Originally published Sunday, 27 April 2014.
This one is for all those whose workplace is behind the steering wheel of a minivan — those who are privileged to call themselves stay-at-home moms and yet wonder why they’re always in the car.
When my daughter was three years old, some generous friends of ours gifted us with an eight-week session of preschool music classes. My daughter adored it, counting hours until it was time for another session of Tots in Tune.
There were only two challenges: one, the classes were at nine o’clock on Monday morning; two, my little girl happened to have a one-year-old brother, and we all went to class together.
This might not sound too catastrophic, but the combination was almost lethal. As a stay-at-home mom, getting out of the house before nine o’clock on a Monday with two littles under four just about wrecked me.
At the end of the eight weeks, our friends offered to pay for another term. I was completely torn. On the one hand, it was such a generous offer, and the classes were fantastic. On the other hand, I was having heart palpitations every Monday, barking orders to hurry up until we screeched into the Tots in Tune driveway.
I decided it wasn’t worth it.
With my tail between my legs and as politely as I could, I refused the offer. Yes, there was the initial sadness, but in the long run, our household was a much more peaceful environment.
Over the years, I’ve learned that constantly rushing around in the car from place to place causes my level of patience to drop faster than the gas tank needle in my car.
The evidence of the fruit of the Spirit is inversely correlated to my degree of busyness. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control … they all fly out the sliding van door faster than my kids dive out and back in.
When we feel imprisoned by our busyness, we should be asking who welded and locked the shackles around our wrists in the first place.
Often, the signature on the metal will be all too familiar. If that’s the case, we can take hope in the fact that the one who created the handcuffs also has the key to unlock them.
We don’t have to be bound to busyness.
It’s okay to say no.
One way I’ve tried to simplify my work as a stay-at-home mom is by only having one child in one extracurricular activity per season. This probably sounds shockingly counter-cultural to the American norm. But I’ve learned that one outside activity per term is all I can handle without feeling pressured and losing patience.
As a Christian parent, my ultimate role is to train up my children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
When overcommitment hinders me from being able to accomplish my task effectively, I have a problem.
If we come home late from a soccer game and we’re too tired for family devotions, we need to re-evaluate our priorities.
If you’ve overcommited to activities outside the home, ask yourself why. Deep down, why did you say “yes” in the first place?
Like my daughter’s music class, extracurricular activities can be wonderful. The problem arises when they become consuming, cause us to lash out at our kids from stress, or keep us from being able to impact our children with the gospel.
If you are a stay-at-home mom, you have the unique opportunity to simplify your work and bring about much good.
Share Your Story: This post was written in response to a call for submissions from The High Calling on the theme ‘Simplicity at Work.’ More details here. It also appeared at The High Calling on April 21, 2014.
Photo credit: Chris F