You’ve heard the old saying, I’m sure:
When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.
It’s a great visual, isn’t it? But here’s my question, “What do you do next?” I mean you can’t just hang there at the end of your rope, holding on to a knot forever, can you?
I recently found myself nearing the end of my own rope. Living life as a a wife, mom, and homeschool teacher, who also works from home, blogs, attempts to love my neighbor, and suffers with chronic pain . . well, it all just took it’s toll on me. There were days when I literally felt like a knot was not going to be big enough for me to hang on to. Have you ever had that kind of anxiety, where you feel like you’re on the edge of a cliff, and one small breeze is going to knock you over it. That was me.
Something had to change. Actually some thingS had to change. But I had to begin, and I quickly discovered that figuring out where to begin was the hardest part. The following are the steps I took, and if you, too, are finding yourself at the end of your rope, or standing on the edge of a cliff trying to keep the wind at bay, I hope you will find hope and useful action steps here.
You may need to write this stuff down in order to really see the big picture, but begin evaluating your life.
- Where are you spending your time? Be honest with yourself.
- What is the focus of most of your energy?
- Whose needs are you expected to meet on a daily or weekly basis. Are you doing so?
- Why are you over-committed?
It didn’t take me long to figure out that I was spending much more time and energy on projects outside of my responsibilities as a wife and homeschool mom, than I should be. While I was serving my clients and readers well, I was doing a poor job of serving my family. The house was a mess, not enough homeschooling was getting done, we were eating more take-out than home-cooked meals, and I was not sleeping enough. This upside-down way of living will cause tremendous stress, not only because you will not have enough time in your days, but also because it will cause your relationships to suffer. Not to mention the exhaustion. Eventually, the lack of sleep will catch up with you. It did with me. And as a middle-aged woman living with auto-immune disease, this is probably the part that was tipping me over the edge the most.
The cause of your upside-down living might be different than mine. Perhaps you’re spending too much time serving your church (you can do that, really) or your community. Maybe you’re allowing friends or neighbors to take advantage of your time because you have a hard time saying, “no.” After all, you’re just a stay-at-home-mom, right? You have all the time in the world!
Whatever it is, write it all down. Be honest with yourself.
Begin eliminating what you can, as soon as you can. I was in a position with my main work client where I needed to finish out a project for a few months before I could step out. There were a few smaller jobs I could drop much sooner though, and I did. Right away, I began turning down new offers.
Purpose yourself right now to begin saying “no” to anything that does not benefit your main goal — for me that was serving my family better and getting more rest. Within a couple of weeks of finally getting to a good place, I was offered 3 more jobs. These were great opportunities that the old me would have jumped at. But I was firm in my resolve, and today, there are no regrets for saying, “no.”
When you have been accustomed to living at breakneck speed for a long time, and then find yourself with time on your hands again, it will be easy to slip back into old habits. Equip yourself now to prevent that from happening. Here are a few things you can do:
- Purpose to put first things first.
- Practice saying, “no.”
- Pray before saying “yes” to any new opportunities.
If you’re hanging from a knot, then chances are you have not been enjoying life much. It is not as easy to slow down as one might think. You will suddenly feel as though you are wasting time by not filling every minute with some kind of purposeful activity. You’re not. Take time to begin enjoying life again. Spend time with your family, see a movie, go to the park, bake cookies. Seriously . . . these were things I struggled to find time for. I could not even take a vacation with my family without either working double time before and after, or working from the hotel room at night. It was crazy. Everyone needs down time. Don’t feel guilty about taking some for yourself.
It’s been a few months since I made some major changes in how I’m spending my time and how I serve my family. I still have work to do, but there has been much progress.
How are you doing, busy mom? Are you hanging on to a knot, trying to figure out what to do next? Take heart. There is a way out. Trust me . . . if I can find it, you can do.