Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Family on Purpose {No Leftovers}

As a kid I used to hate leftover night. My mom would pull out the Pyrex and Tupperware from the nether regions of the fridge, and our family would get to dine on last Monday’s spaghetti, or Wednesday’s chicken casserole. Every so often this wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but we always preferred the freshly made meal over reheated seconds.

I think it’s the same thing in our relationships, especially with our children.

I’ll be honest here, doing on family purpose takes commitment just like having a happy marriage does. It sometimes takes all of me to be who my children need. Because of that I have to parent from the overflow. In other words, I can’t feed my family leftovers.

We all have a certain capacity for stress and activity. I think to some extent it’s hard wired in us, by our upbringing and our personalities. Extroverts, bless their hearts, are always ready to go. They find themselves energized more easily by interaction with others and social events buoy them rather than drain them. I’m only speaking by observation here, as I’m married to one. But introverts, bless my heart, are much different. And that’s okay. 

The point is to know yourself. Know what drains you and what fills you up. In our own home I’ve learned over the years that busyness on my part, and a filled calendar put me on the bus to crazy town. It’s just that way. So I guard my time, because no child of mine should have to experience my exhaustion and stress because I was too busy doing things for other people that I have nothing left for them. 

As a homemaker I mandate home days, because I often need some mental space. And often, the house needs some help as well. This was especially true when we were coming off our transition to public school. 

Here’s the thing, in this season I have realized that although I don’t work outside the home, I do have a full time job inside the home. Things started running really well around here when I began treating my role as homemaker as a full time job. It’s more than just cleaning the house and making dinner, it’s teaching my kids to do the same. And because I’m learning to be intentional in how I parent, this also means I’m bringing the kids along in a lot of the homemaking tasks I have to do.

Of course, I realize that sometimes life just happens and things come up so we have to over extend ourselves for a bit. It’s good to be flexible, but it’s also good to raise the white flag when needed. I often spend part of my morning time praying about how to structure my day, and asking God to show me what to do with my time. And sometimes he brings in other things I have to say yes to, and sometimes he clearly says to slow down.

What that means right now is that I’m really realistic and prayerful about how I spend my time. I spent many years living on the edge as a young mom because I wasn’t paying to attention to my own emotions, and my children often got my edgy and grumpy leftovers. Please hear me on this, this isn’t about being a stay at home mom or not, because sometimes you’ve got to work outside the home. However, our kids need us just as much and we have an obligation to them to care for our hearts so they get the best of what we have. It’s also not about using your personality quirks for an excuse to do or not do something. What it is about is knowing yourself. Know what feeds you, and make time for it. Also, know what kills you emotionally or mentally and take note not to allow those things to bombard your life. 

Our precious kids need all of us. Even when we don’t feel like we’re enough or up to the task, God says we have what it takes. Our responsibility is to be good stewards of all that he gives us: our time, our energy, our physical health and our emotional health. And I think our children benefit from watching us set up healthy margins and boundaries in our lives.


New here? 

This is part 9 of a 31 day series on how to be intentional as a parent, or more specially-creating the family you were meant to have.

You can catch up on all the posts here.

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