I am by no means an expert on this; in fact, I need to tell myself these things just as much as I need to share them with you. However, here are a few things that I have learned in the last 19 months.
First of all, I do understand when things are busy, the easiest thing to let go is what you need to do. When I wait until the morning of to get my kids’ homeschool lessons out, I just skip yoga. I think it’s been a month since I last did it (maybe more). When I’m trying to get ready for the day and there’s a time crunch (which would be almost every single day), I just skip breakfast. However, do you know what I’ve learned? Replacing breakfast or lunch with coffee makes me feel terrible. I may can keep going for a little while, but eventually, it catches up to me, and I feel horrible. What I’ve learned is the few minutes it takes to prepare and eat a meal is well worth it in the long run.
Exercising is so important for stress relief. If you’re like me, you feel completely exhausted and going to the gym is the absolute last thing you feel like doing, but I never regret going. Once I actually get there and finish. If you can’t go to a gym, just go for a walk or run outside. Since your kids are depending on you, you need to stay healthy. I also tend to eat healthier if I have been to the gym; after all, I don’t want to ruin what I did! I guess it’s about time I went back to the gym because, as I’m sitting here typing this, I’m eating Cheetos and drinking a Coke.
In addition to taking care of yourself physically, you need to take care of yourself emotionally. You cannot parent your kids out of emptiness. It’s hard when you lose your husband because you lack their love, support, encouragement, and wisdom when you’re trying to live and parent your kids. You must figure out what things fill you up and refresh you and then make time to do those things. Get a sitter to just get a minute away (or a minute to take a nap.) If getting a sitter is financially out of the question, ask someone from your church or ask a family member or friend. List things that are beneficial for your heart and then do them when you’re having a rough day (or even when you’re not!) Call a friend or relative to chat. Watch a funny movie. Read a book. Sit outside for awhile. Just play with your kids. A messy house can wait. You can feed them sandwiches for dinner. Sometimes, you just need time to enjoy those little guys.
Finally, and this is the biggest one of all, take care of yourself spiritually. In the difficult seasons of life, it is so vital that we abide in Christ and stay in His word. George Muller said, “The first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day is to have my soul happy in the Lord.” Do this. If you have to cancel an appointment, delay the start of homeschool, let your kids eat junk for breakfast, make sure that you get enough time in Scripture and in prayer to face your day. On the days when it’s hard to pray and you feel hopeless, spend more time doing this. Nothing is more important. You cannot do this life that God has called us to without the help of the Spirit, and you cannot do this apart from the Lord. He will help you, but you have to stay connected to him. No matter what. This applies to your kids too. No matter what happens in the day, try to have a Bible study with them, even if it’s short. Some days, it may not work out with a busy schedule, but make it a priority to try and find the time to start your day (or at another time of day if it’s better) with time in the Word and time in prayer. And you know what? When your kids see that you make it a priority to start your day with a quiet time, and that you make it a priority to start their day with a family Bible study, it will teach them an important lesson for the rest of their life. May they see that even when we fail, even when we’re exhausted, even when we feel like giving up, we press in to Christ.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5