It’s been six years since I was a brand new mom. There are a lot of things in life that if done on a regular basis you would be INCREDIBLE at. For example, if I practiced piano from dawn till dusk, every day, for 6 years…I mean can you imagine the incredible talent I would have developed. Or how about painting, speaking a foreign language, practicing a sport…the list goes on.
You know what thing you can practice on a daily basis for six years and still not feel any good at: parenting.
Yep. Even with the plethora of advice on the internet, friends and mom, you can still feel a bit like you’re drowning and there are no clear instructions on how to save yourself or the tiny lives you’ve been entrusted with.
The other day I started thinking through the most common advice (good and utterly useless) that we (yes, even I) give to new moms. At the top of the list was the phrase, “sleep when the baby sleeps.”
You are either reading that advice and thinking with fondness on your own beautiful, first-time mother experiences (if that’s the case, let’s chat) OR you are like me…cringing because the advice seems impossible and impractical. I mean come on, there was/is ALWAYS something that needs to be done.
Yesterday, for fun, I kept a running list of all the things I did through the day. Here is what I came up with:
- Pour morning juice for both my girls
- Read my Bible
- Clean up sensory bin mess
- Make breakfast
- Clean up breakfast
- Make sure everyone brushes their teeth and their hair
- Fold laundry
- Wash more laundry
- Make lunch
- Clean up lunch
- Put everyone down for rest time
- Finish a couple of personal projects
- Fold more laundry
- Fill out school forms
- Get mail/read mail
- Vacuum the bedroom
- Vacuum the living room
- Help girls clean up
- Feed the cat
…I’m going to stop there because we haven’t even gotten to the part where I make dinner and the list is already SO long. I’m sure your list is similar (maybe even longer).
It’s not a competition though because no one, I repeat NO ONE, wants to win the game of being the most over-worked mom on the planet.
The point is, we’re busy.
And often times, we are the last ones that get any of that TLC we dish out to our family in huge quantities. We take a lot of pride in being able to care for our families and homes and to care for them well.
There’s a quote going around on the internet that talks about how your kids are in designer clothing (or your home looks magazine perfect) and you (the mom) are wearing last decades leggings and old t-shirt. And we laugh and agree because it feels so TRUE, so relatable. It’s a badge of honor to be that mom with the un-showered hair thrown into a (chic?) messy bun because we’ve been so engaged with our kids we haven’t had a second to take care of our own BASIC HYGIENE.
But here’s the thing. And please hear me when I say I am still learning this myself, I’m not sure if this is what life is meant to look like for us as moms. I know it’s not how our bodies were created.
I think it is saying something that God found it important to include what He did on the 7th day. The story of creation could have ended after the 6th day and everything of extraordinary beauty in our world was created. But it didn’t. Do you remember what happened next?
I love how author Ann Spangler describes it in her book Finding Peace in God’s Promises, she talks about how God didn’t just DO rest on the 7th day, He CREATED it. And it was good. Rest is His good idea.
But so much of our culture is driven by the rush to “do”. We “do” in order to keep up with the influencers we follow, we “do” in order to keep up with the neighbors, to have the biggest houses, the best cars, to give our kids the best experiences. But all the “doing” that we are, well, “doing”…is filling spaces in our lives with things that hold no real value when we could be filling the space with the extraordinary, the breathtaking, the holy.
We are moms are meant to thrive so that, in turn, our families can thrive too. We can’t teach what we don’t know.
I know I’ve mentioned my family is on a quest to slow life down. One of the big ways I am trying to do that personally is to do a better job of taking time to take care of me. Practically, this looks like me setting aside AT LEAST 30 minutes of every day to read my book. I tell my girls they need to figure things out for themselves (they’re 6 and 3 so most of the time this is really doable for them), choose toys or games that don’t require my help and I make sure they’ve had their snack or a meal before hand so I KNOW they aren’t hungry when they track me down to tell me they are.
“But Emily, the dishes in the kitchen need to get done and that basket of laundry wont fold itself.”
But they also wont spontaneously combust if left to their own devices for 30 minutes. It’s hard when you first begin to pretend you don’t see all the little things that need to be done. But anything is hard when you first begin. After more time resting you’ll be surprised at what you’ll be able to overlook for a short time.
So, what are you going to do today? Go for a run (I commend you, I run like a fish on land…I’m going to let you sit with that visual for a minute). Draw. Read. Take a nap. Stare out your window. Pray. Worship.
I hope this little experiment makes as much of a difference for you as it has for me. Or maybe you’ll ignore the advice and I’ve just waisted 5 minutes of your life. But hey, that was 5 minutes you got all to yourself so…you’re welcome.