Thursday, August 14, 2014

Living Joyfully...No One Can Do It All

Although I love being a stay-at-home mom, it's not easy trying to raise a special needs child, and trying to homeschool. Both of my kids are very high energy, and what you would consider to be "spirited", which leaves me drained at the end of every day. And that doesn't even include the everyday household duties I have to accomplish just to keep my house somewhat in order. Most days, I literally have nothing left. My husband is a huge help around the house and with the kids, but it often still seems like I can't keep on top of everything. It's a constant sense of taking one step forward, two steps back.

I hit a wall recently, and decided something needed to change. I needed to figure out my priorities and stick with them. Adding too many additional commitments and placing unnecessary expectations on myself was beginning to rob the joy and the energy from my life. Here are a few things I had to do:

1. Figure Out What Means The Most To You
I'd like to say that my priorities are always in perfect order: God, my husband, my children, my health, then everything else. But, when you're overwhelmed with too much on your plate, it's easy to knock those priorities on their head.

2. For Each Priority, Make a List
In the busy seasons of life, the only commitments you should make are those that directly influence keeping your priorities in line. Everything else can wait. Here are some of the goals I have with each priority. I still struggle, but making lists always helps me.

Priority 1: God
-Devotional quiet time every day
-Regular Fellowship with other Christians
-Being a good steward of the gifts He has given me

Priority 2: My Family
-Keep everyone fed, safe, and healthy
(My Husband)
Keep the house as clean as possible. (He helps out a lot, but I don't want him to think it's always his job.)
-Minister to him in his own love language (While I would prefer to sit and talk all evening after the kids go to bed, it means more to him when we just sit together watching TV. He enjoys being able to relax and tune out.) So, 8pm-9:30pm is his time, and I try not to schedule anything during that time.
(The Kids)
-Homeschool Stinker
-Teach Junior how to speak and hear with his cochlear implants (including all the therapies he has)
-Make them feel loved and cherished every day

Priority 3: My Health
-Take time to nourish my body (aka-no more skipping meals because I "don't have time"... not eating makes me crabby!)
-Take a break when I need it (I can't do it all, and I'm a much better wife and mom if I take a break before I get too overwhelmed.)

Priority 4: Everything Else
-If I have the time and energy to focus on other things once my top priorities have been met, then I can commit to them. Otherwise, I have to say no for this season in life. 

3. Don't Feel Guilty for Saying "No" When Something Isn't On Your List
You'll be driving yourself crazy if you accept every invitation, go to every get-together, and sign up for every volunteer effort that is presented. When I feel like I'm treading water, I have to say no to literally everything except what's in my list of priorities. Sometimes I feel bad or flaky, but I also know that stretching myself too thin gives me less energy to put towards my relationship with God, my family, and my own health. Leaving me useless to be all that God has planned for me to be.

Remind yourself that many of the expectations we put on ourselves are often arbitrary, and not based in reality.
-My house needs to be a safe and healthy place, but why do I feel like I need to clean 8 hours a day?

-I need to feed my family healthy food, but instead of spending 5 hours in the kitchen cooking a gourmet meal from scratch, can I make a nutritious meal in an hour and spend the rest of the time with them?

-Why do I feel like a bad friend for not saying "yes" to every invitation I'm offered, when this stage in life may require "Hey, can you come up to my house for muffins and a conversation" instead of going to a dinner party?

-I need to give my daughter a good education, but do I really have to write all my own curriculum and spend hours on photoshop making cute little worksheets and labels, or can I find some free printables?

I can't do it all. But, I can use the time and energy that God has given me to be the best steward I can of the things He has entrusted to me. 

In this stage in life, I need to be gentle with myself, but I know that as my kids get older and less dependent on me for everything, I will have more time to devote to other things. I have to remind myself that this too shall pass

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