Your warning signals may be different from mine, but be aware that when you start seeing them, you need to seek out some by-yourself-time to relax, cry if needed, and pray.
Here are some of the warnings I get:
The kids are entertaining themselves on my furniture.
The trash truck will be here any minute and the bags still aren't out by the street!
Whataburger bags and paper plates are crowding the table next to where I sit.
Christmas decor has exploded in my kitchen before Thanksgiving dishes are done and put away!
The kids are digging their breakfast bowls out of the dishwasher instead of the cabinets, and eating breakfast at the dining table because the breakfast table is overrun.
When I tell the kids to go make their bed, I find out the sheets are no longer even on there.
I don't actually remember if that basket is clothes I took out of the dryer or dirty clothes I sat in there to be washed next.
The school cabinet is in disarray and won't quite close all the way.
The kids have been entertaining themselves by decorating more than the tree.
Time for an emotional breakdown. Time for deeper than normal prayer and maybe some tears.
I know reading and seeing pictures of the real way a person lives can be pretty funny, but the truth is these kind of days can also be painful. When you try and try to keep up and just can't, when you know that reading to the kids is so much more important but you can't seem to find the time (or the book, for that matter), and when you're taking fast food home for more than one night in a row--you know it's time to get back on track! These times come for different reasons and for different lengths of time, too.
For me, these pictures were taken after a series of stresses came in my life all at once. We had thanksgiving dinner with family (YUM--but oh the dishes), then sewage backed up in my bathtub and we had to get that taken care of whilst showering in the other bathroom (with the stuff that drags from one room to another), my best friend had her new little boy and I decided to cook for her before I had finished off cleaning the kitchen, and we found out that we weren't going to be getting the house we'd been building for the last 5 months. And all of that happened in a span of a week and a half!
Other Times When Life May Mess With Your Routine:
(long or short term)
- One of your children gets sick
- You get sick or bedridden
- A new baby in the family
- Your children need some heavily concentrated time on discipline or training
- Family comes in town
- Holiday fun takes on a mind all it's own
- You're packing for a move
- Your air conditioner or heater breaks at peak times
- A major event, project, or assignment is underway
- You run out of coffee--Just kidding!
- That other thing I forgot to mention
Well, life is settling again, but the aftermath is still all over my home. So, I'm taking this opportunity to show you how I catch up from times like this and get my days back on track.
Scheduling Emotional Breakdowns and Deeper Prayer:
I know that it sounds weird to "schedule" emotional breakdowns, so let me explain. I don't mean get out your calendar and pencil in an emotional breakdown. What I do mean is when you start seeing the signs of an approaching adult tantrum, to get things lined up for a low impact.
First of all, prepare the kids:
When I feel like a ticking time-bomb, I warn my children. I say something along these lines,
"I'm sure y'all can tell I'm not in the best of moods. So, this is how today is going to play out. (I give them a list of chores they have to complete--smaller than normal. I give them a short stack of low-need school assignments (that post to come).) Now, this has nothing to do with you kids, I'm just having a bad day, but you're liable to wake up the Moody Monster if you ask me a dozen questions. So, here's the answers ahead of time. Can you have a piece of candy--yes but only after you eat lunch and two pieces. Can you watch your show--yes but only after you finish chores and school. Can you play outside--after lunch. Any other questions? Do you understand what to do?"
The baby stays with me except when he's hangin' with his 10year old sissy when she wants to "baby-sit". These periods last for about 5-10 minutes, but are the perfect opportunity to hole up in my room and cry a bit and pray.
Next, spill your guts to someone who really cares--God:
I pray nearly everyday, but not as deeply as I do when I'm hurting. This isn't structured, pleasant, calculated prayer. It's raw and unfiltered and emotional. God already knows--even more than you know--the deepest, darkest thoughts of your soul. So, this is the time I have "scheduled" to spill.
So, what do I spill?
I confess--how I feel about myself, about others, about my life, about whatever. And as I go, I ask God to change my heart in relation to those things. Sometimes, I even ask God to help me see a person with new eyes because all I could see irritated me.
So, what then?
Well, I let myself cry as much as I need and then when I feel better I'm ready to move on. I pray a more basic prayer. "God, my life has fallen apart around my feet yet again. Please help me know what to do to get back on track. What should I do first? What should I have the kids do while I'm working on that?" And I sit there listening for an answer. Usually I already know the answer and I've just been putting it off.
Usually, I go straight to the kids after this and tell them I'm sorry for my bad attitude. Then I get on whatever I know I should do.
So...what if you just can't get alone? What if you're constantly being interrupted?
- First, eliminate the unimportant interruptions. Turn down your cell-phone. I sometimes have to lock my doors and determine not to answer them.
- Sometimes you have to put off your time for a little bit--but don't let it be long. Make sure everyone is fed and has an activity to work on, even if it's a t.v. show you trust.
- When I seriously can't find a moment, I usually prepare my husband by texting him (voices have more emotion). He sometimes takes charge of the kids while I soak in the bubble bath or go to Starbucks (those times I journal instead of cry out loud), or sometimes just sit in the car and cry.
- Even a blanket over your head can provide a desperate moment of privacy.
I know it's hard sometimes to find a moment away, but it's also important. Whether it be out with a close friend, in a bubble bath, or under a blanket with your bible, find ways to be alone with God when things gets harried. You'll thank yourself for prioritizing this time away. And...so will the closest people in your life. Fifteen minutes alone in tears can wash away a week of bad moods. Consider it a gift to them and make that time a priority.
This is part of my When The Mess Paralyzes series, found here.