I have friends whose life walks vary. Some, like myself, have chosen to leave careers to be stay-at-home moms or home managers. Others have chosen to persue their careers ambitiously, some with and some without children. A few friends are single and waiting on the Lord regarding the future of their life walk.
Despite the differences in our schedules and routines, there is one common thread that seems to bind us when we discuss daily life. That is, we women often complain of feeling tired.
You too? I'm not surprised. In many ways, we're prone to it. Women are more likely than men to be anemic. We women are wired for emotion too, and let's face it, emotional states can leave us feeling exhausted. We're multi- taskers (that never gets tiring, right?) And then there's the fact that we tend to be thinkers and "fix it, make it better" problem solvers. How many times have you laid awake at night, working a situation out in your mind (as if it could be solved at 2am). Anyone?
As a homeschooling mom of four children, ages 11 down to 3, I've certainly ascribed to feeling tired. This past summer, I spent a considerable amount of time praying, thinking about, and planning for our coming homeschool year. I wanted change, but at the onset of summer I was unclear as to specifically what type of change I was seeking. I mistakenly assumed some things, like thinking a change in our curriculum (which I LOVE) was in order. God was faithful to show me that in fact it was not the curriculum that needed tweaking. He convicted me that basically, it was me who needed tweaked.
For starters, He showed me that while I need to aim high in setting goals for my kids this year, I also need to expect less in terms of their ability to live up to those goal-driven expectations.
They're in training.
Sure, some goals might be met quickly. But the vast majority will take time. I realized it is I who needs to adjust my expectations so I can reduce my stress level and respond to their shortcomings appropriately, increasing their training where needed. Relieving that paricular stress load was like a good night's sleep. Ahhh, sweet.
It also became clear to me that our schedule needed tweaking. Now, this is something I do every single year anyway. But I'm not talking about penciling in subjects here and chores there. Rather, I'm referring to letting go of the expectation that, because we homeschool, I can (and therefore must) finish by a certain time each day.
I know, I know. Some of you schedulers are thinking, "That will create MORE stress. Your day will drag on and on and you'll get less accomplished in the chaos."
But I'm not going there.
I'm not allowing for a day that drags on and on without boundaries.
I simply mean that I'm not squeezing our day into a preconceived "time box" this year. No pressure on me to be "done" within a certain number of hours. Our school day is well scheduled (you can find it HERE), yet the end can be as early as 1:30pm or as late as 3pm. If there's a rabbit trail worth hopping down, we're taking the liberty to hop. If I need to set a subject aside because a student needs greater help in a key (three R's) subject, I'm going to enjoy that liberty.
As you can gather, I was a bit of a check-mark stickler in the past. I was quick to believe that not accomplishing every item on our list was somehow selling us short. In reality, insisting on accomplishing every item on our list caused me stress (and thus tiredness). And the fact is, there isn't a student in the world whose educational experience and retention is identical (hence the reality of remedial and gifted programs). I now believe it's really OKAY if we eliminate, substitute, or simplify occasionally.
We are not dilly dallying in the midst of greater flexibility. We work as diligently as ever. And I feel more rested as a result (for the record, my children do as well). ;)
The bible says, in Isaiah 40:29-31, He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. they will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
(Okay, I had to laugh just a little at, "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall." Because, yes, when I was a teen I "fell" asleep in a class or two.)
Ladies, we can address this issue of tiredness. A serious examination of self may be in order (remember, it was me who needed the tweaking), but we can take steps to refresh and revive. Think about this...
- Are there unreasonable expecations that you have been placing on yourself or those close to you?
- What are you allowing yourself to engage in, in your "spare" time? Too much time on Twitter or Facebook? (Farmville is NOT necessary, y'all) Just a for instance.
- Is your daily schedule realistic? Do you even have a daily schedule in place to give flow to your waking hours?
- Have you considered making dietary changes that will improve your health and eventually increase your energy level? I'm not talking about "going on a diet." I'm talking about single changes, practiced until they are habit. For example, eliminating soda. Or caffeine. Limiting fast food to twice a month. You get the gist. Taking on one unhealthy diet practice and replacing it with a healthier one, keeping at it until it's habit, then working on another.
- If you don't regularly exercise, why not? A 30 minute walk, 3x/week, is doable for example. Our family walks even through midwest winters, as long as the temps are above freezing and the wind isn't too wicked.
- Are you taking a little time for you? A little time spent journaling in a quiet spot, a half hour walking in the park alone, or making the effort to put on a little makeup and perfume if you're so inclined, can refresh.
- Are you bored? Boredom's fruit is "unchallenged, unfullfilled, and unaccomplished." It can all translate to tiredness (if not feeling down)
- And this last one is the most obvious, yet perhaps the most difficult to address, due to habit. ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP?
My sisters in Christ, we simply must address that last one. In order to give our best to the things we do and, more importantly, to the people we love, we must address tiredness by getting enough rest. There are so many
What we cannot overlook, absolutely CANNOT overlook, is what the bible says. We who hope in the Lord will renew our strength. This means we have confident expectation that the will of God will prevail. But how can we know what the will of God is? By regularly immersing ourselves in His word, of course. And how can we regularly immerse ourselves in His word if we're too tired? I can't speak for you, but for me, it just doesn't work without adequate rest.
Be challenged. Take a hard and honest look at your tiredness. Pray and ask God to reveal to you where you need "tweaked" so that you can in fact renew your strength. The rest is up to you (pun intended).
Live wise in Him!