Notes from my Interview with Cynthia Damaskos
When Cynthia Damaskos asked if she could interview me for one of her podcasts, I honestly thought she was joking...who, me? I had never done such a thing ever before and truthfully, I was scared to death, but it turned out to be a really fun experience and I'd love to do it again sometime!
So I was asked to talk about my top 10 tips for the ByziMom, and as I began to prepare I asked myself, tips for what? What's the goal? To be honest, my personal goal was to become like St. Emilia, a saint herself who raised 10 children, five of whom were also saints! Sounds good to me! I also wanted to be like Martha so I could get everything done, but also be like Mary so I could still be stress free!
Stress free...that sounds so good, but ridiculously funny. Is there such a thing?
If there's one thing that every mom knows about, it's stress, and there's no stress like mom stress.
In my former life (before children) I used to work as a medical lab technologist where I managed the evening shift in a large teaching hospital and consequently, every specimen that came to us was treated as a STAT order. Even performing a midnight cross match for a trauma victim with an antibody history was not nearly as stressful as raising my children. Why? In the lab, I had only one task, but in the home, all the tasks are a mom's responsibility and not only are there lives at stake, but souls as well!
So how can we be Emilia, Martha, AND Mary yet still be our relaxed and cheerful selves? I don't know. But here's what I've tried and it just might help.
10 Tips for Busy Moms
1. Like the airlines, don your mask first:
Take stock of your routines, strengths, and weaknesses. Eat right, sleep well, exercise, spend your time well., etc. Let the children see you do it. Walk that walk and BE the person you want your children to be. 2. Get up early! Find a time when nobody needs you and grab it!
Nourish yourself so you have something to give! How do I do that? Coffee hour with Jesus is a thing at my house. Once I get my husband off to work and while my kids are still asleep,I grab a cup of coffee, my prayer book, and my planner and Jesus and I spend the morning in prayer and organization! While mornings work best for me, the time of day may differ for you and your family. Find YOUR best time and use it well
3. Pray: often and always; keep constant contact with our Lord for support! Small, heartfelt prayers are just as precious as long tedious ones and we moms usually have to tuck our prayers into some very small cracks in our timeline each day. Don't be afraid to let go of old prayer rules and adopt new ones that suit your vocation. The Jesus Prayer is a perfect way for you to do this! I wear a prayer rope around my wrist 24/7 so whenever I can grab a few solitary minutes during the day (or sleepless night) , I can take it off and say a few Jesus Prayers or a decade of the Rule of the Theotokos and stay connected.
Remember: Motherhood comes first. Adoring Christ in the heart of my children IS prayer. Also, don't pray in secret; let them see you pray.
4. Establish a Routine; use the calendar to your advantage and PLAN for the special occasions...learn the old traditions and even establish some new traditions to teach the children about their faith. Trust in the wisdom of God and the Church, in scripture, and the liturgical calendar. There are teachable moments everywhere!
Example: Advent is when we focus on Old testament scripture stories each day to prepare for the coming of Christ. Lent is a time when we work on perfecting ourselves in preparation for the passion, death and resurrection. There are four fasts, MANY feasts, days of the week, hours of the day, commemorations of the month, all of which have teachable moments!
The traditions of both Church and family are built-in teaching tools. Visit ByziMom.com to see how our family incorporates the life of the church into our monthly lessons and even our meal plans.
5. Plan to be really, really, flexible: listen to the voice of God in your daily life and let Him lead you where you need to be. Rigidity can really thwart progress, especially when you think you’ve “arrived” at perfection. We learned this lesson the hard way as began our WFPBNO lifestyle
In the 10th year of our marriage, my husband suffered a heart attack; we thought we were eating well, but when we found otherwise we were introduced to a new routine that proved to be an old familiar one! Our cardiologist recommended a diet plan that proved to be none other than the Eastern Christian fasting guidelines! So now we fast full-time!
Everything changes: children grow, new things become necessary and new things
thereby become normal. It's ok to change.
6. Remember your first vocation;
When God commissions a woman to become His co-creative agent in motherhood, she is changed forever and her commission never ends...it is her primary vocation We work first for Christ and we have the best boss ever!
Take a look at the icon of the Pentecost and note that the Theotokos was present and was anointed with the Apostles to represent US! There are two ways that the Church teachings are expected to be passed on to the next generation, by the priesthood and by motherhood! We should call upon the Holy Spirit to enlighten us too! He will! Mothers play such an important role in the continuation of the faith.
7. Let the kids teach you!; It’s God’s plan. When I was single, I lived for myself. I had a nice job, a new house, a new car, and dry-clean-only clothes. Whenever I wanted some "me-time" I took it. Nobody noticed; nobody cared. I had no time for stillness, no time for foolish things because I was queen of my own world. But you know, I would have never again looked at another cricket, smelled a ripe crisp apple, listened to the snow fall, or looked up at the clouds in wonder if it had not been for my children. Children are God's way of letting us revisit childhood without fear of foolishness. What a gift!
8. Say no...it’s hard. We are made as a member of the Body of Christ….not the whole body. Eyes do not walk, feet do not hear, ears do not see….it’s ok. There are others who can do things too.
9. Remember everything is temporary and you will get through it, no matter how difficult it is. Let perfection go….stop chasing your tail! Don’t pick up toys all day. Polish your upper cabinets, where messy little hands can't go, and polish remains pristine instead! What a life-lesson this can become if we can just broaden our scope a bit: Keep yourself from focusing on lower things and start to focus on those higher things that no one can touch! Remember that perfection is a relative term: There are bigger lessons to teach your children than the joy of being perfect.
10. Network! Connect with other like-minded moms on ByziMom.com
The enemy divides and thereby conquers….if we stick together we can support each other not only in motherhood but in educating the next generation of the True Church!
To listen to the podcast in its entirety visit The Holistic Christian Life Podcasts with Cynthia Damaskos