Peaceful. That is what I’d call this moment. How is this possible with 3 kids? When I had no kids I felt frazzled, and yet now I am relaxed? What caused this paradigm shift?
I Stopped Living as Though I Had No Kids
“Of course I can handle this,” I say to myself as I write a list a mile long that is exactly what I would do before I had kids. But there is a problem with this line of thinking; it doesn’t account for kids being kids. There is no contingency plan for the extra 30 minutes it now takes to get ready, or the time it takes for the children to pick dandelions before getting into the car. Or for any of the other new aspects in my life.
I thought of my top three priorities, or what I knew they should be: God, my husband and my kids. I started treating them as priorities rather than doing everything else, and hoping my “priorities” fit in somewhere.
Time with God
For me, starting my day with a devotional makes a world of difference. It’s not always the most intimate experience with kids. A quiet time may include a toddler shouting he/she has to go poop, and the other running full speed and jumping onto my back, but it’s still a time where I thank God, read His word and lay my prayer requests at His feet.
Just as devotionals prepare my heart for the day, so do devotionals with my kids. Now if neither of those practices are in your house, please don’t feel overwhelmed, or that I am an unrelatable person. I am a person who’s been on a journey; who fights for the things that I care about. Things don’t always come easy; I’ve learned way too many things the hard way, this is why I like sharing my journey with others, because it is tried and tested.
Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.
I know certain things are important to my husband and I try to carry them out. Two things I know he appreciates are a nice meal, and a clean house when he gets home. I try to make these things a priority when I schedule my day of events. I’m definitely a working progress with the clean house, the cheerios on the ground can attest to that… But I’m trying.
I’m blessed with 3 awesome kids so I intend to treat them as such, not just in words but by investing in them, guiding them and spending time with them. When my schedule and priorities are out of whack, the kids are the ones who pay.
Those are my top three. Of course friends are God’s extra life support here on earth. I love and value them dearly, but I find even when I consume more of my time with them then the top three, my priorities are not where they should be.
Trim the List: Know your Limitations
You can be doing a lot of good things but feeling stretched to capacity. Do a few things great, instead of a 100 things halfhearted. God wants us to enter His rest and peace. We have to give ourselves enough breathing room to receive it.
Don’t feel you have to fill your schedule to capacity. Some of life’s greatest moments are in the uncontrolled and unforeseen moments. I used to feel compelled to schedule every hour of my day. Part of it was to be productive, and the other part was to fill a void. Sometimes when we are so busy we don’t give ourselves time to fix some deep rooted issues; we merely cover them up hoping they won’t surface.
I had to learn that my toddlers do not have to be entertained from morning till dusk. It is healthy for them and us to have time where they do activities on their own. Now I generally like to give them a task to focus on or mayhem will ensue, but I no longer feel like I have to be playing catch while doing the dishes anymore.
Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself
We set these unrealistic expectations of our perfect world, where everything goes exactly on schedule with no hiccups. Plan the extra time for the hiccups, because most days they will happen, and when you leave cushion for them, they don’t seem so monumentous.
Shooting for goals is a good thing, but not if it controls your life. If you don’t get to the vacuum one day, the sky will not fall. Don’t worry, the crumbs will be there for you in the morning. Learning to let go is easier said than done, but you have to take life one situation at a time.
Don’t Let the Kids Call the Shots
I used to feel like I was being run ragged. My kids called the shots all day long. I didn’t have time to breath. Then I read this article about giving your toddlers few or no choices, and it changed my parenting perspective. I felt in charge and free to appreciate my kids for who they were because I wasn’t being kicked and trampled on, then kicked some more. I am all about letting kids discover who they are, but there definitively needs to be a defined structure in the house, or the kids don’t understand the problem with them calling all the shots. Kids need leadership, they don’t need a maid, a servant or a doormat. They need someone to take charge with love, and say I have been through this road already let me guide you and help direct your path.
We don’t have to just survive a day, we can actually enjoy it for the gift it is, basking in the glory of God for the moments of joy and peace He gives us on a daily basis.
This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.