A little over a year ago, I became very unhappy staying at home. I would get SO frustrated (and still do sometimes-More on that in a minute) when people would tell me how "blessed" I was to be "able" to stay at home. First of all, most days weren't joyful for me and money was SO tight because we were on one income. I stayed home, not because we were well off, but because I felt it was something the Lord called me to do. During this time, I began praying for God's direction for our family. Staying at home seemed like such a dream to most people...why did I hate it? God answered my prayer in an unexpected way by giving me a job opportunity for 11 weeks as a long term sub. We put Lyla in daycare and it was hi-ho, hi-ho, off to work I go.
I won't spend too much time on this, because I want to say other things, but basically during this time, the Lord gave me a new joy. It was VERY clear to me after those 11 weeks, that my place right now was at home with my child. Now please hear me, (because I am all about being real), not everyday is fabulous. Let me say it again, THERE ARE STILL DAYS I STRUGGLE. But, God gave me a renewed strength (one that has lasted) to fufill this calling of a stay at home mom.
I have had a small taste of being a working mom and I applaud you over and over and over again. It is no joke trying to balance it all. I have had a bigger taste of being a stay at home mom and that TOO is no joke. It has become something so close to my heart and I just wanted to share some things the Lord has laid on my heart, maybe for another mom that needs it today, whether you are new to this staying at home thing or a seasoned veteran.
1. God is showing me constantly how important He is in my day. If you are a Christian, you have heard this again and again. It may even frustrate you to hear it once more. If you are like me, it almost makes you feel even more like a failure to hear it because let's be honest, WHEN is there really time to spend with the Lord? How do these other moms do it and still do everything else that needs to be done. The answer is simple. I don't know. I do know that God asks for my best and sometimes my best is 10 minutes. 10 good minutes alone with Him. Sometimes, I don't exactly get those "alone" moments (heavens, I cannot even go to the bathroom alone some days) so, I have to invite Jesus in on my day. Sometimes that looks like praying while I am washing dishes. Sometimes it's reading a verse on my phone while I am nursing Layton. I just know one thing to be true. I CANNOT do this thing without Him.
I'm reminds of Luke 21:1-4
The widow woman gave her very last coin in this parable. Jesus said "All of these people gave their gifts out of their wealth, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on."
"...She put in all she had..." It wasn't much, yet it was a lot.
2. STOP STOP STOP trying to defend being a stay at home mom. This is PRIDE. (I STRUGGLE WITH THIS BIG TIME!) God has called you and me for such a time as this (sound familiar?) Why should we apologize for it? Like I said, I struggle BIG time trying to convince everyone (and I mean everyone) around me, that what I do is hard. Sometimes, I am wanting praise for what I do. Ok, most times I am wanting praise. I've gotta rest in the fact that what I am doing matters...BIG TIME! And if no one else "sees" me, that's ok, because I know God always sees. There can be SO much freedom in this.
3. The next few things are some things that have helped me in the day to day. I read a blog once that described staying at home so perfectly. It said you are bored and completely overwhelmed all at the same time. You are lonely, yet long for alone time.
One thing that I have found to ease some of these feelings (notice I said "ease" not "erase") is to have a schedule. It really helps the flow of the day.
I used to get REALLY down on myself if my whole day didn't revolve around my kids. After all, this was my job and my family was sacrificing in many ways for us to be able to do this, so I had to give it all I had. That meant crafts, going places, fun snacks. ....or at least that's what I thought. If Lyla watched a lot of tv that day, I really beat myself up for having failed her. I was even to the point where she ruled the day (which is not healthy). If she wanted to play, we played. There was always a show on that she wanted to watch (this can drive you insane after the millionth episode of mickey mouse clubhouse). There has to be a balance.
One thing I have started doing is having "school" with Lyla. This really helps that "teacher" in me and gives me that creative fix. Her attention span is SHORT! Like 20 minutes. But it's a sweet time for me and her to spend learning and having fun. The Lord is also polishing my patience in this along with my need to control everything. Lyla has a mind of her own and I am thankful she does.
(side note: I am reading this book called "Christ in the Chaos" (thanks Leah, Lauren and Adrienne for the reccomendation) It's all about the gospel and motherhood. Anyways, one of the things it talks about is how we are sinners (in case you didn't know) But, here's the part that blew my mind. When we go about our day praising our own accomplishments because of what WE have acheived that day, (ex: I was a good mom today because we did a craft. OR "I am a great mom because we all ate healthy today) we are creating a self righteouness in ourselves! (WHAT?!) So, whether you feel like you have had a successful day or one of the tougher days, find your identity in CHRIST and not yourself or what you have or have not accomplished.
Ok, back to schedules. Since I spend that time with her (Layton and I get OUR one on one time during Lyla's nap), I also make sure to allow myself some time. Sometimes, it's sitting at the table drinking my coffee (and in one sitting, not having to warm it up 5 times). Sometimes, it's watching a show I want to watch. Sometimes, it is getting to blog (like right now:))Do something for yourself. You will grow bitter and resentful if you don't- and that's just not a good place to be. TRUST ME!
4. This is kinda silly, but some practical things that have brightened my day here lately are:
- making my bed
- lighting a candle
- opening the blinds/windows
- turning on the lights (no brainer right? But we leave our lights off a lot-amazing what a little light can do for the soul)
- putting my phone down (like leaving it on the charger and not returning to it)
- showering (if you can. I sure do try to shower during the day, but here's one reason why I usually wait until Jeff gets home: Yesterday, I hop in for a FAST shower -both kids are in safe places by the way- and Lyla comes in saying she has to poo poo. I had just shampooed of course. So, I get out and stand there sopping wet while she takes 15 minutes -yes, you read that right-to poo poo) Showering, sometimes is not an option. Sorry folks, but it's the truth. I laugh at people who say "put on your make up everyday and get ready that'll make you feel better"-hahahahaha! But, hey, if you can do it, do it! It does make you feel better, just not always a reality.
Anyways, if you have made it to this point, yay! Thanks for letting me pour out all of those thoughts. I just have such a heart for stay at home mom's because it is tough sometimes and we need to encourage each other in this thing called motherhood instead of tearing each other down. Please comment and tell me somethings God has shown you about staying at home. I would LOVE to read them.