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.)
1. Spend time in the Word of God and prayer.
I know as moms it can feel like we don’t have time to read God’s word or spend time in prayer. I would agree that some seasons of motherhood are far harder than others when it comes to the amount of time I spend there. But in 9 years of motherhood, 6 of which have been at home, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have time not to spend time with Jesus. My ideal routine is having time with Jesus before the kids get up. That doesn’t always happen. I’ve learned that when I prioritize time in God’s word, I can find a place for it. It may mean less of something else like TV or social media. It may mean cracking open my Bible while I’m making dinner or reading on my Bible app while I’m waiting for an appointment. The truth is 90% of the insanity in my life is rooted in the lies of the enemy that quietly grew in a lack of immersion in God’s truth. God’s Word is our foundation. Our “right mind” as mothers is first and foremost found in having the mind of Christ.
Where can you snag some time today to read God’s Word and be filled up by Him?
2. Focus on one major area at a time.
When I first became a stay at home mom, I thought my expectations of myself were realistic. I knew it would be harder to get things done with a 3-year-old and newborn who weren’t with me at work when I was “crushing it”, but I did not know how much. It turns out that it takes a lot of time and energy to raise children. I became less frenzied when I started to focus on one major area of improvement – outside of non-negotiables (like clean underwear) – at a time.
Right now, my big focus is meal planning. It’s an area I’ve consistently struggled with as I’ve tried to find the best way that works for my personality, my lifestyle and the needs of my family. Sometimes I’ve burned myself out trying to tackle too many things at once. Can you guess what my next big focus had to be? Yep. Taking a complete time-out from all my pet projects and taking care of me so I could come back from the planet of insanity and start to cultivate my home by grace instead of striving. Alas, I find that a return to focus on one key area yields more productivity in the long run than spreading myself too thin.
What is one big task you need or want to focus on right now?
3. Anchor your day with quick tasks that give you a mental lift.
Let’s face it, there are days as moms where it feels like we can’t get anything “done.” We clean our living room 3 times a day, but it still finds a way to look like a tornado hit. I may not accomplish all that I hoped for my home on a particular day, but for myself, I’ve found that there are certain quick tasks that can quickly shift my mindset. For me, those things are making my bed in the morning, putting the mail away daily and going to bed with an empty kitchen sink. If my bed is not made, I tend to feel like I’m already “behind”. When I make it, it almost becomes a declaration of “You’ve got this, mama. With Christ, you’ll overcome today.” If there’s dishes in the sink at night, it tends to be harder for me to unwind when it’s time for bed. These tasks may be completely different for you, but it’s worth noticing 1-3 simple tasks that irk you if left undone but improve your mood when they’re done.
What are 2 sanity-saving tasks that take 5 minutes or less that you can do today? Set a timer and knock it out with a smile.
4. Reject the comparison trap.
It’s SO easy to look at what other people are doing on Instagram or Facebook and think that we need to be doing all those same things. There’s a temptation to create this half-imaginary woman who makes all her food from scratch, throws epic birthday parties, and doesn’t miss a killer fieldtrip or extracurricular activity for her kids. The reality is that none of us have time for everything and every family is unique. What we don’t see on social media is what friends are not doing to make room for the things that really matter to them.So instead of comparing, be inspired by what others are doing. But then consider the unique needs and vision of your own family and be confidant as you practice stewardship in your own unique stride and season.
What is one area of growth in your family you’re proud of? Celebrate the victories people outside you home may never realize.
5. Focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t.
You’ve probably made sacrifices in your family budget and otherwise to be at home with your kids. We are constantly bombarded with information about all the experiences we should provide for our kids, the Instagram worthy “me time” we should make sure we get, advice on how to make our homes both beautiful and functional, and it’s easy at times to feel the odds are against us. Not enough money. Not enough time. Energy. Babysitters. Talent. Money. I’m being a little funny, but we face this, right? I’ve been down that road all too often before realizing how much my joy had been hijacked by negativity. It’s not worth it. God’s grace is sufficient right where we are. If we open our eyes, we’ll often find out-of-the-box ideas and possibilities we would have missed otherwise.
Several years ago, I started getting super inspired about homemaking. In a quest to add a bit of beauty and tradition to my home, tea time was one of my first victories. The “problem” was that I didn’t own a tea set or a tablecloth to cover our makeshift folding table. I was tempted to long for the day when I could afford those things, but then I remembered an old, unused shower curtain upstairs that would work for a tablecloth just fine. So what if it couldn’t quite cover the whole table? One thrift store 50% off sale later, we had an entire tea set with saucers and all for $3 out of pocket. Tea time has been a consistent tradition in our home ever since.
Consider writing down a list of all the things you feel like you can’t do. Now that you have them on paper, brainstorm some ideas of things you CAN do with perhaps some help, creativity or a little advanced preparation.
6. Use your gifts.
Motherhood has a way of pulling our most important qualities to the table, namely, feeding, loving and keeping our children alive. It is true that motherhood is a high calling, but it saddens me when women live under the guilt that says that motherhood should fully satisfy them. First of all, Christ is the only one who can fully satisfy us. Secondly, God created us and gave us unique gifts to bring the world. I’ve discovered that there’s a part of me that comes alive when I allow the dormant gifts within me to have expression again, even if it looks different than it did in the past, or even the way I hope it will look one day in the future. I shared a story about this here and gave some additional practical tips for doing this here, but whatever it is that is life-giving to you – painting, writing, sports, organization, event planning, (fill in the blank) – I encourage you to consider if perhaps there is a season-appropriate way to let that beautiful thing in you have expression. You may just find your practice, work or craft is just the sanity saver you need.
What you do is amazing, mama. Take a deep breath. As wise, seasoned women have told me: the days are long, but the years are short. As hard as this job is, one day we’ll miss this. So let’s take a deep breath, find our sufficiency in Christ and let’s move forward one step at a time.
I’d love to hear from you! What’s been your biggest sanity saver as a mom?
This article originally appeared at HannahSavage.com.