One of my favorite inspirational authors, Lysa Terkeurst, writes of planning things to look forward to as a way of fighting off her “ugly,” as she calls it. As a self-proclaimed Melancholy Mom, this thought has stuck with me.
Without us SAHMs getting in the driver’s seat of our schedules, the days run together, an endless barrage of domestic tasks and childcare chores. If I want to beat my blues and become a positive role model for my family, I know that more planning–of fun things–is essential.
Choosing What’s Important Over What’s Urgent
Taking time for what’s “important,” not necessarily what’s “urgent,” is how Stephen Covey described it in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Life will always keep us preoccupied with mundane details if we let it—phone calls, emails, dirty laundry, Facebook notifications, crises, deadline-driven projects, and interruptions.
But if we want to live effective, meaningful (and non-melancholy) lives, we must focus on “non-urgent” important stuff, like relationship building, goal planning, and some recreation. We will always have to deal with some urgent stuff that can’t wait, says Covey, but as we spend more time planning and getting organized around our personal goals (he calls these “quadrant II activities”), those urgent things will shrink.
Finding My “One Thing”
Here’s a great question to ask ourselves:
What one thing could you do in your personal and professional life that, if you did on a regular basis, would make a tremendous positive difference in your life? Quadrant II activities have that kind of impact. Our effectiveness takes quantum leaps when we do them (p. 154, The Seven Habits).
Six years ago, when I first read Covey’s wisdom, my “one thing” was regular prayer and Bible study. Check. Doing that one thing made a huge difference in my life. These days I may have a melancholy outlook at times, but because I believe in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and his coming again, I don’t think I could ever be suicidal again.
A few years ago, writing my memoir became my “one thing.” At first it was about personal accomplishment and fulfilling a childhood dream. But as I gained a personal testimony thanks to getting to know the Lord, that writing project became about more than myself. It became a Christian mission and ministry. From those who have read the final version or heard me speak about my “new life after attempted suicide,” I have confirmation that this is a message people need to hear.
Next, after the memoir-writing goal was underway, my “one thing” became having children. God has used Sam, and soon will use #2, to teach me so much. I needed the rounding out of my person that kids provide, and I am so glad God has provided it. (This is still very much a work in progress, of course! Stay tuned for more.)
So, what is my one thing now?
I think there are two.
- Date nights with my hubby
- Babysitting breaks for me
Taking stock of my life recently, I realized I wasn’t really getting either. My daily tasks were running together into one seemingly endless lump, to the point that both Buc and I would fall into bed at the end of most days too tired to really talk. It’s no wonder I felt run ragged, disconnected from (adult) humankind, and unhappy.
So, I have been slowly tweaking my schedule. Buc and I reserve at least one night a week to spend quality time together; if we don’t have a babysitter, we still share a bubble bath and a heart-to-heart after Sam’s bedtime (no iphones allowed). And today I dropped Sam off for the first time ever at a Parents’ Day Out program at one of the local churches. While the initial crying hurt my heart, those three hours ended up being great for both of us. Sam had fun with new toys and a new playground, and I finally had some time to browse the library alone, shop for curtains for our new house, and get a much-needed haircut.
These date nights and babysitting breaks have taken a little extra planning and intentionality, but I can’t tell you how valuable it is to have gained these little breaks from the mundane. I may not find much time for writing these days (maybe after I get the curtains up–creating a livable living space is a priority right now), but I am finding more time for myself, and more time for my marriage. I have things to look forward to now, and it is making a difference in my mood.
If you’re feeling melancholy, don’t ever think you’re too busy to take care of what’s most important. It goes without saying that your kids are important, but don’t forget that you are also important, and so are your other relationships. I’m learning that as I get these things straight, everything else falls into place.
Lindsey, this is such a great post. Good for you! My wife is Lindsey, too, and she messaged me today and said, “Mom is picking up the kids from school. I am skipping Bible study and I want a date.” Taking time for self and marriage is so huge for us with two little ones running around. Good for you for taking care of yourself. Bless you!
Thanks for the great comment, Steve! Sounds like you guys are in a similar boat, and dealing with the same challenges. I don’t know why it can be so hard to keep those important things in focus (well, I guess the kids are kind of distracting:), but it’s so important that we take time for those little moments of quality time. I hope you guys have a great date tonight! Thanks for reading.
Excellent post! I have Covey’s book and have not yet read it. You’ve given me a prod. I know that if I re-instate my Falun gong practice daily, I will feel better and have more energy. As yet, I have not found the right place in my schedule when I can be consistent about doing it every day. I also want to start doing yoga — this is something I’ve been wanting to do for several years now, and I truly wish I began yoga years ago as a consistent daily practice. I feel that I don’t give my body enough attention to positive health — I’m constantly dealing with the chronic illnesses. I have every confidence that you’ll figure out what you need and it sounds like you’ve made a solid beginning. Cinda
Yes, read Covey! I want to reread the book soon, also want to reread his other excellent book, First Things First. And I want to get back into yoga as well…just really lacking physical energy, but I checked out a prenatal yoga video and hope to do it this weekend. I’ll have to look up Falun gong…haven’t heard much about that except from what you’ve mentioned. I really believe in exercise as a cure to melancholy/depression. So helpful if you can fit it in! All best, Cinda!