• Meet your need for order. Remember that you don't have to manage anything that you don't allow into your home.  Refuse to bring into your home anything that you don't want to be responsible for. Simplify by clearing out as much clutter as you can on a regular basis.  With each item in your home, either put it in a designated place to be used, donate it, or throw it away.

Establish routines for your children to follow at bedtime, in the morning, and after school.

• Meet your need for intimacy. Recognize that intimacy (knowing another, and being known) is an integral part of God's plan and a great source of joy. Be deliberate, intentional, and proactive in your relationships with other people. Be willing to meet another person's needs before you can get your own needs met. Strive to nurture other people, ask questions to get to know them better, respect them, use nonverbal communication to affirm them, and set aside time to be with people in meaningful ways on a regular basis.

• Meet your need for spiritual and personal growth. Understand that when you take care of your own growth, you're best equipped to help your children grow. Pursue your interests, develop your skills, and put your talents to use through taking classes, doing volunteer work, taking up a hobby, etc. Strive to constantly learn new things. Connect to God through prayer, Bible study, participating in church, singing praises to worship music, etc.

• Meet your need for self-forgiveness. Don't let guilt and shame weigh you down. Confess your sins honestly and specifically to God and other people you've hurt.  Accept responsibility for what you've done wrong.  Then accept God's forgiveness, which He will offer you even if other people don't. Realize that you can forgive yourself for your greatest failings because Jesus' death on the cross paid for your sins in full. Know that forgiving yourself frees you from burdens, restores intimacy with God, and brings greater peace into your life.

• Meet your need for laughter. Reduce the stress in your life by learning to look for and appreciate humor in every situation you can. Learn to laugh at yourself when you make mistakes. Create a file of funny comic strips or stories to enjoy and share with loved ones. Smile even when you don't feel like it, and eventually you will.

• Meet your need for help. Relinquish the idea that you can't be a "good" mother unless you bear most of the child-rearing responsibilities alone. Understand that you and your children will benefit if you accept some help from babysitters, grandparents, neighbors, teachers, coaches, doctors, etc. with whatever your kids need. Understand that children who have multiple positive influences in their lives can thrive.

Ask for help regularly, knowing that two or more people can accomplish more than you can on your own. Remember that your children aren't yours to control; God has simply entrusted them to you for a time.

Adapted from The Mother Load: How to Meet Your Own Needs While Caring for Your Family, copyright 2005 by Mary M. Byers. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com

Mary Byers, the mother of two children, has been speaking professionally for nearly 15 years. She specializes in presenting practical and purposeful information designed to help people live and work more fully. Mary has a degree in telecommunications from Indiana University and is a Certified Association Executive. She's been an advertising manager, a senior-level association executive and an entrepreneur. She currently writes about communications issues as a regular columnist for the Chicago Dental Society Review and has also been published in dozens of other publications. She is also a frequent facilitator for strategic planning retreats.