Not too long ago, I was living in a state of overwhelmed. I was tired, short-fused, stressed and a mere shadow of my best self. I was pregnant with my second child and spent my days juggling a strong-willed 3-year-old and a demanding workload from my online business. It was one of those seasons when I woke up tired and exhausted even before the day had begun. The days were so filled with commitments, chores, errands, to-dos and toddler battles that just the thought of what was ahead made me want to crawl back into bed.
It took me awhile to realize that my mood was affected by my overwhelmed state. It wasn’t the individual activities that were the problem, it was the sum of them that was bringing me down.
Monday through Friday filled up with play dates, work, exercise, MOPS, preschool, dinner with friends … the list goes on. And the weekends (which used to be a time of rest) were always full with family activities, laundry, grocery shopping, meal planning, church and cleaning.
I was tired. I was overcommitted. But I still found it incredibly hard to simplify my schedule and say no to things that came my way. After months of being tightly wound and cranky (along with the cranky toddler by my side), I realized I was never getting a break. There was never an opportunity to slow down; no Sabbath, no day of rest. And it wasn’t only affecting me, it was affecting our family.
On a particularly challenging week, I woke up early to spend some time alone in prayer. I reflected on the way I’d been acting and how I felt like I’d turned into this mom and wife that I never wanted to be. I reflected on my snappy comments to my husband, the ingratitude I felt in my heart and the impatience I had with my sweet little 3-year-old girl.
In that moment, I decided something needed to change. I decided that I needed to create more space in my life in order to slow down. So, I created ritual. This ritual transformed our family’s rhythm and brought an extraordinary amount of peace into my life and our home. I opened up my calendar and blocked off every single Monday for the next three months. I cancelled play dates and scheduled hair appointments; moved phone calls and claimed Mondays for my sanity. Mondays in our house were now deemed “slow Mondays.”
I’ll be honest, the first slow Monday was hard. I was tempted to get the day going by crossing things off “the list.” I could barely keep myself from coming up with errands to run and things to get done. It quickly became clear to me that busy had become a way of life. Slow felt uncomfortable and unnatural. It felt quiet and almost like I was doing something wrong. But over time, I’ve come to cherish this ritual. I’ve found more room to breathe and an opportunity for my mind and body to rest.
On slow Mondays, we stay home. We stay in our pajamas as long as we want. There is no pressure to shower, get ready or out the door. We mosey around the house. I let the kids dictate their play; I follow them outside as they dig in the dirt and I sip coffee. We say no to play dates, commitments and errands. We simply slow down and go with the flow. Aside from naps and meals, the day is completely fluid and free. This ritual has become an integral part of my family’s health and happiness.
The concept of a Sabbath is not new. It’s one of God’s greatest gifts to us. In the past, I often struggled with feeling as though it needed to be done perfectly as a family and on one specific day, but now slow Mondays have become a Sabbath for me and my little ones. It will always be a part of our family’s rhythm because of the peace and rest that it provides.
So, if you’re feeling like you are constantly in a state of overwhelmed and overcommitted, I encourage you to start a ritual of slow living. Tell your friends and family that you’re scheduling time for rest; then pick a day and clear your calendar. Stay in your pajamas, grab a cup of coffee and create a new rhythm of rest and peace for you and your family.