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How I'm choosing to spend my time now that my children are at school


This week I ushered in a new season in my life.


If I'm being honest with you I have been waiting for this season with bated breath for months (possibly years). My two oldest children are now in school and my youngest started morning preschool. This season of more independence for my children means a little more breathing room for this mama. If all goes according to plan, I will have fifteen hours to myself each week.


That means that for the first time in a long time I'm able to think and dream about how I want to fill my mornings. What do I want to do for me or for my family now that I have the space?


It has been eight years since I gave up working in the brick and mortar school system so that I could stay at home and raise our babies.


Eight years walking through phases of pregnancy, birthing, nursing, sleep deprivation, potty training, and life with littles.


Eight years of sweet snuggles, kissing boo-boos, wiping little noses, catching throw ups, managing meltdowns and big emotions, refereeing fights, battling nap-time, playing dress-up, park dates, play groups, and so much more.


Eight years of losing myself and then finding myself. Then losing myself and finding myself again. Stronger. Resilient. Completely and eternally altered by my love for these tiny humans.


Eight years discovering and navigating the many paradoxes of motherhood:

How I could feel lonely and isolated while rarely being alone for even a moment.

How the days (and nights) would drag on and yet how the years would fly by far too quickly.

How I could want a break from my babies but then miss them terribly the second I left.

And how I could be so excited to watch my children grow and learn and change while also wanting to freeze time and keep them small forever.


So now I sit here in my moderately tidy house having just had a peaceful shower and sipping my hot coffee wondering what on earth I'm supposed to do now.


My husband tells me that I should rest. That I should read or nap or cry or wander a thrift store if I want. That there will be time to do all the things later, but that there's no need to rush into anything right now.


I imagine he's right. My husband is a wise man.


But I struggle with rest. I suppose I'm not alone in that.


I like to "do" the things. I like being efficient. I can feel the achiever in me fighting to maximize this time by filling it with all the good and wonderful things that I enjoy or that I'm skilled at. The list of possibilities just keeps growing.


I could write more, pump out more books, and grow my writing profile.


I could volunteer more. I like people and giving back to my community. There's so much more that I could be doing.


I could get a part-time teaching position. Goodness knows there's no shortage of work for a teacher and the extra money would be helpful considering the cost of living right now.


I could garden or craft or visit friends or reorganize our home or any number of things that I love to do but have rarely had time for.


And the possibilities send me into a bit of a tailspin.


What do I do? What is the right choice for this season?

 

In the book of Psalms, Solomon writes: "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil—for he gives to his beloved sleep." (Ps. 127:1-2 ESV)


Considering that there are several proverbs where Solomon praises hard work and early rising, I don't believe this passage is criticizing work. Rather, I believe he is drawing attention to the pitfalls of pursuing any endeavour in our own strength.

Our self-reliant 'doing' is a purposeless hamster wheel that only leads to anxiety, stress, and exhaustion. But when we choose to invite God into the work of our hands, putting Him first and listening to His leading, then God can bless us with His rest and peace.


There are hundreds of good and wonderful things I could do. However, I cannot, nor should not, do them all. I must be selective, choosing to spend my time on things that will align with my God-given skills and purpose, benefit my family, and fill my cup.


That can be a bit vague so here are some questions that I have decided to use to determine where I should spend my time...

  • Have I prayed about this? Do I feel peace with this commitment?

  • Will this improve the quality of life in our home?

  • Do I have time for this or will it add stress and disrupt my peace?

  • Am I saying yes to this because I feel obligated or would this actually bring me joy and fulfillment?

Simplified it looks like this...

  • Is it a YES from God?

  • Is it a YES from my family?

  • Is it a YES from my calendar?

  • Is it a YES from me?

Honestly, I'm still figuring out what my yeses will be. For now, I will listen to my husband and take it slow. I will do my very best to drink a hot coffee and allow myself space to just wonder and think.


Goodness knows that there will always be something good that I can do. But sometimes that is just not enough reason to do it.


Have you been in this position before? I'd love to know how you decided where to spend your time. Drop a note in the comments.


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