When the Going Gets Tough

By Laura Vandercook

Some seasons or days as mother are easier than others. We can keep the house relatively clean. We can get supper on the table most days of the week. We can care for our family, and there aren’t huge problems looming.

Some seasons are not as lovely.

My grandfather used to say, “Life’s not all fried chicken and ice cream.” He was right. Some seasons your husband looses his job, and he has to get a temp job in a nearby city. You only get to see him for a few hours a week. Maybe one of your kids gets a chronic illness. Maybe you just had a baby, and while part of you is joyous, the other part of you is exhausted with 5 kids under 6.

Whatever your difficult season looks like, something has to give. You’re spent. Worn out. Hopefully, these tips will help you as you muddle through.

1. Paper plates.

We all love the Fiesta Ware plates you picked out for your wedding gift. They are sturdy, and they look beautiful. They give you some joy seeing them all stacked up in the cabinet once that dishwasher is unloaded. However, they have to be washed. And you are tired – mentally, physically.

Grab a package of paper plates, and don’t feel guilty about it. Need some encouragement? Think about your 12 year old daughter who has been pulling quite a bit of the weight around the house. She’s 12. Yes, she can help with the dishes, but she is also keeping the bathroom clean, vacuuming the house, getting her schoolwork done, and helping with her younger siblings.

Grab those paper plates, and don’t think any more about it. For some seasons, paper plates are perfect. Perfect for moms who are tired. Perfect for families going through a rough time.

2. Lists.

I’m sure that lists can help in a variety of circumstances, but I know from experiences that lists can be a life saver when you have a child with a chronic illness. Your brain is so full of trying to remember which medicine caused what side effect, when the next dose is due, logging how certain foods might be affecting how your sweet little one is feeling, and so on. You can’t remember everything, and your brain is devoted to remembering everything to do with the health of your child.

You need lists. You need grocery lists. You might even need a note on a dash to remind you to turn the lights on your car off (and that 12 year old of yours might change that note to say “Lights, Camera, Action!” which will make you feel a little better about your scatter-brained self).

If you’re in one of these seasons in life, lists can help you remember that you need to do the laundry, go to the bank, and all those daily tasks that can so easily be forgotten when your mind is busy.

3. Recruit help.

Your family in your own home is a great place to start, but it is easy for everyone to feel overwhelmed. If that is the case, look to your extended family if they are nearby and helpful. Also, look to your church.

Let a friend at church know that you are struggling. Let your pastor know or the person in charge of helping with meals. If someone knows that you are in need, they are often happy to pitch in. We all need help sometimes, and there is no shame in asking for it.

4. Food.

You’ve got to eat. Every day. There are several ways to help you get dinner on the table. Some folks like to meal plan a whole month at a time. It helps them to know what is coming up so they can get the grocery shopping done in a big trip. Other folks like to cook one day a week, put everything in the refrigerator and pull out a meal to pop in the oven in the evenings. Decision fatigue is a real thing, and meal time can really add to your stress level. Don’t feel bad about stocking up on some frozen meals from the grocery store. Grab some frozen vegetables and don’t stress if every meal isn’t perfectly healthy or unprocessed. It will be okay.

5. Find your biggest task and simplify.

Is the hardest task in your house keeping the bathroom clean? It is okay to get some cleaning wipes. Simplify that task, and save your sanity. Can you not manage to keep the floors clean? We live in the age of robot vacuums. Laundry your nemesis? Who says things need to be folded? Just dump those underwear and socks in the drawer unmatched. That’s why they’re in drawers…so no one can see them.

If you are in a hard season, I hope these 5 tips help. And remember, you are baptized. Your sins are forgiven. Go to church and hear these words spoken to you. If you are feeling burdened by sin, ask your pastor for private confession and absolution. Never are there sweeter words than, “You are forgiven.” Christ has paid for sin on the cross. I pray that you know the comfort of this forgiveness during this difficult time.

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