Scaling Back

I received an email from a mom that heard me speak recently. She had a question for me that I know is on the mind of every mother in this country.

Her question:

On your Website, it mentions how you “scaled back” and changed your focus. What exactly does that mean? How did you do it? As a mother of three very young children, I find myself constantly feeling very overwhelmed because I am trying to be “Supermom.” At the end of the day, I feel like I’ve spun my wheels. I haven’t finished one project, I’m exhausted and have nothing to show for it.

I feel like God is definitely calling me to assess my priorities and “scale back” though I struggle with it. I’ve always been an overachiever and involved in too many activities and since becoming a parent it’s probably gotten worse.

Do you have any advice for someone in my situation?

My “scale back” had to do with quitting my full-time job as a pharmaceutical rep to stay home with (at that time) one daughter. This involved selling our “dream home”, buying a less expensive home, buying a van (the company took mine!), and learning to stay at home. When I did this many moms warned me to be very cautious about new obligations because if I wasn’t careful I would end up as busy as before.

This was great advice. God (and my husband) made me very sensitive to outside commitments and I said no to most things. I, too, like to “do it all!” I heard Beth Moore speak once and she said she had to understand her calling. When folks would ask her to speak for a teen group or a couples retreat she would go back to her purpose which was to minister to women and say no to these “good” things in order to be ready for God’s first and best for her. We only get 24 hours in our day. We must put God first or everything else will fall apart.

Here are some specifics that have helped me:

I get up at 6 a.m. to study with the Lord until 7. I shower, makeup, dress, check email until 8 when my kids wake up. When they wake up I am ready for them. This morning routine is a big key for a successful day.

Something else God has taught me is to include my girls in the day’s work. If I am doing laundry, so are they. If I am doing dishes, they are too. Whatever needs to be done we work together as a team. They need to learn the chore, they need to learn responsibility, and they need to learn a good work ethic.

I rely on my husband a lot when making decisions. Some commitments that sound reasonable to me he may see differently. He has seen me through all the stages and he knows what makes me crazy and what I can handle. Seek your husband’s advice by asking him, “Does this sound like a good idea for us?” Don’t be afraid to say no, it will free you up for God’s best!

Ask yourself, “What good can come from this?” Does this activity/commitment serve a purpose? Does it move your family or your kids closer to the Lord, or closer to the character you want to see in their life? Or is it just good and fun?

Write down all the ways you spend your time for a week. At the end of the week estimate how much time was invested in each activity. Now make the list you think God would make for you. A great resource is Teri Maxwell’s book “Managers of Their Homes.” We must be purposeful about our time, it is as valuable to God as our talents and how we utilize those.

The computer is a huge time sucker for me. Sometimes I set a timer to be sure it doesn’t take too much time; other times I use it as a “reward” when I’ve done some other things on my list.

Pray for the three things God would have you accomplish today. This is reasonable and you’ll feel great when you do them. But when you look at a list of 25 things it is defeating! God has given us plenty of time to do all He has called us to do, but not enough to do all that we or others might expect.

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