Tag Archive for parenting toddlers

Beyond Survival

Joy's sweet little Riley: before.

I sat and looked at old photos of the kids today with Holly and Hope. Looking at the pictures, my mind goes back to just how hard the early years of parenting were for me. Life was hard. I had 5 kids in 10 years. The pictures tell the story: sticky hands, wild hair, sippy cups, toys strewn all over the floor, shoes untied and the dreaded “food- all- over- the- floor- after- mealtime” scenario.

Motherhood can be challenging, especially when you are in the throws of the baby and toddler years. Your life seems reduced to just “surviving.” You change diapers, clean up spills, prevent injuries, and divert tantrums. It seems a like a small miracle to just get through ONE day without spills, whining, tattling, or crying.  A successful day is one where nobody gets into the household cleaners or splits their head on the side of the coffee table. :) These days can be frustrating. You wonder if the next twenty years of your life will be meaningful or just a big cycle of “maintenance.”

I know your days can seem to run into each other into an endless length of sleep deprived, lonely spans of time. But, there is an end in sight! This will not last forever!

Here are some survival tips for the early years:

1. Spend a few minutes alone with God each day. Don’t neglect your soul. A few minutes are better than nothing. If you are in the midst of a “newborn” season of life, write a verse out on a 5X7 card to meditate on it in your spare moments.  Just glancing at it during the day can help you remember that you wanted to remember that!  :) Time alone with God helps you to  regroup, focus your thoughts on things that are true and real, and to gather strength for your task of mothering. Remember, you  are dependent on Him for help, just like your baby is dependent on you for everything.

2. Spend time teaching your kids about God. It is a command but it does not have to be tedious. It can be done through song, picture books, listening cd’s, or best of all, Bible  story videos.
3. Get out of dodge…I mean…the house. Change your scenery, whether taking a walk to the park, a trip to the library, a drive thru for a coffee or to visit a friend. Nobody wants to be stuck inside with no variation in life. And you’ll be a better person for it.

4. Involve a friend. Pray with someone. Call someone. Read a Christian book with someone. Two are better than one! And your phone chats may save your sanity. :)
5. Add something beautiful to your space.  It doesn’t have to be expensive or new, but being creative in your home is so rewarding. A small bouquet of flowers arranged under a crisply pressed doily, a stack of books and a teacup artfully arranged, a votive candle and bundle of lavender on an end table, a chalkboard or scrapbook-y sign with inspiring words. Make home a place of inspiration for you and your family.

Riley: after. But still just as sweet! :)

Hang in there, mamas! :)

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A Little Secret for Moms

The beautiful Gerber baby!

This is a post dedicated to mothers of young children–babies and toddlers, to be precise.

I have a little secret to tell you…

Being a mother is hard. It is the hardest job you will ever do.

Babies don’t come with manuals. Sometimes the “maternal instinct” that you hear about is slow to kick in.

Sometimes you can’t differentiate between their cries. Sometimes breastfeeding is a nightmare. Sometimes you can’t get them to nap, to try new foods, to stop taking tantrums, to stop hitting or pulling hair, or to potty train. The list could go on!

It is easy to enter despair mode.

Here are five suggestions to keep you from loosing your mind:

1. Keep your eyes open for a Mom who is doing it right in your opinion and ask for help! Most older mothers are happy to empathize with and encourage a younger mom who wants to do things “right”, but lacks the self confidence or know– how. The time spent with another mom can only encourage you and sharpen your parenting skills!
2. Evaluate your goals. Your kids will not be perfect! Children are not “self-parenting” and this is why God gave kids parents. :)

Kids will throw tantrums and will need your intervention. Kids will bite and pull hair and need to be told “No!”  It is easy to think “We just went over that!! Why isn’t this kid getting this?’”

Instead, think “Assembly Line Parenting”, and expect to do the same thing over.and.over.and.over again in order to cement principles and teach. :)

3. Do not live for your child. Your child is a wonderful addition to your world, but should never be the epicenter of it. Make time out with friends, and plan for dates with Dad. If you can’t get out, nap time should be your time of solitude. Time alone with your thoughts in quietness is essential to evaluate where you are going and how you will get there.

4. Don’t neglect your Bible reading and prayer time. Even if it is ever so short, something is better than nothing. Can you spare three to five minutes? Get a devotional for busy mothers and take care of your soul.
5. Don’t seek security in methods. Each child is so different. Be consistent, seek God’s word and humbly ask for help!  “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” “If any of you lack wisdom, let Him ask of God, who giveth liberally…”  God will give you the grace to do the job He has called you to do!!

Older mothers, what advice would you add to this list?