Living Simply Saturdays: Lowering my expectations and giving myself a break

Lss small

My plans for the next week?

Simple. Slow. Low expectations. Ahhh…

Last week I wrote about attacking the clutter and sifting through our possessions, following along with the book Spring Cleaning for Normal People (and Biblical Womanhood’s 10 week challenge).

Though I still fully intend to do this, I realized that at 14 weeks, my pregnant body is not quite as ready as I thought. I don’t know about you, but I find it easy to push myself too hard. I like to set high expectations, probably higher than the expectations that others have of me. I don’t allow myself a lot of time to just rest, relax, slow down or enjoy.

Though I am beginning to feel much better, this first week back to more regular cooking and kitchen food prep (and the extra kitchen cleaning that accompanies it) was more than enough. I thought I was ready to move back into my “productivity” mode, but when each afternoon found me dragging and practically asleep on the family room couch, and a morning of cooking and washing dishes left me physically exhausted, I realized that my body was trying to tell me something- “I’m still tired! Slow down!”

A friend reminded me at our homeschooling meeting last week that my feelings of being overwhelmed right now (because that’s how I was feeling- overwhelmed, and so far behind I’d never get caught up) might have something to do with my expectations, the ones that I (and nobody else!) place on myself. She gently reminded me that God knows the season I am in, and He doesn’t ask more of me than I am able to do. He doesn’t lay burdens on me that I can’t carry.

Quite often, I find that it’s me who does all the burden-laying around here. My husband is so reasonable in what he expects of me during these difficult weeks and months- a relatively tidy (but not sparkling clean) house as much as possible, clean socks and underwear, the children’s basic needs taken care of and being taught or read to as I am able, and basic food on the table. That’s it! Even my 4 year old daughter keeps trying to do chores she doesn’t really know how to do (bless her heart!), so that “you don’t have to work because you’re sick, Mommy”.

Who creates the pressure to make healthier, more homemade meals than I’ve been making? To get the house as clean as possible for hosting caregroup, so that no one would ever know that I’m not quite up to snuff? To keep up with blog posting six days a week, despite the loss of half of my regular blogging time due to needing more sleep than usual? To start spring cleaning and decluttering before I’m even back into my regular daily and weekly routines?

Oh wait. That would be me! I think I got the point, and let’s just say that I have allowed myself to slow down these past few days, and give myself a bit more grace for easing back into more regular life and duties.

Do you struggle with placing high or unrealistic expectations on yourself? How do you find that this affects your stress level? your attitude? your family? What helps you to release those expectations and lighten the burdens that you carry?

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  1. Oh, yes. I do the same thing.
    Thankfully, we serve a Lord who is so good and reminds us of his love and mercy toward us!
    A few years ago, God brought this verse to my attention and I have never been the same since:
    Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; HE GENTLY LEADS THOSE THAT HAVE YOUNG.”
    God knows where we are at and he is gently leading us during these hard years.
    Soak up this verse. Know it. Memorize it. It will come to your mind often in those days when life is so difficult!
    Praying for you to enjoy some extra rest this week!

  2. You’re very right. Why do we do this? But especially for mother’s with young children (and pregnant!). You can only do so much.

    Prayers your way.

  3. Stephanie, You are an amazing woman — so wish we lived near each other to be friends! Someone once said that the gifts of the Holy Spirit can bring blessings and challenges — not sure how Biblical that thought is — but what I always walked away with is that the skills and talents the Lord has equipped me with to carry out my call as wife and mother can also be the very same things that bring strife and chaos to my life. Mainly adding to my primary responsibilities — buying the world’s lie that I can do it all, lots of ideas that spreads myself ‘to thin’. Enjoying friends and relationships that steal away precious home time, ministering to women and a sometimes unbalanced participation in blogging :). You are wise to step aside and pause.

    There are seasons to our lives — this thought brought me much comfort about 13 years ago — its not that i might never do something that interests/inspires me, but it just might be in another season. blessings, judy

  4. I am exactly the same way – I have really high expectations for myself and I always have. I try to slow down and sometime I can, but generally I am much more content if I am accomplishing something. Good and bad, I guess. Remembering the season is so key, though – especially when we are pregnant and just cannot do as much. Not to mention you are growing a baby; a full time job in itself! Hang in there – you will have more energy very soon!

  5. I am so happy I found your blog from Small Notebook! Your blog is a resource for all of the things that I am trying to be or implement! Already subscribed, and enjoying hunting through your archives. Wonderful blog!

  6. We had 3 children in less than 4 years. My youngest in now 8 months old. I become frustrated this week because on a lot of blogs, the ones that are hopping (spring cleaning this, organizing that, homemade this, learning that), seem to be getting a lot done. If you read the profile there are usually one or two kids in the family. The ones with more than 2 kids(super huge generalization here)or have kids close together in age and maybe are homeschooling as well are usually the ones that don’t post very often. With 3 small children at home (with colds) no I am not going to be doing anything but the basics and that is ok.

    I want to encourage you that this reality that you are experiencing right now might be your reality for quite a while. Children are a blessing from the Lord and it seems for me that three was a big jump in blessing!

  7. I found you through Rachel’s links today on Small Notebook, too. As I left in a comment on her site, I feel like we are all sharing a big online group hug!

    It is very comforting to know we all have those days. With each link I follow I feel more and more blessed!

  8. Thanks for the sweet reminder, Steph. Although I am just five weeks away from delivery, I was just reminded last night that I need to start cutting back now and resting and simply enjoying this month. Things are pretty much in order, but I can get overly focused on making sure that everything is ready, my house clean, etc. This is wearing myself out. God is using the simple reminder of body pains and aches to remind me to rest…it is a good thing! God is always good!

  9. You are so right! I’m pregnant too (7 months) and in the middle of a kitchen remodel and all kinds of house craziness with rearranging rooms to get get ready for the new baby. And, as of yesterday, I’m on bedrest. Frustrating, yes…but also God’s gentle reminder that I’m not in control, and that I need to align myself with HIS plans and expectations for me during this time. Thanks so much for your blog–I’ve been so encouraged.

  10. Well…I was at the same homechool meeting and I thought Jacq was talking to me :o)
    I am not pregnant anymore but am homeschooling 2 with a just turned 4 month old (today) and I can raise the bar way too high. Then I get grumby and mad because I can’t do it all. All the while my big kids are learning how not to cope with life.
    Honestly, when I am feeling overwhelmed I try to ask myself..”What is the eternal thing right now?”. It is never the laundry, or the dishes, or the dust bunnies….it’s my kids, my husband and peace in my home.
    Aaron has the same requests of me as Ry does of you right now. I thought that was funny. Feed them, school/train the kids and clean underwear and socks is all he asks for. Great guys…eh!

  11. I hear you. Its so hard sometimes…I also have always had too high expectations of myself. Lately I seem to be getting nothing done…but in reality I am…its just not my to-do list. I should put nursing a newborn, training and playing with a toddler, changing and washing diapers, etc on my to-do lists.

    Thanks for the reminders this site is one spot I visit for a little break lately and its encouraging to hear this.

    I am also aiming for similar goals- tidy house, socks, underwear etc, and am also thankful for an understanding husband! We did go buy more socks and underwear for everyone before the baby was born though LOL I am serious…it really helps.

  12. Oh I do that all the time! Suddenly I’ll find myself exhausted and/or depressed and I can’t figure out why. Then my wonderful husband lets me talk it through until I realize that I’ve been trying to do/carry way too much. At least I’m at the point where it just takes a couple days of feeling down instead of a couple months before I slow down. 😛 That’s an improvement, right?

  13. Thanks for the reminder. My to-do list (in my head) is on-going, never-ending and downright overwhelming. I need to remind myself to tackle things as they come. Stop thinking about the next thing and the next and….

  14. Been feeling like a hamster in a wheel lately. I was literally just thinking this evening how I run and run and run around, and the to-do list never does get shorter. I needed this gentle reminder to lower the expectations I put on myself. They are so unrealistic!

  15. Hello! I just found it amusing (and really awesome) that we’re both Stephanies and have blogs of very similar names… among other similarities. 🙂
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Brief Hiatus =-.

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