You’ve seen her.
You might know her.
You might even be her.
She’s the one who is going and doing and busy all the time, and can’t figure out why she has to physically DO everything, or it doesn’t happen.
The women around her often have two reactions – either they feel intimidated, wishing they could also “do it all,” or they feel sorry for her, because she can’t seem to “get it together.”
And before you think I’m dishing judgment, know I have personally BEEN HER.
She’s working, running kids, helping with homework, cleaning, cooking, coaching, driving, … you name it, she’s doing it.
And this was one of those mornings when I thought, “Oh, God, you don’t want me to talk about this, do you?”
Because I’m going to offend someone.
Even though my heart is one of helping and not hurting, I know many of you feel trapped.
As in hamster-in-the-wheel style, can’t get off.
But I want to encourage you to do so. Because you matter. Because your kids matter.
And the enemy has us believing lies.
Yesterday, as we talked about Dare 13 from The Respect Dare and being an exhausted wife, I let you know I had some issues with the story. Yes, I agreed there are lazy women out there… but I don’t see many of them.
I see the “Do It All’s.”
The “Do it All” woman emerged from a culture steeped in amazing home decorating, snappy dressing, and perfect parenting and birthday parties via Pinterest.
What I’m saying is we live in a culture where we are drowning in perceived expectations from others – and they’re not even real.
Mothers of young children need to hear that one of the most valuable things you can do for and with your little people is play blocks, walk in the grass barefoot, look at bugs, dig in the dirt, and read to them.
Mothers of teens need to hear that one of the most valuable things you can do and for your young adults is listen to them, not be judgmental, and get to know them better because they’re constantly changing – even when it is difficult.
And none of these things are reliant upon spending money, having an immaculate home, or making a gourmet meal after working all day.
Kids, no matter what the age, spell love T-I-M-E.
I know some of us work because we love it, some work because we have to, and others work because we think we have to.
When we moved to Cincinnati for my husband’s job, my next door neighbor said to me, “Work is over-rated” and I happen to agree with her. I’m thankful that early in our marriage, we opted to save the money I made and live off of my husband’s income – because we knew that if we had kids, we didn’t want someone else raising them – and we didn’t want to be trapped by the house we bought, or the life-style we’d created.
But when we did have kids, I didn’t want to quit working all together – I took 12 weeks off of both my jobs, quit my full time job after a month of doing it part-time (couldn’t bear to leave my baby with the sitter, even though it got easier because of the reduction in production of oxytocin, the bonding hormone), and kept my evening part-time trainer job. One of the things I did was research how many hours I could be away from my child before it negatively affected him.
At the time, that number was 20 hours.
So I worked 15-20 hours a week. And I worked when he was scheduled to sleep, to minimize the “away” time even further.
And we lived on one income, still saving everything I made – which was helpful because we never adjusted our “wants” to “needs” and have made due with less, and God’s blessed that.
And all around me I see both men and women sacrificing time with their kids for the bigger house, the designer clothes, the too-many activities, the lie of “more is best” – what I call the “two income trap.”
And the women are stressed out, frazzled, exhausted.
And their husbands are feeling similarly.
And the marriage has pressure it doesn’t need.
Because the laundry still needs to get done, and there’s something sticky on the floor, and the dog needs her nails trimmed, something smells bad in the back of the frig, and the church social is this week, and there’s no time to clean for company coming over tomorrow night because baseball and soccer practice are tonight…
So I’m going to suggest something…
Something radical and simple at the same time…
In an age where kids are feeling stressed at record numbers, kids are dropping out of sports by age 13 from a surprising reason – stressed parents and coaches making the sports “not fun.” Here’s the research behind the news report.
This pressure to perform is, in my humble opinion, which admittedly might be not applicable to you, just a symptom of a bigger problem – the pressure of perfection from parents trying to do it all.
And the research shows our stress is being absorbed by our kids – and affecting them negatively.
What’s good for kids is relationship – and don’t take me wrong, I’m not saying don’t be in sports, or any other extra-curricular, what I’m saying is stop trying to do all of it.
And the jury is in on preschool and child care – not surprisingly, the research shows an increase in behavior problems for center-based care.
It’s not worth it. The “stuff” isn’t worth it.
Can we see that?
This might not work for your family, but when each child has an activity s/he’s involved in, that means mom and/or dad are out in the evenings with them.
That means we’re having dinner together less as a family – and research shows that a minimum of four times a week of shared dinner times has a positive effect on kids. Research shows we’re all healthier, too.
So what I’m saying is to first STOP signing your kids and yourself up for all the activities. Start welcoming BOREDOM.
Yes. I just said that.
Don’t buy the lie that “busy is better” – kids don’t learn to use their imaginations without becoming bored – the cure for boredom is boredom, not video games or entertainment – and boredom can help adults, too.
Downsize – and I am thankful the housing market is starting to turn again – might it be time to get something smaller? We don’t need all these things. They’re nice, but not necessary – and IMHO, the price is just too high.
And if you feel trapped and are stuck in debt, know that there’s help: Financial Peace. I honestly know a ton of people who have been helped and are out of debt and living better lives as a result. 🙂 And if we’re busy accumulating, we’re worshiping the wrong God. 🙁
But the most important reason? I think it’s because “busy” gets in the way of hearing from God.
It’s nearly impossible to 1) read the Bible, 2) meditate about what you’ve read, 3) pray, 4) listen to God… if you’re drowning in moving and going and doing and being all the time.
So today, I’m daring you to obey this from His Word:
Be still and know that I am God.
And tomorrow or the next day, I’ll share more about how to get those you live with more involved in chores and home responsibilities – so you don’t have to do all of that, either. I hope you’ll subscribe to the blog and invite friends – this is literally one of the most powerful things I’ve ever shared! 🙂
If you are parenting small people, you should totally follow Leah and Debbie if you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. Like us on Facebook so you can know when Daughters of Sarah becomes available in video format this year. I’m also active on Twitter as @NinaRoesner. Come join the discussion!
And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep us in our prayers as we walk through the next steps of finishing the work for the video version of Daughters of Sarah!!
Love to you,