How do you feel, right now? Really. Not that fake how you think you should feel feeling—how do you really feel? I’m tired, a little frustrated, and excited all at the same time because there are some good things going on right now but there’s also a couple not-so-good things too that are pretty distracting. Most of all, I’m tired. As in, I really want to curl up in my bed and do nothing tired.
Maybe you’re feeling a similar mix of emotions because you’re a mom who’s trying to take care of her family but wants to do something for herself too. No doubt I want to be good at everything—wife, mom, sister, friend—but, my idea of good makes me tired just to think about it. Most of the time I only see all the ways I could do everything better. My house could be cuter. I could be nicer. My career could be more successful. It takes a lot of energy to judge myself day in and day out, no wonder I’m tired.
The struggle to do everything perfectly leaves us feeling like a failure with nothing left to give anyone. Even if Jesus was telling me the thing I’m supposed to be doing right now I might be a little uninterested because every little thing feels huge when I add it to my to-do list. Maybe that’s a little dramatic but it feels that way. Even the things I really want to do feel like chores when I’m exhausted.
Our solution, beyond taking a nap which is a viable option, is to be honest with ourselves. Why are we exhausted? We know the answers already but we also like our excuses—stuff we have to do, people we can’t disappoint, the jobs no one else will do. I get it. These are my excuses too, the ones that have carried me through the better part of a decade. There are really only two things vying for our time: responsibilities and opportunities. How we define them and how they commingle in our lives determines our well-being.
Exhaustion takes over when our responsibilities and opportunities are out of balance for too long. There will certainly be times when life is just hard and we need to push through but that isn’t our entire life. Sometimes life really is out of our control but many times we choose the things that make us tired. When we do too much for too long we risk losing ourselves. Balance is healthy, even when if it requires us to lay down our perfectionism. Maybe doing fewer things would actually help you feel better each day. Maybe now just isn’t the time for all the things you want to do.
Be honest about how you spend your time. What really is a responsibility in your life as opposed to an opportunity? Nurturing your relationship with your husband and kids, definite responsibility. Filling your schedule with multiple activities every day, absolute opportunity. Some things must happen to ensure the health and well-being of our families. Everything else is a choice we get to consider. Your personal mix determines the rhythm of your days. The rhythm we create affects everyone around us. Peace in our homes starts with peace in us.
Finding your balance helps direct you towards contentment, the sense of being comfortable where we find ourselves in life. Contentment starts with us, not our husbands, children, or other family members. I really do believe it’s possible to be content, even when you’re overwhelmed, frustrated, confused, and exhausted but it is hard. I certainly haven’t mastered the concept yet but when we’re honest about where we are in this moment we take the first step to towards contentment.
We get to decide our balance. No one else will say “no” for you. Maybe you need to say “yes” even if life’s hard right now but even more times you might need to be realistic and say “no” to good things. You’re the only person who really understands how to balance your life. What I do know from experience is that exhaustion is not the long-term path to success.
Tired mama, take a break. Be honest about your life right now, what responsibilities and opportunities are competing for your time? Don’t forget your dreams, but realize that maybe it’s not the time for them yet. Work to find your balance and include your people. Share your frustrations and your dreams with those you trust and allow them to help you make a path forward. Most importantly, take some time to rest and relax. It may sound selfish or frivolous, but you are neither of those things. Taking care of yourself is important. You will be a better mother when you do.
The world will not end if you aren’t in the PTA, take a break from some church activities, or say no to some kid activities. Taking care of yourself is the only way to really take care of your family.
This article originally appeared at KellyBeckleyShank.com.