About 9 months ago I read Present Over Perfect, like many of you, and found a lot of comfort and relief in the message of the book in finding a simpler and soulful way of living. It felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders when I read about another mom who felt overwhelmed by the pressures of everyday life and expectations from friends, society and family. I loved reading about how the author enjoyed homemade, delicious food, being outdoors with her kids, and how she started finding more joy in simple, everyday life.
If I could look back, I’d say that from the moment I started to feel a drive to accomplish and earn something, little by little those simple joys were chipped away to make room for achievements.
Growing up, though, our childhood was slow, in a really good way. Our family lived on a lake in Michigan, and with four little girls under four years old, my mom had her hands full. That’s probably why we were outside playing all the time. We played in the water, in the field by our home and started fishing with our dad as early as I can remember. My sisters and I loved swinging on the big tree swing and helping our mom with the garden. I remember from an early age pulling out the first carrot and the head of lettuce and marveling at the fact that we grew that in our own backyard! We ice skated as soon as the ice was strong enough, and looked forward to coming inside and playing with our homemade playdough.
We moved to Ohio when I was in grade school and we still spent the majority of our time outdoors whenever we could. We swam in our neighborhood pool from open to close during the summers and the evenings were spent jumping on the trampoline and catching fireflies in our yard.
The busyness started around junior high when I felt the pressure to get good grades, excel in cheerleading and pageants and eventually get into a good college. It’s been craziness and schedules and goals since then. Not all bad – but definitely lots of busy.
For the first time in a decade, I’ve felt a real desire to slow my life down, completely because I have two little dudes to enjoy in this season in my life and the last thing I want to do is rush through it. With that, I’ve started examining things in my life that don’t bring me joy, and that don’t allow me to savor the time with my kids. Here are the things I’ve quit doing so that I am able to fully enjoy my family and my boys in the same way my mom probably enjoyed her girls, during this magical time of childhood.
- Mindless TV watching. I’m talking about watching TV just to watch TV. Unless I’m stuck in a Netflix binge or Real Housewives marathon (happens) I rarely turn the television on during the day. You will find music on all the time and library books stashed everywhere.
- Striving for a perfect body. That ship has sailed, and that’s fine. I want to be healthy, energetic and fun to be around. Bread makes me happy, and I’m OK with that.
- Complaining. Nothing is perfect, and sometimes service at restaurants is slow and sometimes people are rude. It’s life. Complaining about it won’t change it.
- Trying to do it all. There are only so many hours in the day, and to think that I have to do it all to feel accomplished takes me right back to that time in my life I was endlessly striving for perfection and accomplishment. Today, did I get lots of baby kisses? Did the dishwasher get unloaded? Did I act like a dinosaur with Shep? Then we’re good.
- Staying up late. In this season of motherhood, I’ve learned there’s almost nothing worth sacrificing sleep. I feel more joyful when I’m rested. I haven’t seen midnight in a loooong time.
- News apps. Our world is a scary place. Nothing steals joy faster than watching the headlines every 10 minutes. Don’t get me wrong – it’s important to be informed. But letting news seep into all my daily interactions through notifications is the definition of joy stealing. Deleted.
- Comparing myself to other moms. Comparing yourself to another mom is the fastest way to steal joy, but an easy trap to fall into. God really created all of us to be the exact kind of wife and mother our families need, and none of us know all the struggles our friends are facing. The person you are today is exactly who you were made to be – flaws and all. Embrace your strengths, and forget about the rest.
- Making dinner every night. That’s a lot of dishes. And our family loves a BLT as much as we love lasagna, so it works.
- Fast online shopping. Those Facebook ads get me everytime, but I’ve found I’m more satisfied with purchases if I’ve had some time to think about them. I enjoy purchasing clothes or shoes when I really love them, not just because I saw a friend wearing them. Find a few items that are special instead of a dozen items that are trendy.
- Overscheduling your life. Some days are busier than others, but busyness steals my joy if you can’t tell. Pick a day or two each week that are off-limits for scheduling. Keep those sacred, and enjoy the slowness with your family.
What have you let go of to find more joy in your life?
On to the link up!