by Hannah Bollinger
Exhaustion took on a whole new meaning after having my son. My pre-mom pattern of sleeping became history, as did my morning quiet time for a while. In the first year, people would encourage me to sleep when my son was sleeping, but I struggled to rest in a house full of laundry and cleaning and chores to be done.
My son recently turned five years old, and I still wrestle with what it means to rest as a mom. We’re way past the days of middle-of-the-night feedings, and my little boy usually sleeps soundly through the night.
But motherhood is life changing.
I sometimes slip into the bad habit of going to bed way too late, because I want to get tasks done or have a little “me time” while the house is quiet. But when this becomes my norm, I’m depleted when the sun rises, rather than energized and ready to go.
While I know that rest is a biblical and important for my overall health, sometimes it seems close to impossible when a little life is depending on me.
After a year of feeling a little run down, there’s a question I’ve been asking the Lord…
How do I reclaim rest in the midst of motherhood and all its demands?
Kind of like the phrase, today I choose joy, we can also choose rest. While there will be crazy days when all control unravels between our fingertips, we can be intentional about trying to establish patterns of rest throughout the week, beyond just getting eight hours of sleep at night.
This summer, I’ve been slowly getting into a better routine of going to bed earlier on most nights, while also allowing myself to do things I enjoy, rather than using every free moment to check something off my to-do list. For me, some of those things are creating art, running outdoors on mountains trails, and reading my bible and journaling early in the morning before my son awakes. These are all things that refresh my soul and draw me closer to the Lord.
Establishing a rhythm of rest takes discipline, and sometimes it means decluttering our lives and saying no to things. Just like a car can’t run on empty, neither can we. God’s desire for us to rest comes out of a place of fatherly love. He knows what we need to live healthy in mind, body, and soul. Just like He rested after six days of creating (Genesis 2:2-3), He also designed us to need a break from work.
He knows the demands of motherhood and that there will be times when we’re up with a sick child all night for a week straight, only to get sick ourselves the following week.
But Jesus has some comforting words for the weary in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.’”
Jesus can refresh us even when we’re sleep deprived, and He can satisfy us in a way that a bunch of checks on a to-do list never will. He wants to give us rest, but we have to choose to pursue time with Him, which sometimes means we need to show ourselves grace and let other things go.
Reclaiming rest isn’t easy as a mom, let alone in a fast-paced world, but it’s one way we can honor God and experience the goodness of His design.
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Hannah is a wife, mama, and daughter of the King. She enjoys running on peaceful dirt trails, creating art, and nurturing authentic relationships. She is passionate about helping other women discover that they are beautifully woven together and designed with purpose. You can read more at her blog, Woven Beautiful, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.