So, today was our first 'official' Day of Rest.
We honoured ancient Sabbath traditions in our own way and spent the day, together, as a family. Now, at the end of the day, we have both found that it has bought us both together as husband and wife, and enabled us to really let go of the never-ending “To Do List” and allow ourselves to fully immerse in the experience of spending time with our daughter.
The idea of honouring the Sabbath goes back many hundreds of years. It is most well known as the Day of Rest that is referred to in Judaism, and is a time of worship and connection to family and community. There are also the eight pagan festivals known as “Sabbats” and the Biblical ‘lore’ of resting the earth every 7 years is also referred to as a Sabbath. It appears the ancients knew the value of taking time to rest and re-connect - with themselves, each other and the Earth. We have forgotten this all important pastime and in my experience, its to our own detriment.
To my mind, honouring ancient Sabbath traditions has never been more important. As a long time sufferer of chronic anxiety, mostly driven by a lifestyle that became faster than I could ever physically manage to keep up with, I have finally come to learn the value of rest, down time and creating the space to reconnect with myself, with the Earth and with my family.
When I don't do that, things start to fall apart - quickly.
In this modern day, 'The Information Age' as we have been told we are part of, information travels faster than the speed of thought. We are bombarded constantly, from dawn until dusk with constant input in one form or another.
Not only that, but our To Do Lists have just become unmanageable – what was considered a ‘satisfactory’ way for a women to live; that is, being a loving mother and providing a loving home; is no longer enough.
Even before I had given birth to my daughter I had people asking me what my plan was in relation to ‘returning to work’. My plan at that point was to have my child and be a mother – that was it!
If I said that, I was looked upon as ‘lazy’ or some kind of ‘leach’ because I ‘should’ be out there helping my husband bring home the bacon – plus caring for the family and the home, all myself. These kinds of expectations left their mark on me and I started to put pressure on myself. I felt I needed to “step up” to all these challenges and perfect them; perfect wife, perfect mother, perfect business owner, perfect student.
After our daughter was born, I started to work hard on our businesses, doing my best to provide some income as well as trying to cook these amazing meals, always be a loving mother, becoming the best wife to my husband I could be, take up my studies plus learn all the skills for homesteading and simple living... the list was almost endless and the pressure was acute.
After a time, I started to feel resentful. I felt sad, I was missing out on precious moments with my daughter that I would never get back.
It breaks my heart to admit this but her first words were not said to me – they were said to our in-home nanny. Her first steps were not to me either. Those moments are gone now and as a mother, it brings tears to my eyes knowing that I missed them and I will never have them back.
After some time, the resentment was bubbling over in me and I started to blame others for the situation I had allowed myself to fall into. I blamed my husband, I blamed my daughter, I blamed the world, I blamed myself. I withdrew into myself, feeling resentful, sad and like an utter failure. It seemed no matter what I did it was judged as not doing enough or I was letting myself down and missing out on my daughter growing up.
Anxiety filled my stomach and I woke everyday sick with dread and stress. We spent more and more on natural therapies, supplements and treatments – upwards of $100 per week. Nothing worked. I felt increasingly anxious despite doing less and less each day but no matter how much or how little I did, I felt ill and couldn’t shake the feeling that my life had gone dramatically off course.
I just wanted time out from the life I had created for myself.
I came to realise that I had made choices which meant I had to make sacrifices I wasn’t really willing to make. Acknowledging that, eventually I knew that I could change that and make some different choices – choices that were what I wanted for myself, my family and my life.
The answers came thick and fast once I tuned into that space – I wanted time with my family. I wanted time and the space to be a good wife and mother. I wanted time to serve the Earth. That was it.
Rather than spend more time doing things I was no longer enjoying and starting to resent, I quickly set about creating systems so I could step away from my businesses. I had managed to get them up and running well enough so now I could create a team and train up the wonderful people who have gone on to replace me.
That plan has been going ahead full steam for over 4 months now and I have never been happier.
Today showed me once again that I made the right decision.
As my little girl was sitting on the swing beside the lake today, in the sunshine, gleefully calling “Swee Mumma swee!” at me I knew that honouring the Day of Rest was a wonderful new tradition for our family. For us, it’s a way to show them how much we value them – above everything and everyone else.
Mother guilt is a terrible affliction in our society today and is taking its toll. Even amongst our readership, there is something like 60% of mothers on some form of anti-depressive or anti-anxiety medication or treatment. I know because I was one of them! This is a terrible statistic and sadly the trend is rapidly increasing. We’re all under SO much pressure and we are putting ourselves under more of it, every day.
It can be hard to see a way out when you are caught up in the ‘To Do List’ that has become your life. You start to feel like a guinea pig in a wheel but the wheel is turning you. Feeling out of control, like you don’t measure up, like you’re not doing enough, confused, lost, overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, fearful and under pressure – these emotions seem to be synonymous with motherhood in this modern age. And that is terribly sad – for all of us. I’ve been there – I know how hard it is to live with these feelings everyday.
In our home, the Day of Rest tradition is just one small step that we took to commit to our ourselves and our family, to quieten the noise in our minds and the voices in our heads and to make providing a more nurturing, safe touch point that all of us can return to, for love, guidance and rest the priority – even if it’s just for one day a week. Over time, this Day of Rest feeling pervades the rest of your week and your priorities start to shift – naturally, effortlessly and in alignment with your values.
I urge you to see if you can take a leaf from ancient traditions and make a Day of Rest ritual for your family.
You don’t have to stay home or not venture outdoors. For us, leaving the house means we do actually rest! Maybe just start by spending a day a week resting with your family and re-connecting with them – at home, in a park, at the beach, on a walk or a trip.
There is no greater gift for your children than your time and no greater way to cement your marriage or connection to yourself than to nurture it in quiet contemplation during your Day of Rest.
Do you have a Day of Rest tradition on your home? Tell us about it and share some inspiration for others to follow.
Love and restfulness,
The Eco Mum xo