Parenting from a place of rest

A snapshot of one of my weeks from my Erin Condren planner (you need one of these planners in your lives!) 
Last Friday I listened to this podcast where writer, momma, and homeschooling parent Sarah Mackenzie talks with Tsh Oxenreider about an interesting concept: teaching from a state of rest (side bar: two posts in a row referencing Tsh Oxenreider...does that make me creepy??). I certainly agreed with many of Mackenzie's thoughts on this topic, but I found myself thinking more about what this means for me as a mother. I wondered how my parenting would change if I parented from a place of rest. As I've thought on this for a few days, I keep coming back to two questions:  What does parenting from a state of rest look like for me? Is this concept even possible?

What does parenting from a state of rest look like for me?  
I'm realizing that in order to be at my best for my kids and my husband, I need to have my needs met. I must be well-rested--physically, mentally, and emotionally.
  • Physically: I need to have at least seven hours of sleep each night or my body will literally revolt in protest and shut-down. I need to have time throughout the week to exercise. This has looked different for me now that I've got two kidlets--I'm happy to run three days a week and do yoga on Saturday mornings. Miss a run, and I beat myself up. Skip yoga on Saturdays, and my body feels out of whack which makes me a cranky bitty. Finally, I need to be well-fed lest I get hangry. For me, this means eating mostly healthy meals/snacks throughout the week. I try to limit my wheat intake to once a day (doesn't always happen) to prevent my blood sugar from swinging all over the place. But I'm also willing to indulge in a bag of sugary fruit snacks should the occasional urge arises (I blame my sweet tooth on my mother). 
  • Mentally: I've become a bit of an introvert in my old age, so if I don't have space and time to be alone, I start to get a little crusty. Nate and I realize this is also true for our family; we're not all introverts--in fact, Nate and K are rather extroverted and strive when they have opportunities to be social. However, we have been deliberate to guard a schedules--to say "yes" to opportunities and commitments sparingly (only when they fall inline with our family's values and purpose statement--more on that in another post) and to limit our kids to one activity at a time because we A) don't want to become crazed taxi drivers shuffling us and our kids from activity to activity and B) we want our kids to have time and space for free play. Our family simply functions best when the calendar is bare. 
  • Emotionally: There's a fine line between mental and emotional needs for me; I often have a hard time distinguishing the two because intellectual activities fill me up. I feel fulfilled when I have time each week to read, write, and think. I also realize that my emotional needs are often met when I engage with others. Even in my introverted ways, I still believe we were created to be in fellowship with others. I've got a great network of friends who fulfill me in lots of ways--the women in my writing group are all moms and teachers, and we've managed to create a kind of support group that not only seeks to improve one another as writers but also walk beside one another as mothers and teachers. My friend Becky is a fellow foster-adoptive momma, and we text frequently to encourage each other and to commiserate in our kids' trauma. She and her husband Zach have been available and willing to help us parent through some difficult moments; we've often joked about buying a huge house so we can all live together and co-parent. My friend Kristin is my ever-present friend, the most supportive friend I've ever had. We don't get to see each other often enough, but our weekly emails give us time to connect. Jenny is my snarky, intellectual friend--she's the one I text about interesting things I've heard on NPR, to get book recommendations, and to chat with about our latest parenting foibles. And Bob and Shannon--well, they feed us...literally, spiritually, and emotionally--they feel like our most comfortable friends---the ones we can hang out with bare-faced and in sweat pants until all hours of the night. There are many more friends I could list, and I haven't even mentioned how family fulfills us emotionally---the point is, when my relationships with others are maintained, I feel emotionally fulfilled. 
It's important to consider what well-rested means for us as parents and to allow ourselves to feel rested and fulfilled. We spend so much time giving to our children that we often put our needs last, which can ultimately rob our kids from having positive experiences with their parents.

Is parenting from a state of rest even possible?
If you're like us, you often feel overwhelmed each month when you look at the calendar that is often filled with obligations. Sometimes we don't even know when we're going to fold the piles of laundry that often feel like permanent fixtures in our living room! I'm not sure what it would take for each parent to be well-rested, but I think for us it takes being deliberate with our time and resources. If we allow our schedules to dictate our lives, we'll never be well-rested and we'll be cranky parents. We've decided to hammer out our core values as a family and then let those drive the decisions we make (another concept courtesy of Tsh Oxenreider). This philosophy feels counter-intuitive and sort of counter-culture, but so far, it's helped us figure out how to better use our time and resources. Here are some of the tangible shifts we've made (these are what we've decided would allow our family time and space to enjoy one another; it's not a one-size fits all model): Nate works out in the morning before work, I get up an hour earlier than my kids, we utilize Hy-Vee's grocery delivery service, I plan meals for the week ahead of time, limiting our kids to one activity at a time, line up respite/day care for at least once a month so Nate and I can go out, assign our kids daily chores we know they can handle, Nate and I touch base each night to talk, and having one parent work part-time. We haven't created a perfect system yet, but the shifts we've made (when we exercise them consistently) have allowed us more time to have our needs met individually and as a family. I'm sure this is something I'll keep coming back to as I feel my way through this parenting gig....

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