How to Get Your Kids to Stop Wasting Your Time
by Kristina Matz
I have been wanting to sit down and write this blog post for a couple of weeks now, but I cannot think of a better time to write it than right now. I attempted to put my kiddos down for a nap close to an hour ago. That's right, "attempted". You see, no nap time is complete these days without some "potty issues". My recent three year old has been mostly potty trained for months now, but she still will not do "the deed" on the toilet. Honestly, I don't know what it is about children that think they're going to explode if they poop into a toilet! So, now that we are nearing 75 minutes from the original desired time of Snoozeville, I am seeing certain desires for my day slip away from me. It has taken me that entire 75 minutes just to make myself a salad and eat it, and that was definitely not all that I had hoped to accomplish in that amount of time. It is in moments like these that I can find myself frustrated. And, though I would never say it out loud, I can even feel like my children are wasting my time with what I deem as "silly" or "unimportant". But, recently it struck me... I finally realized how I could stop my children from continually wasting my time. It would be cruel of me not to share this incredible tip with the whole of mothers, but today I'm starting with you.
Recognize Whose Time It Really Is
I apologize. I did not create a "pause" button for children or discover fairy dust that guarantees instant compliance. And, no, I have yet to figure out how to make a child fearless in the face of doing "the deed" on the toilet! But, by God's grace, I have come to realize that my time is not, in fact, mine at all! Now don't get me wrong... Logically, I have known this for several years now. When I became a Christian I realized that I was surrendering my life to Christ. I no longer live for myself, but I live for Him Who saved me. All that I have was given to me by my Creator and is, therefore, His. This includes my time. But while I have known that on the larger scale as a Christian, I have done a poor job at living it out in my heart as a mother. With so many things on my "to do" list every day, I can sometimes find myself frustrated with my children because their spills and antics interrupt my work. Whether that is making a meal, folding the laundry, or trying to make a phone call for my husband. All good and godly things, all things I should be doing, but I can fail to see these "inconveniences" as an equally important part of my day. Cleaning up that spilled juice. Washing those clothes that just got peed in. Sweeping up the crumbs that got thrown onto the kitchen floor. Breaking up the same argument and positively redirecting young hearts. Each of these tasks is vitally important. First, they have importance because they all align with what God has called me to do as a wife and a mother. Second, they are important because God has divinely scheduled each and every one of them!
A woman I once had the privilege of being in a bible study with told us ladies that she was diligent to plan each of her days, while always leaving room for things that God might place on her schedule. All of us, including myself, gave great nods of enthusiasm as we soaked in this nugget of truth. And in the context of what we were talking about (a friend arriving unannounced at our door, our husband needing a last minute errand, etc.) this sounded lovely. I have even reminded myself of this gem time and time again. But, surely, this does not apply to spilled cereal and gum in my daughter's hair... Or does it? Yes! We need to trust that God has prescribed each "interruption" and intends to use them for our sanctification and His glory. No "accident" is truly an accident in God's economy.
Trust Your Schedule to the One Who Writes It
In view of recognizing Whose time is really being "wasted", let us do our best to lay hold of these opportunities. God has called us to redeem our time (Ephesians 5:16). All of our time. We need to trust our schedule to the God of the universe and then seize each "interruption" as a time to beautifully reflect and glorify the Lord, Himself. For one reason, our children are watching us. How do we react when something gets spilled? How do we react when an "accident" slows us down? Is it with gracious words (Colossians 4:6) or a harsh rebuke? How we live, even down in the nooks and crannies of our days, is setting an example for our children. They may not realize it and we may not realize it, but it's happening all the same. When I can remind myself that, "This is exactly what God has put on my schedule for this moment," then I can clean the mess with joy in my heart. If God has allotted this to me, prescribed it for me, then I better do my best to complete the task in a way that is glorifying to Him. With meekness and gratitude. If I don't, I should not be the least bit surprised when my children overreact and speak harshly because things don't go their way. While it is of the upmost importance to direct our children to God's Word and teach them what it says, it will likely hold very little power in their lives unless they see you and I actually modeling what it says.
Second, may we trust that God knows best what we need and when we need it. I always say that my marriage and my children are the two tools that God has used to sanctify me far and above any other. I need to trust that each little "time waster" has been put into my day so that it might continually sand off my rough edges. I should praise God for the opportunity to practice patience, grace, meekness, and tender love. If everything always went exactly as I planned it... Boy oh boy would I be quite the entitled woman! I already struggle with pride and entitlement (this is my flesh!), but God graciously reminds me day in and day out that I need Him, desperately. One way He does that is by reminding me that my day is not mine, my minutes are not mine. I was created to serve my Creator. And there was a time in my life where I longed to be a wife and a mother. I couldn't wait until I would meet my future husband and we could start a life together. What a sad state we find ourselves in when we look with frustration on one of the greatest blessings and answered prayers the Lord has given us. May we all strive a little more to honor God when things go according to plan (the easy part), and even more so when they don't!