Thursday, June 28, 2012

Living a Monotonous Life?

Lately I've been thinking about how nothing ever seems to change. The philosopher of Ecclesiastes turned the whole concept into a book. At times in my life, the book of Ecclesiastes has been depressing, and at other times it's kind of refreshing.

There are times when every day seems just like the day before. And this week looks like last week, and this year is the same as last year. Maybe not in the big picture - kids are older, appearances change, etc. - but in the day-to-day it really feels all the same.

Just about any profession comes with a certain degree of monotony. Once you learn something, you do it over and over. My husband is an attorney. He frequently has new cases or different kinds of law to research, but it is all basically the same process - talk to client, confer with colleagues, read, research, write, edit, discuss, etc. He's also a photographer. While the clients are different and the photos range in style, he still goes through the same steps to get from start to finish.

I am coming from the perspective of the stay-at-home mom (though I used to work before kids). My days (just like yours, I'm sure) are filled with the same basic things:

Making/eating/cleaning up meals
Doing laundry
Home educating (school, library, training, discipling, etc)
Nursing & changing diapers
Caring for children
Refereeing siblings
Playing with kids
Cleaning (so much cleaning)
Managing the home (grocery shopping, errands, correspondence, coupons, etc)
Spending time with Hubster

Well, you get it. Not that I'm complaining....

Actually, that's the point. Sometimes I am complaining. "Being a SAHM is so hard!" "My days are so monotonous!" "I never have any ME time!" "I will never catch up on cleaning/laundry/school...!" "Nobody appreciates me!""I'm practically a slave!"

All that complaining - probably way too much, right? :-/ And when I stop whining, I realize that I don't really have it all that bad!

I've got more interaction than a person in a cubicle (though rarely with real adults). In fact, I'm NEVER alone (much to my annoyance at times... Can I just please pee alone like ONCE a day?!?)

And it's not like I have coworkers that aren't pulling their weight. Well, they aren't, but they are little kids after all, so they have that excuse. Plus, I get to train them to be hard workers so that when they don't have the little kid excuse any more, I won't have the "no help" excuse. And also my boss has a great benefits package (wink-wink, nudge-nudge).

Besides, in the workplace, I can't exactly draw hearts, smiley faces, and unicorns all over my correspondence and TPS reports or highlight them with glitter. But thanks to my daughter, daily chats with my gal pals, and love notes to Hubster, that's pretty much all I use communicate. <3 <3 :-) :-) ****

And throwing a random part into something on an assembly line could get me into big trouble, but experimenting with a new dinner or dessert idea is a lot of fun and sometimes quite an adventure.

Being a SAHM is H-A-R-D! Being any kind of dedicated mom is H-A-R-D! But then, I'm pretty sure God didn't intend for it to be easy. If it were easy, there probably wouldn't be so many verses in the Bible explaining why being a good parent is important and how to do it. Oh, not to mention all the verses on grace and tribulations working patience....

Sometimes being a good mom is so hard that you mess up (like every hour of every day for me). But don't worry! I'm learning there is grace for that. Each mess is like another bump in the road that helps you learn to swerve around the roadkill and potholes (things we have in abundance in Arkansas). And the grace of God is like shock absorbers that smooth the overall ride (though the skunk smell can sometimes ruin the day if you let it).

Anyway, no matter what your line of work or activities you do, it's important to avoid feeling like you are in a rut, being dragged down by monotony or seeming lack of importance. Here are some things that may help.

1. Embrace routine. Lauren has been writing some truly excellent posts on organization and routines. You can catch those here and here. Remember that doing something repeatedly is the best way to learn to do something well. You CAN excel at housework/laundry/cleaning messes/cooking/signing the same letters over and over. Routines are not a bad thing. Knowing how to do something well, having a predictable schedule can reduce the stress of feeling like you are always flying by the seat of your pants.

2. Prize even small variations. When you do have workable routines, a little change or fluctuation isn't going to throw you for a huge loop. Instead, relish the fact that you can adapt and maybe learn a new and better way to do something. Try a new recipe, use a different game to teach your kids to clean their room, use timer games, clean your bathroom backwards, whatever.

3. Monitor your attitude. Letting yourself get discouraged will just breed additional discouragement, discontentment, and depression. And when you are feeling like a failure or like what you do doesn't make a difference, remember the countless generations before you and realize that this is a noble profession. Do something that helps you - read some quick Bible verses, crank up some music, hug on your babies, play, sing some songs/hymns, reach out to your girlfriends, or rearrange your room. ;-) Sometimes you have to fake it 'til you make it. A trick I use sometimes is to pretend I'm on a reality show being filmed all the time - what would I want my audience to see? I'm not saying be a "fake," but truly, sometimes change takes place from the outside in.

4. Before you look again at your mile-long To-do list, make a Ta-Da list. There are days when I just feel like I'm not accomplishing nearly what I need to. That's when I make my Ta-Da list of everything I HAVE done. I often include the littlest things like changing diapers, nursing, getting dressed, fixing breakfast, cleaning up toddler messes, answering emails, etc. Sometimes just seeing a list of minor accomplishments gives me the encouragement to keep going.

5. Consider that God has called us "living stone." I'm reading 1 Peter, and chapter 2 verses 4-5 speak of Christians being "chosen of God, and precious," that we are "lively stones...built up a spiritual offer up spiritual sacrifices." The imagery here is great. A stone is solid and firm, not something that changes easily. We refer to someone we can depend on as a "rock." As a Christian woman and a mother, I feel called to be this "living stone" - a solid and steady part of my marriage, family, and church. So, maybe having a predictable, stable, reliable day-to-day life isn't such a bad thing! If meals on the table, clean clothes to wear, a welcoming home, and a peaceful attitude will allow God to use my family for good, be it small or amazing, who am I to say that anything else would be more exciting, gratifying, stimulating, whatever?

I get trapped sometimes in thinking, "Oh, when the baby is finally weaned, I'll have a bit more freedom," or "When the kids are bigger, they'll be more help around here, " or "Tuesdays are so hard! When is the weekend again?" (as if those are any easier, really). I forget that each day is worth living in and of itself. I'm not living today for tomorrow, this week for next, or this year just so it can be next year. Today is not the same as it was yesterday! Tomorrow will not be the same as today! And if we think that every day is the same, it's likely we are missing out on the most precious things in life.

I think I've just motivated myself to plant some roses to smell...


  1. Excellent points! The day-to-day can definitely turn to drudgery if we let it. Thanks for the reminders!!

  2. Awesome post and so encouraging! Thanks!