We are our kids’ role models in everything, including how we spend our time.
When I’m whipping around the house picking up clothes, putting on the laundry, texting about drop offs and picks ups and preparing for the next day, I’m not thinking about how this will impact my child’s future.
I’m thinking stuff needs to get done, and it needs to get done tonight.
What my kids see is a whirling dervish who can’t sit still for five minutes.
They don’t see me making time for rest and so they won’t come to see it as a normal part of their lives.
Which is fair enough because I don’t see it as a normal part of my life.
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I've always been a workaholic, parenthood has made it worse
I know how influential parents are. Both my parents have had a huge influence in my attitude to rest and play. My memories of growing up are that my folks were rarely at rest. They were committed to their jobs, to us, and to the home we grew up in.
All three of their children have grown into adults with a very serious attitude toward work.
Before kids it was rare that I only had one place of employment. Since having kids, other jobs have replaced the ones I used to get paid for.
There’s the emotional load, and all the planning involved to make sure I don’t forget birthdays, kid’s parties, holiday care and anniversaries. Then there’s having clean clothes and sheets, a clean kitchen and some semblance of order in my bedroom. That’s the minimum.
Sometimes you will even find me cleaning out the kid’s rooms. But I’m not completely crazy. That’s a rare occurrence.
On top of a full-time job, keeping these plates spinning means you will hardly ever see me sitting on the lounge reading a book when my children are awake.
But that is when it needs to happen, so that my kids can see that a well-balanced life includes rest.
“Letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth” – Brene Brown
I’m a little bit obsessed with Brene Brown right now. She’s a Research Professor at the University of Houston, who rose to fame in 2010 after a TED talk on vulnerability.
She has 10 guideposts for what she calls wholehearted living, which are basically 10 steps that help you live a full and contented life. She maps them out in her book Daring Greatly.
In the seventh step cultivating rest and play she says, “Rest and play are as vital to our health as nutrition and exercise.”
When you read it aloud it feels like you’re stating the bleeding obvious. But I for one don’t prioritise chilling out with a book over going for a swim, or to a yoga class. It doesn’t even make it on to my list of ‘to dos’. It just doesn’t feel productive enough. When you look at it like that, I am seeing my productivity as self-worth.
I’m de-valuing the importance of rest.
When we rest, everything is better
Amy Taylor-Kabbaz is a mindfulness coach and the voice (and brains) behind Bedtime Explorers on Kinderling Kids Radio.
She’s passionate about supporting mums, and one of her biggest messages to mums is about the value of rest.
She writes, “I have always prioritised doing over being, productivity over rest. I demanded so much from my body and myself that the only way it could get my attention was to scream at me with a thyroid disease, adrenal fatigue, a scarily premature baby. I ignored it all, until I couldn’t anymore. And what I have learnt is this – we can only be of service to all we love if we also are of service to ourselves.”
And while she doesn’t get to rest every day, exactly when she needs to, she understands rest should be a priority in her life.
“Every single day, there are tiny moments of rest available to us. Even when we’re at work, we can choose to stop, get up from our desks, walk to the window, and look at the outside world for ten seconds. We can bring chai to our offices, and turn that 2pm cup into a mini-ritual.
“We can turn off all devices and TV a few nights a week, cover our hands and feet with coconut oil, and crawl into bed to read and rest.
“We can choose to notice our breath. The most simple yet powerful tool of all.”
I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that you can only rest when all the work is done.
It’s time I embraced rest in my own life, and made it visible to them.
When will you sit down and show your kids the importance of rest?
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