Being a stay-at-home mom of four toddlers/babies is not an "easy" thing to do. But if I'm being completely honest, it's really not as hard as people think. Am I tired a lot? Yes. Are there days that I just can't wait for them to go to bed so I can take a deep breath and be able to go the bathroom without being interrupted? Absolutely. But I really do love my life and all it's craziness.
The key thing people need to understand is, just because I am a stay-at-home mom does not mean my kids are my priority (I'm sure some of you just gasped). Do I love my kids and adore them? Of course! But that does not mean they are at the top of my list, nor does that mean they consume my entire day. Confused? Let me break it down...
- God. He is and always will be my priority. He is to thank for all the blessings in my life and for the peace I obtain through Him on a daily basis. He alone gets me through the day, so of course I put Him at the top which also means, He is first in my day. I basically make my schedule around my first-thing-in-the-morning devotional time. I get up (yes, even on the weekends) before the rest of my family to have some quiet time with God. Not only do I start my day on a positive note, but I've accepted the challenge to ask Him every day what His will for my life is that day. Not to think about yesterday or tomorrow, but focus on how I can be used that day. So refreshing and rewarding.. And I can guarantee you that if you put Him first, your day and everything you do in that day will automatically be that much better.
- Spouse. My favorite human being on this earth is my husband. He is next in line. Although he is crazy busy with work and grad school, I feel as though I have missed the mark if I don't make time for him in the morning and at nights when he is home. Even something as small as making coffee and breakfast for him before he leaves for work shows that he is important to me. I didn't do this for a while and felt completely convicted that I would make three meals a day for our kids, but expect him to get his own food in the morning so I could get more rest. Um, really Ali? Not cool. Point is: sacrificing that extra 30 minutes of sleep in order to show him that I appreciate everything he does is extremely important and worth it. Aside from just showing him that I love him, it's important to spend time talking with one another. Whether it's first thing in the morning, a few phone calls throughout the day or ten minutes before bed, take time to ask about his/her day and how he/she is... Really listen and engage... And whatever you do.. Don't make it about you! Lastly, don't make excuses on not being intimate. You NEED that intimacy with your spouse. If you "don't have time," MAKE TIME. If you're "too tired," drink coffee at 9pm. Doesn't matter what you have to do, just do it. The end.
- Kiddos. I absolutely treasure my children. They are gifts and I can't imagine life without them. But it's really easy to forget to show them that. As an adult, we think that making meals, taking them to soccer and changing their diapers are ways that show we love them, but they don't think like that. What means the world to them and just puts a huge smile on their face? You on the ground acting like a tiger that's going to get them... or a silly puppy that likes wearing tiaras. Go to their world. Play their games. Does it have to be all day? Nope. But dedicate even 30 minutes of your day to do what they want to do. I'm not saying take them to the park for 30 minutes while you chat with a friend (while that's not a bad thing, they need the interaction with YOU). Just be engaged. Have fun with them! They're a hoot if you let them be...
- You. Yes you. Especially if you are married and/or have kids, you need to make sure you are the "best you" both physically and mentally. If one of those goes, it may affect other areas of your life. So what does "you time" look like? Working out. Reading a book. Taking a walk. Doing a puzzle. Writing. Something that improves your overall health, whether physically or mentally.. (Ladies, trust when I say that I love getting my hair and nails done, but that has nothing to do with your health. Are those nice things to do every once in awhile? Yes. Do I think that's utilizing your money and time to the best of your ability? Um... no.) Remember, "you time" is supposed to improve you so you can be a great support system to someone else. Sharpen your mind. Strengthen your heart. IF you have even more time, do something productive that lifts your spirit... Scrapbook with your aunt. Call an old friend. Take a lonely neighbor to coffee. Make a meal for a new mom. These are things that make you feel good and often are beneficial to others. While it may not seem like these benefit you emotionally, they do. Serving others tends to trump serving yourself... (e.g. watching "Dancing with the Stars".. Although you best believe it is so on my DVR right now for when I have time!!!!). Overall theme: do things for you that will benefit you and/or someone else in the long run, not give you temporary fulfillment.
- Everything Else. Does this category necessarily fall after "You?" No. Only you can decide how to prioritize your life. I think volunteering, being involved in your church or kids' school, are all good things and sometimes take the place of you working on your baby books, painting the house or decorating your house for the fall. But I would encourage you to always be mindful of how much you have on your plate. Are you taking on too much? Are you sacrificing time with your family? Is your health being affected? If so, let something go. It's better to do five things 100% then ten things at 50%. If you do have to let something go, talk with your spouse.. pray... Decide together what you should be doing with your time in this season. You may have to do this five times a year, but you won't regret keeping your priorities in check.
Hopefully you get my point. I am busy. That will probably never change. But my busy day is full of things that not only bring joy to my life, but they bring joy to others. Seek God on who He has called you to be and start with that, then work your way down the list. Take it day by day. You will see fruit from cutting out the temporal and focusing on the eternal. Trust me.