Right when Tessa settled into a consistent nap schedule, Charlotte quit taking naps. It had been a long time coming. For over a year she would sometimes sleep in the afternoons and sometimes not, but I still went through the nap time routine of story and song, then shut the door to her room. I could usually count on an hour and a half to two hours where she would play quietly or sleep and I had some down time. It was lovely. But that era ended, and suddenly I found myself without any alone time all the live long day. At first it didn’t seem like that big of a deal. C would still usually play by herself while I worked on the computer, organized, or cleaned. But she was still there, in my space, chattering on and off and expecting me to listen.
By late afternoon I found myself routinely drained and cranky, patience zapped and no energy for anything other than mindlessly scrolling through Facebook while C watched yet another episode of Octonauts and Tessa fussed and tried to grab my phone out of my hand.
During the “witching hour” I found myself turning into the witch. I knew something needed to change, but what could I do? I tried putting C back in her room for “rest time” while T napped, but she usually came out after only a few minutes, repeatedly, until I gave up and told her she could be done.
Finally I decided that if Charlotte wouldn’t stay in her room, I would go into mine. After putting Tessa down around 1:30 I explained to C that I was going to have quiet time in my room. I set the timer for 30 minutes, turned on Doc McStuffins, and shut my bedroom door. I had bought myself some alone time, now how should I spend it? The answer was obvious.
One of the big changes I found when we went from one child to two was that I came to the end of myself much, much faster than before. My patience, forgiveness, understanding, and empathy dried up twice as quickly. On my own it was very apparent that I was not capable of being the mom I should be to my girls, at least not after about 3pm. I needed to spend an extended time alone with my Savior every day. Before having Tessa I used to pray and read the Bible in the morning during breakfast, or at night before bed. But adding a baby to the mix meant that my mornings didn’t have many spare moments unless I got up at lot earlier than my girls. I am not a morning person, and even if I managed to get up early I would not be awake enough to give the Lord the best of my attention. I am a night owl, but after a long day of tending to two and keeping the house from from falling into shambles I had just enough energy to curl up on the couch with my hubby for some light TV before falling into bed.
Again, God would be getting the crumbs of my time, and I needed more than that. Maybe 2pm is an odd time to set for Bible study and prayer, but after tracking my time and really thinking about how to schedule my day, I realized it was perfect. Morning chores and errands done, baby sleeping, big girl occupied, I could sneak into my room for a solid 20-30 minutes of Bible study and prayer before C’s show ended and she came asking to watch another one (I’m not sure of the moral implications of bribing my child with TV so I can spend time with God, but I’m trying not to think about it too much).
I thought about reading a devotional or Christian non-fiction book during my quiet time, but it wasn’t enough. I didn’t need to just read someone else’ thoughts about God’s words, I needed to read them for myself. I tried following a Bible reading schedule for a while, but it was just too much reading and I didn’t have time to really ponder what God was saying to me. So I turned to our church’s connect sheets. These bulletin inserts have daily Bible readings that fit with our current sermon series. It’s usually just a few verses, which is the perfect length for the amount of time I have. I read the passage once, marking any words or phrases that jump out at me, then I read it four more times. Each time I ask myself a different question, and read looking for the answer (when I was a literacy teacher we called this guided independent reading). First I ask “Who is God?” then “What does God do/has done/will do?” Next “Who am I?” and “How should I live?” I learned this simple study technique at church too, and it’s made a huge difference in my ability to actually absorb and remember scripture after I read it. In the past I would read the Bible but I never really knew how to let it sink into my soul where I needed it, instead it just kind of bounced off my brain. (Please tell me I’m not the only one this happens to.) After my Bible reading I spend some time praying through what I just read. I also have a daily prayer calendar for my husband and one for my girls that gives me scripture to pray over them. If I have time I refer to my prayer list, adding new ones and noting answered prayers.
I hope I didn’t just come off as a “sanctimommy.” The last thing I want is for you to read this and think “Well gee, isn’t she proud of her quiet time.” I spent the last ten months without consistent alone time with the Lord. What I’m really trying to say is that I have found that I desperately need intentional time with God every day, because without that connection I really am just as much a selfish, whiny crankypants as my three year old when she is tired and hungry. God really is the only source of the Living Water my soul craves. Facebook, Project Runway, and chocolate may dull the hunger pains, but they can’t really fill me up. My quiet time is not perfect. Often C knocks on the door right as I’ve started praying, asking for a snack or one more episode. Last Friday after a string of rough nights with my sick baby I was so tired already that all I wanted to do was dive under the covers and sleep. And I did sleep. But first I read my Bible. And sweet friends, can I tell you that Jesus met me there in my room in a way that was more real and more soul-filling than any church service I have ever been too? His promises are true. He is faithful.
How do you make time in your busy life to pray and read God’s word? If you are having a hard time being consistent in this can I gently put my arm around you and encourage you to look at your day and find the time to spend with Him? I promise you will never ever regret it.