Tag Archives: moms

‘Twas the First Day of Kindergarten

‘Twas the First Day of Kindergarten: An Ode to Parents’ Feelings

‘Twas the first day of kindergarten,
And all through the town
The fathers and mothers were
Not at all sitting down.
They were packing the lunches
And setting out clothes,
Filling the water bottles
And wiping their nose.
For, you see, they were trying
To keep themselves busy
So it’d be easier to hide
All the crying and wishing
For just one more day
With their sweet little dears.
So they washed some more dishes
To hide the falling tears.

But then they remembered
The tantrums and tears
Over small things and large things
Like scratches or fears.
They’d make mountains of molehills
And things inconsequential.
They kept saying, “MOM!”
Till there was potential
For a nervous breakdown!
Or at least an explosion
Of some stressful shouting
That would cause a commotion.
They remembered those times
That they’d almost forgotten,
Of cleaning up messes
And wiping all the bottoms.

But between feelings of love,
And feelings of relief,
The parents would still know
That the school day is brief.
Their children would return,
Tired but happy.
They’d want to chat, have a snuggle,
And maybe take a nappy.
Then it’s dinner, and a bath,
And send them off to their beds,
The moms and dads needing
To rest their own heads.

It takes energy to love
All those little ones well,
And to worry and fret
Over healthy food or weird smells.
We’re entrusted these kids
For the shortest of seasons.
How can we not also
Give hundreds of reasons
To be protective and kind,
Giving all the hugs and kisses?
One day they’ll be grown,
And we’ll be the ones who miss them.

Looking for My Patience

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles.

I’m a parent; of course I lose my patience sometimes. It’s just what we do when things go awry, or when the day’s been too long, or when we’re pushed and stretched to the point of breaking. I’m not saying it’s the right thing to do, or that it is built into our systems as humans, but I don’t know a parent who has never lost their patience.

But I find that I have stretches of time where I lose my patience more than I keep it. I could blame it on hormones. I could blame it on low sleep. I could find a hundred other excuses for not keeping my cool, but what it all comes down to for me is relying on the Lord for my strength and patience, instead of relying only on myself. What do I mean?

I mean that  I can’t do it on my own. My striving, my best efforts, my standards for myself… none of those things can hold up without some divine intervention. I know that I need to ask my heavenly Father for patience before I need it, not during or after. I have to make the prayer for patience my mantra, and I have to keep reminding myself that my own patience isn’t sufficient unless it’s supplemented with His patience. I know I can’t be the best mom without His help.

While I don’t always find time for those long, elaborate, journaled prayers each day that I loved to write before my life was full of parenting, I need prayer even more than I did then. I find that I’m more conversational in my prayer times, coming and going through prayer throughout the whole day, praying for and with my kids, praying for help in a moment of weakness, for healing booboos, for bedtime to come quickly, and for more patience.

Who knows best how to parent more than God does? He is the perfect Father, the One whom our parent-child relationships should be modeled after. We can be frustrating children, I am sure. Reading the Bible can show us example after example of children who disobeyed, and made terrible choices. But God is full of patience, full of grace, and full of love for us at our most insolent of times. So when I am an imperfect parent, I try (even if it seems too late) to draw support from the perfect Parent, a Father who loves me – and my children – with all the patience we can imagine.

5 Reasons I’m No Longer Organized 

This post originally appeared on Everyday Exiles

By nature, I am an organized person. I love order, labels, color-coding, and fancy pens. Y’all know that last one falls under the same category, right? I love it when the toys in our house have all their own pieces in their own receptacles and are under the correct labels. Talk about a happy place! But how often does my home actually show that I’m organized? Very rarely. Let me tell you the reasons why.

1. I’m a busy person. I know – we are all busy in our own ways. To be honest, busyness often enhances my productivity. I have five spare minutes, and I cram as many things into those five minutes as I can. But where I start to slip is when I let go of the organizational systems I have in place. My clothes are put away according to what type of garment they are. Pajamas here, workout clothes there, casual shirts here, blouses there. But then I have a pile of gently worn clothing that doesn’t fall into the “dirty laundry” category, but hasn’t been refolded or hung back up? Talk to me, huge stack of clothes I tried to lay out nicely but instead are all now wrinkly so I either have to iron them or throw them away. (Ahem. I will never iron. So you see the problem.) It’ll take more than those five spare minutes to put you all away, so destined you are to stay there on the ottoman at the foot of my bed.

2. I don’t live by myself. I know, you’re so surprised that since I’m an organized person, my family can’t just fall in line with me! I, too, frequently fail to see why if there is a labeled bin for toy cars, why are there toys cars not only in every crevice of my home, but also in the bins labeled “Dress Up Clothes” and “Kitchen Items”? Or how about when I have special places for canned goods in my pantry, but there are often canned goods, sitting lonely on the shelf that IS NOT FOR CANNED GOODS. It must be that the leprechaun that haunts kindergarten classrooms in March also haunts my kitchen. All the time. I digress.

3. I love organization so much that I am always finding new and better ways to organize my home. Pinterest is a win AND  a fail for me. I find a good way of doing things, use it for a while, and then I see a new idea. Well, let’s try it! Oh, Hubby and the kids can’t follow my train of very organized thought, packed away into separate see-through containers, stacked on the bottom two shelves of that bookcase in the guest room? Okay, fine. I guess it was a little confusing. Let’s go back to the other way!

4. We have a lot of clutter. I used to think that clutter was knick-knacks from flea markets and bric-a-brac from trips I’d been on in the past. I have very few of those, but I still have a lot of clutter. Nowadays I think my “clutter” is the coupons I don’t want to throw away in case we want to replace our windows this month, and the book my mother-in-law lent me that I honestly do want to read but should probably give back since I’ve been borrowing it for a year and haven’t cracked it open. I’ve heard about the Konmari book, and I think I’d be all about it: if it doesn’t give you joy, toss it. Okay, great, toss that spinach and the annoying bedtime book my kid won’t stop asking me to read.

5. I’m too tired. I know that being organized is energizing for me, and will absolutely save me valuable time with many tasks around my house. The systems we have in place that work are wonderful ones, and I’m always raving about how I’d love everything to be that orderly. But the truth of the matter is that if I have an extra few hours somewhere, I’d rather be taking my kids to the park, sneaking in a date night with my husband, or having a glass of wine with a friend. I don’t have the energy to organize the laundry room’s cabinets or to choose which cloth napkins give me the most joy. You can find me snuggling my babies, watching Moana for the thirtieth time.

If you can get organized, I highly recommend it. It saves time, effort, and often some of your sanity. But if you’re like me, and you just haven’t kept it all together, that’s okay. Empty nesters have a lot of time, I hear.

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!