It was a risk. And I fretted over it. There was a measure of guilt, a spoonful of inadequacy. OK, more like a gallon of it.
After all, there was a time when I’d been able to do it all–I was organized, my children wore matching outfits and we participated in a plethora of activities.
Of course, that was before we had twins.
After the twins were born, I still tried to keep up. We had piano and dance, soccer and science camp. We were scheduled and carpooling almost every day of the week.
But eventually, I could feel myself unraveling–the threads of my patience and peace lying bundled and knotted at day’s end.
I was doing too many things and not doing any of them very well.
I was melting down far too often while hauling my kids to every practice, game or “family-friendly” event. I was abysmally overwhelmed. Something had to change.
At the end of last school year, my husband sat me down and with gentle words, gave me permission to let a few things go. In fact, we let a lot of things go. And it freaked me out.
“But they need soccer and music!” I protested.
“Not as much as they need a mother who is happy and sane,” my husband replied.
“I know, but–“
“Elizabeth,” he reminded me, “we have five children.”
Oh, yeah. Huh.
Sometimes I get caught up in comparing myself to all the super-moms out there. Except, there’s no such thing as a super-mom and I’m comparing myself to a fantasy. God made me who I am and honestly, I’m not a very happy person when I’m trying to be something I’m not.
I like to be home. No, I need to be home. Tending my five children doesn’t happen on a schedule. I can’t squeeze in nurturing, discipline and nutrition between fifteen extra-curricular activities. I need space in my schedule. And my children need space in theirs, too.
This Fall we opted out of almost everything. We needed room to breathe, to settle, to re-connect, to bond as a big family of seven.
My husband built a backyard fire-pit and we started a new weekend tradition of roasting marshmallows and telling stories. Instead of racing to Saturday soccer games, we took day-trips.
We drove up the California coast and went hiking in the Santa Ynez valley. We went pumpkin picking in Oak Glen and feasted on fresh-baked apple dumplings on the ride home.
Slowly, we felt a new rhythm seeping into our lives. Our children were turning their focus home-ward, building their sibling relationships and making memories with our whole family. At the end of our weekends, I felt refreshed–not exhausted.
In a strange, beautiful way, our lives were being woven together. I had started this school year worrying about taking a risk and depriving my children of a well-rounded life. Turns out, that risk became an abundant, unexpected blessing.
For all of us.
Do you need to give yourself permission to let some things go?
How do you find a way to say “no” to unnecessary things so you can say “yes” to more important things?
by Elizabeth EstherLeave a Comment
Letting go is such a blessing! I try to build in two “lazy” sessions into each week – time to veg out, nap, chat, or most powerfully of all, just do exactly what occurs to me at the time. I’m so glad that letting go is working out so beautifully for your family!
Oh, how I wish I could let go and stay home. Having a special needs child doesn’t afford me that luxury. I have had as many as six doctor/therapy appointments in one week. By the end of those days where there are multiple appointments I am so worn down that I am having meltdowns right along with my child. It is so draining for our entire family. I don’t have time for the upkeep on the house and it’s frustrating for me because I should be able to do it not having a job outside the house. My husband keeps telling me it’s okay, but I’m, like you said, trying to be supermom. He always tells me that I’m a stay-at-home-mom that is never home! I’m glad that this is working for your family. Please pray that I would have the strength to take care of my husband, children and house all the while getting my son the necessary care that he needs. Thank you.
I wish more mommas, and daddies too, understood the beauty of just saying no and letting go. I think we would have a lot less anxiety in the world. Don’t get me wrong, it is a trap I have fallen into myself more often then I would like to remember. But letting go is a lesson God has really been teaching me.
so completely agree. margin=sanity and sanity=peace, creativity, bonding, fun, and on and oN!
Thank you for offering up your experience and how you managed to tailor your needs, your children’s needs and make it work in a much better way. Today moms are overscheduled, overworked, underprepared and overloaded to the point they just cannot seem to know what to do when there is silent time. If we are like this, imagine what are kids are learning. They won’t know how to be still……just “be”. Thank you for sharing your journey!
Been there…done that. And it didn’t have anything to do with the kids’ activities. It was all MY activities. I was at church and in ministry most of the time. I was doing good, right? Nope. Just like you I realized I need to be with my kids, not others’ kids. So, I finally let EVERYthing go, except music and youth group. My husband joined me with the youth group and I continued choir. We didn’t do every single youth activity, but when we did, we could bring our girls. But more time with family and with God made a difference. And as they got older and as we (I) had a more stable calendar, I could add something here and there, as long as it didn’t interfere with my family time. Back into Women’s Bible Study and what a blessing that was to get back into that.
Lou Ann says
As a mom of 5 with a set of twins mixed in there, I whole heartedly agree. My children are now grown, and I do not believe they are less because we said “No” to activities more than “Yes” and we limited activities especially when they were young. In fact, I would say they are stronger, have reached places and accomplishments we never would have dreamed of, and they have memories of “field trips” I took with them, books we read together, and those dinner time hymn sings. But I must add that once in High School when they had a life and it was a challenge to all be together, we allowed them to thrive in their opportunities, and made the old fashioned Sunday midday dinner a tradition when all were gathered together and maybe a few added guests. We now have an empty nest, but wonderful memories and excited for the future to again gather as the family expands, or maybe adopt a few. I never regret not doing more, not working at my profession, not having one more lesson. I treasure the memories of being home, and I think they cherish mom at home, too. One son told me I spoiled them all. When asked how so, he responded I cooked hot breakfast for them, and I sometimes baked fresh bread or cookies. Spoiled them? No, I tried to feed those 5 with 4 of them boys, and it cost less to cook than serve cold cereal. But if they see it as spoiling them with love and attention, so be it.
So great. SO. great. After just having our 4th child I’m feeling so guilty about slowly ‘sneaking’ out of things. Thank you for reinforcing what we’ve felt moved to do.
For some really unknown reason this made me choke up and the tears are flowing. And I am not even a mom of 5!
Yes I too need space.
Ashleigh (Heart and Home) says
SO. GOOD. It’s so easy to let ourselves slip into the craziness, and yet so much easier than we think to step out of it. Even with only a toddler and a preschooler, I find myself struggling against the frenetic pace set by some of the “supermoms” around me…. forgetting that what my children really need is a gentle, loving mother. I’ve never heard a mature adult say they think their mother was amazing because of the number of extra-curricular activities to which she drove them.
Mary @ Passionate Perseverance says
Thank you for your honesty. I see so many of my friends who are exhausted and overwrought trying to keep up with schedules that would make a CEO of a Fortune 500 company panic.
I have learned that saying “no’ blesses my family so much. I have two children, one in collage and one who is profoundly disabled. My main challenge these days is keeping things in balance as well as everyone around the table for Sunday dinner. I try to keep my schedule in check to make time for my husband and our relationship which is changing time moves on.
I wish more Moms had the courage to say no. Children grow up and will one day leave the nest. Think of all the wonderful memories that could be made at home with all that time spent in the car.
Blessings and Grace…
You are a wise woman and you have a wise husband.
We did this when our three boys were younger (now 16, 19, 21) and I’m glad we did.
Hope you find more “abundant, unexpected blessing” in your days.
Tammy@If Meadows Speak says
Elizabeth, thank you.
Powerful is the pull of getting sucked in the the activity–overscheduled whirlpool! There are times when I feel it too. We also have chosen family activities as our main focus. Thanks for the reminder of what’s really important and that I’m not a total fruitcake!
Holley Gerth says
This is a much-needed reminder for all of us. My college mentor used to say, “The hardest choices aren’t between good and bad–they’re between good and best.” Thanks for beautifully challenging us to choose best this year! Appreciate you, girl!
This was so what I needed to read this evening. I’ve been having lengthy discussions with friends who have older children, who are worn out from their over scheduled lives. Who tell me that’s what’s going to happen. But it’s a choice.
Love the idea of the fire pit and stories, your weekends sound so full of love and life 🙂
Kristen - Moms Sharpening Moms says
This is a good word, girl. I only have 3 children (2 of them twins, too!) and I find I must be intentional about not overscheduling. It can happen so easily! I must, must, must have my time at home and our family needs family time at home, too. I want my kids to remember a generally joyful person as their mama and not a stressed-out taxi driver!
As a mom of twins and four stepchildren I am in agreement with you. My twins have chosen one activity they want to do during the week so that we have time for family, church, homework and down time for us all. Your dear hubby is right. A happy mom is needed to care for her family.
The best thing we ever did as a family was go camping. We were together, we had no distractions (no tv unless it rained, no cell phones – there weren’t any yet -etc). We started a Catholic Family camping group and met other wonderful families.
My boys are both married now, in their 20’s and when we all get together and reminisce, camping is one of the top subjects. I know that it was more than the camping, it was the family being together – talking, playing, connecting – weekend after weekend, and many vacations too.
Your husband is very wise. God bless!
Sarah Mae says
Totally agree! We have pulled back as well. Even my husband walked away from his softball team, and he was the owner of the team. We needed the family to re-connect and we are SO happy we did this. We have had SO MANY blessings from it. As I read your article I just about cried tears of joy for you. Having their hearts turn home-ward and bond with family is such an important part of life. Thanks for sharing this.
This almost made me feel like cheering, and I only have two children! (Yes, I’m dreading the ice skating lessons that my 3 & 6 yo have tomorrow, not sure WHY I thought it would be a good idea to put them in ice skating, lol.) I just love when we have *time*. I know I can’t get these years back, and I enjoy them more when I’m not over-scheduled.
Faith Barista Bonnie says
Oh, yeah! I went through the same experience at the end of last year. It was freeing to just say “No!” But, it is hard at times, when other “super-moms” go into the I’ve-done-that-I’m-doing-this-I’m-planning-that — I start to weaken.
But, I’ve been around that block too many times. And I’m trying to stay away. 😉 .. (In)Courage and other like minded sisters like you help rally me back! Go, Elizabeth Esther!
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