Friday, February 5, 2010

Chicken Soup for Mom's Soul

Hope I don't get in trouble for borrowing my title from a popular line of books, but I thought it conveyed what I wanted to say. When you're physically sick, what's the best thing to eat (especially if it's winter)? Chicken soup! When you're emotionally exhausted from being around your children 24/7 while trying to make sure that they get a good education, what do you do? Last time I checked, there was no magic pill for toddleritis and there was no chicken soup for the teenage-induced flu bug.

Several things can help cure a worn-out mom. The most important thing is to make sure that you're getting enough rest and nutrition physically. I'm not a doctor or a health nut, so I'll leave the specifics to someone else. Just make sure that you go to bed early enough to get up at your designated wake-up time. If your sleep is interrupted at night, make time for a short nap early in the afternoon--say, as soon as the little ones go down for their naps. Also try to plan healthy meals and snacks for yourself, not just for your family.

This next piece of advice is my favorite. Are you ready? Get. Out. Of. The. House. Without. Children. I know it's hard, trust me. My husband and I had only 1 car for the first 11 years of our marriage, and I stayed home with our children--all day every day--during that period. I won't say that you have to go out once a week or once a month, but I will say that you need to get out of the house alone regularly. It doesn't have to be anywhere expensive or for a long time each time. When my kids were really young, even a trip to the grocery store was the highlight of my week sometimes! Look for a once-a-week, women's Bible study at your church that includes childcare; ask your hubby to watch the children while you go to Olive Garden for a girls' night out with some friends, swap babysitting with a friend or two one morning a week. Of course, you can always hire a babysitter and have your husband take you out for a nice meal--no cooking and no kids. Get creative!

Want to boost your happiness? Get outside in the fresh air and sunshine! I realize that it's easier the farther south you live, but even up north you can usually get outside for a short time (10-15 minutes) a few times a week. I like to walk slowly from my car in the back of the parking lot to the store; even a few minutes like that adds up. If you live where there's snow, I'm sure your kids would be delighted to have mom's help in making a snowman or in tobogganning. The sun's rays bring healing vitamin D and just plain ol' make you happy, even just a little bit of sun.

Perhaps I should have put this at the top of the list, but maybe you'll remember it better if I put it at the end. No matter how many children you have, no matter how many other responsibilities you have, always take time for your personal Bible reading and prayer EVERY DAY. You may have to lock yourself in the bathroom and ignore the pounding on the door to do it, or you may have to get up a few minutes early (that's my weak area), but find the time somewhere. When your kids are very small, even 5 or 10 minutes in God's Word daily can help to restore your weary soul. As your children get older and able to understand that you need some uninterrupted time (or less interrupted time!), it becomes even more of a personal discipline to make time for God. Along those same lines, try not to get stuck doing nursery duty week after week. Make sure that you're able to get to the big people service at least every other week to have some big people talking and learning time.

Q4U: What's your favorite way to rejuvenate when you have children at home 24/7 (either young ones or homeschooling)?