How Do You Keep it All Together?

I get asked this question a lot: “How do you keep it all together?”  Perhaps people ask me because I have 6 kids and if I chose to have 6 then I must have felt like I could handle them and stay on top of everything else too.  Right?

The truth is that I almost always went into a new pregnancy wondering how on earth I would manage with one more or even two more (after having twins second I always wondered if I was having twins again).  It was always a stretching process to add another child to our family.  I knew it would be but I also knew that God had promised to be my strength when I relied on Him and so I did.

I didn’t set out to have a large family.  I was a planner, an organizer and very much liked to be in control and a family of 8 never crossed my mind.  But I found that when you have a child on your heart, and your husband is in the same place, another child is always a gift.  Always.

Back to keeping it all together.

I don’t think that it’s possible.  To keep it all together.  It seems to me that any togetherness is a perceived condition.  Children don’t allow for it.

Please don’t get me wrong.  I am NOT saying that you cannot keep your house neat or that you cannot be organized or that you cannot have a great plan.  What I am saying is that keeping it all together implies that you are completely in control and everything goes your way.  It doesn’t. Hardly ever.

Kids are ever changing and raising them is incredibly demanding.  A mother needs mounds of grace for her children and even more for herself.  The dreams and plans you have of having it all together are sure to get interrupted by dealing with heart issues, sick kids, sleepless nights that lead to tired days, a daily battle inside of how much time you spend cleaning up and how much time you spend playing with kids, and I haven’t even gotten to distractions or tangents (like wanting to redo your daughters room. Right. Now!).  Did I mention doctors appointments and planning meals and running errands?

The only way I know of how to keep it all together is by not allowing it to wreck you when it all falls apart.  I’ve spent many moments crying over spilled milk and clothes all over the floor that I just put away.  I’ve had heart palpitations over people coming over at a moments notice and when my kids melt down in a store.  But I think my time is better spent on learning to be okay with the things that happen outside of my plans rather than trying so hard to keep anything outside of them from happening.  Know what I mean?

I hope this is freeing for you in some way.  I have spent years trying to keep it all together.  If we can learn to hold it all loosely and focus on what’s important than I believe we will live lives that are capable of more joy, more grace and even more fun. And that’s what I want for my family and for you too.


Linking up today with Kristen from We Are That Family for What Works for me Wednesday

For the Overwhelmed Mom Who Wants Off of the Crazy Cycle

I often feel like the most overwhelmed mom who desperately wants off of the crazy cycle.  Occasionally I will think about the crazy busy life I live and feel like dropping everything and moving to some remote village in France.  I imagine it would be quiet and serene and life would be simple.  I would walk to the market and buy fresh bread, butter and cheese everyday.  My kids would wake up early and do chores and work hard because, well, that would be the lifestyle. I would spend my time, while they are at school, gardening and canning and preparing meals.  I would also make time for decorating our home. We would laugh together loud and live joy filled lives.  It would be simple and it would be a beautiful life.

Back to reality.

I wake up early ever morning with a to do list that is already a mile long. We rush to get through breakfast and get 5 kids off to 3 different schools. My days are filled with grocery shopping at different stores to find the best deals, cleaning a house that has toys scattered in every room, meal planning, running all over the place to find the supplies my kids teachers just asked for that they need tomorrow, paying bills, blogging here and there, taking kids to soccer and volleyball practice and games across town, all with my youngest in tow who doesn’t seem to care for any of it…

And the thought creeps in that I hate this busy life.  I really dread it every day.  There’s little joy in the doing and the details seem draining.

One day, while stopping at the 2nd store on my list and agonizing that there are 3 more to go, I had the thought: What if I could live the simple and beautiful life I long for?  What if being grateful and looking for beauty are the keys? What if stopping to survey the beauty and uniqueness of the fresh produce, beautiful flowers and wondering at the blue sky while I walk back to the car were all I really needed to make my life more beautiful and simple?

Summertime: Fresh Strawberries #1

What if I chose the things I love over the things I think I need?  What if I made my shopping excursions about what was available from the farmers market and had the guts to throw something together that night with my finds instead of meal planning boring casseroles & crockpot meals every single day?

What if I made cooking a more enjoyable by thinking of it as art by living in the moment?  What if I treasured the time I spent doing homework with my kids because it was time I actually had with them to invest in who they will become.  What if our car rides to and fro became beautiful because our conversations turned deep as the music was turned down?

We glorify a busy life now days.  We glorify a mom who “does it all.”  Especially if she still looks good and doesn’t seem tired.  But it is running us ragged. We are overwhelmed and listening to voices that keep us in this crazy cycle of being at whits end with no hope of ever not being there {with the exception of when it has all passed us by and our kids are raising their own kids and following in our example of crazy busy lives}.

I wonder at a life with margin; extra space that allows for beauty. It seems thrilling and hopeful and unachievable at the same time.

But it is possible.  It is possible in the laying down of caring about what anyone else thinks of you {and this is really the key}.  It is possible in becoming a hunter for true beauty and a purger of clutter {of things and appointments and tangents}.  It is possible in going after the great things and letting the good things just pass you by.

My calling as a mom is shifting.  I used to feel called to just survive but now I feel called to thrive.  I’m just beginning to figure out what this means but I am excited because it’s nothing less than a life lived more deeply with much beauty along the journey.

Do you feel like you live on the crazy cycle?  Want to step off with me and discover the path to a more beautiful and fulfilling life?