As we continue our series of Mom’s Corners discussing moving from being lazy to being self-disciplined, I will first direct you to the previous four articles.
I have been asking others to share their strategies for how the Lord has helped them toward a self-disciplined life. Now I can give some of those to you so that you can be helped and encouraged by them too.
Jen sent me a whole list of her tips.
1. Everyone works together so that everyone can relax together. I try to be mindful that my husband is working at a job all day, and that I should be ‘on the clock’ too. Then, the children and I all do our morning chores at the same time. When no one is just sitting around, everyone works a little harder! It almost becomes like a race. The children scurry around trying to get everything picked up while I’m working in the kitchen because no one still wants to be in their area when the vacuum starts running. Work doesn’t have to be unpleasant, and a good old-fashioned competition spices things up!
2. Make a joyful noise!! This is a great time to see if you know all the verses to a favorite hymn by heart. Often, getting all the way through Amazing Grace is the same amount of time it takes to clean the bathroom—if I’m hustling. AND, I feel totally uplifted at the end.
3. Think of it as a gift. Despite my #1 point, there are definitely days off that I get that my husband doesn’t get (say days we don’t do school). I know that on those days I will get more time to put my feet up. So, it is a nice thing to clean the kitchen after dinner sometimes without asking for help and let him have some much-needed downtime too!
4. Pay attention to your best time of day to do ____________. I am most cheerful and energetic in the morning, so the best time for me to do chores is then. In the afternoon I’m better off grading children’s work, or prepping for the next day’s school. Because I know this about myself, different kinds of work feel less onerous. I frequently cook with my crock-pot, because I can make dinner in the morning then too!
5. Compliment yourself and your children on a job well done. Once a task is complete I love to sit back and say out loud, WOW! The ______________ looks sooooooooooooo nice! It directs everyone’s focus to the fact that our house is a more peaceful place when tidy.
As an aside, I think we all need to really pay attention to where we are in life too. As I finish out the first trimester of my fifth pregnancy in nine years, I know that my all day/night morning sickness has about a month left to go—maybe two. I honor the fact that the most important thing I am doing right now is growing a baby. If that makes me too tired to do everything I usually do, I ask for help, or in some cases I let things go undone. This is a time to talk to my children about the miracle happening inside me, to encourage them to help with the littles when I can’t and to come and read their school work to me when I am too sick to get up. It teaches them kindness, compassion, and understanding too!—Jen
As Jen suggested, by encouraging your children to work with you, you are helping them to develop self-discipline, a quality that will benefit them both now and in the future. Singing while you do what you need to do, if that is possible, raises your heart to praising the Lord in the midst of your work. Certainly when we choose to do something that allows our spouse to rest or frees them for another task, we have the satisfaction of loving and serving. Finally, Jen’s decision to pay attention to tasks that require more energy and then to schedule them when her energy level is higher helps her to be more willing to undertake the jobs that she might otherwise want to avoid.
In addition to the suggestions that Jen brought up, she turns our attention to another thing that we need to consider and that is what constitutes being lazy. She is at the end of her first trimester, and she doesn’t have the energy to do what she can do when she isn’t pregnant. Does that make her lazy? Certainly not. She is wise to listen to her body, rest when she needs to in order to care for her unborn baby, and let work go that she would normally do.
Along these same lines, I received this e-mail from Erin.
Thank you Teri for your Corners. I am struggling at the moment. In the Mom’s Corner you wrote, ‘If we don’t feel like working because we are tired, then it would be better to sleep and refresh ourselves than to fritter our time away doing nothing.’ How can we know if we really need to rest more, or if we should just keep pushing ourselves so that we are not being lazy? Sometimes I feel like everything is an effort, sometimes too much. I feel overwhelmed a lot of the time, but other days (not often enough) I have so much energy and achieve a lot. If I give in and rest, I will not get done all I need to to keep the house in order. Thanks again for all your encouragement. —Erin
I think this is a pertinent and serious question. For trying to determine whether you are being lazy or is just plain tired, I think you want to do two things: consider where you are physically and check your spirit. On the physical side, are you getting enough sleep? Do you have a nursing baby who gets you up in the night? If you know you aren’t getting enough sleep, then taking a nap in the afternoon isn’t being lazy. It is being prudent. You will get more accomplished with the other hours in the day, and you will have a more pleasant attitude as well.
If you are chronically tired for no apparent reason such as lack of sleep, then you want to check your diet and exercise. Are you eating a healthy diet? Sometimes we undermine our health by getting into habits of subsisting on caffeine pushes from coffee or soda only to have that cause health repercussions. Do you exercise? If you are not physically fit, you will not have a good energy level and will be more lethargic. It is possible that you need to go to a doctor to determine if there is a physical cause for being tired.
For the spirit check, ask yourself: Why is everything an effort? Is it because you don’t want to do it? Is it because you don’t like to do it? If that’s the case, then it could be laziness. This laziness manifests itself in thoughts like, “I don’t like what I have to do, and therefore, I resist it.”
As far as feeling overwhelmed, remember that last month, I encouraged moms to use a schedule. It makes you much more productive, and it helps you avoid that overwhelmed feeling.
I would also encourage you to ask your husband. Often those who know us best have a more realistic picture of us than we do ourselves. It might be that we are deceiving ourselves by saying that we aren’t lazy when in practice we are. It might also be, though, that we are pushing too hard when we need to slow down, and that slowing down isn’t lazy at all. It is being reasonable.
I still have suggestions that I want to pass on to you from several more moms on what helps them to be self-disciplined. I can continue with those next month. For now, I want to encourage you to have your heart set on what the Lord Jesus has called you to do. Be productive with your time, resting in Him to allow you to accomplish what He has set before you. If you are tired, evaluate whether there is a physical cause that needs to be corrected and take the necessary steps. Don’t call yourself lazy when you are not getting enough sleep because you were up in the night with children, and then you feel tired in the afternoon. Take a nap when the children do. Don’t feel like you need to push yourself when you are pregnant and have run out of energy at the end of the day, or even the middle of the day. However, if clothes need to be folded and you are surfing the Internet, then I encourage you to call it lazy. If it is time to start homeschooling and you are checking e-mail, then I suggest you determine that self-discipline is the better road for you. Get off the computer, and start school!