Why can’t I just RELAX?



A few weeks ago, I came down with an awful cold. We had just returned home from a trip to Nashville to visit family, and on the long drive home, I could feel it creeping on. By the time we were back home in Michigan, I was coughing, sneezing, achy – the whole nine yards. That was on a Saturday. For the next week, I went about my days as usual, with a nice hacking cough occasionally interrupting whatever I was doing. By the weekend, I had run through an entire box of DayQuil, multiple boxes of tissues, and was wondering if I’d ever be able to smell or taste my food again.

That Saturday afternoon, I was seated at the dining room table, running through my meal plan for the upcoming week and checking my planner to see what events we had coming up, when I hit a wall. I was sick, tired, and completely spent. All I wanted to do was to lay on the couch and wallow in my misery with a hot cup of tea and a big dose of cough syrup. But despite all that, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I’d convinced myself that there was too much to be done, too much to remember . . . just too much. I explained all this to my husband. “Why don’t you just lay down and relax for a while?” he asked. “We can worry about all of that later.” I didn’t have a good answer for him – all I could say was, “Because I can’t!”

Every other member of my family seems to have this relaxation thing down. My husband is happy to chill out with some snacks and a video game on a slow Sunday afternoon. My daughters love to snuggle on the couch together under a blanket and watch “Frozen,” and my son would gladly spend hours kicking back and playing with his tablet computer, if we let him. And while all this is going on, where am I? Back at that dining room table, making to-do lists and thinking about upcoming events – even when there’s nothing that really needs to be done. But why? Why do I have such a hard time shutting off my brain and taking it easy?

In talking to other friends of mine who are moms, it’s clear to me that I’m not alone. Whether you’re a working mom, a stay-at-home mom, or anywhere in between, it seems like I know so many women who have a hard time letting go and taking it easy. It’s almost as if there’s a cloud of guilt hanging over our heads. “But if I spend the afternoon relaxing on my deck with a book, who will decide what we are cooking for dinner on Thursday, or what gift we will get to take to Katie’s 7th birthday party on Sunday?” Yes, I know it sounds slightly ridiculous. That’s probably because it is.

Sometimes it seems that moms take on not only our fair share of the load, but also things that aren’t even necessary. Things no one asked us to handle by ourselves. Perhaps that’s why we’re all so tired. Maybe it’s why I seem to get sick for longer (and worse) than my kids do. No matter what the cause is, the result is less than ideal.

I recently read a quote on Facebook: “Insisting on doing everything yourself burdens you and prevents others from feeling valuable and needed.” While I don’t think that my control over our grocery list and schedules is making anyone around here feel less valuable, the spirit of the statement still resonated with me. There’s no reason I should insist on handling all of the extraneous “stuff” myself. In fact, a lot of that “stuff” isn’t nearly as important or urgent as I sometimes make it out to be. It’s slowly weighing me down, and maybe you too.

So the next time my husband tells me to relax, I won’t insist that I just can’t! I’m going to listen to him.  The grocery list can wait.

Do you find that you have trouble relaxing too? I’d love to hear how you handle it! 


  1. Trouble relaxing? What is relaxing?
    All kidding aside, I think that most Moms have a hard time with this. We are the ones who make sure everything is alright with everyone all the time. That’s part of our job description.
    You hit the nail on the head though, it has an affect on those we care for when we don’t relax. We need to put it in perspective that relaxing is one of the most important things we can do to keep ourselves balanced and healthy. Thanks for sharing.


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