Mothering takes a different skill set today than when I was a stay-at-home mom. The internet was brand new, Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest were all future distractions. The world really was a bit simpler in a time when you thought nothing of going out for the day without a cell phone. Cell phones were expensive, way less common and we didn’t miss having one because you don’t miss what you don’t know you need.
I’m in a different season of life now and the things that matter stand out in stark perspective to the pull of the culture surrounding and saturating all of us. Those things are clear to me, condensed, like pinpoints of bright light in a vast, black sky.
Times have changed a lot for moms since I became one nearly 3 decades ago. Life is moving crazy-fast. Information is available at warp speed and voices everywhere are screaming for attention. Distractions abound, multiply and pull, tugging us away from the important and sacred. The tyranny of the urgent seduces and traps with flattering but empty promises.
And we find ourselves paying attention to everything but what matters.
It’s hard to resist the cultural pull but I truly believe it’s imperative we do what we can to find a simpler, less device-connected life. There are things you can do to tame the crazy.
Ten ways to help you tame the crazy and take your life back.
- Untether. Take time everyday to unplug from electronic devices. Prove you aren’t addicted to them. Have a ‘cell-phone free zone’ in your house. May I suggest the dinner table? Have ‘media-free’ days. Go outside and play with your children, leaving the phone in the house. Turn off your phone on movie nights. Go on a social networking fast. Commit to being fully present, fully untethered for one. whole. day. (I fully understand if you’re a mom working from home or needing to be online for your job. I get that. I’m talking about the times you’re with your kids and husband and can disconnect, even if only for a few hours.)
- Change your phone message to reflect your priorities. This would be a fun message: “Hi this is Kate. I can’t answer your call right now because I’m busy spending time with my family. We might be baking cookies or playing tag, having a picnic or reading stories. If it’s summer, we’re outside catching fireflies or eating ice cream cones on the porch. Leave me a message and I’ll get back to you.”
- Speak life to your children. You hold the key to their truth. Build them up. Speak future, destiny, holy possibility. They believe everything you believe and say about them so take great care with your words. Plant the seed of God’s word deep. Don’t compare one child with another.
- Love your husband well. You chose him first and he will be there when the children have gone. Make him a priority. Let the children witness affection and respect between the two of you. Model the marriage you pray they will have. Speak well of him at all times.
- Take back time, don’t let it be stolen from you. You are in control of your day. The internet can be a huge time-suck. Set an alarm and stick to it. Take inventory of your day and the time you spend on electronic devices (other than for work) and see where you can eliminate distraction.
- Turn off the TV.
- Turn on good music. Expose them to all genres of music: Bluegrass, classic jazz, big bands, Sinatra, Mozart, R&B and Bach.
- Expose your children to culture. Symphonies, museums, the ballet, opera, live and professional theatre. Watch old movie musicals together. Get everyone library cards. Buy paints and paper, chalk and crayons. Get crafty even if, like me, you don’t have an artistic bone in your body!
- Under promise and over deliver. This is way better than the reverse. In other words, do what you say you’re going to do and more. Surprise them often.
- Love God. With all your heart, mind, soul and strength. It all starts here and springs from here. Press in, wake up early to seek Him. Go to Him before you go to Facebook. Only by knowing His love can you love well. Your children are following you as you follow Him. When they see your relationship with God do they see something they want? Do they see a parent so in love with Jesus it spills into every inch of their lives? Do you model a life they want to follow?
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
The key to successful mothering? Love.
And if love drives you, you will teach and talk of Him, sitting around, lying around and walking around. You will bind His truth, and write it on your heart and when people come through your door, they will sense something different about your family. It will be in stark contrast to the world. And they will know and they will see…