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Know What Drains You and Know What Fills You Up

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A Heart of Dakota Life

Know What Drains You and Know What Fills You Up

There are only 24 hours in a day, and there are only 7 days in a week. How do you spend your time? Each day has tasks we must do, but each day also has open time to do with it as we choose. We might not think of our days this way, but much time truly is at our discretion. Blessedly, we don’t all have to spend our time the same way. God did not design us all to be exactly alike. He made us each unique, with different interests, gifts, talents, and purposes. One key to unlocking the joy and peace that can simplify your life is to know what drains you and what fills you up.

What drains you?

I am not a night owl. As the day turns to night, I grow more and more weary. I used to try to work, homeschool, or exercise at night. But it simply drains me! I go to bed most nights by 10 PM, and I avoid one of my ‘drains.’ I dislike overflowing trash cans, dirty dishes, and unmade beds. The sight of them drains me. So, we clean up the best we can after supper, but first thing in the morning, we take out the trash, unload the dishwasher/wash any big pans in the sink, and make our beds. Another drain avoided. Too many errands, appointments, or activities in the day drain me. So, I do errands on Saturdays. I schedule only one appointment a week if possible. I also limit our activities during the morning and early afternoon, so we are home to homeschool. In doing so, I avoid one of my ‘drains.’ What drains you? How can you avoid your ‘drains?’

What fills you up?

I love coffee, first thing in the morning and lots of it. I’ve given up pop, sugary snacks, and too many carbs, but plain black coffee I will not give up. It simply fills me up too much! I love doing my devotion first thing in the morning all by myself. Right after my devotions, I love spending 1:1 time with each of my children. In our pajamas, with my steaming coffee, I meet first with Wyatt, then Emmett, then Riley. We discuss their Heart of Dakota Bible, any work they’ve done, and the day ahead. Hot bubble baths, Christian praise music, a new recipe to try, a date with my husband, a long run in the country, a pretty sunrise, family meals, hugs, a roaring fireplace, and my list of what fills me up goes on. What fills you up? How can you make time for these?

What drains one person may fill another person up!

Many people have lovely gardens. They enjoy spending hours tending to it. I love to cook, so I thought I’d love to garden. One day as I was enjoying my morning coffee, my morning devotion reiterated we are all unique with different God-given purposes. The words ‘stop doing what you are not good at’ jumped out on the page at me. I began to laugh out loud, and I have a feeling God was laughing with me. I knew exactly what I needed to stop doing: gardening. Truly, I am not gifted at it. Anything that grew in that garden was a gift from God. In fact, all we kept were the raspberries. They grow completely on their own. Are you finding yourself drained by doing something that fills someone else up? Maybe it’s time to stop.

What does this have to do with simplifying and loving your homeschooling?

If you fill your time with things that drain you, you will not have much peace, joy, and contentment to bring to your home and your homeschooling. Taking time to do what fills you up helps you in turn be a happier, more joyful, less stressed, more patient homeschool teacher and mom. Our children should not only be aware of what drains us as moms. They should also be aware of what fills us up. My children often bring me a cup of coffee, give me hug, turn on the fireplace for our Storytime reading, start my favorite Christian praise song, show me a pretty sunrise, or ask me all about a new recipe I made. They know what fills me up, and they like me better ‘filled up’ than ‘drained.’ I like that me better too.

Simplify and love your homeschool life by eliminating ‘drains’ and adding things that ‘fill you up!’

Short-tempered, cranky, rude mothers don’t produce happy, peaceful homes or children. Do yourself, your children, and your husband a favor, and eliminate the ‘drains’ you can. Then, plan some things each day that fill you up. There’s only one you, so don’t try to be someone else. Just because someone else enjoys tending a lovely garden, that doesn’t mean you too were born to be a gardener. We don’t have to be good at everything.  But we do have to be responsible for how we behave. Take real time to stop your ‘drains’ and plan for simple daily ways to ‘fill you up.’  I bet you will love the new you, and your children and husband will too!

In Christ,


This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Michelle Foelber

    Amen!! We definitely need to not fall in the comparison trap and instead be free to be the unique women God made us to be! As a mom I also realize I need to be praying for each child to know what fills/drains them so that they know themselves too. As they grow into adulthood I pray they will make those healthy choices as it affects every aspect of their life! Thanks for the blogs!!

    1. You make such a good point about our children being conscious of what drains them and what fills them up too! Often times they too get caught in the comparison trap and find themselves filling their time with things that make someone else very happy, but them quite miserable. We are not all meant to be alike – praise God! For what a dull world that would be. I am adding this to my prayer list for my children – thanks Michelle!

  2. Stacey

    Oh, you spoke to my heart today! This is exactly what I need to do. Your list of drains are my exact ones! Wow! I try to be so careful to not let these things drain me but seeing your post just made me think about it again. Thanks Julie. I am also going to try to focus on the things that fill me up. I sometimes fill selfish thinking of only my likes, but reading your post help me to see that it isn’t so much as selfish but helping to have peace in the gifts and blessing the Lord gives me. Praying for our children to see this too.

    1. Oh good, Stacy! I’m so glad this blog spoke to your heart! Many times we try to bear with our day in homeschooling, denying ourselves anything that might make us happy. This is not the joyful way the Lord wants us to live our lives! By avoiding our ‘drains’ and being conscious of little simple daily ‘fill-ups,’ we can be a happier, more content, encouraging homeschool teacher to our children. They would rather have this kind of a teacher than one who denies herself everything but is unhappy, short-tempered, and overly-critical. There is a reason flight attendants say to put your mask on first when a plane is crashing, and then put on your children’s mask. You have to be alive and well before you can help your children be alive and well. Jesus withdrew to lonely places to pray/spend time with the Lord; to refuel. He took time to laugh with children and hold them on His lap. He took time for fellowship with His disciples. He enjoyed meals with others. He served first, as an example, but He took care to have a joyful attitude while doing so. We can serve, but take care to have a joyful attitude while doing so too, and being aware of our ‘drains’ and our ‘fill-ups’ helps us do this. Thank you so much for your comments here, Stacy!!!

    2. Michelle – your post made me think through how my children began to be aware of my ‘fill-ups’ and love doing those little things for me! I did not tell them to do these things, but they began to do them, about when they reached their teenage years. I think before I decided to choose to be joyful in my daily life, my children were all to aware of my ‘drains’ but totally unaware of my ‘fill-ups.’ I think this was because I was unaware of my ‘fill-ups’ myself! I was just going through life getting through the day, trying to make it through, and falling in bed at night.

      My devotion just this morning was about taking responsibility for our happiness, rather than looking to others to provide that and being disappointed. Our joy comes from the Lord! We as homeschool moms are servant-hearted, and we serve our children all day in homeschooling. I do feel that is a God-given purpose! However, how we serve and with what attitude is up to us. I think my children began to take joy in doing little things for me because I delight in doing little things for them. This fills them up, and they in turn want to ‘fill me up!’ Likewise, knowing their ‘drains’ helps me plan to avoid those for them. This might be an entirely new blog post! A quick example from each of our sons…

      A ‘drain’ for Wyatt: forcing him to make a quick decision; he likes to have time to think things over carefully. When someone calls to ask me if he can do something, I tell them I’ll need to ask Wyatt, and Wyatt will get back to them. He so appreciates this!

      A “fill up” for Wyatt: playing basketball and anything outdoors. During high school, he had an outdoor break in the middle of his morning for this, which he loved! He also gets to do all the outdoor chores in the morning. He is often humming and smiling the entire time he does his chores outdoors!

      A ‘drain’ for Riley: geometry with me. Honestly, I am not patient at all in math, though I actually love doing it by myself! Wyatt now teaches Riley’s math, and I can hear them laughing and enjoying their time together. Wyatt just told me he thinks he’d enjoy being a math teacher if he didn’t believe in homeschooling so much. I guess this is a surprise ‘fill-up’ for them both!

      A “fill up” for Riley: talking with me. Riley loves to talk with me. He talks passionately about his books, his x-wings strategies, his plans to remodel nerf guns, and many other things. We have time in the day for Riley and me to meet during homeschooling for this purpose. If Riley comes to talk with me in the evening, I stop what I’m doing and listen. He loves this so much!

      A “drain” for Emmett: the squelching of his creative ideas. Emmett is very creative, and he loves grandiose ideas and projects. I used to point out all the negatives and put an end to his creative projects before he even started. It made him very sad.

      A “fill- up” for Emmett: Now, I let him run with his creative ideas! With his brothers and dad, he has engineered an automatic drink dispenser, a 2-story movie room in the basement, and an exercise area for me. He makes impromptu desserts, plans for picnics on the floor for lunch, and creates reading nook areas for our Storytime readings in HOD.

      So, by being conscious of our children’s ‘drains’ and ‘fill-ups,’ they become conscious of ours too – though maybe not until they are a little older!

      Kerri Whisman, if you are reading this, you are a person I believe models this so well! You are awesome at ‘filling-up’ your children, and they in turn are awesome at ‘filling-up’ you! Likewise, you are transparent about your ‘drains,’ and they are too. You never portray a perfect life, but you do live life with joy. Thanks for being an inspiration to me!

      In Christ,

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