At this time of year we set goals. We resolve to change our ways and become better than we are. The most common resolutions usually have something to do with time or body size. I don’t know how many times I have resolved to get up earlier, or get up earlier to regularly exercise. Likewise, I don’t know how many mothers I have heard say things like, “This year we are going to be more efficient at bedtime.” or “This year I will be more efficient at dinner time.” Then these parents produce a list of things they are going to do at home to make life better.
The lists include things like: chores done before school, music practice done before school, showers for the children each night before bed, dinner by six o’clock sharp, clean the house before dinner, etc. These are noble plans. They would indeed make life more efficient. But, what if life wasn’t about how much you got done by a certain time? What if?
What if life was really about relationships? What if life was about who you connected with in the minutes you have? What if parenting wasn’t really about all the things on the schedule, but about all the time with the child.
Don’t get me wrong, schedules have their place and keep the day flowing smoothly. But, the parent who sacrifices the connecting moments with their children or spouse for the sake of the schedule will always be frustrated and unfulfilled. Life just isn’t about the schedule. It is about the people; the relationships. Those family relationships are much bigger than one crazy day. They are forever!
My Efficient Childhood & Stress Relief Tips
When I was young I had a very efficient mother. Her house was always clean, and there was always fresh bread in the oven when we came home from school. She did every project her best. No detail was left undone. I learned a lot from her thorough view of life, and her attention to detail. I knew what a mess looked like and what a weed looked like. Her teaching was invaluable.
Even though her preparation for success at life skills was perfect, there was still something I longed for from my mom. Connection. She was so worried about all the lists of things to do, how much time she didn’t have and how much sleep she never had that she was often stressed out.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t really blame my mom for this. I blame society. I grew up in a time where mothers were often confused about where they should focus the majority of their efforts. The feminism movement was raging and they didn’t want to be weak women, but didn’t want to be bad mothers either. So, many women tried to have it all.
Society also created a lie that many mothers believed. The lie was that each woman was some how compared to other women, and had to measure up to some invisible standard. My mother was a victim of these times.
One day my mother taught me the lesson that would change my life. During my entire childhood, my mother did day care in our home. She was always busy with children. And, I was often busy helping her since I was the oldest daughter. I longed for a time to play alone with Mom.
Often after school I would come home and go to my room. It was the only place where there weren’t lots of responsibilities and lots of little children. I started to play with my dolls. After a little while of playing, I felt someone watching me.
When I turned to look at the door I saw my mother standing there with a really soft look in her eyes. She looked at me and said, “Nicholeen, can I play dolls with you?”
I was shocked. “Sure!” I said.
For the next fifteen or twenty minutes I was ‘in heaven.’ My mothered played with me and imagined with me. She even told me stories of when she was a girl and how she used to play with dolls. She probably had a list of things she could have been doing, but instead she stopped to play with me. Mom wasn’t very efficient that afternoon, but she was very effective.
She effectively taught me what it really meant to be a mother. Being a mom wasn’t about lists and time tables, it was about loving and connecting with people. At that moment, I knew what kind of a mother I wanted to be. I made a goal that has come back to haunt me my entire life. My goal was to be the kind of mom who worked and played with her children each day.
I wanted to effectively give my children a vision of what life was really about; relationships.
There have been days when the deadlines, service projects and homemaking chores have piled up. These days can feel pretty deep. I have felt the stress and frustration coming on. During those moments I remember the kind of mother I decided to be when I was a young child and felt a mother’s love and I stop to connect.
Connecting with people relieves stress and stops frustration. God put us in families so that we wouldn’t just selfishly complete to-do lists each day. He wants more than that for us. He wants us to love and relate to people. Before any of us had chores or lists, we had moms and dads. We had people. After all, the people are eternal.
Effectiveness is more important than efficiency. This year, try to think of New Year’s resolutions which will make you more effective.
This is my sister-in-law’s blog. I am really impressed at her effective and meaningful resolutions this year.