Friday, November 1, 2013

These are First World Problems -- Parenting Through the Little Years (Part Four)

This is Part Four of "Three in Diapers: Parenting Through the Little Years." If you are just tuning in now, please check out the IntroductionPart One, etc. for context and disclaimers.

4. These are first world problems -- I like a nice, orderly, clean house. David likes a nice, orderly, clean house. I really like clean floors. I like to be able to walk around barefoot without dirt and legos sticking to the bottom of my feet. We also hate running out of toilet paper. We like good food and we have good friends that we like to be around. I like sleep. I love quiet.

The problem is that I often elevate my desire for a clean house or good food or to hang out with people that I like over my desire to have a good and right heart and attitude toward the Lord. 

And really, a bit of perspective can go a long way. Many people in the world have both dirt floors and bare feet as a standard way of living. Many people in the world don't have flush potties and toilet paper is a complete luxury. Any food is good food when you rarely know where your next meal is coming from.  Really, most of us are well taken care of in that we have regular and complete access to sufficient shelter and provision. We're not even being challenged, commonly, as to where we will lay our head tonight or where we will be able to find enough to feed our children today. 

Now I do know that some of our problems and stressors in this life are not merely first-world problems. There are times that we are over-whelmed with the trials and griefs that come from living in a fallen world. I'm not addressing those times in this post, but in the same breath, I don't want to trivialize them. There is a time for grieving and a time for longing for heaven.

But what is it that stresses you out? We each have our different triggers. Commonly, when we boil it down, many of those triggers could probably be thrown into the "first world problems" pot. 

You might rightfully argue, "But, uh, Christina, don't you realize that we live in a first world?" True. We do. And our problems are real and significant in our world. But sometimes realizing that much of what we are complaining about and getting worked up about aren't really as big of a deal as we think it to be helps. We can laugh at the absurdity of getting overwhelmed by three kids crying at the same time over different non-emergencies. We can find amusement in the irony of us yelling "STOP YELLING" for the umpteenth time. We don't have to take ourselves and our preferences so seriously.

Our houses may not often be magazine-worthy (or in some of our cases, may never be magazine-worthy!), but we can choose to be thankful for God's provision and blessing in giving us a home for our shelter and children to make a mess. 

And we can take the time to check our attitudes, triggers, and stresses at the door before we dump them on the ones we love. I know my husband enjoys a clean house, but even more, he enjoys a happy wife who isn't a stress-basket case over the fact that the floors are dirty and the kids are noisy. 

I have a friend who requested practical tips on caring for one's home. I'm not necessarily the right person to ask as I'm typing this from an unmade bed and there are currently dirty dishes in my sink, but there are a few tips I have picked up over the years.

  • Just do something. It's easy for me to get overwhelmed by all the jobs I see around me. I try to think of a time that I'm going to be able to get everything done right and seeing no such time possible, I can just throw up my hands in frustration. But really, it's amazing at how much you can get done in five-minutes-here, ten-minutes-there time slots. Don't get paralyzed by the mountain of work -- just pick something to work on and do what you can.
  • I don't tend to stick with any specific organizational system for too long unless it is something that I've made myself for our family, but I have gotten some helpful hints and ideas from It could be a useful tool for some.
  • Ask for help and be willing to accept it. There are probably people around you that have already offered their help. You may have a whole list of reasons in your head for refusing them. This very well might be pride manifesting itself in your life. Or maybe this is just my issue. I'll let you think and pray about that one.
  • Learn to be okay with unfinished jobs. This is a season of life. (I'll get to that more in another post.) There are going to be many aspects of life that aren't going to meet your previous level of approval. That's okay. And at the end of the day when you're lying in bed thinking of all the things you weren't able to accomplish and all the things you really must accomplish the next day, learn to stop, turn these things over to God, and be at peace. Ask God to help you to prioritize your time and realize that if you just aren't able to get it all done, it probably wasn't that important anyway.
  • Remember your attitude. This is a lot more important than the cleanliness of your bathroom. I find it very helpful to remind myself that my job -- and whatever it entails at the time -- is an act of worship before a holy, awesome, loving God. This life He has given me is much better than I deserve. I pray my attitude reflects that, more and more, in all that I do.
I'm guessing others might have some helpful hints in this category. Feel free to chime in by commenting! And tune in tomorrow for Part Five!

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Just the "Amen" corner here again! I think it's important for us SAHM's to guard ourselves from cultural propaganda and priorities. Not that there's anything necessarily bad about Pinterest, blogs, Facebook, HGTV, or Martha Stewart (well, maybe that one), but we need to make sure we're governing our priorities in light of what the Bible tells us is worthy to be praised, and that may look different for different families, etc. Anyway, lots of helpful resources out there, just a caution not to let them become one of our stressors!