Today, I have the day off. Yesterday, we finished putting together the largest newspaper of the year, which gets shipped off to the largest trade show of the year. After not working in an office for more than nine years, I worked seven of the past eight days. (And, yes, I wore shoes for all of them.) I've never been so glad to see a day off as I am to see today. I get the chance to catch up on some of my freelance work, do the laundry, find my kitchen counter somewhere under the piles of school papers and run some errands (I'm sure the library will be happy to see that week-overdue book). I'm also planning to take a little time to just relax.
Life can be a whirlwind most of the time. That's not necessarily bad, but we need to be reminded that everyone needs some rest sometime (yes, that includes parents). Study after study has shown that getting the appropriate amount of rest makes you healthier and even smarter.
Have you ever watched the show, "The Amazing Race," on TV? It's a reality show where 12 teams race around the world. It's a favorite in our house. I think the biggest factor on that show between winning and losing is fatigue. Fans of the show call it "killer fatigue," where people make dumb decisions because they are exhausted. We've all experienced that in our own lives.
God knew that "killer fatigue" can lead to bad choices. He understood the value of rest. In Genesis 2:2, the Bible tells us "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." Now, God doesn't have any trouble with "killer fatigue," so why would He need to rest? I think it was to set the example for us. Work hard, then rest.
Too many of us and our kids are running on empty. "Killer fatigue" is taking its toll. Neither you nor your kids can function in a state of constant sleep deprivation. Making rest a priority in your home for both you and your kids will lead to a happier home with parents and kids who are able to make better decisions and relate better to one another.
"But, we're so busy," you cry. "We can't do it." This week we've been talking about values. If you make getting enough rest a value in your home, you'll put a priority on it. You might have to make some tough choices sometimes, but it will pay off in the end. Take some steps this week toward making getting enough rest a priority in your home.
- Have a set bedtime for your kids. Explain to them that getting enough rest is important for their health and their ability to make good decisions. My kids complain almost constantly that their bedtime is too early. Yet, when we put them to bed, they go to sleep. That's a sure sign that it's not too early. Remember that some kids require more sleep than others. I have one in my house that can't function on less than nine hours of sleep, while the other one can get by with seven.
- Try to have some time during each week where you have nothing scheduled. It can be any time, but let that time remain unscheduled. Let your kids use that time to entertain themselves. This stretches their imaginations and gives them time to do the things they find most relaxing.
- Don't forget to leave some time in your week for the things that relax you. Find some time to read a book, listen to music, exercise -- whatever it is that makes you feel rested and relaxed.
- Talk with your kids about the importance of rest. Ask them to give you examples of how they feel when they are tired. Ask them if they think they can do their best when they are tired. Share Genesis 2:2 with them and talk about how God thinks rest is important. Ask them to describe the difference in how they feel when they are tired and how they feel when they are well-rested.