What’s your choice?
Does your life always go smoothly, just the way you want it to? Yeah, me neither.
We may face physical, emotional or spiritual difficulties or plans just change. We may not have much control over those things, but we do get to choose how we respond. Will we get mad and curse the difficulties or will we readjust and do what we can to make things at least somewhat better?
An astute friend said to me the other day, we all get stuck. We just get stuck in different ways. Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and stuck in bad attitudes (my own and my kids’) and stuck in self-pity. Perhaps I’m even depressed. But I try to keep moving forward.
So this week I’m writing about some things that have helped me stay sane over the past few months.
Fight for uninterrupted time
I’ve had some very enlightening conversations this week. A friend was telling me that her kids usually have a two hour chunk of time during the afternoon where they have to entertain themselves because she works from home. The thought of having two hours to myself sounded so wonderful! I’ve enforced quiet time with my kids before (which they don’t usually enjoy), but don’t do it consistently. I realized that there are a couple of reasons why I need to incorporate more time into my week where my kids entertain themselves. They wouldn’t even have to be quiet, I would just appreciate a bit of uninterrupted time.
First, as a stay at home mom, I don’t necessarily have “work” that I get paid for, but I do have “work” that requires some attention and uninterrupted time (not to mention a blog!) My dining room table has been covered in paperwork and projects that have been neglected. I can’t completely blame this on the kids. Some of this was pure procrastination on my part. But I knew that I needed to be able to focus on it, and waiting until the kids were in bed when I was also tired was not the best plan. So one afternoon this week I told the girls that I had work to do and that they needed to find something to do. For the most part, they did really well and left me alone.
Besides “work” I also need rest and downtime away from children. I was with some other homeschooling moms this week who were saying that they just love being with their kids and can’t bear the thought of sending them to school for eight hours a day. Um, that’s not me. I frankly was fine with my children being in school and away from me. When we began homeschooling, I insisted that I needed a night off each week to have some time away from them. And I do that consistently. But I’m finding it’s not enough.
I had not been giving myself permission to have time to be alone and quiet in the middle of the day. This week, I changed that. Some days I don’t get that quiet time because we have activities going on. But the days we’re home I’m fighting for that time. It’s a sanity saver, even if it’s only 20 minutes.
Replace guilt and lies with truth
When I’m feeling discouraged and depressed, I tend to spiral into negative thoughts that are not true. I can feel guilty for asking for that time for myself. I can feel guilty for not being available to my kids. I can feel like it’s too hard to ask for them to occupy themselves. I can feel like it’s not really important to take care of myself.
But those feelings are lies. I am a better mother when I take time to rest or relax. My kids don’t need me every single minute of the day, and if they really do need help, I’m still home. It’s good for my kids to have to finish chores without me or to create their own fun. No one else is going to make sure that I take care of myself, so I need to make it happen. This is not selfishness on my part. This is actually about being refreshed to be a better servant to those around me.
Make time to rest
My children are all relatively independent and able to take care of themselves for short periods of time. Sometimes I’ve had chores or schoolwork for them to finish, sometimes I let them play on their iPads, sometimes they just found other things to do. But they’re not going to go tell me to go rest. This is something I must request and make happen.
Some of you have younger children or situations that make taking time for yourself more challenging. I would encourage you to fight for that time. To do what it takes to refresh yourself. Maybe ask a mom friend to watch your kids so you can go home and read a book or take a nap (the best part of this is that it usually helps the mom watching the kids, because they all go off and play and she can get her work done too!) Maybe put a CD player in the kids’ room and have them listen to music or a book on CD and have their own quiet time. Maybe the kids get to watch a TV show while you rest. Just find a way to give yourself some uninterrupted time alone!
If you have creative ways that you find time to refresh yourself, please let us know in the comments!