“Ok, well, that got exciting.” I said to my husband after a whole bunch of things went wrong and we weren’t sure what was coming next. We were tired, hot, frustrated and stressed.
These moments happen with the paperwork we try to file, the foods we can’t find, the heat we endure, the bugs we fight, the culture we don’t understand, the church services that go on forever and the language that continues to get the best of us.
It could be a discouraging supporter email, a broken fridge, a lost opportunity, or another sickness.
As a mom and a wife overseas, I’ve learned that my attitudes, thoughts, feelings and reactions to these things, big and small, really do affect the overall mood of our family.
I find that when I’m on empty physically, emotionally or spiritually, I don’t handle these situations very well. I can often react in a way that hurts rather than helps.
In those moments, I have to pause and remember that there are things I can do to invest in myself so that I can invest in my family regardless of the stress, tension, and frustration of the day.
When I’m healthy, when I’ve invested in my heart and soul, I can better invest in my husband and my kids.
When I’m doing things that build me up and fill me up, I’m much more prepared to build up and fill up my family.
This might sound impractical with little ones running around or a transition on the horizon or another home assignment coming your way.
But the foundational truths for spiritual, physical, and mental health remain the building blocks that keep our families strong.
With small adjustments, realistic goals and just a little time each day, we can be in a healthier place to handle the things we go through overseas.
How can we invest in ourselves in a way that also invests in our husband and our kids?
1} Time alone with God – Nothing works as well as that. Whether it is getting involved in an online Bible study or scheduling a prayer night with local friends or just turning on some worship music, you will feel amazingly refreshed after just a short time in His presence.
2} Coffee, tea, or a mango smoothie – Take 5 minutes to sit down and enjoy your favorite treat. Feel free to add salted dark chocolate or ice cream. This short amount of time can be so refreshing in the midst of whatever is happening around you.
3} Call or message a friend – Find a friend or teammate who is in the same season of motherhood, the same length of marriage or someone who has a similar overseas journey. No one understands you like someone going through it with you. Call them. Send a message. Ask them to share what is crazy about their life and then share what is crazy in yours. On the other hand, find someone who is one season ahead of you. Ask them questions. Tell them what you are going through. They will not only understand but they will have advice because they’ve been there and made it through.
4} Do something physical – Get some exercise each day. Go for a walk or run, push the kids in the stroller at the mall, walk through the sand in the village, or go for a bike ride. Fitting some kind of physical activity into your day is a great way to de-stress, balance your hormones, stay healthy and sleep well. Schedule it and make it happen.
5} Let the house be a mess – This one is really hard for me. I have a hard time resting and relaxing if things are not picked up or if the house feels disorganized. This can be from a recent transition, construction projects, packing for furlough or little kids who have toys spread across the living room floor. In these moments, I have to be OK with jobs unfinished and teach myself to relax in the midst of chaos, stress or a messy room.
6} Go for a drive – Put the kids in the car, turn on the AC, start a movie on your phone for the kids, turn on the worship music for you, pick up a treat from a local store and enjoy a drive. You might have to get out of your town where the traffic isn’t so crazy but this time in the car can be restful and totally worth money in gas! For me, my home can be the most restful place and the most stressful place all at the same time. Sometimes I just need to leave the to do lists and the laundry piles and the messy bathroom and see something of the world around me. Overseas, it can remind us of why we are there and why we fight to stay.
7} Read a book – Pick up a fiction book and escape your day. Travel to wherever your book takes you. Enjoy a story, get immersed in something you have no responsibility to fix, clean or repair and let yourself relax. Here are a few of my favorites.
8} Journal. Draw. Write. Color – Just the act of writing helps calm my nerves and put words to the stress around me. For someone else it could be picking up a paintbrush or drawing pencil or knitting needle.
9} Get a babysitter or put the kids to bed early – Spending time with your spouse as friends can help you both connect after a hard day. Talking, sharing, watching a funny movie, making dinner, trying a new restaurant… any of these things can help you step away from the crazy of overseas life and enjoy your marriage!
10} Don’t try so hard – The world does not rest on your shoulders. The world will go on if you make a mistake. God can handle your stress and He will help you through it all. He loves you just as you are right now. Encourage yourself with God’s Word. Don’t feel guilty about taking care of you. You are the mom your kids need and the wife your husband needs. You can rest knowing that God’s taking care of you in this moment.
When life feels intense and the stress is high, it can be overwhelming to take the extra time needed to pour into yourself. It can be frustrating and challenging to make it happen.
But in these small, practical ways, with realistic goals and purposeful moments, we can be healthier spiritually, emotionally and physically.
What are some small ways that you invest in yourself so that you are able to invest in your marriage and your children?
What is something that you could incorporate in your day over the coming weeks?
What kind of simple changes could you make that would bring health to you and your family?