Candy blogs: It’s baack … fall … the beloved but busiest season in most of our lives. For many this Labor Day weekend was the last hoorah to a more relaxed schedule. We’re sorry to see the summer go but always look forward to a change in the weather, getting back to a routine and enjoying the traditions of the coming season. School, sports and music lessons take center stage once again.
In the most recent weekly email newsletter from Friends Matter (Group), Melissa writes:
I’m a married mom of two young children with a full-time job. I’m up at 4:30 a.m. (or at least I try to be!), wake the kids up at 5:45 and encourage them along to get ready, make sure everyone has backpacks, homework, lunch, sports equipment, and so on, and I’m out the door by 6:15 a.m. Drop kids off, drive 30 minutes to work, get there by 7:00 a.m. Work until around 4:15ish, pick up kids, go to sports practice, help with homework, cook dinner, try to fit in a workout, get kids to bed…and it starts all over.
And then there’s the weekends. Clean house, pay bills, do laundry, go grocery shopping… sometimes I wonder how I’ll ever find time to spend quality time with my kids or my husband…much less my friends! And I know that some women have it even worse. Women today are BUSY!
Does this sound familiar to anyone? I remember those days.
How’s that workin’ for ya?
I would like to “truthfully encourage” young families to step back before things really get hoppin’ and set the family pace. There are so many good and wonderful things to choose from … but that doesn’t mean a family should choose them all.
There are definitely seasons of life that are busier than others.
Some busyness can’t be helped. Shopping for school clothes and supplies takes a lot of time. Homework takes first priority. Certain sports run for certain periods of time. Playing a part in a play at school demands regular rehearsals and study time. An intense project at work requires overtime. The house is being remodeled. There is an ongoing medical issue. The car breaks down.
When a family is in the midst of a busy time, it’s a good idea to keep this season as short as possible. If you have ongoing activities like homework and music lessons, when opportunities for additional activities come along, choose ones that have a start and end time. Families need the down time between busy seasons to rest and refresh and remember what is most important. Living in continual busyness brings stress into family life. It can be managed in shorter spurts but God never intended stress to be the norm. Stress was designed for emergencies … to flee danger.
Consider this …
“Busyness is not an indication of effectiveness, but rather a product of our own vanity and laziness … on the one hand, we keep ourselves busy because we want to believe we are important. The incredible hours, the crowded schedule and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself-and to all who will notice-that I am important. On the other hand, our busyness is often the result of allowing others to dictate our agendas.” ~Rob Redman, “Worship Leader Magazine”
The ages and personalities of your children are also a factor.
Some children thrive on being active. They may have a kinesthetic learning style and need to be physcially moving. Some children love mental stimulation and soak in everything around them. Some families naturally have a lot of laughter and noise. But others function best with structure and quiet voices and minimal outside activity and an overall slower pace.
Little ones can’t handle a fast pace. They don’t know what to do with emotions like frustration and confusion. I hate to see little ones being dragged from place to place at the pleasure and pace of their parents. No interaction, just treated as a necessary interruption in the schedule. On the other hand, I love to see parents with little ones in the same places yet exhibiting unhurried, easy conversation, eye contact, engaged. As kids get older, the pace usually increases no matter what the personalities are. More is required of everyone.
Don’t look at other families to set the pace for your family. Look at your family. Is there a sense of general well-being in your family, of eager anticipation of the days? Or is everyone tired and cranky most of the time? Is there a frantic sense of hurry most of the time? Ann VosKamp says that hurry hurts the kids.
Financial resources can dictate the types and number of activities children can be involved in.
Many families are struggling financially in today’s economy. This is an added layer of stress for parents who might be used to being able to provide every opportunity for their children. Children don’t need to participate every opportunity. They only need to have their physical, emotional and spiritual needs met. There are many things you can do to build strong, healthy families without going into debt and going without unnecessarily. Take the time to stop and think. There are options. Your family doesn’t have to look like other families.
Allow time for kids to be kids … skipping rocks, watching clouds, playing with pets, making forts in the living room, playing outside, riding bikes. All of their time shouldn’t be managed and timed out from morning until bedtime. There should be moments to pause and let the quiet in.
I will invite our children to come move into an interior space
that lives with God. ~Ann VosKamp
Parents, are you the ones who might need to adjust? Just sayin’ …
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…” ~ Psalm 46:10
You will love this from Ann VosKamp’s blog: 10 Helps for Really Busy Moms (includes a free printable download!)
You might also enjoy this post from 2009: Fall Screams Busy
Our schedules don’t just happen to us. We either allow others to dictate them or we set and control them. I’m praying for strong, healthy families this fall! Would love to hear from you.
Candy blogs: This year has been a different year for me as a mother. Another season of learning to let go. I often wonder how far a mother’s heart can be stretched but there always seems to be enough there to stretch as far as it needs to go. It never diminishes but continues to open up new places to fill with love.
“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what (the shepherds) said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:17-19
Like Mary, all mothers have experiences and moments with, about and through their children. And, like Mary, they are all considered to be amazing. When my children were young, most of my moments were spent in physical care and interaction. I fed and dresssed them, brushed their teeth, washed their clothes, applied Band-aids, made sure they had their vaccinations, gave them medicine when they were sick, provided a safe and comfortable home. These are normal mother experiences.
But there are other moments in a mother’s life that can only be known in her own heart. The feelings of deep connection when holding a sleeping child, the reaching for them when their arms reach up for you, the fierce desire to protect when your child has been wronged or hurt, the sound of laughter, the satisfaction of a family meal enjoyed, the delight of the first gift from your child, the breathtaking joy of all the “firsts”, the teaching times (tying shoes, riding a bike, cleaning the bathroom, driving a car), the shock and awe of discovering who they are becoming. And you are unashamedly proud of their beauty, gifts and talents and accomplishments. A mother’s heart is always full of remembering.
The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. Honore de Balzac, author
Your heart is always vulnerable to the opinions of others, thoughtless words, second guessing yourself, being misunderstood, going unnoticed. But in the end, none of that really matters. A mother’s heart will always ponder the undefineable, the unspeakable.
Making a decision to have a child–it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. Elizabeth Stone
Mothers, let’s celebrate the mysterious joys of being a mother on Sunday. Take the time to remember and ponder your motherhood moments. Step outside the daily grind and spend time with your mommy soul. You are worth celebrating. What you are doing is of the utmost importance. There is nothing more important.
The Lord gave me this verse when my first child was born 30 years ago. It let me know as a new mom that God had His arms around me. And He is still right there with me today, during this new season of stretching.
“He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young.”
May we all sense anew God’s gentle leading of our mother hearts. I would love to hear your mommy moments.
For those reading from other places:
My daughter recently celebrated her 26th birthday! So today I want to celebrate mothers and daughters! There is nothing in life like the mother-daughter relationship. A mother teaches her daughter to be a woman. She passes on the joy of family, of relationships, of being a woman and making a purposeful mark on the world. Every woman is a daughter.
“The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new.” ~Rajneesh
A STRONG LEGACY
“Of all the haunting moments of motherhood, few rank with hearing your own words come out of your daughter’s mouth.” ~Victoria Secunda
I often hear Abbey saying my silly words: “whatserschnauzer” or “oh, my stars!” You have your own list of “mom sayings”. We do want to leave a true legacy for future generations, not just the silly words or phrases we often say. The definition of legacy is something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past.
A local funeral home used to run this commercial on the radio:
“Memories are a way of holding on to the things you love, the things you are, and the things you never want to lose. Remembering a summer rose in December, or the laughter of a child. The flicker in your eyes when you see an old photo. Memories of family and friends are our own books – the stories that celebrate the wonder that is life. EVERY LIFE LEAVES A LEGACY.”
What kind of legacy will we leave? One way to leave a meaningful legacy is to keep remembrances of the milestones in our lives. In Exodus 16:32 Moses said, “This is God’s command: ‘Keep a two-quart jar of it, an omer, for future generations so they can see the bread that I fed you in the wilderness after I brought you out of Egypt.'” (manna)
I have a little velvet drawstring bag that belonged to my great Grandmother. I specifically asked for it when she passed away. Inside are little trinkets from her childhood, meaningless when they were new but priceless to me generations later. I had my sister in law make two bags just like it … one for me and one for Abbey. At Abbey’s bridal shower last year I gave a talk about the faith and strength of the women who came before her in our family and gave Abbey her own “omer bag.” I put a couple of trinkets in it to get her started. She will have a lifetime to decide what to put in it. The second bag was for me. It will be part of my legacy to my daughter and her daughters and their daughters.
So after all this legacy-building, we eventually send them off into the world to be those happy, healthy, confident, giving PEOPLE we dreamed for them to be. But they can’t just remember where they came from, they have to know where they’re going.
“We mothers are learning to mark our mothering success by our daughters’ lengthening flight.” ~ Letty Cottin Pogrebin
I also want to give my daughter a good start on her “heartsong.” I love this word/phrase! What is a heartsong? Some might call it a mission or purpose. But Mattie Stepanek more accurately used the term your heartsong. Mattie was the young boy who many of us came to know on The Oprah Show before he died in 2004. One day, Mattie was talking to his mom and he had on a sweatshirt with a music maker sewn inside. As he leaned across the table, it activated and a melody came out. He said, “Mommy, listen! That’s my heartsong!” He later defined a heartsong as, “what we are called to offer others … what we hope to be remembered for.”
Your heartsong gets you through the tough times. If you are overwhelmed or tired, it gives you confidence, and makes you act. Abbey, I hope your heartsong reminds you of the confident, joyful being God created you to be. And I hope it reminds all of us to be inspired by our own lives and heartsongs … enough to inspire others, and especially our daughters. Our legacy and heartsong have everything to do with theirs.
“Do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and your children’s children.” Deut. 4:9
“Future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to generations yet unborn— for he has done it.” Psalm 22: 30b-31
I love this article by Barbara Rainey on Family Life Today! (I would copy it here but don’t want to violate copyright laws. So please follow the link to read the article.) I get a daily email about marriage from Family Life and they are very encouraging.
My ears are burning from listening to women talk about their husbands and families. Since when is it all about the children? I was taught that a married woman’s priorities should be 1-2-3 God, husband and then children. Most Christian women will say they believe this but their lives tell a different story.
When we first fall in love and marry, it’s all about our man. Vows, dreams, spending time, conversation, being close … we start building a life together. Then children come along. So often I watch women allow their children to consume their identities. They function in mommy mode and forget about wife mode. And they expect their husbands to understand and be satisfied with the arrangement. No babysitters because something might happen, calling home during a night out to check on things, no overnights away, treating their husbands like babysitters instead of parents, endless children’s activities without scheduled “couple” time, etc. Over time, these things take a toll and can kill a marriage. It’s called neglect.
Our children need to see us loving each other in tangible ways. They need to watch a good marriage being modeled for them. Our sons and daughters learn how to treat their future spouses by watching how we do it. And, let’s face it, our kids need a break from us, too! The purpose of parenting is to teach and train them to become independent adults. This doesn’t start when they graduate from high school. It’s dozens of daily decisions and lettings go.
Save some of your energy for your husband; he is your number two priority. He can make you feel beautiful and sexy. He can make you feel safe and secure. He can make you feel cherished and adored. And he wants to if you can spare the time. Treated with respect and care, he will do all these things for you. Your children cannot. When they are grown and gone, it will be the two of you again. Having a healthy marriage when the empty nest comes takes intentional nurturing.
So our todays reflect what our tomorrows will be. Today does matter. Love on your man!
All the chit chat on email and the social networks seems to be about gearing up for the busy Fall. The sense I’m getting is that this time of year is met with some dread. The Fall does bring more of a regular routine no matter what season of life you’re in. But my heart’s cry is that we would live intentionally during busy seasons and not let activities control our families. Since we all know ahead of time that the Fall is extra busy, we would benefit from pre-planning rather than letting life hit us with no plan in place.
Start with prioritizing
Decide what the “big rocks” are in your family
o The things you won’t compromise on like play/down/quiet time, meal time, family worship, homework, hobbies, work requirements, maintenance of your home, conversation, solitude, SLEEP
After you know what MUST go into the family’s schedule, decide which additional activities can be added without compromise.
o There are many good things for our families to participate in. But an intentional parent thinks first about the impact on the family. It isn’t reasonable to think that we can allow every activity in which we want to be involved into the family schedule. Spread things out as much as possible; pick and choose. Get everyone involved in the decision-making. This helps train our children to learn to set their own priorities.
o Stress kills; manage the family schedule to minimize stress. A family with too many activities going at once is a stressed out family. We get irritable, grumpy, angry with each other. Many times we choose to keep ourselves busy to avoid dealing with the things God is trying to speak to us about.
o Learn to appreciate silence and solitude so you can think more clearly and refresh and restore. This is a generation of entertainment addiction. Do some free stuff! Unplug! Picnic, swim in the river, watch a sunset, play with your pet, reflect on your blessings, look at photo albums together, talk about the past and the future, have actual conversations. Big payoff.
- Record all known events, deadlines & appointments
o Make this calendar the official one; all others must be sync’ed with this one, not the other way around.
- Keep it updated and check it at strategic times during the week. Check it every evening and especially check it at the end of the week so you can be prepared for the following week.
- Check it before committing to anything new
- Make a command center in a central location in your home that is accessible to everyone. Here is a great post from a blog I follow about how to set up a command center.
There is so much more to say but this will get us started. My heart says especially to the younger ones … stop and think: make home a winsome, inviting, comforting place to be for you and your family. Do it your way, but I encourage you to have an enjoyable yet intentional Fall season.