“Happy New Year!”
That phrase produces a variety of emotions and feelings even as I type it. Celebrating a New Year should be a good thing, right? A year of possibilities. New starts. New goals. New resolutions. However, when I hear it, I often feel overwhelmed and a bit depressed. I am more than ready to say good-bye to 2020 but find myself with feelings of uncertainty and dread. Maybe it’s post-holiday blues and long winter days. Perhaps it’s regret and mom guilt?
A New Year, A New You
Fitness ads, weight loss promotions, self-help books — all promise us a “new you.” As a result, I know I set unattainable goals and set myself up for failure. I am often left feeling defeated and depressed. It seems “Happy New Year” has become synonymous with looking back at all the mistakes and shortcomings of the past year.
What if I told you there’s another way? Something that will boost your weary spirit and give you some joy. Something like choosing REST over resolutions. I know what you must be thinking as a mom. Rest? I know it may sound too good to be true, but I’ve found it really is attainable. It’s all in how we view rest.
Resting in What We Did Right
First, let’s start with resolutions. As an older mom the term itself exhausts me, but it wasn’t always that way. I used to be a “boot strap” girl. Give me some work and some rules, and I’d go straight to work. Not anymore . . . with five kids ages 9-17, it’s just not doable without feeling depleted and steam rolling over those whom I love.
So what if we dropped the mom guilt and instead started off this New Year looking at what we did do right? Maybe not perfectly, but what we accomplished? What if we RESTED in that?
Rest does not always mean physical rest, although that’s a great place to start. Rest can be giving yourself permission to cease striving, be still, and assess the good. It can be simply taking time to remember and celebrate the victories. Did you provide for tiny humans by feeding, washing, and changing them? What about saying their prayers at night when you were so tired you could hardly stand? Did you stay up past midnight listening to the dreams or fears of your teenager? These may seem like little things, but they aren’t.
Let’s go bigger — how about surviving “unprecedented times”? Taking care of the emotional, physical, spiritual, social, AND educational needs of your family? This year heavily impacted all of us, including moms, but we kept going in the midst of our own losses and grief. Let’s give ourselves some grace and see what we DID do right before assessing what we need to do better.
Resting In Gratefulness
Did you know it’s been proven that counting your blessings before going to bed improves emotional well-being? Years ago I read 1,000 Gifts by Ann Ann Voskamp. It taught me to recognize gifts and “get tos” instead of labeling them as burdens and “have tos”. Simply searching for gifts in my day changed my entire outlook, which in turn made me a more rested mom. Practicing this habit daily and introducing it to my kids has been a joy.
Resting in Beauty
I’ve often thought about the instruction of the flight attendant, “Put the oxygen mask on before giving to others,” and wondered if as a mom I would actually do it in time of crisis. As moms, we need to remind ourselves of this. We desperately need to take care of our needs in order to recharge and not burn out. Rest when you can and don’t feel guilty. After meeting your physical needs, concentrate on another kind of rest — finding things of beauty which bring you life.
It can be hard to find time for ourselves as moms, but we can learn to incorporate rhythms of rest and beauty into our daily routines. Try to do the “musts” for the day and as a reward stay off social media which results in a comparison game. Comparison robs us of joy. Instead, reward yourself with some quiet time and something that brings you enjoyment — if even for 15 minutes. The dishes can wait.
Introduce things you enjoy to your kids and incorporate them into your daily schedule. What can you find to do together that brings in beauty? Maybe it’s audio books while doing puzzles or hiking a new trail. Perhaps it’s a life-giving movie or music and a dance party. Whatever it is, do it!
Resting in the Journey
Once we have celebrated our victories, there is wisdom in assessing changes that need to happen. After reading Rebekah Lyons’ Rythyms of Renewal, I discovered it’s best if I do this regularly. This helps me from being overwhelmed and is also beneficial in helping set smaller goals. However, the way we view goals needs to change. If we could learn to see our goals as a journey, it would conquer the defeat we often feel when we fail. It would also allow us as moms to see our “failures” as merely “setbacks” from which we learn. In doing so, we can learn to truly rest in the thought that each day is a new beginning. Today we are one step closer to where we want to be than we were when we started!