Healthy-Hearted Juggling

Originally Published: May 2004

This isn’t one of those articles on organization that reminds you to declutter, multi-task, and say “no.” I’m assuming, like me, you’ve covered the basics and still feel stressed. After all, by taking on homeschooling we are in the same position as working moms everywhere—juggling job and family. On top of that, many handle a home business or a part-time job. Having organized, then, how do we cope?

There is a way—but we usually dismiss it as selfish and keep looking. So let me remind you that we are jugglers. If we fall, the balls drop and everyone depending on us suffers. Let’s accept the solution: to care for ourselves—mind, body, and spirit. Actually, it isn’t selfish at all.

Our minds need a daily diversion from the ongoing list of tasks pushing us along. Taking a break to do whatever we find relaxing—walking, reading, soaking in a bath, watching a video—will contribute to a sense of calm. Certainly our families will benefit from that!

Our bodies need a break, too. If we grab sugar or caffeine throughout the day in order to find the energy to manage, our bodies will eventually rebel. Ignoring proper diet and exercise may help us get through today, but at too high a cost. (Trust me, this is the voice of experience speaking.) Besides, learning more about health will also benefit our families. Since we choose the groceries, we can make sure that the food on hand will provide the nutrition they need as well. As to exercise, we can include it in the curriculum and work out together.

Over the years I’ve learned a great deal about nutrition and exercise in an attempt to deal with my own health problems. I’ve discovered that I am able to accomplish much more in a day by eating properly, stretching, and taking short walks than when I don’t adhere to this routine. Poor health doesn’t mean we have to give up homeschooling or any other responsibility we feel led by God to do. In fact, He may use it to draw us into a closer walk.

And that takes us to the most important factor in taking care of ourselves—growing in our relationship with God. It’s during time in prayer and Bible reading that we draw strength to carry the load, gain insight to make wise decisions, and remind ourselves that by God’s grace we can complete whatever He considers necessary for the day.

As a recovering workaholic, I still have to cover my ears at the recriminations my mind spews out for “falling behind.” I remind myself that Jesus, surrounded by demanding crowds, remained calm—and always drew apart to pray. Then I recall Martin Luther’s reaction to an especially long list of duties for the day—more time in morning prayer. This helps me ignore the “demanding” stacks on my desk—stacks so high that my daughter says you could lose a small child in them—and spend time reading His Word, praying, and listening. When perfectionism tells me to hurry up—life is a race to “get it all together” and then there will be time to relax—I can fight back with the truth that life is a journey and when I die there will most certainly be tasks left undone.

There have been plenty of things I wanted to do, even thought were necessary, that never made it to the top of my “To Do” list. These recommendations won’t allow you to accomplish it all. Instead, you’ll be able to react more frequently to comments or situations with kindness instead of criticism and patience instead of anger, worry, or frustration. You’ll be able to determine what’s really important and let go of the rest.

I won’t say that the solution I’ve offered is easy, only that with the advantage of hindsight I recognize its necessity. A woman is the heart of her home, and mental relaxation, proper diet and exercise, and spiritual growth are all vital for healthy hearts. We have an incredible impact on the lives of our husbands and children, for better or worse. My prayer is that I’ve helped you decide to take care of yourself in order to make that impact a blessing.