Are You A Self-Centered Mom?

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Are You a Self-Centered Mom?

So, a couple weeks ago, I kind of haphazardly read a post that asked if parents were narcissistic or self-centered. I scanned the main points and found myself nodding over many of them. But, I’d really like to address the issue in my own words and in my own way, because I definitely see it as a problem but don’t want to go pointing fingers.

I Battle Selfishness

Yes, I can be selfish. In fact, isn’t that the core of our very sin nature, to be selfish? It’s a battle I fight every single day and it’s a large part of myself that I really dislike. I don’t want to be selfish, but I it’s an uphill battle I combat constantly. And that’s the difference between being selfish and being self-centered.

It’s not really a question of whether we are selfish or not. Because we are. The question is, are we doing anything about it? Are we justifying our selfish behavior because of how hard we work or how much we deserve a break?

Oh I believe in having space for yourself. I think every mother needs it. Not because we “deserve” it, but we simply need it.  It’s hogwash to believe a mother cares for or loves her children less because she needs space to breathe and refresh regularly. We all need to be filled up again. But let’s set that aside and take a peek into the everyday life of a mom–me.

Keep in mind, I am a mom who has good intentions, but I fail daily. And sometimes I do not believe I try as hard as I could to combat some of the temptations I face (i.e. social media, laziness, etc).

A Daily Rundown of Some Ways I Am Selfish

  •  I start my mornings late–out of bed by around 8am. And I am not joking when I say it takes me about 2 hours to fully wake up in the morning. I don’t do anything before I have a cup of coffee — usually. <—-{Self-centered act number one} When someone asks for something before or during my first cup of coffee, I usually delay them.
  • While my kids do their morning chores, I work on the computer. I have felt nudges that this probably isn’t the best time for computer work because my children need to see me working alongside them in household duties. That’s not to say that my work on the computer isn’t important (it pays for homeschool supplies, socks, underwear, etc), but they don’t see through that lens. Sometimes I think, “Well, I’m the mom and I don’t need to explain myself to them.” But, the truth is, I do. One day these children won’t be children anymore and I may have a lot of explaining to do! What better accountability do we have than our children?
  • Sometimes, when my children are squabbling, rather than taking the time to handle the conflict properly, I simply shout, “You need to stop fighting!”, which of course doesn’t solve anything. That’s a lazy, pitiful way to handle a sibling relationship that is strained over something as simple as a stolen toy or being bossed around. While the issue may be simple, a consistently strained relationship continues to become complicated.
  • At night, I rush my kids through their evening routine to get them to bed, because I am just so spent. I don’t read aloud in the evenings as much as I want. I don’t take the time to just be with them. It’s, “Move, move, move! PJ’s on, teeth brushed, let’s get this show on the road!”
  • I stay up late so I can wind down. Which is why I wake up late each morning.

Now, this is not a pity-party nor is it a misery-loves-company way of addressing the issue. This is a real life look into the life of a mom battling a sin nature she can never hope to overcome on her own. It’s not a justification, and it’s not an invitation. It’s a revelation. We all have selfishness in us. But at what point will it turn to self-centeredness, which is a more consuming problem?

Being self-centered goes to a new level of being selfish. It puts us in the center of everything and if something doesn’t work in our favor, we make it so it does. Having selfishness and being self-centered are different and we must work to constantly battle our selfish desires or we will find ourselves as self-centered moms.

When we realize we all have selfishness stuck inside us (and, unfortunately, always will), we can run to the One who can redeem us and our mistakes. He molds our hearts and purges the junk. But when we don’t recognize we need Him and go to Him for help, our selfishness grows uglier and becomes harder to combat.  Because as my friend so eloquently describes:

What is inherently missing in the self help sort of approach to writing parenting articles is that it doesn’t get at the root of our most basic issue. It does not answer the fundamental question of “What do I do with my sin?” Because honestly, most of the time it isn’t that I don’t know how to spend quality time with my children; it’s that other things are more important.

Let’s just be honest.

And sometimes I downright resent the demands of my family and am perfectly content to give them my leftovers. What of that?

I am not saying I never enjoy my children or delight in serving them; but there is no point in reading and pinning an article that gives me ideas when what I really need is my sin issue dealt with. No expert can give me 3 quick steps to obliterating selfishness. Neither is there an eBook on miraculously changing my hard heartedness or removing self protection from my marriage bed.

That’s because only the Gospel can do that.

-When You’ve Messed Christian Parenting Up, Arabah Joy

 The issue isn’t about being or not being selfish, because we all have selfishness in us. The question remains, what are we doing {if anything} to combat it so it doesn’t grow?

5 Responses That Help Our Children

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5 Responses Help Your Children

Last week I wrote an article titled, 5 Responses That Hurt Our Children, and it was birthed out of recognizing my own harsh tones with my children.

It’s one thing to have a bad moment or even a bad day, but when we make a habit out of answering our children out of a place of frustration, anger, or annoyance, it will take it’s toll.

So, now that I’ve recognized I have this issue with my tone, I want to put a plan in place to help combat it. And I am totally talking to myself here so if you get anything out of this, bonus! I like to treat my blog as kind of my own little therapy session.

There is always one thing I think about that I know I need to do more. So we’ll start with that one.

1. Smile.

I don’t not smile because I’m grumpy (usually). I am just in “work” and “busy” mode and honestly don’t think about it. My natural disposition isn’t to always be “happy” so to speak. It’s just that I’m terribly focused and it can come off looking grumpy, or at the very least just unhappy. One thing I really want to work on is smiling at my child before responding to a request. Obviously, not all situations are appropriate for smiles. Such as disciplining. Afterall, I do want my children to understand I am serious but that discipline. But, even after a correction, ending the issue with a smile can do wonders for a child.

2. Deep Breath Before Speaking.

It is common for me to speak before even taking a breath, thus not allowing my thoughts to formulate a wise response. It may even be a good idea to wait a whole minute or two before addressing an issue that can already be tense. Though it won’t be a quickly learned habit, training myself to “think before I speak” would certainly prove to be better than spitting out the first thing that comes to mind. Chances are I will eat my words and need to back pedal the issue.

3. Speak Calmly.

Even when I need to be firm with my child, I can still do that if I speak in a calm manner rather than raising my voice, or sounding annoyed. The goal here isn’t to placate the child, but to honor the child and show respect. Training our children doesn’t mean we disrespect them. They are still people. But respecting a child also doesn’t mean pacifying or giving in, either.

4. Check My Pitch.

OK, this may seem a little nit-picky to some, but there is an obvious difference in my tone (literally) when I change the pitch of my voice. I have somewhat of a deep, raspy voice. In fact, I commonly get asked if I’ve got a cold or am coming down with a cold. “Nope, that’s just me”, I reply. My voice can naturally sound agitated. So, when I ask something of my child or children, I want to pay attention to the pitch of my voice. Rather than using a very low, demanding-sounding voice, I want to use more of an encouraging but firm pitch. Just raise it up an octave to put a more positive spin on it.

5. Repeat Steps 1-4

And often!

I realize some of this may seem trite, but I don’t really think it is. But I cannot work my mouth without purging the ugliness in my heart, too. How do I view my children? Do I see them as blessings or burdens?

I think this is a very important question to ask ourselves and it’s vital to be brutally honest with ourselves.

My verse for 2015 is,

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

So, how can we get from wanting to change to actually changing? It begins with what we feed our own hearts and minds. Are we believing lies about ourselves or our children that is coming out in negative (and costly) ways? We simply need to slow down and be mindful of our thoughts and words. They are powerful.

Recommended Resource: A Gentle Answer: a 21-day practical devotional 

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5 Responses That Hurt Our Children

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5 Responses That Are Hurting Your Child

This past month I’ve been reflecting on who I am as a mother. I thought about what makes me tick, the bad habits I’ve developed, and tried to see what I may look like through the eyes of my children.

What I found was some hard and ugly truths I need to face about myself.  One thing God revealed to me was how I address my children when I speak to them; whether it’s to request, correct, direct, or instruct, my tone rarely has a positive air.

We are all susceptible to these behaviors and in the long run, they will hurt our relationship with our children.

5 Responses That Hurt Our Children

1. Confrontational

I realize when I need to handle a situation with a child or several children, I am very confrontational about it. I am not yelling, but my tone isn’t calm. Sometimes, it heats up whatever fire is already blazing rather than diffusing it.

When we approach our children this way, they learn to approach others this way as well.

2. Accusatory

When I need to address an issue of sibling disputes or lying or a chore left undone, I often come across accusatory. I may not outright say it in words, but my tone reflects it. Sometimes I call out a child without having all the facts.

3. Tense

Often, even when I am not exhibiting the other 4 harsh tones, I speak tensely. Not that there is any excuse, but I believe this is from all the built up stress and demands of life coming out. Again, it’s not my children’s fault, so I shouldn’t be taking it out on them. But the fact remains, my tone comes across tense more than it does calm.

It happens whether I am addressing my children’s actions or answering a question.

4. Demanding

When I ask something of my children, sometimes it’s in a very demanding tone. Now obviously there has to be some type of firmness in my tone to help my children understand I mean business, but there is a bit of a technique that goes with that and it’s not how I’ve been doing it.

Instead of saying, “Gabriella load the dishwasher!” in that demanding tone, I could say, “Gabriella, I need you to load the dishwasher, please.” in a calm tone and even smile, which also conveys this is a normal, everyday habit.

5. Annoyed

Yes, I even show annoyance all too often for children who have needs. Why? Because sometimes I am just not tuned in to my motherly duties and when my thoughts are interrupted by, “Mommy can I have some milk”, I answer annoyingly, “Yeeess”.

All of these attitudes have hurt some aspects of my relationship with my children. In addition, it has taught them to use these tones on each other. It’s quite frightening (and embarrassing) to see your children pick up your bad behavior and use it on one another.

The facial expressions I put off are often angry, tense, and annoyed as well. So, when I make a conscious effort to relax my tone, my face also relaxes.

Do you remember when you were a child and your mother would yell at you? Did you ever think she was scary? Yea…that’s not the image I want my children to remember me by.

I am thankful that God saw fit to point these issues out to me so that I can know how to pray and be intentional about how I speak to them – regardless of what the issue is.

How can we counteract this behavior? I wrote 5 Responses That Help Our Children to get you started.

Recommended Resource: A Gentle Answer: a 21-day practical devotional

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Adoption Transition

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Adoption Transition
I know I haven’t offered an update since our girls came home from Ghana. I think partly because there has been nothing really outrageous to report. And quite honestly, it has kind of shocked me.

Adoption Transition

We read through the books of experts and the stories of other adoptive families how hard things are when their children come home. We were prepared, as best we could, to take on those challenges. The first week was just blissful and all the children got along like best friends. In fact, even today, the children fight over playing with Margaret! Gabriella (12) and Margaret (11) are inseparable.

So, after a few weeks of settling in, we were kind of waiting for the fireworks to begin. We waited and waited. And, well, 5 months later we’re kind of still waiting.

There haven’t been any big explosions to speak of. The girls are adjusting beautifully and each month we uncover more of them; they release more of themselves to us…little by little.

Elvis, the director of the orphanage they came from, stayed with us last weekend and he said Margaret never used to talk. He was surprised to see her talking so much!

Elvis With Girls
Margaret is a very bright, very driven young woman. And I do mean woman. When we first met her in 2011, she was 8 years old and a little girl. When we went to pick her up this July 2014, she was growing into a young woman. It’s hard to believe — it’s almost like we brought home a different girl than we originally met, just because of how much her physical appearance had changed!

She has a gift for drawing.

Margaret's Drawing
Christina has an amazing, strong, beautiful singing voice! She loves to sing, but she’s not yet ready to hone those skills in voice lessons. I pray in time she will because she has a LOT of potential.

Christina is a bit more complex. We knew from our first impression of her that her adjustment would be more difficult, but it’s far from impossible. She is a very sensitive girl and a puzzle at times, but we are working through it a day at a time. She can often struggle with motivation — to do anything; whether it’s school work or learning to ride her bike this summer. Sometimes she tends to give up a little to easily, so she needs some extra encouragement.

I remember within the first six weeks, when Christina would struggle with an issue, she would automatically shut down (or as the experts call it, “take flight”). She wouldn’t talk to anyone, despite our prodding. So, I would do the talking. I would tell her that I understand she has gone through a big change, that she must be scared and miss her family back in Ghana. I then would tell her that I wanted to help her, but I couldn’t help if she didn’t tell me what she needed. I would squeeze her in a side hug, kiss her head, tell her I loved her and leave the room.

After about 10 or 15 minutes, she would come out and open up again. But she would never tell me what it was that was bothering her. After a few weeks of doing this routine, she started to talk to me and tell me what was bothering her. It could be anything from having a headache to not wanting to eat something in particular to not wanting to do a chore.

Here’s an example of such a scenario.

A few weeks ago I integrated Margaret into switching days on and off with Gabriella on hand-washing dishes. Which, in a family of 9, is a big job. So one would wash and one would dry. Because of this, I decided it best to give Margaret’s chore of sweeping the dining room to Christina. Ohhhh she didn’t like that at all and I couldn’t quite figure out why. We had suspicions that it could be because the job was seen as “Margaret’s”.

So, we explained the situation to Elvis while he was here and he said in the orphanage, they NEVER switched chores around. Everyone always had the same chore…even if they switched days, it still remained consistent. That change in the routine didn’t sit well with Christina’s security levels. So, the job went back to Margaret.

Two Common Issues in Children With Trauma

Any child, no matter how early they were adopted, has suffered loss and trauma. When a baby is taken from their birth mother, they automatically experience trauma that is associated with loss. There are all kinds of reasons why that I won’t get into here, but suffice it to say all adopted children suffer with loss and trauma to some degree.

As a result, common behavioral issues will arise that may not be what they seem, such as lying. We don’t deal with the majority of the issues many families face.

Lying

We do continue to deal with some issues such as lying. This was something that went on in the orphanage as well, as told to us from several sources who experienced working with our girls. We are unsure yet why, but knowing it was already a “norm” {strange as it sounds} is a bit comforting.

Bryan Post is an adoptee with a wonderful organization to help adoptive parents. I learned from him that all lying stems from fear, and if you think about it, it certainly makes sense. Why do people lie? They are afraid of something. For a child, it would be punishment. For an adoptive child, it could be fear of being sent back.

These issues are not unusual for children who have trauma in their life and I share these details with you in an effort to help those coming up behind me. Because I know how valuable first-hand experience is and if I can help even one other family in similar circumstances, wonderful.

Food Issues

Many adopted children deal with food issues for a number of reasons. Food hoarding, controlling, overeating, and other behaviors involving food stem from issues of trauma. We have had to deal with some minor food issues, but even after just 5 months, many of those issues have been resolved–at least for the moment.

One of our girls was quite an eater the first 4 months and given the fact that they were rather skinny, I {mostly} let them eat until they were full. After they gained some weight and grew an inch and a half each, their eating habits leveled out. I do believe one of the girls was wanting to be sure her belly stayed full for a while, but even so, since what she was eating was healthy foods with the vitamins and nutrients she needed, I allowed it.

God has taught me (and is teaching me) so much about, not just mothering, but a deeper compassion and understanding. He is teaching me to stop reacting and to think before I speak. Something spoken in the wrong tone or at the wrong time can cause further damage rather than healing. I don’t want to end up going backwards.

Today, I am learning how to care for their hair. I have been scouring the website Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care and plan to buy their book that just released in September. Which is an entirely different post! ;)

Chore Incentives for Children

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When Children Struggle to do Their Chores

Monday’s are often hectic around here as we scurry back into our routine after the weekend. Sometimes we are all overtired or just dragging our feet simply because we don’t want it to be Monday. Who can relate?

Yesterday was certainly one of those Mondays. I felt like a drill sergeant trying to get everyone back on track with their responsibilities. I started wondering what made it so difficult for them, knowing they do the same things regularly. Surely there was a better way to encourage my children to complete their lessons and chores without having to be constantly told.

So, I got to thinking. What motivates me? I mean, as an adult, the reward is being able to live in a somewhat neat and orderly home. It increases peace in our home and offers us space to breathe when there isn’t stuff all over the floors and surfaces. But when I was younger, those things didn’t drive me. But money or prizes certainly helped me move! Who doesn’t like to be motivated with some kind of incentive. Isn’t that why our husband’s often go to work? Even when they dislike their jobs? The reward of being paid (even if it is required to live) keeps them going.

Are Rewards for Chores a Good Idea?

There was a time I also found sense in hearing others say our children shouldn’t be rewarded for something that’s expected of them. But yesterday, it stopped making sense to me.

Because I thought, “Even God rewards His children for running the race. Even God blesses His children when they do what’s right…even though it’s expected of us.” Isn’t THE PRIZE what helps us keep going? So, why would we deny our children that same gift? The gift of a prize or incentive to continue running the race?

I mean, we can’t even get it right and yet we have eternity to look forward to. He tells us to press on toward the PRIZE.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. -Galatians 6:9

He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 1 Corinthians 3:8

What a perfect spiritual lesson built from real life!

As our children continue in their work, day after day, week after week, not only will they see the fruit of their hard work, but they will understand as they continue to press on, there is reward. When they are old enough to understand this as a spiritual parallel, it will make good sense to them.

So, I created a schedule for each of my children, with their particular responsibilities on them.

Children's Schedule

That way there is no question of what they need to do or when. It’s all right there in front of them. This alleviates me from becoming the drill sergeant and them from hearing me. :P

So, I shared my thoughts briefly on my Facebook page yesterday and a commenter shared a link that may interest some of you.

My Job Chart

The site is called My Job Chart and it’s to encourage children to learn work ethic, accountability, and money management. All very important skills for real life.

The best thing about it, besides how wonderfully organized and enticing it is, is it’s FREE.

Children can earn points from taking care of their responsibilities. Parents can convert those points into money AND it’s linked with Amazon so if a child has something they want, they can work toward it. There are also charities they can donate to. They use the Save Share Spend format. So, if that’s something that interests you, you can look into that. I may use that in addition to the paper charts so they don’t have to constantly be on the computer to check things off. Instead, they can do it at the end of the day.

The above chart I made I had laminated so the kids could cross off what they’ve accomplished with a dry erase marker, than clear it for the next day.

Chore Incentives

So, I’d say my mind is changing on offering an incentive for a job well done. The children will quickly and easily learn the consequences of doing poor work or excellent work because it will be evident in more than merely my disappointment. It will effect them more directly, too.

I don’t think it’s right or wrong to offer a reward or not. I think it really depends on each family. We are a large family, so we make large messes, and that can be overwhelming for a child. I make sure I pair up children to work on jobs together — especially big jobs. They learn teamwork and it helps get the job done faster. But it still can seem hard to get motivated with no end in sight.

Come on moms, you know we get just as discouraged and overwhelmed! It’s okay to show our children sympathy and tangible appreciation. :)

 

I modified this chart from Learn With Play at Home. You can download yours from there. :)

The Life of a Homeschool Mom of Many

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31 Days 2014
 

Day 1 – Celebrating 14 Years of Marriage

Day 2 – When Unexpected News Clouds the Day

Day 3 – The Day My Alarm Failed

Day 4 – Mommy Work Day

Day 5 – Saturdays

Day 6 – Sunday’s Are For Rest

Day 7 – Distract of the Dog

Day 8 – Terrible Tuesday

Day 9 & 10- Last Full Day

Day 11 & 12 – Family Workout Weekend

Day 13 – Chicken Breast Parmesan Bake

So, starting tomorrow (Wednesday, October 1), I will be sharing my raw life as a homeschooling mom of many for 31 days. My hope is to give people a realistic picture of what being a homeschool mom of many children really looks like.

Believe me when I say I have the ideal in my head, but reality doesn’t always play out that way. I have our schedule and our lesson plans but this isn’t just about homeschooling.

Homeschooling takes up a large (very large) chunk of my day. But I am also a work at home mom and I have to make time for my clients as well. If you don’t work at home, don’t let that discourage you from following along. I do not work full time hours. My working hours simply replace some of my own free time. I really enjoy what I do, so I don’t necessarily consider it “work”.

So, here is how I am going to set my posts up so they don’t feel all over the place.

I will do a few hour by hour posts throughout the month.

I am going to try and focus on a theme each day. However, if a theme fails to really present itself, I will just write about our day.

It will be a journal of sorts, and I will get personal into my own heart and struggles and write them publicly.

I will write in *almost* real time. What you read on a given day will be words from the day before. So I have not pre-written these posts for the month. I will write them as each day comes and goes.

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary, so tomorrow’s post will reflect what we did today as a family. I can tell you right now that I’ve canceled our lessons for the day in order to celebrate. :D

I will use my own photos as much as possible to offer a realistic picture rather than a stock image.

I will not worry about word count. Some posts will be longer than others and others may be short and sweet. They will ebb and flow with life within these 31 days.

You may find me sharing tips and recipes I use throughout the month as well. I honestly have no set plans or goals which is probably a huge no-no! Ha ha! I just want to write and be helpful where I can. But I will do my best to present the days in a way that will be helpful for you and easy to read.

October offers me a unique opportunity to share my experience at the Allume Conference–so I will be leaving my family for 4 days. Something I only do once a year.

So…here we go!

Oh and be sure to get your ticket for the Homemaking From Scratch conference coming up October 7th-9th. If you purchase your ticket before the conference dates, you’ll get over $200 of homemaking resources FREE. I will be speaking on Biblical Motherhood. Would love for you to join us! Click below for a full spread of topics, speakers, and the free resources.

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Me Time: Everyday Essentials

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After discussing the two extreme’s of “me time”, and what an effective time of solitude needs, I would like to discuss some everyday essentials for taking care of YOU.

It is very common for mom’s to naturally let themselves go as they care for their children. No doubt our hearts are in the right place! However, we need to caution ourselves to think through what we’re really sacrificing. Are we putting forth our best efforts by sacrificing our own, simple needs?

I used to [and sometimes still struggle] with caring for my basic needs without feeling guilty simply because what I was doing focused on me. I needed to learn that it’s not selfish to take care of myself! God wants us to care for ourselves (1 Cor. 6:19). If he doesn’t want us abusing ourselves, would he want us neglecting ourselves?  Some may vary on what they consider “needs”. So let’s begin with the basics.

  1. A regular shower. Let’s face it, when you have kids, a shower tends to become a luxury. Sometimes we can’t squeeze it in when we’d like. I’ve come to find that I feel my best when I’ve showered [go figure]. This is something we need to make time for. I would even go so far as to say to make time for it daily. Some like this commodity every other day, but there are more benefits than cleanliness alone.
  2. Get fully dressedFlylady makes an excellent point to why she highly suggests “getting dressed to shoes“. It is motivating–especially the shoes part. She highly recommends shoes that lace up because they are harder to take off and are snug on your feet. When I am wearing my shoes, I know I am in “work mode”. At the end of the night, when my shoes come off, [typically after the children are in bed], I instantly relax. If you don’t like to wear shoes in the house, buy a pair that are for the house only. Trust me on this. :)
  3. Style your hair and face. When you feel your best, you’ll do your best. Simple as that. You don’t have to wear make up. A simple wash will keep you feeling fresh. Brushing your teeth counts as well. Don’t feel guilty for taking 5-10 minutes to blow dry your hair if that’s how it looks best. Take care of yourself.
  4. Get with God daily. This is the most important need that we have. We need His strength, wisdom, and direction every single day. We cannot get that if we are not connecting with Him, through prayer and His word. We tend to hear this over and over again. There’s a reason. Make it a priority to get with God daily.
  5. Exercise. Yet another dreadful task we never want to take the time for. This one may require a bit more selflessness if you don’t like to exercise [like me…ahem]. A simple walk is sufficient. Something to get your blood moving and energy up a bit. It doesn’t have to be long; 5-15 minutes. If you can’t get out of the house, consider buying a workout DVD. You’d be amazed at what exercise can do for your energy and mentality.
  6. Eat!  I forgot to put in to eat! As a mother, I often forget this very important necessity! Take the time to eat.

These are simple, daily necessities that every mother needs. There is no reason we should feel guilty for doing these things. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can best care for others.

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What do you need to do that you are not doing because of guilt?

A Gentle Answer Now Available on Kindle

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A Gentle Answer Devotional.jpg
A Gentle Answer is now available for Kindle for just $2.99. You do not need a Kindle device, just the Kindle app.

This is a resource for mothers who need help keeping a gentle tone in the midst of frustrations. It offers insights that we often don’t think about on the fly. I hope that it will encourage you to pause and take a step back before choosing to respond to a child who’s having a difficult day, or react from having a difficult day of your own. It is easy to vent when frustrations are built. This book is meant to help moms study helpful scriptures in order to work from the inside out.

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Me Time: Be Intentional

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Last week I posted on Two “Me Time” Extremes.

The extremes were that some believe they are entitled to “me time” and plenty of it and often would get angry or frustrated when they couldn’t get it. The other extreme is that some are wholly against this “me time” and believe it to be nothing less than selfish.

Me Time: Be Intentional

I wan to dig in more to why I disagree with throwing out me time all together.

I used to believe that any time I did anything for myself, it was selfish. Everything from doing my hair (blow drying), to putting on make-up, to going out to coffee with a girlfriend. It made me feel guilty, as if my time should be invested somewhere else. So I would always throw my hair up, never add “life” (make up) to my overtired face, and turn down invitations to go out of the house. I fell into the trap that doing any of these things made me less than a sacrificial mother.

The result of doing this? I didn’t take care of myself well. I was constantly burned out (and you could tell). I was literally running on empty and had very little to give to my family. I rarely conversed with adults other than the few minutes before and after church, and my husband in the evenings. (Not that conversing with my husband is not fulfilling, because it is. He’s a great conversationalist and listens well)!

I have heard the argument that God will provide us with the time we need to rejuvenate and I totally agree with that. That’s why He created, and made into law, a day of rest, once a week. The Sabbath day was created for us (humanity) as “permission” to take a day off. (Mark 2:27)

The key is to make this time fruitful. We can take a day off and come back feeling the same way (or worse) then when we left if we’re not intentional about how we spend our time.

Identify Our Needs

We go through different seasons, even if it’s on a week to week basis, where we have need of different things. We might need time to talk with a girlfriend over some struggles we’ve dealt with or are dealing with (without family bashing, of course). We might need to go out for genuine FUN to just loosen up our uptight-selves! Perhaps we need extra time with God and just need to get away to pray and seek Him through His word. It may just be that we want to CLEAN while the house is empty. Honestly, even that can be refreshing because you are being productive with no interruptions. Sometimes the need for rest is not always physical. For me, it is often NOT physical. Whatever it is, identify what needs to be filled in order to refresh yourself to better serve.

Plan Accordingly

Based on discovering your need, plan carefully to fill it. If you need to spend more time in the Word and just bask with God, don’t accept an invitation to go out with a girlfriend that week. You will surely come back with an unmet need and not be refreshed for the coming week. That’s when the need for more “me time” comes in. Because our needs were not met. Take care to plan a time when your greatest need will be met that week.

Also, do not plan your time of solitude while the kids are with you and no one else can care for them, if you can help it. This can often end in frustrations because your time is not productive or interrupted. I don’t mean that to sound selfish, but the point is, once a week, you needtime to refresh. If the time was not planned well, it will do little good. And everyone is different–if it refreshes you to have time while the kids are still around, that is totally personal for you.  Maybe your time is productive spending it having FUN with your kids. You know your needs best.

Be Productive

Keep your mind focused on meeting your needs. Don’t get side-tracked into doing something else. If you want to spend time writing [because for me it’s a huge release], don’t waste your time social networking or commenting, etc. If you’re a blogger, you know exactly what I’m talking about! Use the time you have the way it was intended so your need is met and your “tank” is filled. (Or stress is released) The point is to stay focused on filling your need. Although this is a time of solitude, it is for your good and the good of your family, and the time needs to be disciplined in order for it to be effective for you.

Finally, after your time of solitude,

Prepare Yourself to Go Home

Don’t allow yourself to remain in the “me time” mentality. Once your time is up, pray, and prepare yourself to serve again. Too often we can remain in a state of solitude in our minds and become distracted from our children or tasks, and/or frustrated with their needs because we are not truly back “home”. So, be sure to prepare yourself to go home and serve again. Be aware that the house will still need cleaning and children tending to when you get home. The whole point of this “me time” is to refresh you to serve again. Resist the temptation [and flesh] to seek more of it before the week comes around again.

A few notes:

  • This time is not the same and should not replace your time with God, in prayer and in His Word, on a daily basis.
  • I believe making this a weekly endeavor is completely acceptable but be sure to talk it over with your husband so you can agree on what will work best for your family.
  • You don’t necessarily need to be out of the house to be productive. However, if you’re anything like me, sometimes getting out is the most productive because you are not in constant view of what needs to be done while you should be focusing on restoration to come back (in body and mind). If you are focused on all that needs to be done when your time is up, you will not be productive in your time.

In part 3, I address some small (but big) day to day refreshers that help you get through each day as it comes. These refreshers help you feel your best in the day to day. They may not address your biggest need, however, they can help prevent your biggest need from getting bigger.

What do you do for mom time?

Me Time : Two Extremes

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Me Time - Two Extremes

As a mother, so much is required of us. Let’s face it, mothering is not easy. Rewarding, yes. Easy? Far from it.

It empties us regularly. Not of fulfillment, but of rest and clear thought.

Many of us have been taught one of two things about me time. You know, the time a mother gets alone?

Two Extreme Beliefs About Me Time

1. We believe that we deserve “me time” based on how hard we’ve worked, how many hours we’ve put in, and the stress our “job” as a mother puts on us. After all, we’ve earned it.

or

2. We are fully against the “me time myth” and believe it’s an extreme act of selfishness for any mother to desire such a thing.

Here’s why both these extremes can be unhealthy.

Entitlement Leads to Bitterness

When we believe we’re entitled to this time for ourselves, it’s easy to see how we can fall into the trap of having rights to get it . I mean, we do work extremely hard and need a break, right? Well, yes, this is true. But we have to be careful how we set our minds on this. When we believe we are entitled to, have earned, or deserve something, we can get very upset when we don’t get it. This can put our family in a foul position. They become the target of our irritability when we don’t get what we want. In fact, sometimes we can actually blame them or become bitter toward them because we feel as if they are the reason for our “need” of me time and possibly the result of not getting it at times.

Additionally, when we do get our me time, what we have chosen to do was not very productive at “filling our tank”, so we begin to need this me time more often. We indulge in our flesh and it is never satisfied. Our need of me time is focused on only ourselves and satisfying its desires {which are never really satisfied}. No matter how much time we got, it wouldn’t be enough.

This becomes a dangerous breeding ground for selfishness. This me time can become such an idol that all we can think about is the next time we’ll get some. It becomes an addiction. Yet it lacks substance so it’s not truly fulfilling.

It is a Myth Moms Need a Break

On the other hand, some completely reject me time and claim the need is a total myth.  Any woman who felt she “needed” this me time was just being selfish and trying to feed her own desires. God put us into this role and we should not try to “escape” it. We are to put our children and husband first and learn to sacrifice. It is absurd to think that mothers need a break.

 

Both these ideas of thinking can be toxic. There may be mothers who can go long bouts of time without needing to step away for a breather. And there may be some who need to step away more often than some would be comfortable with themselves. We all carry different needs and to dismiss or degrade one mom’s need over another is dangerous.

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I caution both of these me time extremes. Neither one is healthy. Either we’re “over eating” or we’re “starving” ourselves.

In order for me time to be healthy, it needs to be productive.

Find out how you can be intentional with your “Me Time” in order to make it productive:  “Me Time: Be Intentional

Find out ways to care for yourself everyday: “Me Time: Everyday Essentials

What do you struggle with when it comes to getting time for yourself?

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