Learning to say “No”
Some days are busier than others. One day in particular comes to mind. It began at 4:30 a.m. with a trip to the gym with my husband. We came home. I fixed breakfast and sent him off to work. The next two hours were spent in my office writing. I tore myself away to get started on the day’s lessons. I helped my youngest son with his reading, math, writing, Bible, science and history. I instructed the older children in their language program and history and oversaw their math and other work. We rushed to finish our lessons because we had a full afternoon of errands. I needed to run by my husband’s office, Walmart, Autozone, Post Office, Library, deliver a gift to a friend, and get my hair cut at the salon. But I could not linger in town, because I needed to get back home for a scheduled Skype meeting. After my meeting, my daughter asked me to sit down with her to help her make some jewelry. The dog needed a haircut. We had planned a church fellowship at our home the following evening, so I still needed to work on food, games and clean the house. All of this was before dinner.
As a wife and homeschool mother, more often than not, I will have days like this. It was certainly productive, but the day had me spent. I have learned that a schedule like this for very long leaves me overwhelmed. When that happens my children do not get to experience my best side, my energy gets used up, and there is nothing left for my husband at the end of the day.
In contrast, I have had days that were the direct opposite to this one. These are the more unproductive days where I don’t fit a lot into (with maybe the exception of an afternoon nap). Obviously, extremes are dangerous; so I am striving to learn how to live a life of balance. I want my life to be filled with activity, for laziness is a sin. But, I do not want to be so B.U.S.Y. that I am Bound Under Satan’s Yoke. I want to teach my children to be diligent with strong work ethics. But, I also want them to learn how to be still and quiet at times. I want our family to be servants. I want us to give of ourselves to our church, friends, family, and neighbors. But, I also want it to be with the proper perspective and attitude.
There must be a balance. My problem is that I swing far to the side of always saying “Yes” when many times I should be saying “No”. When I try to do too much I end up doing all of it in a mediocre fashion and none of it with excellence. Priorities must be not only set, but kept. I thank the Lord that I have a husband who encourages me in this area. He often reminds me that outside of my relationship with the Lord, my number one priority is the home. Of course, a lot of responsibilities fall under this category including being my husband’s suitable helper, teaching and training the children, and overseeing all the affairs of the household. Everything else comes in second including our church, my writing, marketing, hobbies and recreation.
The other day I was enjoying an extended lunch with a dear friend. This subject was one that we kept going back to. As women we often know that we need to say “No”, but for some reason we find it difficult. Some women need that sense of busyness to validate their position. This can be especially true for stay-at-home moms. Some do not want to disappoint others. Some simply like all the frantic activity. And, some have never been told that saying “No” was not only perfectly acceptable but good for them and their families. We laughed and visited over eggs rolls and spicy chicken and two hours later decided it was time to get back to the reality of life. We hugged and as we headed to our cars I called out, “Don’t forget, a “No” a day keeps the stress away!”
What does your day look like? Is it stress free? Our Lord has the answer. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.
Nurturing Your Marriage – Part Four
The third key to nurturing your marriage is practical application of these truths previously mentioned. Knowledge (knowing truth) is not enough; we need wisdom (applying truth) in our marriages.
Homeschooling mother, I know you are busy. Life is demanding. You are home all day teaching the children. There is work to do, places to go, errands to run, a home to manage, lessons to be taught, projects to complete, and schedules to make and keep. Some days bring many challenges and there are probably times when your husband walks in the door only to be greeted with chaos. While these days are a reality, I have found that a conscience effort to manage my “office” well is very beneficial to our marriage. I have always said that my career is my family. It is my job, given to me by God. Therefore, if my career is my family then my office is my home. I’m going to take the liberty to speak for all the husbands out there. They do not want to come home to a messy house with loud children running around. They do not want to see dishes in the sink and laundry piled up in the living room. The kitchen table does not need to be overrun with school books, paper, and computers. There does not need to be a science project hanging in his bathroom either. He doesn’t want to see the children dirty and unkempt. And he certainly does not want to see his wife in sweats and a t-shirt with a chili stain left over from lunch on the front of her shirt. You husband wants to walk in the door and greeted by a smiling wife and children who are happy to see him. The home needs to be orderly. I am not saying it has to be immaculate, but it should be managed well. A little care goes a long way in a home. If your husband comes home every day at 6 p.m. make sure by 5 p.m. you have a plan for dinner, the house is somewhat picked up, the children are happy and quiet, and the schoolbooks are put away. If you are not finished with schoolwork by 5 p.m. then you need to start your day sooner. I am speaking from experience. Trust me; I have had a few of these chaotic days. But let me say that when my home is managed well things go much smoother. It’s certainly worth the extra effort.
Another must for marriage is Date Night! It is imperative that you spend at least one day a month out on a date with your husband. Just to clarify, this means without the children. You are old enough now that you do not need chaperones. The dates do not have to be elaborate. While that is nice every now and then, it is not necessary. Date nights can be as simple as a hamburger from McDonalds and holding each other’s hand while walking through a store together. The important thing is that you spend time together, talk, and enjoy each other’s company. Date nights can also be at home. Put the children to bed early or rent them a video, fix a late dinner, and light some candles. Your children will appreciate the fact that their parents make time for each other. And your husband will appreciate the fact that he has a wife that desires to spend time with him.
Communication is also essential to a thriving marriage. Homeschooling is a big part of your life. Make sure you and your husband communicate often about the children. Typically the dad does not spend as much time with them as the mother does so he needs to be involved. Let him know how they are doing academically. Share their successes and their failures with him. Let the dad oversee the direction of their schooling. Do not make him feel bad for always being at work. Thank him for working hard so that you have the privilege to be able to stay home and homeschool the children. It is common mistake to have the attitude of “Mother knows best” when it comes to the education of the children. But, when it comes down to it, the father as head of the family will be held accountable by God for the direction of his family and the education of the children.
Finally, do not over commit. It is easy to go through life doing good things and completely miss out on the best things. Sports are good. Ministry is good. Homeschool groups and activities are good. Hobbies and recreations are good. But marriage is best. Children are best. Relationships are best. Warm memories are best. Don’t become so busy that you are exhausted all the time. Don’t become too B.U.S.Y. (Bound Under Satan’s Yoke). Don’t run around doing things and forget about people. Make time for your husband and make it a priority. Make plans to eat together as a family. And make sure every now and then that it is at home at the kitchen table and not in the car running to your next activity.