Amelia Bentrup shares how she learned to prioritize rest during a particularly busy season in life.
When I was younger, I never thought I would reach a point in my life where I felt the need to prioritize rest. While I have always been a hard worker, I never really had issues relaxing or taking care of myself. I never considered myself to be a super high-energy person and never liked charging from one thing to the next without a break.
However, lately I have felt as though my life has been moving at a frenetic pace. Between homeschooling and raising kids, starting a new side business at home, and continuing to work at home at another part-time job, life has been hectic. I would find myself awakening early in the morning, mind filled with all the things I needed to do and getting started on work before beginning the rest of my day, homeschooling, raising kids, household chores ... and then working into the evenings before falling asleep exhausted.
It is a schedule that is really unsustainable. So, I have learned that I need to prioritize rest on both a daily and a weekly basis. Of course, days of rest are supposed to be built into our week, but sometimes life gets in the way and Sundays, even if we aren’t working, are not always restful.
So how exactly do we prioritize rest or find the time to rejuvenate in the midst of a busy life and a never-ending to-do list? Rest is actually a tricky thing. Too much, and we feel lazy and slothful and unproductive and depressed. Too little rest and we feel anxious and burn out and exhausted. So we need to figure out how much rest we actually need, and this answer will vary for different people. Some people thrive on busyness, while others prefer a slower-paced life.
Next, figure out what you, as a unique individual, find restful. And what you find restful will be quite different than what others find restful. This especially hit home for me after a whirlwind of a weekend where our family drove seven hours to visit a family member for a weekend. Between dealing with bad weather on both the drive there and the drive back, declining health in the family member we were visiting, and car troubles to top it off, this vacation felt like anything but. In fact, my husband said, in all seriousness, that going back to work at his office would feel like a vacation after that weekend.
So figuring out what you find restful and what helps you rejuvenate is key to prioritizing rest. However, it is important to keep in mind that what we find restful and rejuvenating is not the same thing as what we find enjoyable, fun or interesting. I think this is where a lot of people have difficulty prioritizing rest and finding rejuvenation. For example, I am committed to praying a weekly holy hour, and I find this hour of prayer to be extremely restful and rejuvenating. But to be honest, I do not find it fun or enjoyable; it takes effort (as all prayer does), but I come home rested and rejuvenated after spending that time with our Lord.
While I find outings with my family and gatherings with friends to be extremely fun and enjoyable, they are not restful and I often come home exhausted and still needing to find rest. While my brain finds scrolling social media to be more fun, reading a good book is more restful. Often, the things we find restful are not the same as things we enjoy.
Try to figure out what you need to do to feel rested and rejuvenated. Then, since we all only have so many hours in a day, and we need to spend a significant portion of them sleeping, if we find we aren’t having time for rest, then we need to figure out what things we do each day that are neither restful nor productive that can be cut out. This may be things like scrolling social media or reading the news. Replace these soul-sucking habits with things that bring you true peace and rest.
Try to do this on both a daily and a weekly basis. While we need a longer period of rest on Sundays, we need rest and breaks built into each day. Look for little moments of downtime that you can use to take a breath, pray, read a book or do something else you find restful. When my children were babies and toddlers, I found nursing to be quite restful. Now that they are older, finding that rest is more challenging. When they are young, attending Mass was most definitely not restful, but now that they are older, I find I can really rest in the Lord. Take heart, moms of young children: that day will come.
Rest is important to our well-being. And while it may seem counterintuitive that we have to work at finding rest, sometimes that is reality. We need to make a conscious effort to replace non-restful, non-necessary, non-productive activities with those which will rejuvenate us, allowing us to be more present and holy and loving towards our families.
Copyright 2024 Amelia Bentrup
About the Author
Amelia Bentrup is a wife and mother of five children ranging in age from early elementary school to college-aged. She spends her days homeschooling, being a semi-adequate housekeeper, writing, transcription editing, chauffeuring kids, walking through the woods, praying, and caring for a large assortment of pets that include three cats, two dogs and a rabbit. Occasionally, she tackles house projects that she immediately regrets starting,