Even with our calendars suddenly empty and quarantined to our homes for an extended period of time, I suspect that most of us still did not experience real rest in 2020. As December rolled around, I was more than ready for a break, but the holiday season was just getting started. Like most, I felt the pressure to make the Christmas season as magical as possible, even if my kids did not really notice a difference from years past.
As Christmas inched closer and closer, I found myself more and more exhausted, both physically and mentally. Carrying the mental load of everyday family life, work, and holiday preparations and activities, all in the midst of a pandemic, I was reaching my breaking point. I needed rest.
I expressed my desire to rest and my excitement about my upcoming PTO in a therapy session, and my therapist asked me two questions that I continue to ask myself on a regular now:
How can you plan for time for yourself? What could get in the way of rest?
Good questions. At the time, I hadn’t thought that far ahead. I didn’t consider planning for rest. I knew that I had planned PTO, and at the time, that was good enough for me. As my therapist and I continued our conversation, I realized that as a mom of two young kids, it was likely that I would not get the rest that I hoped for. I needed to plan what rest would look so that I could feel restored going into 2021.
One of the best suggestions my therapist offered was scheduling family quiet time. To prepare for our week of “vacation” with our kids, we started implementing this new practice on the weekends.
Here’s how it works.
- Choose a time. Ideally, you want to pick a time that works well with your family schedule. Our youngest is still taking daily naps around noon, so her naptime naturally worked well for our family’s quiet time.
- Keep it simple. The only rule for our family quiet time is that each family member can use the time to do whatever they want for themselves. The goal is that we each own the time and can do whatever feels restful. For me, that varied from day to day, but I was able to read, give myself a mani, watch shows I actually enjoy or take a nap.
- Have low expectations (especially with young kids). My oldest is four, so I set my expectations low on the amount of quiet time he engages in. What helps is giving him control over what his quiet time looks like. We also have conversations about what he thinks will be restful for him, and we constantly remind him that family quiet time means mom and dad get time to themselves.
Family quiet time is new for us, but it’s a practical solution that has helped this mom rest and feel refreshed going into 2021. Our family plans to make this part of our routine on weekends and any other time we are all home together for an extended period of time.