How do you do it?
Priorities: Trying to have it all
This is the first of the “how do you do it” series of Blogs! This is for the people who stop me in the supermarket, stare at the belly and the toddler and Destructo-Boy and say “HOW do you DO it??”. Many years ago I wouldn’t have been asked that question. In the days before feminisim, dishwashers, dual income families, washing machines, “me” time and microwaves, many rural women cared for 9+ children with no electricity, all clothes hand made and hand washed, all food cooked from scratch and much of the food raised from the garden and the house paddock! Yet people ask me how I manage with my two-and-a-bit!!
Well, my way of doing it is to stop trying to do it ALL and have it ALL.
My generation have been told from when we were young that we can have the high-powered career, come home, be earth mother to our well adjusted children (after our SNAG husband picks them up from the developmentally-appropriate-intelectually-stimulating-high-adult/child-ratio child care centre) then after they are in bed have a couple of hours of “me” time, call ‘the girls’ to set up lunch for the next day, bake cookies for the church fete and fall into bed with our ever-sensitive husband, make wild, passionate love then go to sleep before doing it all the next day.
It was a lie.
For me anyway.
There aren’t enough hours in the day!! Let alone energy. Plus there is that niggling fact that our spouse and children are usually human and imperfect and need their Mum to just be Mum and their Wife to just be Wife rather than superwoman day-in, day-out. And believe me, after a day of a high powered career then a few hours of ‘earth mother’ – cookies for the church fete really don’t seem THAT important! Sadly, in this situation, the love making often slips way down the ‘to-do’ list too.
So the guilt sets in.
If we work outside the home, we’re guilty for not being home with our children. If we choose to be homemakers we are guilty for not providing financially and have a nagging feeling that we should be doing ‘more’ with our lives. We say yes to a hundred and one volunteer opportunities that come our way then feel guilty because we never get to SEE our Beloved other than to give instruction on who will pick up the kids the next day.
It is insanity.
So I decided to stop feeling guilty. I decided to set my priorities, take on only that which supported those priorities and stop trying to be everything to everybody. It meant saying no to some things. It meant giving up some things that I thought I enjoyed doing. It meant that people around me would stop saying “oh you are so fantastic for being able to do it all” because I stopped trying to pretend I COULD do it all.
What are these magic priorities that guide my life?
- My relationship with God – This IS the most important thing, it has to be, it sets the foundation for everything else. Read Matthew 10:37-39 to get Jesus’ point of view on the subject.
- My Husband – He is the love of my life and my best friend. For the benefit of us, him and my children I need to make sure he knows that always. Yes, he can get his own dinner if he has to, he can take care of himself when my children can’t and get comfort elsewhere if he is hurting and I am “too busy”. But I have seen the product of husbands being sidelined in favour of the children and it isn’t pretty! I have also seen the product of a husband being loved and respected and the result of children knowing that Mum and Dad are crazy about each other – and I like it!
- My children – I read a story once, I think it was “Woman After God’s Heart” by Elizabeth George, where a woman got called at her summer camp outreach for troubled kids to pick up her OWN children from the police after they were caught setting fire to a vacant block! It HAS to start at home. Proverbs has much to say on this subject, one quote that springs to mind is “TRAIN up a child in the way he should go….” (emphasis mine) this indicates we need to be proactive in the raising of our children, not just slot them in when we have time.
- My home – Creating a safe, comfortable place to fall for myself and my family IS important. Titus 2:2-5 and Proverbs 31 both describe women who keep their own home.
- My ministry – At the moment, this consists of this blog and other writing, sending the odd care package to loved ones and people in need, hospitality and packing off donations to charity. That’s it. It is my widows mite and I am sure God will multiply it because I am being faithful to his plan for me to minister to my home first. I have said no to many other ministry opportunities that I probably would have enjoyed because at this season of my life my children are very time hungry. There will be a season for me to do more outside the home but now isn’t it.
That is the other secret to prioritising. Recognising that there is a season for all things (Ecclesiastes chapter 3). Saying no now does not mean forever. God willing, I will enjoy a long ‘retirement’ once my children have grown and left home. Providing the grandbabies don’t keep me TOO occupied ;) I will be able to do it all – I just don’t have to do it all at once!
So there it is, the foundation is priorities, everything else hangs off that. Next time in this series I will start to talk about the nuts and bolts of ‘getting it done’.