Nurturing Your Spirituality During Motherhood

I asked a question on the Mama Birth Facebook page the other day asking people to list their top three priorities in life.  Many people answered that their top three priorities were: God, Family, Self or God, Husband, Children, or something to that effect. 

At some point somebody mentioned that they couldn't believe that anybody would put religion or God BEFORE their family- like that was a really silly idea, and possibly dangerous.  I have to say that I TOTALLY get how putting God first would be a good idea and how it would benefit my children.

A woman who believes in something bigger than herself, tries to do what is right before she tries to do what she feels like doing, and who lives her convictions can be a wonderful example to her children and a more loving mother. 

(Can you tell I am not sure how to SAY this?)  I guess what I mean is that I often DON'T put spirituality or worship or God before my children and I can see how it hurts the rest of my life. 

I really noticed this weekend how putting my children FIRST- before everything- spirituality, myself, my husband- ends up hurting them in the long run.  (Yes I use the terms religion and spirituality and God interchangeably.  Don't get your panties in a wad.)

So, back to my opinion.  I have four kids and they understandably are a huge focus of my life.  In fact I find it really difficult to find a balance where I honor my own needs for spiritual renewal, fun, and knowledge, my husband's needs, have a clean floor, and give my children what they need.  I probably talk about this a LOT on this little blog.  It is because I struggle with it a lot.  I want to be selfless, I believe a life lived in service is a life a true joy, and yet I don't want to give so much that I find myself lacking, on edge, freaking out, and unable to nurture others.

This last weekend was a big broadcasted religious conference that my church does twice a year.  I was REALLY looking forward to watching it and hearing some words of inspiration and advice and love.  I really wanted to be nurtured MYSELF.  In fact, I think I really NEEDED it.  I probably needed it extra because I have been trying not to lash out irrationally at my mother-in-law lately, but THAT is another story. 

So I was looking forward to being filled. 

I wanted to attend and listen. 

And then my real life happened. 

Hubby flaked out on me and acted like a jerk-head.  (Don't tell him I said that.  Thanks.)  Kids are noisy and needy and hungry and active.  I found myself just feeling helpless and hopeless.  In fact, I decided to just give up on being filled and focus on my children.

I kind of thought that this would make everything better.  Focus on the kids, serve them = everything works out. 

But that is not how it worked out.  I felt even more drained, more tired, and kind of headachey by the end of the day.  And I felt a little bitter.  And worn out.  Like a dirty old rag. 

Sometimes to give from your cup you need to actually FILL YOUR CUP.  Sometimes nurturing your own relationship with God helps you be a better mother who can nurture her relationship with her own children.  Sometimes taking a moment for spirituality and reflection gives a woman the strength she needs to be kinder, gentler, more patient. 

Maybe you thought this post was going to be a "how to" article on the exact recipe for nurturing spirituality while you mother your few or many children.  But it isn't.  Because I haven't figured it out yet.  Of the many things I struggle with improving, finding BALANCE is probably at the top of my list. 

At 8pm at night when the kids are finally in bed, I realize the floor needs mopping, I need to read my scriptures, spend time with my husband so he feels like he matters, and actually do something I enjoy it just seems like TOO MUCH.  It is overwhelming and I feel like I can't find time for everything, much less do it all well. 

I don't know how to fix this.  But I do believe that taking time for the most important things first, like faith and spirituality, will help everything else fall into place. 

(What are your tips ladies?  Would love to  hear them.)


Malina said…
I wish I had some answers for you, but I am struggling terribly with this, too. I missed out on listening to many of the conference talks because everybody else had needs to attend to. I miss many Relief Society lessons and talks in Sacrament meeting because of an overtired baby. I usually miss my daily prayers and scripture study because right out of bed I am dealing with children's diapering and potty needs, and at the end of the day I am ready to fall into bed dead tired. I want things to be different. I need things to be different. *sigh* Going to get off the computer now and go read my scriptures...
JuliPickle said…
I definitely need help with this too. I used to wake up an hour before my kids did and I would pray, read my scriptures, and do yoga. Then my kids started waking up before 6 and I just couldn't get up before 5 to make it happen. I try to meet my spiritual needs during nap time, but I find myself watching Glmore Girls reruns instead because the hours, whining, fighting, cleaning, work, and constant crazy that fill my mornings makes me feel like Glmore Girls and chocolate are the only way to stay sane. I obviously need to reevaluate and try to fill that time with prayer, scripture study, and mediation.

The closer I am to God and my Savior, the better mom and wife I become. I know this! So of course God comes first because he gives me the strength to be a good mother, without him I don't know how I could handle it.
Alanna said…
I spent a lot of Conference yelling at my kids to be quiet so I could hear, so I definitely don't have any very good advice. I think that's the whole point of life is to keep trying to find that balance between all these really important things. So the second you think you have it down, something big is gonna come along and knock you off your feet again! (Usually a + on a home pregnancy test!)

But I do have one favorite piece of parenting advice that I got from my Mom's best friend, and now I freely share it with anyone who is willing to listen. And it's the only advice that I think is good for EVERYONE, not just the people who have a kid who is like this or that or whatever.

Here goes: The most important is whatever keeps you sane. You are no good to your kids if you're having a mental breakdown. You can only do your family any good if you yourself are sane. So whatever things you need to stay sane are important-- that might be a clean floor, a five-minute nap, a parenting style that works for you, or just having a few minutes of quiet reading time away from the kids... And just because that isn't necessarily what someone else needs doesn't matter one bit. If it's keeping you sane, it's important enough!

And with those words, I will hop back down off my soapbox!
Mama Birth said…
Thanks so much everybody. I totally spent last conference yelling at my kids to be quiet and didn't want to do that again. Love that advice Alanna- makes me feel a little less guilty for doing things that keep me sane.
Robyn said…
I like to turn on conference talks and listen to them throughout the day while cleaning or folding laundry. It isn't magical, but it makes me feel better on days when my plan of getting up before the kids to read scriptures was foiled. I also have a few conference discs in the car. When I have a baby I have to be more flexible with getting scripture time. My house is also rarely clean. I hate to clean and so that makes my scriptures and gospel study that much more enticing. One of my friends sets her kids up with journals, cheap scriptures, and crayons while she reads and studies. She would have them draw something they talked about and even color the passage in their book. Personally, I have let my kids watch a short program so I could get some time to study alone. It also helped me to see Christ in all of those mundane tasks. I blogged about it here: Good luck!
Sarah said…
I feel like I'm cheating--I have a Bible app on my phone, as well as an app that has the readings of the day for my church. I have 2 school-aged kids and a 10-month-old. After the older ones go to bed, I put the baby to bed (nursing) and read then. It's so much easier to read my phone, which I can do one-handed and also still have a lap for the baby. I know that things will not always be this easy for me, but I'll take what I can when I can! My husband and I are night-owls, so that's our time together. We're watching Psych on Netflix right now, until the baby wakes up. :)
Naveena said…
When my son was a baby, I didn't have a lot of time for spiritual practices. So to help maintain that type of connection through the day - I sang spiritual songs (to him).
Martha said…
I'm sure this just works for me, because I'm simple minded, but at times in my life when I do not have a lot of time to set aside and be quiet before the Lord - I know that serving my family IS what God is asking me to do. So while I am doing it, I offer my service up to Him...and do it for his sake. I make a quiet place in my mind and go there amidst the craziness of the world.

I read in a book where one woman imagined each of her family members as Jesus or one of the apostles - so she was caring for them, offering service to them - and it made it easier to be more loving or patient.

So I sing spiritual songs while working, I try to imagine each child as the infant Jesus, and my husband as St. Joseph. I talk to God while I do my work and ask him to help me. Since I am Catholic, I also ask Mary to pray for me, to show me how to love my family and to make it more like the Holy Family.

This helps me, even when I know I'm failing at making more time for Jesus and I one-on-one.
Mama Birth said…
Thank you all for your thoughts and suggestions. And for reading. I appreciate it.