From a reader:
How to find the balance between kids, devotion time, spouse, etc. I’m a full time teacher/marriage blogger who is forced to be home right now and sometimes feel overwhelmed with my “to do” list bc this is so not my norm.
Many of us, maybe almost all of us, are in a new season right now that we didn’t anticipate. Some are fighting illness. Some are working in medical positions or at essential businesses and are afraid every day that they’ll be exposed to the virus. Some front line workers have to stay totally quarantined at home to protect their families. No hugs. No cuddling.
Some have sick loved ones or elderly loved ones and can’t be with them in the nursing home or the hospital and don’t know how their loved ones are doing. Some are experiencing grief over lost loved ones and can’t even have the comfort of friends and family surrounding them at a funeral.
Some are suddenly home trying to telecommute for the first time and handle their kids’ school stuff online for the first time. Some homeschooling moms are finding it difficult not to be able to take the kids out on excursions and field trips.
Some have lost jobs and don’t know how they will provide for their families. Everything was great a few weeks ago and now it feels like a nightmare.
It’s a whole new world right now for all of us. This is a lot to process for anyone. And everyone.
A Few Suggestions for Finding Balance
For a mom who is trying to balance time with God, working from home, marriage, teaching kids, chores, and loving her kids….
- Carve out some time just for you and the Lord. I have to do this or I am a mess and I can’t give anything valuable to anyone else. Do whatever you have to do. And get 15-30 minutes with God, the Bible, and a notebook. Read a chapter in the Bible. Perhaps in Psalm. Write down praises to God. Things you are thankful for. List any sins and repent of them. Write down things that burden your soul and prayer requests. Write down verses that really stick out at you or truths that the Lord illuminates as you read. If your time is super limited, listen to an app like Bible.IS as you get ready or do dishes. Soak in God’s love, in His Word, and in His truth. Affirm your trust in Him. Pray and invite God to give you wisdom, discernment, and His priorities to help you navigate the day. Show your children that you make God your greatest priority. Memorize an encouraging verse together each week. Talk about God as you go on walks and do chores or get ready for bed. Let your kids listen to a chapter in the Bible each night on a Bible app or read them a chapter yourself. Let them fall asleep to praise music.
- Take extra stuff off your plate. Talk with your husband about this. God may give him a lot of wisdom about how to help you be way less stressed. Cut back on expectations about some of the chores. Cut out TV time. Cut out social media time. Let the kids help with chores. Prayerfully evaluate all of your commitments with hobbies, groups, ministry, family, extended family, neighbors, etc… Evaluate your expectations of yourself. Be good to yourself. You are human. You have limits. Maybe some good things need to go during this time to make room for the most important things. Or maybe you can’t help as much as you could, but maybe you can commit to something that is less frequent.
- Come up with a schedule. Some people thrive on a strict schedule. Others do better with a loosely-structured schedule. It has helped at our house for us to have a plan: Quiet time and breakfast at 7am. I start working at 8am. Greg starts working from home at 9am. Kids start on school stuff at 9am. They work on school things all morning. We go for a walk as a family around 10:30am for 30 minutes. Lunch is at noon. I stop working at 3:30pm. We go for another walk. (I highly recommend letting kids play outside in the yard or walk outside with you if it is still legal to do so!) I make supper or the kids help me make supper. Then the kids do dishes. Then we have some family time in the evening. If the kids need more help, see if you can divide the school work stuff with your husband. Or reach out to your child’s teachers, if they are usually in school, and ask for support or ideas. Sometimes Kahn Academy on YouTube has videos that can explain Algebra, science, and other tricky topics if you are not brushed up on them, yourself.
- Remember that your family needs love more than anything. If every assignment isn’t done perfectly, if every chore isn’t done on time, it will be okay. More than anything, people need love, affection, encouragement, and reassurance during a stressful time. Give out extra hugs, extra smiles, extra pats on the back. Praise everyone when you catch them doing something well. Let go of stringent expectations if they only add to the stress level. We are dealing with a worldwide pandemic. It is normal for people to need more support. A lot of kids may get a bit behind with a quarantine that extends several months. Teachers and administrators will be there to help us all with that and sort through it. Do your best but try not to freak out. Reach out for support from teachers, administrators, and other parents. Pray for your kids and with your kids.
- Keep perspective. Almost everyone is in the same boat. If you are working from home, your coworkers, customers, and boss may be, too. Many of them also have kids home and are trying to do the school thing and work thing. Most of them will be understanding if you get interrupted sometimes or if you need a more creative schedule right now.
- Try an unorthodox schedule for managing your work and the kids’ school. If you can get up earlier than the kids and work an hour or two by yourself, then take an hour to help them with their stuff, then work for an hour or two, then alternate and work with the kids, that could work. Or if they need help in the morning, perhaps you can focus on school in the morning and maybe you can do work things in the afternoon and evening. Or maybe you and your husband could take shifts. If your child’s teacher can’t get online for a video chat, maybe they can do a phone call. Or if you have a sibling or friend who is a teacher who has offered to help your kids, let them do FaceTime with your kids to explain the Pythagorean theorem or lattice multiplication. If you have older kids who are good at explaining things, let them help teach the younger ones. If you need to let the kids watch a wholesome movie from 10am-12 noon so that you can work, and then you work with them later on school stuff, there’s nothing wrong with that!
- Make meal preparation simple. Use your slow-cooker! Or buy one! You can just throw some meat, maybe also some potatoes or other things into the slow-cooker in the morning and voila! Supper is magically ready that evening. If I am making chicken bog, my husband’s favorite, I cook a whole chicken all day and then an hour before supper, I take out the chicken and remove the bones, add the meat back in and add rice. Or use frozen lasagna that you can just pop in the oven 90 minutes before supper and you don’t have to do much to get things ready. Or teach your older children to take over some of the cooking. Or you can do takeout if your area still allows it. Just wash your hands a lot after handling the bags and packages!
- Stop and count your blessings. There are good things to be thankful for. The beautiful spring flowers. Our health, especially if we haven’t gotten sick yet. Jesus. The Bible. Our government, health, and business leaders who are trying to help us and must be so exhausted from the strain. Jobs if we still have them. Food on the table. A home to live in. Electricity. Internet. Running water. Stores that still have a lot of things we need. Toilet paper alternatives. Opportunities to share Jesus and His love with others.
- Make time for fun. Everyone in the family needs some fun, happy memories to share. These may end up being some of your kids’ favorite childhood memories, who knows? Being together as a family like this is a rare opportunity. Watch musicals together. Sing praise songs together. Play board games. Draw pictures and write letters to people at hospitals and nursing homes. Have some Zoom time or FaceTime with friends and extended family. Laugh. Enjoy each other. Reach out together to those around you who are lonely and include them virtually.
What are some ways you are finding a healthy balance in this new normal? We’d love to hear!
Need some prayer or encouragement, we’d love to pray for you, as well.