The birth of my daughter was a life-changing event for me. Many agree that the first month will whip you into shape. If you don’t realize it before, you’ll quickly learn that parenthood is not about baby showers, cute outfits and being mesmerized by an overload of adorableness.
Within the past year, I’ve come to terms with an overwhelming and yet awe-inspiring truth: Parenthood is stewardship. This child has been given to me for an allotted time. And within that time, by God’s grace, it is my job and central to my life’s calling to be a steward of my child. Any good parent wants to foster an environment that promotes the positive development of their children. Without a doubt, children are individuals yet to become adults who will impact people, communities, organizations and the world.
In many cases, the word stewardship causes people to think solely about money or the church finance committee. Becoming a parent has not only caused me to think a bit deeper about the meaning of this term but to also consider other areas where I am a steward.
Indeed, I am a person who wears many hats—like so many people. It’s a lot to manage, and it can absolutely be overwhelming to steward so many things.
Seeing my life through the lens of “seasons” has helped me put things into perspective when stewardship gets the best of me (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Just as the first year of parenting is hard, the first month after a child is born is even harder. Then with each passing month (or milestone) things change and it gets easier or you learn to adjust to your new normal.
Responsibility and Relationship
Maybe you’re a stay-at-home mom, full-time employee and student, manager of a team, president of a company or pastor of a church. Certainly you have many tasks to juggle, but what you may not consistently realize is that along with your to-do list, you have people you impact daily.
You may even have those who look to you for direction, support or advice. This makes the load you carry even heavier. You may not always realize it, but it is possible that you have countless individuals you consistently influence and are accountable to.
Stewarding assignments and tasks can be doable with proper time management skills however, stewarding relationships can be very complex. Our attitudes affect the mood in our shared spaces. How we treat others can positively or negatively affect our relationships but what is more, the words we say and how we treat ourselves can damage our children without us knowing it.
Seasons and Self-Care
So how can we strive to successfully accomplish being a faithful steward of the things and people who have been allotted to us?
Viewing life through the lens of seasons will certainly help, but deciphering the season you are in and realizing what you are supposed to learn and accomplish in that season is even more important.
While maintaining a healthy perspective is pertinent to supporting work-life balance, self-care is essential to me. During my daughter’s first year, I was encouraged over and over again to practice self-care. While it may be hard to believe, self-care was a practice I was unfamiliar with.
I started out with what I now consider cliché self-care activities: nails, Starbucks, a movie, or maybe a Target run. However with each added role, I’ve come to realize the importance to intentionally redefine self-care and to develop practices that positively impact how I care for myself, care for others and manage the roles that I play weekly into the following:
Personal development focuses on the growth of an individual. Self-awareness, communication and faith-based study are three areas of importance to me. I am purposeful in my intent to continually improve my self-awareness and how I come off to people. It is always a goal to be in unity with those around me (Psalm 133:1). And to ensure I’m tactful in my communication with others because that directly impacts relationships. Personality assessments like Meyers-Briggs and the Johari Window Model are great tools for intra-personal and interpersonal development.
In addition to self-awareness and communication, going back to my foundation always sets my emotions in place and assists me in seeing things clearly.
Along with studying the Bible, I enjoy reading books by Christian authors. Whether it’s a study on leadership, loving others or confidence I am bound to gain an awesome perspective for my development. Not only is study important to me, but so is prayer and meditation.
These spiritual practices help me focus in on the things that concern my heart and emotions to level things out. Personal development is an investment that is so crucial to your wellness which can positively or negatively impact the wellness of those around you.
Acceptance & Approval
Self-acceptance is vital to your well-being. The sooner you learn to accept yourself (with all the flaws you assume you have), the life you’ve been given and the season you’re in, the better you’ll be mentally and emotionally. You’ll also bring positive energy to those around you. Acceptance offers the perspective to see things for what they are and to strategize to make things more manageable.
Understanding that you are enough assists in your emotional and social well-being and it is a good model for your children. Always be kind to yourself. Always show yourself grace. Always say nice things to yourself and about yourself. If people fail to acknowledge your talent, intelligence, worth or beauty that is perfectly fine.
What is important is that you know who you are and all the greatness placed inside you. Indeed, our children should hear us speak kindness to ourselves. If we don’t show confidence and approve ourselves first, how can we expect others to do the same?
The Importance of Setting Boundaries
Saying yes to everything will eventually lead to burnout. I’ve learned to only say yes to things that I know I have time to commit to. I also have a high standard for the quality of work that I produce. If I don’t have enough time and energy to give an opportunity my best, I will not do it because it won’t be beneficial for myself or the individuals that I serve.
Health, Wellness and a Weekly Breather
Eating right, exercising and taking time for myself always make me feel better. Although I love coffee, limiting my peppermint mochas and eating out do wonders for my mood, energy and budget. Exercising is effective for increasing energy and positively impacting mood, but I’ve found that taking exercise classes work best for me because I get to be around other people. It’s a huge motivation.
I absolutely love my barre ballet workout class. Taking a moment for me reminds me that although I have people I am accountable to, my happiness is important also. I am an all-around better person for it in the end, in addition to having more energy to interact with my daughter and students.
We need people whether we know if or not. Being around like-minded individuals is energizing. Solitude is necessary for a certain amount of time, however, I truly believe that the longer we’re away from people the easier it is for anxiety and depression to set in.
I am grateful to have individuals in my life who are willing to pray with me and encourage me at the same time. It’s also nice to simply have people to enjoy life with. Whether it’s a Bible study, mom group, book club or professional’s group we need others for encouragement, perspective, prayer etc. (Proverbs 27:17) Have you considered who’s in your community?
In the same way that it’s important to place focus on myself as a person, I believe it is important to place focus on myself as a professional. Educating myself in specific areas is a necessity for me so I continue to stay abreast of current trends, issues and take the initiative to open doors for myself.
While my career may not always seem to go in the direction I want it to, it doesn’t mean that I should stop and wait for opportunities. Investing in myself as a professional prepares me for the open door and rekindles the flame when I appear to be in a winter.
I never want to look back over my life and wish I would have done this or that. I’m thankful for my daughter because while she doesn’t know it, she is my motivation to accomplish goals inside and outside the workplace. She is my motivator because I often think about what I would want her to do. I want her to be fearless and to know that the sky is the limit. I have a bucket list. Scratching things off my list encourages me and empowers others to do the same.
It is so important to place emphasis on caring for yourself. There is nothing selfish about it. You can care for yourself better than anyone else can and if you don’t put in the work, you’re no good to anyone. You will never be at your best. You certainly will never reach your full potential. So I pass the torch to you. Place yourself on your to-do list and watch the ripple effect of positivity overwhelm you and those around you.