When you get married, I sure hope you feel like you’re marrying your best friend. But all too often, five years later, you feel like marriage is less of a relationship and more of a to-do list.
Life just gets busy. And then your life seems to have endless demands on you.
This week my book To Love, Honor and Vacuum is on sale for just $1.99 for the Kindle and ebook version, and I have a soft spot for that book because it was the first I ever wrote. I was a young mom, surrounded by other young moms who were just so harried. And they felt like their marriages were rough. Their husbands took them for granted, they were constantly on the go, and they had no down time for themselves.
Life had become exhausting.
I asked myself, “is this really what it’s supposed to be like?” At the time my husband was working full time, five days a week, and then also on call several nights a week. He was super busy, too. But I did work hard to feel like my life was not an endless to do list.
On the book’s 10th anniversary I wrote an updated version of it, and that’s what’s for sale now! And while I did talk about housework in it (as I talked about yesterday in my post for messy moms), that wasn’t the main focus of the book. The main focus was how can we feel like we have purpose and a relationship-focused life full of joy when we have so many demands on us?
I got my first look at the actual new revised version at a Meet Up I had with some readers in Ottawa a while back!
Today I want to give you all a bit of a pep talk, of the kind that I gave in the book.
1. Life today is very different from life 25 years ago, 50 years ago, or 150 years ago. So adjust your expectations of yourself!
Have you ever sat in a huge pile of laundry, dejected, thinking to yourself, “my mom raised four kids and still managed to get the laundry done; my grandmother raised 6 on a farm; and my great-grandmother raised another 6 with no electricity! And she baked bread, too.” What is wrong with you? Why can’t you do what women before you did–even though you have all these modern conveniences?
You’re right–you may not be able to do what your mom and your grandma and your great-grandma did. But the truth is that you are doing a very different job than the one that they had!
Yes, their lives were often more physically challenging. They often lived much closer to poverty than we do. But they also didn’t have to juggle all of the things that you do.
- They didn’t have to drive kids to extracurricular activities
- They didn’t have to juggle shift work the way many of us do
- They tended to live in one place, have the same job (or their husband had the same one or two jobs) for their entire lives; and they didn’t have to worry about retraining as we do
- They didn’t have the internet, which eats up time, but which also makes parenting more difficult. You have to monitor what your kids do, worry about social media bullying, worry about porn–and your kids can spend more time online than talking with you
And so many more! As I said in To Love, Honor and Vacuum:
When we think about our jobs as mothers and wives, we often think women in centuries past performed these roles much better than we do. We ask ourselves, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I cope? Why am I always so tired?” Those are the wrong questions to be asking. Instead of blaming ourselves for how out of control we feel, we should realize that feeling out of control is the logical outcome of our busy society. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with us; there may be something wrong with how busy our lives are.
2. You don’t have to live like everybody else. It’s okay to have different priorities.
It’s okay to live in a small house (or even keep renting) if that reduces your stress. It’s okay to not put your kids in all kinds of extra-curricular activities. It’s okay to choose to get rid of your TV! (In fact, that’s what we did when the kids were really small, and I think that one step helped us make more counter-cultural choices, too.
The key thing is to think backwards. What do you want your family to feel like? To look like? To do? What kind of relationship do you want with your kids?
Then do the things that will get you there.
Don’t just put your life on autopilot, living up to everyone else’s expectations, and think that life is magically going to turn out all right.
In Hebrews 12:1-2, we’re told:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
We’re supposed to get rid of any weight that holds us back from Jesus, and what God wants for us (and those weights are different from sins!) They’re not bad, in and of themselves. But they’re not God’s best.
If your life is weird, that’s okay. If you pursue dreams that your mom and dad don’t understand, but that you feel a deep calling from God for, that’s okay. If you choose to live your life in a totally culturally weird way, but it means that you have more time as a family, and your kids feel closer to one another, that’s totally okay. Get rid of the things that keep you from what you feel like God is calling you to.
3. It really isn’t about working harder. It’s just about working smarter, and making work part of your family.
If you feel out of control, and like you’re always busy and your house is always a mess, and you’ve been trying different systems and organization habits and it isn’t working, take a huge step back.
It may not mean that you have to work harder. It may mean that you have to work smarter. Yesterday I shared some cleaning hacks to help people who are naturally messy keep their houses under control with less effort. But there’s another element to this.
As a mom, it is a good thing if you stop making cleaning your own responsibility, and start becoming “the family that cleans together.” After all, if you do absolutely everything for your kids, you rob them of the chance to learn responsibility and important life skills! The best job you can give your future daughter-in-law is a son who cleans toilets!
One of the reasons we often feel so exhausted by everything on our to-do list is that we see all of these tasks as taking us away from what we really want to do–namely spend time with our kids or our husband or rejuvenate ourselves. But what if we could change the way we do housework so that cleaning itself helped meet those goals?
What if cooking became a time of bonding between you and your preteen? What if you turned over cleaning the bathrooms to your kids once they reached 8–and compensated them with an allowance so they learned the value of money? You save time, and they get two life skills in one go! What if your kids learned to be responsible, so that they stopped leaving stuff all over the house, stopped demanding you help them with homework 10 minutes before the school bus, stopped forgetting their lunch–and started living up to their potential?
I show you how in the book–how to ask for help; how to convince your family to get on board; and most of all, how to institute the right consequences so you don’t nag, yell, or even cry!
You can do it. Because life doesn’t have to be a long list of things you have to get done. It really can be relationships you get to enjoy. Let me show you how!
Check out To Love, Honor and Vacuum (the book!) now–while the ebook is still just $1.99!