Six Ways Moms Can Create Downtime In Their Week
There was a feeling of excitement in the air, a feeling of expectancy. Change was coming and it felt SO GOOD. The crisp morning air signalled the beginning of fall and a change in seasons. When I was younger I vividly remember feeling excited and eagerly anticipating the first fire in the fireplace as summer changed to fall. I had not had that feeling in such a long time. Why was that? And why was I feeling it now? Could it be because life was slower now since I was working from home and I wasn’t rushing off to work every day? It was great to be able to sit outside in the morning and read my Bible and journal. There was space to be quiet, to be still, to think, to reflect, to hear.
Life for most moms is anything but quiet and definitely not still. Most of us most of the time are running from one thing to the next, coordinating everyone’s schedule and making sure everyone has what they need. There's so much noise and activity that it can be hard to know which direction to go or how to move forward. We continue on day after day thinking that if we work faster, if we work harder, if we make better use of our time, then we will get caught up and then we will have time to rest. Unfortunately, that time never happens and the noise inside our homes is a reflection of what’s going on outside of our homes.
The world in which we live never stops and never has down time. It’s full of noise, the switch is always turned on and life is running full speed ahead all around us. Even if we stay home a lot, we are not exempt from this crazy cycle. Just having a cell phone puts each one of us on constant alert. The phone beckons us to check it constantly to see if anyone has called us or if anyone has sent us a text message or an email. When we do have a short break in our day, we scroll through Facebook and Instagram checking to see what others have posted and who liked what we posted. If you think this doesn’t describe you, let me challenge you to write down one tally mark every time you check your phone within a one hour time period. Remember to include the times you check the time on your phone. How many tally marks are on your paper? Eye opening, isn’t it?
All of life’s activities and constant notifications from our cell phones put our stress hormones into action - the fight or flight response - our hearts beat faster, our breathing tightens up and our muscles contract. Although each person’s situation is unique, we all need downtime - time to relax and recharge.
God created and gave us a beautiful gift called REST. Being the one who created us and who knows us best, God knew we needed downtime and rest for our emotional, spiritual and physical health. Understanding how rest benefits us personally can be a great motivator to incorporate downtime into our schedule.
When we give our mind and our body time to be quiet and still, we balance our sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (rest and digestion) nervous systems. When that balance is restored, we naturally slow down our pace of life. Having some downtime in our day can activate our parasympathetic nervous system which can help with:
Relaxing and calming our minds and our bodies
Reducing stress and anxiety
Lifting our moods
Strengthening our immune systems
Healing and repairing
Let’s look at a few practical ways we can add downtime into our routine.
Choose one thing to start this week.
Create a comfy, visually pleasing, outside sitting area. Schedule time in this space doing something that is relaxing and brings you joy. Reading, journaling, coloring, listening to peaceful, uplifting music, listening to the birds chirp or admiring the flowers and trees God created are suggestions.
Go for a walk and be fully present with your surroundings. Think about what you are grateful for as you walk. Your cell phone can tag along, but it should be silenced unless there’s an emergency.
Take a break from your cell phone for one hour. Put your cell phone in another room and give yourself a break from the constant alerts that activate your stress hormones.
Lay your body down on your bed for 15-30 minutes. Close your eyes and be quiet and still. There’s no music, no television, no cell phone near you - nothing to stimulate your brain or your body.
Read aloud or listen to an audiobook with your children. Everyone can lay down and you have permission to close your eyes! When my girls were younger, my family loved reading Lamplighter books (lamplighter.net) which build character based on God’s Word.
Power Hour - Each person in the house is in a separate room and their feet are off the floor. This works well after lunch. Each person can read, write, pray, draw, color or nap - create your own rules but no screen time allowed. During this hour, feet cannot touch the floor unless there’s blood or fire. This is an hour of quietness throughout the house, and it may take practice to train your children if they are not used to playing quietly by themselves.
With anything new that we begin, it’s important to start small with one activity and build on that over an extended time period. Habits are created by taking small steps over a long period of time to reach a long term goal. Creating space in your week for downtime and rest is a great habit and long term goal.
Because the world we live in does not show any signs of slowing down, it’s so important to teach our children how to make space for downtime and spend time in quiet activities. Modeling self-care in the area of rest, downtime, and being quiet and still is one way we can help our children be able to thrive in a hectic, noisy world.
We have to be intentional to schedule time to be quiet and still and to have downtime so that our minds and our bodies can rest. When we fully understand the benefits of downtime, it will motivate us to put it on our schedules and make it a priority.
Downtime is a way for our minds and our bodies to have a break from all of the noise and activity in our world. It refreshes our minds and our bodies so that we can think, so that we can focus, so that we can step back from a situation and get perspective. It teaches us how to listen so we can hear God’s voice, so we can have direction, so we can know the next right step, and so we can see our children the way our Heavenly Father sees them. It brings clarity of mind and peace and joy and refreshment and healing and restoration - so many benefits!
When we make space in our lives to be quiet, to be still, to think, and to reflect, we gain the ability to hear - hear what God has called us to do and how we are to do it. God tells us in Romans 12:2 to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
We can’t hear God’s voice when we are pulling him behind us as we hurry from one thing to the next and only look back from time to time to see if he’s still hanging on as we charge ahead. We have to be intentional to have a quiet space to read our Bibles, pray and listen for God’s direction. God gave us the gift of rest so that we can quiet the noise and hear Him.
Hi! I'm Renee Bethel and I am the author of Finding Me: A Woman’s Guide to Learning More About Herself. I am a Christian Identity Coach and whole body wellness advocate. I help Christian women discover who they are so that they can take better care of themselves and others in their circle.
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