It can be hard to make time, but mothers who take time to rest are able to give their best to their families.
Your friends, your mom, and even your doctor encourage you: “Take some time for yourself!” But between your job, housework, spending time with your children, and making time for your marriage, it can feel impossible to take any time for yourself.
Where does “me time” even fit into the schedule? And if you do manage to free up an hour a week, how can you make the most of this precious time? How can you avoid feeling guilty at the idea of leaving your husband and children behind while you do something that feels unnecessary?
Putting time for yourself on your to-do list is worth it. Once you’ve discovered what really resonates with you and have experienced the benefits it brings to your personal and family lives, taking a break will come naturally.
Next, how do you make the most of this time? It requires getting to know yourself well. Figure out what will contribute to making you happy, and what will put you in a good mood. This can range from fitness training to reading a good novel, volunteer activities, prayer, or dinner with friends.
Eline Landon, author of a book in French about “maternal burn-out” (“Burn out maternal et épuisement spirituel”), advises mothers to aim first at “modest beginnings,” like drinking a coffee on the couch, taking a walk around the house to breathe, reading a chapter of a book you started ages ago and haven’t finished, taking a hot shower, or dedicating a little time to prayer.
“The essential thing is to find out how to best take a break and find my inner ‘heaven,’ a time of rest which, repeated several times during the same day or same week, allow me to reconnect with my deepest self where the presence of Jesus is, in order to continue on the road, at peace,” she explains.
There are two important conditions for this time to be a true rest—that it be regular, and that it be a source of peace:
Your loved ones also benefit from this “me time.” Without it, you risk becoming an overwrought mother or an eternally ill-tempered wife.
Laetitia Pouliquen, another French author on women’s issues, says, “What do we do first in our day? For me, it is important to put God first, as much as possible. Second, I take care of myself: for the cup to overflow, it must be full. I take the time to put on make-up, eat a good breakfast …”
In order to be able to give good things to others, a woman and mother must also receive these things for herself.
The inexhaustible source: Jesus Christ
Is relaxation enough for full development? For Christians, regularly making time for a heart-to-heart talk with Jesus can be a particularly rich and comforting source of strength.
Through prayer, we establish a strong bond with the One who can do everything. Author Éline Landon invites every mother to express the emotions that she feels, in the same way that Jesus expressed them to God his Father.
“Jesus expresses emotions too: he too weeps, he too becomes angry in the temple. But peace remains in the relationship he has with his Father at all times,” she says. She encourages us also to “open our hearts, with our feelings and our emotions. Jesus understands them, and he will put them in order and establish us in peace.”
We can begin with a few minutes of daily prayer, when we think of Jesus during the day, like little arrows of love shot towards the Creator. We can also participate in prayer groups with other mothers, for example, inviting the participants once a week to entrust their children to the Lord in the company of other mothers.
As you grow in your spiritual life, you can schedule a time for daily prayer, or go to Mass during the week. Sometimes you can find retreats specifically targeted for women and mothers, offering two or three days of intense spiritual renewal. Such activities allow us to recharge our batteries, spending time as close as possible to the Lord.
Taking time for yourself, especially to rest and renew yourself spiritually, will allow you to give your best to your family with a joyful heart. It may seem hard to make the time, or counter-intuitive to take time alone so as to love your family better, but it will always be worth it.
Defining self-care in spiritual terms