Recently on a Thursday afternoon after I had finished a full day of work, I felt utterly exhausted. But it is summer and my kids want to have fun. If I’m honest with myself, I want my kids to have a summer filled with fun and exploring and creating memories. I do not want them to feel their mom was working all day and had no energy left for them so I took them to swim at my aunt’s house, something we enjoy doing over the summer.
My aunt asked me how was I doing, and all I could respond was “I’m soooo tired.”
Then I was a little aggravated with myself for saying how tired I was because isn’t every mom tired?
When we got home from swimming I was still exhausted and announced “It has been a long week for all of us, early bedtime for everyone.” With the nudging of my oldest daughter, I even decided to forgo my early morning workout and let my body catch up on sleep.
The next morning, everyone work up rejuvenated and refreshed. I even got a “You were right mom, I needed a good night’s sleep” from my soon to be 12 year old. We then scattered: to camp, work, Grandma’s, physical therapy and a quick trip to the grocery, all before 10:00 a.m. Whew!
It was only ten in the morning and again I felt exhausted, but there was still so much “to do.” Between emails to answer, reports to update, a blog post to write (yes I had missed the first deadline for this post and guilt had been eating at me) as well as dishes and laundry that were screaming for my attention, I did not have time “to rest.” There were people to respond to and things to check off.
But I was tired.
The thought of opening my computer only exhausted me more.
Then I felt guilty.
Do other women feel like this? Do they feel overwhelmed and exhausted with all they have to do? Social media certainly does not make me think so. Social media tells us how we can “have and do it all.”
Then I heard my mom’s voice in my head “A women’s secret weapon for “doing it all” is learning to take naps.” My mom was (and still is) a hard-working, get it done, love my family type of women. My mom is also a huge proponent of taking naps, something she practiced during her working years while raising four kids. It is something she still practices today.
Many afternoons as she transitioned from teaching to wearing her mom hat, she stated: “I’m going to lay down. I’m setting the timer for 30 minutes.”
I heard my mother’s voice leading my tired body to go lay down “Set the timer for 30 minutes and then you can re-face the day.”
When I woke up, I felt rested and clear minded. The fatigue was gone. My “to do” list did not feel so overwhelming. I had the energy and desire to get to work.
Maybe we as a society need to not only encourage more breaks, but teach people what a healthy break looks like.
You see, in this modern, media driven world, we hear the word “break” and our mind (okay, maybe it’s just mine, but humor me for a second), goes into vacation mode. I hear the word “break” and my mind is on the beach or in the mountains … I have no responsibilities, no one to answer to. I am able to just breathe and be.
My totally exhausted episode came just 4 days after vacation. I just had a six day perfect, restful, joyful, glorious break. Four days later, I am utterly exhausted and feel I need another break.
Is another vacation the answer?
It might be nice to day dream that another vacation would solve my fatigue problems, but the truth is my body was just tired. Physical fatigue had set in and mental fatigue was starting to take over.
I didn’t need another vacation.
But I did need permission to listen to and honor my body.
I needed to remove any guilt or shame I felt for not “being on” at the present moment.
I needed to know that the people I work for and work with will not be disappointed in my need to rest.
And I needed to be OK if my need to rest did disappoint them, because I knew what I needed.
I needed 30 minutes to close my eyes to rest and rejuvenate.
I needed 30 minutes to regain the physical and mental strength to face my responsibilities.
Maybe we need to teach others what my mom taught me. It is not that we need only the glorious, vacations type breaks to rest and rejuvenate our mind and souls, but we need to embrace the practice of a mini break (a nap) taken during the day.
Next time you are feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, go ahead and take a break. Set your timer for 10 – 30 minutes, shut down your computer, turn off the phone, walk away from the house chores, lay down your head, close your eyes and take a break.