Controlling Chaos Through Routine

LaDawn DuerksenSelahLeave a Comment

 

A question I get asked quite frequently is “How do you get it all done?” I think people question my sanity.  Don’t worry, I do to!  As a pastor’s wife with 4 kids, 2 of whom I homeschool, and a part-time job I usually feel that my life is in hamster wheel mode.  Once I step on it for the day it doesn’t stop.  I’m forever rushing to get through the task of the moment in order to get to the next thing. I told my husband recently that I never feel like I can do anything 100% because there are so many things to get done in a day.  And about once a month (wink wink) I crash.  Frequently I vent about my busyness to God and ask for confirmation that the things I’m doing are indeed the things He wants me doing.  When I do He also speaks.  Sometimes there are extra things that I’ve made myself too busy with, but most times it means I’ve started focusing on the waves (like Peter) rather than the eyes of God.  He tells me that it’s the pressures and stresses of my life that are building me into the wife and mother He’s called me to be.  So I pick up my bootstraps and carry on, but with renewed strength knowing I’m back on my path.

So how do I get everything done?  First and foremost, I must have devotions every day! And before the day begins.  In order to do so I’m up by 5:30am but I make this early morning appointment with God a priority because without connecting to the true power source I end up trying to live on my own strength, which never turns out good.  When I start the day with gratitude and fill my heart with God’s truth, I am better equipped to do my tasks and be loving to those in my life.  During my devotions I also bring my daily task list to Him.  It never fails that He will show me what my priorities should be and what I don’t need to worry about for that day.  Sometimes it’s my kids.  It can be very practical, like reminding me that I haven’t played games with them in a while so I make time to do that. Sometimes it’s a focus for my ministry and something I need to get done that day which helps other things fall into place.  Sometimes it’s just a sense of peace to know that He’s got it all in control and that it’s not up to me to take over the world.  Connecting with God before my day starts doesn’t mean that things go perfectly but it means that I can better handle what comes my way throughout the day.

The second biggest key is scheduling.  If you want to get something done, you’ve got to schedule it in.  Statistically you are 45% more likely to accomplish something if you write it down.  So I make a plan.  I have a general plan for the week and then a more detailed plan for each day.  Each week is mostly the same so there is consistency in the plan.  My kids know the plan ahead of time and they know their part in the plan.  They know what I expect of them and what happens when they don’t meet those expectations.  Coming home from a Prayer Summit one night my 5 year old called out from the back of the van, “you don’t need to tell us what to do when we get home.  We know, we know.”  Kris and I chuckled!  It was cute but it also exciting because it showed that our consistency was paying off.  With little kids the unexpected is bound to happen, but with a plan I can more calmly handle the bumps because the main structure of the day is still in place.

By doing this for my own life I am also helping my kids.  Kids thrive in consistency.  Consistency of love, boundaries and even daily life routines.  It makes them feel safer in a world that is mostly out of their control.  Sure they will test the boundaries (usually multiple times a day!) but if the boundaries remain the same it will be easier to return them to ‘safety’.  Routine also teaches kids important life skills like how to get places on time, the importance of household management and working hard, and how to handle your emotions when you don’t get your own way.  Here’s a great article that outlines the benefits of routines for kids:

http://www.ahaparenting.com/parenting-tools/family-life/structure-routines

Routines and consistency work to our benefit because God has created humans to thrive in order.  He tells us in His word that it is wise to make plans.  “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways” (Proverbs 4:25-26).  So then we can trust that making plans and being intentional with your days will help you run the race called He has called you to run and help you raise more responsible kids.

One of the things in your schedule this year is Selah.  Committing to this program for the year has the potential to benefit your life or make you feel overwhelmed.  Specifically, how you make out getting to and from church will determine whether it feels like a blessing or a curse.  Getting to Selah in the mornings with a baby (or babies!) can be tricky!  I know, I’ve been there .  But it is possible to arrive on time and without feeling frazzled.  Making a proactive, realistic plan that you follow consistency can greatly improve how these mornings go for you and your child.

You’ll need to prayerfully think through a plan that works for your family.  As a start though, here are some tips that I use in our home to help us get out the door without losing our minds:

  1. We start the evening before:
  • Baths happen before bed rather than trying to do this extra, tiring job in the morning
  • Clothes are picked and laid out so we don’t have this power struggle in the morning
  • The diaper bag is checked and anything else I need to remember to bring is put in my tote bag beside the door
  • We talk through the morning schedule as part of the bedtime routine (the older they are the more detail you can give).  These are some examples of the scripts I have:
  • “Tomorrow morning you need to wake up at _______ and be at the breakfast table by _____ because we’re going to Selah.”
  • “When mommy asks you to get your shoes on you need to do it right away so that we can get to church on time. It shows respectful to your leaders when we are on time.”
  • It’s consistent (the same every week) so that even my toddlers know what to do.
  • It sometimes needs to be tweaked (ex. If I notice we’re getting to church too late than I make the wake-up time a little earlier).

2.   I get myself ready before the kids get up so that I’m ready to help them and focus my attention on them.

3.   I pack a snack/lunch for after Selah: my kids are always starving after Selah! Having a light lunch packed for them eliminates much whining and frustrations when trying to leave. Plus I don’t have to mess up my kitchen when I get home.

4.   I try to remember to have realistic expectations:

  • The unexpected is bound to happen: a poop explosion as you open the door, a spit up in the car seat, or a meltdown because your child doesn’t want to wear the shoes you want them to.
  • Knowing that something like this is bound to happen helps me react better when they do.
  •  There is a scientific saying that says, “chance favors the prepared mind”.  Prepare for set-backs and you’ll be less overwhelmed when they come.

5.  I re-evaluate how the morning went and think through any changes that may need to be made in order to make the process smoother.

Following a consistent morning routine will help make your Selah mornings run more smoothly.  This is what works in our home but it’s not what everyone needs to do.  Talk to other Selah moms and ask what works for them.  Then..

Use It or Lose It (application part)

…make a plan for your Selah mornings.  Think through what will help you and your family get to Selah as smoothly as possible.  Try it and then share your ideas with your table.

Praying for each of you to find a successful morning routine,

LaDawn

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