Confessions of a Chronically Over-Scheduled Mom

December 03, 2018

Does anyone else wake up running and not stop until bedtime —

— and even as your head hits the pillow, you’re already formulating the game plan for tomorrow? ?

I’m doing so much better about this than I used to, but I’ve always been one to stay busy. I have no concept of what it means to be bored. Even a long wait in a dentist’s office is a chance to make notes about that project I should have started last week!

Though I’ve always been one to stay occupied, the insanity of my schedule didn’t come to a head until sometime after my son, Axton, was born.

After working in the banking industry for over a decade, I was able to quit my job and stay home after my son had just turned one.

At first, my days consisted of the typical tasks of a new mom: feed, check diaper, clean up spills, put down for a nap, repeat. But as Axton grew and required less round-the-clock maintenance, I began to take on projects — the kinds of things I’d always wanted to do but had never had the time.

Over the next three years, I proceeded to start a blog, write for three other blogs, start a work-from-home job, edit and write curriculum, and join the national team of a Bible club organization for students, P7 Clubs, as staff writer and editor.

Of course, as I was juggling all these projects, I was also trying to keep my house (semi-) clean, be present for my husband and toddler, and head up our church’s music department.

Sometimes I was having the time of my life . . .

. . . And other times I was absolutely drowning in my obligations.

In those times, it was almost as if a physical weight lay heavy on my shoulders, pushing me down, down, down, holding me hostage under the waters of my overwhelming schedule.

There were some high times: it was exciting to be involved in so many amazing, meaningful projects.

But there were low times, too — like when my regular bedtime became 3 AM, and this girl who adores her sleep was surviving on 4-5 hours a night.

After about three years of this out-of-control lifestyle, my exciting projects began to feel like chains around my neck. And though the activities I was involved in were mostly ministry-related, I began to get the sense that I had somehow completely lost sight of what my true ministry was supposed to be.

So over the process of the next six months, I began to prune my schedule. With each clip of the shears, a project would fall away, and though there was the slightest sting, I felt lighter and happier and a sense of relief with each elimination.

Soon, there was one negotiable left: my involvement with P7. But it was so exciting and rewarding . . . And wasn’t it a super-important ministry to be involved in? Something that was making a difference in students’ lives?

I just couldn’t bring myself to let it go.

In March 2017, my little family celebrated my 34th birthday with a fun dinner out of town. Afterward, at home, I tried to wind down for the evening, though, as usual, my subconscious was weighted with all the to-dos I knew I needed to chip away soon.

Absently, I picked up a Reflections magazine that had been lying around my house for weeks.

Opening the magazine, an article caught my eye: “The Law of Seasons” by Thetus Tenney.

And that’s when I had a moment: one of those moments when you’re going about your day, God abruptly hijacks your attention, and you just know He’s about to speak into your life.

Every season, from youth to old age, has its own responsibilities and rewards, Sis. Tenney wrote. “Every woman is not called to do all things at all times. . . . If you have children at home, realize it is only for a season. Well-tended responsibilities during these years can produce an extended harvest for the Kingdom in the multiples lives of your children. Neglect at this time could produce wild tares and weeds for you to contend with in the next season. With clear perspective, determine how much extended involvement you can manage, and do not feel guilty or repressed with your decision.

The author went on to talk about a lonely phase in her life when she was alone with her children a lot and battled with resentment and frustration that she couldn’t do more. And then she decided to fill the hours with reading and study.

Little did I realize that while taking care of my primary responsibility as a young mother, I was also given an opportunity for development for my future ministry of teaching. . . . Do not waste growing time wishing you were someone else, somewhere else, doing something else. . . . To live fully your present is the best insurance for your future.

The words pierced my heart, and tears rolled down my cheeks.

I was no longer willing to sacrifice the future for my misplaced ideas of what was so important in the present.

It was time for one last pruning.

Throughout the coming months, what I’d initially viewed as a loss proved to be a gain. I was now able to focus more on my church, our ladies ministry, and our music department. I was able to go out with my husband without feeling anxious about all the to-dos waiting when I got home. I was able to read to my son and take walks with him without feeling guilty about everything that wasn’t getting done.

Now, almost two years later, I’m realizing that the schedule-pruning process is lifelong and ongoing. But I walk into 2019 more determined than ever that the things I trade my life for are going to be worthy investments of my time, energy, and focus.

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:15-17).

As we head into yet another new year, I hope that you’re asking God to reveal His will for your life.

He has given you a certain allotment of time here on this earth. During that time, He hopes you will cultivate a relationship with Him. He hopes you will be the hands and feet of Jesus to others — others who, many times, may be your very own family.

Many worthy causes will vie for your attention in your lifetime. God has not called you to spread yourself thin over each and every one. He has called you to discern the best things for your current season and invest yourself in those.

How is God teaching you to use your life for the best things? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Recommend reading: The Best Yes by Lysa Terkheurst