Resting when you can't rest

One of the hardest things about parenting small children for me? Not being able to rest and sleep when I need to. When my body is crying out to lie in bed all day, moving only my arm to click onto the next Netflix episode, but instead I have to fill a day with a toddler when I feel I have no creative energy or patience or strength in my arms to carry someone who is shouting "LIFT! UPPY UPPY!" at me every 14 seconds.

Sleep ... pretty sure it used to be nice

Sleep ... pretty sure it used to be nice

There's lots of reasons why parenting is so.very.tiring, from being woken at night to dealing with challenging behaviour to balancing work and family life. As women we also face fluctuating hormonal levels, meaning we have days where our bodies are more likely to crave rest.

Rest is the best. And when you can't have it, it feels so hard. The practice of yoga has made me better at accepting what I can't change (surrender, surrender, surrender), but that doesn't mean that makes it easy.

So instead when I am exhausted and I'm looking after my child, I go as slow as possible. I stop replying to my child's every comment or question and notice how beautiful silence sounds. I move around slowly and put aside thoughts that I should achieve anything, because I know there will be a time soon when I feel more on top of things and most of it can wait until then. I sit or lie down whenever I can. I breathe. I do very very slow yoga for short amounts of time and don't let myself feel bad that I'm not practicing handstands. I play lots of the "mummy's sleeping then goes boo!" games. I cancel things and don't reply to messages (sorry, everyone).

IMG_8925.JPG

Strangely, these small changes have felt revolutionary to me - or perhaps it's not so strange, bearing in mind society's celebration of constant achievement, of a go-go-go culture, the way it frowns upon stopping or retreating or saying "sorry I can't come, I really need to prioritise some quiet time for myself right now!" 

Obviously as mothers the idea that we can rest when have children to care for feels like a total joke, especially for single mothers or those with large families or women with particularly demanding jobs or no childcare or family to rely on ... and this "active rest" is not the same as real rest. Mothers are at risk of burnout and ideally, we would all get plenty of breaks and proper rests so we can, you know, function as actual human beings.

But small changes which centre around speed, being not doing and more importantly, forgiving ourselves for not being powerhouses 100% of the time - cutting ourselves some slack - make a difference. When you embody a thought or feeling - when you decide to do something in a certain way and let it trickle through all your mental and physical interactions with the world - it feels powerful and satisfying and yes, revolutionary. And sometimes it's the best we can do.

Stretched Mums yoga is energising, often strong but has lots of emphasis on rest! Come and join us - see the classes page for more details.

Stretched Mums yoga is energising, often strong but has lots of emphasis on rest! Come and join us - see the classes page for more details.