It is so underrated. Today we view rest as a waste of time or, worse, a manifestation of laziness. We see downtime as time lost, never to be recovered. Think of the things we may have seen or experienced instead ?! So, we cram every moment of every day with meetings, lunches, workouts, courses, you name it we want to do it.
Unfortunately, we drag our children into this thinking, bringing them with us wherever we go, however late we’re out. Because we can afford it, we plan one trip after the other, thinking how wonderful that they can see the world at such a young age. We want them to have everything we wish we did so we cram their days with lessons of all kinds: dance, music, martial arts, kumon. Then we make sure they have playdates and parties. We panic at the thought of them being at home with no plans. Why are we so afraid of staying home with no plans?
Because my children have asthma, I’m very aware of the importance of having their days balanced according to breathing in (quiet, inward times) and breathing out (more active, free times) activities. Because their father has the means to take them all over the world, I’ve also had to put my foot down. I’d wondered for so many years why my childrens’ asthma seemed to be worse than mine when I was a child, given our diet and lifestyle. I felt I had taken steps and more to ensure that they would fare better. The only thing they have that I didn’t while growing up is the constant traveling. Something in me was fighting against that, but it wasn’t until a noted endocrinologist confirmed it for me that I felt confident to fight for them to stay home and REST more. Simply put, he said that travelling across time zones causes the endocrine system to crash. We feel this as adults in the form of jet lag and fatigue. And it takes some time before we recover. For children who already have conditions like asthma, it really takes a toll. One trip after another does not give the endocrine glands enough time to recover, strengthen, and develop properly. So the adrenal glands, especially, become so stressed that the children not only have more frequent attacks, but become ever more reliant on the toxic drugs I never wanted them to take to begin with. Just when the body is recovering, they are off again. The result is chronically weakened organs.
The human body needs downtime. Our organs need downtime to regenerate. Especially today where there is so much coming at us. Everywhere it seems there is wi-fi, for example. There are invisible electromagnetic forces that are already stressors to the human constitution. Malls are the new parks! And we all know how noisy they can get. There is stimulus everywhere that affects our nervous and immune systems. Yes, children are resilient, but that does not give us license to run them down.
The quest for health is a long term one for us conscious parents. I am laying the foundation for health so that my children become healthy adults, able to fulfill their destinies, long after I’m gone.
I am happy that my children know enough to say, “Mom, I’m tired. Can I just stay home today?” and then they take the time to draw , read, sprawl on the floor quietly, lie on the couch and stare at the ceiling. It seems as though they are doing nothing, but really they are strengthening their bodies by respecting their need to rest.
Rest isn’t nothing. It is a big part of ensuring that our bodies function best, and that allows us to do what we are meant do in the world.