Maybe you can relate.
But then I realize that even more so I long to be a good mother. So… I download the best podcasts on mothering, read the right articles (attempt to fit parenting books in there), pin parenting tips on Pinterest, research local events for kids, plan playdates, cut down on my son’s screen-time while increasing crafting and reading time, walk to the park with my kiddo when the weather is nice, find educational toys and puzzles for playtime at home, and obtain the best bible resources for kids.
Then one day I see a dietitian on my social media feed starting their dream job, a favourite writer (one with children at home) releasing another award-winning book, or a blogger that I follow landing an ideal client or sponsor.
And I get that itch that I need to do more. Achieve more. Be more.
And the overwhelm* sets in.
So…I start squeezing in career-focused podcasts on my walk to the park with my kid, try lengthening screen-time so maybe I’ll have more time to write, become frustrated when my now three-year-old doesn’t want to nap, scroll through social media and e-mails while I should be helping my son with his craft, and hurry through meals and devotions to get bed time rolling so I can have “me time.”
And the overwhelm and discontentment increases.
I then realize… I’ve “forgotten” all about my husband. My husband who seems to always balance work time with family time. Who deals with my want-to-do-it-all perfectionism on a daily basis. Who stays at home for my son’s bedtime without complaining when I need to get out of the house at night. Who seems to always put my needs before his own.
And the guilt sets in and overwhelms me. And, I mentally and emotionally shut down.
But when life gets like this, I’ve neglected the most important, life-giving thing: I’ve forgotten to pray. I’ve been trying to do it all, poorly I might add, in my own strength. I’ve tried to squeeze activities into every minute of every day, only to squeeze every ounce of joy and peace out of me. As my bible study leader recently put it—I’ve spent more time planning (and doing) than praying.
We can make to-do lists, write good goals, organize effective work days, and add intention to our days spent at home until we are blue in the face. But if we’re not first giving our days over to God in prayer, it will all be in vain.
Christ wants us to have fruitful lives. But in order to bear His fruits (Galatians 5:22-23) and do the things He has called us to do, we must first go to Him for the wisdom and strength to do each day well.
If I’m to be an effective dietitian, I must ask God first for the time, concentration, and knowledge to help my patients well. If I’m to be an intentional mother, I must ask Him for the daily patience and grace to love and teach my children well. If I’m to be a devoted wife, I must ask Him for guidance on how to love my husband well in the way he feels most loved. If I’m to be an effective witness for Christ, I must ask the Holy Spirit to work in me through His Word, so I may embody His fruits of the Spirit well.
Christ said to his disciples in John 15:7, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Christ promises He will give us anything in His name within His will if we abide with him. When we abide with Christ, we are spending time with Him, daily growing our personal relationship with Jesus. This is done by reading His Word (the Bible) and praying that the words take root in our lives so that we ultimately trust, obey, and find joy in Him.
So today, I’m not writing this from a place of defeat but from a place of victory that’s being cultivated through nurturing (ever so imperfectly) a relationship with God.
If you, too, struggle with the need to “do it all,” I promise God will ease the overwhelm and give you the strength to do your life well if you take it to Him in prayer. God may even surprise you when He reveals that you don’t need to “do it all” and there are certain things occupying your time and focus that aren't as important as you once thought.
So to anyone who wants to do it all and can’t do it all: The only way to beat the overwhelm and stop trying to “do it all” is through prayer and trusting that God’s got you. He knows what’s best for you. (And it’s not running the rat race of life.)
Here are some practical ways I’m beating the do-it-all mentality:
- My family is growing, which means my career and writing goals are slowing down for the time being. As I live in Canada, I’ll soon be off on maternity leave from my clinical dietitian role for a year to take care of my littles. While I’ll still be staying current in my degree through continuing education and researching blog articles, my main focus will be at home. The time with young children is only for such a short season, and I don’t want to miss it. God may call me to step up in my career again in the future, or he may not. But for now, I’m in the season of children.
- Being focused with my family is especially important to me. This means when I’m going for a walk with my son, I’m being present in the moment and enjoying nature with him. Less podcasts and more breathing in the fresh air. This means less “scroll time” and more meaningful conversations with Liam while creating craft masterpieces. This means setting aside blocks of focused time to write when my hubby can spend one-on-one time with my three-year-old. More focused time means less distracted time when I’m staring at the computer attempting to concentrate (only to get annoyed when my kid doesn’t want to play quietly). Focus = efficiency = more quality time doing other things I love.
- Instead overwhelming myself with long, cumbersome and unachievable to-do lists, I’m keeping my daily agenda shortened to what I can practically accomplish on a given day. This also means giving myself grace when not everything gets done and just simply adding it (without guilt) to my agenda for the following day.
"For Everything There is a Season" Graphic Credit: Cultivate What Matters Shop
*"Overwhelm" (noun) is a slang term for the state of being overwhelmed.