Since I’ve created three blog posts stemming from the Martha, Martha gospel reading, I’m officially calling this my “Martha, Martha mini series” (If you’ve not yet read the other posts you can read them here and here.) And though this is the last one I have planned on the subject, I do believe most everything I write about could be related to this Biblical scene. It’s no wonder Martha is the patron saint of homemakers!
After last weeks post, I was most struck by the statement, “we are neither helpless nor capable…” That divine dance of grace and hard work is always at play in our lives. For the sake of this post, we will focus on ways we can help ourselves choose the better part and focus on our daily task.
I’ve been focusing on three things in my life that I find to be a stripping down to the basics. It boils down to simplicity and humility – we do not need to be clever nor overcomplicate things to accomplish our daily task. We do, however, need to be mindful, intentional, and purposeful. And though these things are simple in idea, they are often difficult in practice!
Here is what I’ve been focusing on:
- Set intentions for the day and plan ahead
- Slow down (be mindful)
- Be creative
Setting Intentions/Planning Ahead
This often needs to happen the evening before and could be as simple as writing out a rough schedule for the following day or doing a 10 minute tidy of the living room before going to bed. If you’re going somewhere in the morning, what can you prepare ahead of time? (make lunches, lay out clothes, find shoes, etc.)
Setting intentions could be separate from planning ahead, but they’re the same general idea. For me, setting intentions is a morning activity (unless my season of life is such that waking up before kiddos is impossible.) This is more of a mental exercise – what needs accomplished today and how will I do it? How can I be prayerful in all my duties? How can I help myself be patient and gentle when met with the unexpected (or the expected but unpleasant!)
I write out a daily plan in the morning to help keep myself on track – this includes what cleaning I plan to get done, what homeschool lesson and/or art project we will do, my workout plan, and any errands or appointments we have. Many of these are the same every day but writing it out helps my brain recommit to doing it!
Slowing Down/Being Mindful
Planning ahead and setting intentions lends itself nicely to slowing down. And whether you like it or not, kids will slow you down. Being intentional about it helps to ease the burden. In my life as a stay-at-home-mom and homeschooling mom, slowing down is essential. It includes gathering the kids to read books on the couch, taking the time to push them on the swings, sitting down to play with them(for a set amount of time, of course.) It requires being attuned to what they need and being available to meet those needs. If I’m not attuned to them, our days are incredibly frustrating – for all of us.
In the book Mindful Birthing, author Nancy Bardacke talks about how we adults operate on Industrial Time, but babies and children operate on Horticultural Time. This concept has been eye opening to me! If you have time, this brief passage is particularly worthy of taking note. (It does focus on pregnancy and birth, but I’m interested how you could apply it to whatever stage of life you’re in?):
Looking deeply at due dates is actually an opportunity to discover that pregnancy and childbirth take place in a kind of time that most of us, unless we tend a garden, are unfamiliar with: the realm of Horticultural Time. Horticultural Time is measured in a slower arc than we are accustomed to, a time span that is in harmony with the biology of living things: plants and their seasons, and humans in their life cycles of birth, growth, aging, and death. Horticultural Time is conditional time; whether or not we harvest a bountiful crop of tomatoes from our garden or apples from our apple tree depends on a multitude of causes and conditions- with many of them, as any farmer can tell you, well beyond our control. We try to put pregnancy, childbirth, and the growth and development of our children into the time frame we are most familiar with: Industrial Time. Industrial Time is based on the clock, with its exact calculations of seconds, minutes, and hours. Living on clock time these days often means living in the fast lane, which, while it may seem invigorating for a short period, usually feels pretty stressful. As biological beings we are always living in Horticultural Time, whether our mind knows it or not. When our body begs us to slow down during pregnancy, when we realize we cannot predict the exact date of our birthing, when after birth our baby needs us to be in harmony with his or her rhythms of hunger and sleep and growth and change, we are being asked to become more intimate and in tune with Horticultural Time.
This is for sanity and enjoyment. We are made to be creative, and what that looks like is different for everybody. Even you, stay-at-home-mom, are called to bring joy and creativity into the ordinary, mundane work in your life. If we plan ahead and slow down, we will notice the many places in our lives that would benefit from our creativity.
- Be creative when implementing chores for you and your family
- Be creative with carving out alone time for yourself
- Be creative by planning fun activities for you and your kids
- Be creative when feeding your children
The daily things beg for your personal touch and creativity. You and your family will benefit so much from this!
(Creativity doesn’t mean being an artist or an author or an interior designer, so if you are under the illusion that you are just not creative, I encourage you to think and pray about it – you are most certainly creative in your own unique way. I promise!)
So there you have it. Three incredibly simple things that you’ve probably implemented in some degree or another, whether you meant to or not. It has been five years in the making for me and I’m sure, a lifetime to go! Let us ease the stress and anxiety in our lives by planning ahead, slowing down, and being creative with our time and resources.
I’d love to hear what resonated the most with you or what you are focusing on in this season of your life.