Parenting in the Messy Seasons

Don’t you wish life was predictable? I do.

I long for a well-planned, predictable, orderly schedule and lifestyle. My personality thrives on things going as planned. When I was single, I was able to manage this to a degree. But as more people were added to my life…well, let’s just say I had to adjust.

But still, I try. Pretty darn hard sometimes. It seems to me that once I get things in order in my family and things are finally humming – a crisis occurs. Every. Single. Time.

I don’t intend to imply that life is nothing more than a series of crises. But the idyllic problem-free existence that I have created in my imagination never seems to materialize. In the beginning, this caused a fair amount of turmoil for me. I was trying to hold things together in my family, while also juggling unexpected crises or added responsibilities. 

Just to give you a picture, over the past decade:

  • we internationally adopted two children (during which time I lived on my own in a foreign country for nine months);
  • we moved my elderly parents;
  • my husband pursued a Ph.D. while working full time (leaving me to hold down the fort with littles);
  • we moved my elderly parents;
  • my father and father-in-law died;
  • my husband left his secure corporate job to start his own consulting business;
  • we helped move my mother-in-law from Venezuela to the United States,
  • we moved my mother, and then later she passed away;
  • we took our kids out of school to homeschool them to better address some learning challenges…

And I could go on, but you get the picture. Life can be messy.

Your “life interruptions” may not mirror mine. Maybe you are dealing with a divorce, a move, marital stress, family illness, financial hardship, job loss, depression or anxiety. 

God has a perfect plan for your family and mine. But a perfect plan is not synonymous with perfect circumstances. He takes our lives, messiness and all, and works them into a pattern for good as we yield ourselves to him. Sometimes that means yielding our blueprint for the day, week, month or even year. 

God promises to give us the grace for whatever comes our way. We would do well to give ourselves grace. When life gets messy, we can’t always sustain our normal routine or our typical demands. Parenting and family life may look different for a time. And that’s okay.

If you find yourself in a messy season, I’d like to share a few things that have helped me:

  1. Learn to release control. Let go of expectations of what life “should be”, because in messy seasons, things aren’t going to line up as perfectly as we’d like.
  2. Prayerfully determine priorities. My husband calls this “goal sacrificing.” You may need to let go of a few things for a time.
  3. Prioritize connection. In times of crisis, our energies are pulled in different directions, so cuddling on the couch while reading a book to your child will be more important than sweeping the floor.
  4. Cultivate a grateful heart. Meditate daily on the good things in your life, and thank God for each one individually. I do this almost daily and it works wonders!
  5. Flex with life circumstances. Maybe you really wanted to try that new recipe today, but something came up. Be okay with leftovers or takeout.
  6. Trust God to fill in the gaps. Your energies will be pulled in so many directions that you might feel you aren’t being everything you should be for your kids. Do what you can and trust God to do the rest.
  7. Have grace for yourself. Be kind, patient, and supportive to yourself.
  8. Simplify your schedule. Let go of non-essentials. Piano lessons can wait.
  9. Lean on your support system. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
  10. Don’t let stress get the best of you. Know your limits and practice soul care.

If your life is feeling a little out of control these days, give him control. Begin by meeting with God and asking him to help you set realistic priorities. Ask him what you can let go of for a time. Give yourself permission to take care of yourself.  And remember, the messy seasons will pass.

Holli Aparicio is a wife and homeschooling mom to Lydia (13) and Sofia (11). She is passionate about equipping others to encounter God in prayer and to learn to hear his voice. She loves the mountains, the ocean, blue skies, and sunny days (which is why she enjoys taking frequent vacations in the winter ☺). She lives with her family in Maple Grove, MN.