Living life with little ones in the house is a precious, giggly, and carefree time. But it can also be a host of other things that aren’t so pleasant. I’m not a pessimist by nature, but I am a fan of telling the truth: These days can be stinkin’ hard.
Even if you adore life with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers in the home, things can take a turn for the mundane and downright difficult in a heartbeat, before you can even say blankies, thumb-suckers, and sleepy heads.
The season of parenting little ones is physically exhausting. Amen?
I’m right there with you as a mom of three who are ages 2, 4, and 4, along with five school-aged kids. At times, the days are so difficult, I want to jump right back into bed willing it to be the weekend again. And other times, the days roll along swimmingly. But no matter which way the day swings, I’m exhausted by the end of it.
And that’s normal for a mom of littles, even on a smooth day. And even for the most experienced of moms. You have to know that. It’s not just you, it’s normal.
But even though things can get rough, there are definitely still lovely, sweet, and simple times too.
On those days, I don’t feel so alone. So wiped out and frazzled.
Glory, glory hallelujah.
Several months back, I started to take note of what made the good days different from the hard ones. As I stepped back, almost taking the role of detective in my own life, I noticed a pattern in my behavior. On the hectic days, I did one thing. On the happier days, I did another. Hmm.
On the one day, I fell into default mode. And on the other, I was intentional.
I found that the good days weren’t the result of changes in my circumstances. They are the result of changes in me.
May I share three simple things, that just might change the course of your days like they did mine?
Of course I still have stinkin’ hard days, and you will too. But do you know what? They’re fewer, and with more distance between them.
Here’s what I’m suggesting:
1. Be Kind to Yourself, Get Up Earlier Than They Do
Before you roll your eyes at me, and what I’m about to write, hear me out. I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON, as much as I’d like to be. I’m normally a stay-up-way-past-your-bedtime kind of person. But necessity breeds invention, or however that saying goes… and oh, has necessity been breeding some inventions!
Years ago, I could sort of get away with sleeping in until one of the children woke me up. But now things have changed. Nowadays, mama feels cranky if she isn’t dressed, and is mostly put together by the time the kiddos come barreling up the stairs in the morning. Plus, without a time to get grounded reading the Bible and taking some time to pray, things can go awry quite quickly with my attitude about things.
When I hit that snooze button (because I always do,) it’s my reminder to start praying, all cozy in my bed. Sometimes that bed is so inviting, that I pray for a loooong time between alarms. But it wakes me up and fills me up before even stepping foot on the floor to get a shower, read, check in with the world, and eat some breakfast in peace.
The kids have been taught since they were preschoolers or young elementary school-aged to stay in their rooms or in the family room to play with their siblings until their clocks read a certain time. (Currently, that time is 8:30 a.m.) It has been a good system for our family. It’s predictable for all of us.
By the time I see that first child’s face at precisely 8:30 a.m., it’s go time. Time get breakfast for the little ones, help the youngest get dressed, play for a bit, and then start the rest of our day. There’s no time for mama to be lagging behind trying to get ready while the house has come alive for the day, plus the kids need their mama.
Some families have found a system that works for them that looks entirely different than ours. I’m so glad. But maybe some of you are floundering. Maybe you’re feeling lost and overwhelmed before you even start the day. The demands of kids and morning routines are just too much.
Consider cozying up in bed a little earlier at night, and give yourself a breather in the morning to just be still and start the day without the rush and frenzy that mornings can bring. Take care of you and your soul a bit before taking care of anyone else.
2. Let Go of Perfect
We moms are prone to the urge to have all of our ducks neatly in a row, and have them stay there. I learned pretty quickly that my little duckies like to roam and don’t stay clean, perfectly groomed and fluffed for long.
Bedhead is now a staple in our house along with cold cereal for breakfast on the weekdays. We may gussy up a tad when we go out or go to church. But at home, we’re low-maintenance.
Mismatched clothes are the outfits of choice around here. We’re ragamuffins, and we like it that way. None of the kids care that the culture of the day looks down on these sorts of things — if God looks at our hearts, why should we teach our kids otherwise?
I’d much rather have a kid who, rather than embracing the trends of the day, runs hard after the timeless truths of the Gospel.
Attitudes can easily turn into idols of the heart for a mama who lets her appearance, and that of her family become so important that she isn’t happy unless everything looks like it’s in place.
While I don’t struggle so much with the appearances of myself or my family members, I do struggle with the urge to control. I so desperately want things to go as planned, that my day feels all topsy-turvy if it veers. God has helped me reign in this struggle, and it’s a work in progress.
One thing I have to remind myself of when the days feel overwhelming, is that my kids are not robots. They were not created to follow blindly, act perfectly, and keep quiet. I remind myself that I don’t want robots, I want my kids. My loveable, squirrely, kind, loud, and precious kids.
3. Keep Doing the Things You’re Proud Of
You know those days, when you’re so proud of yourself for making a craft with the kids, or sitting on the floor reading books for a half-hour? Those days that seem few and far between?
Keep doing those things.
Keep sitting down at lunch with them, memorizing a verse together.
Keep bird-watching with them out the window in the winter, and out on a blanket in the summer.
Keep letting them crack the eggs, and stir the cookie dough.
Keep lingering in their bedroom at night, telling just one more made-up story.
Keep your fingernails painted just the way they did them for you.
Keep hanging their drawings up in your room.
Press on, my friends! The little years are fleeting, and before long you’ll be on to another stage. ( I’m preaching to myself here.) You are a gift to your family, a rare and precious gem. Stay the course. He is with you every step.
“She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her.”