By Stacy, Contributing Writer
Earlier this year I hit bottom.
By bottom, I mean, complete burn out and exhaustion.
The breaking point was finding myself in bed for ten days with shingles.
Since then I have been making a concerted effort to have more margin in my life. A lot more.
It is important for my physical, spiritual and mental well being.
There are still many busy days, but fewer of them. I’ve stepped away from a number of commitments and given myself permission say ‘no’ to extra projects for the rest of the year.
I’m a homeschooling mom to three kids (ages 12, 8 and 3) and a preacher’s wife, so our lives are full and busy, but I’m learning to streamline.
The day I have chosen to share with you is a Thursday. It’s the same day of the week I shared last year, but it looks quite different. Each day in our home is different, but the common theme is staying home more and resting often.
This particular Thursday followed a few days of busyness:
Sunday was church morning and evening.
Monday held jury duty and grocery shopping.
Tuesday included Kettlebell classes, unloading the food co-op truck, and attending a ladies devotional in the evening.
Wednesday was piano lessons and Bible class. . .
By Thursday, I needed a quiet day.
I’ve found myself having one of these almost every week. I feel guilty some of the time, but I know it keeps me from going over the edge. So, I’m doing my best to go with it.
So, now that you have a little background, here is how my day went:
About 7:15 a.m., my eyes open. The house is still quiet, and I am grateful. We all stay up quite late on Wednesday evenings after Bible class and Thursdays has become something of a sleep-in day.
I slip out of bed and do a few stretches. I decide not to do a full blown workout routine because I don’t know how long I have before little children wake up. I plan to let them sleep as long as possible.
I pull out my Bible and read 2 Peter. It’s a short book and one I’m reading to help prepare for attending Ladies Bible study on Friday morning (we are studying some of the concepts presented in this book).
Since it’s still quiet, I decide to hop in the shower. I usually wait until the kids are up and my husband is teaching their math lessons before I make a break for the shower, but today I take a chance.
The house is still quiet once I’m finished, so I creep to the kitchen and see what I can do without waking anyone.
We live in a rather small home, so it’s pretty difficult to be in the main living area without rousing sleeping people.
I notice the kitchen is still messy because I ran out of steam last night, but I decide to leave the cleaning until the children are awake.
I pull out my laptop and check email and Facebook, and I then realize that I read the wrong book for our Bible study! It was supposed to be 1 Peter. Since things are going so well (for a change) I decide to read 1 Peter, and I manage to do so before the kids emerge.
As I finish reading, the sounds of waking children reach my ears and I hop up to start breakfast. We are having scrambled eggs and sausage today.
My three year old thinks that is a bad idea.
The wild rumpus begins.
Morning hugs, conversations, arguments, dishwasher unloading (by the 12 year old), and even a little gymnastics ensue as the breakfast is prepared. We all sit down to eat, and I realize it’s actually 9 a.m.! Talk about a late start. But we are in no hurry, so it’s good.
Breakfast is served on paper plates.
I read Psalm 1 to the the kids as I try to feed bites of sausage and egg to my three year old. Thankfully, she ends up eating most of her breakfast.
My husband enters the room and declares it is now time for math.
The kids have come to expect this, as it’s been the norm for about a year now. I am fully aware of the blessing it is to have my husband teach this subject! Math was the toughest subject for the kids and I to tackle, and I am grateful to him for relieving me of that duty. (Just in case you are wondering, I asked if he would take it over, explaining the difficulties I was facing, and he agreed.)
While my husband teaches math, I start a load of laundry and then work in the kitchen.
I smile as I overhear my daughter ask her dad why he has to make sound effects while explaining math concepts (I also wince when the kids complain about math being too hard. I do feel bad that my husband has to do this!).
After I clean up the dishes, I move to other kitchen work. Today that includes packing up roasted tomatoes for the freezer, starting a batch of Kale chips and soaking nuts for a grain-free granola.
My three year old helps.
I laugh about the fact that I use paper plates for breakfast, yet make roasted tomatoes, kale chips, and granola from scratch!
Since slowing down, I have reconnected with my love of cooking, and am finding much enjoyment in preparing food. I don’t enjoy it every day, but in general, I am finding a great sense of accomplishment and joy in making good food for my family.
Once math is over (which takes about an hour), I sit next to the piano and listen to my son practice. The three year old climbs onto my lap and I hold her and just breathe.
This is my view:
Next I do piano flashcards with my son and then get ready for my oldest daughter to practice.
I hop up to get some coffee first and then sit back in the rocking chair to listen.
This might sound peaceful, but in reality, there is a lot of reminding them to count out loud and discussion of why they need to practice a certain way. We have recently started lessons with new piano teachers, and it has been an adjustment.
After piano we have a little play time mixed in with some school reading and independent work. I check on school work and keep the laundry going.
Before long it’s time for lunch and my husband comes home to eat with us. It’s about 1 p.m.
We use paper plates again.
After lunch, I run out to the post office alone to mail something that’s been waiting for weeks. It feels good to get that done.
I come home and my husband goes back to work.
Believe it or not, I am feeling tired.
Yes, I am.
I head to bed to rest for about 30 minutes while the kids have quiet time.
After that we go outside for some sunshine. I push my three year old on the swing for at least 20 minutes and talk to the other two. We live in an extremely foggy area, so the sunshine feels wonderful (and the sand is warm on our feet). We stay outside a good, long while.
Next it’s time for some cleaning. No one is very excited about this idea.
I help my 12 year old do some de-cluttering. My son cleans his bedroom, and I run in there for a few minutes to help a little, too.
Once we weary of cleaning, I drive us to a safer part of town and we take a short walk then drive back home again.
I start a simple supper before hearing the doorbell. The kids jump up and down as the realize it’s their grandma! She has come to help tune my daughter’s violin before attending the small group study my husband (her son) is teaching tonight.
I sit down on the couch and throw a small beach ball back and forth with the younger kids while the oldest works with her grandma.
Once grandma leaves, the kids eat a quick dinner and start a movie (Toy Story 3).
I go and rest on my bed, with my laptop, while the three old sits beside me watching a show on the Kindle (she thought Toy Story 3 was too scary).
I research local naturopaths and text my sister to ask what she thinks. We chat back a forth for a while and I promise to call the naturopath the following day. I’ve done a lot of improving on my own, but I would like some extra help and to have my hormones and adrenals tested.
I get the kids to bed and my husband comes home from teaching. We watch a show together before heading to bed ourselves.
Even after all this rest, I feel exhausted and vow not to get up in the morning for my Kettlebells class.
But you know what? I woke up early for no reason, felt energized, and went to class.
I think my day of rest worked.
And truly, I’m finding myself blessed by illness. It’s been a very painful blessing. But one that helped me get back on track.