This question is tricky.
When I first got married, I lived in Virginia and life was quiet. Janan and I rented out a basement apartment and in the room underneath our stairs, I carved out a prayer closet to spend time with God. And often I'd sit in that space for 45 minutes in prayer...and silence.
Today, we have a similar closet underneath the stairs of our home in Idaho. But instead of turning it into a prayer closet, it's become a kids' kitchen that holds Paw Patrol toys. (I can already feel your judgy eyes giving me a look of condescension)
Janan and I have three kids (6,4,2) with one due in September. And while parenting is great, sometimes we miss the basic things of life. We miss silence. We miss being able to walk around our neighborhood together without three kids tagging along, asking where we are going, when we will get there, and if we can stop for ice cream along the way.
On our latest podcast with Kayla Craig, Dave and I talked with Kayla about developing unforced rhythms for parenting. As a parent of four, including one with special needs, Kayla shared what it was like to have every spare moment gone. If you're a young parent, I'd encourage you to go back and check out this conversation.
So what do you do? How do you live a disciplined life when you have young kids? I'm probably not the best person to ask, but here are a few choices I'd recommend.
When you're in your early twenties, you want to prove yourself. You want to achieve. You want to do. But parenting makes you slow down and reframe your priorities.
If you're a doer like me, you have no shortage of things you want to accomplish. But when you're in a busy season, sometimes you can't do everything you once could. And that's okay.
Instead, focus on becoming the person God created you to be. Allow moments of frustration with your kids to confront your tendency towards anger. Permit times of public meltdowns to rid you of pride. And invite overwhelming days to help you depend more on God's strength.
As Kayla Craig writes, "My kids teach me more about the nature of God than many a theological treatise."
A few months ago, I was stressed about something. And as I wrestled with my challenges in one room, I overheard my kids in the next room over yelling out these words to a song: "Wherever you lead me, I'm going to follow. I'm trusting you God. You are good!"
And at that moment, those were just the words I needed.
Kids throw off your routines. They make it more difficult to workout, have personal worship time with God, and do fun activities with your spouse. And rather than try to maintain the life you once lived, embrace new routines. Meditate on scripture while you lay in bed. Go for a prayer walk. Find a new workout time.
Remember that the old "adapt or die" adage doesn't just apply to business. It applies to life, and especially life with kids.
Growth and kindness are intertwined. Being kind to yourself doesn't mean giving yourself permission to fall into destructive habits. Eating two packs of Oreos, vegging out on Netflix, and giving up on your personal worship times with God are not examples of kindness. These actions only make life more difficult.
Instead, look at your parenting season as an opportunity to grow in maturity. Be creative in how you approach God in your busyness. And as you do, don't beat yourself up when you fall short of your expectations.
Grow, but be kind.
Even though it feels like a lifetime ago, I still remember those years Janan and I prayed for kids. And now that we have them, it's easy to complain. As humans, we do this with blessings. We complain about the dent in our car rather than thank God for the ability to drive. We gripe about losing air conditioning in our home rather than praising God for shelter.
But sometimes it's good to pause and remember that those things we complain about today are often the problems others would only dream to have. And so even on those hardest days of parenting, be grateful.
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