I guess I only see what is on your blog but sometimes I get a bit discouraged thinking how can you do all that when I am attempting to do things and not fulfilling what I think I should be doing, most of the time? I do a lot, when I think about it, but I never feel its enough (maybe that is the problem), I have a routine, I try to balance out what I do each day, making sure I try to serve us all good food at good prices, have fun, learn, grow, do the chores, grow in the Lord, etc…there are SO many things to do each day and here I am with two kids and I can’t seem to figure out how to balance it any better than I am. I guess the basic question is what things do you do in your day to help you get so much done and not feel overwhelmed? I know you’ve posted on routines, which I have worked on and do, and the organizing system (which I hope to work on later from another system I started on), I’ve read the book “shopping for time” and am working on that, and baby steps, etc…but do you ever feel worn out? Do you ever wonder how you are supposed to keep adding more (things to do, family to raise, people to care about, posts to write, etc etc) when you are already pressed for time and energy? That is the way I feel…

This was from an email that I received a few weeks ago from a dear reader who I have come to know a bit through our emails. I struggled to edit what she said down to this much, but I think it gives you the gist of her question.
So many thoughts come to mind, but I’ll try to keep it coherent:

1) First of all, blogging can be so artificial, in what it shows us of somebody’s life.

Sometimes I scan over the posts from a week or two of blogging and think “Gosh, my life looks more impressive than it is!”. You only have the privilege of seeing the topics that I managed to write on that week: perhaps my Quiet Time bins, some yummy recipes, my grocery budget breakdown, a garden update and some things the Lord has been teaching me.

What you don’t see is that the Quiet Time bins took me 6 weeks to complete after I purchased the bins, that I undercooked my pumpkin bread last week, that I went over budget on groceries this month, that I have barely been out to my garden this last little while and it’s getting a bit weedy, that I didn’t manage to have time with the Lord today, that I was really tired and somewhat snappy with my kids this morning, and that my house desperately needs to be vacuumed and I’m behind on laundry.

The bottom line: I am a real person. I mess things up daily. I do NOT have it all together. I am the biggest sinner I know, and utterly dependent on the grace and mercy of God. I can be grumpy and selfish with my husband and kids. Not every meal I make turns out well. I don’t always balance my time efficiently or effectively or wisely. I have lazy days where I struggle with motivation. I sometimes have to run around to make my house presentable for guests. I sleep in some days when I should have gotten up earlier. I don’t always make time in the Word and in prayer the priority that I should. Some days I would prefer to just avoid the kitchen. Sometimes I don’t feel like blogging (gasp!).

2) We can only do as much as we can do, with what God has given us, through His grace.

I am definitely still working on learning this lesson. I, too, can look around at other women and think that I ought to be doing this or that, or read other blogs or books and feel that I am somehow missing the mark of all that a godly wife, mother and homemaker should be accomplishing.

What I need to continually remind myself of is that I am not those women. I am me. In the circumstances that God has placed me in, with the talents and gifts He has given me, with the struggles and weaknesses He has allowed for my sanctification.

One of the best things that I got out of the book Shopping for Time
, which I’ve mentioned before, is that I can’t do it all, and I am not supposed to. What I can do is conscientiously seek God on my time and priorities and schedule, asking what He would have for me in each new season of life. As He leads me to focus on particular priorities, relationships, and tasks, I have to learn to give up my need to “do it all” and be content in doing what He has actually asked of me. It’s so easy to place expectations on myself that He doesn’t burden me with, but not only is that unwise, it’s also unfruitful.

3) Do I ever feel worn out? Yes. Do I get overwhelmed sometimes? Of course. Do I sometimes wonder how I can add new things to my plate as our family grows, life gets busier, I learn more about health and nutrition, etc? Absolutely!

I have a tendency to want to do it all. I add things faster to my own schedule than anyone else ever could. I often have to force myself to sit back and really evaluate all that I am doing, and whether it’s wise and even feasible.

One thing that has helped is learning to streamline things over the years, and just becoming more comfortable in my roles and duties. I continue to try new scheduling methods, cleaning routines and techniques, implementing systems of organization, and trying to declutter more. I’ve learned to keep things like breakfast and lunch simple, to bathe my kids only a couple times a week, to find ways to multitask better, to use recipes with less ingredients and hands on time, and all of these things help me to accomplish more without going crazy.

I’ve also given things up. I don’t do scrapbooking or cardmaking anymore. I very rarely read fiction. I’ve worked to cut my grocery shopping trips down to every second week. I spend much less time on the phone than I used to and make use of my call display. We don’t watch tv, and keep the movies to a minimum. My kids aren’t in a bunch of activities, and we don’t do very many playdates or get togethers with friends during the week. My husband and I often use our free evenings to sit at our respective computers and do business stuff (though we still make time for fun and just being together). We work to maintain and nurture the relationships in our life that seem to be the highest priority in a given season, and try not to spread ourselves too thin.

4) I constantly have to try to remind myself of what really matters.

Is it that my house was spotless or that I played with my kids? Is it that our children were academically advanced or that we spent time instilling godly character, discipline and teaching them the Word of God? Is it that every meal I make is balanced nutritionally, completely organic and perfectly prepared or that I have sought to be a good steward with what I have been given, and that my motivations are to glorify God and to love and serve my family?

I can easily forget these things, but they’re true! So often, the things that I burden myself with are not ultimately important. Sometimes I get lost in the peripherals, and I need to take a step back and re-evaluate.

I hope this somewhat rambling post gives a little more insight into who I am, and how my days and weeks really play out in the real world, not just the blogosphere. I so desire to present myself as a regular woman, with struggles and challenges, who is just doing her best and sharing the journey with you!

I would love to hear from the rest of you, and how you deal with feeling overwhelmed, with the expectations you have for yourself, and on maintaining balance and focus! Do you relate to these questions and issues?

Images by Hamed