"Joy to the world the Lord has come!” Christmas, a favorite time of the year, has come and gone. Hopefully the zeal to live the Christmas message still remains. The joy that fills your heart has a way of fleeing as the last guest wave’s goodbye. The skip in your step is absent. Your smile is fading and the alarm clock seems to be going off way too soon. Your days are starting without you. Your get up and go just got up and went. What is the matter, you ask yourself? You look in the mirror and don’t even recognize yourself. You wonder what happened to the Spirit of Christmas; has it “past?” You feel like you have been on a treadmill nonstop for an entire month. Sad to say you did not even lose a pound. You have shopped until you dropped, wrapped thousands of presents, cleaned, baked, decorated, hosted, and enjoyed family and friends. Now the focus on Christmas has been replaced with New Year’s parties, New Year’s resolutions and life as you knew it before Christmas. You realize that you are too tired to even think.
“Help!” you cry out into the silence. You are irritable, overworked, and sleep-deprived. Of course you are; join the club! Christmastime can be exhausting. It is the time of year that you add another entire life to your already busy, full, blessed, life. What is a woman to do? Solutions sail through your head like “visions of sugar plums dancing with glee.” Run away to an exotic island all by yourself? No; your family would miss you. Sail away on a Caribbean cruise? Can’t do it! Money is scarce due to Christmas generosity. Go around the world in 80 days? Who would drive the carpools or fix the meals? A thought brings you back to reality; wait a minute, I love my life as a mother and wife! Before you say, “Stop the world, I want to get off,” the reality, I am just exhausted, hits you.
Don’t let the Christmas rush sail you into a season of winter blues. After the Christmas holidays exit, be sure to usher in a time of rest and relaxation. It is time to slow down and rejuvenate! How do you do this when everything is calling your name? You have less time, less energy, and less sleep but more commitments, and why rejuvenating* never finds its way to the top of your to-do list. Never do you need to restore more than when you are in a busy season, like Christmas, a new baby, a move, or a wedding. This is sound advice, but rarely do women heed it. However, if one takes the time to restore and rejuvenate, energy increases and time is better managed. Then you can look in the mirror and recognize yourself again. If you take the time to rejuvenate you seem to accomplish more in less time. This, I assure you, is the formula for healthy living. In order for you to take care of your family well, you must also take care of yourself. This wisdom is only learned through experience. Do not let guilt paralyze you and drag you into the land of “down on yourself.” To avoid this, take the time to rejuvenate. You will be happier, healthier, and better equipped to serve your family. I challenge you to try it and see for yourself.
Everyone is different. All women restore in different ways. So learn to do what helps you rejuvenate best. Here are some suggestions:
IT’S ALL ABOUT ME DAY: Take a mental health day. Schedule in your calendar once a month, perhaps on your birthday number, a day all to yourself for doing what you like to do. Avoid work and increase rest. It will do wonders for you.
PRETTY UP DAY: Take a Spa Day complete with a pedicure, a manicure, and a massage. Feeling well groomed does wonders for any woman. Now that you are all dolled up and relaxed, have a date night with your mate: dinner for two at your favorite spot.
LETS DO LUNCH: Take time for lunch with the girlfriends. Do not invite just any one to lunch, but invite girlfriends that know your faults and like you just the way you are: girlfriends that you can share anything with because they, like “Depends,” never neither leak nor judge you. They know how it feels to be up with a colicky baby for way too many days. They remember how hormones have a way of coloring your world grey. These rare friends are a fine treasure needed in life to help you find the road of acceptance and love, when your world is falling apart.
ROAD TRIP: Take a get-away weekend. The change of scenery will change your life. Things always look better when on vacation.
MAID-FOR-A-DAY: Every mom needs help now and then. Have a maid you can call on when you need her. When your to-do list never seems to make it to the finish line, it is time to wave the white flag and call the maid. Don’t put it off until tomorrow; get help today. If something has to give, let it be the housework because babies cannot wait.
MOMMY TIME: Everyone needs a mommy to nurture them. Plan a trip to see your mother, mother-in-law or mentor. Pick the one who will love and support you most. Be encouraged, built up, get advice, throw your cares to the wind, and be the princess of the day. Let the love of one who cares about you put that million dollar smile back on your face.
MOVIE NIGHT: Take a break and watch funny old movies. Laugh until your sides hurt. Try viewing those where moms are in the character list. “Cheaper by the Dozen,” “Sound of Music,” and “Mary Poppins” are my personal favorites. Don’t forget to pop the popcorn!
ALIVE, HEALTHY, AND FIT: Join the gym and make a commitment to be there weekly. My friends coined this phrase, “Exercise and prayer are a girl’s best friends.” Moms need them both in a huge dose. Then you will feel good inside and out.
LET THE SUNSHINE IN: Sit in the sun and make a list of all the things you cannot get done. Show the list to your best friend. Let her help you decide what is attainable. Make a new list with columns for “important,” “urgent,” and “unimportant.” Last column is “someday/maybe”? If your list is too long, destroy it; relax and enjoy the sunshine.
GIRLS NIGHT OUT: Leave the children at home with a responsible adult and give yourself a needed break. Just relax and enjoy the girl-friend time together.
YOU TAKE MY BREATH AWAY: Plan a date with your mate. Hire a babysitter for your children. Then fix a special meal, light the candles, and use the good china. Dress like a lady, buy a new dress, put on the high heels and wear his favorite perfume. Treasure the moment by enjoying alone time together. Remind him that he is still the one who takes your breath away.
REST IN THE LORD: Take the time to nourish your spiritual side. Take time each day to stop and pray. Retreating with God in prayer puts peace into your world. Go to daily Mass, find a spiritual director, join a Bible study or join a ministry, and get to confession. Putting God first restores you from the inside out.
FIND A PRAYER PARTNER: Having a woman to pray with every day will become a blessing in your life, beyond compare. Prayer partners encourage you when you are down and remind you of God’s goodness. You do the same when they need to be encouraged most.
Last but not least, and my personal favorite, RETREAT WITH THE GIRLFRIENDS: When I need to rejuvenate, I go on a retreat with my three best friends. These weekend away retreats are a treasured time that I look forward to, and essential to my life. Even Jesus had to get away to pray. I highly recommend retreating with the girlfriends. I try to get away on retreat at least twice a year. Just like the disciples Peter, James and John did women need to go to the mountaintop for a retreat with Jesus. You will come back renewed!
Taking the time to rejuvenate will bring the joy and the life of Christ back into your world. You will have a new skip in your step. Your smile will reappear. You will awake ready to start the day, serving the Lord with gladness. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, so take the time to rejuvenate when you need it most. Slowing your life down after running on the treadmill of life way too fast, for way too long, is part of healthy living. It helps you to be a better you. Then you will be a better wife and mom too. Save this article for the days you need to rewind your life to a place of rejuvenation. Then rest, restore, relax before returning to life as you know it, as a brand-new you. Never forget everyone needs nurturing, love and care. So whatever you do, take time for you!
Psalm 23 encourages, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He restores my soul.”
Rejoice! Rejuvenate! Rejoice!
*[Rejuvenate: to make (someone) feel or look young, healthy, or energetic again: to give new strength or energy to (something). (www.m-w.com)]
Copyright 2015 Ellen Mongan
About the Author
Ellen Mongan is a Catholic writer, speaker, and host of WOW MOM podcasts. Her book, WOW MOM: A Walk with God, is on Amazon. She contributes to Catholic Mom, Women of Grace, and Augusta Chronicle. Her most important roles as wife to Deacon Patrick and mother of eight led her to ministry. Learn more and contact her to speak at EllenMongan.com.