Mom, you are a very special person to your family. For the most part, you are the foundation, the stabilizing point, the one who keeps everyone and everything going in the right direction. You are the planner, the organizer, the executer, the cook, the housekeeper, the nurse, the chauffeur, the counselor, the tutor…the list goes on and on. Dads are a wonderful part of assisting with all these duties, but often the ultimate responsibility rests on mom.
In the years that my children were all at home, I was busy to say the least. In order to keep everything going smoothly, I had to give my all every minute of every day. Yes, it was fulfilling—but there were many days I reached an unhealthy exhaustion.
My husband was a wonderful support during those days when I got weary in well doing. He would help me narrow down the issues at hand, problem solve, and pitch in where he could to ease the load.
I realized, though, that there were specific things I could do to make sure I was not allowing myself to get run down. Because when mom is not operating at her best, the whole family suffers.
So how can a mom assure that she is able to give her family her best?
Years of intermittent exhaustion produced some of the following ways for me to keep centered in my role as a mom.
- Set a stopping point. Since I am a doer at heart, it was very easy for me to just continually keep going until I fell into bed each night. Even if my husband wanted me to sit on the couch and watch a movie with him (after all, it was Friday night), I always had something in my hands to keep busy with: grading papers, school planning, sewing, folding laundry, etc. Although I didn’t do it often enough, my suggestion is to stop working at a set point each evening. Make a pact with your husband so he can hold you accountable. Setting everything aside at 9 pm is as much for your mate as it is for you. Enough said.
Lighten up. As a busy mom and a planner, I often set my goals for each day too high. I was not reasonable with what I expected of myself. I needed to allow more time for each item that what was planned, as well as to leave some unplanned time in between. A mom’s day cannot be perfectly scheduled out in advance when children are in the picture, so I had to allow some slack time.
Clear your schedule. Sometimes I just had to say no. No to something that was a good thing. So I could say yes to something that was better—my home and my family. Maybe I didn’t help out at church as much as I would have liked during the busy years. Or meeting with friends every week to scrapbook wasn’t part of the agenda for a time. It meant I couldn’t give each of my children an opportunity during each and every season to be involved in sports teams or music lessons. We had to rotate children and combine activities and even take some seasons completely off. But that was survival. And I would make those same decisions again.
Delegate. You might be thinking, “Who would I delegate to? I can’t hire a housekeeper or a tutor.” But in my home, I had five helpers who I could motivate to assist with the load. Not only was it good for me, but it taught them responsibility as well as the basics of running a home. Not every job was done as well as if I did it, but that was easy to accept if it meant some help in doing the doing.
Make time for yourself. It is possible to take time for yourself during your busy days. I had time in the morning before the children got up—with the help of an alarm clock that let the kids know when it was time to get up. I could also do something for myself while the little ones were napping and the older ones were having their quiet time. Having set bedtimes also gave me the option to relax and recharge a little in the evenings. For me, a bubble bath or time to read a favorite book were high on the list.
What I realized is that finding a sustainable pace was not going to happen without my intervention. I had to make the decisions necessary to make space in my schedule to do something for myself.
Mom, you do so much for so many people. But don’t forget about taking care of yourself. Spread out the load. Reconsider standards. Give yourself a break. Both you and your family will be better as a result.
Question: What steps have you taken recently to cause your pace to be more sustainable? Share your answer in the comments below.