I firmly believe that every busy mom needs ‘me’ time in order to maintain emotional, physical and spiritual reserves for our family, ministry and work. Yesterday in Part One, I covered how to carve out little “beats” of rest in the middle of the crazy every-day pace of life.
But I’ve found that there is a completely different type of downtime that we need once in a while – thorough, complete, true rest. And just like with the downtime “rest beats” during a busy day, we don’t “get” this type of true rest. We must make it. It will never come on its own.
The Bible talks about a “Sabbath rest,” which is supposed to be once a week – a full day where we get off the treadmill. But what does that look like? You never stop being a mom, after all! Your kids have needs and the dishes need to be washed, regardless of what day of the week it is! For moms who work, defining a Sabbath rest may seem a bit easier — it’s a day where you don’t do your income-producing work. But still… what about all that other stuff that just makes you tired? I think God intends us to rest from as much of that as possible on our Sabbath day off, even if it means hustling to do double loads of laundry on other days! But still – even if we try to keep the Sabbath, we may still need to plan on creating a deeper form of rest.
With needs pressing on Him from every side, Jesus would leave everyone and head to the hills. How can we do the same?
First, you have to give yourself permission to do this. It may not be something you can do once a week, or once a month for that matter. But you do need to carve out some time for rejuvenating yourself at a deep level – time away from the normal pace of life where you can actually sleep and spend time doing whatever truly rejuvenates you most. If you are an introvert (you get recharged by being alone), you may need to be off by yourself. If you are an extrovert, you may need a girlfriends’ weekend away. For me, for example, even though I’m a pretty significant extrovert (I get energized by being around people), I’m around people and onstage so much that I need to get away for a day or two once a year with just my husband. And I have recognized that I have to – simply have to –find ways to get sleep when my body is craving it. Making this time away is important for everyone – but it is absolutely non-negotiable for single moms, or moms and dads with very young children.
One of my staff members – who not only works for me part-time, but is also a pastor’s wife and home schools and has a special-needs child –wrote me a note about her recent ‘me time’ story (along with her thoughts on the HOW and WHY of working moms getting ‘me’ time). I thought it was a great example we all could learn from:
All moms are busy, and working moms have the added stress of trying to balance it all with a biblical priority. Here is a list of what falls under my responsibilities:
* Work part-time (15-20 hours/week) from home
* Support my husband who is a Senior Pastor at a growing church currently in a building program
* Home school my 3rd grade son
* Care for my youngest daughter who is in public Middle School and has special needs requiring therapy outside school at least 2x a week, plus various doctor’s appointments throughout every month
* Coordinate the weekly Ladies Bible Study at our church (with ongoing additional activities throughout the year associated with that)
Your list is probably just as long, maybe even longer or with different activities. Although I do not work outside the home full time, all of my responsibilities definitely put me in the “working overtime” category. So recently when I found myself a bit on edge, here was how I was able, amidst all the responsibilities, to take some time for myself so that, I could serve and love my family and work with joy and excellence.
During the peak of Shaunti’s speaking season when all of our work is critical and time-sensitive and when my husband was out of the country, I was walking out the door to lead Bible Study when the school nurse called to tell me that my daughter’s entire classroom had LICE and I needed to come pick her up asap. Are you familiar with the de-licing procedures? You have to treat the child and sanitize everything the child has slept on or with (stuffed animals). We couldn’t just sanitize her room, it had to be most of the house because the previous weekend she had been sick and therefore in our bed, her bed and the downstairs sofa! Then I had to treat her over the next 2 days … which she protested. Three days later, my oldest daughter (freshman in college) came home, not feeling well. She had been diagnosed with a spider-bite the day before by the clinic nurse who advised, “Keep an eye on it but nothing to worry about.” After 2 days of fever, chills, sweats, etc, we decided to see a doctor not knowing if it was the flu or the spider bite. Through a series of events, we ended up at the Emergency Room for my daughter to be tested for Meningitis. After a spinal tap, we found out it was not Meningitis, but a type of virus that was similar to the flu. A week full of bugs! The following week I played catch-up on work responsibilities, school work for my son, and all the things a wife needs to tend to when her husband has been out of town and “neglected” for 20 days! I knew I was operating on overload with a crash around the corner!
So, when my parents who live 1 ½ hours away mentioned they were going out of town, a light bulb flashed in my head! I could stay for FREE at my parent’s house, ALONE for about 48 hours. My husband had previously promised me some time to myself (he is really good to recognize I need it from time to time). I took it! Believe me, several things came up that Friday to tempt me to toss it to the wind, but I held on to it and by 3 pm I was ALONE in my van, on my way to an empty, comfortable, free, get-a-way at my parent’s home. I took advantage of the time to do some things that feed my soul: went on several walks, caught up on some note-writing, listened to some soothing music on my iPod, and kept the tv off. And although it was a short time, it transformed me into a mom that was ready to deal with life again.
Quality time with my husband is really important to me, and so is time to myself – occasionally. I am very fortunate to have a husband who doesn’t get offended or hurt but understands my need for this. When I return from a getaway, I try to make him really glad he gave me that time, by not overspending or returning exhausted, so that the next time… he’s happy for me to go again. We both know it is best for me AND MY FAMILY for me to get some time away every now and then.
Give yourself permission, ladies. Make the “me time,” knowing you won’t get it otherwise. Even a single mom can get time away if they trade with another single mom for a glorious 24 hours away to walk in the woods, read a book, watch 4 movies you missed in the theaters, or simply spend time soaking in the Bible. I don’t think Jesus felt at all guilty about needing that time away; neither should you!!
Shaunti Feldhahn is a best selling author and nationally renowned speaker, best known for her break out book For Women Only that led to a series of other related titles. She has been featured on The Today Show, Fox News, K-Love radio and many other media outlets. Her recent book The Life Ready Woman helps women understand their role in today’s fast-paced world.