‘You’re making me crazy!’
I can’t count the times that these words have come out of my mouth since becoming a parent.
Maybe you’d never dream of saying such a thing to your kids…but seriously when it’s 9 pm and ‘the boy’ still isn’t finished with his homework because he’s spent the last 97 minutes talking about how he needs to take a shower but his elbow hurts and his beloved pet lizard looks kinda’ pale and he can’t find the socks he needs for tomorrow and his sister is singing because she’s annoying and stupid and he forgot his binder at school so he can’t even do his homework…seriously……I might lose my mind.
Up until a couple of years ago, I found myself constantly stressed, nagging, yelling, and rushing from one thing to the next. A night like the one described above would have set me off because I would have had too much to do and no time to deal with my son who just needed my patience. My schedule did not honor God and, more often than I care to admit, I was one commitment away from a mental breakdown. I needed to seriously reevaluate the pace of our family’s day to day hustle and create some breathing room in our home life. When we take a look at the life of Jesus we see that He was never frenzied or rushed. He was present. There were always more people to heal and more mouths to feed and yet He was content with the work He did in the time He had to do it. He often took time away with just the apostles or to be alone to pray rather than cramming in one more act of service or miracle. Time to build relationships with those closest to Him and quiet time with His Father were just as important as His ‘work.’ Finding and maintaining balance honors God. This requires listening to His prompting which is nearly impossible when we keep a jam-packed daily schedule. It is a tension that I have to regularly manage as my own seasons of busyness rise and fall. Here are just a few of the things that help our family create space in the everyday hustle.
- Make time for God daily! When I am connected and intentional about my relationship with Jesus, it spills over onto every aspect of my life. I am aware of His presence and follow His guidance.
- Scheduled Downtime. I learned to fiercely guard our school nights and try to stay home as much as possible. I make an effort not to schedule more than 1 night per week to be away from home where I’m needed most. It used to be a common occurrence that I would say yes to things like meetings or dinners Sunday through Thursday. I work in ministry…definitely not your average 9-5. For example, meeting with a couple of ladies from church on a Wednesday night to talk about an upcoming event seemed like a noble endeavor but it created an imbalance at home. My kids need their mom to be present, to help with homework (which is kind of nature’s cruel joke because I already went to school for 17 years and really didn’t think I’d need to remember any of this stuff…but I digress…) to shuttle them to and from activities and just to be around for those precious times that they decide to let me into their teenage world and tell me what their day was like. If I had been in a big-stressed-frenzied rush I may not have learned today that ‘the boy’ buys chips and ice cream on his school lunch account for his friends…like EVERY day….he’s like the Santa Clause of the 6th-grade lunch room!!! Ugh.
- Nutrition! I have the luxury of a really flexible part time job so I can be home most days when the kids get off the bus. At least a couple of days a week I try to have dinner ready at 4 pm. This ends the 3 hours of snacking and the rest of the night just goes smoother. When 6 pm rolls around and a flurry of activity seems to brew…drop-offs and pick-ups from activities, homework, showers…if the kids have already had dinner, it’s one less thing for me to juggle during the ‘rush hour’ of our evening. I also try to keep sugar and processed foods to a minimum because when our bodies are fueled well, we get sick less, accomplish more, and are just nicer people to be around.
- Regular Self Care! When I carve out time to do things that I truly enjoy I feel whole. For me, it’s riding my horse. For you it may be running, yoga, reading, crafting, coffee with a friend, etc. Whatever it is, don’t feel guilty about it! Our culture perpetuates this strange notion that a woman who does things for herself is selfish. Nonsense. Women who tend to their hearts are more compassionate. You can’t pour from an empty cup so keep yours filled!
- The Selective Yes and the Polite No. What if we were self-aware enough to know just how God wired us? And what if we were in tune enough to His leading that we were able to say YES to the right things and politely decline the things that may not be our best fit? For me this concept was liberating. My staff does a lot of leadership development. Several years ago I was introduced to a few self-assessments including Strengths Finder, DiSC personality profile, spiritual gift testing, and a personal passion profile. Discovering my unique design gave me the guidance I needed to find my sweet spot. Rather than saying yes to a whole bunch of ‘good’ things that I may not have been ‘good’ at, this understanding has allowed me to focus my efforts and be more intentional in the things I pursue.
It is only when I create space and quiet time in my daily life that I am able to grow. I fully accept that I am a work in progress and will continue to work less frenzied!