Monday, September 24, 2007

A Stay-At-Home Mom Never Actually Stays Home!

You know how it is - you need to go to playgroup, the doctor's appointment, soccer practice, piano lessons, Wednesday night church, play rehearsal, park group, gymnastics, the grocery store, the dry cleaners, the library, Scouts, and on and on and on....

Whoever came up with the name "stay-at-home mom" obviously wasn't one!

Our society is a society made up of busy people. Everyone feels the pressure to have a full calendar; to keep themselves (and their children!) occupied. It's very often how we measure the value of a person these days. The busier you are, the more important you must be.

I think this is a trap that mothers especially can fall into. Mothers, especially those who do not have outside-the-home careers, very often find their sense of worth in their children. The more accomplished our children are, the better mother we must be, right?

Honestly, how many of us can say that when we hear another mother bragging on her kid (Johnny just won the science fair! Suzie took 1st place at the gymnastics meet! Mikey hit the winning home run! Jane got the lead part in The Nutcracker!) that we don't feel as if we aren't doing enough? That our children need to somehow be doing more?

This feeling of getting our worth through what we do, rather than who we are, is addressed in "The Overload Syndrome." I think we need to recognize two things - that God values us for who we are (His children) not what we do and, secondly, that God created both activity and rest and considers both to be good.

So how, then do we know where to draw the limits? Here are some ideas from Dr. Swenson:

  1. Be active in self-examination and intentional in correction. Remember that nobody is truly locked into anything. You must re-establish control of your life and schedule. Just as a tree needs to be pruned to have the biggest yield, so our activities need to constantly be reviewed and some things may need to be pruned from our life in order for their to be fruit in our life.
  2. Prioritize - get your priorities from the Word of God. Seek His kingdom first and everything else comes after that. Remember that people are more important than things.
  3. Accept that sometimes you must say no to good things. It's easy to say no to bad things, but it's hard to say no to things you enjoy. Now, this is not an excuse for non-involvement or laziness. Rather it's a tool for learning to allow God to direct our lives and living by the priorities you set. You must learn to preserve your energy for the things that really are important to you.
  4. Do less, not more - But choose to do the right things. Assess all activities for spiritual authenticity - is this really what you want to do (as opposed to feeling like you have to do)? Is this what God wants you to do?
  5. Create space in your schedule. It's not healthy to be jam-packed.
  6. Restore the practice of Sabbath rest. Use the Sabbath to both rest from busy-ness and to remember God's great deeds.
  7. Allow yourself time to lie fallow. Farmers often allow fields to lie fallow in order to give the soil time to regenerate and heal. In the same way, I think we often need a sabbatical of sorts wherein we step back from what we do and just BE. Be with God. Be who God created. Be quiet.
  8. Remember that it is God who gets things done. If we are faithful to do what He has called us to do, more will be accomplished than we could ever imagine. But we must be available to hear His voice - something we can't do if we are so busy with our own priorities.

Over the course of the next few days I will be seriously examining my life. I've already begun some of this process - I stepped down from teaching kids at church, Hubby and I have resigned leadership of our small group, I resigned from some of my duties with our homeschool support group.

I look forward to finding a more restful, Spirit-led life.


ValleyGirl said...

I'm definitely a stay-at-home mom in the truest sense of the word! I try to organize myself so that I only need to make one trip into town a week. But if we had shopping malls and whatnot close by, I'd likely be different.

You're right though. So many times I'm a little embarrassed that my kids aren't in skating lessons, piano lessons, and whatever else. But then I remember an article I read a while back though that pointed out kids were happier 30 years ago and more content with what they had before parents started enrolling them in all sorts of activities to 'keep them out of trouble.'

Obviously, there's value in some extracurricular education, but that can also obviously be overdone. I desperately do NOT want to turn into a parent who's a slave to her children's routine. And out here where I'd have to drive them to everything, that's an even bigger concern of mine.


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