I think it was last year I read someone’s post about picking a word for the year to focus on, and I liked it a whole lot more than choosing a complicated resolution. While I’d love to set measurable goals (because I know that’s how you can actually hold yourself accountable), this year, my body, mind and family are telling me what is actually most important to focus on in 2017: rest.
I don’t think you understand how dramatically rest and sleep and peace can impact your life until you’ve been in the middle of sleep deprivation with a toddler and a newborn. You realize quickly you would give anything – ANYTHING – for two hours to reset your body to a place that feels even remotely rested. That exhausting feeling of waking up every two hours – no matter how sweet that infant may be – is a physical tiredness that robs your body of concentration, emotional stability and even your memory.
There was one day this year that the importance of rest slapped me in the face. We had gone with the boys to see Santa for the first time this holiday season, and despite feeling a little under the weather, I got in the shower and made myself fight through it to get that picture with the boys sitting on Santa’s lap in the Statehouse. I was definitely not feeling well in the moment, but I figured it would be a 24 hour bug and the next morning I’d feel better.
Not so much.
As soon as we got home from the Statehouse Christmas celebration, I had a full-blown stomach virus. Most of you all have been there before, so I’m going to go ahead and save you the details. But I couldn’t move from the distance between the bathroom and my bed for the next 24 hours, and barely slept that first night because I was so violently ill.
I asked my husband, “how on earth am I going to take care of the boys tomorrow?”
He had a big presentation and had to go in to work for a least a few hours, so I knew I’d be solo for at least the first couple of hours. And while I’m all for “fighting through it,” this was not one of those days. I could barely move.
I called our babysitter and she said she could come in.
Praise. The. Lord.
It was the first time I had to unexpectedly give up the reigns and surrender to rest.
I slept from 10-3 and again from 4-6. I slept the whole day.
The last time that had happened was probably a day after a crazy night in college. And while I felt better the next day, I also felt super guilty for sleeping the day away.
Who had done the dishes? Did the boys miss me? Did they think I was an awful mother for taking the day off?
Nope – everyone knew I needed to get better, and I felt rested for the first time in a long time.
In 2017, I don’t want to have to get to that point of exhaustion. I want to prioritize rest above all other goals and resolutions. And to me, rest doesn’t always mean sleep. Here’s how I’m going to make 2017 the year of rest:
- Stop over-scheduling our family. I found the days we had activities then a get-together and then a dinner we all felt like we were just rushing from one thing to another. We’re going to stick to a few activities we love during the week and get comfortable declining others.
- Maintain a sustainable level of work. This also may mean saying no to growing a business right now and being OK with maintaining my current income level and client base. I’ve worked a lot of evenings and weekends since I started working for myself, and while I’ve hit (almost) every deadline, I’ve been really tired.
- Get creative with date night. We have almost always stuck with a “try a new restaurant and cocktails” routine for date night (which I do enjoy). But I’d love to try some new activities like cooking classes, exercise programs and hiking. Stepping outside of the norm can help your mind find rest and relaxation during those precious date nights.
- Cut out coffee past 3 pm. I found that caffeine in the afternoon was helping me get by during newborn days, but it’s a habit that stuck with me that’s now keeping me up at night or waking me up in the middle of the night.
- Get comfortable with doing nothing. I found with the more time I was with the boys, the more I wanted to find things for us to do. I wasn’t comfortable with being at home and doing “nothing.” But the more those days happened due to weather or the holidays, the more I realized I enjoyed finding things to do with the boys at home. That those unscheduling and unstructured moments were good for all of us. And screen time wasn’t the devil or me being a lazy mom. Sometimes cuddles on the couch under a cozy blanket were good for the heart and the soul.
I know this all sounds a little bit like a slacker goal – but it’s not in my comfort zone. It’s going to take work. And I know it’s exactly how I should spend this year.
What are your goals or resolutions for 2017?