Wednesday, February 10, 2016

On Finding Refreshment as a Mom

"The days are long, but the years are short."

"Enjoy EVERY SINGLE MINUTE you have with your kids. They'll be gone before you know it."

"Kids grow up so fast."

These platitudes and more will come your way if you are the parent to children. Especially, it seems, if these children are under the age of 5. While the people who say these things wax poetic about the wonderful days they had with their now older or grown children, a mom who is in the thick of it can easily begin to wonder if something is wrong with them if they're just surviving through most days. 

I think moms especially feel this unspoken burden placed on them. If you stay home with your kids, you had better be sooooooooo grateful that your husband is sacrificing to let you stay home with your precious treasures and raise them to have perfect manners, be perfectly obedient, and do all the sensory activities and Pinterest projects their hearts could desire. If you work outside the home, you should feel guilty that you're not spending every waking moment with your child. To make up for it, you should stress yourself out by cooking gourmet meals while you're home, make sure you're putting them  in the best childcare whether or not you can afford it, and buy them indulgent gifts because you feel guilty that you don't stay home with them all the live-long day. And you get to deal with the mom-shaming that comes from others who say, "Don't you WANT to stay at home with your kids?!?" I sometimes wonder why men don't feel this burden? I'm jealous. 

All this to say, motherhood in the 21st century can involve loads of stress and loads of guilt. For the first time in history, Millennials and younger Generation Xers have access to information about what mothers all over the world are doing. Instead of just having the "norm" for your local demographic of mothers, you have access to the Interwebs and all the wonderful and weird mothering practices. You want to find justification for cry-it-out? Easy. You'd rather justify your co-sleeping? Yep, easy to find that too. All this can make it easy for information overload. There is simply too much information to sort through all of it. The wealth of information can leave a mom feeling overwhelmed and overloaded, bogged down by the guilt of having possibly made the wrong parenting decision, but not knowing it because there is entirely too much information to sort through. 

The age of rest this is not. However, it's important as a mom to find ways to do things that refresh you. This takes conscious effort. A purposeful time set aside to do what makes your soul come alive. My husband recently told me after I had been telling him about a particularly overwhelming day, "You need to find something to do." I suppose a lot of women could be insulted by this. I have 3 children, 4 and under. It's not like I'm ever at a loss for tasks to do. However, it's no secret that I like to work. To do tasks that are completed and not undone in a short amount of time.To complete a to-do list and have it stay completed. Even to just unplug my brain for a moment to think about something other than my kids. However, when he told me that I needed to find something to do, my immediate response was, "I don't even know what I like to do anymore." It has been so long since I had serious time to myself that I wasn't even able to nail down what it was I wanted to do if given some time alone. 

If you're like me and need some recommendations for things to refresh your soul, here are some low-tech options:

1. Read books. This one is obvious, but often overlooked. I love the "task" of completing a book. I especially love that after I'm finished with the book, it's finished. There is no child to come and undo what I've finished. :) I make it my goal to read one book a month. 

2. Study God's Word. There are so many great Bible studies that there's no excuse to not. She Reads Truth is a great online resource that's free!

3. Start and complete Pinterest projects. I don't know about you, but I tend to pin things and never do them. My goal this year is to change that. I'm working on a heart made out of buttons on a canvas, currently. 

4. Think. Seriously. Thinking alone and uninterrupted is such a luxury for me these days. I like to think about lots of things. Like why is Donald Trump doing well in the polls? 

5. Enjoy a meal with a friend. Alone. Not having to worry about cutting up anyone's food but your own. 

All of these things could be free. The time spent away will pay dividends when you're able to keep your stuff together when your children are sick or have suddenly decided that it's perfectly acceptable to put a whole box of tissues into the dog's water bowl. You don't have to spend loads of money or take loads of time away from your kids to be refreshed. Even an hour is useful for refreshment. Taking care of yourself is one of the best ways to care for your marriage and your kids. Do your family a favor and take time to refresh your soul regularly.

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