Can you believe it’s time for Thanksgiving and this school year is almost halfway over? Christmas is next month! Where has the time gone? Better yet, with all my running around, what do I have to show for it? Why do we always seem to have such crazy schedules?
Let’s talk about my kids…One is in second grade. One is in kindergarten. One is taking dance class, one just started piano lessons. That’s just the kids. And this doesn’t count the church events on our calendar, doctor’s appointments, et c. That’s right–sometimes I just want to grab a Kit Kat and scream, “GIVE ME A BREAK!” Not really. I’d rather have a Reese’s. 😉
When school starts, much more comes along with it. Sports, clubs, extracurricular activities, etc. Then the holidays hit. It’s easy for our lives to become overwhelmed and chaotic. I’m a little stressed out just thinking about all of it! But sometimes in the midst of the madness, I have to sit back and take a deep breath. I have to remember that God blessed me with my two beautiful girls. He has entrusted them into my care. It is important that I do my best to keep my focus on Him. First and foremost, before dance and birthday parties and holiday dinners and everything else, it is my job to point them to God. If I don’t make time for Him in my life, I can’t expect my girls to make time for God in their lives. If I don’t read and study my Bible, I can’t expect Naomi and Adah to memorize their memory verses.
We can’t let our crazy schedules dictate our relationships with God. And we can’t use our crazy schedules as an excuse to slack in our parenting. Yes, things may become overwhelming and chaotic, but if we keep God first then we can be assured that He has everything under control.
I think Darlene from Time-Warp Wife sums it best:
After going at breakneck speed since having my first child 10 ½ years ago, I’m finally slowing down. The trouble is, my body has been giving me warning signs for several years, and God has been leading me to take it easy (Psalm 127:2), but I have failed to heed the warnings… until now.
Now I’m taking the warning signs seriously, and I’m praying it’s not too late. My body is showing signs that something autoimmune is cranking up. It’s not so bad that it can’t be reversed at this point, so I’m making every effort to do exactly what I need to do to make that happen—with God’s help.
I think I am in this situation is because I failed to heed my body’s warning signs: having mono three years in a row (and exhibiting symptoms when I get run down and exhausted), Raynaud’s phenomenon, weight loss despite eating plenty of calories, unrelenting fatigue, joint pain, and a nasty episode of swollen, feverish, painful joints last summer. The root cause? Pushing myself beyond reasonable limits day after day, year after year, and not listening to my body.
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m the only mom facing this. We’re exhausted, burned out, and sick. It shouldn’t be this way, and God doesn’t intend for us to live like this. We’re trying to do too much, and we’re not doing anything well.
So what do we do? We have responsibilities, husbands and children who are counting on us, laundry and dishes to keep up with, homeschooling (or homework) to help with. Jesus said to come away and rest. (Mark 6:31) Just thinking “rest” to myself causes something strange to happen in my body. The muscles in my forehead relax. My shoulders release from the hunched position. My jaw unclenches. And I wasn’t aware that any of those things were happening until they were gone.
Jesus said to rest, and it’s obvious we have a physical response to the word, but how do we do that?
Cut back. Look at your calendar and schedule. Prioritize everything on it. Anything you’re doing because you feel like you should or think you need to do so people will like you or because if you don’t no one else will needs to be eliminated from your list. (Thanks for that tip, Tricia Goyer!) Only do things that are necessary to care for your family and that fulfill God’s call on your life—your true passions.
Ask for help. Assign chores to your children. Even the youngest ones can be taught to do chores that will lighten your load. Let go of the idea that everything must be done perfectly, and resist the urge to go behind them and redo the tasks you assigned them. They will learn to do those tasks better with practice. When a friend asks if she can stop by and help, say yes!
Say no. Don’t say yes to everything people ask you to do. Remember those priorities and your calling and purpose? If it doesn’t fit in one of those categories, say no. (This is much harder than you think it’s going to be, especially if you’re a people pleaser by nature. It takes practice, and you will slip up at first. Give yourself grace and don’t beat yourself up too much.)
Make time for yourself. What do you really enjoy doing? What energizes you like no other activity or brings you pleasure that allows you to go back to the mundane tasks of your day with joy? Is it reading a great Christian fiction book? Knitting, crocheting, sewing, painting, writing, or some other creative endeavor? Spending a couple of hours at a coffee shop with a friend? Whatever your “me-time” is, schedule it into your week. There’s nothing wrong with making some time for yourself after you’ve gotten your quiet time and exercise in.
Exercise. Yes, I went there. As hard as it is to get started, you’re going to thank me later. Exercise will give you energy, help you sleep better, and help you feel better about yourself.
Time with God. This is last on the list, but it should be first in planning your days. Get up a little early to spend precious time in the Word and prayer. You will feel rest in your spirit far into your day and will be better prepared to face whatever your day brings.
13 Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.15 Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.
Within the last few weeks I’ve known quite a few people who have had loved ones pass away. Time slipped away so quickly. Some were old aged, but some were not. At the same time, I’ve had a few close friends that have been diagnosed with serious conditions.
All of this is brought many things to light for me. For one: Death knows no age. I’ve known this for years, but it seems every few years something happens to remind me that no one is exempt. As James said, life is but a vapor and we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Second: What are my priorities and what am I putting first?
Lately I’ve been TOO busy. My pastor noticed this before I did. She asked me one evening, “Do you ever say no?” “No” I replied, and we giggled. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing things for others and helping them. I am in no way complaining nor will I stop doing this. But sometimes, I need to just stop and focus on my family. I realized this a few weeks ago after my two year old son came running up to me with his arms out for me to hold him. “Just a second chubby cherub. Mommy is really busy.” Suddenly, like a slap in the face, a still small voice inside of me said “Busy doing what?” Hmm… Nothing is as important to me as my children. What could I possibly be doing that is keeping me too busy? Then the second slap to the other side of my metaphorical face “I’m doing this to God, too.” Ouch.
When life is over, will I be remembered for the fact that I made aprons? No. If I actually got my house to look perfect and kept it that way, will I feel achieved in Heaven? Not at all. When it’s all said and done, all that matters is that I served an almighty God and raised children with integrity who knew without a doubt their mother loved them and would drop anything for them in their time of need.
I’m not saying that any of us should let our homes go, stop doing things for others, sit back and let life fall apart just to snuggle with the kids a little longer. But by all means, stop and smell the roses! Enjoy those babies while they’re young! Play a board game with the older kids. Make your husband’s favorite meal just because. Plan a date night beyond his expectations and show him you love him. And if today’s to do list doesn’t get done, don’t sweat it. Trust me, it’ll be there tomorrow.
A special thank you to my dear friend, Rena, for her inspiration in writing this post.