I am not a fan of naps. I love naps for kids, but not for me. I joke that I am a shark and that if I stop moving I’ll die. If I take a nap it feels like a giant failure, like I can’t keep moving through my day without a break. Part of my dislike of naps is that I used to fall asleep and wake up in the midst of a panic attack. I began to fear sleep because rest meant a panic attack. That is a real quick way to ruin nap taking.
Only in the last few months have I started to understand the need for rest. I can see how important it is on occasion to take a break. Taking time for your brain to shut down and relax and rest doesn’t always mean sleep. It could mean just being still and quiet. It’s so good for you mentally and emotionally, but I am terrible about giving myself permission to do this.
If I have time to rest, I first list all the things I could be doing. Which is often a lot of things. Some things can wait, but I have a hard time letting things wait. So I have to give myself a huge pep talk. The laundry isn’t going anywhere. The dishes aren’t moving, and neither is the dirty floor. Sometimes this pep talk gives me permission to take that break. Often, though it makes me feel bad about the things I have left to accomplish. I just want to feel accomplished about my day. Taking a break ruins that for me.
This need to feel accomplished and to get all my things done makes it hard for me to be present in the moment. Not only about my own needs, but about my kids’ needs, too. Getting my list done validates me. It helps me feel like being home with the kids is justified.
Letting the list dictate my day doesn’t give me room for spontaneous fun. I don’t really have a lot of spontaneity flowing in my blood, but I’d like to give myself more grace to drop the to-do list in favor of memory making. Completing household chores makes life more livable and enjoyable, but it should not be what controls my life.
There is a good chance that my kids will remember that they have to look for their clothes in all the clean but unfolded clothes. I hope though that they remember that they were more important than those clothes, that we had fun, and made memories, instead of stressing over chores.
My brain and personality do not thrive in a chaotic mess but it doesn’t need to be perfect. It won’t kill me, I don’t think. There must be a balance between living in an utter disaster and spending every waking moment doing chore after chore. Basically, if you know what that balance is, feel free to let me know.
I could start adding rest to my to-do list and see if that helps? Maybe checking off rest on my list will make me feel productive and rested? I’ll keep y’all posted and let you know how it goes!
Erin Spatz lives in Pawleys Island and is the author of the book, “Who Left Me In Charge.”