I mentioned a few posts ago how I've really been feeling the pull to simplify this Lent. It wasn't an intended "goal" of mine for this season, but it seems to be an unforeseen side effect. I've always been one to keep busy-busy-busy, especially after meeting and marrying Mike (he never stops - he's like the Energizer Bunny), and it always used to amaze me that people would seem so incredulous at our daily schedule or to-do list. I'd get comments about my energy level, or things like "You do more in one hour than I do all day!" every single day. I'd walk away thinking, "Wow, I can't imagine doing anything LESS than what I am doing right now - I can't possibly be doing anything more that a normal person..." And I truly believed it. I still kind of do, really.
I look around at the other parents at gymnastics practice - the ones who are saying hi to their spouse quickly as they "change shifts" and the parent who dropped off for practice is now running out the door to go accomplish more tasks. Or, I'd overhear families talking about going through the drive thru again for dinner, and think to myself, "I'm so grateful that we're not that busy!"
And I was. And still am - we have a lot that we should be grateful for. We are truly blessed.
But things seem to have changed around in my head over the past two weeks. Maybe it's the rescheduling of our day to be around prayer (thanking God for whomever created the alarms in cell phones - I'm not sure we'd realize it was prayer time without that clanging!). Maybe it's the lack of coffee. Maybe it's the fact that I moved the computer completely OUT of the main room of the house, so can't just "pop on to check my email quickly." I don't know - whatever it is, our lives seem a bit less cluttered. A bit slower than normal.
And I'm secretly LOVING it. Over the past two weeks, I've been able to sit back and really take a look at our daily life, kind of from the outside. There are a lot of things that I love about our life - things I'm very thankful for and things that I don't ever want to change.
But there's a lot that I don't like.
I don't like having to rush the boys through meals, just so we can be ready to leave the house once again to run to practice or music or swim lessons or errands.
I don't like feeling like I'm constantly nagging about chores - when we're so busy, the boys don't have time to have both play time and a chance to finish their chores, and I end up nagging and pestering them about their simple duties.
I don't like dinner time being my main source of stress for the day - trying to figure out how to feed our family healthfully while not getting home until 6 pm every single weekday was causing me incredible pressure.
I don't like not being able to work out on a regular basis, because we're constantly running, running, running.
I don't like feeling constantly exhausted and reliant on coffee just to get through the day. It's hard to get to sleep before midnight when there's so much that I didn't get to throughout the day. The first week or so of Lent, I was so constantly exhausted that it really hit me just how much my body physically relies on caffeine just to push through the day. It really was my liquid source of energy. That realization - the understanding of just how addicted I truly was, physically - was slightly terrifying.
I don't want to be the mom that's too busy to nurture friendships. I don't want to be the mom that's constantly snapping or yelling at their kids to "get moving" or "come on, let's go!" I cringe every time I hear myself say that.......I really need to stop. When you hear your 4 year old repeat it back to you, even with the same tone of voice.....you know it's going a bit too far.
The past two weeks have shown me that no one else is going to fight for quality time in my life - it has to be something that I fight for. If I want time to watch my boys just play together and live in their imaginations - I need to give them that time. If I want time to take care of myself physically - I need to carve it out. If I want to make sure I have the ability to put home-cooked, healthy meals on the table for my family - I need to fight for it.
That's what He's telling me this Lent.
So that's what I'm working on - I'm simplifying. One piece of the puzzle at a time:
Personal: nurture the "real life" friendships and relationships. Online connections are great - but oftentimes, they end up being a way to avoid my real surroundings. I need to focus on my immediate surroundings: these are the people and friends who are going to drop off medicine and gatorade when we're all sick. These are the friends who are going to be around to lend a hand when Peter comes home. These are the friends who I can hug on the hard days. I love all of my friends and family - near and far - but, I was spending too much time immersed in a virtual world, and ignoring the world around me. It's great to be awake at 2 am and have someone to chat with online........but it's not so great when you can't pull yourself away from the computer for all hours of the day because there's ALWAYS someone online to chat with. Real life friends come over for an hour or two....and then they go home. Simplify.
Family: We need to cut back. Just because we CAN do multiple things doesn't mean that we should. Sure swim lessons are "free"...but they're also two days a week because the age spread between the boys necessitates enrolling in two different classes, on completely different days of the week. We've dropped those lessons - freeing up two weekdays. Simplify our schedule.
Diet: Back to the basics. Cutting swim lessons means two less days of "30 minute meals" and more time to get back into our "from scratch" menus. It also means two days of guaranteed treadmill time.
Physically: we have too much stuff. I know it, Mike knows it....I even think the boys know it. A lot of it (like baby toys and books), I'm holding on to for when Peter comes home. But just because I'm holding onto it doesn't mean it needs to be accessible! There's no reason why it can't be stored neatly in the basement instead of cluttering up the house. I've been slowly going through the house and boxing things back up or bagging them up to donate. Simplify our stuff.
It doesn't seem like much - cutting back on just a few things, here and there - but it's already made a huge difference. Simplifying these few things has led to much more time to get the necessities accomplished - which then gets me to bed closer to on time, which then leads to less of a reliance on liquid energy the next day, which then leads to a happier and more productive household.
Refocus on what's important: marriage, family, and God (not necessarily in that order!).
This life is just a passing moment - why do I want to make it harder than it already is? Refocusing on God in every action, every errand, every chore has pointed out to me just how much I'd pushed Him out and refilled those spots with the chaos and stress of the outside world.
I'm cleaning house this Lent - how about you?