Your life as a mom pulls you in many different directions at once, and it’s easy to let the demands rob you of your quality time with God. But there’s so much more to life than an endless cycle of laundry, dishes, and errands. God wants you to spend time with Him each day so you can have the life you should have.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that you need God’s strength to fulfill your responsibilities well. Decide to make time for God, no matter what, and He’ll give you all you need for the important job of nurturing your family.
Here’s how you can make time for God in the midst of motherhood’s demands:
Be proactive and creative. Don’t worry about trying to follow traditional methods for your prayer times. Realize that it’s okay not to do daily devotions early in the morning if you’ve been up at night with a baby or sick child; fit them in during your children’s naps or in the evening instead. Rather than thinking you can’t read the Bible because you don’t have long, uninterrupted stretches of time, decide to carry a Bible with you wherever you go and read small portions whenever pockets of free time open up for you. Know that you can spend time with God regularly if you’re determined to do so.
Clean up your outer life to get your inner life in order. Realize that a messy home leads to cluttered and disorganized thinking. Understand that you have to get some control of your environment before you can seriously deal with your spiritual growth. Think about the purpose of each room in your house, and write it down. Then, with the purpose in mind, organize each room. Recognize that, while housework is boring, it’s a sacrament of service to your family. Train your children to help you in age-appropriate ways with regular household chores like laundry. Plan your meals at least one week in advance. Set up an efficient system for dealing with mail and all other paper (such as school and church announcements) that comes into your home. Create a family calendar to coordinate and schedule every family member’s upcoming activities. Nurture a peaceful atmosphere in your home. Ask God to help you see your spouse and children not as burdens, but as gifts to you. Embrace God’s grace by just doing what you can to keep a reasonably clean home, but not neglecting other parts of your life by trying to make it spick-and-span clean.
Manage your time wisely. Think and pray about what you value most, and why. Then create a schedule that reflects those values so you’re spending your time on what matters most. Set goals to focus on what God wants you to accomplish. Keep your goals in mind when people ask you to commit your time to something; don’t be afraid to say “no” quickly if you don’t sense God truly leading you to undertake certain activities. Make sure you don’t commit to anything that would take too much time away from God and your family. Ask God to give you His perspective on what a reasonable schedule should look like for you each day. When you create your daily list of things to do, don’t just list chores, but also include pleasant activities you want to make time for, such as reading to your children or playing outside in the yard with them. Clearly communicate your schedule and expectations to your children, but be flexible and prepared for interruptions and changed plans that will sometimes be necessary. Invest time in yourself by pursuing some of your personal interests so you’ll be recharged to serve your family.
Think purposefully. Acknowledge that you can’t operate at peak performance if you have too much, or the wrong things, on your mind. Understand that your thoughts lead to your behavior. Ask God to help you learn to think like Him. Meditate on His Word to understand His thoughts better. Prayerfully choose Scripture passages that relate to a theme you’re interested in right now (such as forgiveness or joy). Then meditate on them whenever you have some small increments of free time, asking the Holy Spirit to transform your mind as you do. Be ready to obey whenever God directs you to change your attitude about something. Post relevant Scripture throughout your house, in your car, on your computer, and anywhere else you can see it frequently. Engage your senses as you worship God, such as by using potpourri or candles and playing praise songs or soft music. Don’t waste time thinking about issues you can’t do anything about or trivial or petty topics. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones that honor God. Guard your mind by refusing to feed it with unhealthy images from the media.
Make your quiet time consistent. Plan for a quiet time of prayer – however – brief every day, in a designated space in your home or yard. If you have to miss your quiet time one day, go back to it the next day to keep up the habit. Bring along items such as a Bible, a concordance, a journal, pens, a list of prayer requests, and photographs of people for whom you’re praying to use during your scheduled time. Never view your quiet time as a chore. Instead, get excited about it, remembering that the Creator of the universe wants to meet with you. Try to spend more time listening to God than you do talking to Him.
Repent often. Ask God to help you be willing to confront your own sin regularly, so you can be transformed. Whenever you become aware of sinful attitudes or behavior in your life, take action to deal with them right then. Be alert to how God at work in your everyday life, and regularly thank Him for it. Daily, be sure to ask God what He wants you to do and how He wants you to do it. Talk with Him frequently throughout your day, honestly expressing your true thoughts and feelings. View all your activities – no matter how mundane – as sacraments because you’re ultimately serving God through doing them well.
Inspire your children to follow your lead. Ask God to help you live with integrity, so your life will give your children the message He wants them to receive. Readily admit your mistakes, and ask your children to forgive you whenever you wrong them. Tell your children that God wants to be close to them, and motivate them to build close, personal relationships with Him. Teach them to pray and read the Bible daily, and to build meaningful friendships with other Christians, just as you do. Share both your successes and your failures with your children so they can learn from your example. Pray with and for your children often. Learn about basic child development so you’ll know whether or not its realistic to expect your children to acting in certain ways at certain ages. Don’t place unreasonable demands on your children. Listen carefully and often to your children, validating their thoughts and feelings. Express your love to them through frequent affection. Open and maintain an honest dialogue with them about all aspects of their lives, encouraging them to make God their top priority, just as you’re trying to do.
Lighten up. Know that God wants to give you joy. Make time to laugh often. Enjoy the present moment rather than regretting, or being nostalgic for, the past or worrying about the future. Ask God for daily grace to overcome your weaknesses with His strength. Cut back on your activities so your schedule isn’t too stressful. Don’t be shy about asking people to pray for you about any type of concern. Make spiritual disciplines fun, such as by discussing Scripture with others over a meal. Be grateful for all God does for you, and give Him the gift of choosing to a positive attitude in life.
Listen for God’s voice. As much as you love your family and as good as it is to serve them, don’t allow your family to eclipse God’s work in your life. Always make God your top priority over everything and everyone else so you’ll be close enough to Him to hear His voice. Be willing to surrender your own plans so you can hear what God wants you to do. Deal with blatant sin in your life and ask God for a pure heart. Read and study the Bible to get to know God’s character, so you’ll be better able to recognize Him speaking to you. Write down what God reveals to you, and ask Him questions to clarify His messages. Remember that God will never contradict His Word in the Bible. Ask other believers whom you trust to pray with you as you discern whether or not you’ve heard from God about something. Whenever you do hear God’s voice leading you to do something, be sure to be obedient and follow through.
Take care of your health. Remember that you can’t serve God to the fullest if your physical, mental, or spiritual health is poor. Take care of your body by exercising, eating nutritious meals, drinking plenty of water, and getting enough sleep at night and rest throughout the day. Take care of your mind by reading and memorizing Scripture, reading other stimulating books and articles, engaging in interesting discussions with other adults, taking classes, taking trips, volunteering, or pursuing hobbies. Take care of your spirit by seeking God daily in ways such as prayer, journaling, meditating on Scripture, and maintaining your quiet time.
Adapted from Chasing God and the Kids Too: Balancing a Mom’s Most Important Pursuits, copyright 2006 by Cheryl R. Carter. Published by Fleming H. Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.
Cheryl R. Carter is director of Organize Your Life! (www.momtime.net), a time management and organizing ministry for Christian mothers, and the cofounder of Foundations for Family Success (www.familysuccess.org).