Earlier this summer, I spent a couple happy weeks imagining my three oldest children all dressed up in little shin guards and cleats, dribbling easily past defenders on a fall Saturday morning. Just like their mom used to as a kid. Fall soccer signups were fast approaching. A friend of mine and I were scheming to get our kids on the same teams.
I’m still no expert at discernment, but I’m learning to recognize when the Holy Spirit sends me some clarity. And the Holy Spirit sent me some clarity on my soccer dreams recently in the form of a particularly hot, busy, whiny, grumpy summer day.
On the way to the last activity of that busy day, after spending 10min dealing with a particularly exhausted child who couldn’t seem to pull it together enough to click in her seatbelt, it hit me. I wanted to turn around and just go home. All these fun activities (at least back to back to back) were exhausting for me and for my kids. The baby hadn’t had a decent nap all day long, and I figured I would barely have time to shovel in some baby food and a bottle before he crashed for bedtime an hour early. I knew my three oldest children weren’t going to thank God that night in family prayer for anything I had shuttled them to that day…and trust me, they were all good things with good people. Plus, the laundry was sky-high on the couch, the living room was an obstacle course of Lego creations and dress-up clothes from the day before, and dinner was frozen pizza (again) and (I hoped) some leftover roasted broccoli.
Too much of a good thing is still too much.
It’s not the right time for us to take on soccer this fall. I’ll be taking care of a newborn plus four older children under eight years old by the end of the fall soccer season. And I’ll be homeschooling three of them. Not to mention we’ve already discerned commitments to activities that will have the kids and I driving around town three afternoons a week.
For me, I’ve been learning these past few years that sometimes being a great mom means knowing when to stay home. For me, sometimes it’s turning on the sprinkler instead of taking everyone to the pool. Maybe it’s going to one birthday party in a weekend instead of three. Maybe it’s making sure I have at least a couple of no-go afternoons a week to let the kids play in the backyard while I catch up on laundry and cook a good meal. Maybe it’s waiting one more year before looking at soccer again.
My family needs me to notice what works and what doesn’t in our life together. We have a wonderful community of friends and family that we see all the time. We are involved in some great activities and ministries. It takes trust and not-a-little humility for me to say ‘no’ to good things sometimes, but it’s always so that I can say ‘yes’ to our little domestic church. And every season, every year, is different and always changing. What isn’t realistic or wise for us right now may be totally possible in a couple of years. There is a lot of richness in the season we’re in. Lots to love and lots to learn and lots to do. I’m trying to dive into that richness with eyes of faith–and a good sense of humor.
The other night during our family prayer, all three of my “big” kids (currently 7 1/2, 5, and 4) thanked God for “riding bikes” that day. They had ridden bikes and scooters all afternoon, just the three of them. I was surprised, since they had also gone to swim practice with all their friends that morning.
Guess there’s just no place like home.:)
Rebecca Larriviere says
I love this post! During Jack’s intense post-op recovery we were stuck at home all the time, but now he’s better, I feel like we have to do ALL THE THINGS! It’s no wonder we’re all a little exhausted and cranky at the end of the day. I think there is a middle ground and have started to cancel on certain plans just to save some sanity and play at home. Thank you for this post to help me combat any feelings of guilt over not enrolling all three kids in a kindermusic class or whatever other overreaching ideas of good and fun activities that may be getting in the way of good and needed rest.
Meg Clare says
What a wonderful gift you have given your children, you gave them their childhood back instead of scheduling them beyond having fun and play starts feeling like work. I am so happy that you see the wisdom of raising children, in which you cook a proper meal for them, and that riding bikes is a good prayer in their idea of a busy day. God bless you, Erin.
So true! It took me years to figure out that it’s ok not to do something, not to organise activities for every single day and stop doing what you’re doing at the moment just sit down.
Beautiful. Needed this today! Thank you!!
I was just talking to some friends last night about the contrast between busyness as what gets us out the door in the morning *as opposed to sloth*, and busyness as an idol. I think we as Moms can put busyness on a pedestal,so when someone asks us how we are, we don’t say *how we’re doing* we say, I’m busy.