A Wasted Day?
by Tamara Eaton
Do you ever look back upon your day and think, "What did I really accomplish?" Every week I hear from frustrated mothers who feel they don't have enough hours in the day to do all that's needed. Most of them have young children and when someone asks them, "What did you do today?” they look back and have a hard time producing tangible evidence of a full day's work.
"Hmmm. I cleaned up the house some, but it's messy again. The dishes were done, but we used them again. I spent time cooking dinner, but we ate it in fifteen minutes. We homeschooled—children, tell your father what you learned today!"
Young children give their mom a blank look, then sidle up next to her and whisper, "What? Tell me again!"
We've all probably had days like this!
One of the busiest seasons of life is when all the children are young. On the other hand, when they are young, you can afford to be more relaxed about their homeschooling and cover the necessary work in just a few hours a week. You can spend more time working on attitudes, obedience, sibling relationships, teamwork, talking and learning about the Lord, enjoying hugs and stories, learning about nature and why things work the way they do, counting spoons and subtracting and dividing cookies—and of course, answering lots of questions.
Are you viewing taking care of all the children's needs, changing diapers, answering questions, wiping tears, teaching obedience, mopping up spilled milk, and such as "interruptions"? They're not. They are some of the MAIN occupations of a mom with young children.
So often during these years, our efforts seem to have no tangible results at the end of the day, but just because we can't always SEE what's been done, doesn't mean nothing has been accomplished. We are shaping young lives and allowing the Lord to shape ours in the process as we yield to Him each day. We are ministering to the Lord as we minister to our family.
We do need to be on guard against time-wasters—the telephone, television, too many outside activities, letting things go with the children and not taking time to train and correct them in a Christlike manner. (Otherwise, countless minutes are wasted by having to repeat ourselves every time we tell the children to do something.)
I no longer have very young children, but I'd like to share something I wrote years ago when I had a nursing baby, an active 2-year-old, and homeschooled four older children. (Don't think I can't remember what it was like in those days!)
I used to like everything perfectly planned and in order, but I have had to learn to relax. Six children and a "perfect" house just don't go together. I'll admit I still have days I'd like to have my own apartment just so I could have one place kept perfectly neat. I have to be flexible because with so many young children, things often are put on hold. We do have a good basic routine, which helps, but I have to allow time for interruptions. I also make lists and then don't get upset if I don't get everything done. A new day begins tomorrow!
I have to remind myself that even though it may seem like I didn't accomplish much some days, I'm actually doing the most important work in the world—helping to mold and shape precious human lives with the Lord's help. What an awesome responsibility! We can provide a secure, loving environment for them in the midst of all the chaos in the world. We can lead them to Jesus, teach them His ways, and help prepare them for the unique ministry that He has for each one of them.
Sometimes too, we must think of all the things that could have happened that day, but didn't. The children didn't throw a temper tantrum and talk back because we have been faithful to be consistent to train them in the ways of the Lord. (Not that they aren't still "in training" in some areas—we are, too!) They didn't experience rejection because we have demonstrated our unconditional love for them. They didn't grow hungry because we fed them peanut butter sandwiches and fruit. They were sheltered from many negative circumstances. They were safe in our care. They heard about Jesus from our lips and saw Him in our lives today; they joined in with singing songs to Him.
If the floor wasn’t mopped and the clothes are filling all eight baskets in the laundry room, what difference does it make? Eventually those things will get done, but in the meantime, our children have a mother who truly loves and cares for them, even during the less than glorious times.I wrote those words years ago, and I can now report that the nine-year-old became a teenager and knows her multiplication tables well!
Some days being a godly mother is all one can accomplish—and it is a BIG accomplishment. After all, I don't plan to take my baskets of laundry and the kitchen floor with me when Jesus returns. I do plan to take my family! There won't be any quizzes for my 9-year-old to make sure she knows her multiplication tables before she enters Heaven. We have to keep things in perspective. Academics are important, but there are other things more important. If we keep the right perspective, the Lord will bless our homeschooling, our mothering, and our family.
Attempting to be "good stewards" of their time, some mothers crowd many activities into each day. Therefore, they end up pressuring themselves in ways God never intended. We need time to train our children and enjoy them while giving ourselves time to rest and meditate upon God's Word and allowing Him to speak. We need time to act in response to circumstances of daily life instead of reacting to the swirling events that surround us. Doing all things without murmurings and disputings—that we might shine as lights, holding forth the word of life—so we can say with Paul, that we will not have laboured in vain. (Colossians 3)
If this has been a struggle for you recently, why not ask the Lord to give you His perspective, and allow Him to reveal any areas that need changing? He is so patient and longsuffering with us, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit is always tempered with encouragement that we can repent, receive forgiveness and a clean slate. He delights in our dependence upon Him and freely bestows all the grace we need.
Don't allow a search for tangible accomplishments to distract you from the work the Lord is doing through you in your children's hearts. This ministry has eternal consequences and rewards, and you will truly reap "treasures in Heaven" if you're faithful.
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work" --2 Corinthians 9:8
"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ." --Colossians 3:23-24
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." -- Matthew 25:40
"But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." --Matthew 6:20-21
Copyright © 1994-2000 Tamara Eaton, all rights reserved.
Permission is given to reprint any of Tamara's articles in non-profit publications as long as the article is reprinted in full and contains the copyright information and website address. Please send a copy of the publication to Deeper Life Family Ministries, P.O. Box 909, Killen, AL 35645. http://www.chfweb.net/
Copyright © 2007 Eclectic Homeschool Association