The first thing I did was stop focusing on the following things:
- my phone
- tasks that need done
- to-do lists
- past hurts
- future milestones
- my own feelings
- expecting a break when my husband comes home
I struggle with creating boundaries with social media. The difficulty arises when I am stressed; I end up spending a lot of time on my phone or on Facebook when I need to zone out or calm down. I have known about this issue for awhile, and tried several different things. I desperately want to nix my phone addiction and replace it with a positive: read my bible, listen to a sermon, read books to the toddler, turn on some music or actually confront the stress-issue head on. I don't like the easy cop out of resorting to starting at my phone.
My husband has also mentioned I am on my phone a lot in the evenings (the highest time for tension in our home) and that it makes me feel unapproachable to him.
From now on I hope I keep firm boundaries in place with both my phone and Facebook. Do I still use it? Yeah, but only once a day instead of multiple times throughout the day. Will I need reminders? Yes, of course. Am I 100% healed and no longer feel the longing to pick up my phone and zone out? No, but it's been gloriously restful to have some space from social media. It's helped the dynamic of my family and my focus. I created boundaries by plugging my phone in across the room from where I nurse, turning off notifications, and generally trying to forget it exists. So far, so good.
When I finally created some space from my phone, I realized that tasks and to-do lists are a main point of stress in my life. These things (or thinking of them and how much I had/hadn't completed) are a driving force behind the mood of my day. Did I get a lot accomplished? I must be a good mom. Is the house a mess and the baby crying? I am a failure. Under the urge "to do" I would crab at my toddler, crab at my husband and be a ball of anxiety and stress.
So I decided to stop thinking of days in terms of how much I got done or didn't get done. I decided to spend all that time I had spent looking at my phone or feeling depressed about how much I wasn't doing/how little energy I had doing what I could when I could. This may seem laughingly simple; but it has revolutionized my life. As time progressed I began to see that organizing my house, doing the dishes, cleaning and making dinner are not weights to be carried or burdens that are crushing me. They are the ways I worship God. They are the ways I glorify him. These things don't oppress me: instead they show love, honor and respect to not only God, but also to my husband. I think back on the last five years and how much housework felt "unjust" to me, and I laugh. I mean, I don't always enjoy it, but now I see how it all fits into God's plan and purpose and I have peace.
I've struggled with my husband working late since we had Reuben. I mean, every time he works late it forces me to work late. I've tried expecting him to come home late, but this mindset didn't help. I am usually frustrated, overwhelmed and touched out when he arrives.
I realized once again that it's my expectations that cause me to feel this way. I expect to get a break when he gets home. However, this rarely happens. This is why I get moody and irritable and go sit and nurse and stare at my phone. Everyone needs a break; but with two kids I definitely have to plan and openly communicate my need for some space. Instead, I expect my husband to come home and start helping. And he usually comes home stressed and ready for a break himself! He wants to eat dinner, relax and use the bathroom in peace and not be greeted by stressed to the max grumpy wife. I don't know why it's taken me almost three years to realize this, but such is life.
Thus instead of expecting a break for myself when he gets home, I expect to give him a break. And that was the change I needed to make! Sometimes I get a break, but often I don't. Resetting my mindset to his needs and making an effort to communicate my needs has revolutionized the family evening time together. I've since come the realization that I don't "deserve" a break. I am doing my job. I deserve nothing. Now when I do get a break I am able to enjoy it fully with peace and grace and thankfulness in my heart. Before I thought of it as a "right" for my hard work.
The second thing I did was choose a ministry.
A lot of my issues and moods come from focusing too much on myself. I realized I need to focus on others. I realized I needed a ministry, a way to give back. I used to volunteer a ton before I had kids. Unfortunately, I have limited time and energy. But I knew right away what I wanted to do. I want to bring meals to tired moms. I love cooking--and I already cook for myself, so it wouldn't take too much extra time from my day! Yet it is SO needed.
I have made it a priority to bring at least one family a meal a week. It's been four weeks, and often I have made more than one meal each week. I have a meal already scheduled to make tomorrow for a lady who just had a new baby. I'm not doing it to feel good--but honestly because I know it's needed. Those meals I received after I gave birth to Reuben and Rebekah were so necessary to my healing and rest. And looking outside of myself and filling a need in my community has helped me emotionally and spiritually.
These things are the things I have changed and they have made me a better mother and wife, and a better steward of my time. I'll write another post of what I have added to my day that further facilitates peace and calm in our family home. As much as the above toxicity needed to go--more needed to come in. I'm learning and growing and have never been more excited about the future of myself and my family.