A New Year, a New View
Is your family in a rut?
It can be a terribly discouraging thing, particularly when you just can't seem to get out of it.
Of course, ruts can apply to just about every facet of life. Productivity ruts. Weight loss ruts. Relationship ruts. Career ruts, and on, and on.
Oh, and then there are parenting ruts (which are essentially relationship ruts with your children). Anybody feel like they crossed the threshold of 2019 in one of those?
Anyone can tell you, it takes work to dig a hole - it's a process; and it begins with a single shovel of dirt.
The process of getting into a parenting rut is no different. The fact is, these things don't happen over night; but with determination and persistence, there is a way out. Maybe all you need is a new view.
So what kind of rut, exactly, might you be in?
Maybe you're a homeschooling mom that for the life of you can't seem to get in one "normal" day of school. Late bedtimes make for late starts in the morning. Breakfast is a messy free-for-all. Chores only get done if you police everyone, and it's all you can do to get everyone started on their school, much less finished.
At the end of the day you fall into bed exhausted and discouraged.
A quick glance at the lock screen on your phone reveals that it's much too late (or early?). A feeling disturbingly close to dread comes over you as you realize that a few fleeting hours are all that separate you from the process repeating itself all over again.
Or maybe you're in a child discipline rut? You feel like all you do is chase little people around and put out little fires all day long.
Lately you've noticed that your yelling has grown so loud at times that it even startles you. You feel like your daytime vocabulary has been reduced to about a dozen words - usually some random combination of "Stop it!", "Don't do that!", and the infamous, "This is your last chance!" (also known as, "I'm not telling you again," or "I'm gonna count to 10.")
And the time would fail to tell of the devotion rut (that on-again, off-again period of family worship that perhaps has been more "off-again" than you'd like to admit), the chore rut (in which the household chores are still getting done, but your children have little to do with it), and the teenager rut (the one where you fear your teen might roll their eyes right out of their head. This one comes closest to being the exception to the "ruts don't form overnight" rule. I'm guessing it has something to do with hormones.)
But regardless of what rut you may be in or how you got there, you can't lose sight of the fact that there is a way out. Even though a rut often feels like a grave with both ends knocked out, it's not a burial.
There's still an opening up above; and just as your rut began with a single decision, so too will your climbing out.
I don't think you need me to tell you that you need to get out of your rut as soon as possible.The longer you're in there the more guilty you feel; and the more guilty you feel, the harder it is to climb out.
But knowing you need out isn't enough. Some of us need a wake-up call or someone to come alongside us and shout, "Ready set, GO!".
So look at this as the gun going off, or the green flag at the start of the race.
It's a new year and your home needs a new view! No more hanging your head, staring at the dirt at your feet. It's time to look up!
You CAN get out of this rut, no matter how deep or shallow, and you're going to climb out the same way you got in – one step at a time.
So you can't remember the last time you had a school day go according "to plan." Don't give up! Something as simple as implementing a bedtime routine might drastically change the way your days go.
Or maybe you need to revisit your expectations for what an "ideal" school day looks like. Give your schedule some breathing room to absorb the unpredictability of life.
Some things might be out of your control, but don't dwell on those things. Take another view. Attack the things you can change. What would getting the kids down to bed at 8:30 and you at 9:30 do to your school day? Or maybe you just need to move your school room to another part of the house?
Do something fresh and new, maybe even a little unexpected. Sometimes the answers to our dilemmas are staring directly at us, but we don't notice them because we're too busy kicking dirt clods on the floor of our rut.
What about that child discipline rut? Yelling doesn't produce obedient children, and deep down you know it. It does an ok job of telling them what they shouldn't do, but what about teaching them what they SHOULD do?
I bet you'd like to spend more time blessing and inspiring than you would chiding them for misbehavior. Why not start today? (Might we suggest Character Badges? :)
Go alongside them. SHOW them what you value. And when they do what's right, let them know how pleased you are.
Take a new view. Our children aren't perfect, but there's beauty in every single one of them. Watch for their successes and not their failures. Don't stop correcting them when they're wrong, but be sure not to weight that scale too heavily on the side of discipline.
Set Your Sight On Those Things Which Are Above
The same goes for the devotion rut and the chore rut and any other rut you care to mention. Sure, they're all dark, cold, and dirty, but they do hold one hopeful characteristic in common – they're open up above.
In other words, no matter how deep you get, there's still a way out. It all starts with looking up.
In fact, it's the most important step - and perhaps the most difficult. Some of us have been hanging our head for so long that all we can see ahead of us is more digging and more dirt – another dysfunctional homeschool day, another roll of the eyes from your 14 year old, another week gone by without a family devotion.
Look up! The answers to your problems might simpler and more attainable than you think. And once you've set your face towards the sky, resist the temptation to look down again. You don't belong down there anyway, and neither do your children.
It's a new year for your home and with it comes the possibility that your family is very near to something very great.
What would taking a new view do to the prospects of your family?
What if instead of guilt and frustration the feeling that greeted you when your head hit your pillow at night was gratitude for the day that passed and hope for the day to come?
I'm here to tell you – you can do it. You can climb out of your rut. This can be the year that your family lives and thrives like it never has before.
Just set your eyes on the prize and climb with everything you've got.
And may God bless you as you do.