We women give in so many ways. It’s just what we do.
As a young mom, I remember feeling absolutely drained and sleep-deprived pretty much every day of the week, for years on end.
One particularly tiring day, I had a conversation with my midwife, Betsy (who also happens to be a very dear friend and mentor).
I told her how exhausted I was, and how guilty I felt for not being a better wife, mom, pastor’s wife, and everything else.
I’ll never forget the calm confidence in her voice as she told me,
“Kristy, you’re in a season of much investing. It will pay off someday, but right now it’s costing you a lot. You can’t keep investing unless you’re also replenishing. Take an hour or two every week to just rest or recharge. Let Jeremy take the kids if he can, and you just focus on filling yourself back up.”
I was about thirty years old at the time, and in the middle of an intensely demanding season of life.
Our fourth child was a baby, and I was trying to keep up with my two young, school-age daughters and a busy preschool boy.
I’ll be honest, I initially balked at Betsy’s suggestion.
The thought of taking a break made me feel guilty.
For reasons that I couldn’t quite understand at the time, I could not allow myself to own the need to rest and recharge.
No wonder I was always exhausted.
I felt like being a “good mom” or a “good pastor’s wife” or a “good housekeeper” meant that I just kept going and never needed a break.
My wise friend Betsy planted the first concepts of self-care in my heart that afternoon.
Over the years, the realization of stewardship of my mind, body, and emotions has grown.
As a slightly more seasoned woman, I now embrace the truth that being busy doesn’t always mean being productive.
And that I absolutely need rythms of both work and rest in my life.
So that’s a little of the back story of why I’ve been writing so much about self-care here at the blog this year.
I just celebrated my thirty-eighth birthday in February, and last week marked Jeremy’s and my seventeenth wedding anniversary. (I can hardly believe it!)
In the past eight months, I’ve watched my oldest child step into the rigors of high school and my youngest child begin his foray as a school boy.
Truly, the years are changing us all.
Although the demands and focus of my life have shifted with the seasons, I find that stewardship of my mind, body, soul and emotions is just as important now as it was when I was a mom with babies and preschoolers.
—> Self-care will always be an important aspect of stewardship for every woman, in every season of life.
So today, I’m wrapping up this winter-long series with a final post on how to truly embrace this rhythm of self-care in the midst of the daily grind- whatever that looks like for you.
I like to keep things practical and relatable here at the blog, so I thought of ten ways every woman can recharge- even on the busiest of days, in the most demanding seasons of life.
I’m a more-than-slightly introverted woman, so obviously what feels recharging to me probably won’t work for my extroverted friends.
If you’re an extrovert, I’d love to hear your ideas on how to recharge!
Below are ten ideas that work for me.
1. Get up early and enjoy some quiet time.
I’m not a morning person, honestly.
But sometimes the rewards of getting up before the rest of my family is worth the effort.
Mornings give me a heavenly taste of both.
Granted, I don’t do early mornings every single day of the week.
I can’t function well unless I’m balancing this habit of quiet equally with a habit of rest.
But on those occasions when I can wake before the alarm and indulge in an hour or two of quiet before the day begins, I do it.
2. Watch a movie.
I do this fairly often, and without guilt.
Because I love changing into my jammies late in the afternoon and cuddling up in a blanket by myself- or with my family– to watch a good movie or two.
Right now, I’m revisiting Anne of Green Gables with my twelve-year old daughter, Emily.
Jeremy and I have immensely enjoyed Call the Midwife and Victoria.
When it’s just me, I almost always opt for Emma or Pride and Prujudice, or something fun and informational about Britian’s Royal family (I’m a shameless fan of Duchess Catherine).
Spending a hour- or an evening- watching movies isn’t something I have time every day, and, arguably, it isn’t a great use of my time most days.
But sometimes, I find the mindlessness of enjoying a great movie to be just what the doctor ordered.
3. Sleep in on the weekend.
Truthfully, I don’t sleep in most Saturdays.
You see, I have two adorable alarm clocks- their names both start with a C, and they are eight and five years old- so sleeping in is often a thing that my mommy dreams are made of.
However, a few Saturdays ago, Jeremy took the boys for a men’s breakfast at church and my adorable, little alarm clocks were out of the house before the sun had warmed our windows.
My girls and I didn’t wake up until the morning was quite late and, wow, did that feel refreshing!
Sometimes what our bodies and emotions need most is simply sleep.
4. Listen to music.
I love music! My Pandora app is on almost all day, every day.
Beautiful, inspiring music is very much the background tone of my life.
As much as I enjoy the melodies of well-written music, I find that lyrics can be just as inspiring as the music is soothing.
Growing up, hymns were the culture of our worship; by the time I reached adulthood, I had passively memorized the lyrics to hundreds of songs.
Any time I listen to worship songs or hymns, inspiring lyrics of great music fill my mind and heart with thoughts of all that is good, beautiful, and sacred in this world.
Music inspires and strengthens my heart.
5. Take a coffee break.
Do you ever have those days when you realize that you haven’t actually sat down in hours?
And I don’t think that’s a healthy way to live.
Most days, I try to remember to give myself a “coffee break.”
Well, really, for me it’s more of a hot tea break.
I brew myself a hot drink (regardless of the weather), find a comfy place to sit down for a few minutes, and I focus on simply enjoying a tiny reprieve in the middle of a busy day- and a cup of my favorite tea.
The enjoyment is as much about the ritual itself as it is the drinking of tea, or coffee, or whatever I happen to pour into my cup.
6. Run errands by myself.
Recharging doesn’t always mean resting.
Some days, we are not afforded the luxury of watching a movie or sleeping in.
Take today for instance.
Due to several pressing needs within our church family, and appointments that interrupted our usual schedule, I found myself running from one errand to the next, and trying to squeeze in homeschooling and meals in the middle of the crazy.
It was late in the afternoon before I finally had time to do my grocery shopping, and I had a line of kids (five, in fact) who wanted to go with me.
I kindly told them that this time, I was going by myself.
Thankfully, Jeremy was able to hold the fort at home for about two hours while I bought groceries.
I don’t necessarily love to menu plan and shop for food for a household of seven people every single week, but I do enjoy being a lone for a few hours to let my brain reset.
And, some days, I sneak in a tiny bit of just-for-fun shopping- or window shopping- while I’m out and about.
Today time was a constraint, so I kept to my grocery list (and budget). But I did indulge in a listening to a podcast by Sally Clarkson.
By the time I came home with a vehicle full of groceries, I felt bolstered and ready for the remaining work that the evening held.
If you’re an introvert, scheduling some alone time during the week– even if it’s just running errands or grocery shopping– is a big part of recharging.
I’ve written about my habit of exercising pretty frequently over the past year.
I don’t want to be redundant, but it’s hard for me to exaggerate how much benefit I find from working out on a regular basis.
I experience the most results from exercising on the days when I push through fatigue or stress in order to exercise.
Working out helps me recharge all by itself, but also maximizes the quality of my sleeping and energy levels.
I love to read almost more than anything else on this earth.
I could live in a world of ideas, solitude and words.
Reading might feel like work for some, but, for me, it’s truly a way to recharge and inspire my mind and heart.
These are two of the reasons I make it a habit to ready every day, at least a little.
9. Take a long, hot bath.
Jeremy and I live with our five kids in a ninety-one year old “farmhouse.”
Over the past seven years, we’ve spent much of our time, energy, and extra money remodeling the rooms in this old house.
When Jeremy remodeled our downstairs bathroom a few years ago, he searched high and low to find a claw-foot bath tub that fit in the small enclave in that room.
What a gift he gave me! I dearly love that bath tub.
Several nights a week, I lock the bathroom door, light a candle, and fill that tub nearly to the brim with hot water, a few drops of essential oils, and a heaping up of Epsom salts.
A long soak in the bath tub isn’t just a great way to unwind after a demanding day- it’s also really healthy.
I’ve been pondering how to wrap up this blog series, as well as this list of ten ideas for recharging.
As I was thinking about what I wanted to say in this this post, I was struck by the realization that nothing refreshes our hearts and renews our mind like worshiping Christ.
The familiar story comes to mind of Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, completely enthralled by His presence in her home.
Over the years, I’ve read many opinions about Martha and Mary, and most authors tend to criticize Martha for working, and enshrine Mary for worshiping.
Personally, I believe both women epitomize the tension that we all face in life:
We must work.
But we must not neglect to worship.
Mary’s example challenges me to cultivate a heart posture of wonder and worship toward Christ.
This does not come naturally for any of us.
If we are to worship in the middle of our busy lives, then we must intentionally cultivate a love- not a sense of duty- toward time spent in God’s presence and in His Word.
Worship is a meaningful way to practice spiritual self-care as a Christian woman, and to keep your heart filled with all the beautiful fruits of the Spirit of God.
These are the ten ideas I wanted to share with you, my friend, as you seek to live and love well in the middle of this crazy, demanding, and wonderful thing called Life.