So Much Chaos
The baby woke me up at least four times last night; I stopped counting.
The two-year-old woke up an hour and a half earlier than normal.
One teen overslept and was late for school, while another said he’s taking a day off because he needs to sleep.
The potty training girl woke up dry but refuses to sit on the potty.
I’ve set aside time to work on writing by asking one of my boys to watch the girls for an hour, but as I sit here writing this, his brother has interrupted me six times in the last ten minutes.
This is a true story of my day. If you’re a parent, yours may look much like mine or a little different, but there is no denying that we all have several moments every day that could easily make us lose control.
Hundreds of little things happen every day to steal our peace. How can we maintain our peace in the midst of so much chaos?
Emptied of Peace
I look at my peace like a jar that is emptied and refilled throughout the day. My peace and patience are restored each night while I sleep.
I usually go to bed empty and, if I have a restful night of sleep, awake restored and refreshed. This is when my jar is full.
All throughout the day, every small and big thing that happens impacts that peace:
A toddler throws a tantrum—some peace is emptied.
The teens fight with each other—more emptied.
The three-year-old poops in her pants.
I find an open bag of blueberries placed upside-down in the freezer.
An email reminds me that I forgot to fill my teen’s school lunch account.
The two-year-old dumps her bowl of rice on the floor.
Each one of these and so many other small things happen to empty the jar.
How can I refill my peace? As an introvert, alone time will do it for me every time, even a few minutes. That’s why I and other moms like me find ourselves hiding out in the bathroom! If you’re an extrovert, perhaps chatting with a friend for a few minutes will refresh you.
But what if the demands are so great that it’s not possible to call that friend or steal even those few moments of alone time?
In this moment, and all the others described above, I have a choice to make. I can let all of these things that have piled up cause me to explode and ruin my day, or I can choose peace, choose a good day.
Yes, I sometimes have a mini explosion when one more small thing is the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”. But after that, I can choose to move forward and have a positive day and enjoy my girls who are happy and are oblivious to the fact that they contributed to some of that junk.
Four Simple Ways to Refill Your Peace
- Turn on positive, uplifting music. It brings peace not just to you, but to the kids as well.
- Cry out, “Lord, help!” When the boys were small, I often said, “Heaven help me!”, trying to be funny. Then I realized that when I uttered that cry, God actually did show up and help. He brought me peace in that moment.
- Post uplifting phrases or scripture verses throughout the house. You can find plenty of ideas on Google.
- And here’s a fourth way that’s not so simple, but definitely effective: Choose peace, even when it seems hard. We recently had “one of those weeks”. Sleep was hard to come by, and I woke up each morning feeling almost as tired and drained as I had been the night before. Those are the mornings when I have a clear choice to make. I can decide to wallow in my misery, saying, “I deserve to have a crappy day because I’m tired. I’ve had no sleep all week and the days are just so hard right now.” I’ve tried that approach before and guess what? It doesn’t help. Choosing to be miserable does nothing but make me and everyone around me even more miserable. So I choose to find some things to be thankful for, don a good attitude, and make it a good day.
Is Lack of Margin Stealing Your Peace?
Perhaps you’re in a season of life where you’re lacking peace simply because there isn’t enough margin in your day. It may be time for you to take time out for yourself to refresh and rejuvenate.
You may need to eliminate some of those extra responsibilities. You don’t need to be on the go all the time. If you’re feeling overly stressed, angry, or anxious all the time, take a step back and reevaluate how you’re spending your time.
It’s okay to take a period of time when you’re just focused on yourself and your household. You may need to do that for a year or two or just a month or two. I am in that phase right now.
With three toddlers plus the teens, hubby, and household, I have pretty much cut out all extra activities. This blog is the one thing I’m doing for me. There are so many volunteer activities and other things I would like to be involved in, and I believe God has put many of those things on my heart…for a later time. Once my little ones get past the stage where they demand my constant attention, I will be able to undertake some of those other ventures.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, check out my post “When you can’t do it all—learning to let go.”
A special note to parents of toddlers
Life can feel overwhelming when there are little people depending on you 24/7 for their very existence. Parenting is a series of changing seasons.
Reliving this season of toddlers after having gone through it several years ago, I am daily reminded of the struggles: waking at night, baby proofing, potty training, and physical exhaustion.
This season will gradually change as your children become more independent. Your house will be clean again and you will sleep through the night again.
There will be a time when your every waking moment doesn’t revolve around these little ones. For now, look for ways to enjoy the time you’re in even as you look forward to what lies ahead.
And in enjoying every moment, you will gradually begin to find peace in the chaos.