You ever stare at yourself in the mirror and wonder, what the hell happened? I wish I could pin it to something specific. One moment you are cruising along and doing well and then KAHBLAMMY!
I get that this parenting journey isn't easy or perfect. I get that life throws curve balls. But to go from one extreme to another, for seemingly no reason at all, that is when the logical part of my brain throws a fit. LITERALLY! I like to know the why!
I readily admit there are certain times of the month that hormones mess with me. Lack of sleep or sickness can easily throw me off kilter, but all that is understandable. I didn't realize that I was looking for someone or something to blame for my lack of self-control. I am an adult and I should be able to act like one, but... there are some days I don't! There are some days that I just suck and feel like giving up.
Normally, I can feel it building, but not always. I've tried counting to ten, retreating, meditating, or phoning a friend! Cheerfully, I can say, this has worked some of the time. As a parent, it's hard to get the you-time when you need it. Methods for chilling out and restoring balance are wonderful. Exhaustion makes it hard to use them, however. Mental exhaustion is just as real as physical. It sneaks up on you!
You see, when you are a mom, there are a lot of variables to your day. A lot of people are depending on you for countless reasons. The nurturing mentality oozes out even when it's to our detriment. The amount of responsibilities, worries, details, tasks, and demands that are placed on us or that we willingly take on are incredible. We don't even realize all that we are balancing. Even our subconscious is overworked.
Every year I hear about women doing more and more incredible things! We throw around slogans about Super Mom and talk about how we want our daughters to be able to do anything and everything they want to. We have seminars about empowerment and vision. Don't get me wrong; I am all for equal rights! But just because we can do something doesn't mean we should, right? And definitely not all at once! I need to be okay with my workload and not try to mimic all the Pinterest moms I admire.
I am still learning that I have a lot to learn: about myself, about priorities, seasons, and saying no. Too much of a good thing, striving until exhausted, people-pleasing, volunteering for one more thing - these are things you learn to stop most often by failing. I've had pretty great examples, but they weren't perfect! So, I am here to admit it. Aloud and unproud - no excuses -I lost it! Ugh!
The day before was amazing. I made pancakes with my kids, remembered to kiss and appreciate my husband, cleaned the house, homeschooled the children, and it was all Instagram worthy! And then today happened...
I wish I could blame it on the kids, my spouse, or even hormones, but nothing was different from the day before. My kids were fairly well behaved. It wasn't rainy and miserable. My husband said he loved me and told me he didn't have that long of a work day, so he would make supper. Yes, I married a good one! Then KAHBLAMMY - I was short tempered with the kids! I could see the bewilderment in their eyes. Maybe I felt overwhelmed by the little mess that had accumulated in the one day since we had thoroughly cleaned it, but really there is not excusing my behavior even if I couldn't pin down why. I was angry! I slammed a door and dissolved into tears, feeling like a total failure.
Talk about a roller-coaster, a great day followed by a suckfest! I justify my actions a lot by my circumstances. Did I get enough sleep? Did my spouse show me any appreciation or love for that basket of laundry I folded and put away! Were my kids kind and obedient? Was the weather too hot, cold or rainy? I didn't get my needed ____ (sleep, caffeine, chocolate, wine, etc.)! The list of excuses goes on and on. The fact was - I blew it! So what now? Hand in my kids? Delete my social media accounts because I am a not a supermom with endless patience for baking, crafts, sewing, and board games? Waaaaahhh! (Can you hear my pity party?)
If you are feeling like a bad mom, you are not alone! I had myself a good cry, thanked God for yet another do-over and went to hug my kids. Maybe you've had a day or 50 like mine? I've had more than I want to number. From one wanna-be-supermom to another, God offers endless redos. We haven't scarred our kids in some way God didn't foresee. It's okay for our kids to see that we get overwhelmed. It's probably the biggest and best lesson we can teach. Moms need to apologize too! Our good days and bad ones will shape our kids, but the potter is still on his throne. He is able to turn our lumpy attempts into useful vessels. Listen hard and you will hear him whisper:
I've got this; I'm good at fixing things. Back off the ledge and we'll start afresh together.
So, we debated long and hard over getting a pet. We made a lot of Pro and Cons lists, did some research and at last decided to rescue a pet from the local shelter. I will admit I am NOT a big animal person, mostly because my three children make enough messes for me to clean up. Plus, I am realistic with the fact that the responsibility often falls to me. Thankfully as the kids get older it is mostly me reminding them to take care of their pet. ;)
I had several pets as a child, but never had one for more than a few years at a time due to moving or short lifespan; Hamsters don't live long. Our dog we ended up giving to a farmer when we moved who had big open fields and truck she could ride around in. Our cat was an outdoor cat that wandered the 14 acres. One day it just didn't come around for food. No doubt a sweet old woman fed him better food than we did. At least that is what I like to think rather than any negative alternative.
Now that I have a family of my own and we live in the south where it is too hot for animals to live primarily outdoors, I knew we would be more impacted by having a pet sharing our square footage. We contemplated a bird, but I thought the bird's squawking on top of the children's squawking might push me over the edge. Snakes and lizards give me the creeps, so I put my foot down on those. Fish and cleaning aquariums seemed too much work for too little return. We all agreed we primarily wanted a fur ball to cuddle. My kids are sensitive, so a hamster with a short lifespan seemed impractical. We visited with several types of dogs, but due to our middle child having some kind of phobia of even the tiniest dog, we decided to just let the idea go for a while. A cat never really crossed my mind since I thought my dad was allergic and didn't want to choose an animal over time with grandparents. Then we found out he had somehow outgrown that allergy and the search recommenced.
The cat chose us by putting up his paw on the glass and being so chill when we handled him. We looked at another that wouldn't retract the claws for even a moment and knew she wouldn't survive our three young children. The cat we chose, or who chose us like I said, ended up being the perfect fit for our family. He puts up with a lot, but is very clever in finding spots to escape the toddler when needed.
We named him Clue because he was so curious about everything. He has turned into a big cat (not fat just long) that loves to roll on his back like a dog to get his belly rubbed. The hair started to be an issue this summer when the weather turned hot, but we have found a few things that have really helped him fit seamlessly into our family with little fuss.
We had such a fun year studying Zoology. Below you can get a glimpse of the Live Butterfly Project we did to celebrate the end of our official school year and welcome summer. (Thanks, Insect Lore!) We are now ready for some sunny beach days and lazy afternoons reading books in our hammocks.
Our school year consisted of making great use of our Family Zoo Pass (Thanks, Nini!) to the Sanford Zoo in Central Florida. We all enjoyed being able to meet up with family and friends countless times throughout the year to enjoy the splash pad, train, and carousel in addition to the animals. It was so nice to not rush and be able to take the time to observe so many different animals, knowing we didn't have to see it all in a day! The petting zoo was a favorite spot. Feeding the Giraffes was a special treat, but hearing the macaws screech my daughter's name was pretty neat too. One of my girls wants to be a vet, so this year of zoology has allowed her to really explore her interest.
I chose to be homeschooled, and really thrived under independent study. Facilitating my kids' curiosity, allows me to learn so much more by viewing it all through their eyes. They each learn differently and their unique observations make life and learning more interesting. Next year, we will be adding the little brother in on our studies, so our homeschool/family will be going through a slight metamorphosis of our own by adding a third student. We look forward to relaxed Summer learning.
Share with us your favorite hands-on learning activities!
Our education is never done!
I wish I could say that I was one of those moms who prayed constantly for their children, or at least nightly. I like to think that I at least pray regularly. Sometimes I feel my prayers for them have become rote and repetitive. You have all kinds of plans and ideals with the first child, but somehow after the third things start to slip. After a long day, I'll admit, I tuck them into bed and then go fall in mine often without more than a "Night Lord."
Years ago, I found a sheet listing ways to pray specifically for your children which even included scripture to back up each point. I have held onto this for years, but rarely got past the first few sections. It was too wordy and it seemed I was always interrupted. Good intentions are all well and good, but carrying around a nice but essentially useless (for me) paper had to come to an end.
Above, I have recreated the heart of it combined and shortened into prayer topics. I have successfully been able to pray my way through this one. Yay! I am a busy mom so it probably will still not happen daily, but God knows my heart and He will grow my prayer warrior skills yet. I have this on the front of my homeschooling binder in hopes of furthering my skills. I will also put the plain pdf below if it would be of use to anyone else.
Motherhood, we know, is a season of long and short.
Long days and short years.
I am a mother of three; seven, five and a two-year-old. I see videos of my firstborn as an infant and honestly wonder where the time has gone. Almost in the same moment, I am tracking down the toddler's next mess and wishing for the day when the accidents are no longer so frequent. The two extreme emotions of motherhood - trying to hold onto them and keep them little or hurry them up to independence. Who can decide when they can change in an instant!
Now, knowing there will be no more babies thanks to the hubby taking one for the team, I am finally attempting to find my pre-baby self. This season is very demanding and yes, rewarding. I know many wish back the days of when their kids were young and I am sure I will have that fleeting thought as well someday. But my hope, is to remind myself, as well as anyone reading, to not wish time forward or backward but be in the moment as best as you can.
The overwhelming amount of home videos and photos available now can trap you in a place of nostalgia. Looking back on baby photos or other childhood memories either of yours or your children easily bring tears or laughter. I think the occasional trip down memory lane can be healthy, but too much looking back can steal the joy of the moment.
Same way too much dreaming of the future can rob you of the joy of today.
Daily, I am trying to find the right balance of devotions, chocolate, coffee, wine, exercise and creativeness that allows me to keep some shadow of sanity and self in this busy season. I understand that by focusing on the long list of things that wear me out... sleepless nights, crying toddlers, whining, tantrums. I am wishing away this season. When I have this kind of mantra I find myself worn out, bitter about what independence I have lost, and whiny just like them! If I start wishing for an empty nest so I can't travel and do what I want I lose focus on the importance of this season and forget that the next is not even guaranteed. Wish I could say I don't think that way anymore, but that would be a lie.
I am learning to take better care of myself, make wiser decisions and embrace imperfection. I know my body and how many hours of sleep I need. So taking that "me time" at the expense of quality sleep is no longer a wise decision three children into this decade. I have learned to allow the house to be messy and unorganized for certain times and degrees that allow me to keep my sanity. Turn a blind eye for a time, if you will. My children are brought in to help straighten the main areas before dad gets home so he can enter a peaceful place and so mom is not doing all the cleaning up by herself after they are in bed. They also are required to have a clean room for certain privileges to be honored or granted. I have cut back on obligations that split my time.
I have also retained with a desperate grasp a night out each week, either with my husband or with girlfriends. If I am lucky I get both! It is hard to keep other obligations from pushing that off the calendar. It is a struggle to leave the husband, my best friend, behind since those days of when it was just the two of us float nostalgically in my mind. It helps to have girlfriends that will remind you that getting out is not a luxury but a necessity when you have a weak moment! I prefer doing new things and so I look for seminars, painting classes, or hiking a new trail with friends rather than the spa or shopping like some women, but you have to find your personal recharge.
I believe life, faith, love and so much more all have a semblance of dynamic tension, so I am very skeptical of anyone who appears to have it all together. Sure we might all have a day or two where we feel like we nailed this parenting thing, but I have yet to meet anyone who has it all together on a regular basis. I know I am a work in progress and God is using my children to teach me great lessons!
So, I would love to hear how other you find your recharge so you can continue to live and thrive in this moment. Let's be real with one another on this journey of motherhood!
They say that timing is everything. Push too early and you 'have to wait even longer'. Too late and you 'miss the window'. Teaching a new skill is tricky. If you allow your child to develop at their own pace you worry that they will never graduate and leave home. If you push them you worry about turning them into narcissistic, type-A, perfectionist overachievers with a God complex. Which one of those is worse I will leave you to decide. Oh, and who are they?!?
Now, what if there was a way we can find that happy medium. I think that is the only way people who have children can survive - hoping to find the balance/ the line between too much and too little. Will you always find it? No, but you keep on trying.
This week I was encouraging my daughter to stick her face in the water. I had been really frustrated with the regression she had made from the previous summer where she was diving under the water in the kiddie pool to this summer not liking any water on her face. We live in Florida and summers here are either inside with AC or by a body of water by necessity. So I am sure you can understand my frustration as she fearfully repeated, "I can't." I started to insist and suggest things and inside my head, I started wondering, "Have I been too soft on her? Or should I be harder?" I didn't want her to regress further because I was being a harsh parent who demands their kids try to do things. But I don't want pansy-kids who are afraid of everything either! Where is the line of how hard to push?"
Back when our grandparents had children there was less information and advice coming at them. So as a parent then, you were trusting doctors advice or relying on generational example for your 'parenting style'. You either did the same or the exact opposite depending on what home life you had as a child. For most, it was probably that twilight zone of a little of this and definitely not that! So, I start to research how to teach a reluctant child to swim. I love to research! I admit I was confused because her sister is a fish and was swimming early.
Now, in our generation, we have an overwhelming, limitless amount of information from Grandma, the neighbor, strangers in line, the pediatrician, the internet, countless books and I am sure you can rely on opinions from your dearest friend who is a little too comfortable sharing sometimes. From diaper brands, potty training, timeouts, grounding, spanking, sports, education, yelling, silent treatment to cell phones, driving and dating; everyone has a theory on the best way to do it or not do it.
I am happy to report that my daughter took my few suggestions and then pretty much convinced herself with a little nudging and encouragement from those gathered poolside to push herself further. By the end of our time at the pool, she was jumping in the deep end with her swimmies! I didn't push too hard this time and she was all smiles and even took off her swimmies for a bit to try swimming without mommy holding her belly in the shallow end.
I think we can all agree that we all want what's best for our child. I think we can all agree we don't have it all together all the time. I think there are glimpses that something we have said or done to or for our child has worked and in our eagerness and excitement we overshare or advise friends that they should do or try such and such. I think it is important in these moments to remember grace even when you disagree or don't want the implied advice given through 'this little story' of when their kid did such and such. Finding the way to share without pressure or implying judgment is difficult so props to them for trying. Again - GRACE - Use it!
There are methods and theories out the wazoo! Why? I think we all have heard by now that there are different strokes for different folks. Your right way of doing something may be absolutely wrong for me. Even if our children were identical, you and I, aren't. You may be able to have the patience for teaching your child math for instance and it is just better for all involved that I get a tutor for my child. Or maybe I could say the exact same thing as you but your child receives it way better than mine does. A three-day potty training method might have worked for your son, but my son, who is yes older than yours, isn't buying into it. You may think my methods of watching my children are way overprotective but maybe I think you are way too lax. You may think I am too soft and am creating 'the problem' in the first place. I may think you are pushing your kid too hard to be a world changer and the pressure is unfair. Again - Grace!
My goal, in this whole parenting thing, is to do as little damage to my children as possible. I have, yes, accepted the fact that I will damage my children (definitely to the oldest trial child) to some degree and probably down to the youngest child (most likely spoiled baby). I think the important thing to remember is that no matter how confident we seem about our method or choice there is always some little part of us that wonders if what worked with the first child will work for the others. So, if we can stay open to hearing others' ideas (yes with a grain of salt) and remain teachable and humble we will be way better examples to our children of how to put up with 'difficult people' or 'judgemental' people.
At the end of the day, it comes down to trusting that we are only in charge of doing our best and encouraging our kids to do the same in the best way we know how.
And the rest....
NOT MY CIRCUS NOT MY MONKEYS
The line between too much and too little is lost in the haze,
These are the guys I will keep teaching to the best of my ability and trust that the Lord will use my successes and my mistakes to shape them into the people He wants them to be. May I have the grace to make it through rougher stuff than swim lessons. ;)
G R A C E 4 U & 4 ME
Okay, to be real... Tuesday are my "Mondays". My peppiness from the weekend recharge is normally winding down and knowing that my husband won't be home until late steals a bit of my joy. There is nothing like knowing you will have help at the end of a long day of endless questions and requests!
I have three kids under six and I so wish more than one took naps! My youngest is one-and-a-half and starting to balk at naps, so my reprieve from hyper-vigilance is fleeting. He is all boy, climbing everything, finding trouble and making messes! I work from home and this has gotten increasingly harder over the last few years due to multiple factors - more children, husband working more, starting homeschool and of course less nap time. Any type of quiet time is hard in our house since we always seem to be in the main room together. Plus, I turn around and see that my toddler took out every possible toy from his room and brought it to the living room while I was dealing with his sister. Peace on Tuesdays is needed!
Mondays I try to attack the housework so Tuesdays I can be more available for my work, but my energy has been lagging lately. I am grateful that God gave me the phrase "Smarter not Harder" last January and I really was diligent in creating space in my workload by training others. If I had not done that, I would be drowning now for sure. This year He has given me the word "Peace" and my mission is to simplify in as many areas as I can, so peace reigns in our home.
When we first moved in ...9 years ago... we painted soothing colors of blues and greens, so I know peaceful decor isn't really what God is getting at, despite the fact that it could use a new coat to freshen things up. I believe He is wanting me to find more peace at home by really being able to enjoy it without my constant mental checklist distracting me. So, I have been utilizing tools to remove the mental checklist into an actual one with prompts so I can just tackle the next thing without taking additional time analyzing what should be next or trying to remember when the last time I changed the filter on the AC unit. (I use my phone's reminders list which allows me to choose repeating tasks with biweekly/weekly/monthly prompts and this has helped immensely.)
I am a type-A wanting to be closer to a type-B. I want the balance of productivity with the enjoyment of beauty.
And here is the big point - when there isn't a prompt, I want to be in the moment with my children. I want to relish their childhood because I know how quickly you blink and that sweet baby becomes an opinionated child. I am not ready to blink and hand over my car keys to a teenager, so I am trying to be in the moment more which can be exhausting. It is a lot of repetition! I enjoy my children one-on-one, but when they all start clamoring I feel like my sanity is hanging by a thread. Raising kids is hard and being able to put the world on pause and enjoy a moment is a win! So, on these tedious Tuesdays, to restore peace we:
What do you do to salvage a day?- or make it through a long one?
I can always use more ideas -Please and thank you!!!
I strive to start my day with a devotion and prayer before my kids are clamoring for chocolate almond milk, breakfast or Doc McStuffin. Sometimes, depending on how late we sleep, this is easily done and other times not so much. I am fairly intelligent and I know that early rising is the Proverbs-31 model of the perfect mom for a good reason. I am here to state that she can have that title because I am proudly a night owl.
It is only a "Monday" if we had too many social obligations over the weekend and we 'let the house go'. Otherwise, I find most Mondays easy, when recharged from the weekend. My mind is normally filled with things I wish to accomplish and I try to start tackling them, but the laundry normally stands in my way.
Folding laundry is not my favorite, but I have learned to turn on a show, or a podcast to make it more bearable. My kids are young, so my type-A tendencies haven't allowed them to learn to fold yet. They do put their own clothes away, but until I can become more relaxed and not care if things are folded the way I like them - I am on my own with the folding. If I don't distract myself then it is easy to have thoughts start spiraling downward because my time seems wasted on monotonous things.
If I can get through the laundry, homeschooling and fit in a little work at baby's nap time, then I might have time to squeeze in the next chapter or re-pot a plant ( I dabble in gardening). It is inevitable that someone's temper gets sour during the day (mine included), so to reset, we turn on the music and have a dance party.... and yes, I tip my blinds so I can do so freely!
I get my best burst of inspiration just as my head hits the pillow... why? Perhaps, because that is the only time my day...err night is quiet!? I know God wired me to be this way, so why fight it? I need a pen and pad near my bed or I will not be able to sleep. I cannot count how many times I have started to doze and been woken with something that God impresses upon me or some fabulous idea I simply must jot down. If you don't it will be fuzzy the next day and that is a sin of lost inspiration. ha ha
Monday fades into Tuesday and I praise God that in the midst of it all.
He helps me treasure a moment here or there, keeps me from losing my cool too many times, orders my day, and through loving friends and family somehow keeps me sane!
Getting any exercise with littles can be difficult, but having it be enjoyable is another matter entirely! Whining can make or break your walk. It is just a fact that kids can bounce off the walls indoors for hours but have no energy to walk around the block moments later. So here are some tips to make walks more enjoyable for everyone involved.
1. Good shoes that don't pinch or cause blisters (think back up shoes too if someone wants to skate!) If you know the shoes they are wearing will give them a blister, just pack some band-aids or back up shoes. A little liquid band-aid works wonders too.
2. Water & Snacks for all! If you are really ambitious you can pack a picnic lunch. I know it seems to take forever to get out of the house, but the extra few minutes to put separate baggies of cheerrios or other dried snacks together will be so worth it. If everyone has there own water bottle, you are less likely to run out completely.
3. A stroller with storage - a double if you have it! Even though my kids are older I still drag out the double stroller because someone always gets too hot or too tired to walk as far as I would like to go. Even if it ends up just carrying the stuff until the kids have enough stamina to make it miles on their own, do yourself a favor and bring it.
4. Avoid anything loud or cumbersome - wagons with plastic wheels, noisy toys, (scooters never last), etc. You know you will be the one who ends up carrying that scooter or the plastic wheels scraping will steal your peace and bring on a headache. No matter how cute - if it is not practical - ditch it! Jackets in summer or objects too big to stick somewhere in the stroller storage also should be left behind, because you know they will be too tired to carry it far.
5. Timing it right - not too hot and no one has to pee! We live in Florida so we have to go early in the morning or in the late evening in the summer time. Noon walks last about 5 minutes tops before everyone including you is dripping and whining. If you can choose a walking place that has a bathroom at starting point so much the better. Look for shaded walks in the summer and sunny ones in the winter
6. Picking a new spot, preferably with bathrooms and water fountain nearby! Everyone likes a change of scenery but be sure that with littles there are conveniences around for their sake and yours.
7. Bring a Scavenger List, play a game or bring a camera. Distraction is the best method for young and old alike. There is Geocaching and now Pokemon Go can take that scavenger hunt up to a treasure hunt. They may go farther than you ever thought possible. Now with smartphones having your littles capture pictures of nature along your trail may distract them too. Be sure you have a quality case on it so you avoid tears on your end. There are little tikes cameras if you don't want to share.
8. Go Fast! When my kids were younger we would lock that wheel in place and go fast! Run or skate behind that stroller. Be sure littles are strapped in and give them a fast ride and you a good workout. This gets harder as they outgrow the stroller but you can continue it for a time if you get the older ones to ride or skate too.
9. Bring a book or audiobook. If they bring a book they can read while sitting in the stroller or if you take a break at the halfway point with a blanket and picnic lunch. You can listen while you walk if you have a speaker with good battery life.
10. My favorite is to invite friends! My kids always walk farthest when they are laughing with friends. The bonus for me is I get a walk and talk to0 with their friends' mother! The little things don't bother you as much when you have a friend to keep you sane.
The more kids you have the harder it is to organize everyone into getting out and enjoying movement, but it is a great example of taking care of your body and your mind. Time in nature is a restoring process to encourage our littles to enjoy. So do your best to keep on moving!
So excited for our first official year (third year really) of homeschooling!!! Our oldest is in second grade, but since age 6 is the legal age of sending in the letter of intent in our state, this is her first official year. She loves to learn and is being joined this year by her sister in preschool (so mostly play learning) and her bubby who is potty training... errr kind of. He is only one so we will give him some time.
We started the year off with a visit to the Museum of Science and History with daddy which was super fun. They had a huge model dinosaur out front that growled and moved every few minutes. The history section was a little over their heads, but for my husband and I, it was fascinating to see what is now outdated from when we were kids. It was also a keen reminder of how much will probably change for our own kids over the next decade or two.
I love the endless resources to be found online and continue to add to my own skills. I was homeschooled as well, 7th- 12th grade, and thrived by being able to set my own pace and pursue my interests. My parents cultivated a love and thirst for knowledge as well as an independent spirit. I had no problem in college because I had already cultivated the self-taught rather than spoonfed attitude. I hope to do the same for our littles.
I want them to be out-of-the-box thinkers, pursue their passions and question everything ...yes even what mom and dad say!
I have every confidence that as my children learn and question that they will find the truth. Our God encourages us to seek Him and ensures us that we will find Him when we seek with all our hearts. I know the idea of our children searching without parameters can be scary to some, even myself sometimes when I let doubt creep in, but I choose to rest in the knowledge that perfect love casts out all fear. God loves my children way more than I ever could and I choose to trust Him as I let me children grow and outgrow convention.
I am attempting to balance managing a tech team from home, helping my husband with ministry, homeschooling and keeping a house clean. So, any attempts at blogging will be random at best. As I lead by example for my children, I pray that they learn more good from me than bad. I pray they see that God is way bigger than anyone knows. He is mirrored in creation and glimpses of His glory can be found in those around you. I want them to chew up the meat and spit out the bones and allow only God's Spirit guide them!
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....