Dinner needs prepped, laundry needs switched, your oldest needs help with math, and the littlest needs your attention in the bathroom; all the while, the read-aloud needs read, the oven is beeping and your middle child is wrestling with ‘i before e, except after c.’
It’s that moment I look at the calendar. Today is Tuesday. How did I miss that?
We have a dentist appointment before gymnastics.
I take a deep breath.
It’s fine. I have a routine, a plan, a focus. It will all get done.
I am here for it.
The phone dings and flaunts a red bubble notifying me that Lisa just finished prepping Sally’s birthday party. It is going to be amazing and she just posted the pictures.
I really should open the app and just take a quick peek at the cupcakes she made. I mean, it would take three seconds. I want to see those cupcakes. I am sure they are incredible.
Everything she does is.
I grab the phone to take a hurried glance and notice the email that just came in reminding me that my favorite store has a sale today.
One day only. I can’t miss that.
Oh, and Jenny just texted, reminding me to send her that soup recipe. I need to do that now; she might want to make it tonight. I’ll go grab it. It will only take a minute.
I push past the kids, all lined up, holding their papers, waiting for my direction and help.
“Hold on!” I bark at them with irritation in my voice.
“But mom, you told us to…”
“I know! Hold On! Can’t you see I am busy? Go do something else until I am ready.
And the day falls apart.
And, eventually, so do I.
I believe that moms of this generation are experiencing distraction like never before.
We have lost the beautiful gift of being present in the moments.
This distraction is a sneaky tactic the enemy uses to pull us from where our attention needs to be, robbing us of our peace, sanity, and joy, leaving us feeling lost and defeated.
Often, interruptions and distractions cannot be avoided, such as when your two-year-old streaks through the house towards the bathroom screaming “Mom!”
Or when the pot of water starts boiling and needs taken off the burner.
You’d better stop whatever you are doing and attend to these situations.
Everything else can, and must, wait.
But those are not the most common time-suckers. Those are not the things that throw our days off. Those are not the things that threaten our sanity, our peace, our flow.
It’s all the ‘out there’ things that pull at us and capture the attention that should be focused on what is in front of us.
The ‘out there’ things that pull us from being present with our people in the moment
The biggest culprit in this insanity?
Sure, it’s a great tool for many things, but when you step back and truly analyze, is it causing more harm than good to your day?
Is it quietly calling you to it every time there is a slight lull, then pulling you in and taking your time, attention, and focus?
Between tasks, do you check it, for only a moment, just to realize that ten minutes have gone by?
Do your kids have to stand by your side looking up at you, hoping to pull your eyes from the device, wondering why it seems more important than they are?
Do you carry on half-focused conversations with your children while your eyes, rather than looking into theirs, are looking into a screen?
Are you responding to texts while teaching long division, and questioning why everyone is frustrated and crying?
My guess is, the answer to all those questions is yes. Because that was my answer, and it is probably most moms’ answer.
But guess what? We can change the trajectory of where we are going by making a few, small adjustments.
I am not saying to throw the phone out (although that might not be a bad idea) I am just saying that we need to manage this ‘tool,’ rather than let it manage us.
We need to stop it from robbing us of the moments we are given, moments we need to be fully present in.
Here are a few tips and tricks to put your focus on where it should be, to reclaim your day, and to be present in the great calling we have been given.
REMEMBER OUR FIRST MINISTRY
1 Thessalonians 4:11 tells us to “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders.”
Somewhere along the way we have forgotten our calling.
The world has become so loud, with so much information coming at us, so many ‘to-do’s we think need done, and all the things ‘out there,’ that we have forgotten how to be present here.
We have forgotten our first ministry: home and the people in that home.
THAT is our business. That is where our hearts, minds, and time primarily need to be spent.
1 Timothy 5:13 talks about women that ‘learn to be idlers, going about from house to house, and not only idlers, but also gossips and busybodies.’
And it doesn’t speak of these traits as something to be desired.
We often read that verse and think of the young widow being idle, literally going from house to house, being a busybody. And we skim by that verse because that doesn’t pertain to us… but does it?
How many hours a day am I ‘idle’ on my phone, going from ‘house to house,’ or rather, profile to profile, scrolling through other people’s lives?
We need to get our hearts where they need to be. We need to remember our first ministry: it is not ‘all the things out there,’ but rather ‘all the things in here,’ and when your household is in order, then we venture out and be of use to the Kingdom!
Multitasking is a skill that most moms have, and must have, in order to survive and accomplish all that is required of us in a 24-hour time period.
Now, with technology, we can multi-task like we never have before.
We can research quickly. We can purchase needed items without having to leave the house. We can quickly check in to see if co-op has been cancelled because of weather, or remind ourselves what time the ice rink opens. We can even find a new recipe to bring to the table.
All at our fingertips. All with the click of a button.
But, we must be careful, or this usually beneficial skill of multi-tasking can turn into a threat to the peace, presence, and joy in our homes.
Sometimes when things are too easy, we end up doing too many ‘quick, easy’ things at once, and we find ourselves way off course, frazzled, and distracted.
It has been found that too much multi-tasking actually leads to less productivity.
It has also been found that the things being done do not end up being done well.
One way of avoiding this pitfall is to make lists.
Perhaps you have a list of ‘things to research,’ ‘things to buy,’ ‘people to contact,’etc.
Then, rather than stopping everything to go look something up, purchase something, or contact someone, you jot down a quick note on your list, you stay the course of what you are doing, and you tackle those things later.
I can’t tell you how many times I have run out of pencils, only to grab my phone, click, click, click, and the pencils are ordered. However, after the confirmation page pops up, I notice all the other little red bubbles calling out to me, and there I go, down the rabbit hole.
Now, I simply write down ‘pencils’ on my list, and carry on with what I was doing, avoiding a rabbit trail of distraction. (Pro-tip: buy the ten-thousand boxes of Ticonderogas when they go on sale.
When we focus on one thing fully, it allows us to do it, do it well, and then move on to the next thing.
As moms, we know the importance of scheduling, planning, and preparing.
One thing I have learned, is that I not only need to schedule my time, but I need to schedule my attention as well.
I need to set blocks of time for where my attention needs to be.
For example, during school hours I need to schedule my attention to be fully there.
Everything else gets turned off.
I then schedule an hour of my day for computer time.
I can respond to emails and texts and look up the things I put on my list earlier in the day (this is when I buy the pencils).
I have to prioritize and stay focused because I know I only have a set amount of time.
I find that when I do this, I accomplish more in that small time frame than I would if I just tried to ‘do it all’ all day long.
I even ‘schedule’ myself some time on social media, but I have rules and limits for myself; I only look at the red bubbles and respond to them. I do not scroll endlessly.
This keeps me from looking up at the clock and realizing half of my afternoon has been sucked away and now I don’t have time to prep the dinner I planned to make.
There are so many things vying for our attention today. There are so many things that want to pull us away from the first and greatest job we have.
There is an enemy that wants to steal our time, kill our days, and destroy that to which we have been called.
But greater is He who lives in us.
Let us use each and every moment to honor and glorify Him, rather than follow down the rabbit trails that lead us to waste.
Let us look our children in the eyes, fully focused, fully present, anticipating the great things that He will do.
Let us remember that our time in this role is short, and we must be wise with that time.
“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” Hebrews 12:1