Maintaining Motivation

There’s no doubt about it. These times are trying. Hard. Difficult. Confusing. The Covid-19 pandemic is upon us and we are forced to stay home. Now, I don’t want to talk about the coronavirus. I really don’t. I want to talk about being a stay at home mom.

I’ve been having some conversations via text with some friends who work away from home and they are now stay at home parents with full time kids. Life has been a huge change for them.

One friend asked me how I stay motivated. It took me a while to respond. I thought about it…

This is new territory for most of us. Many of you work outside of the home-that’s hard. Now you are staying home-really hard. Your kids aren’t in school-you are now their teacher-super hard. Working from home with kids in the house is super duper hard! Nothing is easy-no one said it would be. You can do it though-because you have to.

Many of you rely on social situations. You have friends and spend time with them. You see co-workers every day and thrive on that connection. You have a support system in family or friends. However, now you are physically cut off from all of those things. Aside from your immediate family, everyone is in isolation.

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Everyone needs support and connection. For me I connect through texting. I send people texts through the day mostly just to get a response, any response to validate that I exist. There have been times that I have gone days without a reply from anyone. That is when I sink into a depression. It’s easy to sink when you think no one in the outside world thinks your are important enough to reply to. It’s lonely.

I look at all of you struggling with this new territory and almost smirk. This has been my life. Yes, I chose to be a stay at home mom and I love it-but it is HARD! I like to have connection outside of my home and I fight hard to get it. I don’t have parents or siblings, I don’t have that familial support system that others do. My husband is still able to work and he isn’t home during the day, he then comes home and goes right out to farm. I am in isolation with my kids all day every day. The only thing that has changed for us is that we can’t go out to public places.

My suggestion is this: have some sort of routine. Have a to-do list, a simple one. My anxiety gets out of control when my house is messy so I clean on a schedule. I’ll post a sample of what that looks like but I have tasks I do every day -make the bed, laundry, dishes. I have weekly tasks-cleaning the bathroom, floors, dusting. Then I have monthly tasks like cleaning the fridge. It’s not rocket science but it works.

Shower and getting dressed will help you get through the day! Basic hygiene is vital when you stay at home. It’s so easy to not want to do those simple things but I promise it helps. I would love to just sit in my pajamas all day and watch cartoons with my kids and yes, sometimes that does happen-but for the most part we get stuff done.

Reach out to people. You aren’t the only one struggling-and maybe you aren’t struggling-but reach out anyway. Whether it’s a text, phone call, FaceTime, email, snail mail…reach out and make some sort of connection. Leave the house if you are able. We are blessed to live on a farm. When the weather is nice we are absolutely outside, moving around and getting fresh air. My goal is 15 minutes but it’s always longer than that. Which brings me to another suggestion…

Have almost zero expectations-expectations lead to resentment. Don’t set the bar so high that you can’t reach it. Set reasonable goals. My kids aren’t school age yet but our goals are simple: get dressed, eat, burn energy, don’t just sit in front of the tv-even though it’s so easy to do. When Oliver naps Jack has independent play-cars, tractors, playdoh, kinetic sand, etc. Occasionally I hand Jack a tablet just to get a break. I need it-and I have no guilt in doing that.

Grace. Lots of grace. Give it away. Give it to yourself. Accept it from those around you and accept it from God. Things will not go the way you plan and that’s okay. You will lose your temper-it’s easy to do in closed quarters. Grace upon grace is my biggest suggestion.

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”” James‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

You will survive this because you have to. Make the most of it by spending more time with your family-maybe that’s having regular family meals, playing games, or exercising together. Make it a point to turn off the screens in your home too. You’ll all need a break from tv, social media, the news, games. Take time to just enjoy your family. Make time for your bible. Spending time in the Word will help you. Seriously. A simple devotion can inspire you to function. This time is a gift-even though it may not always feel that way.

Reach out to me- I am here if you need to talk. I may not have answers but I can listen and love.

Denial

Have you ever done something that you know you shouldn’t but just can’t help yourself. Maybe it’s a guilty pleasure like watching something that’s a little “mature” or reading something that is vulgar. Maybe it’s eating something when a health condition says it’s probably wise to avoid those types of foods.

How do you feel after you’ve done those things? Happy? Satisfied? Maybe disappointed in yourself?

While indulging in those “guilty pleasures” might feel good in the moment they can be detrimental in the long run-to your physical and/or mental health.

I have been fairly candid about my mental health and what causes some of my anxiety and depression. I have gone to therapy and take medication for my problems. I do exercises that help me get through the day when I’m stressed and overwhelmed. I have learned to break down boundaries and build up healthy ones. I have been doing daily devotionals and spending more time with God-I’ve been consistent for over 100 days but something is still feeling off.

“Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.”

Habakkuk‬ ‭2:2-3‬

I decided to give up Instagram. Gasp! The horror! I gave up one measly social media site that means nothing to do many people. Instagram can be used for so much good and education and connecting but it can also be used for comparison, bragging, immorality, and the list goes on. The fact of the matter is that Instagram was hurting my mental health. I’ve been free of that branch of social media for several weeks now and my mood has changed 10,000%. Okay, maybe not that much but there has been an improvement and I LOVE it-so much so that I deleted the Facebook app off of my phone to test that too. I still log in through my web browser but it’s work and I get frustrated by how long it takes. I log on only to post to some groups that I am in charge of. My mood has changed significantly within the past week and I’m considering logging off of social media for good.

Some of you couldn’t care less about social media and it doesn’t effect you at all and that is great. Others of you know exactly what I am talking about and maybe you’re considering making changes in your social media lives as well. Good for you!

I’ve been in denial that social media is at the root of my mental health problems. I’m not saying that by deleting said programs will cure me but it certainly doesn’t hurt. I love feeling connected but I now have more of a desire to be physically connected with my family. I want to be content with my current life and not feel drawn to know what others are doing.

“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

James‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I feel that God is leading me to continue this blog so I will do that. If you want to keep up with it please subscribe through email! Deleting Facebook is something that I feel needs to be done for myself. For those of you wondering how you will keep up with my kids and their cuteness-you know my number, my email, where we live. You will survive not getting updates every day.

Think about what you can detox out of your life to give you more happiness. What are you giving control to?

The Messy Side

I love to keep a neat, clean, organized home. My anxiety feeds on messy. I cannot calm down when everything is in disarray. I end up rage cleaning-you know-the type of cleaning that someone does when they are angry and can’t control anything else so they scrub and scrub until a hole forms in the counter because it makes them feel in control. Yeah…that’s me. I shamefully admit that more than once I’ve broken a dish or bent silverware during my rage cleaning. Good times. What a mess.

Hot Lava and a Messy House filled with love.

Recently my dishwasher broke. I loathe washing dishes. I would rather clean the toilet with my own toothbrush than wash dishes. So, my dishes sit in the sink for as long as I can tolerate them-hoping that someone will pop by and ask to wash them for me-after all…I’m a fabulous stay at home mom and there are tons of people who want to just “bless” me by doing my chores. A girl can dream can’t she? What a mess.

And then there’s this other pile. A paper pile. I’m sure you’re familiar with it-I think it’s called “bills”. It sits there. All day. Every day. Looking at me-waiting to be paid. I know those bills are due but I look at them and look at our bank account and try to figure out when to mail these bills so that they don’t overlap or come close to grocery day. What a mess.

I am a mess. My life is a mess. My kids are a mess. My house is a mess. But guess what…God doesn’t care. In fact-he sent His son to earth to take care of my mess. He’s with me in my anxiety driven rage cleaning. He’s with me when I’m avoiding doing the dishes and filling the sink with water one more time. He’s with me when I’m juggling bills and pay checks and trips to the grocery store trying to make every penny count.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

God never said we have to be perfect, organized, bathed every day, house spotless. He wants us to make an effort and give our best and if our best is less than perfect that’s okay because it’s our best. What is important is that we meet with Him every day.

I love that I can come to Him with my mess. My sins-my anger, discontentment, jealousy, gossip, unforgiveness or whatever else is messy in my life and he takes it upon him and buries it at the bottom of the sea.

As far as the East is from the west, so far he has removed our sins from us. Psalm 103:12

Where are you today? Trying to be perfect? Content in your journey? Giving your best effort? Wherever you are know that you can be there and meet God in that place too. You don’t need to be perfect, pray perfect, look perfect…we are all a little messy.

Contentment

Before Christmas and New Years I wrote about my word for 2020. Boundaries kept coming up and I set out to learn more about setting boundaries, keeping boundaries and respecting boundaries. Nearly two weeks into the new year I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on the boundary concept. It’s definitely still a work in progress but I now feel God pointing me in another direction for my word of the year. Contentment.

My entire life I have struggled with comparison. I’m sure I’ve written about that before -I don’t like to dwell on my past blog posts though. I’ve struggled with items I own and wanting better. I’ve struggled with how many friends I have and wanting more. I’ve struggled with keeping my home in a perfect state like people on tv or Instagram influencers. I’ve struggled with raising my kids in a way that someone else does that I admire.

The truth is that the word contentment was a slap across my face. I need to be content with what I have, who I am, my home, my car, my kids, my life…

While I continue to work on boundaries, contentment falls into line with that-for me anyway. This year I will be content with what I have and not wanting more. Spending time with my family will remain my number one priority-and that doesn’t mean that every day needs to be perfect…because it definitely won’t be.

I pray that in my search for contentment my children will also be content in what they have and how we live. I pray that they will enjoy the simpler pleasures of life and value our family time. I know that I find joy in swinging with my kids and baking with them. I enjoy building train tracks and going on adventures to our “treasure tree”. I pray that they learn to appreciate the little things now and that I don’t build up their expectations too much.

I choose joy.

I choose happiness.

I choose love.

I choose laughter.

I choose grace.

I choose contentment.

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (‭Philippians‬ ‭4‬:‭12‬ NIV)

Healthy Boundaries

Does anyone set a New Years Resolution and actually keep it? I’ve never really taken it seriously. For the past couple years though a word would present itself to me and stick. One year it was grace. I worked on learning about grace. It’s importance. How to give and receive it. This past year the word has been surrender. I am a huge control freak. I’ve had to learn how to let go and let God. Lately the word has been boundaries. All arrows are pointing to setting boundaries and respecting boundaries. So guess what? That’s going to be my word for 2020.

According to the highly credible website Wikipedia, a New Years Resolution is  “a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.”

This explanation seems to be pretty accurate. I think most people resolve to improve themselves physically…diet, exercise, quit a bad habit, etc. But why don’t we make more of an effort to resolve our mental issues. Let’s focus on improving our mental health. That will look differently to everyone and maybe dieting, exercising or quitting a bad habit will help you mentally. However, maybe working on forgiveness, relationships, grace, surrender, boundaries and the like might be a better option. How about getting back into church or diving into your bible every day?

In my opinion when your heart and mind are healthy everything else will fall into place. God has a plan.

When I first started having these words: grace, surrender, boundaries, appear to me I wasn’t sure I could make those kind of changes in my life. When you’ve lived a certain way your entire life and then try to change something it’s like throwing a stick into a tire spoke. I fell. A lot. I got hurt. But, as with many things, consistency is key. I kept at it. Those things I was changing got easier. Before I knew it I was giving grace and surrendering without struggle.

This coming year as I focus on boundaries I wanted to look up what that really means. According to the “interwebs”, most sites had a similar definition, “a real or imagined line that marks the edge or limit of something“. That definition came from Cambridge Dictionary. I liked the wording of that explanation. The limit of something.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

During the year of 2020 I will be more mindful of my personal boundaries. I will say “no” more. I will be setting limits as to what I share on social media-not only for myself but for my kids. I will be respecting others’ boundaries. I will listen to my heart and prayerfully consider things before I make commitments. I will not settle for something just to make someone else happy. This might sound a little selfish but my mental health has been struggling because I have worked too hard at pleasing others. I will now guide my focus on what God is calling me to do and what is best for my family. I have been extremely hasty at making decisions in the past. From now on it might take me a little longer to respond and commit to something simply because I want to do what is right in my heart and within Gods Will for my life and my family.

As silly as New Years Resolutions may seem I encourage you to make one. A silly resolution or a serious one. The more you work on something the easier it becomes. It takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days to create a lifestyle.

Introverted Mom

Oh man, I am so an introvert. I absolutely cannot be in front of people. I do not like to be the center of attention. Please don’t make me talk to a group, lead a group, read out loud in front of a group. I was the kid that would sweat bullets when the teacher said “lets read out loud” or “I’m going to randomly call on people to answer the questions”. Lord help me my introverted-ness and my anxiety was absolutely paralyzing in school. I only realize that now…it was not obvious back then.

Most of the time, I need time to recuperate after an event. Being social drains my energy. I attended a bridal shower a few weeks ago and I literally needed 3 days before I felt normal. My energy was drained from forcing myself to be social. Every Monday after church is my recovery day from being around people. Life can be exhausting in the most unusual ways.

It may not seem that I am an introvert on paper. It’s easier to share my thoughts when no one is looking back at me. Blogging is serious therapy for me because I can get my words out without being in public. People can read it or not…thats not the point…I’ve said it before but I like to share what I am going through so that others who might be going through something similar will not feel alone.

It is so difficult to be an introvert and to be a parent. I want what is best for my child! I want him to be social and to thrive in situations where there are lots of people. I want him to be outgoing and to be able to make friends. How can I teach him that when I don’t even like leaving my seat during the “shake hands” time during church?

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

I would love to be involved in mom groups or play groups but, to be honest, that kind of stuff is SUPER out of my comfort zone. I do not like new social situations- especially when there is no one that I know. We recently took a swimming class and that was out of my comfort zone but I felt that it was important to learn water safety since my little man loves the water. The first day of class I nearly had a panic attack because I didn’t know what to expect. We made it though. And it was great. We didn’t make any lifelong friends but I was able to be a normal human being for the sake of my child.

One thing that I have noticed is that my little man is okay with social situations. He willingly approaches other kids. He shares his toys with them. He initiates a game of tag. These things make me so proud as a parent. I cannot believe that a child of two introverts is able to build a social life better than we can.

Little man and I were in the airport last week and he was restless. There is not a lot to do for an almost 2 year old in a small airport. He was drawn to other families with kids. He went to them, he shared his tractor and a little girl, who was several years older than he, willingly played with him while we waited to board our plane. I did not have to do a thing except supervise. Praise God!

I am doing my best to step out of my comfort zone as a parent to allow for more social situations for my kid. We go to the park and to the library and that’s fine for us right now. Hopefully I will be able to overcome more barriers as he gets older and more social settings will be happening.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. Philippians 4:11

As much as I do not like social situations I also have a need to be around other adults from time to time. That is why I am okay with having a few close friends. I can share with them because I trust them and they know me. Over the years I have learned that a few close friends is better than a thousand acquaintances. One thing is for sure and that is that God has been faithful to provide for me the right people in certain points in my life. My close friends have not always been the same people. They change based on the season of life that I am in and I believe that God does that on purpose. He always provides what we need at the moment we need it-even for me as an introvert.