rest

This weekend, the power went out. It was a scheduled power outage and I had completely forgotten about it. I’d just finished making coffee when it happened, so I considered myself lucky that I made the cut on my daily must have ritual. “Yay! That means we don’t have to take baths!” Aiden exclaimed.

Questionable personal hygiene aside, the power was off and we had things to do. I realized I was momentarily flustered at yet another day of anti productivity. But as I already mentioned last week, a mammoth cold had taken over all of us and if I was honest, I was too exhausted to do anything, anyway.

The power outage lasted for about thirty whopping minutes, and when it came back on I realized how bummed out I was. So we pretended it was still off. I considered it a sign from the juju gods of all things general overachievement that maybe we should rest.

So this weekend, we didn’t create a new project. We didn’t build something gigantic for the back yard. We didn’t even purge or do the laundry. We have no newfangled thing to show anyone.

weekend_fun

We did absolutely nothing.

Sometimes, getting sick is our body’s way of telling us we’re doing too much. I’m just wondering why it’s so hard for me to unplug and rest when that happens.

legos

Building legos, pillow forts, and letting the dishes pile up… Why is taking a break such a bad thing?

I think that if we’re yearning for a life of simplicity, it has to have less of the ‘fillers’ in it.

In the past few months, I’ve honestly been searching for answers out of exhaustion and over extension. I’ve asked some of my friends who are in the same stage of life and feel the same way. This challenge is different for everyone.

I look around at the culture we’re immersed in, and I see an excess of involvement and activities. There’s games to attend, parties to take part in, volunteering to cover, jobs to finish, meals to cook… ministries to fill and things to do. Opportunities to jump on. And when, may I ask, did parenting get so hard? I’ve been told that as your children grow, you trade the sleepless nights you endure at the beginning, for other stuff.

A few of my friends and I have decided those people were being nice and lying to us. It gets harder.

With a 3 year old, 5 year old, and 7 year old, we’re in between and at the beginning of it all. I see where it’s headed. I’ve been told by the older crowd, “Just you wait! Just you wait until you’re at the ballpark for five days straight alternating between three playoffs after you’ve hosted a Boston Butt fundraiser for 46 hours and a Girl Scouts stand in at the fur factory! Finished off with a camp-a-thon all night lock in at the church!”

All in the name of our children?

There’s things to be done. Things to help with. But in that lies the key word : they’re just things.

Supporting my children and nurturing them as they grow are my top priority. They certainly come first. But isn’t that what’s so distressing? Isn’t that why it’s so hard to draw boundaries and establish a moderate balance? I find myself frazzled, wondering if I don’t do these things, then who will? Practically panicking at the prospect. Wanting the best for them and making it happen without feeling spread so thin… is it possible?

Is spreading ourselves thin, really what’s best for them?

Maybe what I want for our children and our family isn’t ‘the norm’ and our society’s perception of it. Maybe I don’t want to be seen as ‘the bad mom’ because I view things a little differently. Maybe I no longer care if I am.

Have you guys noticed the swinging of the pendulum?

We’re from a generation of go go go…do do do. We were taught to accomplish and succeed and chase and tackle and make it happen. We are the children of the Joneses.

It was all from good intentions.

But we’re also from a generation of over involvement, overcommitment, and downright exhaustion. I’ve seen the symptoms. I’ve seen the product. And I wonder what if we scaled back a little? If we focused more on simple things? If we obsessed a little less over the unimportant and focused on our actual family a little more? Why is this a bad thing if we aren’t involved in fifty activities during the week and twelve more on the weekends?

Sometimes we need more than good intentions.

malone

I’m two crying sessions away from selling all of our belongings and moving our family to Tahiti.

I kid. Not really. Maybe. We all know the answer isn’t moving. (But oh so tempting!)

Like everything else we’ve included in this series, the things in themselves are not bad, but I believe that an excess of them, is. We’re called to be stewards and helpers and servants. But we’re not called to be frazzled and over involved and exhausted. I’ve been toeing the line. It can also be scaled back all the way, to selfishness. There’s a balance.

I don’t want to miss my children growing up, by being overly obsessed with all the things that come with them growing up, or work stuff, or …. insert boundary struggle here. Forrest for the trees.

I catch myself waiting for it to slow down. But it won’t. Not if I don’t proactively seek the slower side. Not if I don’t pursue balance. And maybe beyond that… the simple. It’s easy to live our lives feeling dominated by guilt and driven by the wrong reasons. We’re told by everyone around us that we’re missing out on something if we don’t ‘do it all’.

In that, are we missing the mark?

paintingJamin and I, we’re at a crossroads. A difficult crossroads on how to raise our children, and how to live our lives as a family. Because parenting is not for the weak hearted.

It’s certainly not a popular question.

We find ourselves wondering… Is simplicity a virtue to be dreamt of? Or is it truly an attainable way of life?


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73 Responses to rest

  1. Katie says:

    My husband and I just had this talk! As cliche as it may sound less is truly more. It is the weekends when we are not running around that we find the most fulfilling.

  2. I so agree with everything you said! I don’t have children yet, but I’m a teacher, and I am seeing so many things that bother me–overcommitted kids easily brought to tears by deadlines or frustrated because they spent all night at practice and had no time for homework. My husband and I just bought our own home, and I’ll send myself into a frenzy trying to make it beautiful enough for company. It’s a difficult world we are all living in, and I admire people who know how to take it slow and recognize what’s truly important. Thank you for this post–it reminded me to slow down without making me feel like I am the only one who is overwhelmed.

  3. Jenna says:

    There you go. Making me think again. Love your heart. I feel the exact same way!

  4. Manda says:

    I needed this. I needed to feel like I wasn’t alone in this. I am also spreading myself too thin. Why do we do this to ourselves? I definitely need to scale back on my involvement. In the past month, I’ve been planning a surprise birthday party and 2 separate baby showers for family members. All of which are being held 3 hours away on 3 different weekends. That’s a lot of work. More than I realized. I’m exhausted. My husband and 2 year old are exhausted. I love helping and being involved but I need to learn to say no sometimes. I just feel guilty if I do. Like I’m not doing my part to help. But I think I need to realize that I also need to help myself and my family. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hope we all learn to find a balance in our specific needs and lives.

    • Manda – I hear you. I spent up until this past year completely frazzled all the time and I’m still working on it. Last year, I helped with three weddings. That was awesome and fun and a blessing, but very time consuming and a lot at once. And when I’m not completely immersed in one thing, it’s something else. It’s no way to live your life, that’s for sure. Friends and family are amazing and wonderful, but they also need to respect your healthy boundaries. Something I’m learning daily… and then re-learning.

  5. amber says:

    I’m a busy girl too. I feel what you’re saying and I’m constantly trying to keep things simple. I’ve got two kids and two more part time jobs. I keep things simple by NOT signing up for the PTA (don’t need a bunch of scheduled meetings I have to go to) but I do help with the school carnival, the book fair and once a week in my kids class. That’s it for me. That’s what I can do. I only blog when I want to – ends up being once a week. Don’t want to have to answer to anyone else in that department and don’t want to have to scheduled posts I must do. My kids are only allowed to play one sport and I think that’s enough with all the homework and scouts they also have each week. We try to keep things simple as best we can and I feel like for the most part we are pretty happy. Every once in a while mom starts breathing fast because she’s got too much going on and I feel it’s then I need to take a step back from all the fillers and get my life and home in order.

    Good luck to you. I appreciate your post and getting me to think this morning (as I was finding myself with a little anxiety over some big projects I have coming up!)

    Have a good one!
    Amber

  6. Sara says:

    As new parents, this is a terrifying subject. We have been in youth ministry for 4 1/2 years at the same church and we see too many crazy schedules and the kids that don’t enjoy them. They always seem overwhelmed and TIRED! My 3 1/2 month old isn’t out playing softball or soccer in 14 legues, but I do think they we need to set boundaries now. This is an ongoing discussion in our home. Let me know if you figure something out!

  7. I think you have a lot of valid points here. And I think simplicity is something that is attainable. At least I am going for it :) It’s not easy, though and there are so many aspects of ones life to consider.

    For me, I always go back to clutter clearing. I somehow find sanity when I throw stuff out. De-clutter. I think it’s good for the soul :)

    Oh and your photography is stellar! Blows me away!

  8. Haley says:

    This series would be a perfect second e-book. :)

  9. Layla K says:

    Not everyone will ‘get’ this post because our culture is so immersed in this very thing. It’s like we’re all focused on the wrong things with good intentions-just like you said. This is about purging. Purging your life on a different level so bravo to you!

  10. JT says:

    Lots to think about here! I tend to stay away from the word “busy” as I find its a choice. That is why it can be so hard!

  11. shari says:

    my husband and i are in the season where we are on the edge of being empty-nesters. i really appreciated reading your post, as you are so honest and frank about how you feel in our pressure-society. i would offer to you today that you be intentional about how you spend your day. if your children come first, let them see that. but more importantly, let them see that God comes first. when my two boys went to preschool, i started a business in order to help with the cost of private education. they did not see me working at the computer. i would try very hard to screen my calls while i was with them. it was very difficult and my sleep and health were sacrificed. but my time with them was precious – and i wanted them to know that and see that. also, allow your children to be involved in your projects or volunteering. give them a sense of being needed to help. my parents had six children and we helped them with everything. this taught us a lot about business and helping others at very young ages. saying “no” is very important – and don’t feel guilty about it. people will learn to respect what you’ve invested into your family. also, be sure to date your husband – your children will love that and it’s a gift to them, too. especially in a society where divorce is so common. take a Sabbath as a family seriously. the 4th commandment blesses you – God’s gift once a week. no guilt. stop everything around you and focus on God, together. it’s beautiful. God bless you!

    • I really needed to hear this, especially from someone who has been there. Thank you.

    • Tennille Mykula says:

      Shari, you sound like you have learned a few things on this journey called life. I’d often thought about the Sabbath and what that is supposed to look like. We kind of all just gather around the tv sunday’s after church and veg out. Sometimes we play games and eat fun non-weekday food. What does the Sabbath look like for you and your family? Any advice and how to begin to establish a more purposeful day of rest with a young family? Thanks in advance!

  12. Anna says:

    Thank you for making me think!

  13. Denise says:

    I had a friend growing up that was always on the way to or from an activity. Her days were overscheduled to the max. She had bags under her eyes in first grade. My mom didn’t schedule much of anything for us until we said we wanted to do it. We were total band geeks later on, but at an age where we were responsible enough to practice and participate without nagging from our parents. My son participated in one sport a season and it about wore ME out. I can’t imagine having more than one child in more than one sport/club at a time. Stop the insanity!! Until last year, at the age of 10, my daughter had never joined any club or sport. She said she would rather just hang out and play at home or in the neighborhood with friends. She didn’t get any arguments from me. Less stress, less money, less gasoline, less getting sucked into the rat race! More time for imagination, helping others, being still and listening to God. I say it again, stop the insanity and let kids be kids for as long as they can.

  14. Julie Sartor says:

    Amen!

  15. Tiffany says:

    I think simplicity is attainable, but it takes being very intentional every day. Constantly taking stock of things, choices, involvement and learning to say no. Our pastor said, “saying no to the good so that you can say yes to the best.” I love that, but it is hard. My boys are 12, 10 and 7.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Yes simplicity is attainable. My kids are in one activity a week,Awana. There is one time a year they do swimming lessons for a month and I get overwhelmed by the business. I could put them in a million activities,but to what end? When they are grown,they will not remember those things so much as time with their parents.

  17. Rebecca says:

    Well, I am a tad bit ahead of you in this – I have 3 sons, ages 16, 14 and 9. Our oldest 2 children have never been to a brick and mortor school. We just put our 3rd son in a private school at Christmas as I was concerned my job (fulltime for an outside company) was cramping his educational opportunties. After 4 wks, I can safely say we will homeschool him again next yr. He has a test today on government. For me, I would prefer he concentrate on good books, playing, reading and strong math skills. We’ll talk government later. ;)

    I digress…11 years ago we moved into a neighborhood, wait – THE neighborhood. We left acreage and family land to enroll in THE schools. (Funny…but we’ve never used them.) But I digress…when I first got here…I wanted my children to be in this, that and all things the other kids were in. But very quickly I realized it was not worth it – to me. I could see the worn out children trying so hard to live as their parents wished crying to practice, during practice and after. We chose to homeschool and NOT follow most paths of being overly involved. Please know that my boys are involved in sports – but not overly competitive leagues. We did do the traveling soccer for several yrs with one. That was interesting. Very. Most families are seperated all wkend b/c one child does one thing and another child does another and another child has to stay with another family b/c there is no one else home. We chose not to follow that path. I think our sons are fine. I’m not saying being on competitive leagues isn’t good – I’m sure some children really enjoy it. But we did not feel it was what we wanted for our family. I sometimes worry if my boys would be on THE high school team if we had done it the other way. But some times the things you hear about those teams – aren’t that great. You just never know. I just wanted to let you know that you can say no. No to being overly commited and yes to family time. I feel so sorry that our children are growing up in a time where just to play sports you need to start at 3 and have a trainer. But we did not go that path. Good luck finding your own path – and remember, it is YOUR path. Don’t feel pressured by society to live as others do!

    Good luck!!

  18. Valarie N says:

    Simplicity is attainable. As a mother of 4 children- 12, 10, 5 and 2 yrs old, I feel ya! We have chosen to do 1 activity per week per child, thats it. Homework comes first always. There is always things going on everywhere we look and kids are always invited to parties and more school activities but we just have to say no. By saying “no” I am really saying yes to something more important, more quality time with my children. My kids actually enjoy down time. My kids don’t feel like they are missing out on a thing as long as when we’re together, they feel the connection between us. I have been through the “hurry, hurry,hurry ” stage in my life and I simply am over it. I don’t handle it well, lol. I’m all about the simple life.

  19. Allison H. says:

    I am the blessed mama of now 5 beautiful children, and as of December, 1 grandbaby. From 13 yrs all the way to 21. The days of my kiddos clammoring to be in my lap, when I wished I could have one second to myself are long gone. My baby is 5’10 but he still cuddles his face in my neck or cries after a long day. Those are the best. I wish I could turn back the clock and enjoy some of the little kid moments again, but it is equally tough to have my big babies walking around in this hard world out there. I have so many of my hearts walking around out there. We were extremely broke when they were little, so we played “pioneer days” when the power was cut off and things like that. We didn’t have the extra funds for all of the extra curriculars, and now that I do, I choose not to. You are spot on, there is a lot more to life than keeping up with the status quo. Family game nights are delightful instead of rushing from one activity to the next. Teaching my boys to cook in our kitchen beats having to hit the drive through anytime.
    Don’t get me wrong, we are very busy some nights, and we do love our Sonic, but its not the norm, thank God. Good luck, and be blessed. Do what is right for your family. Then there will be no regrets!

  20. Danielle says:

    So good! We had our power go out for a whole day and I was so sad when it came back on! When did all that electrical stuff in my house get so loud? I miss the quiet! I really do strive to not run around too much because it wears me out. I Am glad I am not the only one who has wanted to move to a far away country to get away from everything!

  21. Manette Gutterman says:

    Wow, do I understand! My sister’s girls are more privileged than my boys. They’re involve in everything, running around constantly, & over extended. I find myself often jealous and sad I can’t give my boys more opportunities. I wish they had more friends and a social life.
    However, they do better in school and my son is a true book lover. We get to spend more time together. They are okay if they only get to do 2 hrs of video playing all weekend. They can still use their imaginations to play like I did when I was a kid. I often have to be grateful for the simplicity.

  22. Pam says:

    It is attainable! I refuse to think otherwise. Resist the urge to over stimulate, one activity outside of school per child at a time. Also, reconsider your involvement. Do you have to be the mom who makes / takes the snacks/water bottles/kids/valentines all themselves or can you delegate / decline?
    You have likely thought of all of this. However, it can be a challenge for the dododo generation that we are. Don’t forget to breath.

  23. Denise says:

    Yes and amen. We have four children 17, 15, 11, and 9. We have been intentional on not buying into the craziness. We have always only allowed each child to be involved in one activity at a time, saving the super competitive stuff for when they were old enough to want it, not when they are too little to care. But even then I find myself overwhelmed, worried about what needs to be done next, who needs what when. I have started allowing myself to rest on Sunday afternoons, and let me tell you that is not always easy. Parenting is hard and it doesn’t get easier when they get older. I would even venture to say it is harder. Time is so precious. I have had SO MANY days where I have said to my husband – can we please just go to our “private island” with our little family and leave everything behind. Simplicity must be attainable. Continue to be intentional!! Blessings on your journey :)

  24. I always ask when kids get to lie in the grass and look at the sky. If youre kids are too busy to do that, they’re too busy. Living a simpler life means less running around and less programmed activity. Hanging out with pillows and legos is a great way to spend a day. It can be hard to come to terms with not providing stimulation to our kids every minute, but they’ll grow up stronger and more resilient if we back off.

  25. Simplicity is a conscious decision. My kids are grown, in college, and in high school now and several years ago, I made the decision to simplify. And just did it. Started to saying “no” to a lot of THINGS, and saying “yes” to my children having a childhood that wasn’t running from one thing to another and a stressed out, over committed mommy. I still spread myself too thin… but not my kids.
    Do it now. You won’t regret it. My friends used to ask me “how I did I DO it?”
    I just did. Every child had one favorite activity or sport that we did. No more. No less. Their “free” time is important to their development — AND their creativity. It was totally worth it to buck the suburbia system of having children in anything and everything. We’re all better for our rebellion. :)
    Good luck!
    xo Heidi

  26. I’ve been struggling with the same. Just at my 1st grade son’s bball game this weekend talking w/another mom about how when we were in 1st grade, we weren’t on team sports yet, etc. we are actually in the low key version of sports for our kids compared to a lot of families and i hate how i feel if i don’t get my kids on board now, they’ll be behind their peers. it’s silly. i’m sticking w/the low key. it works for us.;)

  27. Julie says:

    this is SUCH a great post. I’ve been thinking about the same things lately. More along the lines of “stuff”, materialistic items. I don’t like how it can create monsters out of us, always wanting more. I want our family to learn to live needing and wanting less and to realize that our “less” is still so very much and that we need to be thankful and appreciative of that. We do limit activities and events because at the end of the day, once all is said and done, everyone is absolutely exhausted and grumpy and has completely forgotten all of the fun stuff we have done if we do too much. We learned that the hard way. I think every family is different and what works for one may not work for the other and we need to remember that. Again, really great post!

  28. Linda says:

    I so admire your dedication to simplify. We had a pretty simple life in the UK, not as many after school activities were on offer and anyway, we only had the funds to afford 1 activity per semester per child.

    We continued with the same philosophy when we moved to Texas, 1 activity per child per semester (luckily things like inline roller hockey at the Y were fairly inexpensive and not too time consuming). With loads of homework, my husband’s work schedule and our desire to experience as much of Texas as we could as a family, we felt that after school activities were not that important. Time at home just playing, enjoying being together as a family and with friends, are as important as excelling at sports.

    I have to add that I was regarded by some as the “mean English Mommy who wouldn’t let her kids do normal things” but we survived!

  29. Victoria says:

    I really don’t want to be another voice to add to your “more stuff” in your head. I completely understand the puzzle: to be engaged with our kids and our communities, but to be balanced with our time with “just us”. I have four kids – I get it. What has been helpful for us is this. A few years ago I had a friend ask me if we had ever written a “mission statement” for our family. Uh, no. I could not (and cannot) get my laundry done. I sure wasn’t going to do a mission statement. But I began to ponder how I could take that idea to make it work for us. We came up with just three or four things to start with. Things like eating meals at home at the table. Or, engaging our kids in the “family work” of chores, or having PJ’s only Saturdays. I was amazed at how that little list helped me gauge the appropriateness (for our family) of an activity or opportunity. That little list has grown as our children have. Now we have more “noble” :) goals like making sure that we do as much together as we can, as opposed to separating and dividing up the family. It has made saying no, and yes, so much easier. You are wise to consider these things now. It doesn’t get harder as they get older, it is still hard. Just different. Take heart – you are not alone!

  30. pam says:

    It is physically demanding to have little kids, rather than seeing it as harder when they get older, I think of it as different…emotionally demanding. It takes work to make balance, it doesn’t just happen.
    Just finished a child psych class where we talked about all the research that shows all the great things that free play does for kids- things they totally miss out on if they are overscheduled running from thing to thing.
    That was a good reminder to me that my kids don’t have to be in every sport, go to every kind of lessons to be the best they can be; they just need time to slow down and play.
    What a great day you had…thanks for sharing!
    And p.s love those huge frames on your wall…do you link to how you made them?

  31. Kim says:

    Thank you for speaking out. I agree with you 100%. My 9 year old son is learning that the weekends are all about kicking back and beng lazy, hanging out with the family and maybe a friend once in a while. He is in cub scouts, but we make a point to participate in one weekend activity a month. We really chill on Sundays after church and jus hang out as a family (no electronic games), we may watch a dvd or play board games. The other big thing we do is have dinner together every night. As my son get older, I will continue to “make” him sit down with us for family dinner during the week. Thanks for letting us chime in and thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

  32. Melanie Malone says:

    This is such a great post, followed by equally great comments. I do believe you should hear another perspective though. We have five children and the older three play city league sports and sometimes travel sports, To say we are heavily involved is an understatement. Things get tricky around our house when one season laps over into the next. It is difficult at times to get to all their games and practices but we have never had to coerce them in to playing. They love sports, they may not love practice, but that ‘s part of learning responsibility. Many good things can come from playing sports, obviously many negatives too.
    My other children have started playing earlier, not to get an edge up but because they can’t wait, they are excited about getting involved and getting to play.
    During our last travel ball season, I did stay at home while my husband went to the games with my oldest son. I was 9 months pregnant and wouldn’t have been doing a whole lot anyway. So yes, sometimes our family is split up.
    As with everything else in life, a balance has to be found, sometimes our scales tip too much toward sports, but we make a concentrated effort to right them.

    • Awesome Melanie! Let me make myself clear… I in no way wanted to come across as critical to anyone who plays sports. Trust me… we will be involved in our fair share. My oldest is not athletic, and if they had a lego club, he would be prezzy. ;} We’re just not there yet. Everything is different for every family. So props to you and doing what you can handle and keeping it balanced. If I came across as anti, I guess it was because I am the product of the over the top… and I am just seeking something different for ours. ;} I am mostly talking about my own inability to say ‘no’ in this post. ;}

      • Melanie Malone says:

        You did not sound anti-sports at all. I totally did not mean to sound self-righteous, we struggle, for sure. I just wanted to say that as a family, we enjoy the kids activities, we do get lots of comments about “living at the ballpark” and we DO lose the balance at times. I certainly do not have my act together on scheduling or any of that. My husband, praise God, is the organizational mind behind the madness here! I would love to have a couple more hours in the day. I am behind on the housework and the laundry constantly, unfortunately, it’s not because my kids had to be somewhere though, I am usually sewing or rearranging the furniture.
        I don’t think kids should be pushed in to any activity that is going to make them cry at the practice. It just seems to me that sometimes people that have been through raising little kids make it seem like you have to be such a slave to your kids activities and their is no fun in it.
        Anyway, I apologize if I sounded defensive, I LOVE your blog.

        • haha you didn’t sound defensive or self righteous. I sounded like a frekopath, I know. Because I am. ;} I am paranoid about angering people… but bottom line, if you’re a mom then I’m on your team. Parenting is hard! Some days I am just holding my head above water! ;}

  33. Cristin Malone says:

    Loved this post Ashley. So real, and so true. Preach on, sister!

  34. I am loving these posts. You are coming straight from the heart and it is so refreshing. You are not about the perfect house, the perfect family, perfect anything. I do think we can achieve simplicity or I hope we can as we are on the same journey with our family. I only have two kids 5 and soon to be 7 years old and we make a conscientious effort to only focus on two extracurricular activities for them this year. For us it was music and skating. I have one area left in our home to purge/reorganize. I firmly believe kids do not need all of their time scheduled for stuff. We need them to have time to just be. It sounds like you had the ‘perfect’ just-be sort of weekend.

  35. Shaunna says:

    aw, friend. It SO is attainable–and you guys are seeking the Right Direction! I feel like we made some choices a few years ago that were just RIGHT for us…and not everyone understands them. We don’t do a bunch of sports, we only commit to one event per every couple of weekends–our time as a family is crucial to us and we have to fight for it. But we have to accept that our lives just won’t look like the Joneses or anyone else’s for that matter. It’s tricky–especially for a recovering people pleaser like me. :-) Love to you, friend. Praying for direction and wisdom for y’all! :-D
    xoxo,
    shaunna

  36. Tennille Mykula says:

    It’s attainable! I’ve been thinking about you and this series for the past few weeks. It really has started to change the way I view my life, my home, my kids and my clutter. Oh, and my sanity. During all this thinking I started a bible study by Beth Moore called “Mercy Triumphs”. The whole study is about the life of James and the book of James. I’ve set a personal challenge for myself to try to read the entire 5 chapter book every evening. So far I’m not doing so well but I’ve made it through 3 times in the past week. While reading James 3, verse 16 popped out at me and I knew I had to share it with you. It reads, “For where you have envy and selfish ambition there you find disorder and every evil practice.” The word that stuck out to me the most is disorder. How many times do we decorate our homes in a certain way because we are envious of what others have? The same could be said about the choices that we make with our time, what sports and activities our children are involved in, the list could go on and on. When we are motivated by selfish ambition instead of the Lord’s will for our lives there is always going to be “clutter” in our lives because we are spending our lives striving to do things He never called us to do. This verse is in a section talking about wisdom. I think not only are you craving simplicity in your life, as am I, but the wisdom to make the right decisions for YOU and for your family and for what God has called you to. Keep going. You are definitely moving in the right direction. I’ll leave you with another verse from James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” Have a blessed day!

  37. Jen says:

    Good for you for doing nothing last weekend. I am so envious and couldn’t agree more that these days, we have to work hard to have a slower lifestyle. Doesn’t seem right… I can’t remember the last time I had a lazy night or weekend at home with my kids, but I sure do miss them! <3

    Great photos as always… it's almost as if I were there playing Legos wtih ya'll…. :)

    xo!
    Jen

  38. Tammy says:

    Ashley
    I am a SAHM, college educated/cosmetologist/assistant etc etc……My kids, 2 in college, 1 in high school, 1 in middle school and 1 in 1st grade. All of my kids have always attended different schools once past k-5 stage. I use to cook everyone a different breakfast, different snack etc. That stopped when I started realizing that I was making my work load heavier by giving too many options. I started asking myself, do my kids need so many options. The answer is no. For instance Xmas time, I buy so many gifts and yet only two or three are favorites. Many are still in boxes from two years ago never opened. Gosh, 2013 has been such an eye opener! No more excess! Excess makes excessive messes. I HATE HATE cleaning! And being so picky about how I clean slows the process. Children accept what they are given. Take it from me. Give your children plenty of time to be kids! Don’t over schedule yourself or your husband or your children. I love my time that I give to others via charity, church etc. However, God tells us plainly, that charity begins at home. Doing more doesn’t make you greater and doing less doesn’t make you less effective. Our worth as spouses, parents and people shouldn’t be compared to our neighbors. God’s ability to create each of us was not and still is not dependent on others, so our lives and what each of us is able to accomplish shouldn’t be either. Slow down, move at a pace that’s best for your family and let go and let God!
    Blessed, Tammy

  39. Bethany says:

    Way to go Handmade home! You’re way ahead of the curve if you are contemplating these things now at the young ages/ stages of your children. Ours are 14 (twins) and 8. We ran crazy for years chasing what we thought was ” good for the kids” until we ( my husband and I) realized we were always tired, mean, and spent. We had an epiphany that the only time we ‘played’ with the kids was when we visited a friends cabin on a lake. Over the next few years we saved, dreamed, and shopped for our own cabin and luckily it became a reality for us. The unexpected things that happened to our family were magical- we no longer joined activities that were scheduled on the weekends because we wanted to be at the cabin, we truly know our kids friends because they spend weekends with us, we laugh longer and harder with our own friends because cabin life is a bit like a ‘grown- up’ sleep over! I could go on and on about the true meaning of slowing down with your family, but you get it, your thinking. If possible, find a place of solace even if only for a long weekend. Somehow when the ” electricity goes out” there’s room for magic!

  40. Candace says:

    I am relatively new to your blog, but it is this series that drew me in. :) I am in a similar place in my life and its overwhelming to realize how much work it’s going to take to live a “simpler” life. I am commenting tonight because I just started the book, Abundant Simplicity, and it is meeting me right where I am at on this journey…you might enjoy it also. :)

  41. Joanna says:

    Ashley,
    I feel for you… and have been there so many times! I am a pastors wife with 2 children that far too often tries to do it all. Lately, I’ve realized that life is too short to try to attain to the perfection I have in my mind. After all, if we are to reach the world, others need to see our flaws, our fears, our heart… Thank you for being so vulnerable with so many people your blog touches. I will pray you and Jamin find the answers you are looking for! In the meantime (seeing as you have so much free time — lol! ), I’d like to suggest a book that has really changed me and calmed my spirit. You’ve probably heard of it (or possibly read it before), but it’s called “Having a Mary in a Martha world” by Joanna Weaver. She really puts things into perspective and teaches us to love our “crazy” life, rather than allowing the “crazy” to pull our hair out! Blessings to you Ashley ♥

  42. Kim says:

    I just brought up this very subject at my women’s bible study group. I wasn’t popular that day;). I said I was tired of society’s expectations of being in every activity and on every committee. All good and worthy things, yes, but that morning, my 6 year old daughter wanted me to make pancakes with her and read stories, yet I ran around getting ready for bible study. I told my group that as worthwhile as the study is, the pancakes were more important, & I wished I’d stayed home. I teared up in my frustration, as the 6 other ladies in my group are all the “go-go-go” type and either didn’t get it, or did get and were so brainwashed by society that they wouldn’t admit a yearning for a simpler way.

    My kids are 13, 10 & 6, and I will warn you, be afraid, and stake your claim on your family now. I am in far less than all of my friends, but feel frustrated at the comments I get and the lack of respect for trying to fight for a different way, and a fight it is. I truly think it would be easier to pat my kids on the head, say see you later & run off to a committe meeting every evening, where adults would thank me and listen to my ideas, I’d get pats on the back & maybe my picture in the local paper. Much easier than doing the homework, dinner, bath, reading, sibling arguing drudgery, but, the being there is what makes great kids.

    I hope it’s true that the tide is turning, our kids need it to. We need less of this race to know where, and more pancakes:).

  43. Amen. I feel the same way. I was raised to be an overachiever and go go go, but how much time does that leave for my kids? I too have been scaling back and been using this weird new word, “no.” No to heading up the parent committee. No to taking too many orders over Christmas (I sew children’s clothes). I think we have to be brave and say no more often. It gets easier after that, right?!

  44. I was lucky when my kids were young to receive the advice from someone I respected to restrict each child’s activities to three at any one time. It wasn’t always easy but it was essential. One sport, one art (piano) and one social activity which was Awana at Church for a while and then Girl Guides and scouts. You have three kids,, (I have two) so you might want to limit things to two each.

    It is interesting, now, my daughter has some friends who are so overscheduled she can never see them outside of school. She sees howfrazzled they are and is glad she isn’t. (She’s 12)

    Good luck sorting this out. I haven’t read it, but from what I’ve heard the book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne might helpyou go in the less stressful direction you want to take.

  45. Chris says:

    I know this post is about rest. But I just had to share in extreme jubilation and glee that I spent all day, with my mother, at 36 weeks pregnant purging, organizing, and cleaning my home office (I’m a self employed photographer and graphic designer). The spare room (read as: room we tossed junk in we didn’t know what to do with or want to deal with) recently turned nursery basically just exploded into my office during it’s cleaning phase, taking it over in a mountainous stacked box, and stuff disaster area. Today my 10′x10′ cozy work space was cleared, purged and organized. My soul feels restful. I’m excited to work. And at 11pm I share it with you, because you get it. Thanks for letting me share…purge on.

  46. Susan Box says:

    Hi,
    Why do you call yourself “lazy gal”? Clearly you’re not!! Wishful thinking??
    I am a preschool teacher and I see how parents are rushing around enriching their children’s lives. I wonder if all this busy-ness IS actually richer?
    Children need a lot of free time to play. Play is they way they explore, dig deep, think and grow. Long periods of uninterrupted free play time leads to more complex thinking and problem solving. Children challenge themselves in their play. Jumping from rock to rock (real or imaginary) they test their physical abilities, negotiating with their friends (we might call it arguing), they develop social skills, figuring out how to build a fort out of two logs and a tarp…challenges them mentally, socially, physically, even emotionally (dealing with frustration and defeat). Children learn best and have the most satisfying learning experiences when they are choosing their own activities and have plenty of time to be deeply engaged.
    So, while I don’t think organised activities should be neglected, I feel it’s important to balance them with a lot of free play time, preferably outdoors with a lot of natural materials. Like in Tahiti! :)

    my two bits.

  47. Katie says:

    I liked what you said about the pendulum swinging back the other way. I think that’s what’s going to happen. It might take a few moms who are gutsy enough to limit their children’s activities to start a trend of doing less to get the ball rolling. Seriously, no one wants to do all of these crazy activities. Not even the uber-motherjudgers. One, maybe two, activities is more than enough for each child.

  48. Krissy says:

    wow. u just said everything that I just told my therapist this week! How do we find the balance and best of both worlds to get what we need and what our families need at the same time? ah ha moments are the greatest, but finding out how to be proactive about change is where I run into difficulty.

  49. Jennifer says:

    I’ve just “discovered” you (don’t even know how, a link from a link, no doubt). This post is so timely for me. For 2013 I’ve “committed to not committing” after way over-committing myself in 2012. As my husband said to me mid-year, “for a stay-at-home-Mom, you don’t stay at home very much”.

    I’ve been yelling it loudly and clearly to anyone and everyone – I’m not committing to anything!!! The only thing I’m committing to is my family – sorting some stuff out around the house that’s been neglected for a long time; taking care of business during the week so we don’t spend our weekends frantically trying to do stuff; less activities for the kids (though we always have had a two activities at a time rule); and “just saying no”.

    We’re in the third week of the new school year (I live in Australia) and after the initial settling-in period, I can see its shaping up to be a great year. I’ve spent more time at home in the last three weeks than I did the last three months of the 2012 school year and already have two major projects finished (can you say “organizing and archiving tax return papers since 2007″) – done!

    Thank you for the reminder – please give it to us again regularly (sorry to add something to your to-do list!)

  50. Gina says:

    Similar worries have been running (and screaming) through my mind lately, so I’m glad I found this post! You’re so right that living simpler means resisting the culture we’re surrounded by. Two books that really helped me were “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud and “Mitten Strings for God” by Katrina Kenison. Thanks for your thoughts!

  51. Gemma says:

    As the child of two wonderful parents, I came here to reassure you. When I was around your children’s age, I spent a lot of time being bored, and then learning to engage my imagination and amuse myself. In that process, I created my own mental space and discovered how to think. I occupied my mind and time by reading, exploring the woods behind my house, and playing with my siblings. Because I had the gift of time, I became a fully-functioning, independent adult with a set of self-curated interests. In two months, I will be a college graduate with a degree in sociology from one of America’s top educational institutions. But more than that, I am, and will continue to be, someone with an identity richly grounded in creativity, dreams, love, and family.

  52. Sommer says:

    You took the words right out of my mouth -literally! I could have wrote all that you wrote- from another mom running on empty-overloaded & stretched thin perspective! My husband & I are currently at a place of hard search for God’s wisdom & guidance in these areas as parents – church leaders – business owner -etc. On the brink of knowing Something has to give & it will never be our children =) God’s yoke is easy & burden light – so when we find ourselves so out of balance & exhausted (even in doing “things for Him”) we must be off the mark. So I thank you for taking the words out of my mouth & putting them to page for others like me to realize we are not alone in our new search for simplicity & balance -in order to let our Light Shine for Christ before we burn it out! =) God Bless you dear mother-wife-daughter & friend to many! May you and your family also find the peace & balance to this life!
    *note-I’m a designer who LOVES your website & pics-they perk up my design spirit*!
    Sommer
    from Maryland

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