What is it about this time of life when you’ve got kids at home, that makes you feel like life is crazy busy and more than occasionally out of control?
Like seriously, can we stop the merry-go-round so I can get off?
It seems like one drama after another, one of those action movies that have you on the edge of your seat for the entire 90 minutes — except that this particular movie lasts 18+ years.
When our kids were little, we established a good pattern of breaks so that we could each actually get off of the merry-go-round for at least one evening most weeks.
That worked really well, but now that the kids are older, the opportunity for adult time-outs just doesn’t happen quite as often. It needs to be built into our schedule farther in advance, and often is pre-empted for other things.
However, there are ways to know when mommy’s break is something that needs to happen … now!
I start speaking my mind more often. You know that running commentary that is always playing non-stop in your mind? Well, I start verbalizing it and it’s not always awesome. Usually it’s nothing terrible, but it’s always something I haven’t thought through. Something that could be taken as way worse than my internal dialogue intended. I’ve probably incriminated myself many times (the eating of 3 pieces of pie comment at bible study this week — ugh, I’ve never actually done that, but you wouldn’t know that to have heard me that night!).
I become less productive. I tend to get side tracked, procrastinate and generally get less work done. Which is a very bad thing when your time is tight to begin with.
I lose patience far more quickly. With the kids, with my husband, with other people … not pretty.
I don’t have the time or energy to help others. I start to feel drained, like I just have nothing left to give to others. And really, I should be in a place where if someone needs help, I am ready and available to help.
So what can I do to get off of the merry-go-round? Besides throwing up, because I get dizzy so quickly …
Say no more often. I’m terrible at this. Like, seriously terrible. So instead, I just pick and choose what I’m going to say no to. Generally, anything that involves kids is far more draining on me than not. Things that don’t involve kids at this stage of my life can actually be energizing. Like helping out with Blossom Women’s Conference, or the Anthem For Today fundraising concert (although how they ended up happening on the same day is beyond me …). I love that stuff, and it feeds my soul to be able to work on projects like that. Even so, I didn’t think twice at turning down the Chair position for Parent Council at the high school — on my very first night! Sure, it would have involved working with more adults than kids, but really, I didn’t think I was ready for something like that quite yet.d
Making sure I voice my feelings. Feelings are so … arbitrary and irrational. Most of the time, I prefer to vent to someone (usually hubby) and move on with doing whatever it is I’m venting about. But I’ve discovered that those feelings are actually important and that voicing them can bring about change with whatever it is that’s stressing me out.
Letting things stay undone. I can’t physically do everything, and I probably shouldn’t try. But I do try anyway. And then people think that I’ve got everything handled and that I don’t need any help. When really, my internal dialogue is complaining about how no one is helping! Talk about a catch 22.
Knowing when I’m teetering on the edge and doing something about it. One day, when my husband came home from work, I handed him the baby and said “I’m leaving.” I had had it and was ready to pack it in. I didn’t realize how it sounded until I saw the look of shock and panic on his face. I quickly said “… for a few hours” and he breathed a sigh of relief and was quite happy to allow me some time to myself. But that day I knew I was ready to lose it, so I did what needed to be done.
Making sure I’m spending time in prayer and in the Bible every morning. Way back when we were youth leaders, we had one particular kid that was wise beyond her years. One night, when the teenagers were bouncing off the walls, annoying each other and having a crazy night, she pulled me aside and said “I think we may have forgotten to pray this evening.”. Which was totally true. When we forget to put God first, we might as well not even start.
One day the merry-go-round will stop, either because my kids are grown and gone or because I’m in heaven. And I know it will feel like it’s gone past so quickly. So I’m going to enjoy the ride while I’m on it (while doing my best not to throw up!).