There is a phrase I often hear come out of the mouths of moms. "I wish there were more hours in the day." Or, "I wish I had more time…" I've muttered something similar more times than I can count, and often find myself looking at the clock wondering where the day has gone. Sometimes I am delighted at the fact that it is almost eight-o-clock, because I know that the kids will soon be in bed and I'll get a few minutes to unwind and talk to my husband before laying my exhausted head on the pillow. Other times I wonder how I'm going to get everything I need to get done before eventually passing out.
Time. It is a precious commodity. And yet so often we feel as though we waste it or wonder where it all went. As a stay-at-home mom, time is the resource I have the most difficult time managing. Or am I just being too hard on myself? Over the course of the past several years since having children, I've pondered this question and there are a few things I've learned.
Make a to-do list if it helps you, but don't let it define you. Often I get half way through my day and feel as though I've accomplished nothing, when in fact I've gotten a lot done. I've made my kids' breakfast, helped them get dressed, packed my oldest son's lunch, started a load of laundry, and so on, but somehow I think I should have done more. Having a list, even if simply for the sake of checking things off, can give me a visual picture of everything I've achieved. However, if I beat myself up because I haven't finished all the items listed at the end of the day, I need a reminder that raising kids requires grace, both for myself and my children. Spending a few extra minutes to help my child understand his homework is more important than the dirty dishes in the sink.
Making memories is more valuable than having a spotless house. I am a tad OCD when it comes to clutter. But having kids has loosened me up and made me realize that my kids need a space to have their toys strewn everywhere without me interfering with their fun. And when my son asks me to play Legos with him? That is more important than the clothes which need to be folded. These days are limited, and there will come a time when he's not asking me to play with him anymore. Legos may not be my favorite pastime, but I can do a pretty mean Lego Batman voice and make my son giggle until my heart swells.
There are moments in your day you don't want to rush. Time with God. Time with you kids. Time with people who matter. There was a recent quote from a blog I follow that really stuck with me. God doesn't ever say, "Hurry up and come to me." He doesn't speak to me when I'm rushed or constantly looking at the clock. He speaks to me when I'm quiet. When I'm still. In the same way, my son often needs a few minutes to collect his thoughts and tell me what he needs to say. If my attitude is rushed and anxious, I will not hear it. And if I don't listen to my son at five, he's less likely to talk to me at ten or twelve or sixteen.
I also relish the hours I spend with my husband, extended family, and friends as well, and never want them to feel as though the time I spend with them is unimportant. If needed, I schedule it. I am intentional about clearing a space when, even if my kids are with me, I can enjoy their company without worrying about the need to do something or be somewhere else.
A busy life does not equal a fulfilled life. The older my children get, the more packed our schedule becomes. Between church and school activities and sports and extra curricular interests, the calendar is often filled before the month even begins. However, I've learned that we need at least a day here and there to simply do nothing. Sometimes "nothing" may mean watching movies all day with my family. Or playing at the park. But the schedule is clear for whatever we decide to do on that given day. I've met families who barely have time to breathe before their next dinner or outing or event. And they are not happy. They are exhausted.
As I look back on the years I've spent on this earth, the glimpses that stand out the most are the ones where I was loving the people I've been blessed to have in my life, and loving them well. Responsibilities and deadlines will never cease in this lifetime, but I don't want to forget to make memories that pass beyond the present. God, help me to remember the things that last. To look ahead.
To embrace the eternal.