Juggling the duties of stay-at-home-motherhood can be overwhelming at times, but there are many ways moms can find refuge to rest their minds, recover from busyness, and develop their personal spirituality.
Moms face a lot of judgment and criticism, and most of it comes from their own inner voices.
- Your kids aren’t going to develop properly if you do this!
- You’re failing at the most important job you will ever do!
- Your kids are going to be maimed for life because of you!
- They’ll never get into college…never have healthy relationships…never have friends…and on, and on, and on…
The pressure of caring for the emotional, social, and physical needs of children can be crushing at times. There will never be a job that you will want to do so well, yet feel as if you’re failing so frequently.
Because stay-at-home mothering doesn’t garner the same kinds of positive reinforcement as a career outside of the home (you made good tips, your boss says, “Well done!”, you get Employee of the Month, etc.), it’s easy to slip into listening to your own negative mantras and forget that you have control over your thought life.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed by your own negative or critical thoughts, it’s important to isolate them and begin hearing what you’re really saying to yourself. Write down the thoughts that frequently cross your mind. Write down the thoughts that discourage you. Write down the thoughts that send fear coursing through your body, and write down the ones that make you cry.
Once you have your negative thoughts in front of you, expose them for what they truly are. Say them out loud to yourself and your husband. Journal or talk about the emotions they are rooted in. Do they stem from fear, insecurity, anger, unbelief? Be honest and brave as you reveal these things.
We will only be able to surrender our negative thoughts to God when we have exposed and identified them.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul says, “We destroy arguments and every pretension raising itself against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:4b-5), and those words still have power today if we believe them and put them to practical use.
Examine each one of your negative thoughts and their root emotion, and meditate on how God’s word speaks about that issue.
Are you afraid your child will be developmentally stunted by your failure to read them a bedtime story last night when you were too tired to keep your eyes open?
Let the truth of God’s mercy and grace comfort you by seeing the bigger picture of the ways you did meet your child’s needs that day. Be at peace knowing that your rest is as important as your child’s reading skills and that caring for your own needs is not a failure.
Did you lose your temper repeatedly and feel guilty for lashing out at your kids with anger and impatience?
Let God show you where your life is out of balance and why you lacked the self control needed to react differently. Ask for his forgiveness and direction for making the changes needed to handle your frustration in a healthier way.
Address each thought in prayer and by journaling or talking about it with your husband. Search for scriptures, songs, or meditations that speak peace, hope, faith, and love into those places previously dominated by negative emotions.
On a personal note:
When my 5 children were all young, infant to 10 years old, I struggled with anxiety frequently.
As a homeschooling mom, I felt responsible for every aspect of my kids’ social, emotional, intellectual, and physical well-being – it was a lot of pressure.
To counteract the negative thoughts I often felt overwhelmed by, I started carrying a small, spiral-bound pack of notecards with me everywhere I went.
The notecards were full of scriptures that reminded me of God’s love for me, his provision for His people, and the hope He provides in difficult times. Those notecards were my lifeline – a very concrete way to stop the negative thoughts and focus on God and His truth.
Taking every thought captive is a lifelong process. At times, it will seem as if the practice yields no positive results, but I urge you to persevere. The discipline of isolating these thoughts, being honest with yourself about their roots, and intentionally surrendering them to God will change you over time. The change will be subtle at first; but, through practice, you will find your burden lifting and your faith shining light on the dark places in your mind.
This is part one of our three-part series: Maintaining Sanity and Developing Personal Spirituality as a Stay at Home Mom