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Thriving at Home: All Alone // Part 4 of 5
Today’s guest post is from my dear friend and sister, Jessica! I love her words about thriving in the lonely seasons. She was graciously willing to contribute to my series about thriving at home (specifically as stay-at-home moms, but still applicable to all sorts of mama-situations). Encouragement to flourish at home, not just make-it-through and survive. By God’s grace, you can thrive at home, mama bear!
Hello readers of Jana’s blog!
My name is Jessica, although most people just call me Jess. Here is a glimpse of who I am: married to Dwight for nine years, mother of four kids (8, 6, 5, and almost 2), live in Montreal, moved to Montreal seven years ago to church plant (hashtag: pastor’s wife). We have no family who live close to us; we live in a city where people come and go every few years.
And I think what I love most is people–friends very quickly become like family to me.
As of last year, my husband travels for his job–training and networking with other pastors across Canada and other parts of the world. He travels at least one big trip a month and sometimes a small trip is added to the same month.
What does this mean for me? It means I am alone. Alone, alone. Not having family close to us is hard for me in general. Adding Dwight’s travel to that has made it even more difficult. It has also been harder this year with my three oldest kids in three different schools. Plus, our youngest is our most difficult toddler yet, and my boys just need their dad around.
I think there are three different ways I could handle flying solo:
- Fake it till I make it
I choose THRIVE. I want to thrive when Dwight is gone. Why? I don’t want life to stop when he travels. I want to be able to still workout, eat healthy meals, hang out with friends, keep the house clean, go to the park with the kids, etc. I want to thrive so that my kids can thrive. But, mostly, I want to thrive because this is what Jesus is calling our family to do right now. And as my friend Katie recently reminded me, this is what Jesus is calling ME to right now–thriving at home alone.
So, how am I able to thrive when my husband travels, with four children at home, in a different country as my family and my husband’s family? Here are some strategies that have worked for me:
- One simple way is listening to lots of music: songs about Jesus turned up high or groovy (do people still use this word?) music for spur-of-the-moment dance parties.
- I also text, skype, or call my sister, my mom, and a few close friends often.
- Jesus. He sustains me, holds my head up, and strengthens me when I’m weak.
- Organization! I organize our meals and go grocery shopping before Dwight leaves. And while he is away, I organize each day: make lunches and lay out my kids’ clothes the night before, stay on top of cleaning and laundry, the kids help me clean up the kitchen and toys after dinner, prepare dinner while my youngest naps, etc.
- Facetiming with Dwight while he is away is key for the kids and I. And Dwight does a wonderful job reconnecting with us when he gets back–spending time with the kids and allowing me to get some time away from the kids.
- I try to have at least one or two girlfriends over during the weeks Dwight is gone. I really need that adult interaction–talking, laughing and being encouraged.
- Letting my church family be the church to us.
That last one is one I’ve really had to grow in. I was talking with another church planter’s wife last year and was telling her how hard it is on one of my sons to have his dad travel. She looked at me and said, “This is when the church needs to step up and be the church for your family.” Oh, yeah–that’s true. Since then, the church is starting to grow in the area been “a dad” to my son. This winter, the church shovelled out my car that was completely covered in snow. The church insisted on watching my four kids so I could have some time alone (and write this blog post). It’s something I’m growing in and having to remind myself of, and they’re growing in too. We’re learning together how to be family for each other.
That’s the big picture: how I thrive at home even when I’m doing life alone and mothering alone for big chunks of time. But I also aim to thrive in the small inconvenient alone times, like when Dwight is preaching and I’m flying solo at church service. Or, when Dwight has a meeting at night and I have to do dinner/bedtime by myself. (I know you other moms know what I’m saying.) Striving to thrive even in putting my four kids to bed makes all the difference. It changes the way I wake up in the morning, it changes the way I interact with my kids, and it changes the way I go about my day–with a full heart, leaning on Jesus (no longer struggling to get through each hour). I’m not perfect in this and some days are better than others. But it’s my desire!
So, THRIVE! Jesus will enable you to do so.