Know Your Limits

Last Tuesday night I fed the YC women’s soccer team a lasagna dinner, then spent 4 1/2 hours at a meeting where a few of my friends and I were working through a painful and difficult situation. I got home just before midnight completely exhausted and emotionally drained.

Wednesday I woke up (after a fitful night’s sleep mixed with sorrow and prayer) and looked ahead at my day. I had a lunch date with my friend who had just lost her house in a fire. Adam and BryAnna were coming for dinner to celebrate her birthday, which meant I needed to make a birthday cake as well as cook the dinner. I was teaching a ladies class at church that night I needed to finish preparing for. Matt was at an away soccer game until 11 that night. 

I knew how tired I was and everything about the day ahead of me seemed completely overwhelming.  After praying about my day, I made a decision.

We would take a day off from regular school work.

I knew the small amount energy and strength I had inside of myself. Working through a school day with my boys while my mind was so preoccupied felt like climbing a mountain. 

I knew that if I tried to explain a math concept to anyone or keep everyone quiet while I read through History…my patience would wear thin and I’d have a hard time keeping from being grumpy. My boys do not deserve my grumpiness. 

Never, ever, EVER should I be so busy and caught up in doing “good things” for others and for the church that it wears me out and makes me grumpy at my own family. Never.

Instead, we had a movie morning. Then we baked a birthday cake. Then we made hot dogs (yes, I know my limits and it was a hot dog day!!). I went to lunch with my friend. When I got back, the boys and I read three chapters of our read-aloud. Then the boys read on their own. We frosted the cake. I read through my notes for the ladies class. We started dinner. Adam and BryAnna came over. We had a lovely birthday dinner.

And I was completely calm and peaceful the entire time.

If I would have tried to get through our whole regular school schedule in the middle of everything else…I’d have been a mess by 10:30 a.m. Instead, I enjoyed my boys. I enjoyed my friend at lunch.  I enjoyed surprising BryAnna with some of her favorite foods. 

Can I choose to “not have school” EVERY DAY that I feel a little tired or overwhelmed?   No way.  That would be a big cop-out.  

Should I always be so involved with outside ministries that I have nothing left for my family? No way. That would be very wrong. Our families are our number one ministries, which means sometimes we have to say “not this time” to a ministry opportunity.

But when you find yourself waking up to a day that is too full…know your limits. Figure out what you need to cut out, stop, cancel, reschedule or give up so that your family life stays healthy, strong and God filled.

God knows your limits better than you do. Ask Him and listen. 

Disclaimer:  No children, young or old, were academically crippled as a result of this day off of school. The very next day they were all still able to multiply, spell words and write creatively. Just in case you were worried. :)

This post is linked to Works for me Wednesday.


  1. says

    This is such a common problem for woman. Thank you for sharing this. I often have that problem and my husband has to keep reminding me that my family is a priority even though I want to do good and help others out. The flexibility of homeschooling is also a blessing. Thank you again for sharing because it does encourage us.


  2. Joy says

    Good for you, Laura! Thank you for boldly sharing in your weakness – such authenticity and bravery are so rare! I’ve been enjoying your blog for a few months now, and I so appreciate your honesty and integrity and the desire to be who you were created to be. You inspire me to do the same! I have 2 little men (1 and 5) and I consider it such a privilege to sit at the feet and drink in the wisdom of women such as yourself. So thank you! God bless you and all your men!


  3. says

    Great post, Laura! Keep your “super-hero cape” in the closet. I do not know why woman (I’m talk to me too!) feel we always need to do it all! Once again, great post!


  4. says

    As a fellow homeschooling mom, I totally get this post! Once in a while you just have one of those days. Your honesty is encouraging to me, thank you for sharing.


  5. Tracy Compaan says

    Thanks for your honesty. I’m sure a lot of other stay at home mom’s are feeling the same thing but your expression of reality put things into perspective. I hope others are just as encouraged as I am to read this.
    I don’t even homeschool, but the amount of work I have at home is sometimes so overwhelming to me. Priorities are important.


  6. says

    Great job being flexible!!!
    We had to do this a few weeks back when 4 of the 6 kids had dentist appts IN ONE DAY! -gulp- The memory would still be haunting me if I hadn’t said “just reading today”!
    I wasn’t about to try to squeeze in division with decimals and geometry- no way!


  7. says

    Yes! That’s the way to do things.

    It’s hard for me to find a balance between being flexible and getting the learning done, though. I try to be flexible with the little ones and more focused with the teens.


    Annie Kate


  8. Shannon says

    Thanks Laura! I’ve been reading your blog for about a month now and just love it. You’ve got wisdom to share. Schedules and plans are so important for the family and especially children, but so is being flexible as we never know what challenges may come along. I hope things have improved for the situation you lost sleep over and prayed over. Blessings.


  9. Jessica says

    What a wise post – so true and a message I needed to hear and was blessed by this morning – thank you for sharing it!


  10. says

    Great post. Your boys did learn something very important that day. Maybe it wasn’t the typical “school” lesson, but they learned to let God lead their day, they baked and frosted (baking is a great thing to learn!) and they learned how to handle stressful days with your example of praying for help and strength – instead of letting emotions control their day/attitude.

    Those are very important life lessons to learn.


  11. Amy says

    “Never, ever, EVER should I be so busy and caught up in doing “good things” for others and for the church that it wears me out and makes me grumpy at my own family. Never.”
    This hit me hard today, because I’m having one of those days! Thanks for the kick in the tail!


  12. says

    Thanks for sharing. I think we all need some encouragement in this department, whether we homeschool or not! Moms can’t do it all sometimes, and it’s good to hear that other moms struggle too!


  13. says

    Good for you, sister!

    I recently realized I suffer from the same dilemmas. I am exhausted because I do way to much. I was guilty of this before and cut out nearly every outside obligation and started taking my family to church. And then slowly over time I started getting weighed down with too many church related obligations. It leaves me feeling no differently. I cannot help every person every single day. I have to help my family first.

    Thanks for writing and sharing this. It is nice to know I am not the only one.


  14. Kika says

    This year when planning I did a couple things to allow for times like you described: first, I built some ’empty’ blocks into my weekly schedule to allow for unexpected appointments, or spontaneous fun! Secondly, we started school early to allow me to take off ten days of school whenever needed. So if I’m particularly stressed, or we’re sick, (or just want a day of reading and cuddling) we can, guilt free, take off an entire day and I don’t have to stuggle with feelings of getting behind.


  15. April says

    What a wonderful example this must have impressed upon your family. It is so hard for me not to get my work done for the day even when I am too tired, don’t have enough time, etc… to do it. It takes a lot for me to stop and say “no, not this time”. I think that what you did yesterday shows your love for your family because you were flexible and you were thinking of others. I am a nanny for only one small boy, but when he was really young I would take him on long walks. Sometimes two times a day. I found though, that although these walks were nice, it sometimes made me so tired at night, that I would fall asleep on the couch and I was not able to spend time with my husband. I try to be more conscious of what I plan to do during the day to make sure I can do my best in all that I do. I just finished a book called “Redeeming the Time” by Leland Ryken. It was great book. At the end he talks about “quality” vs. “quantity”. Doing our best in what we do, instead of doing too much and not doing it very well.
    Sorry for rambling, but thanks for a great post and a great blog!


  16. Hope says

    Thank you so much for being so honest about your life. So many of us women/mother’s try to take on way too much and often times unwillingly neglect what matters most. Thank you for the reminder that it is perfectly okay to say no! Many blessings to you and your family!!


  17. says

    Thank you for this post! I understand all too well.

    I think I may steal your disclaimer, record it, and replay it for my dad whenever he calls during (his interpretation of) school time and we aren’t slaving away at the books! Flexibility, Dad, is the beauty of homeschooling!


  18. says

    AMEN AMEN AMEN… Often times its our do good’s that be the hinderence in the blessing of our families… sadly we also live in time where the Church has forgotten our families were the first place to be with in worship… we cant give more of ourselves if our family is not fed. I recently had to step back from alot of outside the home activities that I was doing at the church we attend because 1 I felt the Lord telling me to stop over doing it 2 my family was suffering 3 I was going crazy… boy did I get questions and jeers :( from folks I thought would understand…


  19. says

    Oh, man, this is a serious theme for this week. Both on every blog I read and in my life. (Perhaps I’m not procrastinating and the Lord is actually leading me to these posts…?)

    I’m having a hard time not doing what you call a “cop-out” though. Except for me, “doing school” is a brand new thing. We’ve unschooled until this year (my oldest is 8), and I have not quite figured out how you get all this done — the housework, the cooking, the laundry, the church commitments, the co-ops and homeschool field trips, AND still have time to prepare, execute and record at-home learning! My house is a WRECK, and I’ve hardly kept up with our homeschooling goals this week either.

    Do you count homeschool activity days as “doing school”? Or do you come home and hit the books even if you’ve been out “learning in the field”? I am really trying to find a balance, and not doing a very good job of it. Do you opt out of social commitments? Do you cut out friends? So many of our friends count us among their ONLY friends, so they want a lot of time with us. After being lonely for a while, I put a lot of effort into *being* a good friend — and now I’m overwhelmed!

    Some of my issue is being sleep deprived and drained after nursing for eight years — but who isn’t? I’ve only had three kids. And the other is being an introvert with highly active kids. I feel like if I cut out the fun stuff with friends, they’ll be bored and I won’t be able to fill that gap. Maybe that’s stupid. Obviously I need to pray about it — some more.

    Sorry to spew on your already extremely long comment list! I know you have to prioritize and not spend too much time blogging and reading comments, too! ;)


  20. says

    Great post. My husband and I also “guard” our lives this way. We try not to get caught up in the busyness of it all so that our home lives with our two year olds and each other can be calm, peaceful and as uncomplicated as possible in such a crazy world.

    Good for you and I am glad you have not academically “crippled” your children. That disclaimer is cracking me up. I am so glad I popped over here from WFMW. Have a great Thursday!


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