“We need a balance between work and play, between kindness and firmness, between waiting and praying, between saving and spending, between wanting too much and expecting too little, between warm acceptance and keen discernment, between grace and truth. The longer I live, the more I must fight the tendency to go to extremes … and the more I value balance.” (Taken from Chuck Swindoll’s Living Beyond the Daily Grind)

I daily receive heartfelt emails from readers. This one touched a chord with me, and I bet she is not the only woman who feels this way! See what you think, if she resonates with you?

I have a question. I’m feeling so overwhelmed lately with all the demands from school for me to volunteer, driving kids to sports events, teaching bible class, etc. It all takes up so much of my time, I couldn’t even fathom entertaining, much less actually being able to get anything done. How do you balance everything? Do you put a limit on outside demands? I’m feeling a little frustrated this week, and need a little advice if you have a couple minutes to spare.

Goodness – her life sounds like my life, and I bet most American moms’ lives!

This email came to me 4 months ago, so I dug through my corresponding emails to find my reply, and to share it with you!

There once was a season where I thought I had to do it all.
I’ve now pulled back from too much volunteer work (I put my time in for many years!), and I don’t go to parties (or Bunko) during weekday evenings. I’ve even limited myself to how I want to serve at church. Just for this season, I value being available for my family. How much longer will we all be together? When the kids are gone I will have so much more free time to volunteer, etc.

My husband was the one who helped me attain this concept.
I used to feel guilty if I didn’t “serve,” but now that I have learned that serving begins smack-dab in the middle of my home, it has really freed me up. For example, Balcony Girls (done in my home), making meals for others, taking cookies to neighbors, feeding teachers, having a friend over for lunch, setting up meals for a needy family, making sure there is plenty of food for my teens (and their starving friends), etc. I’ve even been a college mentor (through a scholarship program) – again, pretty much done in my own home. And then, of course, balancing “date nights” with my husband – something I hugely value for a healthy marriage. And great for my kids to witness!

It’s a time in my life where I am trying to stay home as much as I can.
I actually work from home, so I have to be incredibly disciplined with my time. It feels horrible when my home gets out of control, and believe me, it does because I’m working almost full-time. I only shop when I absolutely have to! And during this season, I am up early to exercise with wonderful running partners, then back for a quick study on my own (currently working through Beth Moore’s Fruit of the Spirit study.)

Less is More.
Less time in my car is more time at home! We are blessed to be about .8 mile away from the kids’ schools and activities, so I do very little driving around. Those times that I need to, I set up a carpool!! I’ll drive one way, and arrange for another parent to drive the other way.

I’ve learned to say no to many outside activities so I can keep my home flowing, and at the same time teach my kids about hospitality and the art of homemaking. Fewer commitments = being available more for my family.

We love it, as it usually involves the whole family. Pick and choose what is important to you, and what you want your kids to learn from it? My husband would say, “bag the canning!” (because he sees how much work it is!), but I know how important it is to me, and that I want my kids to learn and reap the benefits of it, in the wintertime, and also by giving it away!

As I’ve said before, our home is not perfect (it’s actually often chaotic, when we’re all going in different directions), and I am still learning the art of this “balancing act.” I like to think that the older I get, the wiser I am becoming with my time, learning from others, and more how to prioritize well.

One thing is for sure. I know I cannot do it all!

(Read more on the Gift for Today post here. Or Reflection of Gifts here. Top photo: Paul snapped this picture of me while going through Arby’s drive-though, while playing around with his camera.)