If you’ve never experienced the destress found within the trenches of motherhood, consider yourself lucky. If you’re like most, you have not only experienced this one time, but many, and may even consider yourself within the trenches right now. The feelings that come with this state of life are nothing short of trying: there’s frustration, anger, sadness, helplessness, hopelessness, and so on.
What do you do when you look up from life and realize that you’re in the trenches of motherhood? The walls are 100 feet tall on either side and the path ahead looks narrow and uncomfortable. Yet, you know your only choice is moving forward and you’re dreading it. What now? The healthiest action for you and your family is that you find peace and strength during this time. Here’s how.
Find Peace and Strength within the Trenches of Motherhood
A healthy mind is one of the greatest assets to motherhood – a healthy mind and mindset. The ability to recognize challenges without living in defeat is a true skill that should be strengthened and protected. Why? Because an unhealthy mind gives way to compromise in our behavior and easily transfers to other areas of life, including our parenting.
As a mother, your biggest goal to raise your children in a loving and healthy way. When our minds are not right, this leaves us in a sensitive state, where the smallest thing can set off a monster that we never wanted to see in ourselves. This could be in the form of yelling, arguing, or worse, a physical lashing out; or the commonly overlooked reaction of going introverted, numbing yourself and neglecting those around you. All of these are bad options and are much nearer when our mind is not healthy. To find peace and strength during the trenches of motherhood, you must first prioritize getting your mind healthy.
The Seasons of Life
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 helps us understand that a life, a season and a moment are all valuable in their own time and in their own way. It’s easy to think of life in a linear way – a continuous, smooth line, traveling in one direction. Unfortunately, life is not that easy. With each season comes new terrain to negotiate. Some parts are smooth and enjoyable. Other parts are the trenches where things seem so unstable and volatile. Understanding this is a first step to building a healthy mindset. When you can understand that each season of life looks and feels different, as well as requires a different version of yourself, then you’re able to maximize each season to its fullest potential.
The first indication that you are in a new season of life is when the normal flow isn’t cutting it. You can’t seem to keep up with the load of tasks, you’re making mistakes left and right, you have new/different/deeper obligations that are requiring more time and energy that you can’t seem to come up with within your 24 hours, and your mindset is depleting. You’re short fused, upset with why you can’t keep up with everything, angry, sad, embarrassed, insecure, and so on.
Setting Yourself Up for Success
When you identify that you are in a new season of life, the first thing to do is prepare your mindset and set yourself up for success. Why is this important? The above paragraph and all of the things you’re feeling right now show that keeping the ‘norm’ doesn’t work. Intentionality is your new friend.
To be intentional, you need to know what your priorities are during this season, what needs to happen and what can and should be let go of or paused during this season. Understanding what is important during a season of life makes it easier to priorities which tasks truly needs your mental, physical and emotional energy – because these are all valuable things!
Clearing Off Your Plate!
Women, especially, will overburden themselves, cause their own burnout and drive themselves to the brink of exhaustion, all because we think we have to do everything all the time. This is not the case. Different seasons, call for different priorities. The flip side to knowing what needs to happen during this season of life is what really doesn’t need to happen. What are the things that you can let go of or pause during time? If it’s not needed, do not stress yourself out about it.
Removing things from your plate is a relief in some cases. Once you make the decision to remove the item from the priority list, you can instantly feel the sweet relief. However, frustration can settle in when there are things that you really want to keep on your plate or continue doing, but you know it’s not a priority and just isn’t realistic right now. While it may be frustrating to put a dream on hold, or pause that passion project, etc., you have to look at the positives. God’s timing is perfect. If you feel called in an area, but the timing just doesn’t seem right (a.k.a. you just can’t do it all right now), then trust that and be okay with shelving that for this season. When the time is right, it will be that much more fruitful!
Settle into Reality
Once you’ve worked through identifying the season’s needed priorities, you can start to settle into your new reality. This seems like a moot point, but is the cornerstone to building a strong and peace-filled mindset. You will no longer be burdened with unneeded tasks taking up space in your mind and day, you’ll have confidence about what you can and should realistically be doing, all while being at peace with where you are for the current season. When you are in the trenches of motherhood, you have to be fair and kind to yourself about what you expect from yourself and your life in each season. Anything less than this does not serve you or those you love well.
Our Greatest Opportunity
As God’s good word so beautifully puts it, “For everything there is a season”. Maybe the trenches of motherhood are not necessarily rooted in the acts the motherhood. It’s not the sleepless nights, the budgeting of diapers and formula, the stressing over school and sport schedules, etc. A healthy mindset is able to handle these circumstances. It’s when we unfairly place too many (and unrealistic) expectations onto ourselves on top of an already high-demand season. When we do this, our priorities are out of line, our energy dwindles, and we get into that “trench” mindset: depleted, angry, hopeless, etc. You are not required to do everything, all the time, in every season.
We have been given this short time to pour into our children. Prioritizing parenting with each season’s demands in a realistic way yields the best result. When we understand and are intentional with meeting each different season with the best version of ourselves during that particular time, we will finally be able to maximize each season to its fullest potential. Less stress, less frustration, more peace and more strength!