Monday, June 20, 2016

Finding Joy as a Stay-at-Home Mom

Recently, I have come to the awareness that I can be a grumpy, complaining, and ungrateful stay-at-home mom.  This is the job God has set for me and is such a clear purpose for my life right now.  Yet many days I have allowed a critical mindset and attitude to overcome the joy that can be found in such a job as this.

Well, I am done with that.  I am ready to move on and to be grateful for this incredible job I have been given.  From laundry, to dishes, to playing on the floor, to cooking meal after meal... this is the work that I have been entrusted with.  I have decided to find joy in my life as a stay-at-home mom because it IS a choice to do so.  

There are so many ways to find joy in your everyday tasks.  It is simply a matter of taking the time to find those ways and to see how you can bring about your own 'voice' to each task in front of you.  

The following are ways that I am choosing to find joy in my every day mundane tasks as a stay-at-home mom.  These ways work for me because they allow me to express myself as who I am -- for you, the ways that you can find joy in your everyday work may look completely different.  It is entirely dependent on what brings you happiness, a feeling of success and accomplishment, and gives you the ability to creatively express yourself.  

1.  Creativity in cooking.  As I cook my meals each week I am learning more and more how much I love to prepare and cook good food for my family.  I love trying out a new recipe and it turn out to be absolutely delicious.  I also love knowing how I can best bless my family with healthy and yummy recipes.  In no way do I call myself a cook --- I am still learning and I still love to use my crockpot or any other incredibly simple way of cooking.  But adding a bit of creativity to my cooking allows me to grow in my cooking skills and please my family.  I do this by having a set meal plan each week so that I do not dread deciding what to eat each day (See post Making a Meal Plan Work) and picking one new meal to make each week.

2.  Set tasks completed each day.  By having a set chore list and to-do list (see post Simplifying To Do Lists...) I am sure to feel accomplished when completing those tasks.  For a while I was going through a stage where chores just weren't getting done and my to-do lists were never ending and never being crossed off.  Making these lists more attainable and doable, and setting apart specific time in the day to complete them, encouraged me to actually complete them,

3.  Hosting and Reaching Out to Others.  I love hosting, but I can be a lazy host.  Being a lazy host brings me a feeling of discouragement and failure.  By keeping my home open to guests, having snacks and/or appetizers to offer along with coffee and tea, and by keeping my home presentable  I am more prepared for whoever might come through the front door that day.  And that is how I want to be.  It gives me a feeling of joy to have people feel welcome in my home.  Along with that, being a stay-at-home mom gives me more time to reach out to others than I might have otherwise.  Whether it be through making a meal for someone, taking care of someone's kids for a day, simply sending someone a text...etc.  These are ways that I am able to easily reach out and be a support for someone else.

4.  Focus on Daughter's Playtime.  (see post on Intentional Play)  I love making up fun and unique activities for my daughter's playtime.  This does take extra effort and planning but it brings me joy to see her learning through these activities and enjoying them.  By taking the time to plan new activities weekly for my daughter, I am using my skills as a teacher in my work as a stay-at-home mom.  I miss this job and I am thankful that I can still use my abilities at home.

5.  Making Home a Place of Love, Peace and Joy.  This can be done through music, lit candles, cleanliness, baked goods, coffee brewing, dinner ready, and most of all through my own attitude.  Filling my home with a sense of joy always begins with me.

All of these things take effort --- finding happiness in your tasks WILL take effort.  It is easy for me to become lazy and not take any of these tasks as seriously, but when I take the work and effort into them the results are incredibly worth it.  Above all, I know it pleases my Saviour to do so.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

6 Practical Ways to Finding Time for You

Last week I wrote a post on becoming re-energized.  Read it here!  Becoming re-energized looks different for everyone, yet what IS often the same for everyone is the difficulty in finding the time to do so.  Especially as Mamas.  The following are some super practical ways to find time for yourself as a busy mama.

1.  Take Help. When someone offers help it is easy to respond with 'Oh thank you, but that is okay.'  We may want it to look like we have it all together, we don't want others to go out of their way for us, we don't want to be an inconvenience, or we feel helpless when accepting other people's help.

 In truth, if someone is offering it, they WANT to help.  People truly love to help.  People desire to be wanted and needed as it makes us feel purposeful.  Instead of brushing off the offer, TAKE it.  And LOVE it.  Beyond this, even ASK for help.  Many people may not realize you need or desire the help or even how to help until you express this.  Whether it be a free meal, help around the house, or taking your kids for an afternoon - use the time you otherwise would be doing for these tasks to spend for your self.  Take away any feelings of guilt and simply enjoy!  This is the beauty of the community around you.

2.  Consider child-care.  I have two young girls and I am a stay-at-home mom.  Yet I still chose to have daycare for my toddler once a week.  This gives me the freedom to not only clean my house, and spend time with my newborn, but to also spend time for myself.  Without this one day I feel extremely stretched and worn out simply because I did not get a significant amount of time to refuel.

Whether it is daycare or having a friend or family member watch your kids once a week, consider this for yourself.  You can give and give to your kids all day and night long, but taking that small break (even just for an hour while your friend takes them to the park!) can do wonders.  Even as I write this, my toddler is spending the day with a friend and her kids - she so generously offered to take Emelyn for a day.  It would have been easy for me to say 'That's okay'.  Instead, I sucked up my pride and embraced this help. And I am more than grateful for this extra break!

3. Take 15 minutes every day.  Block out 15 minutes of time every day to spend for re-energizing.  Perhaps this means taking out 15 minutes from precious naptime when you could otherwise be cleaning, spending 15 minutes in the late evening before bed, or waking up 15 minutes earlier.  At first, you will need to discipline yourself for this time as it may mean 15 minutes of less sleep, or a task that does not get completed.  Once it becomes a part of your every day schedule you will notice if it is missed.

4. Take one solid block of time a week.  Beyond that 15 minutes a day, take a solid amount of time one day a week to spend for re-energizing.  Ideas include a Saturday morning while hubby takes care of the kids or a planned evening during the week.  Make it consistant and make it a priority.

5.  List priorities.  Speaking of priorities, listing your priorities and leaving them for you to see is extremely helpful in finding the time to re-energize yourself.  This list can remind you what is of utmost importance and what tasks are okay to let go for that day.  You can't do everything or be everything -- as much as we want to :).  Read my post on Setting Priorities Straight.

6.  Plan week.  If you have been reading this blog for a while now you will know that I am a huge fan of planning ahead and making lists.  This does not come naturally to me, but I have noticed a huge difference of accomplishments and successful days when I do so.  Planning your week ahead of time will allow you to see where you can take out those significant times to re-energize.  Grab a cup of coffee, your planner, and your favourite pens and spend a bit of time at the beginning of each week planning out how you can find time to re-energize yourself that week.  And if it looks like an extremely crazy week - MAKE the time in your planner.

Be sure that you do not allow that known feeling of guilt to creep in when spending these times for your self.  We can feel guilty all day long for the tasks we do not complete and for any time we spend on our own but these feelings of guilt are not true reflections of all that we do.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Becoming Re-energized

This mothers day I spent time to sit in the still and quiet - to simply write.  I write for my own outlet, my own enjoyment.  It is nap time and as the house is at complete peace I am taking the time to exercise my mind and be reminded of what I love to do.  Normally, I would be spending this time napping myself -- a busy mom of a newborn and a toddler, sleep comes in short supply now-a-days.  But I am willing to give myself a little less sleep today in order to fill myself up in a much different way.  This way re-energizes me and allows me to be ME.

I hold many roles - as we all do.  These roles include (but are not limited to) wife, sister, daughter, and mother.  But these roles (as important as they are) do not define me.  Though, I do have one role that does define me - that role is Child of God.  This overcompasses all other roles and tells others who I am wholistically.  In order to best be in this role, I must take the time for my own personal enjoyments.  These desires come under being a Child of God because they are what make me, me - they are what God instilled in me.  One of these desires is to write.

For the past month I have taken a drastic step back from my own personal enjoyments.  Having a newborn baby is a good excuse.  But all this while I felt something missing.  I have been pulled and stretched in so many ways this past month, yet I have not chosen to take the time to truly refuel.  In turn, this has made me stressed, ungrateful, and overwhelmed in ways that I otherwise may have been able to overcome simply by taking a little time for me.  As tired as I am, and as worn out as I feel, these times of refueling are key in allowing me to do my job the best way I can.  Even if that means taking a little more time away from sleep.

No matter how busy, overwhelmed, and exhausted we are - we need to take the time to refuel.  In fact, the busier we are, the more we need to do so.  These are the times where creativity is expressed, thoughts are laid out, and happiness is re-defined.  These are the times where we can truly be ourselves in the most authentic way, which in turn can help us do so within our daily roles.

Take the time today to simply be you and to express yourself in the way you best know how.  Your family will thank you for it.  You in turn can be reminded of your worth and beauty as who God made you to be - hobbies, desires, enjoyments and are his beloved child. Be reminded that He desires this of you as well.

**Later this week I will be posting on practical ways as to how to find this time for you in your busy schedule!**

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I Can't Do This

"I can't do this"  I proclaimed loudly as the pain came on stronger and quicker and I discovered it was too late for an epidural.

"I CAN'T DO THIS" I screamed as my whole body cried out in agony through each push.

"I can't do this." I whispered quietly as nurse after nurse pulled and twisted my nipples as my newborn baby wouldn't latch.

"I can't do this." I sobbed as I turned on the dreaded pump and fed my baby her first bottle, thoughts of succeeding at breastfeeding feeling so far away.

"I can't do this." I feared as my toddler cried for my attention in the middle of an hour long feeding session.

"I can't do this." I said, thinking about spending my days alone with a toddler and a newborn.

"I can't do this."

Yet I did it.  All of it.  And I am continuing to do it.  Step by step as each challenge comes my way.  The thoughts of 'can't' continue to occupy my mind yet one by one I am shutting them down.

The past two weeks have been full of talk of 'can't's and yet acts of 'cans'.  The past two weeks have been full of days of overcoming, of facing my fears and of success in doing so.  Why?  Because I chose to not let those words of "I can't do this" determine whether or not I would do it.  I chose to push through, to not give up, to try harder.

The challenge of motherhood is extremely tough.  It is overwhelming, exhausting, and scary.  That is what challenges often are.  They stretch us in ways we didn't think possible and they allow us to grow stronger and wiser.

What challenge are you facing today?  Don't allow 'I can't do this" to take over from this challenge.  Take those four words out of your thoughts for all these words do is put a hold on you.  Do not allow such words to limit your self.  Instead push your self -- challenge your self, and see where that takes you.

This is how we we we change.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Time of Waiting

I was presented with an opportunity today.  It was an opportunity I had hoped for and one I had prayed for.  Yet, I had not been watchful.  I had not been aware or ready.

It is easy to want an opportunity to come to you.  It is simple to wait for one to come with no preparation or readiness on your part.  It takes little effort to complain and be frustrated for a lack of opportunity when we chose to sit back and do nothing about it.

What opportunity are you waiting for today?  What do you wish would come to you in your life today?

Don't allow the opportunity to be missed - don't allow yourself to wait for it and then watch it pass you by.  Opportunities come from hard work, determination, and focus.  How can you work towards your opportunity today?  How can you actively wait for it?  What can you do to prepare yourself?

Living in times of waiting can be difficult - they can feel long and like points of limbo in your life.  Use that time of waiting to be intentional.  Whether you are waiting for a move, waiting for a job, waiting for a next stage of life... do so in a way that is active and purposeful.

Currently, I am waiting for my little baby to be born.  I am waiting for the fourth addition to our family.  While waiting I want to cherish the time I have with my toddler --- this will be the one of the only times it will just be her and me at home during the week.  Both her and my lives are about to change drastically and I don't want to wish away this time that we have together.  These last few weeks before baby do hold purpose - they are important.  It is easy for me to want these weeks to go as quickly as possible, but may I embrace this very short time and be wise in my use of it.  May I be intentional with my time as I prepare for baby as well.

*May your waiting time be more than just ticks on a clock or meaningless stares out a window.  May your waiting time be a time of purpose.*

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Celebrating Freedom this Easter

Much like Christmas, in the past I used to always feel unprepared for celebrating Easter.  Easter - such an incredibly important time to celebrate... in fact the most important celebration of all.  I felt the pressure of needing to be prepared by having a devotional routine down pat, by having scripture verses memorized, by being the 'perfect Christ Follower'.  Every time Easter came I was disappointed in myself, with feelings of guilt overcoming me...after all that my Saviour has done for me.

Once again, this year I am reminded.  It is not just about celebrating on this one Easter Sunday.  It is not simply about becoming the 'perfect Christian' in order to be able to celebrate all Jesus has done for me.

That is the point isn't it?  That we are imperfect humans and Jesus was the one who came down to take away our imperfections...and take away our guilt.

Guilt can consume me.  Even on this weekend of celebrating the freedom from that.  In fact, especially on this weekend.

The beauty of this weekend is that we get to celebrate the freedom from this guilt. We get to celebrate the incredible sacrifice made for us.  How dare I make this celebration be darkened by a cloud of guilt.  It is God's desire for that to be taken away.  Hallelujah!

It truly is that simple.  This Easter, I am filled with a thankful and joyous heart for the freedom of such guilt and for the continual grace that I receive from my Jesus who laid down His life for me.

A Very Happy Easter from my family to yours!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Judgmental Mind

"Getting all your homework done?" says the older man as he walks past my table at the coffee shop.

My first thought?  "Does he actually think I'm in school?  How ignorant of him.  I have literally been out of school for 5 years."

In reality, he was either making a joke, being friendly, or simply trying to communicate to someone sitting on their own.  But instead my guard came up faster than I could blink.


My guard is up.  Contantly.  Instead of being open to hearing what someone else has to say I have been closing myself off more and more.  Why?  Because of being hurt in the past?   Because of fear of unknown?  Because of uncertainty of the motivation behind others?

But most of all --- because of judgement.  My judgemental mind overtakes me at times that I do not even realize.  This has put an extremely large wall up between myself and others.  It has stopped me from having many blessed conversations and from gaining, what could have been, beautiful friendships.  Above all, this has brought me to become more focused on myself, and my own selfish desires, which in turn has stopped me from truly living a full life.

Life is so much about community -- leaning on each other, gaining from each other, supporting each other...LOVING each other.  I truly believe this is God's desire for us here on earth.  He desires for these walls to be completely broken down and replaced with hearts of love.

I want to change - I want my judgemental heart to become open, loving, and full of care for others.  This is what I desire.  Yet, I constantly feel these thoughts of judgement and negativity running through my mind.

What brings such judgement and negativity into our minds in the first place?  Here are 3 aspects that I believe hold a strong role.

1.  People.  Ironically, I think it has a lot to do with the people we are surrounding ourselves with.  Are we surrounding ourselves with people that are bringing positivity into our lives, that are lifting us up, that are reminding us of such love?  It is easy to drag eachother down and often takes effort to lift eachother up - find people to surround yourself with that are willing to take that effort in your life.

2.  Happiness.  Are we happy in our every day living, or are we bitter for one reason or another?  Are we allowing this bitterness to take over our interactions with others?

3.  Focus on Hurt.  Have we been hurt badly in the past?  Are we being hurt currently?  Are we allowing THIS to affect all of our interactions and relationships?  Be reminded that hurt will come, but forgiveness and grace is overcompassing of this.  Along with this - it is important that we do not categorize one or more hurts to every possible relationship that we may gain.

We become closed off and guarded humans because of many different reasons, many different experiences and troubles.  Working on breaking this down takes hard work and much self awareness.

Let us love with no walls --- let us love with no judgement --- let us love with no fear.  For this is what Jesus did and this is what He desires of us.