Spinning plates

It is the end of May and we are wrapping up what may be the second busiest month of the year.  Our schedule is compounded with extra events and end of the school year activities plus I am at the peak of my kids’ travel soccer schedule.  I’m sure a lot of you mamas out there feel the same way I do. You are trying to manage so much with home life and perhaps work too and it can be overwhelming to handle it all.  I often feel that I am spinning plates and frequently see them shaking and wobbling and I’m trying my best not to have everything come crashing down. My plates include: work, side hustle as an independent consultant for a direct sales company, kids’ activities and carpool, writing, cleaning, meals, shopping/errands, working out, Bible study, and many more mundane everyday tasks.  I can’t continuously spin these plates long term. Something has got to give. I need fewer plates. What usually ends up being neglected is the housework, my workouts, and good meal planning. I have a feeling I may not be alone in this. You too?

I also need time for myself and with my friends.  I need to have a short periods of time to recharge my batteries, to focus on what is important, to find gratitude, and to relax each week.  I often tell my husband that I do my best thinking in the shower. No distractions. Nobody bothering me. I need this time. Just me in the hot, soothing water while singing along to my favorite music is super relaxing.  This time of year, I love sitting on my deck and enjoying the sunshine perhaps with a glass of wine in hand. Do I hand off my spinning plates to take a breather? Or is that relaxation time just another plate to spin?

What do you busy parents do to sustain your ongoing busy schedule without crashing and burning?  I guess we need to find what is most important to each of us and continue to spin those plates and have someone that loves us help spin those plates while you sing in the shower or read a book or go for a run or chill on your porch or whatever will recharge your batteries to go back to spin some more.

I don’t want it all to come tumbling down. I want to be SuperMom and SuperWife.  As much as I wish I had super powers, I do not. I don’t have the energy or stamina to continue at this pace without reprieve.  The plates will come crashing down. I need to say no when my hands are full and put down some plates that I don’t need to be spinning.  We must give some consideration about we we can manage and what we can not, about what brings us joy and what does not, about what we can do without and we we cannot.  Find your joy. Find your balance.  We need to be sure the number of plates we are spinning is manageable and also take the time to sing in the shower.

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Take Notice

It happened again this week.  Did you flinch? Did you stop to hear about it, think about it, pray about it?  I’m talking about the shooting at UNC Charlotte. After Columbine, Sandy Hook, Las Vegas, church and synagogue shootings and many, many more shootings at various locations, fear and terror have become our normal.  

 

For those of us parents who have had the experience of being at their child’s school during a lockdown drill, we know how terrifying even the drill can be.  I was volunteering in my son’s third grade classroom when they had a drill. I held it together while I was there, but proceeded to my car after volunteering to weep.  For our kids, the first couple of drills are frightening, but then it just becomes a part of their normal.

 

We had a school shooting in a neighboring town and my daughter had friends and acquaintances at that school who experienced the sounds of a gun firing nearby, of teachers locking the door and hiding with them and promising to protect them.  They experienced anxiety and nightmares afterwards. I know the parents experienced the same. Some parents received text messages from their kiddos as it was happening. Can you imagine being the parent who received that text and felt helpless that they couldn’t be there to be with their child?  Can you imagine being the parent who could not reach their child when they received the message that there was an active shooter at their school. Two of my daughter’s soccer teammates were at that school and one of the moms could not reach her daughter. She messaged the soccer team to please pray.  I felt her fear, but couldn’t fathom the depth of her fear. This, my friends, has unfortunately become a reality we deal with on a regular basis.

 

We are used to security at the airport, sporting events, concerts, and now at schools.  We are used to metal detectors, pat downs, and searches through our personal belongings.  Our normal. We don’t even flinch any more.

 

With Columbine and Sandy Hook, we sat glued to our TVs. We cried.  We prayed. We pondered what we should do. Now, we are used to it. We just think it is just another terrible person doing another terrible thing.  We barely take notice.

We must take notice! People are dying. Children are dying.  It is happening in your state, in your town, in your school.  Don’t let that become something we don’t talk about and don’t think about. Let’s think about that mom whose child just died at the hand of a gunman in a classroom.  Let’s think about the person who was innocently sitting in school or church or at a concert and was killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Let’s figure out how to change this.  Let’s not put on blinders to the world around us. Let’s look at the faces of the victims and the tears of the family members. When we see them, let’s feel their pain. Let’s not forget their hurt.  Let’s replace fear and terror with plans, laws, programs, and peace. Shootings don’t have to be our normal.

Part-time Employee/Full-time Mom

All moms have their own calling on if they want to work outside of the home or not.  There are three mom options: 1. SAHM (stay at home mom), 2. Full-time employee and full-time mom, 3. Part-time employee and full-time mom.  I am option 3.  I work outside of the home on a part-time basis and I am a full-time mom the rest of the time. And I don’t say part-time mom because I think most of us would say that we parent 100% whether we work outside of the home or not.  I think a lot of moms would like to be option 3. These are moms that don’t want to work full-time or they have the financial luxury not to have to work full-time. We want to use our degrees and our formal teachings that we have received to contribute monetarily to the family.  We want to be creative and instrumental and fulfilled with something outside of the home, but yet want the flexibility to be with our kids when they aren’t in school. We want to make more than minimum wage. We want to use our education. It would be ideal for us option 3 moms to work 10-20 hours a week.  During the week while the kids are at school, we would like to work a few hours but also want to be able to have time to do things like grocery shop, run errands, clean the house, meal prep, volunteer at school, and maybe have a little time to ourselves for things like Bible study or book club or running group.  

 

I think it is hard to find jobs like this.  Do you agree? Are you able to do something like this?  Are employers aware that there is a group of people that are looking to be creative, resourceful, dedicated employees on a part-time basis?  I think there needs to be more awareness by companies that there may be a niche of employees that they are missing. Maybe they are concerned that we wouldn’t give 100% or would be missing days when our child is sick or when kids have time off from school, but I think they are not accounting for all the positives that these women bring to the table.  

 

I know many ladies do a side hustle as an independent consultant for a direct sales company.  I’m included in this group. It is great to bring a little extra money to the family, but I don’t believe the majority of us make enough to equal having a part-time or full-time job.  It is great for those that can make a living off these types of jobs, but I think this doesn’t work for the majority of women.

 

All of us moms have to figure out what is best for us and our families.  In my opinion, all options are hard and option 3 is just as hard as options 1 and 2.  You are trying to have the best of both worlds. With being part-time employee and full-time mom, it really is a balancing act to make sure you giving 100% to your job and to being a mom.  You want to make sure the household is running smoothly. You have to be a good planner. You have to use your time wisely. This may not be a good option for everyone, but this works for me at this time in my life.  Every woman needs to make the decision of what works best works for her and her family. What is your choice?

I wear both a Mom hat and work hat each week.

Get Busy Living

Happy Easter!  What do I think of when I think of Easter?  My memories go flooding back to my childhood.  Of course, chocolate first comes to mind. I love that my mom let my sister and I eat candy for breakfast on Easter morning. I think of coloring eggs with vinegar and those little colored tablets.  My fingers were stained with shades of pink, blue, yellow, green, orange and purple that may or may not have completely disappeared before church on Sunday morning. I’m reminded of all of the Easter dresses that my sister and I wore through the years, some of which my grandma made for us.  I think of church on Easter Sunday with the smell of lilies wafting through the congregation and the sunlight streaming through the stained glass windows of that small Baptist church in West Virginia. I think of Easter dinner with ham and all the fixings at my grandparents’ house. So many sweet memories!

When I first think of Easter, I do think of bunnies and candy and new life, but I also think about Christ dying on the cross.  He suffered and died for my sins. He lived out His purpose here on earth.

 

As I contemplate His death, I wonder if I’m living, really living, my life and serving my purpose.  Am I wasting away my days? My years? Am I following the path God intends for me?  I don’t want to waste Christ’s suffering on the cross for a life not purposefully lived.  He died for me. He suffered for me. I should not take that for granted. Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV) “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

 

As Red, played by Morgan Freeman, and Andy, played by Tim Robbins, in Shawshank Redemption said “ Get busy living or get busy dying”.  I need to live intentionally. I need to focus on what is important.  I need to prioritize. I need to take account of what I am doing and evaluate if it is serving me and my God well.  

 

Spring and Easter are about new life.  Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).   This Easter, as I enjoy the sweetness of chocolate, time with family, and memories from years ago, I will refine my focus for my life to live fully and according to His purpose for me.  Easter blessings to all of you!

Unplugged

What if we:

 

Unplug from phones.  Unplug from social media.  Unplug from games. Unplug from news.  Unplug from emails. Unplug from online shopping.

 

Unplug from TV.  Unplug from Xbox.  Unplug from iPads. Unplug from computers.

 

Unplug from schedules.  Unplug from work. Unplug from school and homework.  Unplug from sports. Unplug from busyness. Unplug from the rat race.

 

What if we can just sit in nature and enjoy the birds singing, the sun shining, and the fresh air?  What if we get our bodies moving more than from the couch to the refrigerator? What if we actually have a conversation with our loved ones?  What if we actually connect with our spouse, our kids, our friends without that phone glued to our hand? Unthinkable?

 

What would you do if you unplugged for a day or weekend or week?  What would that look like? What would that feel like? Would that give you peace or anxiety?  I imagine most of us would be hesitant to do this. I imagine most of us would benefit from this, but would it feel like an earth shattering event?

 

Just by saying to unplug, it could feel peaceful and joyful.  Could we really do it? How about if it actually happens? It could mean a different mindset.  It could mean freedom. A vacation from our normal existence could be heavenly. Have you tried to do this?  Whether it be an actual vacation or just a day in your week when you walk away from all that bogs us down, have you unplugged?  Are you ready to unplug?

“Go ahead

Unplug

Spend time in nature

Let your thoughts wander

Be with yourself.

In the quiet you will better hear the whispers of your soul.”

–Nandini Sharma

Weeds or work

Spring is here!  My daffodils and other early spring blooms popped up through the soil a couple of weeks ago.  I love seeing my flower beds full of pretty petals from spring to fall; however, I don’t always love the upkeep of the beds with weeding, fertilizing, pest control, and deadheading.  I also have to figure out tactics to keep the bunnies from eating my pretties.

I have a friend who loves flowers and she makes beautiful arrangements and her flower beds are amazing.  “Playing in the dirt” is something she enjoys. I’m sure it is therapeutic for her. I like getting out on one of the first really warm spring days and cutting back the dead perennials and putting down mulch, creating pretty pots of annuals for my porch and deck.  I do a good job of watering and weeding the first few weeks of spring, but then as spring and summer move along, I water less and weed less. The work is way less enjoyable. I just want to see the pretty flowers and not do all the work.

 

A few summers ago, my son decided he wanted a garden so we transformed a flower bed into a small vegetable garden.  He barely weeded. By the end of summer, there were more weeds than veggies. He did have some tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers so he thought he did a good job; however, if he would have cleaned out those weeds, he would have ended up with more produce.  He just didn’t think it was worth the effort.  

 

Isn’t that the way it is in life though?  I often want the pretties without doing all of the manual labor. I know my garden will not be full of beautiful buds if I don’t do my part. How many times in life to do we want the flowers without getting our hands dirty?

 

“The fruit of your own hard work is the sweetest.”–Deepika Padukone

Teen Years are Purgatory

As the parent of teens, I should have joy in watching my children grow and mature into an adult, but I’m not at the joy stage yet.  In fact, I think the teen years are purgatory.  First of all, I don’t want them to grow up so fast. Can’t they be my babies forever? And secondly, there is no joy in the eye rolls I receive along with the huffing and puffing and arguing and talking back.  My son is going to be 16 this week. He is no longer a child and not yet a man. He is trying to figure out his way maneuvering between independence and dependence. He is trying to find his place. Trying to find his voice.  Pushing buttons. Pushing boundaries. Pushing back on expectations and rules. It is all normal, I know. It doesn’t make it any easier for this mama to deal with the attitude I get on a daily basis. I don’t mean it to seem like he is like this all the time.  He just has his moments. Don’t they all?

 

He spends a good amount of in his room which I don’t love.  Looking back on my teen years, I realize I did the same, but I miss him.  I miss hanging out and playing games and snuggling while watching SpongeBob.  I know he is still in my house and just upstairs, but there is a noticeable distance now. I just want to soak up this time I have with him while he is still at home.

 

Time is ticking fast and it seems to go faster each day.  He is about to be a driver. How scary is that? Am I ready for that level of independence for him?  In some ways it will be fantastic that he can drive himself to soccer or other activities. I can ask him to run an errand or take his sister to a friend’s house.  Sweet! But in other ways, it is completely terrifying.

 

I’ve heard it said before that the infant, toddler, and young child years are physically exhausting and the teen years are mentally and emotionally exhausting. Truth!   It is different kind of parenting at this stage, for sure. 

 

I need to remind myself that he is no longer my little guy even though he will always be my little guy (this is what I called him when I was pregnant with him and when he was a baby).  I know I can’t keep him in the nest forever so I must prepare him for all the joys and trials that lie ahead. I need to help him gain independence so that he will have wings and fly from my nest with goals, determination, faith, confidence and knowledge about the world.  I know I’ve been doing this all along, but it feels more pressing now.

When he was just a little guy, I would take his hand to direct him where I want him to go to keep him safe.  It’s not that easy these days. He would be mortified if I took him by the hand to direct him anywhere. Instead, as parents, we are directing in a different way to help guide his path and he is often resisting that. We just have to be stealthy in our tactics.

 

I would love to protect him from the wicked world of heartache, sadness, loss, disappointments, failure, judgements and so much more, but I know that is a part of all of our paths.  We must experience the highs and lows. As he ventures out from Indiana, he will experience the mountains and valleys, but I want him to know that his family loves him, supports him, and is here for him no matter what.  I will pray that he will rise to meet the challenges and overcome obstacles that are bound to come his way. I also pray for my peace and strength in the process because parenting is a wonderful journey but it is not for the weak.  

 

So as my children become more independent, I will try not to be sad about them moving away from the nest and will try not to be that helicopter parent.  I will try not to figuratively reach for his hand every time I think he is going the wrong way but let him navigate his own path. I will do my best to search for the joy in the growth and changes even when the process is trying and when the attitude is difficult because I know that my days are numbered with my “little guy”.  

This was found on the Be Happy Enjoy Life Facebook page