Do you want to know the biggest secret to “getting it all done”? Change your definition of “all”.
When you were a young wife still anticipating the birth of your first child, you probably had time for a career, housekeeping, hobbies, exercise, Bible studies and women’s groups, social activities, and dates with your husband. As babies were added to your responsibilities, some of what you used to do fell away by neglect, necessity, design, or default. Still, while you might have been tired at the end of the day, you probably kept a pretty good handle on everything that was on your plate.
Then you began to homeschool. Suddenly you became not just wife and mother, but school teacher, lunch lady, p.e. coach, curriculum specialist, librarian, and janitor. Getting it all done in a day seemed about as likely as winning the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes two years in a row.
When I found out I was expecting our eighth child, our seventh was just five months old. We have always welcomed every child with delight and anticipation, but I admit: I felt defeated. How in the world was I to school six children and care for two babies? Our oldest was entering high school with highly academic aspirations; really, what was God thinking?
One Sunday at church I cried to a dear, older friend and she wisely encouraged me to list my top five responsibilities. After my husband’s confirmation that these were indeed the five non-negotiables of my life, I then made this list my “all”:
1. Nurture, guard, protect, and grow my relationship with the Lord
2. Nurture, guard, protect, and grow my relationship with my husband
3. Clothe our family
4. Feed our family and keep our home sanitary (I realize these are really two things here, but they’re both housekeeping related)
5. Educate our children
Seeing the list written on a piece of paper helped me to take a breath and realize that I was feeling overwhelmed largely because I was taking on too many non-essential things. Out went a few hobbies that I had always justified because they in some way blessed my family but weren’t crucial, out went unnecessary social events that just fritted away my time and left me unprepared for the next day or week, out went activities my children were involved in that really added nothing positive to their lives or ours.
When I am entering a less demanding season, I am always surprised and excited to be able to add back into my life things like regular exercise beyond running around the backyard with the kids, writing a whole book, or meals that require more than a few ingredients. My “all” will expand and flex as our family’s needs morph from one season to the next.
You can do it all, but you need to ask the Lord what “all” means for you and your family. By doing only those things to which He has called you, you will feel a sense of great accomplishment and peace when you come to the end of the day.
And the rest? Let it go.
Shared with Titus 2 Tuesday