Parenting

When You Need a Bit of Perspective

Motherhood trumps all other endeavors in my life as the most exhilarating, joy-filled, amazing adventure.  Simultaneously, being a mom drains me and draws out everything I have to offer.  I’ve been stretched by motherhood more than any other relationship – and I’m not just talking the residual marks around my midline from carrying these two boys in my belly for nine months apiece.  I never knew how much it could fill me to love someone until I held my first son.  From that moment on, he has held my heart.  When our youngest came into our lives, I learned even more about love as the way you cherish your children multiplies with every child.  My boys make me giggle, brighten my day and surprise me with their unique ways of experiencing the world. 

I throw myself into motherhood.  I love with passion.  I study principles of parenting, developmental psychology and how to work with strong-willed children.  I talk with my friends about how to mother our children better.  I spend a good chunk of my prayer life praying over these two boys.  Motherhood consumes much of my waking life – and sometimes my sleeping hours as well. 

cup in window

Beyond being a mom, I home educate, which means I’ve chosen to keep our boys (now only one of them) home with me all day. We’re together.  A lot.  As in all the time. 

I have a part-time job, ministry, friendship and, oh, yes, I’m married.  I mention my husband after all the other commitments, but truly he isn’t the last on my list {though some days he would rightfully feel that way}.  Being a wife to my husband takes up a lot of my focused time and energy as well.  So, when I’m not tending to my boys, praying for my boys, disciplining my boys or planning something for my boys, I’m still plenty busy. 

Having an intentionally full life means I don’t always get sufficient time to sit, ponder, reflect, regroup, recalibrate.  If I’m going to gain perspective and be rejuvenated, I have to build it in.  I want to share them with you because I think it is vital that those of us who spend our lives pouring out into others get our tanks filled and our batteries charged on a regular basis. 

Coffee Cup and Glasses

Time away from your family really isn’t optional. 

I go about getting little breaks in several ways.  On a daily basis I try to build in a quiet time.  Let’s be honest.  This doesn’t always happen.  We might just finish home educating for the morning and have to zip out gymnastics.  We follow that with errands and the rest of our day piles on with no pause in sight.  That happens.  I try to make it the exception rather than the rule. 

With my youngest in elementary school, he doesn’t usually nap anymore {though on a day when he’s wiped out, given enough quiet and the requirement to lay still for a little while, he sometimes does}.  We take what we call, “Quiet Room Time” every day we can.  Most days, the deal is we have to lay down quietly with our eyes closed for at least 20 minutes and then for the remaining 30-40 minutes of our quiet room time, we can rest and read.  This little mid-day siesta gives me the pause I need to regain stamina for the duration of the day.  If I’ve been upset or agitated about something, taking this breather provides the space to calm and pray so I can get an attitude adjustment.

Most weeks I also build in a Sabbath day.  Some seasons don’t permit for this and sometimes I’m just plain irresponsible with my “yes” answers, filling too much time in my week with no spare room.   On the better weeks, I aim for a day off in the midst of the seven.  My Sabbath isn’t always Sunday as we go to church, have a rotating small group and I often meet with a woman I mentor in the evening.  Either Friday or Saturday works as a day with no chores, no obligations and no appointments.  On that day, I let go of the “have to” list and slow our pace.  Most weeks we have either a “Fun Friday” (with a lighter school schedule and some more options for my son to choose what we will do) or I use Saturday as my slow and refresh day.

Ocean at sunset

Beyond these days I take a personal retreat once a year by myself.  I bring my bible, paints, some walking shoes, a good book and whatever else suits me and stay three days and two nights in a beach town.  My husband provides this getaway so I can refresh and renew. 

Believe me, I could conjure 100 reasons and excuses why I couldn’t get away.  Money, time, demands, discomfort … you name it.  Yet, every time I take one of these get-aways, I come home rested and I gain what we all need: perspective.  Those situations which were perplexing me in my motherhood seem clearer.  I regain a deeper level of patience and remind myself how very much I love my family.  Stepping back gives me a chance to think through situations and also to let go and focus on myself and what I love.  As moms, it is so important that we have a life beyond motherhood.  After all, these children of ours are not going to be little forever.  They will go out and get a life of their own.  When that dust settles, we will be well off if we have cultivated interests of our own and the ability to be comfortable when we are alone. 

I used to be rigid on my retreats – bringing various Bible studies and deep spiritual books so that I could steep myself in the Word and prayer.  Though I found great goodness in all that, I’ve found, lately I do better to give myself no pressure or agenda.  I do spend time in the Word and prayer, but I also walk around, talk to people I meet or grab a cup of tea.  I might linger in a shop, read my book on the beach or take a nap.  The point is to become unhurried and to experience life without agenda. 

Our day-to-day existence includes numerous, unending demands.  We need to break away from all the hub-bub and grind so we can be filled.  As my friend’s pastor says, “The formula for parenthood is: sacrifice, rest, repeat.”  So much of our lives is blessed to be sacrificial for these precious children of ours.  We need to balance sacrifice with times of refreshment.  Self-care isn’t selfish.  When we step away to be filled, our children reap the benefits of a more content, peaceful and patient mother.  What better gift could we give them or ourselves? 


Have you had time to yourself?  How can you work in times of refreshment and renewal?  What keeps you from pursuing rest and relaxation?  I would love to hear from you and to be able to pray for you as you mother your children.  Comment here or on the Hearts Homeward Facebook page. 

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Kate
    April 13, 2016 at 11:22 AM

    Amen to this excellent post! I love this: sacrifice, rest, repeat. Ain’t that the truth!?!

    • Reply
      Patty
      April 13, 2016 at 10:30 PM

      Kate,
      Thanks for coming by! I so love how blogging friends cross one another’s paths after seasons of not hearing from one another. I love what you are doing at your blog these days too. Oh, how I need Jesus to parent well. The longer I parent, the more I know I don’t know near enough! Thank God He uses our loaves and fish to make miracles. Blessings to you.

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