3/18/08

A Balancing Act

“We need a balance between work and play, between kindness and firmness, between waiting and praying, between saving and spending, between wanting too much and expecting too little, between warm acceptance and keen discernment, between grace and truth. The longer I live, the more I must fight the tendency to go to extremes … and the more I value balance.” (Taken from Chuck Swindoll’s Living Beyond the Daily Grind)

I daily receive heartfelt emails from readers. This one touched a chord with me, and I bet she is not the only woman who feels this way! See what you think, if she resonates with you?

I have a question. I'm feeling so overwhelmed lately with all the demands from school for me to volunteer, driving kids to sports events, teaching bible class, etc. It all takes up so much of my time, I couldn't even fathom entertaining, much less actually being able to get anything done. How do you balance everything? Do you put a limit on outside demands? I'm feeling a little frustrated this week, and need a little advice if you have a couple minutes to spare.

Goodness – her life sounds like my life, and I bet most American moms’ lives!

This email came to me 4 months ago, so I dug through my corresponding emails to find my reply, and to share it with you!

There once was a season where I thought I had to do it all.
I've now pulled back from too much volunteer work (I put my time in for many years!), and I don't go to parties (or Bunko) during weekday evenings. I've even limited myself to how I want to serve at church. Just for this season, I value being available for my family. How much longer will we all be together? When the kids are gone I will have so much more free time to volunteer, etc.

My husband was the one who helped me attain this concept.
I used to feel guilty if I didn't "serve,” but now that I have learned that serving begins smack-dab in the middle of my home, it has really freed me up. For example, Balcony Girls (done in my home), making meals for others, taking cookies to neighbors, feeding teachers, having a friend over for lunch, setting up meals for a needy family, making sure there is plenty of food for my teens (and their starving friends), etc. I’ve even been a college mentor (through a scholarship program) – again, pretty much done in my own home. And then, of course, balancing “date nights” with my husband – something I hugely value for a healthy marriage. And great for my kids to witness!

It's a time in my life where I am trying to stay home as much as I can.
I actually work from home, so I have to be incredibly disciplined with my time. It feels horrible when my home gets out of control, and believe me, it does because I’m working almost full-time. I only shop when I absolutely have to! And during this season, I am up early to exercise with wonderful running partners, then back for a quick study on my own (currently working through Beth Moore's Fruit of the Spirit study.)

Less is More.
Less time in my car is more time at home! We are blessed to be about .8 mile away from the kids’ schools and activities, so I do very little driving around. Those times that I need to, I set up a carpool!! I’ll drive one way, and arrange for another parent to drive the other way.

I've learned to say no to many outside activities so I can keep my home flowing, and at the same time teach my kids about hospitality and the art of homemaking. Fewer commitments = being available more for my family.

Entertaining?
We love it, as it usually involves the whole family. Pick and choose what is important to you, and what you want your kids to learn from it? My husband would say, "bag the canning!" (because he sees how much work it is!), but I know how important it is to me, and that I want my kids to learn and reap the benefits of it, in the wintertime, and also by giving it away!

As I’ve said before, our home is not perfect (it's actually often chaotic, when we're all going in different directions), and I am still learning the art of this “balancing act.” I like to think that the older I get, the wiser I am becoming with my time, learning from others, and more how to prioritize well.

One thing is for sure. I know I cannot do it all!

(Read more on the Gift for Today post here. Or Reflection of Gifts here. Top photo: Paul snapped this picture of me while going through Arby's drive-though, while playing around with his camera.)

25 comments:

Mocha with Linda said...

Excellent suggestions. I am learning the importance of the word "no" in my life! And amazingly enough, the world of ____(fill in the blank) remains on its axis even if I'm not involved in it! LOL

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

Sandy,
This is such Godly wisdom!

I have walked a similar journey. One in which I thought I had to "do it all", and honestly I don't even remember who benefited from my efforts, but I know what suffered, my family and my home, especially my home.

Even the pulls at the church to visit others, make contacts, send cards, and attend everything can seem overwhelming, but God has given me such great peace about being available for my husband first, and my children, and then He gives me the time to serve joyfully!

Chris @ Come to the Table said...

p.s.
Your link to "Gift for Today" brought me to tears....your mom is beautiful!

Nadine said...

Nicely said.

Org Junkie said...

Great post! I couldn't agree more and am very selective about the things that take my time outside of the home. This includes the kids activities. They are each only in one activity at a time. We can not truly minister to others if we are not first ministering at home.

It is so refreshing to see others that feel the same way.

Laura

Kim said...

Sandy,

Thanks for your insight! Great things to ponder as we work on our "balancing acts".

My heart so much loves home and my desire is to make it a safe haven for my family and friends.

Lis Garrett said...

Sandy, I think I really needed to read a post like this. I've been feeling overwhelmed lately, more mentally than anything else. But it's nice to know that I am not the only one feeling this way and that it's okay not to have to do everything. . .

Sheila said...

Great post!

Last week in my syndicated column I was writing about the curse of being busy, and how everybody is beginning to answer the question "how are you?" with "I'm just so budy!", rather than with the traditional (and corny), "I'm fine." It's like busyness has become our status symbol.

But there's nothing wrong with having lots to do, as long as we balance it. Working hard is a good thing!

One reader wrote back and said that instead of saying she's busy, she replies, "Life is rich and full." I thought that was beautiful. And that's what our homes should be like: rich and full.

Visit To Love, Honor and Vacuum today!

Holly said...

Excellent thoughts on balance Sandy. I like how you keep your home the center and serve through your home--so important.

The Fruit of the Spirit study is WONDERFUL!!

Ornery's Wife said...

I loved the quote at the beginning about balance. Even without a job, kids at home or church involvement, I still have trouble striking a balance with all the things I want to do. I can tell you, though, that if you do something motivated by guilt, you should not be doing it! There is therefore now no condemnation to those in Christ, and if you are feeling condemned for not doing something you don't want to do, then you are being manipulated. My husband's favorite phrase when I start to feel that way is "just say no." Why didn't I think of that? :-)
TM

Dawn said...

I'm so glad you shared this. I've recently been trying to cut back on outside commitments because I want to be more available to my family. I've got to finish a few commitments still but I'm looking forward to the near future when I won't be away from home so much.

Kristi said...

You've offered some great advice here. I'm a "recovering perfectionist" and I'm working my way toward realizing that I can't "do it all." Paring down for the sake of what matters is so higely important.

PS: I'm visiting from Melissa's today. Very nice profile!

gracemercyandpeace said...

so funny, I just sent you an e-mail about how reading blogs and commenting has had to take a back seat to balancing family needs and sanity right now.

This is the first post I've read of yours in some time as I slap my hands to stay away from the computer unless more important things are done. Thanks for an eloquent reminder to keep working for

balance!

deb meyers

ValleyGirl said...

I love that top quote. Must print that out and put it up somewhere. For the most part, my life has been very un-cluttered in the last few years, but this year, my oldest daughter's in kindergarten and I can already feel it changing. I can tell you already, I DON'T LIKE IT!!! Even though the changes are small and don't require a whole lot of time from me, I can tell it's just the beginning....

Hey, I have a question that kind of stems from this theme: how do teach your kids to be un-busy in this day and age of overinvolvment in sports, music, dance, and other extracurricular activities? When your kids feel left out because "everyone else gets to do it." How do you make them understand they don't need to be involved in EVERYTHING? (both for their sake and the parents!) How do you help them pick the one they'll most benefit from or enjoy?

mykidsmom said...

Wow- your blog is really impressive.

And you definitely have me pegged in your profile as far as the entertaining goes. I definitely could learn a lot here; I am also very interested in your balcony girls idea...I'll be coming back to read/learn more:)

Oh, and thanks for stopping by my blog!

Sandy said...

DeAnn, that is fine to link to this post! Thanks for asking, I couldn't find your email.
Sandy

Sandy said...

DeAnn, that is fine to link to this post! Thanks for asking, I couldn't find your email.
Sandy

Anonymous said...

This post really resonates with me. The longing of my heart is to create and sustain our home so that it is a place of refuge and peace ... my husband shares how he loves coming home, because it is such a peaceful, comforting place to be. Thank God.

Like many, I am struggling with balance - working outside of the home, my husband's work and school schedule and the kicker: my daughter's involvement in a competitive gymnastics team. This continues to be a real dilemma: she is gifted and loves it and yet it requires her to be at practice 3evenings/week for 3+ hours. I am often the mom who pulls her out early, so we can sneak in dinner as a family and just quiet time together. I want to support her gifts and passion but am torn always about the time commitment. Has anyone navigated anything similar?

Thank you for your insight, encouragement and practical ways that you make this happen for your family.
Bless you!
Emily

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

So true Sandy, we just can't do it all & I think most women are finally realizing that fact. We do have to find balance & sometimes that is hard, like you said. It's all about prioritizing.

Have a wonderful Easter!
Rhoda

Our Red House said...

Happy Easter, and thank you so much for visiting my blog.

One suggestion I have is to set a manageable entertaining time eg, a tea party with girlfriends once a month, or inviting a new family from church for Sunday lunch once a month-- then it's not too overwhelming but you know you are making a difference. I find that if I haven't entertained for a while it becomes more overwhelming than when I do it often.

Kate

Jessica said...

that was so insightful! i'm not a mom yet, but i love that you see your 'quality time' as the best gift you can give to your kids right now. you are so joyful to be at home, and that is so refreshing to hear! thanks for posting this.

Mrs. B. said...

Love this post and the whole thought that our home (and family) is our ministry at this point in our lives! That's something I'm also coming to terms with.
What is the name of the Beth Moore study that you're doing? Sounds like a good one...

Jen said...

Just wonderful advice for us mothers. We do try to do it all and we cannot do it. I see mothers all day long acting like super women yet they are irritable and worn out. If they would only say no to something it would make them feel so much better. Great advice. I love coming to visit you. I always leave with a smile. Hope you have a great week.

Mrs. Jones said...

Sandy! I can't believe I'm just now reading this post! Thank you so much for all your words of wisdom. It is so helpful to hear how you prioritize things and balance it all. You are such an inspiration to me!

Blessings,
~Heather

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