How is it possible to be stressed as a stay-at-home mom?

Stretching, now reaching
Not enough time, space, or me
Need to re-focus

How in the world is it possible for someone who spends the majority of their time at home, gets a full night’s sleep most nights of the week, steals moments each day to take care of themselves, and is doing what they deeply love, to become incredibly stressed? How could she possibly develop stress headaches that spread down into her shoulders? What could she be doing so wrong and inefficiently that at the end of the day, her brain seems to cease working and she becomes clumsier than normal? She is exhausted from the inside-out. Why? With such a comfortable situation, how dare she feign a tired mind and body?! I’m not a doctor of any sort, and so will not venture into understanding or explaining things from a technical angle. I will briefly share how she has arrived at this place, and how she imagines pulling out of it.
Homeschooling should be considered a full-time job. If an employed, certified and paid teacher is working “full-time”, then a non-ceritfied, unpaid homeschool mom should consider such her employment. She will spend summer mornings working her garden and caring for her home and having adventures with her family. She will spend summer afternoons carefully scheduling curriculum into a lesson planner, leaving room for life to happen along the way. The school year will begin with great excitement as new supplies are dipped into and new books explored! P.E. and art classes and the occasional field trip will be slipped into those open spaces the homeschool mom saw a need to leave room for as she scribbled away over the summer weeks. There will be appointments and disruptions to the well-laid plans (illnesses, surprise visitors, work schedule changes, etc). With a deep breath and an eraser, homeschooling mom adapts quickly and quietly, trying to roll with the bumps and jostles, keeping things running as smoothly as she can. You may thinking that she is a naturally organized person, but she isn’t. She struggles like a young child just trying to keep her own room orderly. She has joined up as a member of parents and teachers within the local school program, and enjoys the shared purpose of the monthly meetings.
On top of her homeschooling job (which she deeply loves!), she has a greater love – Jesus Christ. Her Savior, the Lover of her soul, her Redeemer, He who she longs to know better and grow to become more like, deserves her very best. She slips scripture into her students’ lessons so they can discuss, apply, and memorize God’ word. She sneaks peeks at her sermon journal and sits quietly with her Bible and coffee most mornings of the week. She longs to become a servant in the church body, and berates herself for not doing more for her Christian brothers and sisters or serving within the various ministries.
Homeschool mom believes that a healthy marriage is the top priority after her relationship with Jesus, and strives to put her husband’s needs and desires ahead of all others. His health and needs weigh heavily on the heart and mind of his wife. While she doesn’t worry – worrying being a lack of faith – she does have him on her mind constantly.
Next on her list of priorities are her children. Three personalities, three groups of strengths and challenges. Three unique individuals who all need a wise and loving mama. If one were to couple the tasks of “home economist” and “caregiver” which generally include all of a mom’s responsibilities, you would have another full-time job. What are we up to now – two full-time jobs? People do that and survive every day, no big deal, right? Well…maybe.
Now for the extra tasks and outside pressure. Here we include the business(es) the homeschooling mama dreams of putting more time into, though these endeavors require a cash infusion of which there is little each month. Money aside, one business requires focused chunks of time on the computer and eventually at shows. The other requires time in development, time in construction, and more of both in the future.
So, at the end of it all, where does she draw the line? At one full-time job? Two? Cut out activities for the children? Give up on her joint dream with her husband on operating a mini-homestead? Give up on her personal businesses? Perhaps forego those stolen moments of personal development and rest she finds in writing, reading, and outdoor adventures? She has tried different ways of juggling all that is asked of her over the years, and only one thing has worked. Prayer coupled with re-focusing priorities. There are only so many hours in a day, in a week, in a year. When using the Bible as her guidebook, she is able to prayerfully decide what will benefit her relationships with Jesus and her family. Perhaps, that is what she needs to do again.

~V

The coffee is still warm, but my brain hasn’t caught up

Pinterest and French press are my companions this morning now that J-Dub has ventured off to work.  Em and Chase are always laying about, so if I don’t mention them, one can safely assume that one is begging for food or attention while the other is flopped somewhere in near-death boredom.  They take turns at these activities.  My blessings, my charges, my God-given character-builders are still slumbering away, and I am half-listening for footsteps as I type.  Now that the scene has been set, I have a question for you.  Why on earth have styled bookshelves become a thing?  The obvious answer would be related to decor and personal style, but still, I wonder, why do we not have enough books in our homes to fill one small case?  Must we fill in those empty spaces with coordinated knickknacks instead?  Frames and empty vases and collections galore?  Here is another question – how in the world have all of these women convinced their husbands that having well-styled rooms is a worthwhile endeavor?  I’m jealous.  Plain and simple.  Pinterest, you are both my friend and foe.

On another note, I picked up a book at the library yesterday (more than one, actually, but that’s beside the point) by an apparent author and somewhat-famous interior designer.  I seem to have caught the annual “spring cleaning and nesting” bug, so here I am in all a rage to clear out our home and make it more livable.  I admit that as things accumulate, even simple housekeeping becomes a grand frustration.  This book, Seven Layers of Organization by Christopher Lowell, caught my eye, as doing things in chunks and in an orderly fashion appeals to me.  The first two “layers” that Mr. Lowell addresses deal with assessing the what/where/why/how of the extra junk and clutter in our homes, then separating our emotions from our stuff so we can purge the extra and create space for living.  Often times, I don’t think we realize how connected we can become to things.  We hold on for dear life to these things that can be burned down in a day, broken in seconds, lost in a moment and never seen again!  The relationships in our lives should be of greatest importance, and having a home conducive to nurturing those relationships is one of the goals I have for my life.  Might I encourage you to make it one of yours as well?

~V