I once heard a woman—some time management expert I think—suggest that the reason some office workers check their email compulsively is because they don’t know what to do next. Without a clear understanding of the purpose of their job, what it takes to get it done, or, for that matter, much desire to finish it, the noise announcing a new email becomes a welcome interruption.
The same can be true for me as a mom. Without a clear understanding of what I’m called to do and why it is important, I head aimlessly into my mothering workday and end up wasting a lot of time. So much to do. Where in the world do I start? I have no idea. I guess I’ll check Facebook again.
Now this doesn’t mean that we aren’t good moms if we don’t wake up every morning with a clear sense of purpose and a prioritized list of tasks. Some days we need to simply put one foot in front of the other, even if we’ve lost sight of the end of the road. We have to choose to say “no” to distractions even when we can’t remember why it is important to do so.
But we must also labor to maintain a clear biblical vision of motherhood: to remember who it is who called us in the first place (God!), what He has called us to do (raise these children, created in His image, for His glory!), and how he has called us to do this (diligently, joyfully, relying on His grace).
The more we see the mercy of God in motherhood, the more we understand the honor and eternal significance of our calling, the more we grasp our solemn responsibility to bring our children up in the ways of the Lord, and the more we are joyfully compelled to glorify the Savior by giving our lives away for our little ones, the less likely we’ll be distracted by the cheap thrills of the Internet.
We’ll be so caught up in the difficult yet delightful duties of motherhood that the Siren song of our Facebook feed will simply fade away.
“Just as an artist who paints pictures and portraits exercises great care in his work, so each of you, mothers and fathers, must be attentive to these wonderful images [children]. Each day, a painter adds what is necessary to the picture. Sculptors do the same, removing excess stone and adding what is lacking. You should do the same: as makers of images, devote all your time to the task of fashioning wonderful images for God. Remove the excess; add what is lacking. Each day, examine the images closely. Cultivate the natural excellence that each one has, removing what is by nature inferior….[T]each them to be sober, vigilant, watchful in prayer, and to place everything that is said and done under the sign of the cross.” ~John Chrysostom (c. 347–407), On Vainglory and the Education of Children, 22:
HT: Tony Reinke
This so could have been me, only Mike didn’t have his camera rolling at the right moment. See ya Monday, Janelle for the girls
If less important activities are infringing upon more important priorities, we need to make a change. But what does this look like?
Does this mean that moms can’t have a life beyond warming milk bottles and reading bedtime stories or helping with homework and driving to soccer games?
Of course not! But given the significant amount of time it takes to effectively teach, train, discipline, care for, and encourage children, you won’t have time for much else. Motherhood should consume a majority of your time and attention
So how do we eliminate online distractions and that keep us from focusing on our children?
Let me return to a previous illustration. You may remember how I realized that browsing online while my coffee was brewing each morning ended up cutting into my time with God’s Word. So, I set up a boundary for myself: no email or blogs until I have my quiet time. This wasn’t legalistic. It was simply a personal resolution to protect the most important from the less important, to keep first things first.
We can apply this same principle to the priorities of mothering and caring for our homes. What structures do you need to set up in your life to keep the training of your children a priority? Maybe you need to refrain from looking at email until the kids go down for a nap, or wake up a half hour earlier to update your blog, or only browse Pinterest or Facebook after the dinner dishes are done. Maybe more drastic action is necessary. You may need to refrain from certain online activities for a time.
Whatever it takes, let me encourage you to clear away all distractions. There’s a time for every season under heaven, and the time to train your children in the ways of the Lord is now.
So how do we know if we’re distracted or focused on the right things? We need to determine biblical priorities for our season, and then consistently evaluate whether or not we are living according to those priorities. For moms with young kids, it’s pretty simple. Three non-negotiables top the list:
1. The gospel (1 Cor. 15:3)
2. Your husband (Tit. 2:3-5, Eph. 5:23-33)
3. Your children (Deut. 6:4-9 Tit. 2:3-5)
Ask yourself: Am I preserving these biblical priorities as my top priorities?
Then consider your daily Internet or cell phone habits and ask yourself:
Does my time spent online cut into my time for consistent practice of the spiritual disciplines?
Does Facebook hinder me from putting my husband’s needs first?
Does twitter or texting distract me from the teaching, training, discipline, care and encouragement of my children?
Do my Internet habits cause me to be rushed, hurried, distracted or anxious in caring for my family and training my children?
If we’re consistent at checking our Facebook wall but not in prayer, or if we’re attentive to our Etsy site or blog but not our children, then we need to make a change.