kids up straight from school meaning I would have the entire day to myself. When do any of us get a whole day in a quiet house, with no commitments? It’s almost the holy grail in this parenting journey and I was truly looking forward to it.
But, of course, one thing after another happened which meant any chance of a moment of rest, a peaceful house and a temporary lack of responsibility went flying out the window. But I needed a rest. So badly! Despite one of the kids being sent home from school with a cough (and we all know what that means in 2020. “Thanks Mum but you know the drill.” No childcare for me!), and work queries pinging on my phone, I told myself I would still search for those restful minutes in the day. With kids in tow, I thought it was impossible. Turns out it wasn’t so bad. It may not have been the day I was looking for, but a day of rest was still possible. How did I do it?
Why Rest is So Important
Let’s remember a day of doing nothing, a day of catching up on self-care, a day of rest is so important. Whether you have kids or not, kids in primary or ECCE, finding time in the week to care for yourself is so important. Good parenting really can’t happen without a parent who looks after their needs and rests when they need to.
Rest is basically anything which reignites your drive, your passions, your energy levels, calms and centres your mind, and helps you to reset. It could be a day of binging The Crown on Netflix, or a hike through the Dublin Mountains. It is anything outside of your normal daily responsibilities which you find rejuvenates you.
For me, on this particular occasion it was a day of no housework, no responsibilities, and no ‘work’ work. It is so important we find these moments now and again. We rest to maintain our physical, spiritual, and mental health. It also sets a good example to our kids about when, how, and why we should care for ourselves in this way.
Hitting the Reset Button
When we think of the list of things we do every single day, our minds can struggle with the concept of just how much we actually manage to achieve. If you started to jot down everything you do from the moment you woke up with the kids, to the second your head hits the pillow again, you will run out of ink before you get to lunchtime! Never underestimate the constant barrage of things that need to be done, as a parent, a human, a colleague, and a partner. Your body and your mind will eventually become so exhausted that you will struggle to do anything if you don’t rest.
Think of our computers or our phones as we store more and more and more on them. Its memory capacity becomes so full that it starts to become sluggish until we clear some space. We all need to find that headspace before we run out of room to store anything else. Rest is our way of clearing the cache on our lives or hitting the reset button.
How to Rest with Kids in Tow
We often think of rest as doing nothing, but a temporary change in our routines is often just as beneficial. So, if kids are in tow on a day you are in desperate need of rest, there are ways to slow down and hit the reset button.
Put the Laundry Down!
Don’t do any housework at all in fact. The muddy floors can stay as they are for another day or two. The laundry can wait, and the ironing can certainly stay in the airing cupboard. We have to give ourselves permission to recognise that our time to rest is more important than a shirt or two. The housework will always be there tomorrow. For today, ignore it.
Turn the Stove Off!
Have a free for all day. If the kids want a sandwich, let them make it themselves if they are able. Or give them free reign in the fridge (within reason!). Don’t cook any meals or if a takeaway is a possibility, don’t feel guilty about it. You deserve a night off from meal planning and cooking.
Stay Off Social Media
Social media can clutter our heads in ways which are not beneficial for us. It can be time consuming without us knowing it. Stay off social media so you can reset your mind and not be overwhelmed by the online world.
On a rest day, we don’t want to be sucked into something unknowingly when we open a work email which then plays on our minds until we answer it. Ignore anything work related and recognise that this is a day of rest, meaning no work at all!
Embrace the Quiet Moments
Yes, there are quiet moments with our kids! Embrace those moments when they are happily playing together or watching a movie. Don’t work, cook, clean, or check your phone during these times. Instead use the time wisely to do something beneficial which you consider part of your restful day such as reading, meditating, or picking up your knitting needles.
Go to Bed Early
Rest does not always mean sleep, but if you had planned a nap on your rest day only to be thwarted by having the kids in tow, take to your bed early and catch up on those zzzz’s.