Where has the day gone?
It’s already noon and dirty dishes sit in the sink waiting to be washed, the laundry waits to be folded, and toys cover the floor. Thinking back you reflect on how fussy the baby has been lately, that challenging discussion you had to have with your teenager, or the important but unexpected phone call.
If this was a one time thing you may have been able to handle it a little differently, but it isn’t. Day after day you find yourself asking yourself this same question and you wonder when you will ever be able to catch up. The discouragement starts to set in and you start to feel more and more like a failure.
While I could tell you that you are not a failure, which you are not, you may smile weakly offering the state of your home as ample evidence to prove that you are. At least that’s what I would do when someone else would offer me the same sentiment as I stood surrounded by my own inability to handle life. So, instead of just telling you that you are not a failure, I want to help you see that for yourself so that you can stop that lie of a story dead in its tracks.
This may seem counterintuitive, but the first thing that you need to do is to take a moment to pause and think back on the things that you have accomplished today. Your role as a mom goes far beyond the cleanliness of the home, but it can be challenging because the results aren’t always as blatantly evident.
Start with those things that you can see, or that were a bit more physically apparent, and list them out on paper or in your head. On paper it is nice if you are a list person, because then you can put a check mark beside each item which is very satisfying. These could be things like how many times you have changed a diaper, prepared a meal, swept the floor, etc. Then write down the things that weren’t as physically apparent with the action and intended result. For example: Unexpected call = developed relationship; Fussy baby = the needs of a child were met; Difficult conversation with teen = Reinforced rules which promote safety, better relationship due to increased understanding, etc.
Go through your list and remind yourself of the value of their importance. Are they in line with your purpose as a mom, wife, friend, etc? Determine if the task was truly necessary. If it was truly necessary, did it need to happen right when it did or could it have been put off for a better time?
In running a business, one of the things I have to keep in mind is my boundaries between my business and my family life. I had to schedule a business call. Our schedules were tight and I was excited to talk with her. Typically, I don’t work on my business on the weekend, but I thought an exception in this case wouldn’t hurt. When the day came, I knew that I was going to be squeezing this call in between the activities of a busy day. At the end of the call, I felt bad – like I had taken away time from my family. In retrospect, I realized that I could have probably waited for a better time during the week. This was a case of overstepped boundaries as I allowed my business to take a higher priority over my family when it’s proper place was after my family.
Don’t be afraid to refer to your priorities when establishing proper boundaries.
Doing so will help you in these moments of uncertainty, and help you see that the work you did was or was not productive. If taking care of your family is one of your priorities, reassure yourself of that in the moment of uncertainty. Remind yourself of the future impact that your actions will have. A changed diaper keeps the baby’s bum rash free. A conversation with a child instills trust and confidence in you as the parent and instills in them lessons for life. A decision to take a short nap gives you more energy to continue on with your day with a happy attitude toward your children. So often, as mothers, we are so focused on the task at hand that we forget to think about how it fits into the bigger picture.
Now, I know you still have a to do list a mile long. Know that it’s never too late to start again and continue forward. If you still feel like the morning was somewhat unordered, choose to learn from that decision instead of brooding on the time that was “wasted.” Be encouraged that our God is a God of mercy and that He can still use that time for His good.
As you start again, it’s time to take a look at your to do list. If you don’t have a to do list, pull out a sheet of scrap paper and do a quick brainstorm. Forget about making it look pretty or organized and just write out anything and everything that comes to mind.
You are going to pick two things to focus on for the rest of the afternoon.
Consider the urgency of the task and where it falls within your priorities. You may find yourself looking at a task that you have been avoiding. If it makes sense, make that your first thing to focus on. You will feel so much better once it is out of the way or at least started.
Once you have completed your two tasks for the afternoon, you may find that you have some time left before you need to get dinner started. Here is where you will make another decision. You can either choose to pick another task to do off of your list, or you can choose to allow yourself time to relax, read a book to a child, have a tea party with the kiddos, work on a hobby, or a chance to sit in the moment taking in what is going on around you.
Doesn’t that feel better? Your day is not wasted when it is ordered rightly – no matter what unexpected things come up. Focus on what God has called you to do in this day and current season of your life. Put Him first, and ask Him to guide you as you discern what a life ordered rightly looks like for you and your family.