Family

Finding Balance in Family Life

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night with your mind racing; filled with disorder? Or find yourself standing in the middle of your kitchen/sitting in your car… wondering how am I going to take care of all of this? If you are like me, and that is probably not the best thing to be right now:), you get overwhelmed. You see yourself plowing through the everyday not ever getting to the little extras you have at the bottom of your list.  Those extras.. the things on my list that never get crossed off because I am always taking care of others… and then I crash.

But I am on a mission this Lent. A mission to restore myself.  To be honest, this will probably take longer than 40 days, but it is a beginning. Things on the bottom of my list have been: read a book, take a walk, go to Adoration, sit and pray, date night with my husband. They never happen or very rarely because I let the other things have priority. It is coming to me lately that I make the list. I get to state the importance of each action item, and I need to reclaim that authority over my life.

I need to take care of me so that I can take care of others. There are all kinds of slogans like that: Live simply so that others can simply live. Do less so that others can do more. etc. But seriously if my cup is empty I have nothing left to give.

I listened to a podcast the other day at Messy Parenting and learned a lot about reordering the priorities into my life.  A pyramid of sorts with Prayer at the bottom of the triangle. Next comes personal care, then taking care of my partner, then peripheral… And it is shocking to me how much I can put in the peripheral.  I am thinking about this. It is making sense to me.

Prayer is the foundation for everything listed above. When I take time to pray I am listening to God as He balances my day. He lays out a plan. He brings to my heart those I need to lift up. He lifts me up! How often I am looking to others to affirm me when my Dear Jesus is right there waiting to shower His love upon me? A routine that has worked for me in the past is to set my alarm a half-hour early and have a place for prayer. Accents are important and do not need to be elaborate: a soft light, a warm blanket, a candle. I have a spot in my den where I have all the images of my family’s patron saints. I like to think of them as friends who are with me. I light the candle, sip my cocoa or tea, wrap myself in a blanket and read my devotionals. A couple of favorites right now are Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, Roses among Thornsby St. Francis de Sales, I have my highlighter and I highlight all the passages that span to me form my devotionals. Our parish is also doing a program called Alpha.  I have a Bible in a Year app on my phone and I use that as well to read my scripture.  I love the Psalms as well and sometimes I will grab the music book and sing myself a psalm or two. They are so comforting and having them memorized form being in the choir as a child has brought great comfort to me through the years.

Personal is the next level on the pyramid. Here it is: the taking care of oneself. Here is where I can give myself the time for a walk, the time to make that salad or a fresh pot of soup. The time to read a chapter of a book, and/ or grab a cup of tea with a friend. Things that used to be for others I am now opening up into my world. They are not extravagant! It is crazy to realize this!  I also am putting the time for me to do my paperwork; my thank you notes, my quick bill paying, etc. So I am making a plan. I pencil in a walk with a friend, schedule a cup of tea with a friend, schedule something each day to refuel me. So far I have read Pride and Prejudice and watched the movie! ( So good! I even shared the movie with my family and had some good family time as well!) I have gone to daily Mass a few times and shared a 2 1/2 half hour cup of tea with a friend at a local Panera. Oh! And I am trying to eat my food when it is warm:). I’m aiming for a date night coming up and have lunch scheduled with a good friend tomorrow. So the future looks bright!

Taking care of my partner; in this case, my handsome husband is pretty important to me. Getting myself and this man to heaven is my priority.  Being married almost 23 years we can get caught up with the lives of our kids and the running of our house. By taking time for myself, doing some reading, taking a walk, discussing the latest whatever with someone else gives me something else to bring to our table of discussion instead of how was the kids’ school day? I can make him a special meal. I can write him a note. Looking at my life this way is helping me to be more intentional. I was at the dollar store the other day and I picked up some cards that I can leave on his desk every once in a while with a note. We used to do that when we were younger. How fun it will be to revisit that tradition.  Love.. it has to be fanned to keep the flame alive. We are blessed with church family whom our children call aunties and uncles, grandmas and grandpas and we trust them. Their kindness allows us to grab a date night out here and there. All we have to do is make it a priority. Put it on the calendar. Be intentional. Take care of the one you love.

Peripheral is the smallest one, yet the one where I placed most of my energy. The doctors’ appointments, sports teams, music lessons, therapy appointments, friends visits, youth groups, house cleaning, laundry, etc. It’s all peripheral; It’s all in the background. I am creating a structure for laundry, chores, etc so that they flow more smoothly and are not the focus of my day. I am letting go of the crumbs on the floor and the toothpaste in the sink and taking time to recharge. I am delegating more to my kids. Surprisingly it is easiest for my smaller kids to embrace this change as my bigs have grown up with me doing more, but they are coming along.

It is my prayer that this new structure that I am trying to add into my life will make still my mind and bring it peace and balance. I pray that by seeking to find God’s will for myself and my family in all these areas, we will continue to draw closer to one another. I seek constantly the example of the saints in the church. Struggling mother issue? St. Monica. Lost Something? St. Anthony. Small stuff weighing you down? St. Therese of Lisieux is the answer. The Holy Family has always been an inspiration to me in the model of caring for self and others and how to live a life close to God our Father. May the Holy Family pray for us all

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