I love research. I Google everything. Read the articles. Check-out the books from the library. Talk to friends. Join the forums. Knowledge is power. Power is control. Control means nothing can phase me. Right?

Here’s the thing. Control is fear. Fear of failure, fear of shame, fear of loss. Fear isn’t trust. It’s the opposite. Fear isn’t faith. It completely takes away faith. 

Having children has been the greatest teacher in letting go of control. I planned and prepared in so many areas, yet I’m still left standing completely puzzled and exhausted on where to go next. When all of the ideas I’ve read haven’t worked, I am reminded to go back to faith and trusting God and the innate tools God has built inside of me to be my children’s mother. 

My joke has been that I breed non-sleepers, and that seems to be as close to the truth as anything else. They both suffer from fomo (fear of missing out) and my youngest is currently rejecting his crib.  I’ve spent so much time and anxiety trying to “fix” him,  I forgot how to listen to him and my own intuition. 

Because I read somewhere that if I don’t get him to sleep in his own room, I’m somehow creating a monster of a human being, I’ve tried tirelessly (no pun intended) to get him to sleep in his own room. On top of being sick with pneumonia and weaning him all at the same time. Since I had pneumonia, I’ve been forced to slow down and receive some help. Which gave me time to really dig deep on some things. 

And one of the biggest points of clarity on my downtime? How little time we have.

We live in such a hurried world, with so much pressure on how to do everything perfectly, that I am throwing it out!! Enough with what everyone else says I need to do. Enough with what everyone else says is best. Or what worked for them.  Right now, holding that baby boy in my bed as he drifts off to sleep is what we need. It’s what he needs. It allows us to have a full nights rest. And I get to hold my precious baby a little tighter, a little closer, as no one knows how long that will last.

As my precious boys breath fell into sync with mine, and he curled his tiny fingers into my hair which is what soothes him, I started to feel tears hit my pillow. Tears of my shame letting go. Tears of the pressure fading. Tears of thankfulness to God for giving me the sacred gift of motherhood that so many yearn for. 

It may not be what works for others. It may be annoying some nights when I just want my bed back. But it’s our life. Our family. And remembering what works best for you and your family is paramount. So throw out the books if they just bring you shame and pressure. That’s not what this is all about. It’s about love and freedom in knowing that you are choosing what is best for your family. 

Why is it when we have so much to do (clean the house, organize a room, sift through clutter) or so many things we should be doing (sleeping, eating, showering) or even when we have something we may want to do (read, binge watch a show, napping), we find ourselves lost in the marathon of phone scrolling? Some people would argue that it is free time, but somehow when I look up, bleary eyed from the screen, I don’t feel refreshed. I feel more exhausted, scatter brained, and anxious over all the time I just wasted and have nothing to show for it.

I feel almost ill when I finally look up. Could it be that I feel ill from the scientifically proven research of how our phone usage is causing depression? Probably. Or that I really was internalizing all the comparisons of not having a better house, better body, better children, better mental space, etc.? Someone should create an app that acts like a pedometer for your finger to calculate the scroll mileage on our phones and tablets. I’m sure the numbers would be astounding. Would that really make us stop?

I doubt it.

I’ve read many articles about what our phone addiction does and yet I still go through times were I am so wrapped up into it. I can’t stand the hold it has on me! One thing I’ve done to help this is move my phone charger away from my bed. It has helped tremendously for when I lay down to sleep and when I wake up in the morning.

Now I need to find a solution for during the day. What will really stick?

One of the main things that has been helping me through my PPD and anxiety is to take a daily break when my husband gets home. I’m not always good at taking the 15-20min break, because there is always something needing to be done, but it is so important for me to recharge and take on the rest of the night.
As I’m sitting upstairs, locked in my bedroom, trying to strain every last second of my daily “me time” out, all I can hear is my children screaming and crying. Poor daddy. I always seem to have 7 things I want to do during this small, but sacred, time and today it was to pick up a book to read. I grabbed the book “Give them grace” by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson that I still have yet to finish, and as I’m reading words like “grace, salvation, obedience, rules, demonstrating, grace, grace, grace….” all I can do is crack up as I hear the world crumbling around my two kids and husband downstairs.

Then, alas, the dreaded “Melissaaaaa” plea from my husband rings out, and I know my time has (too quickly) come to an end. All hands on deck are needed and it’s time for me to take a deep breath, and dive back into the chaos.

I’m not saying the time taken needs to be perfect or feel productive, but I am saying it’s important for everyone to take a little time to recharge. Break away from the stress or work and rebalance. It will only help everyone around you to have a calm, level headed person return to help.

When I’m trying to listen for answers from God, I always joke that I need to be told some answers through a very loud voice. An obvious sign, big clarity, someone holding a banner…I mean, I need something pretty clear. I’m sure everyone wants to have that clarity when they are wrestling with something. I, for one, would like something as obvious as a burning bush speaking to me on a mountain. Just saying. I know that I overthink and have a really hard time being still to listen to God. With that knowledge of self, I started reflecting back on times that I have been shown something glaringly obvious that I have ignored. Sounds familiar to what my children do with my “obvious guidance”.

I was thinking back to when I was a teenager and how I had signed up to go to a Christian youth retreat. Something I was really looking forward to. The boyfriend I had at the time told me he didn’t want me to go to a CHRISTIAN retreat, because they were just “a place for people to hookup”. Because I had such fear that I would lose (the loser) I listened to him and cancelled my trip. That bad decision, changed a lot of things. Hindsight being 20/20, I look at that young girl and go “HELLLOOOOOO!!! How could you have been so blind to that very obvious sign from God?” As my mom reminds me, I wouldn’t listen to anyone when it came to decisions in my young teenage life. I’m still fairly stubborn with that now!

So what do I do with the realization that I’ve been shown very clear nudges from God, but have been so blind to it and haven’t listened? What about hearing God and being obedient to staying home with my kids, and really struggling to feel the joy in that? I think that we hope to hear from God and have it always be exactly what we want to hear, easy to carry out and have quick rewards associated with it. Since we are given free will, we are able to make our own decisions. We make good and bad choices. Each of those choices bring us on a different path, and we learn from those choices. I may not learn from my choices right away, but I may learn from them many years later. Although I get frustrated with myself for not making a good choice (as in telling that boyfriend to back off, and going on the retreat) I tell myself that those choices and paths that were taken are all going to come back around. It may be a time when I need to tell my own daughter not to listen to the silly boy, and listen to that gentle nudge from Jesus more. That, I suppose, is worth that bad choice, years ago.

My gentle nudge has been telling me that the more I practice being still and listening for God’s guidance, the more the nudges will appear as a burning bush. They will become more clear, more direct. Having my faith become bigger than my fear needs to be my mantra. Trusting that God has my best intentions in mind, helps me to understand that being obedient to His call of staying home was the right thing to do. Appreciating it in the moment, is the challenge.

1. Lock them up.

2. Put them in a fenced area, no bigger than 5′ x 5′.

3. Stay awake all night to clean. 

4. Live in a house likes it’s moving day. Either have everything in a box, or better yet, just have nothing at all. 

5. Just don’t. 

But seriously. I am coming off of two weeks of waking to the filthiest kitchen and still scratching my head wondering what I am doing wrong. I just can’t keep on top of it. 

And then, after I make some delicious steel cut oats for my children who are at the table “eating” I try to get the dishes done. One child is using every excuse in the book of why she is above eating the oatmeal, while the other is standing on the chair, spoon feeding himself, the dogs, the chair, the floor, and his PJs. So I assess, threaten, clean and try to continue the dishes. 

As I’m trying to do the dishes, they start to pull everything off the bottom shelf of the pantry. I weigh my options and figure, who cares? It’s keeping them busy. I can kind of see the bottom of the sink so I know the home stretch is coming. 

Then a heavy canned food item falls on a toe. 

I assess, kiss boo-boos, and give them an empty box and some washable markers. I go back to doing the dishes. I hear some arguing so I go to check and see pen marks all over children and carpet. I assess, wash and then have to hold my youngest who is now incapable of walking.

I start the dishes again, one handed (love challenging myself!) and hope that everything stays calm for just like 2 minutes. All I’m asking for. 

I hear the sudden panic of a need for a potty and running to the bathroom. Then I hear the sound of an “uh oh”. There is pee on the carpet and part of the bathroom floor. I sing the potty song through clenched teeth, reminding my child that we “…better get to the tooooilet, BEFORE it comes oooooout!” She smiles. 

I assess, grab the Lysol wipes, clean and go back to the kitchen. The dishes have grown. I swear. And here is the thing. I now also have to shampoo my carpets (from the pens and pee), which means I have to vacuum first (since having two labs requires constant vacuuming), which means the dishes will have to be abandoned. 

If the rest of the day, which is like any other day, goes how the morning has gone, I’m guessing I won’t be too successful in getting these tasks done. So, my tips above you see for keeping a clean house make perfect sense. 

I assess, consider if 8:30am is too early for a glass of wine, pour another cup of coffee and just sit on the couch. I mean, the dishes, dog hair, pen and pee are just going to have to wait.