My hair fell hot against my face. I positioned the flatiron and smoothed another chunk of wayward blonde strands. “Mom!” My four-year-old boy ran into the bathroom, joining me in front of the mirror, “You look like a firefighter!” was his compliment – I think that’s what it was anyway – it jolted my mind out of its heavy, cluttered thoughts. I met his eyes in the mirror and smiled back at him, thankful for a break from the long list of tasks scrolling through my mind.
The morning had greeted me foggy headed and completely unready for the day, half awake and dreaming of the Saturdays of old, when my husband and I would sleep in, four babies ago. Three in the morning had found me with our newborn girl to my chest enjoying her middle-of-the-night snack, my own eyelids heavy, but my mind busy. Budget worries, schedule conflicts, deadlines approaching, sleep scant. It all left my mind buzzing during those hours when the world seemed asleep.
A few days before in my book club, we were discussing what robs mothers of their peace.
“Clutter is a huge peace stealer for me,” Meghan explained.
“Yes!” Wendy added, “The clutter is for sure a peace stealer!”
“I know what you mean,” I piped in, “When I walk into the house and the surfaces are filled with clutter – it’s like I can’t even breathe.”
That afternoon, inspired by my book club conversation, I cleared off our living room table, the one that often serves as a drop-all station. It had plagued me for a week with its unopened bills and half-finished craft projects. I stood back examining it now, clear surface. I took a breath. Better. But that was not the only clutter pressing in around me.
As mothers, it’s not only the disarray of our homes eroding away our peace, but the clutter of our minds. School lets out and we assume our agendas will exhale, giving us some breathing space to enjoy the summer. Yet doesn’t each season find us busier than we anticipated? We suffocate under the clutter of too many things. Too much rush. Too much excess. Too many worries. Too many activities. Too many conflicts. Too many wishes for a slower way of life.
How can we as mothers choose to thrive above the clutter and chaos?
How can we shift our thoughts away from a million little tasks, and toward the little people we’ve been given to nurture?
I imagine it will always prove a struggle, this tension of motherhood between get-it-done and capture-this-moment. But I’m going to fight this battle, and I hope you will, too. I’m going to wake each day and set my mind toward the beautiful, the eternal, the lasting, the legacy building, and use those as a filter for the things I say, “Yes” to.
We can do it, moms. We can learn to breathe again, and to help us, here are four ways to unclutter our minds as we walk into this busy season.
Take a look at your agenda for the coming week, and choose right now one thing to not go to. Something that takes place weekly can easily be skipped and picked up the next week. Send an email or text message to a friend to make if official. “Hey! I’m sorry I won’t see you at the meeting this week. I need to rest. I’ll see you next week!” There. Did you send it? It’s freeing, isn’t it?
Cross off a Project
Sit down and make a list of all of your current projects. Everything you’re working on from home, to kids and school, to work, to church, to committees. Now cross one off. Delegate it to someone else if you need to, but take it off your plate. If you are married, your spouse can help speak into which project isn’t necessary for you to carry right now.
Add Gratitude to Your List … All of Them
Every time you write a list, whether it be a grocery list, meal plan, packing list, daily to-do’s or monthly tasks, also write down three things you’re thankful for. Shift your mind from “I need to …” to “I’m grateful for …”
Tie Respite Moments to Your Tasks
Arriving home from a trip, I opened the mailbox to find a final notice letter from the library. If we didn’t return a DVD by tomorrow, we would owe $30. Instead of letting it become just another thing I had to get done, I threw the DVD in my backpack, hopped on my bike and rode a few miles to the library. Those 30 minutes alone on my bike were a respite, a time of refreshing right in the midst of getting things done. Grab those opportunities. Whether it’s a bike ride to the library, a walk to the store or music in the car in between school pickups, use those times to be refreshed.
Don’t let this season suffocate you. As moms, there is a whole lot we do need to do. But at the top of that list is breathing. We need to step away from the clutter, take a deep breath, and enjoy these days, and that becomes a whole lot easier as we learn to declutter.
Eryn Lynum is a speaker and the author of 936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting. She lives in Northern Colorado with her husband and four children, where they spend their time hiking, camping and exploring the Rocky Mountains. She loves to travel and share at conferences, churches and MOPS groups. Every opportunity she gets, she is out exploring God’s creation with her family, and sharing the journey at www.936Pennies.com.