Tag Archives: moms

How I Find Time for ME (As a Mom of Young Children)

This post originally appeared on the Grit and Grace Project

Self-care is becoming a buzzword in our society. As we are able to work from home (read: anywhere), connect with hundreds of people are the touch of a button, and multitask like true professionals, we’re only getting busier. The call to slow down and take care of yourself is simultaneously getting louder and more difficult to heed.

As a SAHM mother of three children under five, who also works part-time, finding time for myself is often not at the top of my to-do list. But I’ve also realized that I’m a better wife and mother if I have a little time to myself. It looks different each day, and I spend it differently each time, but here are a few things I do to ensure a little time for me.

1. Plan it with my hubby. He’s my support and my biggest cheerleader, and he’s always willing to help me have time to get my nails done or even to just take a nap. He encourages me to write, to practice my music, to go out and have coffee without the kids. I plan with him for when he can keep the kids and I can sneak out for an hour or two to refresh, to relax, and do whatever it is I need to regroup.

2. Let some things go. Sometimes, when my kids are napping or go to bed early, I get the urge to clean all the things, fold all the laundry, and prep all the meals. Other times, I let it all slide (even though those chores are still waiting on me) to take a long shower, read a book with un-re-heated coffee, or watch a movie with a glass of wine. Believe me- the dishes aren’t going anywhere.

3. Hang out with a girlfriend (or a few). My girlfriends are a mix of fellow moms and also gal pals who don’t have kids. Sometimes it takes a lot of planning (and babysitters) to get together with them, but other times, I can just have a friend over for morning coffee after preschool drop off, or a post-bedtime chat over wine. Being with a girlfriend can refill the relational and feminine parts of me. And never underestimate the reinvigorating qualities of a girls’ night!

4. Take a power nap. Napping isn’t for everyone, and it wasn’t for me until I had kids. But now that I often choose many things over sleep (including things I love doing, not just chores), a power nap can work wonders. A 20-minute snooze during their nap time can be just as good as napping the whole time they’re asleep! If I know I have things to do after their bedtime, the power nap can keep me going a little longer.

5. Get dressed. I always feel more productive and happier with myself when I make the effort to get out of my pajamas (even if I’m not leaving the house), wash my face, and brush on a coat of mascara. It sounds silly, but it gives me a boost, and makes me feel more like myself, even if I don’t need to do it.

What things do you do to make sure you’re your best self?

The Best Ever Pancake Recipe for Moms Who Aren’t Chefs

 I make hot breakfast for my kids almost every single morning. There are very few exceptions – mostly because I set a particular precedent and now they won’t eat cold cereal. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. Anyway, because of this fact, I’ve gotten really creative with the breakfasts I make, specifically in the pancake department. I found that I could hide almost anything in a pancake, in a good way. I make a new-fangled pancake batter with some crazy ingredients, I scramble a couple of eggs to go with them, and serve a side of fruit. BOOM! Healthy breakfast, please and thank you.

If you want to know my pancake secrets, here are a few suggestions.

  1. Start with Bisquick (or whatever type pancake mix you prefer). I like Bisquick because it doesn’t have a ton of sugar in it to begin with, but it’s a good base so you don’t have to add things like baking powder or salt. I typically include the ingredients it suggests for pancake-making (a couple of eggs and some milk), then I flavor it with whatever mood I’m in that day.
  2. Add in vanilla extract. I ALWAYS dribble in some vanilla extract to the batter. No excuses not to. I make my own (well, my mom makes it, but I help!) so it’s extra special, but if you’re not a creative guru like my mama, regular vanilla will do.
  3. Get some fruit. Usually, I opt for whatever is overripe/soft/abounding/neglected in our kitchen. Banana works well, but we also like blueberry and strawberry, or a combination of those. Mash it or puree it, and stir it in. Do it before the milk, because it often means you need less milk, because it’s juicy.
  4. Grab some flaxseed. Or chia seed. Or almond flour. Or whatever power powder you have around. Even ginger or turmeric could hide if you have a careful hand. You can likely sprinkle in a couple of tablespoons of the powders (or a teaspoon or two of the spices) without it getting noticed by kids or husbands.
  5. If you’re feeling generous, dump in some chocolate chips. Or if you’re like my family, Craisins. Sprinkles could also be fun if you’re celebrating something! Finely-chopped nuts are good, too, if your family is okay with nuts and likes a little crunch (Banana walnut pancakes, I’m looking at you.)
  6. Mix in some peanut butter or cocoa powder for a new spin on flavored pancakes. Peanut butter adds protein, of course, and makes them wonderfully thick and fluffy. Cocoa powder gives them a chocolatey tone without a ton of sugar… although I find that you need to add a little sugar (if you’re using Bisquick especially), honey, or other sweetener to combat the slight bitterness. I typically go for coconut sugar.
  7. Shape them like Mickey Mouse, snowmen, or caterpillars if you’re feeling fancy, and top them with some pure maple syrup. More flavor than “pancake syrup” (sorry, Aunt Jemima) and no artificial ingredients!

Pancakes please kids almost every time you make them, so I hide all sorts of goodies in there and call them healthy. I’ve stopped measuring things entirely and just go by looks. If the batter’s consistency looks like it’ll cook up on a pan, your breakfast won’t fall flat. BA-DUM, TSSS! (My husband told me that would be funny. If you didn’t laugh, it’s his fault.)

In case you’re wondering, this is just another post about my love affair with breakfast food.

It Is Important. 

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

 Sometimes, at the end of the day, I look back and can’t think of a single thing that happened. I can’t think of anything I accomplished, or anything that was done.  There isn’t a checklist that got finished, or a project that was completed. I mean, I made meals that were at least partially eaten, and then I probably cleaned the rest off the floor.  I made bottles, changed diapers, maybe took the kids to the park. I might have helped with some craft, or at least handed out markers and paper. I probably turned on a movie, folded a load of clothes, or filled and ran the dishwasher.

Those things are so mundane to me sometimes. And often, they’re littered with scoldings, time-outs, or even shouting. Sometimes there are tears- theirs and mine. I get wrapped up in the second-to-second happenings: “He called me a name!” and “She pushed me!” I can’t let those things go unaddressed, lest they happen ten times more often. But I tire of punishing and reprimanding and repeating my pleas to “apologize” and “forgive”. I tire of the endless dirty laundry, and potty breaks with a “buddy”.

I was so overwhelmed by these things that last week at church, survival was my prayer request: day-to-day grace and patience in my crazy-busy, yet accomplishing nothing, stage of motherhood.

The gal who prayed for me, sweet woman that she is, happened to know exactly where I was – really knew. She not only prayed straight through to my soul as a fellow believer, but as a mother who had been (fairly recently, too) exactly where I am. She didn’t offer a cliche about how the days are long and the years are short. She didn’t encourage me to cherish those moments when they need me so much. She said simply that it was hard, she had been there, and I’d survive these intense years. But the biggest thing that hit me was this: the work that I’m doing is important.

Let’s say that together: It. Is. Important.

When I look around my frequently messy home, or catch sight of my often dirty hair, I can be discouraged that I did so much while accomplishing so little. I’ve got grubby handprints on every window in the house, snot on my jeans, and no one has gotten out of their pajamas. Am I even doing it right? But the answer is undoubtedly yes. I am doing it right, because I’m loving my kids, including lovingly disciplining them. I’m doing my best to raise them to be kind, helpful, and independent. I’m giving them endless snuggles, smooches, and hugs. I’m reading them books, and teaching them as much as I know how to teach. I’m praying for them, with them, and in front of them. I’m leading them, hopefully, into a relationship with Jesus. That work is Kingdom work, and it IS important.

 

5 Ways My Third Kid Gets the Short End of the Sibling Stick

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.


It’s no secret that having multiple kids can really split your time, efforts, and finances. It can also weaken even the strongest parents’ preconceived notions of how they’ll raise their children. Here are a few ways my third babe has already been

1. He can’t talk yet. His siblings do all the talking (over him and for him) and sometimes they don’t interpret correctly. He doesn’t get to request what he gets for snack, or what to watch on TV. He can’t communicate about whether he’s cold without pants on, or that he hates wearing shoes (well, that I actually did figure out). He can’t tell me when he needs help reaching something. He can’t even tell me when his brother hit him, when brother said he didn’t. He’s just gotta roll with whatever punches are thrown (no pun intended).

2. His birthday isn’t getting a big to-do. Sorry, third baby. Your first birthday matters, I promise. But it really snuck up on me, and I don’t have a big party planned. I don’t expect I’ll buy you 400 gifts or plan activities for you and your baby friends. In fact, I bet your siblings will be the life of your party, if only because they can actually demand attention. But I promise you’ll at least get some cake. (And in case you’re wondering, his first birthday is this Saturday. Yesterday I asked his grandparents if they were free that day.)

3. His schedule gets interrupted. We built our lives around the schedule of baby #1 for a while. With baby #2, we at least made sure his naps happened. With baby #3, he naps in the stroller, car, or carrier more often than the other two did, combined. Sometimes he’s gotta sacrifice his sleep to do fun things with his sibs. To the movies or nap? To the park or nap? It’s really not a question.

4. His diet is far from organic. Feeding three kids, even small ones, is no joke – in terms of effort or of money spent. So D learned a lot earlier to eat things like hot dogs and Chick-fil-A. And not that I’m saying there is anything wrong with those things; we all eat them a lot! A friend of mine said it perfectly: The first baby eats organic vegetables, and the last kid eats French fries from the floorboard of the car (which actually happened today).

5. He’s basically never worn new clothes. This might be an exception if it’s not the first baby, but still the first of that gender in the family. But my little guy is wearing hand-me-downs from his brother AND cousin, and still growing out of them like he’s a teenager. There are a few exceptions, since he has generous grandparents, and because my older son is really hard on his clothes. But the vast majority of what he wears has been a little stretched, has been washed 100+ times, includes some sort of stain, and/or harbors a tiny hole I refuse to recognize.

But I must say: even if he gets a little less work put into his diet and wardrobe, and has to learn to do things himself (like eat and walk and defend himself) a little quicker, he is not a bit less loved. Every single person in our tribe loves him as much as they’ve ever loved either of my other kids, including the siblings themselves. There’s a lot of love to go around, and my last baby isn’t shorted on affection!

But Seriously, Lay Off Already. 

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.

I promise I’m not trying to push your buttons.

But I am trying to make you think.

Haven’t any parents out there ever lost sight of their toddlers for one second? I definitely have, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I mean, it happened at the farmers’ market on Saturday! I am human… Anytime, any place, that can happen. Young children are unpredictable, and can be downright sneaky. Even the most attentive parents can sometimes struggle to keep their kids within a safe distance. It doesn’t mean you haven’t taught your children enough about what’s safe and what’s not. It doesn’t mean you don’t pay enough attention to them. Young children just don’t have good understanding of what “safe” is, especially when they’ve never had a reason to be scared.

So what I’m really imploring you to do right now is think. What if it was you? Put yourself in the parents’ shoes… Your child fell into the gorilla cage, or was snatched up by an alligator while you were swimming together. Feel the fear, the sheer terror. Feel the guilt, that builds as you learn what the cause and effect of the situation will be. Feel the anger, that you’d like to place on something, someone, other than yourself or your child. Imagine the sadness, the overwhelming physical ache you’d feel if something was to actually happen to your child. 

Now. 

When you’ve felt those feelings, or at least thought about it for a minute, are you mad at the parents? Or are you, like me, feeling sympathetic to their situation. If I lost one of my children, really lost them, I wouldn’t be able to go on. It wouldn’t matter to me your harsh opinions or your reprimands about what I should’ve been doing. 

I would be crushed

So if you have judgement to pass, ugly jokes to make, or a rude statement to post as your Facebook status about how that would never happen to your kids… Save it. Swallow it. Oppress the thought, and put yourself in the shoes of someone who has lost a child, for any reason. I promise you wouldn’t care what the reason was. Your life would be forever changed, and you’d be mourning that tiny soul for the rest of your life. 

I don’t have time for your judgement and harsh words. But I do have time for sympathy, prayers, and kindness. 

7 Things I Only Get Halfway Through

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus! If you haven’t visited the site, the writing is great and the podcasts are not to be missed!


Parents are busy. I’m always splitting my time between things that need to get done, and spending time with my kids. For instance, at church yesterday, I had to be kid-chasing DURING rehearsal for the service. It was a madhouse up in that sanctuary. But it got me thinking: what else do I never have my full attention on? What do I never have the time to finish? I’ve compiled a list of things I never actually complete because I’m a parent…

Meals. I don’t finish mine because I’m frequently giving it to someone else. Unless my lunch is eating their leftovers.

Showers. Sometimes my showers are cut short by interruptions or cries on the monitor. I’m pretty lucky if I rinse the shampoo out of my hair.

Books. I’m in the middle of approximately 17 books at any given moment. The only thing I can read with half my brain engaged is a young adult novel or a board book by Eric Carle.

Movies. Nine times out of ten, I’m asleep halfway through it. Parenting exhaustion is REAL.

Sleeping. Whether it’s sleeping at night or sneaking a nap while my kids do the same, I’m awoken by my kids every time. I haven’t woken up to the sound of an alarm (or, gasp! birds chirping!) in years, except when I’m on vacation.

Exercising. I rarely have time to go to an exercise class (wannabe yogi, here) so I’m typically working out in my living room, or on a run with the stroller. Either way, I can get faked out by a kid just as I’ve broken a sweat. 

Blog posts. Even as I am writing this one, I have been interrupted a total of five times. And this post isn’t that long. Excuse me while I go put my kids to bed. 

Feeling All the Feels 

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

Sometimes I feel like I do everything. I’ve fed them, bathed them, clothed them, entertained them, and put them to bed. I’ve done all the things, and they are not only entirely oblivious to my efforts, but seemingly ungrateful (read: ignoring and/or defying me). My children are my world, and I spend more time with them than anyone else. 

But enough is enough. 

I am allowed to be overwhelmed. To be full. And I don’t mean in the sweet “my heart is full” sort of way. I mean in the “my plate is so full I can’t figure out how to survive” sort of way. Fullness is a blessing, and I do not discount the ease with which we had our children, or the privilege it is to call them my own. But there’s not a mother out there who can tell you that there aren’t moments, days, or even weeks where things are just so full that they’re hard. 

A couple of weeks ago, I happened to be on vacation. I was in another state, literally and figuratively. I was down there in big ol’, wide-open Texas, and all I did was wonder what my kids were doing at the moment. 

The truth is, those kiddos frustrate me. And they thrill me. And they drive me up the wall. And they are the most joyous three people I know. My world revolves around them. I’m constantly learning how to be the best when I’m with them, and when I’m not. It’s a test of balance to see how I can be myself in both situations. If I’m wearing nice clothes, carrying only a small purse, and driving a car with no child seats, I must be missing something… right? Sometimes, I realize what I’m missing is my grumpiness. I’m missing the exhaustion and stress that sometimes follows me when I’m lugging the kids (and their stuff) around. 

But the biggest thing I’ve learned is that grumpy is okay. Exhausted is okay. Angry, even, is okay. Joyous is okay! Delirious is okay! Whatever stage you’re in, moment you’re in, and feelings you’re having- it’s okay! It doesn’t mean those feelings define you, or that you’re stuck in that rut. But you’re allowed to have big feelings just like your little ones are. So embrace them. Use them as an excuse for a break. Use them as a teachable moment. But don’t shun them; let your feelings show, because that’s how you move on to the next moment.