It can be hard to find time in a busy life for rest, not least for mothers. We have become a society that expects, and even applauds, busyness, with many wearing it as a badge of honour. How many times have you been part of an exchange which goes something like:

  • ‘Hi, how have you been/what have you been up to?’
  • ‘Oh, you know, keeping busy.’
  • ‘I hear ya, me too. It never ends!’

It’s as if this response is meant to confirm that all is well, or as to be expected.

Right now we have a strong tendency towards women increasingly being unable to rest. Mothers I work with report not knowing what to do with themselves, or worse, actually feeling uncomfortable when given the opportunity to rest. They feel as if they should be doing something productive, or speak in terms of needing to stay busy for their own mental health.

Of course, there is balance to be had, and sometimes keeping busy or being out and about is exactly what helps us to feel good. But I feel this has swung so far that we can often no longer experience comfort in resting because our nervous systems do not easily settle into calm.  New mothers feel they must be up and busy soon after birth, even a surgical one, and few people seem to encourage them to recuperate. This can be the start of a pattern of getting up and powering through the to-do list before allowing themselves some time to rest. But the reality is that the to-do list is never ending, so that time rarely arrives. Add in the intense and multiple needs of newborns, older children, navigating childcare and schools, maintaining relationships, return to work and logistics around commutes and life admin, and it is easy to see why our we are on edge.

However, in the same way that it is recognised in sports training that rest days are essential for performance, so too in day to day lives is rest important. Embracing rest can improve mental health and immune function, increase creativity, critical thinking and problem skills reduce stress, anxiety and blood pressure, and increase compassion and empathy.* Ensuring we rest can help us feel better as well as improve our interactions with loved ones and in our various roles.

The alternative is to push oneself to the absolute limit, stopping only when forced to by illness, injury or burn out. How much nicer, however, to create a schedule which introduces rest pre-emptively allowing it to be restorative rather than recuperative?

So, how can we do this? One option is to block out a specific day or time for a regular opportunity for rest. One evening a week, or a block of time on weekends, for example, and then use it how you see fit. Another way is to think about what sorts of rest feel most important to you and look for opportunities to experience these as they are available to you. What’s important is to find ways to plan these in advance instead of waiting until you get to the end of a revolving to do list.

What sort of rest, you ask? Did you know that we can rest in a number of ways; that there are different types of rest? You can have rest for your body, or for you mind. You can rest your heart, or your soul. You can rest your connectivity. You can rest your senses.

Would you like to explore the different ways in which you might begin to prioritise rest for yourself, and how it might benefit you? Book a free discovery call. I’d be happy to hear from you and help you create a restful schedule.

This article was written by Tricia King, Matrescence Coach with Careering Into Motherhood. Tricia works with mothers who want to explore their shifting identities and feel fulfilled and confident in all aspects of life. You can contact Tricia via her profile page or at her website


*Rethinking Rest (no date) Mental Health Foundation. London, Cardiff, Glasgow.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash