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1.29.2013

{Messy Motherhood} Balancing It All

I was so excited when Kara Kae posted her prompt for this month's Messy Motherhood Link-Up! The idea of balance is a widely discussed topic in the circle of motherhood. And while we like to talk about it and share ideas, there is actually no perfect way to balance it all. I'm a different mama than you with totally different kids. But what we can do is encourage each other! That's what I love about these link-ups. 
With that, I want to share some things that came to mind as I thought about how I balance life. Let's get one point straight right off the bat... I kind of really stink at it. In fact, I went through my old blog posts and found that I've even written about it a lot over the last year or so! I think it's a constant work in my life, wouldn't you say

I've learned over the last few months the importance of knowing when to say "No." while deciding how to prioritize life. For me, when looking at bigger matters, that has meant choosing to be a stay-at-home rather than having a career as a health care provider. And by the way, I'm SO thankful to be a stay-at-home mom. I love it more than I ever thought I would. Another area of my life that I've had to say no in is ministry. For three years, I was a leader in our church's high school youth group. But when Amelia was about nine months old, I began to wrestle with the balancing act of it all. More than a year later, as I'm expecting our second child, I'm finding contentment in just being at home with my family. It hasn't been easy but it's been so worth it. Of course, not every yes or no decision is as grand as your career or ministry. As a pregnant mom to a toddler, I've had to say no to lesser matters such as packed schedules and late nights out with friends, even chores some days when I'm super tired. Like this morning. It was the best thing for me to just lay on the couch, watching cartoons while Amelia and I snuggled. The stuff can wait. When we prioritize correctly, our hearts are more peaceful which means our homes are more peaceful. I love what Mackenzie over at Life of a Pint-Sized Mama said recently about this:

"Because moms, although it's hard to admit, 
we are often the thermostat of our house."
  
Something else that has helped me manage life as a mother is flexibility! I have a pretty type A personality. I like things to be neat and in order. Before having Amelia, I carried a planner with me everywhere! My whole life was in that thing. I only wrote in pencil because if something changed, I wanted to be able to *neatly* change my plans instead of scribbling and rewriting. Fast forward to now and that just doesn't happen anymore. I still love schedule and routine. But my toddler just doesn't jive with that strict way of life. I've learned to be mostly ok with this change. We have our routines throughout the day {meals, nap time, play time, etc.}. But there's no specific time for each portion of our day. Flexiblity isn't just important in your daily routine at home either. I've learned recently that it's necessary for planned outings as well {i.e. play dates & grocery trips}. If Amelia is too tired and/or misbehaving {let's be honest... those usually go hand in hand, right?} I have to be flexible enough to set a boundary and choose to leave something fun for the sake of both of us. It's so inconvenient and frustrating at times. But our kids learn great lessons in those moments. Even we do

I would say the most important key to balancing it all is graceGrace and more graceGrace times infinity. You just have to have it. With yourself, your spouse, your kids. It's essential. Because let's face it, we want to do everything, all the time. And truthfully, sometimes we even have to! But we just can't. One of my very favorite mama quotes:

"I have to do it all.
I can’t do any of it.
But Christ in me can.
- Jessi Connolly, Naptime Diaries 

Can I get an AMEN?! The days where my grace tank is empty are often the most stressful days for me. But when I choose to seek Jesus and trust that He has me covered the whole day long, it's just bliss. When we function in that grace and pour it out on our families, specifically our children, they see Christ in us. That is so humbling and eye-opening for me! Amelia will model after the way I give/receive grace. 

What are we showing our kids about Jesus in our daily life? Do I have enough grace for the times I don't balance it all well? Am I flexible enough to change plans at the last minute for the growth of myself and Amelia? Do I say no to the right things so that my family gets the best of me? I sure pray so.
I may be getting the hang of it nowadays. But give me a couple months. It will start all over when baby Elsie arrives. And then there will be grace.

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