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Hope for the Overwhelmed Parent

Parenting is Intense.

Even on the best days, all the needs and demands can feel like a whirlpool sucking us down the drain. How do we keep up, and better yet, thrive in this wild role we call parenthood?

It’s easy to get overwhelmed—like when I’m trying to read a recipe for dinner with my four-year-old son asking question after question and my daughter crying at my feet. It’s usually about this time my husband calls and wants to chat about how the day is going. It feels like my head will explode; my mind wants to curl up in a ball and retreat into a cave until the noise stops and it’s safe to come back out.

But the show must go on. Dinner must be made, questions answered and crying babies cared for, often all at once. We see our hearts best under pressure and I see plenty of ugly, sinful stuff come bubbling up out of mine in parenthood. Stuff I didn’t know was there; stuff that was easier to push down and keep hidden until the boiling water of parenthood brought it to the surface. I suspect I’m not alone.

Parenting is intense and at times pretty overwhelming! What do you do when your days feel heavy and the work  in your home feels like too much? Sometimes one small shift in our perspective can make all that is before us manageable again.

What’s a Parent to Do?

In Loving the Little Years, Rachel Jankovic gives a simple but helpful idea: 

If things started seeming really out of control, I would look at the clock and note the time. Then I would tell myself that in twenty minutes this would be over. If I just kept my head down and did the work, twenty minutes was all I needed. […] A moment. It passes. But when it passes, you will be very glad if all you did was work right through it. […] Look at the clock, look at the work you need to do, and bear down. That super intensity will almost always be over in twenty minutes!

One Step at a Time

Slowly but faithfully God is teaching me to view the days and the work before me in this way—not as one big, overwhelming mess but as building blocks used to create something beautiful. I’m learning to take one day at a time, or even just twenty minutes at a time.

Today probably doesn’t feel special or important; it probably feels just like another day cleaning up the same messes and correcting the same bad attitudes. But if we can learn to see today for what it is—a brick to be added to the whole—it becomes quite valuable. In the little years, each brick is building not only a home but the very foundation of that home.

A Firm Foundation

My husband remodels houses and I can tell you that a home with a bad foundation is not something he takes a second look at. But a house on a solid foundation is worth the trouble because we know we’re building on solid ground. The days we spend with our children teaching and parenting are the same. These bricks lay the foundation of their lives. Brick laying is hard, repetitive work. I’ve watched my husband do it. But I’ve also enjoyed the fruit produced by his faithfully seeing the job to the end.

Start Building

It’s my prayer for myself and each weary, overwhelmed parent who reads this, that we will learn to see our days and hours as God sees them. As individual building blocks that one after the other, faithfully stewarded by His grace and help, lay a firm foundation on which we build our homes and families.

Today counts. Grab a brick and lets do the work.

Kari Andrews // outsideairblog.com

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