Mama Musings: finding rest and learning to play

restplay2I am not very good at resting. I mean sleep, sure, what mom of littles doesn’t want more of that. But actual rest? I don’t even know where to start. Once upon a time when I had a few minutes of downtime I turned to the digital world. I scrolled happily through all my social media feeds, pinned pretty pictures and fun DIY projects, and giggled while watching crazy cat videos. It seemed harmless enough. But I slowly began to realize that after I emerged from a few minutes (sometimes hours) of clicking my way through the virtual world instead of feeling refreshed I actually felt more drained. I don’t know if it was the trigger-happy political rants, the FOMO I felt when I saw pictures of a fun event a friend took their kid to, or just the strain of trying to filter through the posts that didn’t matter at all to me to find the things I cared about, but I finally came to the decision (I’m pretty sure it was prompted by the Holy Spirit) that spending too much time scrolling was killing my joy. This was not abundant life, it was a digital imitation. Please hear me: I am not at all judging you. If you find joy and fulfillment from scrolling through Facebook and engaging in thoughtful on-line discussions, then by all means go for it. For me, because of my perfectionist tendencies and some some highly sensitive characteristics, I need to draw tight boundaries around social media. 

So I deleted the Facebook app and challenged myself to put my phone down every afternoon at 4:30 and not pick it up again until after the girls are in bed. But then I was left with a bit of a dilemma. What do I do instead? What activities do bring me life and joy? It seems crazy, but I really didn’t know. I fill my days with all the chores and tasks required to keep our household running smoothly and my girls healthy and (for the most part) happy, and I absolutely find fulfillment in my role as a homemaker. But as the very old (and somewhat sexist) saying goes, “A women’s work is never done.” There is always one more dish to wash, one more dirty sock to stick in the hamper, one more duplo to pick up before someone steps on it, one more throw blanket to re-fold for the umpteenth time…and on it goes. How do I step away to find true rest?

I just finished a book called The Cozy Life, and in it the author suggests that if we think back to how we chose to spend our time as children we can re-discover the things that bring us joy. My childhood was full of books, hours of outside play, countless games of make-believe, and imaginative stories that I scribbled in spiral-bound notebooks. So I started there. Here are a few random results of my experiments:

  • It turns out that if I pick up a book instead of my phone I read a lot more (earth-shattering, I know). So far I’ve finished fourteen books this year. (I cringe as I consider how many hours must have been wasted on Facebook and Angry Birds. Yeesh.)
  • Yesterday it was warm enough for us to walk the trail around our neighborhood in the afternoon (Charlotte immediately turned it into an expedition, declaring “We are now entering Nature World!”). Today is so delightfully warm that I’m planning on stretching out on a blanket in the backyard as soon as I finish this post (I guess I’d better pick up the dog poop first)
  • This blog and my bullet journal both give me a reason to write, but I’m toying with the idea of trying some creative writing again (maybe just a bedtime story to read to the girls?)
  • Occasionally I’ve gotten off the couch and sat on the floor with Charlotte to build something with Duplos…kind of a big deal because as I’ve already confessed, I’m not very good at playing with my kids. But I used to love playing…can it be a source of joy again? (Jury’s still out on this one)
  • After dinner I’m trying to muster up the energy to play Mother May I or Red Light Green Light with the girls. We’ve attempted Uno and Skipbo too, but Tessa wants her own hand (which consists of all the cards on the table) so this is still a bit of a challenge.

Clearly this whole area of rest and soul-care is something I’m just starting to explore. I’m not very good at it yet, but I’m learning. And I do have a great Teacher. After all, Jesus himself gives us clear instructions on finding rest, which I’ve committed to memory and am now seeking to live out in my day to day moments. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Mattthew 11:28. So I’m crawling, stumbling, often wandering, sometimes falling, but still seeking to find my way closer to Jesus.

What about you? What are some ways you spend your time that bring healing and life to your soul? I’d love to hear your ideas!


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