Our collective family unit is exhausted after a Q1 full of sickness and unexpected time away from school and work. We’ve had a long ride on the Struggle Bus and, as a result, I’ve been thinking about rest a lot lately. In early April, we escaped to FL for Spring Break, which was a real gift, but I, admittedly, returned still in need of recharging. (Newsflash: There’s no “break” involved when traveling with children.)
While on the beach one afternoon, I captured this image of my son meditating by the ocean and realized I’m not the only one who has needed a time out in our family. (Also going through my mind was, “Where in the heck did he learn to do that?” and “God, I’d kill for his confidence. He doesn’t give a crap what people think about him right now!)
Thanks to the great work of Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, I’ve learned that it isn’t just my sleep that needs to be restored. (As a working mom I often wonder if that will ever happen before my son goes to college?) There's actually some other important work to do besides getting more zzz's if I ever want to fully recharge my batteries.
Types of Rest
According to Dr. Dalton-Smith, there are seven types of rest we all need:
What Type of Rest Do I Need Right Now?
As I consider this list, I realize that I’m particularly desperate for sensory rest right now. Being a mom is a very physical job, and I feel like I’m constantly being touched, pulled, hugged, hit, and tickled. I'm always carrying someone or something up the stairs, to the car, inside the store, or around the block. And in my quest to be efficient, lately, I’ve been listening to podcasts while in the car or folding laundry, talking to friends while exercising, and scrolling my phone while I wait for my coffee to brew (or if I'm being honest, any other chance I get). I’ve been filling every moment to the max and my brain is screaming for a break along with my body!
How Can I Get the Rest I Need?
Something's got to give so I’ve decided to experiment by making three small changes for the next two weeks to see if it takes things down a notch for my five senses which are currently feeling very overstimulated. My three changes are:
Riding in silence if I’m alone in the car and the trip is less than 15 minutes. Usually, I turn on a work-related podcast or audiobook the second I turn on the car. I’m constantly trying to learn something new to help me grow as a coach and/or not “waste time.” But it would be a gift right now to ride in the car and have it be quiet. I want to let my mind wander and see where my thoughts take me. I want to think or sing. I want to dream. I want to pray. I literally want to try and enjoy the ride! (maybe I’ll even deal with whatever has been rolling around in my backseat for a month that I ignore by turning up the volume…)
Loading the dishwasher without popping in my earbuds or turning on the TV. On the nights it’s my job to clean up the kitchen, I have a habit of popping in my earbuds and listening to whatever work-related audiobook or podcast I didn’t get to finish in the car or turning on Netflix to watch a show not tailored to the five-year-old normally in charge of the remote. However, instead of defaulting to my normal clean-up routine, I'm going to try my best to consciously engage my senses instead. For instance, I want to listen to the water coming out of the faucet, feel the glasses and silverware in my hand before I put them in the dishwasher, and I even want to pause and savor each sip of wine instead of racing to finish so I can move on to the next task. I’ve realized there is so much of the day-to-day that I’m missing because I’m trying to squeeze too much into a moment. For two weeks, I simply want to load the dishwasher. Period.
Sitting alone without my phone for ten minutes every evening. This is the one thing on my list that initially sounds the most amazing but then makes me feel the most anxious. I’ve become so programmed to do all. the. time. that the thought of sitting still without a phone or an actual task to accomplish (even if that’s mindlessly scrolling Instagram) feels a bit unnerving. And I think this is also why I need to try it. I don’t think I'll learn what I really need if I don’t actively create a quiet environment where I’m not touched or actively touching another human, or if I have a particular activity that I’m trying to accomplish. If I’m truly craving sensory rest, then I'd like to get more in touch with what that means to me by being still.
I’m curious to see what I learn from this process and anxious to confront all the ways I'm preventing myself from getting the sensory rest I so desperately crave right now. Stay tuned for an update!
PS- Not sure what type(s) of rest you might need? Take this free quiz!