Like many things I blog about, this topic has been on my mind not because I’m so good at it, but because I’m quite the opposite. In my September favorites I linked up to an article about seven purposes for the home. I found the article so convicting that I decided to spend some prolonged time meditating on each purpose, the first being “the home as a place of rest.” I asked myself how I could make our home more restful. Here are some thoughts from someone who still has a long way to go.
1. Make rest and refreshment a personal priority. Nobody wants an anemic for a blood donor. Sure, I could wake up running and not pause for breath until bedtime, but I’d probably look more like Medusa than Martha Stewart. And honestly, the first to suffer would be my family. So how do I make time for rest? I’ve found 3 times in the day that I can use for different forms of personal rest. The first is before the kids wake up (normally I’m unconscious during this time, but I’m working on it). The second is in the afternoon when the baby naps, and the third is after the kids go to bed. Look at your schedule. Where could you allot some time for personal rest?
2. Recognize that there’s a hierarchy to rest. Not all restful activities are created equal. Watching thirteen movies in a row may be restful, but not rejuvenating or nourishing. If we want lasting rest, the Bible says it only comes in a Person (Matt. 11:29). I don’t think that means there’s no room for personal hobbies, it just means those forms of rest shouldn’t trump the most important form. Ideally, I’d like to spend time with the Lord first thing in the morning, have an hour in the afternoon to blog or read, and spend time with Clint in the evening. How are you using your free time? Is it providing lasting rest?
3. Enforce a consistent bedtime for the kids. From the moment our kids exited the womb, we started putting them to bed at 7pm. Of course it took time to get them used to the routine, and it’s always necessary to deviate now and then, but on a typical day at 7pm it’s Daddy & Mommy time. Good night, kiddos, we’ll see you in the morning! It’s healthy for their little bodies, my sanity, and our marriage. If your kids don’t have a consistent bedtime, what sort of nightly routine could you create to help them develop one?
4. Work to maintain an efficient home. Isn’t it ironic that we have to work hard in order to rest well? But if the house is a wreck with no clean clothes and no food for dinner, how restful will it really feel? I’m finding that the more I invest into the home, the more my family enjoys being in it. But there’s a fine balance! As I’m doing my best to manage the home diligently, I must remember to…
5. Love the people in the home more than the tasks of the home. Of all the items on my list, this is the hardest for me. Isn’t that a sad confession? It is to me, too. And yet the #1 reason our home isn’t more restful is because I can be a drill sergeant about maintaining it. Slowly, I’m beginning to realize that this is idolatry–it’s loving “order” more than God’s mandate to be kind and gracious with my family. Is your approach to maintaining the home balanced? Do you need to become more diligent, or more gracious?
6. Have a daily “down time” for the kids. Once my pre-schooler outgrew nap time she started having an afternoon “quiet time.” She picks a few sets of boxed toys out of the closet and plays in her room for 1-2 hours. There are so many benefits to this–Aubrey learns to play independently and be imaginative, Heidi gets a quiet nap time, and I have an afternoon break. Depending on the ages of your kids, how could you establish a designated “down time” for them every day?
7. Find opportunities to bless your husband with alone time. I know my husband often feels guilty taking any time to himself. Because he works all day, he feels like every other moment should be spent with the kids. But if he’s going to serve and lead our family well, he needs time to rest and rejuvenate. What does your husband find restful? How can you give him some down-time this week?
8. Be at peace with those within the home. Nothing transforms a restful home into a war zone faster than discord. Colossians 3:12-17 urges believers to bear with one another, to forgive one another, to allow the peace of Christ to rule in our hearts, and to let the Word of God dwell so richly within us that we admonish one another in wisdom and gratitude. Let me ask you two last questions that I’m also asking myself: Am I at peace with every member of my household? If not, what steps can I take today, to restore the peace?
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