In it for the Long Haul

November 1, 2011
posted by Tia in Living

What a crazy month it has been – and already it is over. I feel as though I have been so busy and I hardly know why.

Lately, when people ask me how it is going with four kids, I give them somewhat of a bewildered look and answer,

“Pretty well. I love it. I’m just not sure when I’m supposed to clean my house.”

I can almost do it all: caring for the babies, spending time with the kids, homeschooling (those are my favorite parts of the day), and even meals. It is the cleaning that has me baffled. We’re at a bare maintenance right now and that’s about it. There’s so much dejunking, reorganizing, wall-washing, systematizing, and just plain cleaning that I want to do, and there’s just no time to do it in.

Sigh. Deep breath. Oh, well.

I’ve heard it so many times before, but it’s true: walls will wait to be washed. The piano won’t give up on being dusted any time soon, but my children won’t let me push pause on their growth to enjoy them later. They are of primary importance, and it’s when I really remember and act on that, that I am happiest.

Something that my mom taught me a few years ago has been running through my head lately. Now, Mom had lots of kids – in the double digits. And she’s homeschooled all of us. She knows busy, overwhelmed, and tired, almost as intimately as she is acquainted with joy, love, and fulfillment. She’s amazing. (I’m rising up to call you blessed right here, Mom, just so you know. Thank God for you!) When I spoke to her a while back about the overwhelming responsibility of being a mother, she counseled me to remember what was important and spent most of my time on that, and not worry so much about the things that don’t really matter.

We talked specifically about homeschooling, and she told me that she had learned to be very careful not to go overboard with her methods and efforts in that area. This is when she said the phrase that has stuck with me:

“I’m in this for the long haul. I can’t afford mother-burn-out.”

I’ve thought about that a lot. What am I doing that could cause me to burn out? What will matter in the end? I’m sure we all ponder these questions at times, especially when our time and energy are limited and we have to spend them carefully.

Well, my family matters. My relationship with God matters. The other people around me in my life matter.

I’ve been trying to spend time on those areas, and ignore the walls. (And the bookshelves. And the closets, and sometimes occasionally the dishes or the laundry.) These things will have their time, but right now is not a season in my life that I should be worrying so much about them. Because I can’t afford burn-out. My family is too precious.

What things do you do to avoid burn-out? Is there anything that helps you remember what is most important when you’re feeling overwhelmed? It’s not just me that feels this way sometimes, right? 🙂

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