Here is a true confession from a mom of four daughters. When my girls were small (ages 5 and under), I spent several years as a stay-at-home mom. I prided myself on a pretty strict schedule — it seemed to help keep things running more smoothly. One area that was non-negotiable for me was nap time. Every afternoon, after lunch, all four girls were “put down” for a nap. The older girls could look at books quietly, but, for at least one hour every day, they were required to rest.
So, here is the confession part. I did it for myself! I needed the quiet more days than they probably needed the rest. Some days, looking forward to that hour kept me somewhat sane when the tantrums flew, when laundry was piled high and the house was messier than I ever imagined it could be.
Surprisingly, my girls didn’t rebel against this routine. In fact, I think they actually looked forward to it (Maybe it kept them sane too!).
One daughter had a more difficult time getting herself to stay still long enough to rest. Did you ever hear the phrase, “wiggle-worm?” Yep, that was her. Unfortunately, her constant motion also prevented her sister from napping (they shared a room), which in turn, kept me from an hour of solace.
Something had to be done.
One afternoon, I told my active 2-year old that I had a special treat for her. She could take a nap with me in my bed. I instructed her that she needed to sleep while “mommy was resting.” She was delighted. She closed her eyes, but she just could not stop moving! Her little legs were twitching and kicking like she was running a marathon. Her arms were moving like she was conducting an orchestra.
I decided that maybe, gently holding her body still would help her to relax. I draped my legs over her squirmy legs, wrapped my arms around her twitching arms and held her tight. I didn’t move as I prayed, “Dear God, please help this child to be still.”
I was astonished! Within 30 seconds of gently holding her, her body began to relax. Within one minute, her breathing began to change to a restful pattern. Within a few minutes she was sound asleep. I could not believe it!
This unconventional method became our pattern. Each and every day, she would crawl into my bed. I would tell her a story and then gently hold her still so she could drift off to sleep. She became my best napper — sleeping for a few hours. As this became our daily routine, it seemed her mood and personality became happier. I can’t tell you the difference it made for me.
Obviously, this article is not intended to be a parent’s guide to nap time, so what is my point?
My point is, I am a lot like my daughter, and maybe you are, too. We get so busy moving, and “doing” that when given the chance to rest, we just can’t seem to stop! We may have good intentions to take some time each morning in quiet devotions or take a day off or go on a rested vacation, but we have not learned how to be still.Maybe on the outside we are resting, but some of us have not yet learned how to slow down our racing, worried, anxious thoughts. They move as rapidly as my little girl’s arms and legs did. And we end up exhausted, depleted, burned out.
Rest is a beautiful word — not only for a stressed out mom of four, but for any person, in any season of life. True rest comes when we position ourselves close to our Heavenly Father. The Bible instructs us, “Be still and know that I am God.”(Psalm 46:10) He desires that we lean on and rely on him to calm us down, to know that we can rest from our labors, that he will refresh our souls as we stop and become still. He desires that we find our peace in him no matter our situations. That we become rejuvenated by spending time close to him.
On my hurried, stressful days, I like to picture myself like that wiggly-worm two- year old. Then, I picture the love of my Heavenly Father, holding me close; calming my anxious thoughts; realizing that he knows what I need even more than I do — and finding true rest as He holds me still.
“Come to me all you who labor and burdened and I will give you rest!” Matthew 11:28