May Minded (suggestions for easing an overwhelmed mind)

“Homeschooling Mom Brain”

This picture is a good representation of my “homeschooling mom brain” in May. Each rock stands for little bits of information, events to remember, things to get done, material that still needs to be taught, connections that still need to be made, library books that need to be returned, summer scheduling that still needs to happen. And let’s not forget the recitals, costumes, award ceremonies, and planning for next year. I think there are a lot of other teachers and parents who can relate to this post as well.

May is like August, but in reverse. It’s gearing down instead of gearing up. Time to get things finished rather than started. It’s a major month of transition and anticipation. As the kids get older, time flies by faster, and the quicker the month of May comes and goes. If your brain is feeling overwhelmed, fragmented and “May-bilized,” here are a few suggestions that may help:       

Do nothing!

This may seem like the worst advice with all the things that need to get done, but it’s actually good advice and will help you get more things done in the end. Often in the franticness and hurry, we forget (or more truthfully, we make excuses not to stop) to take breaks and rest. We wear ourselves down to nothing and expect to be able to keep up the ridiculous pace we set. That’s silly! Rest renews energy and refines clarity. Your to-do list, tasks and text replies can wait. It’s about priorities, and priority should be given to rest.  So, shut off your phone, find some time to stop, and give yourself permission to be still.     

Take a hike!

There are constant reminders around my house of the things I have to do or should be doing- schoolwork, cooking, cleaning, laundry. Very often I need a change of view- literally and emotionally. Sometimes, others realize I need some new scenery before I do. My husband is great at gently suggesting I would enjoy a walk to get out of the house and get some fresh air. A fifteen minute walk, by myself, can be rejuvenating. Switch up the scenery, get some exercise, and I think you may see the things you could be doing and the privilege of the things you get to do with more clarity.  

Do something scary!

Gaining confidence through conquered fear is great for personal growth and productivity. Fear is a chain that keeps us in familiar territory and wants us to function in the same old patterns. It also adds a level of stress that gives unnecessary weight to things we need to do. Often fear of inadequacy, failure, uncertainty, and change come with times of transitions. Doing something scary can break through chains of fear and set you free in confidence. The more fear broken, the more confidence gained, the more freedom acquired. Freedom opens up opportunities and new ways of doing things.     

Find new people.

Sometimes we are around our people so often we take them for granted. When we meet new people, we increase our sense of belonging and can be reminded of our purpose. Spending time with new people bring different perspectives, refreshment, and make us appreciate our “family tribe” with greater gratitude and satisfaction!  

Have fun!

There’s a place for fun on everyone’s to-do list. Add some fun back into your days with silly songs, funny YouTube videos, a good knock-knock joke, play with the kids. Learn to take yourself less seriously. And laugh often! Laughter is a powerful antidote to stress, pain, and conflict. Nothing works faster or more dependably to bring your mind and body back into balance than a good laugh. Humor lightens your burdens, inspires hope, connects you to others, and keeps you grounded, focused, and alert. It also helps you release anger and forgive sooner. 1

Now for the truth disclaimer! Resting, stopping, and taking breaks is very hard for me to do, and it may be hard for you too. BUT I know it’s the best thing for me (and you) and it’s especially important during a busy time. I often have to coach myself to ignore my to-do list, give myself permission to sit down, and focus on quieting down.

I was reminded of these things this week when our family went away to family homeschool camp. I went to camp with an overwhelmed mind and it took time to wind down. But once I was able to unwind, we did nothing but rest, took hikes, did scary things, meet new people, and had fun! I left camp relaxed and my mind was free to think clearly.

Stepping away from everything gave me the perspective that some of those “rocks” I was dwelling on were not as important as I thought. And some of the “rocks” were things to be appreciated because we are blessed we get to do them. I realize not everyone has the luxury of taking a few days away, but just trying one of two of the suggestions above can really make a difference to be more relaxed, rested and ready to enjoy May and what’s to come.


Keeping It Together-Part 2- How are you?

howareyou

I love talking to people. My favorite part of a conversation is when it moves away from the polite “Hi, How are you?” to a deeper level of sharing.  I love when people open up and talk about the unique challenges they are facing, what they are interested in and share their hopes and dreams. It allows me to feel like I am not alone and inspires me to move towards my own interests. Conversations like this do not happen overnight. They are built on trust and authenticity. Today, I want to invite you to be honest and ask yourself “How are you? How are you really doing?”

The first step in “Keeping It All Together” is stopping. Let’s hit the pause button for a moment and start to evaluate where we stand physically, mentally and spiritually. This is an opportunity to be completely honest. Let’s allow ourselves some grace in this process too. Our responses will serve as a starting point for our work in finding a better balance in life.

Let’s begin….

According to research conducted by the Barna Group 1,  

 56% of moms feel overcommitted.

62% of moms are dissatisfied with work/home balance.

70% of moms are tired

80% of moms are stressed out.

95% of moms want to be better in one area of life.  

You are not alone! The world is filled with overwhelmed, exhausted moms and I do not think we were created to live life this way.

Ask yourself the following questions. If you can journal your answers, great. If you only have time to read and think about one or two of the questions at a time, that’s great too. There is no right or wrong answer. Remember no pressure or judgement. We are working on lessening the burden not adding to it.

  1. On a scale from 1-10, how tired are you? Can you pinpoint the reasons why you are tired- baby in the house, lack of sleep, dealing with stressful circumstances….?
  2. On a scale from 1-10, how overwhelmed do you feel? Can you identify sources of stress? 
  3. Is your current schedule working for you? Are you satisfied with it or do you wish for a change?
  4. Are you using your gifts and talents wisely?
  5. Are you overcommitted? Are the commitments things that you once enjoyed but now wish you could get out of?
  6. Are you surrounded by family or a community that supports you and you can depend on for help?
  7. How would you describe your relationship with God? 
  8. Is life what you thought it would be? Are you enjoying your life?
  9. Are you making time to take care for yourself or explore an area of interest?

Every couple of months or so, I go through these questions again. Each time, I hope the changes I have made in my life or family’s schedule will be reflected in my answers. If not, I don’t stress it. It just means there is more work to be done or that I am in a particular season of life. Remember GRACE is key here! I would also encourage you to pray as you work through the questions. Ask God to give you eyes to see dissatisfaction and areas that need His strength and healing.

Now that we have taken a good, honest look at ourselves, we can move on to the next step. In the next post, we will work to identify what our priorities are and look to see how we are spending our time. Do our priorities and time match up?

PS  If you can find six minutes, watch the following video clip from Barna Group. I do not think you will be disappointed.It’s for every woman trying to maintain the perfect everything and still falling short.