August 27, 2013

"Keep Calm and Carry On"... And Fold the Laundry

 "There, that's beautiful," beamed my four-year-old daughter as she carefully put the last clip in my hair.

 "Thanks," I told her, before hanging the next load of laundry on the line. Hearing giggles behind me, I turned to see the neighbor kids spying on me from over the fence. I'm sure they appreciated the dozen or so brightly colored mismatched clips adorning my hair. "Oh well," I thought. "I'll just smile and say hello."

 I was thinking about this today during nap time. It can get crazy around here. This morning, for instance, was a juggling act. I lost my patience after my husband's red carbonated beverage, mistakenly put in the freezer, literally exploded all over the kitchen walls, surfaces, ceiling and floor. At this point, I was praying aloud for patience, when two things simultaneously occurred to me. First, I can offer up this mess for people who need prayers. So we made a game of listing prayer intentions until the space was restored to a somewhat clean order.

 The second thing I thought of was I want my kids to see me as a firm but fun, peaceful, loving mom who bravely goes to the clothesline with a rainbow in my hair and a smile on my face. With every response, I'm teaching them how to deal with life. It's a huge responsibility balancing the demands of the day and maintaining peace in the home. At the end of the day, I may not have come close to accomplishing all I set out to do. But like my four year old admiring my hairdo, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If God is pleased, that's what counts. It's not about all the homeschooling lessons I perfectly planned, or the bathroom floor being meticulously cleaned  (although I would be the first to say a clean house is important.) How I do what I do is what's important.

  Not an easy task for an impatient, type double A person such as myself. I know not everyone is as crazy as I am. But if I'm not alone, and you have days when you struggle making it to the gloriously awaited hour of bedtime, I share with you my top 10 "de-stressing" tips I'm trying to live by (with emphasis on the word 'trying'):

 1. Start each day with a prayer. I've been slacking on this lately, and it shows. My day goes so much better if I take a few minutes in the morning to quiet my mind and ask Jesus to help me be His hands and feet.

 2. Repeat step 1 throughout the day when I feel overwhelmed. And even when things are going smoothly or we're having a great time, GIVE THANKS.

 3. Take deep breaths. I'm not kidding.

 4. Find a creative outlet to clear the mind. Knit, sew, draw, bake, read, or send a handwritten note to a friend. Ignore the scribbling on the envelope drawn by your budding artist. Send it anyway; it might help your friend have a good day.

 5. Walk outside for fresh air and a look at the garden. Don't think about the weeds for the moment, just focus on beautiful flowers and growing pumpkins. Maybe even enjoy a cup of tea, sit in a chair, and listen to the birds.

 6. Set realistic expectations. My sister tells me, "Do the best you can, while you can, all for the glory of God." Sometimes it's helpful to write down daily goals so when my head swarms, I can stay on target.

 7. Try to set aside the work and spend some time just enjoying the kids. Read with them, play hide-and-go seek, or color.

 8. Sing and dance to your favorite music. Even if you can't sing or dance.

 9. Take care of your health. Don't let your blood sugar drop, drink plenty of water, try to get sleep, and make time for exercise. You'll feel better.

 10. Try and get out once a week for some alone time and/or a date with your hubby. I never used to do either on a regular basis. But for the past several months since the baby was born I've found I'm a better momma if we squeeze this in. A short mental break helps restore my energy and creativity at home. It's worth making the time.

It really is such a privilege being a mom. And in moments of desperation, when I feel like these selfish bones can't give anymore, I remember the wise advise from all the experienced moms I meet who tell me to enjoy every minute because too soon I'll miss the messes in the kitchen.

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