Photo by Ana Cotta

Last month, I shared that I’m taking an online break from mid-June to mid-July. I learned from my blogging maternity leave last year how much better my writing was when I returned, how rested I felt, and how I was ready and excited to get back to my blog business.

You all echoed my sentiments, and spoke resolutely about the need for a break in your own lives. Many of you are chaotically busy and feel the weight of all your responsibilities.

But a few of you also asked some good questions. Questions like How? When do I find the time? And I liked Gloria’s honest feedback: “Where do you start if you’ve forgotten how to rest?”

I think it’s easy for us to make rest complicated — but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few ideas.

Take a season

Perhaps you have the freedom to take a larger chunk of time away from a hectic schedule. Be it a week, a month, or the entire summer — if you’re feeling close to burnout, and you can afford to take a break, then do it. You won’t regret it.

Photo by Ben Fredericson

1. Go on a road trip with your family. Enjoy the journey, not just the destination, and go somewhere restful (so maybe not to your extended family).

2. Start — and finish — a project. Be it sewing a dress, painting a room, or writing a book proposal, tackle something that’s been on your list. It’ll feel good to cross it off.

3. Try a hobby you’ve been curious about. Take a cooking class. Ask a friend to teach you to knit.

4. Read several books. Pick something light-hearted and a second slightly heavier one that’ll make you think.

5. Declutter and organize one room in your home.

6. Hire a babysitter one day, and meet a friend for lunch or coffee.

Take a day

Most of us can’t afford more than a day completely away from our responsibilities. If your husband can be with the kids for one day, or if you can hire a babysitter from morning to evening, here are some ideas for rejuvenation.

Photo by John Althouse Cohen

7. Journal. Bible. Coffee shop. That’s a perfect morning to me.

8. Use your coffee shop time to reflect on the past 12 months and to plan for the next. My New Year’s Eve reflection questions can actually work any time of the year.

9. If it’s nice weather, hike a local trail in your city.

10. Call a friend and say hi.

11. Take a much-needed nap — go somewhere other than home, if you need to.

Take minutes here and there

A typical parent doesn’t have more than a few minutes’ break in a normal day. Perhaps you can’t take a full sabbatical or even day away from the grind. It’s still incredibly important for you to take a bit of time to rest. Find it whenever you can.

Photo by Russell Smith

12. Fill up an inflatable pool or turn on the sprinkler. Let the kids play while you read a book in a chair nearby.

13. Institute an afternoon quiet time, no matter your kids’ age. Everyone retreats to his or her room for two hours or solo time — you do the same.

14. Head to the library as usual, but don’t just check out books for your kids.

15. Do something you enjoy, and include your kids. Bake bread and have the kids help, or read a book and bring that stack of library books onto the couch for your kids. It won’t be quite as relaxing as doing it solo, but it’ll be fun anyway.

16. Go to bed early. It’s tempting to get stuff done once the kids are in bed, but every now and then, dishes can wait. Enjoy a full nights’ sleep.

I’m reminded of Susanna Wesley, 17th century mother of 19 children. The story goes that whenever she’d pull the apron over her head, the kids knew to be quiet and leave her be. She was getting five minutes of alone time to pray.

It’s hard to find down time, but it’s necessary to keep us going. God made us for rest. We’d be fighting how He made us if we didn’t.

What are some other practical ways you find rest?

By Tsh Oxenreider of Simple Mom

  • Lisa H

    If I’m not able to take off work to go sit in a park and walk trails alone these are a few things I like to do. Most of them are everyday or I couldn’t function!
    *I wake up earlier than my kids and enjoy a quiet house, no tv, no music. Just me, my coffee and God
    *When I was stressed beyond measure with things here at home I would soak in a bath each night. It was my hour away from everyone! I took my journal, sometimes a Bible, or other book. Sometimes I used it as an hour of prayer, crying, or sleeping!
    *I also will pull out my sewing machine and work on a quilt in progress but this is usually done when my kids are with their Dad and I have more time to spend on them!

  • Jennifer Spadaro

    I ask my husband to get up with my daughter in the morning, while I sleep in. The extra hours make me feel like a well rested teenager. I prefer to watch less tv, I think it makes me feel more chaotic and overwhelmed. I like to take a magazine out on my porch and just be outside. I know some people like to feel the pressure of too much to do, but I am someone who will quickly reprioritize so that I am happier on a daily basis.

    • nadine smith

      I like the idea of getting your hubby up so you can sleep! Will try that:) Like your deco ideas by the way!

  • Linda Stoll

    What many of us need are practical, hands-on solutions and you have beautifully given that to us! We’re so overwhelmed with busyness that we can’t even think straight … and it’s often hard to take those first steps that lead to a rejuvenating life balance.

    The urgency of building margins of time and space and peace into our lives can not be overstated. ESSENTIALS FOR WELLNESS may add to the discussion –

  • kendal

    i get up earlier than my children. liek set an alarm during my summer break (i’m a teacher). i actually get long periods of time for bible study, blogging, reading, staringout the window at the bluebird house….

  • Annie

    I so appreciate the practical nature of this post! I’m reading & ruminating on a book about Sabbath rest right now, and it’s good, but very theoretical. I have two little ones, and am finding that rather than a scheduled regular time, what works for me is taking the first half hour I have free (whether it’s early in the morning, or -on the days they wake me up- their nap time, or a serendipitous moment of both girls being totally engaged in self-directed play, or even after bedtime) and use that first half hour for rest & renewal – quieting my heart, reading Scripture, slowing down (rather than laundry or facebook or all the other distractions).

  • bev smith

    I have 4 beautiful children who i love very much and are extremely proud of and are amazed at their bravery and courage when just 19 months ago their 21 yr old cousin Danielle died in an head on collision with another car on a near empty road. It has been a long journey, it is a long journey but we do know there is hope and peace at the journey’s end. They have been my rock because at this season in my life i dont have a partner. I used to think running around and making things perfect was all important but now i know it is not. For now the dust-bunnies gather and the weeds grow.
    My children are not little any more, they are almost all adults and i never thought the day would come when i would have time and space to leave the house early, taking a book and sit and have breakfast in a local coffee shop, but i do. Or stop and enjoy an ice cream with my daughter, just because we can. Or sit and read on the back step on an evening as the sun sets and remember the things of the day.
    There are seasons for everything. Our season just now is waiting and healing through the unrelenting grace of an Heavenly Father that loves us. I have come to understand that this moment, yes this very one, oh you missed it’s gone, is the only one we have, take it, treasure it. Look at your children’s hands, those freckles on their noses and remember the warmth of their embrace for tomorrow is not for us to know. Thank you for making me stop today.

    • Guest

      Thank you for sharing, Bev, and I’m so sorry for your loss. I adore my children more than life itself but have to admit I often long for the day that I can have a little alone time. The other day it hit me that I will one day wish I had a little more “kid” time.

      Trying to be thankful and enjoy it all.

    • Cathy

      Your comment brought tears to my eyes. I spend far too much time looking forward to the days when I don’t have to put shoes on someone othe then myself, when I can have a few moments to shop, and not just grab what is in reach and throw it in my cart and to the evenings when I can enjoy some quiet time, rather then coaching the little ones to sleep. Everytime I have these thoughts, I try to tell myself that they will be grown before I know it. Thank you for the reminder…

    • charity

      You said exactly what I needed to hear today. I have been struggling with this very thing. I feel like I never have any time for me and instead of soaking up my little ones, I’m too busy soaking in my self pity. What a perspective change I have. Thank you!

  • Holley Gerth

    Tsh, I needed this so much this morning. I’m exhausted. Going to pick one of your ideas and do it today!

  • Cara @ WhimsySmitten

    Great reminders — I think so many of us are afraid, or feel guilty, to rest. I have recently realized that I feel most at rest when I work using the gifts God gave me. I know, it sounds backward to find rest in work, but I get peace when I write, which I believe is what God has called me for and gifted me with, and it is only when I am dedicating some of my time to that work that I can truly rest. It was very eye-opening to realize this, since often, as much as I love to do it, I see writing as another thing on the list of things I don’t have time to get around to. It’s wise for us to learn to do what brings us peace.

  • Kathryn

    I was really fortunate to have a week with an old friend this summer ~ sans son ~ which did so much to revive me! A girls trip looking at flowers, beautiful scenery and enjoying our laughter. It was enough to remind me that I NEED to take time for myself, even if its going to see a non-cartoon movie, enjoying watering the garden alone, working in my classroom to prepare it for next year…its work, but unhurried and helps me to know that the coming year will be less stressful because of the careful organization now! These are a few of my favorite things!

  • Kalyn

    Thank you so much for the tips. This was such an encouragement to me today……especially since I am dragging my feet and feeling overwhelmed at my never ending to-do list!

  • sherri ohler

    Some of my favorite God-stories are the ones where He has given me rest that I didn’t even know I needed. One of those times just happened to be at a waterpark for 3 days in Wisconsin Dells. I was doing it for my girls, but it ends up I desperately needed to be AWAY and remember what fun was. God knew exactly what He was doing-His timing was perfect as always. It is truly one of my most cherished memories. Thanks for this post that sent me down my favorite memory lane.
    Bless you,

  • Alexandra

    These are some great ideas! I love that you split them into different amounts of time, I think that the “minutes here and there” is what I need to incorporate into my everyday life. And I definitely need to get a day to myself sometime soon!

  • Teresa

    Mom had a quiet time rule. We could nap or watch her soap with her… Anything quiet. It was actually a good snuggle time. Mom is gone now, but this remains a good memory decades later.

  • anne graff

    My most favorite way to rest is when my husband takes the kids away from the house for a few hours. There is nothing more peaceful than a quiet house.

  • Katy @ farmingmama

    I like to go for a bicycle ride on a dirt road in the woods. If I can’t spare that much time, I try to bike into work in the mornings, leaving a bit early, and getting to work a bit late. The time on my bike puts me into a peaceful yet energetic frame of mind, the exercise helps put me in a good mood, and I feel so rested and energized even after a short ride. I see things on my bike that I wouldn’t notice driving, and even if my daughter is in the trailer behind me, I get a break from her, and she from me as she looks around at the world zooming by on all sides.

  • Archer

    No rest suggestion here, but I just wanted to thank you for the encouragement. My second baby is due in a few weeks, and it feels difficult to find rest before she comes! Hopefully the non-stop breastfeeding will be a break because I get to sit!

    • Britta

      Actually, you’ll probably end up doing more on-the-run breastfeeding than sitting down. Just one of the things I learned the hard way having two under two. (And another reason to rest now!)

  • Degelijke huisvrouw

    I am mom to four children in the age from 17 months to 10 years. It have different ways to get some me-time:
    – when my youngest is having a nap during the afternoon I take a quick shower.
    – My husband takes the children to do some shopping or a bikeride.
    – once a year I go to a quiltersweekend to enjoy quilting without feeding little ones, thinking about diner, cleaning little noses, changing diapers …..
    – During schoolholidays I take half an hour off when my youngest is taking a nap. The older children are not allowed to come to my bedroom during that time. I use this time for prayer, reading or just laying down on my bed with some nice music on my mp3.
    – I wake up an hour before the youngest will be awake, so I have a nice and calm start of the day.

  • steadymom

    Off for a hike right now, Tsh! Love these ideas, and loving the blogging break I’m currently on.


  • Tiffany

    I managed to do several of these during a week long family vacation. I love the idea of thinking about the past 12 months and the next 12, especially as it relates to our homeschool. Taking time for that might make me feel ready and rejuvenated come August.

  • Hannah@ A Quiet Spot

    How timely. I have been feeling the busyness of this summer, and even though I tend to thrive on a certain amount of structure in my day, have been longing for an excuse to enjoy a few “lazy days of summer.” Well, the Lord has provided: our van is in the shop today, so we canceled our outside commitments and are just going to hang out here. And next week, while the girls are at a morning gymnastics camp, I intend to accomplish some neglected household tasks. That sense of accomplishment brings its own feeling of rest.

  • Jimi ann path of life

    I took my four children to my mother’s home an hour away for the weekend. My husband was out of town for a week with my oldest son on a mission trip. It was GLORIOUS!! I made nice healthy meals for myself — stuff the children won’t eat. I did everything unhurriedly. I watched five episodes of the Twilight Zone. I went to the library and checked out about 10 books (wasn’t sure what I’d be in the mood for). Then I put a foam pad and blanket on the back deck and laid in the sun while lazily perusing my books and pondering what I read. Oh, to not have my thoughts interrupted or my actions abruptly halted! Pure joy. Thank you for your encouragement today. :)

  • Amy Hunt

    Weaving these moments into our daily living is refreshing and helps us to respect and honor ourselves. These ideas are *light houses* to a different way of living. So. Great.

    Rich blessings, Tsh, as you continue to inspire and encourage freedom-living…

  • BethA

    Getting packed right now for a short out-of-town break with my family. Taking some books, my Kindle, and my Bible. Think I will take a journal, too. Love your website! Great, practical info from a Christian perspective. PS – we had some much-needed rain yesterday and my quiet time right now is reading Christian blogs, doing my devotional and listening to the toads croaking outside my window! Love it! Makes me feel like I’m in the country!

  • Melissa

    A friend of mine says that when she is taking a bath no one is allowed to interrupt, unless the house is burning down.
    I usually take some time in the morning for myself. I try to wake up before my daughter and chill out with my blog reader and a cup of tea.

  • nadine smith

    Wow, us moms need all the help we can get! It truly takes a village:) Thx!

  • Jane in Iowa

    My 4 faves:
    1-Take a book on the deck and ask to be left alone. (My kids are 8 and 11)
    2-Go to the library by myself. There’s a coffee house there so I get a treat and a comfy chair to read or surf the net.
    3-Go bed when the kids go to bed. I take my ipod and my kindle and get a couple of hours of cool, dark and quiet. We have netflix so I can watch a movie or tv show on the ipod if I want. Great way to end a busy day!
    4-I call it “taking a Sunday.” Sunday is meant to be a day of rest in our house but on occasion I will take a Sunday on a Tuesday. When I use the phrase “take a SUnday” everyone knows I am taking a day of rest and not to expect much from me!

  • Heather @ Work At Home Market

    For us, we love to sleep in and make a large breakfast for a little R&R. Both are rare in our daily lives, so it’s a treat. Plus a great time to relax and connect with your spouse!

  • Kara @ The Chuppies

    Loved this Tsh…
    So needed.
    Just posted on a similar topic…but with the goal of finding rest in time alone with God. Not working-serving-moving-doing for God…but just quiet solitude with Him.
    For refreshment and direction.
    We were in Bend on Sunday at my parents church and their pastor spoke on a passage in Mark where even Jesus needed to get away from the crowds (even when He was being effectively used/in what would seem like a perfect opportunity) to meet with God alone and the outcome was redirection…
    Also just finished Russell Moore’s book about Jesus and Temptation.
    Jesus humbling Himself to become fully human….I still can’t get over that.
    But the pastor’s point was….if even Jesus needed these times of rest….how much more do we also?
    I’ve been mulling that over since Sunday and your post came in perfect timing…
    Thank you!

  • Micha

    I like your ideas. I find rest, when I’m alone at home and have time just to do nothing. And going out for eating and talking with dear friends is great too.

  • Kristen

    Sometimes, when I feel my patience wearing thin, I’ll go into the bathroom (kids know that when the door is shut, you don’t open it or disturb the person) & allow myself a minute or two, to sit & pray or just wash my face again! It really rejuvenates me!

  • Leslie

    My favorite de-stressing activity is taking hikes and baking. Something about physical activity or the smell of fresh cookies always does wonders when I’m stressing out about work!


  • Mandy Moore

    This summer I have discovered a new restful activity for me, gardening. I have tried gardening in the past, but due to tons of summer travel it was always a disappointment because the garden would get run over with weeds and just be something else I had not gotten to. This summer our lives have changed a bit and I find myself in town more than in the past. I have found going to the garden, checking on the plants, watering them each day and pulling weeds completely refreshes my soul. Their is a peaceful quite out there when my four kids are busy playing in other places. And I find having my hands dirty is encouraging!

  • Amy

    There is a coffee shop across the sheet. Every week my husband takes his lap top and works there for three hours during the afternoon versus his office. I also go there with a book, lap top to write, or studying (I am in a distance learning program to be a vet. tech.) I love the different atmoshphere, the quiet, and we’ve formed relationships with some of the “regulars” and workers. We are trying to be intentional about getting to know others in our community and this is one practical way while getting “rest” at the same time.

  • Simple Life Journey

    I find rest when I turn the ringer off of my phone.

  • Valerie

    These are good, practical ideas. I’ve done several of them. And to you supermoms who think hiking and baking are relaxing, what vitamins do you take? I need to switch! :)

    Okay, one thing I do with lots of little ones is this: Go cuddle up on their bed in their room with a book and watch them play with toys. They think my extended presence in their room is very special and show me all of their treasures. Of course my book gets abandoned, but I get a few sentences in!

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  • Brittnie

    I do not have children yet (hope to some day soon!!) but I do know that I require some down time from my job in order to prevent burnout – I am a social worker. So down time for me is working from home or from a coffee shop (not often but every now and then it is possible), taking a 1/2 day off randomly to relax and enjoy some “me” time, reading a book at night or going for a walk after dinner with my husband. If I am in my office I will make sure to eat lunch away from my computer/phone (to feel that I actually took a break), play some music while I work, etc.

  • Janet

    While reading this post and the comments, it struck me that rest is really the frame of mind you put yourself in. Not necessarily what you are doing. I really like the idea that you can rest even with the kids in the bike trailer. I love gardening, but can start to see it as work. And, I don’t enjoy it because I’m thinking about what else I have to do and that I will probably get interrupted at any moment. Rest is a lot about being present in the moment you are in, isn’t it?!

  • Rebecca

    My favorite way to take a break is to go to a yoga class for an hour you get some much needed R&R plus work up a sweat too depending upon which type or style of yoga you go for.

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  • Melissa D

    Rest to me is less about spa moments and more about taking time to do the thought work I need to fully take care of my husband, children (5, 3, & almost 2). I don’t need a hot bath, necessarily, but I do need a space of quiet to pray, read my Bible, and do things like plan meals as well as map out our necessary tasks and errands and time for each other. Building a family and making a home aren’t slapdash, on-the-fly operations and need intentionality.

    But I also love to bring my Kindle along to read in chance moments (carpool line, etc), and my husband usually takes the kids out for a meal over the weekend to give me some downtime. Going to bed early is so important, and so hard to do! …I’ve also thrown an apron over my head to pray for a few minutes when the kids were just too much during a hectic hour.

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