I got an email recently from a reader, wanting to know how to stay positive when surrounded by Little People, Life, and the Chaos That Ensues. And I admit, I may have snorted a little. Because, um, I’ve shown you guys my bedside table, right? It’s not all rainbows and unicorns around here. But this is something near and dear to my heart, it’s something that God has been working with me on, and I’ve heard lots of wisdom from others on the subject that I am prepared to share as my own. So here goes…
1 – Accept your position. The sooner we can all release the idea that our house will be the one on the block that runs smoothly, the better off we’ll be. We need to quit comparing, quit dreaming, and deal with the reality that we’ve been given. I’m not being fatalistic, I’m saying that sometimes we get so caught up in wishing that we weren’t drowning in diapers, laundry, and mud pies that we never learn to be content. And we don’t ever learn to cope with what we’ve been given. Which leads me to my next point…
2 – Practice Gratefulness. It makes no sense to walk into my laundry room and stare at Mt. WashMe and whisper, “Thank you, Jesus.” But sometimes, that’s what I need to do to get a little healthy perspective. I remember when I could do laundry once a week, for two people, and I was the saddest mama-wannabe around. I remember when I wasn’t overrun with baby socks. And I remember millions of children who don’t have more than the clothes on their bodies. That’s an attitude-changer.
Open up and enjoy the insanity. The Inane, the Ridiculous, it is GUARANTEED in our lives. Accept it, be thankful you’ve been given so many great stories to tell, and embrace it. The more you practice being grateful, the more you’ll feel it.
3 – Lower Your Expectations. I’ve preached on this before. Once you’ve accepted the children, the husband, the work you’ve been given, you have to be realistic about what you can achieve in a day. Recognize that the more you write on your own personal to-do list, the more you sacrifice the relationships with the people you are trying to serve. Only do the things you can get done while still being nice. If you can’t accomplish it without yelling at your kids, don’t do it. Or save it for bedtime. Making yourself wait for the hard stuff until after the kids go to bed and you’re exhausted will help you prioritize your life QUICKLY!
4 – Relationships Rule. We’re talking about growing families here. A family isn’t just the people who live in the house together. A family is made up of the relationships between those people. Yes, absolutely, things have to get done so the house doesn’t fall down around our ears. But I will let the kitchen dishes go unwashed when I host guests because I want to visit with them. Will I do the same with my own kids? How do I show them that they are important to me? Do I sit and chat with them during lunch, or do I scrub the kitchen and remove the peanut butter from my hair? I’m not implying you must spend your every waking minute lolling on the couch, shooting the breeze with your kids. But I’m saying the Relationship should dictate your priorities.
One more thing about this – when we’re all down in the trenches with the training stage, it’s easy to become the Colonel, dictating, keeping everyone in line, administering discipline… And sometimes we forget to hug our kids. (I’m using we in the “Royal We” sense here, meaning ME.) I forget that I’m training and I start Managing. The two are very different. Training involves teaching, it involves communicating, it involves demonstrating the behavior I want to see in my kids. And I don’t think I want my kids acting like Colonel Klink all the time. So I’ve got to demonstrate in love, not in mandates.
Believe it or not, there’s more. But I’m still working up the nerve to hit publish on those. In the meantime, tell me how YOU stay positive. How do you find your sense of humor in the trenches?