On making daily intentional choices

I’m sitting on my bed listening to the even breathing of my eight week old napping next to me. It’s Saturday, and Brian is home and has given me time to hide away in my room to rest, read, write, or whatever it is that will fill my tank. I’m fighting the urge to walk out and take care of household tasks, and instead am thinking about how grateful I am that I have a husband that knows I need this time alone.

I feel better than I have in a long while thanks to a conversation Brian and I had last night. I’m feeling stretched trying to meet the demanding needs of my family. He is stretched, trying to balance writing a dissertation with meeting more than his share of the needs of family and home.

When we first moved here, we knew that we needed this time in Scotland to slow down and find a new family rhythm after a particularly stressful year. The first couple of months were honestly delightful. We didn’t know many people so we didn’t have much on the calendar. Our evenings usually found us sipping a cup of tea, talking or reading, or composing for Brian.

We felt rested and renewed like we hadn’t in months, possibly years.

But since Ellliott’s birth, things have started feeling hectic and busy again. Sure, we’re getting used to life with four kids, but it seems like more than that.  The busyness of life (even if that busyness is just household maintenance) crowds out the evenings of chatting over a cup of tea these days. Brian and I barely hold an entire conversation because life is so exhausting. Just keeping up with the kids and the house is enough to completely exhaust me right now. I can’t quite put my finger on it because I’m really doing very little besides family things, and yet I’m barely keeping my head above water.

I know that just two months after having a baby is not a time to get overly stressed about why our life doesn’t look like I want it to. I realize that we are still in the adjustment period. I have an infant and three other children, one of whom requires a  lot more from me than normal because of some special needs. I’m tired.

I’m chafing because things don’t look like I think they should, like I want them to.

When we sat down and put our heads together about what we could do to change things, it was surprisingly mundane. It wasn’t a ten year vision talk, or even a discussion about our core values and if we are meeting them. Trust me, it was not nearly that lofty. We’re too tired right now for that deep of a conversation.

It was about this weekend. After crying and telling Brian that I’m too tired to even think let alone accomplish anything, we talked about what we could do this weekend. Not a routine change, not a life change, just this weekend.  What choices are we going to make this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, in order to start Monday ready to tackle the week instead of wanting to hide in bed?

It wasn’t very exciting. It involved making sure Elliott’s too small clothes got put away so I don’t keep looking at them and feeling stressed. Mopping the disgusting kitchen floor. Brian taking Stefan out for some one-on-one time. Making time to play Olivia’s new game she got for her birthday. Checking off social media for awhile. Inviting someone over for a meal. Making sure I get at least an hour or two without children calling “Mommy, Mommy.”

Simple and yet so important.

I have lots of big ideas about what I think life should look like and when I feel like our home isn’t meeting up to those ideals, I get stressed, frustrated, and anxious.

But I wonder if I’m thinking too big? Rather than a 5 year plan, or 1-year plan, or even a six-month plan, maybe it’s the weekly and daily choices that matter most? I can choose to just do something.

Big plans are good, don’t get me wrong. There is certainly a place for that and it’s helpful and important. But I’m in an intense season of parenting right now. I’m tired, and finding the energy just to do dishes in the evening is hard, let alone craft out the ideal life for the next ten years.

What if I just worry about making choices this week, or this weekend, or even just today that reflect the lifestyle I want to live?

What if I remember that living an intentional life is just as much about today’s individual choices as it is about the big picture? Someday, I might even look back and realize that the “ideal” has indeed happened because I was intentional about today’s choice.

I’m too tired and stretched to make huge decisions right now, but I can make choices today that reflect my values and what is truly important.

For me, today, that meant checking off internet, knocking a few mundane tasks off the list, connecting with my family, and finding a few minutes alone to refresh myself physically and emotionally. Tomorrow it will likely be completely different choices.

Today’s small choices make up tomorrow’s life.


  1. Absolutely right thinking. Personally, I think we need to live this way most of our lives. Not that we don’t work toward goals . . . . But, especially with little ones in the house, each day is much more important than the long term. They grow up so very fast–believe it or not–and you will be glad you made these daily decisions. :o) Praying for you often.

  2. Thank you for sharing your heart, Johanna. I love that you realize that this too shall pass and your sweet children will be grown all too soon. Although I didn’t have the challenge of raising four little ones, I certainly remember many days (and months!) when the girls were little that our reality didn’t match my dream for our family. However, as our girls get ready to start high school and our time with them feels so limited, I wouldn’t trade a single second of my time at home with them- even the ones that were filled with stress, worry, sacrifice, and unfulfilled expectations. It is worth it all! You are a blessing to your beautiful children, just as they are to you. I am thrilled to know that you and Brian are working through this together, always with God’s will for your life as your guide. You’ll get through this and be so pleased with the results of your hard work and dedication to your family. Please know that you continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement, Sarah ! Motherhood is the most amazing journey ever. Full of hard toil and work, but also so full of joy.

  3. When my oldest were little, and I was teaching, I was asked “how I did it all?” I replied I didn’t,. It’s the right thing to decide, put the important things on the top of the list, those are the things to get done.
    In the long view, whew! It goes fast, take deep breaths, try to get some sleep. Our love to you.

  4. “Do the next thing.” -Elisabeth Elliott sometimes, that’s all you can do. I echo your sentiments, often feeling the same overwhelming sensation.
    Thanks for posting!! I always enjoy your blog!

  5. Amen to that friend!

  6. Ruth Bixby says:

    Boy, can I sympathize! Seems like you and Brian have come up with a good plan–tackle the weekend first, the 10-year plan later. =) We know right where you’re livin’! Bon courage, and even better: His grace is sufficient for the tasks He gives.

  7. Oh wow – I love this! I came across this from a comment you posted on Simple Homeschooling and I really (REALLY) needed to read this today – thank you for sharing your heart!
    I am sitting here (not too far away from you actually – North Yorkshire!) and feel like you have just described my life right now (Hubby working on his Master’s, working full time and I am 10 weeks post-partum)! I feel exactly the same way about it too – stressed that it doesn’t look the way I think it should and completely drained! I am definitely going to give this a try this weekend and see if we can bring some balance back into our lives. Thank you again!

  8. Kim Bennett says:

    I found your blog as I was searching for some insight on how to best support my daughter in law while my son is in seminary. She is a SAHM with two little boys, ages 3 and 1 , and another due next spring. I know how much she would enjoy your insight and that of others who have posted to your blog. I am sending her a copy of this post, so she can read it and know that she is part of a sisterhood. I expect that God will do great things in their lives and I want to help in whatever way I can, although they now live about 12 hours away. Thank you for sharing your experiences; it is indeed a ministry from the heart. Bless you!

Speak Your Mind