I have a great routine down. It works, it's simultaneously rigid enough and flexible enough, it encourages a lot of work AND a lot of margin, it provides predictability to the kids... It's just that I get in the way of it a lot of the time. For instance, this Tuesday (note: one day after I spent an hour on Facebook telling all y'all how to get a handle on things), I was supposed to be getting ready for Connection Group. I was supposed to have dinner started, and cleaning started, and makeup-ing and hair-brushing started, and instead I procrastinated and procrastinated and procrastinated until I was running SO STINKING LATE. And then I was all in panic mode, tornadoing around the house trying to get stuff done. Was it because the routine was off? Was it because of unforeseen circumstances that arose? No. It was because I was an idiot and didn't work the routine.
I feel like you probably get it - or at least, know me well enough to not be shocked that I did something an idiot would do. I'm sure it's clear by now that I am no Dwight Schrute.
This would probably be named more than any other reason, if we're being honest with ourselves. It truly is a daily struggle against our lazy flesh to choose to do what we don't want to do. But at a certain point, you just have to man up and choose to do different, or things will never be different.
One time, shortly after I'd had Laurelai and we were in the very early, busy stages of our first church plant, I was venting to a friend about how Todd likes all the horizontal surfaces to be cleared when he gets home, and I was like, "I just can't. I know he wishes it were different, but I just can't right now." And that friend, who will forever remain on my list of favorite people because of this very exchange, looked in my face, put her hand gently on my leg, and said, "Paige. You can. You're just being lazy." OUCH. Also, TRUE.
There are always a million great-sounding reasons why we can't do the things that, deep down, we just don't feel like doing. And that friend was so sweet to me by being honest... and then helping me brainstorm how to make a change. She was like, "Put a movie on for the kids half an hour before he comes home, so they're not continuing to tear the place up, and just PICK UP for ten minutes." And in that moment, it became very obvious that I just hadn't wanted to pick up. Because she was right - it literally only takes ten minutes of effort to make my husband feel loved, and I was just being lazy.
*I do want to take just a minute here to encourage you to evaluate yourself soberly, however: I think it is very easy to feel the pressure of thought patterns like, "I'm not doing enough, there's more to be done, I took a break for a while today and that makes me entirely unproductive and therefore I'm lazy." NO. You need rest. Rest is good work. Rest does not equal laziness. For some of us, rest requires repentance from the mindset that we are only as valuable as we are productive, that our day is only valuable if we can list off the million and one things we did that day, that we are better if we are busier. This is not biblical. You NEED rest. You just also NEED to work - even if it's work you don't feel like doing. 'Are you accomplishing both on purpose?' is the question.
This is my major problem right now. I am so easily sucked in by social media. I am at a point where I have to address it and take some drastic measures to take back my day. (I'll keep you updated on that.) When it's not social media, it's books. When it's not books, it's ____________. Identify what is distracting you, and CHOOSE what you will do about it. Choose your real life. Choose your 'now' life. Multitasking is not a virtue, friend. Single-mindedness is. Focus and attentiveness are. Faithfulness to the most important things is. Oh, it is so hard, but I am personally needing to rip off the bandaid and make radical changes in how I spend both my free time and my work time, because there are enough distractions in family life without intentionally making it worse by adding extras to the chaos.
There are seasons that will overwhelm you - and not because you're doing something wrong. Frequently, seasons come where the work is actually, objectively, literally too much to manage on your own. Life with a newborn. Life with multiple kids under three. Major transitions such as moves, and job changes, and illness, and loss, and rough patches in marriage. They're all intense in their own way. Do yourself a favor and take yesterday's advice: get rid of EVERYTHING that is not helping you just stay above water. Even good things can get put on pause for a while. Allow yourself the freedom to scale back to as manageable a load as you're capable of scaling back to.
HOWEVER. Sometimes, we feel overwhelmed because we have taken too much on ourselves. It is our own fault. If we feel like we never see our families, or sit down and eat dinner together, because we're too busy driving kids to soccer practice and ballet lessons and library events and homeschool co-op meetings and yadda yadda yadda... we're picking good things at the expense of the best things. Too many good things make them all kind of bad things. Be honest about why you're feeling overwhelmed, and if the problem is you, choose to make a change, even if it hurts.
I covered this in the live chat a bit, but to touch on it again briefly: sometimes we have a reasonable amount of work, and a reasonable amount of time in which to do it, and we just kind of... don't know how to do it well. Identify what these things might be, and then seek out wisdom and resources and tools that help you do it better. If you have so much stuff that you can't realistically get your house clean in a reasonable amount of time (and the problem isn't that your cleaning routine is inefficient, like I covered in the chat), maybe you need to own less stuff. And if you don't know how to declutter efficiently and with discernment, ask someone to teach you. Read a book on it. Or just start learning the hard way by pitching a bunch of stuff and crossing your fingers that you don't miss it later. Get more efficient at the stuff in your life that you're currently not doing super well.
Okay, it's as easy and as hard as that. The common theme you're seeing is Choose. Your routine will not work for you, even if it's been tailored exactly to your needs and season and personality and work load, if you will not work the routine. You have to choose to do make it work, or it won't. It's as easy and as hard as that.
How's that for some tough love this Thursday?