Encouragement for Moms – Productive Relaxation

Around the age of 30 I took a serious inventory of my life. I was married to the man I loved, had a wonderful two-year-old son, a beautiful newborn daughter, and I made a difference daily in the lives of the children I taught.

This is it, I thought, I have accomplished all my goals. I was still patting myself on the back for a life well-lived when a thought entered my mind. What about my book?

Ah, yes, the book I started my last year in college. The Christian romance that I promised myself I would finish every year, usually before my birthday. The story that had been rolling around in my head for a decade. What about that book?

I enjoyed writing even as a child. I spent hours thinking of stories and then writing them. I considered it my hobby before I had kids.

I sighed. Would this be one more thing I sacrificed for my kids? I had scrapbooks unfinished and drawers of stamps I had no time to use. Would this story that had developed over a decade go untold as well? That night I decided I would accomplish this goal as well.

Twenty minutes a day, that’s where I started. After dinner when the dishes were done, I would sneak into the office and type away. My husband, Jeff, supported my efforts, but at first there were many interruptions – a screaming baby, a demanding toddler, and something really important always ended up missing as soon as I went into hiding. Some days I wrote only a few sentences. Rather than giving up, I grew more persistent because, as I used my gift, I found peace. I could feel the stress of the day literally melt away as I entered my fictional world. I craved more. And then one day about three months into my pursuit, the most awesome thing happened. I was in the midst of making dinner after coming home from a stressful day of work. My head hurt and the kids were whining. I thought I was going to lose it any minute.

“Why don’t you go write?” Jeff removed the spoon I was stirring the spaghetti sauce with from my hand. “I’ve got this. Go write so you can relax.”

My mouth opened, ready to argue with him, until I realized what he had done. He had granted me freedom to unwind.

My husband hasn’t always been around to help me achieve my balance of writing time, especially when he started working nights; however, making sure the kids had a strict bedtime gave me hours to write while waiting for him to come home. Even now my ten and twelve year old know Mom is off the clock at 8:30 p.m. That’s my time to sit with my laptop and get lost in my writing. I have found doing something I love provides me more joy and peace than any amount of time watching TV or doing other mindless activities.

I know what you’re thinking. “You don’t know how exhausted I am at night. It takes all my energy to make it through the day. I can’t be productive.”

I do understand, because I’ve been there. I literally spent an entire summer on the couch, in pain, watching TV and playing games on my phone trying to avoid my pathetic reality. Where did it get me? More pathetic than when I began. The next summer was just as painful and I finished one book and started another, both of which have been published.

productive relaxation

What if writing isn’t your gift? I have a friend who loves to crochet. She sits at night after the kids have gone to bed and has made baby blankets and hats to give to birthing centers. Another friend loves cooking, so she blesses sick moms and new moms with meals. Another loves crafting and is always coming up with creative ways to bless people. I use the trivets she recently made me daily. My friend that loves exercising started a free weekly exercise class for women. She inspired many ladies on to good health and habits.

I still go on Facebook for about fifteen minutes a day. My husband and I enjoy watching TV together occasionally, but I know from experience there is such a thing as productive relaxation. The trick is finding the passion you have and using it to enrich the lives of others. The coolest part? Not only will you be using your gifts to bless others, but your kids will see it. My daughter loves art. Once a week she does some kind of project and often gives it away to someone else. My son has a passion for reptiles. While other people rescue cats and dogs, he rescued bearded dragons this year. You may think reptiles don’t have feelings, but I do believe our four beasts know my son’s love for them.

I think it’s time we stop resorting to mindless entertainment in what little free time we have as mothers. Make the best use of your child’s nap time or that fifteen minutes you sit waiting for your kids to get out of school by doing an activity you enjoy that will benefit others. My writing? It started out as something I did for myself, to release all those stories that were stuck in my head. Today it has turned into a way to encourage and inspire others. One hundred years from now it won’t matter how many candies you crushed or if you knew the latest dirt on the popular movie stars. Take what little free time you have and pour it into something you can truly be proud of. Trust me, it will be worth the effort and you will find the peace and relaxation you are looking for.

Kelly Harrel

Writer at Inland Moms
Kelly Harrel is an amazing wife to her husband, Jeff, and "the best mom ever" according to her two children. In her spare time, Kelly writes Inspirational Fiction novels, blogs about life lessons, and speaks to women and girls. She blogs at www.kellyharrel.com.


  1. Judy Swanson says:

    I agree that it’s so important to take time to do things you enjoy.

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