Re-Thinking Rest as a Young Family

Cleaver_family_Leave_it_to_Beaver_1960I had an epiphany this morning.  We’ve been talking about running on empty in church, and since this also seems to be the theme of my life, I’ve been paying attention.  Yesterday was an extra-long day to top off an extra-long week.  As I got the kids ready for pre-school, I could tell they were running on empty.  They needed rest.  They wanted nothing more than to skip school, wear pajamas all day, and play with me.

And then it struck me.  Finding rest as a young family is so challenging because the way each member “rests” is often contradictory.  Would I find it restful for the kids to skip preschool and play with me all day?  Of course not!  If I was an astronaut dying in outer space and I could choose between oxygen and pre-school, I would take the pre-school.

Fast-forward to Saturday morning.  What would the kids find restful?  A family day at the park.  Dumping the entire contents of the playroom on the floor and cleaning it up…never.  Playing Octonauts with Dad and Mom for five hours straight.  You know what Dad and Mom would find restful?  Having one of those talks where you get to finish your entire thought without interruption—what is that called?  Oh yes, a conversation.  We would like one of those, please.  And perhaps a chance to lie in bed and read one of those rectangular objects…  Remember when we used to read those things instead of drool on them?  We would love to sleep in, or drink a cup of coffee before it gets cold, or do absolutely nothing.  Just for an hour.

As if those forms of rest aren’t contradictory enough, we have to throw the baby into the mix.  You know what my little sweetheart finds restful?  Routine.  She loves taking her nap in her bed.  She wakes up happy and rested when bedtime is consistent.  But guess what?  One family trip to the park or date night, and it’s sayonara routine.

I can think of virtually zero activities in which every member of our family would enjoy his or her ideal version of rest at the same time.  And that’s a little disappointing.  I’ve always had this picture of the perfect Saturday: pancakes, pajamas, laughterIn the picture, we’re all being refreshed together as a family.  It’s very Leave It to Beaver.

But maybe it’s time to re-think rest as a young family.

In this season of life, maybe “rest” requires sacrifice.  Maybe it means that in order for one person to be refreshed, somebody else has to become a little bit depleted.  The baby has to give up her routine so her big sisters can enjoy a family date.  The big sisters have to go to pre-school so Mom gets a reprieve.  Mom skips sleeping in on Saturday, so Dad can take a break.  Dad spends his day-off playing Octonauts for five hours.  Maybe rest requires give-and-take.  And maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Maybe it’s simply one more way God sanctifies our families.  We may not be united in how we find rest, but as we serve one another, we grow united in love.  And we discover that joy doesn’t come solely through rest.  It also comes through sacrifice.  So the next time you find yourself reading Stuart Little at 6am on Saturday morning, thank God that you’re able to give that hardworking man a chance to sleep in.  Thank God that He is using you to refresh your precious children.  And remember, Monday morning is coming with coffee…and pre-school.

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7 thoughts on “Re-Thinking Rest as a Young Family

  1. wendysmullin

    Love this post and it is so true! As life gets crazier with children getting older, we have to fight for down time, just family time and rest time. Keeping our perspective in line with Heavenly Father is crucial to maintaining our health and the health of the family. And yes….school is just as important for Mom as it is for the kiddos!

    Reply
  2. awenger63

    Another thought provoking piece of insight. Rest and sacrifice are certainly Biblical themes and you apply them well in the co txt of life as it is, rather than as an ideal life. Keep writing!

    Reply
  3. Courtesy

    Just what me and Brian were talking about over the weekend. So neat. Our thoughts exactly. Praise him in the sanctifying! Thank you for your words that really nail down my feelings, again.

    Reply
  4. Rebekah

    Jeanne,
    “Each family member can’t get have their ideal version of rest at the same time.” This really is a great insight! You are right, I too have this picture perfect idea of what “family rest” looks like. But realizing this makes my heart feel more prepared to love my family in specific ways, in order to let “rest” happen for them. Instead of growing irritated when my rest/refreshment doesn’t get to happen, I can see how I can play a role in someone else’s rest. What a great family lesson it would be for us all to see how we can serve each other to let that “rest” take place. Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
  5. Emily

    Thank you! This is exactly what I needed to read right now, a 2-1/2 year-old “captain barnacles” girl and a new 3 week old “Tunip” (as his sister calls him), and all the exhaustion that comes with this beautiful young family. Your post has given me good perspective on what my husband and kids each individually need. Thank you so much.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Weekend Reading: May 8, 2015 | Disciples For Life

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