By Natalie, Editress of Visionary Womanhood
Got a question for the mail bag? Send it to me!
A reader writes:
This is a question that has stumped me for a very long time! How in the world do so many of you wives and mothers have time to study and blog and keep the rest of your life (being a wife/ homemaking/ mothering several children, etc and especially time with Jesus) together??? I’m in your age category, Natalie, I have 7 children on earth, one is special needs and requires a lot of attention and medical appointments, and my husband and I share a great relationship. I am very thankful for all that God has blessed our family with, and I have learned a lot from Him. But how do I fit in ministering and sharing these things I have learned like all of you wives/mothers/homemakers? My children cook, do farm chores and we have an ordered home all by God’s amazing grace—but it takes every minute of my 24 hour day. Could you possibly share some of your “secrets” as to how you balance it all?
I wrote a personal response to this reader, but I thought I’d share some of what I shared with her about finding balance—and even expand on that a bit.
God wired all of us differently and gave each of us a completely different set of circumstances:
- Different kids with different personalities and abilities—and different ages at different times. Also different numbers of kids.
- Different husbands with different personalities and different levels of availability and different expectations and different needs.
- Different homes with different budgets and different financial situations.
- Different locations with different access to different types of activities.
- We ourselves have different personalities, different abilities, different giftings, different interests, and different health situations.
And that’s just the tip of the ice burg! We are DIFFERENT!
The problem is—we don’t often celebrate our differences. We tend to compare ourselves to other Wemmicks and wonder where we fit in. Doubts plague us. Am I doing enough? Am I doing the right things? Am I doing those things the right way? Where is the balance?
Bottom line is this- if you are doing all that God has called you to do, and you know that there are no time wasters in your life, then you are in a good place of finding balance even if you are accomplishing less than other sisters in Christ.
It’s hard not to look at what others are doing—and wonder. I do it all the time. Am I doing what is BEST? It’s a constant evaluating—and tweaking.
The Pendulum Swing
I do think that there is a pendulum swing both ways on this issue of finding balance.
1. Swinging to the right are those who feel that a wife/mother shouldn’t even have a hobby at all—not sewing, stamping, scrap booking—not ANYTHING. Teaching and playing with the kids all day is the only appropriate use of one’s time.
2. Swinging to the left are those who think you should be able to home school, have a ministry at church, work from home, keep an immaculate house, entertain every week end—and basically be a super mom.
But I wonder if there is something slightly off with both of these extremes. The first swing is in danger of creating a child-centered home. The second swing puts the woman at risk of burning out and ruining her health—AND it compromises her relationships with her husband and children.
In general, children who grow up in homes where they are the center of the universe tend to become adults who think they are the center of the universe. (Not always though. I’ve seen kids grow up in homes like this who are well adjusted, kind, giving people. I think there may be other factors at play in those situations.)
On the other hand, kids growing up in homes where the parents are too busy to build relationships with them may end up feeling dismissed or not valuable. Since I tend to be a driven, project-oriented person, I am aware that this is the area I need to watch carefully.
If I were to venture a guess for finding balance on this issue, I’d describe it like this:
- A home that is rich in learning experiences. Mom and Dad both model what it means to be an “explorer” and a “learner.” There is education happening everyday on both a formal level and an informal level.
- A home that is rich in creativity (music, crafts, art, writing, literature, film, etc..)
- A home that is rich in acceptance and encouragement.
- A home that is rich in repentance and forgiveness.
- A home where all the members of the family are productive and fulfilled; contributing to the family economy.
Notice I left out “play.” There’s nothing wrong with playing—and almost everything right about it—for children. But people who are growing into adulthood as well as full fledged adults would probably find more personal growth and fulfillment by focusing on productive creativity and work rather than mindless gaming/playing.
A simple list of priorities will help you with finding balance in your life:
- Your relationship with God (fostered through prayer, reading God’s Word, Bible study, worship, fellowship in a local church, music, excellent reading materials, audio teachings, etc.)
- Your relationship with your husband (serving his needs, building him up, spending time with him, keeping your home together a place a refuge, peace, and strength.)
- Your relationship with your children (discipling them in the ways of their Creator, educating them by teaching them all about the created world, the God Who is writing history, and how to communicate (writing/speaking/multi-media) the truth about God to the world around them.)
- Your relationships with other Christians (serving in the local church, building up fellow believers locally and/or world-wide through blogging and other online opportunities, generously giving to the work of God, etc..)
- Your relationships with the people in this world who need Christ (your vocation or full time ministry, your neighbors, etc..)
Notice a key word in all of those points? Relationships. The two greatest commandments are to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength—and the second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
If you are a Christian, relationships make up 100% of your priorities.
Almost twenty years ago I was on bed rest with pregnancies for several years. I got NOTHING done in that season. When I just had little children and little help, it was all I could do to keep up with the bare minimum on that list of priorities. I did include activities from all five relationship areas on the list, but my time in ministry, for example, was limited.
In recent years, when bed rest has not been an issue, and I have several older children who have taken on many of the chores (many hands make light work!) as well as help me operate a home business, I’ve been able to pull off starting a business from scratch—and growing it into a thriving contribution to the family economy.
Our children have benefited by seeing first hand how a business operates—and learning new skills that earn them money for their future adventures in entrepreneurship. Our now 19-year-old graduated early from high school and college and is running his own thriving business from home. In many ways, our home business gave him the inspiration he needed to move forward in the direction he did – landing him where he is today.
I started this blog many years ago on Blogger simply as a way to connect with my local friends who had started getting together with me every month for what we called Visionary Womanhood Gatherings. All I did on that blog was copy/paste good articles I found online. I really knew nothing about blogging—and broke a bazillion “rules” I’m sure!
And then two years ago I decided to move over to WordPress and start a REAL blog with older contributing writers who could mentor younger women in being VISIONARY! Honestly, I don’t write much on this blog. About 4-5 times a month. The rest of the time there are 10 incredibly mature and gifted writers who share their hearts with the readers here. I wish I could do more, but this is not the season—yet.
Am I finding balance? I’m working on it ALL THE TIME! It’s like correcting the steering wheel on your car when you are driving down the freeway. You have to correct that wheel constantly – or you’ll drive right off the road.
Correcting the steering wheel is normal and necessary!
Wrapping it Up
- Don’t compare yourself with others.
- Take stock of your five priorities and what you are doing in each of those categories—starting with number one.
- Look at what you are doing with the hours you’ve been given in your day. See any time wasters? Get rid of them.
- And then RELAX! Be content and at peace with where God has you today.