Overcoming the Frazzle

Overcoming the Frazzle

Becoming a Joyful (Not Frenzied) Mother of Children

by Leslie Ludy | July 1, 2012

The other day I was peacefully driving down the highway when suddenly three-year-old Kipling (a.k.a. Dubber) began hollering in great alarm from the backseat. I glanced into my rear view mirror and saw that both he and his car seat had somehow toppled sideways. Dubber was tipped almost completely over – leaning precariously on his side and starring out the window with wide eyes and a horrified expression. In reality, Dubber was not in immediate danger, but to him the situation truly felt like the end of the world.

It was about three minutes before I was finally able to safely pull off to the side of the road and straighten things out. During those three minutes, though I tried to reassure him that he would be okay, he kept yelling out the words, “Mama! I can’t handle it! I just can’t handle it!”

Dubber sounded (and looked) so hilarious that I couldn’t help but laugh, though I really did feel bad for the poor little guy. His world had taken an unexpected turn – and he just did not know how to deal with the sudden stress.

As a mother of four small children, I can relate to that feeling. There are many moments when I am tempted to proclaim, “I can’t handle it! I just can’t handle it!” Like last night, when – after a crazy, non-stop, exhausting day – Eric and I finally got the children all tucked into bed, and then had to change three (count them, three!) messy pull-ups in the space of fifteen minutes. Which meant going through the entire process of dressing, tucking-in and saying good-night prayers three extra times.

Or the time a few months ago when Hudson spilled paint all over the carpet, Harper had an accident on the hardwood floor, Kip had a diaper blow-out (with no wipes to be found anywhere in the house), and Avy threw up twice – all within a one-hour period of time.

There are at least five or six times in every day – usually in my busiest moments – when four needy little people are simultaneously yelling “Mommy!” and relentlessly demanding my attention and help, completely oblivious to the fact that my hands are totally full already. If my nerves are already on edge, it can easily feel like mob of wild monkeys closing in all around me. And those are the moments when my emotions begin to scream, “I can’t handle it!” or “I just want to clean up the kitchen in peace!”

But I have found that the “I can’t handle it” moments present the greatest opportunity for victory in my mothering. Not victory in my own strength or will-power, but victory in the strength of Jesus Christ. In my weakness, His strength can be made perfect. But I must allow that supernatural work of grace to be accomplished in my soul by yielding to His Spirit instead giving in to the “frazzle” of the moment.

I have also learned that those “I can’t handle it” feelings must immediately be countered with the “God CAN handle it” attitude. Without the supernatural grace and strength of God in my soul, I would quickly become a frazzled, exhausted, stressed-out, emotional mom yelling at my children all day long, and constantly looking for ways to “escape” my responsibilities at home. But when I lean upon the strength of God to say “no” to the frazzle and “yes” to His peace that passes all understanding, everything changes. This does not mean that there are no longer stressful moments in my day. Rather, it means that I now handle those stressful moments according to God’s pattern and not my own.

Instead of turning inward and feeling sorry for myself, lashing out in frustration, or throwing up my hands in defeat and allowing chaos to reign, I can call upon the name of the Lord, knowing that with Him all things are possible. He and He alone can grant me the grace to handle any and every parenting challenge that comes my way with strength and dignity.

Mothering is not easy. It never will be. But it can be victorious and triumphant, despite the constant demands and complications that our children bring into our lives.

Here are some practical things that help me replace motherhood “frazzle” with the peace of God:

1. Mediate on Truth

When life takes a hectic turn or when my flesh begins to protest against the constant demands of my children, sometimes a simple meditation on God’s reality can turn everything around. I often remind myself of the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Phil. 4:13) whenever my emotions are screaming the opposite message. When I dwell upon this remarkable promise, I realize that I really have no excuse to whine, complain, or give in to the “I can’t handle it” feelings. It causes me to rise up like an athlete and run that extra mile (in God’s strength) even when I don’t feel like it.

I also listen to audio Scripture on my iPod nearly every day. It grounds me in Truth and reminds me of the incredible wealth of strength and provision that is available to me at every moment – all I must do is ask and believe!

2. Recruit Some Help

Often we, as mothers, are convinced that we must do everything alone. But when we take that one-woman-show attitude into our parenting we miss out on the incredible beauty of the marriage relationship and the Body of Christ, working together to serve one another. Husbands are often far more willing to help out than we realize. Usually they just need to be asked for help – in a clear, calm, non-accusing way. Approaching your husband with the attitude, Get off the couch a come help me, why don’t you!? probably will not garner very much positive response. But appealing to him in a loving, respectful way most likely will have great results. Eric is one of the most helpful husbands around, however, he still needs me to give him clear direction on what must be done in the moment. If I say, “Could you please get the kids ready for bed?” he has a hard time knowing exactly what needs to be done. But if I say, “Would you mind putting the kids into their pjs and brushing their teeth?” it gives him a clearer focus. I usually go so far as to lay the pjs out for him, because for most men (Eric included) the task of searching through a child’s closet to find the right clothing in the right size can be completely overwhelming!

Even if your husband is unable to help (or if he is out of the picture completely) you can pray for other people in your life that will step in and lend a helping hand. Most of us have parents, neighbors, or friends that would be happy to offer assistance in areas where we feel overwhelmed. Do not be afraid to ask for help (in a reasonable way of course). This does not mean turning your children over to someone else to raise so you can live a life of ease and leisure. But swapping babysitting with a trusted friend (you watch her kids one afternoon, then she watches yours the next week), sharing a cooking day with your mom, or hiring a young woman from church to help you with laundry are all simple things that can make a world of difference to a harried mom. Even with Eric’s help around the house, I still have a rotation of wonderful young women who come to my home nearly every day and provide support to me as I am running my household and raising my children. God has provided a community around us. If we can swallow our pride and ask for help where help is needed, it goes a long way to combat the frazzle of busy motherhood!

3. Clean the Kitchen

I remember reading some practical advice several years ago from a woman who was attempting to write a novel from her home, and how she accomplished such a monumental task. I don’t remember most of the article, except for one point she made: “For an immediate sense of order and control, clean the kitchen thoroughly.” It sounded almost too simple, and yet in my own life I have found this principle to be absolutely true. When life feels frenzied and out-of-control, taking time to clean the kitchen thoroughly, make the beds, and de-clutter the house can transform my entire perspective. When the house is clean and orderly, I suddenly find new strength to face whatever situation I happen to be dealing with. But when the house is cluttered and messy, every challenge suddenly seems about ten times larger than it really is. Even if you feel that you don’t have time to clean everything, just setting the timer for 15 minutes and blitzing through the house to straighten things up can make a world of difference. And while you are at it, play some uplifting worship music or audio Scripture which will help to change your perspective even more!

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Remember that God has called you to be a joyful mother of children – not a frazzled, frenzied mother of children (see Psalm 113:9). And whatever He calls us to, He equips us for. So do not buy the lie that motherhood is chaos. Choose to embrace God’s pattern for parenting and rely on His supernatural strength alone, and you will find that He will carry you through each day on eagles’ wings.*

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