It’s the same every Monday. I wake up groggily as my phone reminds me I hit the snooze button 9 minutes ago. Grabbing my glasses and a rubber band from the night stand, I glance over at my sleeping 6 year old. She is nestled snuggly in her fleece blanket and I want nothing more than to nuzzle in there with her, drifting back into deep slumber. But instead, I sigh as off in the distance, a half dozen roosters battle it out to see who has the biggest crow.
The kids are not big breakfast eaters, so I plop myself down on a footstool in the kitchen and contemplate what to make for their lunch. Without even realizing it, precious minutes have gone by as somehow I became entangled in the snare of social media and am reading about what child stars of the 80’s look like today. The oldest child stumbles out of his bedroom, mumbles a good morning, and face plants into the couch. It’s only then do I realize how much time I had wasted, and only a half hour remains to do all the things before leaving for school …and the two littles are still asleep.
My mind snaps into panic mode as items pile onto my mental to do list. 1. Wake up the girls. 2. Make lunch. 3. Fill water bottles. 4. …Wait, should I make lunch first? Oh, someone has P.E. today. We have to remember shoes. … I think there’s a field trip sometime this week. Oh gosh, it’s getting late. “GIRLS! Time to get up!” Oh, I forgot to look at the school lunch calendar. Did they want school lunch today? Darn. Home lunch. I guess I’ll warm up some leftovers. “GIRLS!” But I do have to deposit money in their lunch account. Should I do that today? Where’s the checkbook? Where are the girls???
At this point, we are into full blitz mode and my girls have nothing but a rude awakening coming to them. Definitely NOT the ideal way to start a Monday morning, or any morning for that matter. And after all the frazzled rushing out of the door, and pajama-wearing drop offs, all I want to do when I get back home is to dive into the nest on my bed. But then the mom guilt sets in. I have so much to do, how could I possibly even think of sleeping? Not to mention it would be a tremendous waste of a day. I can’t help it! I whine to myself. I literally feel like I’m running on empty! Perhaps I need another cup of coffee….
Ladies … (and gents, if you’re out there listening too), we can’t run on empty. Let me say that again: WE CAN NOT RUN ON EMPTY. It’s just not possible. Like a car that’s out of gas, we will literally stop working. As much as we want to prove we can do it all – to our spouse, to our friends, to our social media followers, to ourselves – I’m sorry to say, that we just can’t. We need to rest. We need to recharge. We need to refuel.
I was stuck in the mindset for many years thinking that rest was for the weak. Or rest was for those people who finished their daily to-dos. Rest was a reward waiting for me…that never seemed to come because I always put someone else’s needs before my own. And those times when I did rest? I always felt like there was something I needed to do. I felt like I was being selfish with my time and I should be doing something else. I didn’t realize that it was actually my pride – thinking that I had to do it all, that I could do it all – that kept me from rest. Nothing and no one else.
Friends, we need to make time to rest. It’s so important. You might think it’s impossible, but let me show you how.
Step 1. Quiet your mind.
I know it’s hard, but you have to stay away from your phone in the morning. Get a regular alarm clock if you need one, and charge your phone outside of your room. Look at your schedule the night before and handwrite reminders on the fridge, piece of paper, or a dry erase board. (I like to use a dry erase marker on my bathroom mirror! Field trip and school lunch reminders are right there! Then I don’t have to think about it later.)
If you’re a morning coffee or tea drinker, make your favorite cup, and instead of scrolling through social media or emails, set it to play some soft music. Now sit and breathe deeply as you focus on clearing your mind of any worries and to dos. Focus in on the cup in front of you, or maybe your spot is outside and your focus is on how beautifully the colors morph in the sky above you. Stay present. Be mindful of the soft snores in the neighboring rooms, or the lull of the traffic on a distant highway. Have a conversation with God. Ask Him how He is. Thank Him for this beautiful morning and for these precious quiet moments you’ve been blessed with. Or maybe you just spend the next few minutes focusing on your breath. Breathing deeply as you awaken and calm each part of your body.
Take as little as 5 minutes, or as many as 30. Whatever your schedule allows. But be intentional about your time. It may seem silly at first. It might even be hard to not think about all the things you have to do, or to stay off your phone for that period of time. It sure was for me! But tell yourself it’s worth it. Notice how it makes you feel afterwards. Notice how you speak to your spouse, or your children. Notice how the little things that once used to irk you now affect you.
2. Focus on Your Body.
Yes. We all know that taking care of our bodies is very important. We all know that we should sleep well, and eat well, and exercise well. But we don’t always have time for it, right? There are countless days that I find myself going without breakfast or lunch because my time was spent preparing those meals for my kids. And exercise? Well, I’ll fit it in if I can.
Friends, we NEED to make time for our bodies. After all, it is what literally carries us throughout the day. Like a car (yes, I like the car analogy), it needs daily care. We need to feed it, water it, and fill it with premium fuel. If we don’t, there’s a good chance things will start to breakdown a lot sooner than expected. And trust me it’s never pretty, and it costs more to fix than to invest in preventative maintenance. It also doesn’t hurt to give it a nice wash and polish pretty regularly, too.
So schedule some time throughout the week. Everyday if you can. And start small if you need to. Maybe it’s doing 5 minutes of yoga stretches in the morning or in the evening. Maybe it’s preparing a healthy lunch ahead of time. Maybe it’s letting your spouse know that you’ll be going out for a quick jog while dinner is cooking in the instant pot. Maybe it’s scheduling a massage or a mani/pedi on your day off (it’s like a wash and polish!)
Your body is SO important, let’s make sure we remember to treat it so.
3. Listen to Your Spirit.
Do you like to sing? Dance? Write? Take pictures? Surf? Cook? Serve others? What makes you feel alive? What are you passionate about?
I believe that God puts these things on our heart for a reason. And for each of us our reasons are different. Take the time to focus on your passion and let it develop. If you like to take pictures, find time to go out and take pictures. Find time to learn how to use the different parts of your camera. Find out where this takes you, because chances are, this is where you will find joy in your life. The kind of joy that fills your spirit.
But one of the best parts about focusing on our spirit is that through our own passions, we find that we don’t usually keep this to ourselves. We are drawn to share our passions with others. I love to cook, and I love that my children are at an age where they can share in this passion. Maybe your passion is writing and as you spend time in your writing, you’ve become a part of an incredible community of writers, and you find yourselves helping each other become better writers as you hone in on your craft.
If we forget to follow our passions, if we forget to focus on our spirit, we lose out not only developing the gifts God has given us, but in the opportunities to use those gifts to serve and fellowship with others. It’s through focusing on our spirit that we find what God’s will is for us today, this week, or even for an entire season.
My Gift to You
I challenge you to make some time for you. For me, I focus on my Mondays because Mondays are HARD and it’s a great way to start the week, and then I work on maintenance throughout the week. But it could really work on any day and EVERY DAY! And because I feel that making time for yourself is so important, I want to give you something to help make it a reality!
I’ve put together three playlists on Spotify to help create the mood for you to focus on your mind, body, and spirit. If you sign up here, I’ll send you the links to you via email so that you can access them at all times. By signing up, you’ll also receive my newsletter which will provide tips and suggestions on ways to continue focusing on refilling your cup so you can continue to pour out into others. But most of all friends, I want you to take care of YOU because YOU MATTER and you are LOVED.
Jesus said the greatest commandments are this:
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
We’re called to not only love God and love our neighbor, but we are to love our neighbor as ourselves. So if we are to care for others, we need to care for ourselves. Make the time, friends. You won’t regret it.