Friday, June 24, 2016

When You Can't "Do It All"

As a mother of five children inside 5-1/2 years, with a husband that was gone pretty much at least Monday - Friday each week working out of state (or country), I knew the feeling that I couldn't "do it all." I homeschooled, each of my children had music lessons and various activities, we had a lot of family events, I volunteered at Gilda's Club (a cancer support community), and was involved in a number of ministries at our Church. To make extra money, I also worked late at night for an attorney, then became a Unit Manager for Creative Memories, a scrapbooking sales company. Here are a few things I learned along the way:

1.  Be reasonable and realistic with your schedule. Remember what Matthew 11.28-30 says when you are "tired from carrying heavy loads" (GW). Walk with Jesus, watch how [He does] it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. [He] won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with [Him] and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. (MSG) Another version says, My yoke is easy and My burden is light. (GW)

      So if HIS yoke is easy and what HE wants you to do is a light burden why all the stress? Because you are trying to accomplish way more than is reasonable and realistic, and way more than He expects of you. Take a look at all you are doing and pare down what is not necessary. A juggler has to let go of some balls to grab others. Look at what you need to drop off your schedule at certain times and say "no" to things (which really is saying "yes" to other things!). Be sure you live out your priorities. I'm so glad I said "no" to enough things to give me lazy summer days of visiting parks and playscapes and visiting grandparents and great-grandparents with my children. Create your schedule to give you the best memories and the least crazies possible.

2.  Embrace the season you are in. Sometimes your priority will be feeding bottle after bottle. It only lasts a season so enjoy it. Other seasons where you are able to play "doctor" and "house" and Hi Ho Cherry O only last for a few short years. Embrace those seasons. Live out the season you are in 100%. You don't want your children's memories to be of you sitting on your phone looking at other's lives on Facebook while you aren't throwing yourself into your own season of life. Learn to be mentally where your body is as much as possible.

3.  Run your own race and don't look at other's lives. Your friend that has sanguine children will never understand why you have to stay at home for a month to train your strong-willed children who are exhibiting temper tantrums every time you go out in public.  Don't expect others to understand the decisions you make. You may be trying to pay your house off to be financially free, and choose not to spend money for a season so need to say "no" to pricey weekend get-aways or events. Make your goals and live them out without looking for a bunch of people to understand. Chances are if you are choosing extraordinary results, they will be extraordinary and many will not be able to understand anyways. 

4.   Be creative in finding help. That doesn't mean that for YOU to get help you LOAD down your husband. When I found I wasn't able to do everything, I enlisted help by having mother's helpers (younger girls in the neighborhood to come and occupy my kids so I could get things done), babysitters (have a list of at LEAST 7 at all times), family and friends. I often took my children with me for errands, which forced me to train them socially and helped them to know things off-limits which in the end was a huge benefit. 

      When getting help, keep in mind that you are the one that is still responsible for the training of your children. When you delegate that responsibility, be sure you are delegating it to the person who will do it the most like you would. That means that sometimes it won't be your husband. If your husband is like mine and is a high-powered executive used to saying something and things happen right away, they may not be the right person to have the patience to put your 1- or 2-year old to bed if you have children that aren't always cooperative. Many times I had a babysitter put my children to bed even when my husband was home just to relieve my husband from undue pressure at the end of his crazy days, to relieve my children of having their frustrated dad to deal with, and to relieve myself of hearing the house falling in on top of me when I was in the basement trying to work.

       On the same note, many people are in an uproar over gender-neutral policies (rightly so), yet in an obscure way we are trying to eliminate gender roles in our homes. Just as when prayer was taken out of the schools and our recourse was to strengthen it in our homes, so now we need to live out stronger gender roles in our homes if our children are going to see the difference between males and females. I would counsel to start with recognizing that men aren't necessarily the best replacement for mothers during meals and bedtimes. If you are going to need help during those times, enlist the help of a female caregiver who would be more like you would be in the patience area (unless you have an unusual husband who has a gift for patience and long-suffering). 

5.  Remember that "guilt" is a function of your emotions; "conviction" is a function of your spirit. Know the difference: embrace conviction and repel "guilt." Many times I was convicted to see a need for change in my life and made the changes necessary for the betterment of my family. Just as many times if not more I had to not accept the feeling of "guilt" when I couldn't do all I expected to do. Sometimes guilt comes from the fact you are away from your children for longer than you want. If you are leaving your children with delegated help that is doing closely with what you would do, and if you are not putting undue pressure on your spouse and taking away your home being his "safe place," do not accept the feeling of guilt. Guilt is a horrible feeling that has to be balanced with blame.  If you find yourself blaming, look at if you have accepted feelings of guilt. If you need to work outside your home, and then want to go to dinner with your spouse or a friend, that event doesn't determine if you are a "good" mother. "Guilt" will direct you to wrong choices, usually not resulting in change but in over-compensating. When you are doing things to strengthen your marriage or to help others, or to work to help your family, do not allow "guilty" feelings about not being with your children to incite you to over-compensate or make wrong choices in other areas.

      If you are going to be convicted about something that is good to change for the betterment of you and your family, start with looking at the time you are spending in the Word of God both alone and with your children. Being convicted about this is better placed than feeling guilty that you didn't get to put your children to bed because you were at (another) wedding.

6.   When faced with choices, do the things that will matter the most in the end. Many choices are made for us and we don't have too much control over (work schedules, baby feedings, unexpected illness in the family, etc.) When you do have a choice, exercise it wisely and make your choices for the things that will matter most in the end. Time management skills are critical with the unending demands placed on us. Juggle wisely! What ever you need to do, don't use it as an excuse to put other things out of whack. For example, if you need to work outside your home, don't use it as an excuse to hurt your marriage or to take away your husband's ability to have a time to recoup from his day. If you are a stay-at-home mom, don't use it as an excuse to hurt your marriage or to place demands on your husband when he gets home because you have been home all day.

7.    Enjoy your life. Today is a gift; that is why we call it the present. Get things in line so you can enjoy the life God has given you and maximize your impact and opportunities where He has placed you! 

No comments: