I’ll be honest. When I was a mom facing all the rigors of working full-time outside the home, I was a bit naïve about what it would take to keep me thriving when I finally had the chance to stay at home. You could say I’ve been schooled over the last 6 years of stay at home – and now homeschool – life. I’d love to share with you some of the sanity savers I’ve learned mostly the hard way. Hopefully they can be of value to you in your own journey. (No time to read? Watch a video version here.)
I already knew that I needed God’s word and time with Him to thrive as a mom, but I failed to understand that were whole parts of my God-given personhood I had laid down on the altar of productivity. The gifts and interests that stir us are not reserved for the few that have it all “done”. They are life-giving pursuits for the day to day. This is from Part 1 where we chatted about what it means to daringly delight from the trenches of motherhood.
But this whole idea of delight, self-care and soul care is easier said than done, isn’t it? (I’m with you, sister.)
So before I share 4 tips for reclaiming delight in your day to day, let’s reconsider why this idea of delight and self-care matters at all.
Put simply, our delight was authored in the heart of God when He dreamed us up and took pleasure in who we are, far before our accomplishments (or lack thereof) could screw it up.
Even when no one else is looking, God delights in you. You don’t have to conquer your to-do list or save the world to get His attention. His eyes are on you and He loves you in all your beauty, and yes, even quirks. Your obsession with colors, God loves that about you. The way you can’t watch a Hallmark commercial without crying, the way your laughter fills a room, the way you can really throw a party, or have an innate ability to bring order into a room – He loves that. Zephaniah 3:17 says that God delights in us and rejoices over us with singing. And guess what? He made us in His image. We are born to delight even as our good, good Father delights in us. Even as Christ is our satisfying portion, God came to give us “life and life to the full.” (John 10:10) His life is eternal, but it’s also vast and uncontainable, meaning as Christ-followers, every piece of the fabric of our lives is an invitation to abundant life, to worship and joy.
Mom guilt debunked. Check. Now, let’s do this. 😊
4 Tips for Meaningful & Intentional Self-Care
Half way up the stairs, I wondered if maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. My toddler straddled one hip. A laundry basket was hoisted on the other. Those were long, weary days. It was my own choice to trade a corporate job with applause to spare for the glories of full-time motherhood, but I felt like I was sinking.
I have a confession. I used to be afraid of the dark. I’m not talking about as a 6-year-old. As a young teenager, I was petrified, but I was usually too ashamed to admit it.
Around the age of 18, I’d outgrown a lot of that, but when alone at home, I’d unexpectedly be filled with terror that someone with ill intent was in our house. I could quote all the scriptures. “God has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” “Perfect love casts out fear.”
My fears didn’t want to budge.
You know the kind of day. Let’s knock out some projects and decimate the to-do list that’s been mocking us for, well, too long. I crossed off several tasks, but the dreaded job could no longer wait. My kids had been looking for clean clothes. Meanwhile four overflowing baskets of clean laundry were scattered around my room, not to mention the entire additional basket of unsorted, unmatched socks. They had been collecting there for weeks. (It turns out that its less than ideal to have empty sock drawers in the brunt of winter.)
Throughout the next hour of fiercely folding and putting away laundry, I ran up and down the stairs 5 times tending to the “urgent” needs of my 8 and 5 year old – namely settling disputes and admiring the newest jump rope trick or nature find. I was ready to be done, but still had the sock monster to tame when my 8 year old daughter called up with a whining tone, “Mom!” Sauntering to the top of the stairs feeling slightly annoyed, I resolved to breathe and stay calm.
“I was playing outside and accidentally hit my nose with the hard part of the jump rope! It hurts!”
I resorted to a controlled, instructive tone. “Give it a few minutes and you’ll be good.”
“Just rub it.”
“Then it will hurt more…”
My great ideas didn’t seem to be working.
“Put some ice on it.”
“Then I’ll get more cold.”
“What would you like for me to do?”
As she let out a reserved sigh, searching my countenance for safety, I now noticed a longing look in her eyes.
My choice was suddenly clear. Another deep breath.
“Do you want me to come give you a hug and a kiss?”
Recognizing the sincerity in my voice and eyes, she nodded her head “yes.” I came down, embraced her and kissed her nose. In my embrace, tension left her body and connection was affirmed. She sighed with relief and was back to her games moments later.
In the midst of her growing maturity, sometimes I feel like she doesn’t need me as much. But if I listen closely, I see that she still needs my hugs, my kisses, my reassurance, cuddle time, and talk time. It may look different, but she has needs that won’t be met except by the mysterious nurturing that God put in me to give to her. It’s a learning curve for sure, but I’m learning that its worth my effort to recognize these cues and trust the Holy Spirit to show me how to best meet them. It’s so easy to get busy with “life” and miss these cues, especially as they grow and perhaps those cues look different than when they were younger.
The longer I’m a parent, the more I realize that its really not the grand things our kids are looking for. Often its the very small things that – with some intentionality and grace – we can start to take small steps that will cultivate deep connections with our kids that we’ll reap the rewards of for years to come.
I’d love to hear about your family. How can you tell when your kids are needing your attention? What are your favorite ways to connect?
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