Saying No and Going Slow

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Recently I have been battling with something called Adrenal Fatigue. I knew something was up. “Why do I need three cups of coffee to get through the day? Why do I need to take three naps? Why I am dragging through my day? Why do I have heart palpitations? Why do I have trouble sleeping at night? Why is my brain in a constant state of fogginess and forgetfulness? Why can’t I lose the extra weight I’ve gained in the last year?

The answer: STRESS

We were busy, busy, busy. Rushing from one event and activity to the next. And just not stopping, not breathing, ticking off the to-do list, getting it done, doing it all, saying yes every time and feeling guilty when we said no. That in combination with a ton of outside family drama happening, housing college guys for the year, being too busy to work on our marriage and just not being able to communicate with one another, and oh yes… homeschooling six children! It really took a toll on our emotions, mental faculties, and physical bodies, marriage, parenting…everything.

My husband and I sat down to plan out the fall. We were looking at doing the homeschool co-op again, would we do singing school? Choir? Parish? Should we house boarders? What sports would we do?

We looked at each other and I think my husband saw the look of despair fall over me. I was exhausted. “Lets have a year of NO,” he said. My shoulders instantly felt the weight fall off. “Yes!!!” I said.

Here’s what we said yes to:

We needed to work on our relationship with each other. We not only want to know one another when the kids move out, we want to be best friends. We’ve committed to a weekly date night.

We are trying to be healthier. For my husband, that means playing tennis. With working three jobs, the poor man needs an outlet. He feels amazingly better, he is energized, he is happy. We also said yes to our boys doing ONE sport. Honestly, it helps get the wiggles out.

We are committing to spending more time in God’s word. Quietly. Not just getting it in when we can. Read Luke 10:38-42. I’ve always been a Martha.

We are saying yes to being spontaneous with our children, and our friends. Last minute picnics, hikes, dessert nights. We know how we are feeling,how much energy we have and can plan accordingly.

I have committed to teaching the kids cooking skills and life skills, instead of being too busy to get them in the kitchen and cooking things quickly by myself in order to get dinner on before the next crazy activity.

We are learning to not feel guilty when we say no, and not to be apologetic about it. We are nurturing our family, working on relationships, developing our characters, learning to navigate the wild world of teenagers and little ones together, knitting our hearts together and seeing our children knit their hearts to God.

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Now, is there anything wrong with parish, choir, singing schools, co-ops, or any of those other things? Absolutely not. Those are wonderful activities that build you up, they grow, they teach. But there are seasons when it is all just too much. And as Mamas, we need to recognize when we need to take a step back.

Women (and especially mothers) are plagued by guilt in almost every facet of life, but especially when it comes to our children regarding activities and opportunities. We worry that we are going to somehow shortchange them. If they don’t all play several musical instruments, are good at sports, knowledgeable on all subjects, have the best parts in the local play, and have the highest SAT scores, then we feel as though we have failed. Honestly, kids don’t need all of that. You heard me right. It is more important that their hearts know that home is base, that Mom and Dad love them, that their relationships with God and with each other are the most important thing. Everything else either builds or depletes that. Either the activity is building everyone towards being happy, healthy and holy or it is grabbing our joy, our energy, and our ability to grow with God. Sometimes, it is the hardest thing in the world to say no. But it can also be the most rewarding.

A few of my children did fuss in the beginning when we told them we were cutting back. But they have voiced to me lately that they are happy they aren’t so stressed out like last year.  For one thing, I’m seeing them grow in their ability to retain educational information (there is only so much room), they have become readers (always had been a struggle before). My little ones are getting the time and snuggles and story time they need and my teenagers are getting the voice and the attention they needed. We’ve had time for really good conversations that before were too deep to delve into and back out of before we had to be somewhere at 4 o’clock.

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Where does this come into play for you? Well, this looks like a billion different ways for a billion different families. Only you and your husband know what your family needs. If your husband has been wanting to slow down and pare down the activities and you are worried you are going to disappoint someone who expects you to be the one to sign your kids up for their program/sport/activity. Or your mother-in-law is going to have a fit that your children aren’t doing X,Y, and Z. It’s time to listen to your husband, and trim the fat.

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What is Hygge? Hygge is enjoying the comfort of your home, enjoying your people and SIMPLIFYING. It’s saying No and going slow. It’s having conversations that need to be had, even though they are difficult to have because you now have the time to have it.(patching up a marriage and communicating is EVERYTHING! Learning that the two of you need to agree about politics, theology, how you view the world is ESSENTIAL!) It’s about loving on your people and having the energy to snuggle with them and love on them without falling asleep on the couch because you are completely drained. It’s becoming a relaxed individual who is a joy to be around. Being a smile to your husband, being a listening ear and an observing heart: something that is almost impossible to be when you are too busy, too tired, spent, depleted, and spread too thin.

This may mean you need to avoid the toxic people in your life. Time to take a stand, tell it like it is, and not continue to text or debate on Facebook. Let them go.

This may mean you need to pare down your home-schooling curriculum. Would this extra book be a help or hinder my children from being able to get all their school work finished?

Your spending habits: If I purchase this will it create more financial stress and is it going be something I regret later because I’m only trying to make myself feel better in the here and now.

How you treat your home: if I let the house go and don’t make it a clean sanctuary. Will this add to my mental stress?

Your eating habits: am I creating stress on my body by eating this and thinking it’s comfort food when it’s really junk food that damages. Will this third cup of coffee really help me or make me even more nervous and anxious?

Am I doing a certain thing because I’m trying to impress a certain group of people? How does God feel about this? Does it change the fact that I am His daughter, He loves me unconditionally and beautifully and perfectly? No, it doesn’t.

Rest. Be at Peace. Enjoy your people. Be still.

Love,

the Hygge Homemaker,

Mama J

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