How To Balance Work And Family

Rebekah Lyons, author, wife, and mother shares her strategies for balancing work, which for her includes writing, speaking, and traveling, with the needs of her busy family. Rebekah manages the load she carries by coordinating her work times while her kids are in school and her rest time while they are on breaks. She also pays attention to finding rest and rhythms of renewal each day, each week, as well as in each season.
Rebekah grew up with two working parents, both schoolteachers who pursued further degrees during her childhood. She saw their work ethic but also how they balanced the time they were able to spend at home with their family because they taught school and had the same breaks and time off as their kids. This showed her the importance of prioritizing time with family. Now, she does the same with her kids as much as possible.
Rest is necessary
Rebekah says we must instill rhythms of Sabbath in our own lives no matter what that looks like. Whether on weekends, or during the early hours of the morning, the spaces we carve out are times when we can be seen, known, and loved by God. One of her favorite counselors says that these times, when we “feel seen, known, and loved,  in the absence of shame, is when can create beautiful things” (Curt Thompson) . If we don’t pause and get that peace, personally, first, we certainly can’t offer that to our kids. No matter how intense a season is, if we aren’t getting regular rest and rhythms of renewal on a daily or weekly basis, we are not going to make it very well through that intense season. Rebekah says if we don’t make time for the pause, we end up more stressed and strung out than if we do.
So, how do we make time to rest?
Before learning to build rest into her life, Rebekah says, “I never knew what I wanted, where I was going, or why I felt the way I felt. There was no time for reflection in my life. I was always stressed, overreacting, trying to keep my head above water. The constant chronic phrase [in my life] was overwhelmed. When you live a life of overwhelm, you certainly don’t think you have the luxury of stopping. But, here’s the problem:  you will burn out if you don’t pause. You’re going to pay the price of time one way or the other. When Jesus says, “Come into my rest”, rest requires pursuit. Rest is an action. Rest is very different than solitude. Rest is not numbing out, it’s not escape, it’s not avoidance. Sometimes we think the pause is, “let’s binge on Netflix” or “let’s go cybershopping”. No, the pause of solitude says, “This becomes priority”. Rest reminds us we’re not God. Rest reminds us that we’re not saving our kids, that we’re not the saviors of our home, our family, or our work. It reminds us how fragile and frail we are so we can receive replenishment versus always being the one giving it out.”
Rest prevents burnout
Rebekah’s life coach, Pete Richardson, tells her that when we start to see the symptoms of burn out, like fatigue, stress, anxiety, and physical symptoms like sleepless nights and racing hearts, that is when we better pump the brakes. If we don’t, and we hit actual burnout, we will never return to the work that burned us out. He says you will never return to the work that began as a passion.
Rebekah faced the start of burnout with her writing. She realized she was starting to lose some of her inspiration. She experienced the loss of her father and was feeling some depression. She knew she had to take time to rest or she would risk burning out completely. She wanted to be the best she could be for her kids and have the emotional health to sustain her family and her passions long term. She didn’t want to fall down on the track during the third lap when she could have gone thirty laps if she had just paced herself and paused to rest when she needed to. We too often sprint through our lives and don’t take enough water breaks. We don’t stop to rest, perhaps out of fear others will get ahead of us. If we see rest as essential for survival and for our endurance, we will take it more seriously.
Rest is a command and brings blessing
God is adamant about rest. He says it’s essential. He commands it. It’s not optional. On the 7th day, God rested and then He blessed that rest. Rebekah believes that rest precedes blessing. She says if we take God seriously in His command to rest, we would find that He has wellsprings of life just waiting for us. God says He will reward us as we diligently seek Him. What if he has a reward for you every time you come to Him with no agenda, in quiet, nonproductive times focused only on Him?  
“Are you tired, burned out on religion, come get away with me, and you will recover your life and you will find rest for your soul.”
As sons and daughters of God, we ache for soul rest. The reason we don’t have it is because we haven’t given ourselves permission to rest. For Rebekah, the early morning minutes are the time she finds to be alone with God with a coffee, candle, and a pen. The ritual of that is so centering for her. It’s a time she doesn’t have to be “on” for anyone else.  It’s a time she can just receive.

How do we practice this type of pause when we feel panic about our responsibilities?  
As single parents we often are thinking about doing well at work while teaching our kids now that they’re home due to Covid-19 instead at school. We have so much to accomplish and we don’t always feel like we have enough time to get it all done, much less take time to rest. The voices and demands of our employer and our kids can fill us with panic.
Rest is a promise
Rebekah says, “First, grace all around.  We all need grace in this season, especially this past year, this era.” We do feel the weight of everything we think we need to get done and this can make us feel panicky. But Jesus reminds us to come to Him and take His yoke upon us. He promises His yoke is easy and his burden is light.  Sometimes we are overburdened and panicky because we are not carrying his yoke and his burden. We are carrying much more than He wants us to.
A yoke holds a pair of oxen. It represents two beings working together to pull a load. Sometimes we act like all the weight of our family, work, and responsibilities fall completely on us instead of on Jesus who is partnered with us.  Jesus wants us to join with Him and trust Him to pull the heavy weight, to fill in the gaps, and lighten our load. He wants to provide in ways that surprise us. His way opens up possibilities for rest, respite, and help. He wants our experience yoked with Him to be easy and light. When it’s not, we may not be resting and letting Him carry the weight for us.
Rest calls us to surrender
So often when we are overwhelmed and panicky, it’s because we are not living in surrender. God call us to trust Him with all the things we are juggling. God, ultimately, promises He will take care of the needs in our lives. He loves our kids more than we do. He will provide what we need and what they need.
Surrendering to God’s way allows Him to surprise us with unexpected kindness. This is the cadence of grace. Even when we are on a journey that we think will never end, God will blow wind into our sails to provide relief and rest.
God invites us to surrender our work to Him. He promises to equip us to do what He calls us to do. Sometimes we add things to our workload that He never intends for us to do, whether for our own sense of worth or to meet other people’s expectations. We need to remember that what God calls us to do, He will give us the grace to see through. If we are living outside of that, we need to surrender those areas to Him. Instead, we need to let Him guide us and seek His will alone, not our own or anyone else’s.
A surrendered life includes asking God what to pick up and what to lay down. If we are panicking, we may have too much on our calendars and to-do lists. We need to surrender and reevaluate. God’s way provides a balance between diligence and rest when we give it all to Him.
Sometimes, work is overwhelming but other times parenting is. There are times we may use work to escape parenting. Especially when we aren’t getting affirmations as a parent, we might seek validation in other ways. Sometimes we avoid rest because we are escaping or chasing feelings of worth in our work and in ways God never intends.
How do we balance feelings of shame when we find ourselves caught up in the push and pull of balancing work and home?
We need to be careful not to fall into shame and condemnation as parents. Sometimes, we feel guilty about mistakes we make with our kids and we allow ourselves to believe the lie that we are condemned. Rebekah says this can lead to a culture of condemnation in our homes. We feel condemned and act as if, because of our decisions, we will pay the price for that mistake for the rest of our lives. Instead, God calls us to live free from condemnation, as forgiven people in the freedom and righteousness of Christ.
Rest in Christ is freedom from condemnation
“There is therefore, now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
God’s covenant with us is that Christ paid the price once and for all. When we make mistakes as parents, sometimes our kids can make us feel guilty. And often they are hardest on us because they feel safest with us. When those feelings of shame come in, we can run to the cross for forgiveness and freedom. Once we acknowledge and confess our sins and mistakes, and we all make them, we are cleansed and covered in His righteousness. We can live from that place of freedom and we can challenge our kids to do the same.
When we overreact out of hurt, we can remember author, Lysa Terkeurst’s words, “Anything hysterical is historical” and consider where the reaction is coming from. We can examine it, get honest about it, seek forgiveness. learn from it and move on. We can model that for our kids so they can do the same. Rest in Christ means freedom from condemnation.
When we live in that rest, we teach our kids to find that rest too.
Why is it so important to build in rest and rhythms of renewal in our work and home life?
Rest is necessary
Rest is a command
Rest prevents burnout
Rest is a promise
Rest calls us to surrender
Rest in Christ is freedom from condemnation

Single parents, as you seek balance and rhythms of rest in this new year, you are not alone. We want to offer encouragement and hope any way we can as you walk out your single parent journey. Join our Solo Parent Society community by participating in one of our online groups meeting Monday through Saturday every week. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (@soloparentsociety). Subscribe to our weekly podcast via AccessMore or wherever you get your podcasts and download our Solo Parent app FREE in the app store. We love to connect single parents to resources that offer hope and help. If you want to donate so we can reach more single-parent families, go to www.soloparentsociety.com. Questions? Email us at info@spsociety.com.

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