Do you enjoy being a stay-at-home mom? It’s easy to feel discouraged and undervalued, but our feelings – our attitudes – are under our control. It’s not impossible to be a happy mom, even when the little things accumulate into heavy, oppressive things.

When the laundry basket – and hamper – are overflowing, the children are crying, dinner needs to be made, and you feel like you haven’t had a thought without an interruption all day – then what do you do?

It seems like the only answer is to escape it all and get away alone. Sometimes that’s possible and a lovely opportunity, but never as often as we feel totally snowed under with the swirling activity and chaos around us.

When we’ve had no time for ourselves, it’s unfortunately common to waste any time that we do get to ourselves on activities that others tell us are relaxing, but don’t end up bringing us back to the family and home refreshed and ready to dig in some more.

Whatever rest that does not restore and bring us back to our position of responsibility ready to take it on is not actually rest at all.

If we’re going to persevere and serve the Lord where He’s given us responsibility and blessing, then we need to not grit our teeth and serve the Lord with forlornness, but serve the Lord with gladness.

We do need true rest to do that – but true rest is what God gives us, not what we grab for ourselves.

But beyond true rest, we need to approach our lives and our work with a willing, cheerful heart.

To enjoy being stay-at-home-moms, we need three things: to keep in touch with the big picture, to be attentive in the present moment, and to be always learning and improving.

To enjoy being a stay-at-home mom, keep in touch with the big picture.

Usually, our feelings of overwhelm and frustration stem from wrong expectations and a bad attitude.

Life is not what we expected, it is not what we were working to make it, and so we complain and sigh and don’t want to accept it.

When we are in a rut of complaining and whining – even only in our own heads – we increase the problem and we decrease our ability to handle it healthily and joyfully. It is hard to climb out of the rut of critical spirit thoughts and complaining thoughts. Thoughts that innumerate the work, count the hassles, and resent things not going our way are all complaining and whining – they steal our joy and they are completely under our control.

Complaining, whining, grumbling, bitterness – these all are sins. And when we spend time rehearsing sin, we get more of it and less of true rest and true peace and true joy.

Ultimately, the way the enjoy being a stay-at-home mom is to enjoy God, the only Person or thing truly enjoyable. Everything else in life that can be enjoyed is derivative from God and given by God.

When we understand His providential care for us, that even the laundry, spilled milk, and fussy baby are His will for us right now because He has a plan for our sanctification He’s working out, then we can accept the hassles and hard things with not only a willing heart, but even a happy heart.

God cares for us so much that He oversees and orchestrates every event in our life. This is a cause for rejoicing. This is a truth that allows us to repent of complaints and replace them with thanksgiving.

When things are not going our way, we can rest assured that they are going God’s way. His ways are higher than ours and His goals better than ours.

He isn’t working it all out for our ease or convenience or momentary pleasure, but for our salvation, for our sanctification, for our eternal good.

With that big picture in view, we can move forward wherever we’re at, knowing this is simply God’s training ground for us and He’s the coach, right there, encouraging us onward.

The more we can get with His program instead of clinging to ours, the more satisfied and happy we will be.

To enjoy being a stay-at-home mom, be attentive in the present moment.

Seeing the big picture and living in the present moment are not opposites.

To remain connected to the big picture God is orchestrating is a way of interpreting the present moment details.
To live in the present moment is to not be distracted.

Being distracted comes naturally to us, because paying attention is fatiguing. Our culture is set up to make distraction the default – there is always an option for easy, entertaining distraction available.

Now, sometimes we do need distraction and can enjoy distraction, but it is when distraction becomes our default that we run into trouble.

If we want to enjoy our lives as stay-at-home moms, then we need to pay attention to our lives as stay-at-home moms.

Interruptions are always jarring. When we are lost in thought, involved in an inner complaint fest or daydream, on our phones, or reading a novel when we are “on duty,” we’re setting ourselves up not for rest but for frustration. Small children will interrupt, and forgetting they are there for a minute won’t help us cope.

Related: Three Tips for Handling Interruptions

We can set up life to give us moments off duty where we can be lost in thought, talk to a friend, or read – and we should. But when we don’t do so deliberately with the structure in place and instead just flip off our attention switch, we’re setting ourselves up for a harder life, not a better one.

P.S. – If you are in Convivial Circle, let’s talk about ways to structure our lives so we have a few hot minutes throughout the day to think, talk, and read without stealing those minutes. Find that conversation in the #hot-tips channel.

To enjoy being a stay-at-home mom, be always learning and improving.

It seems counter-intuitive. How can asking more of ourselves make us feel better when we are already overwhelmed and overbooked?

Sometimes we think that if we just learned the right tricks or improved our organization, then life would be easier or simpler or better. We just need to learn how to make things go our way! Then everything will be better.

That’s not what we need to learn, nor the “skill” we need to improve. Growing in competency and capacity is a thing as a stay-at-home mom, but it comes by attentive diligence and interest. And not interest only in chore systems.

When we feel closed in by life, we need to expand ourselves. Dishes and diapers do not a full life make. Instead of trying to get out of them or hyper focusing on them, broaden your interests. Turn one of your duties into a hobby. Listen to a non-housework, non-parenting, non-education podcast or audiobook while you do laundry and dishes. Stay interested in the world and in ideas. Feed your mind and you will be calmer and happier, less like a caged, crazed cat and more like a lioness. The lioness sits poised, cubs tossing themselves about her. She’s alert, but she’s self-possessed.

That’s imperviousness, and we can grow our imperviousness, our resilience, by being interested and interesting people. Even as we are servants to all – as we ought to be – we can be artists in our work and aristocrats in our taste and thinking. Interests, hobbies, broad thinking keep us from feeling trapped.

It’s not so much our body that needs to escape the mundane details. It’s our mind that needs a more varied diet.

We can serve the Lord with gladness, not griping, because He’s at work and He’s created and given us a much bigger world than our kitchen. Our kitchen is our post, an outpost of good work to be done in the world, but it’s not the be-all or end-all.

We can approach our lives and our work with a willing, cheerful heart when we remember God is the one at work, when we grow in diligence in our duties, and when we are learning and growing.

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What ways have you done these in your life?

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