Slowing Down: Reclaiming Sanity
So, I have a problem with over-commitment. It seems that any time there is white space on my calendar, I find some excuse to fill it. My husband often points out that I never just sit. What? Who doesn’t sit? Except, he’s right. In my mind I’ve created a universe where moms don’t have crazy notions of just sitting because there’s always SOMETHING, somewhere that needs tending to. Although that might be true, what’s not true is the level of importance that’s placed on such tasks that come at the high price of my peace and well-being. I catch myself burning at both ends because maybe I struggle with what staying still might mean, and what I might stand to lose.
Being still will come at the expense of opportunities that I won’t be a part of, or some other plate I won’t get around to spin. Maybe that plate could have brought good things, been fun, or made me valuable in someone’s eyes. But like the guy in the circus running from plate to plate to keep them spinning, eventually they’ll start to fall. Taking on more and more tasks, believing it might serve a high purpose means that at some point something is going to break. Choosing to spin fewer plates means being able to better focus and invest in the ones that are the most valuable to YOU, and best use your talents and available time. Developing discernment on which tasks are the most essential and which ones can be punted or postponed will help establish a greater sense of control. Being more calm and controlled will pay long-term dividends in your household, and help the remaining tasks become more enjoyable.
Lost sense of worth?
From time to time, I’m tempted to buy into the myth that busy=worth. If I’m not slaying myself on my job, house, kids, husband, hobbies, duties, etc on a daily basis then I’m knocked down a few pegs in their eyes. Is that real? No. In my case, and I’m guessing in many others’, it’s self-imposed. I’m glad that I have a good work ethic, but how honoring am I to any of these things that I care about if I push myself to burnout and become completely ineffective? Is my worth really just a function of how much stuff I can cram into each day? Wrapping my identity into these various job titles means that I will always feel compelled to do more, and never feel satisfied that it is enough. Stepping down from being everything to everyone all the time means that I can spend time building a relationship with myself, which is necessary for healthy self-esteem and higher quality relationships.
I have a hard time telling people no. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to disappoint them, or maybe I fear smacking of selfishness by saying no. Taking on more and more at times feels like I’m going for a merit badge in awesomeness, when in reality the exhaustion becomes foolishness. I don’t know if I’m trying to impress others or myself with this constant juggling act. When I see a ‘take charge and get it done’ woman, my husband and kids are seeing some frazzled, tired, and short-fused version of their wife and mom who isn’t as much fun to be around anymore. Even though I might at times lose status with those I say no to, I firmly believe I’m gaining the respect of my family, who deserves to be put first.
Slowing down my life is not a natural skill, I have to intentionally work at it. Prioritizing tasks that have true relational value and are emotionally fulfilling will sustain me more than just being busy. I have to coach myself that my relationships, peace, and well-being are desirable, perhaps more than folded laundry or another committee meeting. Making time for self-care is critical for physical and emotional vitality. So read that book, play in the yard, call a friend, snuggle on the couch, exercise, or just..sit. Your sanity will thank you for it.
Baton Rouge, LA
Associate Pastor for Missions
Very well written and taking care of family and oneself is more important than another good deed. Thank you for honest reflection of caring for ourselves... go enjoy the weekend!
Baton Rouge, LA
Such Good Truth
This article is very insightful and packed with truth. Why do we run ourselves down and eventually burn out as wives, moms, employees, and volunteers? Thanks for the “slow down” reminder!