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As a mom of three little gremlins—ages six, four, and three—and the wife to a nomad husband who travels often for work, I have days when my life feels like a three ring circus. My juggling act consists of household, yard, and auto maintenance, going to work, kid drop offs and pick ups, laundry, grocery shopping, extracurricular activities, sleepless nights, breaking up brotherly combats, and feeding my family three meals a day—to name just a few “to-dos”. I have a full plate, and I have to make a concerted effort to put attention towards health values because my life is set up for chaos, exhaustion, and ultimately an unhealthy home.

Most of us are stressed trying to balance work and family life. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to juggle all of our demands. It is no wonder why we often feel tired, overwhelmed, inadequate, and defeated. We can’t do it all, but we actually expect ourselves to do better than ever. Our plates are overflowing.

There is a hard truth to this reality. Our busy lives come with a cost. We are so distracted by our to-do lists that we commonly sacrifice life balance and our health. It is not uncommon for Americans to eat out (or in the car), grab easy, processed foods for a fast meal, carry high stressors, sleep poorly, and lack deep connection with each other as well as with our selves.

Science shows that the body’s reaction to stress, loneliness, inactivity, poor sleep, and poor eating habits is directly related to chronic illness and poor quality of life. Unfortunately, these are prevalent in our hectic lifestyles and they contribute to why many scientists are predicting that for the first time in two centuries, the current generation of children in America may have shorter life expectancies than their parents.2 We are called to reevaluate lifestyle priorities and values within our homes so this prediction does not prove a reality.

Having a full plate is not inherently bad. In fact, I want my plate to be full—but in a meaningful way. My happiness and health come when my plate is full of healthy relationships, meaningful work, connection to my spirit, physical activity, rest, and nourishing foods. When my plate is full of experiences that feed my body, mind, and spirit, I feel healthy, happy, and complete. I am energized.

When my plate is full of busyness and tasks that pull me away from connection, meaning, movement, and eating well, I feel distracted, disconnected, crabby, defensive, and unhealthy. Crabby, like when I threw a breakfast sausage across the kitchen while hysterically yelling at my kids—true story! Our hectic, fast-paced lifestyles put us at great risk for the extended full plate that disconnects and distracts us from what really matters—making us miserable and eventually sick.

The good news is that we have the opportunity to shift our lifestyle habits to ones that fill our lives and homes with meaning, balance, and health. Join “Think Outside the Box” series next Thursday to learn how “whole health” concepts can help us transform our chaotic, disconnected, and depleted full plates into ones of fulfillment, meaning, and joy.

Weekly Challenge: Notice the quality of your full plate this week. Be curious about how you fill your time and how your lifestyle choices might affect your family’s health.

Let’s talk on social! How is your family’s quality of life and health affected when you are caught up in your busy and task-oriented life?