Sleep, Sweet Babies, Sleep

It’s nearly proverbial, you know. That resistance to sleep that is wholly ingrained in the youngest of people, the ones who always need that nap the most. My gentle reminders for a short restful nap are met with shrieks, and tears, and running, and bargaining, and just about any other tactic or obstacle that my busy toddlers can create to delay the inevitable nap. A little rest. Just rest. It must be ingrained in the mind of a toddler to fend off sleep with the fury of an angry rooster. Some days it seems easier to skip the afternoon siesta, but in reality, it isn’t. Rest, naps, and sweet slumber are critical to the emotional well-being of my toddlers. And of course, to their mom.

But in all honesty, I am no better. At 10:30 pm my fitbit reminds me that it is time to unwind for bed. And yet, at 10:30 pm I am still going strong. Finishing a load of laundry, folding a few towels, setting out the outfits for the following day. Clearing the days clutter so that I can start fresh in the morning. Jotting down thoughts for one more blog, one more article, another piece of music, then scrambling to pay a bill, tuck in the baby chicks for the night, and turning off all the lights. It’s more than an hour later that I finally crash, and yet my mind keeps racing as I try to get my body to sleep. When we are too busy to rest, we are simply too busy.

There is a hush that falls across the homestead in the middle of the day. Funny how it coincides with my own wee ones nap times. The activity in the chicken yard comes to a halt, and I see little groups of hens, snuggled up beneath the goat shed, or huddled under the belly of the van. The goats cease their playful antics, and cuddle up in a mash of straw and bits of left over hay. The silkie chicks pile up in the corner where the sunlight plays across their pen, a heap of fuzz and feathers being warmed in the sun.  My elderly kitty leaves her post on the bed, only to find just the right spot where she can snooze away the afternoon, relaxed in the sun. How is it that these animals know better than I? I, who try to cram every last bit of work and hustle into the hour and a half that my little ones are tucked away in their rooms, racing to accomplish just one more task, while the rest of the world that is my little homestead peacefully rests? The soft chirping of the brand new buff orpingtons tucked beneath their Ecoglow is soothing as I struggle to finish up one more thing before my gaggle of toddlers is jumping for joy to climb out of their beds again.

We are all in dire need of rest. We are all in desperate need of a break from the busy lives of parenthood, where the chauffering of children to their activities is draining on parent and child alike. We are in need of a break from the hectic rhythms of the work day, to slow our pace, and spend time together. We are in need of a break from the onslaught of information that we constantly crave, the status updates, the tweets, and the wealth of Google’s knowledge at our fingertips. We need to let our bodies, our minds, and our souls, find their rest.

I know what it is I need.

I need to still my body from the work, close my eyes, and allow my body it’s sweet slumber so I have the strength to face another task, another day.

I need to still my mind, to shut down the tech, to breathe in the fresh air of the country and breathe out all the cares of my day, and just be, alive, and refreshed, in the sunshine of the day or the stillness of the evening.

And I need to still my soul, to place it’s care into the hands of the ever-loving Jesus, to accept His rest, and allow myself to receive His peace. But I won’t find it if I’m running, I won’t hear the quiet of His voice if I am scrolling and surfing and tuning the world out with my iPad or my phone. If I truly want to find His rest, I need to make some time to be at rest.

It’s hard to shut it down. It’s hard to disconnect from the technology that I enjoy. It’s hard to refrain from googling the answer to every question my children pose. It’s hard to cut myself off form the workload, and lay my weary body down to sleep. But I am no longer a toddler who does not understand the things his little body needs.

I know my little ones need their slumber, so I’ll do the work of calming their little bodies down for sleep, no matter what antics they throw my way in order to thwart their own rest. And if I am going to care for myself so that I can be strong, and kind, and joyful, and accomplished, I need to stop the antics, and cease thwarting my own desperately needed rest.

Turn if off and shut it down. Close it up and pull the plug. Turn off the lights. It’s time to sleep. Sleep, sweet babies. Sleep, sweet mama. Just sleep.

 

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10 things you (and I) need to quit doing so we can stop the busy

Oh, yeah. We want to stop the busy. We all want to stop the busy. We have quite the love-hate relationship with the IMG_4025busy. But there’s so much to do to stop the busy, we just don’t know where to start. So here it is – the list – the starter list- of things that you and I need to quit doing so we can stop the busy. Are you ready to stop the busy? Then just stop:

10. Stuff hoarding. Oh, yeah, we need to cut the clutter. And if you have battery powered toys you know exactly how this happens. The most favorite Buzz Lightyear toy needs a new battery immediately before eternal, heart wrenching, small child despair sets in. Of course, since it’s a child’s toy, you have to use a screwdriver to open the battery compartment in order to change the batteries. No big deal, right? Well, the screw driver you keep handy in the house for just such a purpose is not where it’s supposed to be. So you start looking. You dig through the junk drawer, looking for that pesky screwdriver. You find some legos, those are easy to put away. You dig through rubber bands, and old stamps, and I don’t know what the heck that thing is to save my life, and some half-chewed book marks, a stick of gum, and a pile of other things that you’re not really sure what to do with. All you know is that there is no screwdriver to be found. So you pile the stuff back in so that you can spend 20 minutes digging through it the next time you need something, and head to the garage. Same scenario, this time, with bigger stuff. Finally, you find the aforementioned screwdriver in the bottom of a box of really old recycling and head back to the house to open up Buzz’s battery compartment. Oh, it needs C batteries. Where are those pesky C batteries? And the search begins again. What should have been a 5 minute chore took an hour because, well, there was just too much stuff in the way. Stuff wastes time. Cut the clutter. Have less stuff. Have more time. Be ruthless. It will stop the busy.

IMG_06569. Washing stuff twice. This. This is the thing that kills me. You know, when the kids rifle through their drawers, only to wear something for 5 minutes and then throw it in the laundry. Perfectly clean practically unworn clothes tossed haphazardly into the dirty hamper. And then it’s heaped in with sweaty sweatshirts and smelly pants and that comforter that is, for some ridiculous and unknown reason, smeared with an entire jar full of peanut butter and jelly. And so we wash the same clothes again, And again. And again. I suppose less choices would lead to less dirty clothes…. whatever the solution, one must be found because we must stop the busy.

8. Wasting food. Toddlers are the ultimate food wasters. Take a bite, run away from the table. Take a bite, dump the food on the floor. Take a bite, pour water in it. Finally, take a bit off of the floor. Spit it out. Because food on the floor is yucky. Then there are the grownup variety of food wasters, too – how many science experiments are growing in your refrigerator at any given time? I’d say there are about 7 in mine. Why? Because the fridge is stuffed full to the brim and I can’t find what I want so I don’t serve the leftovers that I planned to have for dinner today. Instead, I cook something new, or worse, hit the drive through –  losing time and money and everything else that’s still in the fridge turns green and I’m afraid to look at it so I let it be. That was food?

7. Paying bills late. Because late fees cost us money! See number 6.

6. Wasting money. Because, like it or not, sometimes time is money. If you waste your money, you’ll need to make more money. The more time you have to spend on making more money, the busier you are. But I thought you really wanted to stop the busy?

5. Multi-tasking. When you try to do too many things at once, you don’t do them well. Slow down and just take oneIMG_5692 thing at a time. Because otherwise, I burn the toast, wrinkle the clothes, trip on the cat, spill the coffee, slip on the floor and bruise my pride and my backside, so of course then I forget the errand I was supposed to run, and somehow feel like I am soooo busy and not really getting anything done.

4. Dealing with stuff twice. As soon as you get the mail, throw the junk away. When you get a receipt, ditch or file it, don’t save it for later. Don’t go through the kids backpacks until your ready to do the backpacks. Otherwise, papers just float around the house, get lost, or chewed on by the dog. Or a small child. Wait until you’re ready to manage it all, start to finish. If you use something, put it away. If you spill, clean it up. If you start it, complete it. Then you can have it be finished and forget it, rather than meandering around with it in your brain where other, much more important stuff should be residing. Like stuff that will help you pay your bills on time so you can be less busy.

3. Complaining. Don’t complain! It will make difficult stuff even worse when you ruminate on it. Instead, face it head on, as cheerfully as possible. Wasting time being miserable is just wasting time.

2. Living on Facebook. Facebook is a great tool, but somehow this tool creeps in and starts to run our lives for us. Turn it off. Delete it from your phone. Log out. Do whatever you have to do to keep yourself from constantly checking it. Set aside a few minutes specifically for enjoying Facebook, but only if that’s true – if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. Facebook is known to cause depression, and if it’s hurting you in this way, or its sucking up too much of your precious time, just put it away.

1. Checking your phone. How many precious seconds do we waste checking our phones? Some studies say that the average American adult checks their smart phone over 200 times per day. If that only happens during the 16 hours you’re supposed to be awake, that’s about 12 or so times per hour. That’s once every 5 minutes. Your phone is a more frequent interruption than your kids! Turn off the notifications and limit the time you spend checking them. Chances are, you’re doing it out of habit and not because you really need or want to. You’ll feel less scattered and more able to concentrate and you’ll be far more productive by limiting yourself. Better productivity means you’re wasting less time and you’re accomplishing more – which adds up to less busy!IMG_0827 - Copy

Do you really want to stop the busy? Stop doing these things! And stop doing other things that cause us to be busy for no good reason. Just stop the busy.

Which one will you start stopping today?

 

When life gets too busy

We are all so so busy. Can’t eat right, can’t think straight, have to make a list just to go to the gas station kind of busy. Can’t remember if I’m coming, or going, or which day it is, or what appointments I need to schedule, or cancel, or rearrange, and what homework needs done and then there’s always that pile of laundry to do before the busy week begins all over again. And just when I think I’m getting a handle on the busy, something happens. Doesn’t something always happen? Like the flu. Or a little one needing breathing treatments so he can breathe easy at night. Or a car that needs repaired and a dozen or so bills that are still lying on the counter, waiting to be paid. Yeah, something always happens and I lose control of the busy and everything gets derailed and suddenly there are goldfish crumbs smashed in the carpet and the vacuum is broken because the kids tried to help and the laundry’s not done and the dishes have piled up and I know you’ve been in that place where there is nothing but busy. I know you’re busy, too, and you’re probably sitting here reading and drinking your coffee and trying not to think about being busy because you just can’t stand one more minute of the busy.

So make it stop.woman-hand-smartphone-desk-(1)

You heard me. We have control over most of this. So just make it stop. If you don’t want to be so busy, make it stop. I want to stop the busy.

Sitting here, on the sofa, during naps for 4 children with my 10 year old laptop that is barely keeping up with the words I am typing and the thoughts I am thinking, this is my respite from the busy. And I get a few moments of peace so that I can clear my head from the busy and straighten my thoughts out on this little computer screen until it’s time for the naps to be over and some of that busy begins again.

Why should I waste my life on the busy? Busy just makes for stress, and stomach aches, and weariness, and aching bones, and tired all the time because I am up so late at night finishing up the stuff that makes me busy that I don’t get to sleep. And then the next day’s busy is so much harder to complete because I am still worn out from the busy the day before and I just need to make all the busy stop.

I need to stop the busy. Everyone is busy.

There are so many good things in my life, happy things, right things, positive things, hopeful things, great things, good things, but they are all things that make me busy so what I need to is figure out which ones are the most important things and let the rest go.

You heard me. You have to let go of good things so you can enjoy better things more. You have to stop the busy.

We didn’t get in this place overnight. Busy happens gradually, it sneaks up on you in little bits and moments, a little today, and yes, you can coffee-cup-apple-iphonehelp out tomorrow, and ok, you’ll add those projects to your work deadline, and oh, alright, you can help make a few extra dioramas for reading class, and wait, there ‘s a science project, too…. and next thing you know, the schedule is overflowing with things that make you feel busy and you just can’t get anything done because you are just plain too busy and the things you really want the most are getting lost in the shuffle of the busy.

So let’s make it stop.

Problem is, when I get too busy, and I’m tired, and I’m not sleeping, and I’m not getting enough done, the thing that is most important to me is the thing that really suffer and get lost in the busy. My time to spend with God, it just gets gypped because yes, I can pray in the van while I’m waiting in the pick up line, it’s not bad. And I can listen to Christian music on my phone when I need a devotional moment, and I can talk to God later when the kids are in bed, but oh wait, I still have to finish that laundry and do that thing for work and pay some bills that I forgot and I’m just too tired so God will have to wait to hear from me until tomorrow. And then I don’t get to visit with God and my soul suffers and my heart withers and resentment creeps in where love used to be and it isn’t pretty at all. And that is the number one reason I need to stop the busy.

Let’s make a plan. Let’s stop the busy. Let’s let something go. Pick a thing, any thing, it might be a good thing, and let it go so you can be one thing closer to stopping the busy. Together, let’s do it. Let’s stop the busy.