Tag Archives: mothers

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?

You Are One. 

How is it possible, my baby, that you have already been with us one year?

That early morning last summer, after a long night of labor, was a beautiful relief. Every day with you has been a joy, a loud, fun-filled, silly journey.

You are the apple of your family’s eye, the snuggliest puppy-boy, the growling companion to your brother and the anywhere-follower of your sister. You’ve got seven sharp teeth that love all things crunchy, and you’re following in your brother’s big, heavy footsteps. You might not walk just yet, but you are quite fast in spite of that fact. 


You have great things ahead, dear Davis. Many wonderful years await you, but for a minute, I wish you’d slow down, stay little for a little longer. I know you won’t, so I look forward to the next, and the next, as well. Happy first birthday, my baby darling. 

The Mommy Bloggers: Why Are They So Bad?

I read a disturbing article recently, bashing “mommy bloggers”. Somewhere along the way, we’ve labeled mothers who write, on blogs and/or elsewhere, with an awful name and lumped them into a group together, as if they all have the same goals, ideas, or talents.

I’ve only been writing for a couple of years now, and originally, I thought it would be to make some money. As it turns out, I’ve switched tracks and simply fallen in love with writing. Yes, just the process. I’ve made a little bit of money (not much, truly), and I’ve been published on several sites other than my own, but I don’t think that’s what drives me. I love sharing my life. I love encouraging and positively challenging others. I love sharing the Gospel. I love connecting with other women, parents, writers, and Jesus-followers.

You see, when I started writing my blog, the first thing I did was start reading others’ blogs. Like, a lot of them. So now, I have people whose words I truly admire, aspire to emulate, or simply laugh out loud while reading. I’ve enjoyed getting to know these other writers, and even becoming friends with several of them. I’ve seen their children grow, and their families get larger. I’ve seen hard times fall upon them and I’ve seen them pray and wade themselves back out of them. They have likely seen all these things in my life as well.

What I’ve learned is that other people like to connect, too. We all like to know we aren’t the only ones. We like to see that someone has made it through the stage of life that we feel we are stuck in. Parents really like to connect, because there is often wisdom to be gleaned from other parents, or at the very least, some encouragement that “This too shall pass.” We tend to feel we are stuck in some rut or another, with a tantrum-throwing toddler or an eye-rolling teenager. We love reading that someone else is also dealing with those issues. It reiterates the humanity of the situation for us.

So, “Mommy Bloggers”, I say this to you: I appreciate you. I appreciate your realness, your humor, your honest distress and the encouragement you’ve given. I can only hope that my words and the sharing of my life have encouraged, amused, and provoked thought in you, as well.

8 Things That Are Better Than Hallmark for Mothers’ Day

We all feel like the pressure is on to give the moms in our lives a spectacular day, filled with presents, good food, and thoughtful words. However, I’ve discovered that this list might make that mom in your life even happier. 
1. Wine. If we go out together and drink it, or if you put a bow on it, I’m happy. 

2. Chocolate. I know this is a gift many moms might receive, but let’s add this stipulation: I don’t have to share it. 

3. Mani/Pedi. I’m always looking for a nice way to spend a couple of hours without my kids. Luckily, this way includes sitting in a massage chair. 

4. A babysitter. Must come with a “use whenever and however you want” clause. 

5. A housekeeping coupon. The next time I don’t want to clean the bathrooms, I’m cashing in. 

6. Gift card for my favorite take out. Because that’s easier and more delicious than grocery stores and cooking on my own. 

7. An adult coloring book. And a set a fine-tip Sharpies. And a few hours alone. It’s amazing how stress-relieving mandalas and kaleidoscopes can be, especially if coupled with #1 or #2. 

And my personal favorite choice:

8. A family fun event… That I don’t have to plan or do the prep for. I love family time and fun outings. But sometimes I run out of ideas of things we can do with the kids, and I burn out on getting everything ready/packed up. If a day of fun was planned out for me, and the kids were already packed? I’d do anything. 

What would you rather have this Mothers’ Day than a cheesy, $5 greeting card?

A Mom’s Day in the Car

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

Last week, my family did the unthinkable: we took a road trip. 

 Now, I don’t say that because we didn’t want to leave town, or even because we packed a lot. (In fact, Hubby and I remarked about how we felt like we packed the same amount for this trip as we had packed for our eldest’s first road trip – even though now we have three times the number of children.) I say that because the 350-ish miles to my parents’ house took us way longer than it should’ve. Hubby and I used to do it in 5 1/2 hours before we had kids. Now, it takes at least 8 and maybe more. Basically, road tripping with small kids is a long, arduous process. Here are a few reasons why:

Poop. Yes, as we are constantly telling our children, everyone poops. However, when poop happens into a diaper, there’s quite the clean up to be had. And sometimes if it takes us a little longer than usual to either realize there has been a poop, or to find a place to go to clean up said poop, the mess may have just gotten bigger. For example, on the way back to NC, my youngest (8 months old) went through three changes of pants. All I have to say is thank goodness the child seat wasn’t ruined, because there’s no way to change that in small town SC.

Food. Everyone has to eat. The problem is that everyone eats different things at different times and sometimes, they’re pickier than usual. For instance, my terrible two went completely bonkers when I suggested he drink lemonade and eat oranges. For crying out loud, HE LOVES LEMONADE AND ORANGES! But for some reason, when those were the most readily available things, he flat out refused, via a tantrum. We ended up making it the last two hours with jelly beans. That was the only reason we made it home. 

 Scheduling problems. My kids typically have an afternoon nap all at the same time, (within about half an hour of each other). My youngest also has a morning nap. But when we’re in the car all day, and no one has let out any energy, we’re just watching movies and eating jelly beans, naps are a little wonky. However, at some point each of them are going to have a meltdown (probably about how we won’t stop the car and let them out) and get tired. It’s just tough when one goes to sleep, and another has a meltdown and wakes that one up. Then finally those two are asleep, and the third one gets hungry and starts yelling. I’m telling y’all, it’s one of the circles of hell.

Movie preference. We are extremely lucky to have a car that has a DVD player and screens in it. We’ve not even had it a year, and before that we were using the iPad, harnessed between the two front seats (that had to be exactly side by side). But even with the screens, there’s a little bit of complaining about what we’re watching. Why can’t I just put on Frozen? Why can’t we watch endless episodes of Sofia the First? Well, what about Chuggington? Because MY CAR DOESN’T HAVE NETFLIX. That’s why. I brought 8 DVDS. CHOOSE ONE AND BE HAPPY.

All in all, we made it out alive and well. There might be some emotional scarring, but in a few days, I’ll be okay.

A Letter to Myself Before I Became a Mother

  
Dear innocent, young girl,

I want to write you, even though I know you’ll never see it. But maybe it will make us both feel better, and let us share a little of ourselves with each other. Oh, if you only knew what’s coming. I could tell you so many things, but you wouldn’t even want to hear them right now. It’s difficult to understand the lifestyle, the struggles, all of the feels that you will experience later. You might even have a chuckle or two (or hearty laugh, actually) at some of the things coming for you.

But in lieu of us having a little laugh at my (our) expense, I thought I’d give a piece or two of advice. You know, a friendly few suggestions to maybe try out before you get to where I am now: wading through a pile of children on my way to the bathroom in the morning, hearing shouts floating up the stairs before I’ve even heard my alarm (by the way, my alarm is a crying baby). Here are my three big pieces of advice:

1. Sleep late. I know you do already, or I wouldn’t know how much you’d miss it. But do it more often, as often as possible. And you know what else? Go to bed early. I know you’re a night owl and you love staying awake in the wee hours, but just try it out once or twice. You might find that you like it!

2. Travel. You don’t have any idea how cheap and easy it is to go places right now. It will be again, but not for a while. Get out there into the world beyond your town. Visit friends that live far away, go to different time zones while your body can spring back easily, get on an airplane without any tag-alongs (and I don’t mean Girl Scout cookies), eat fancy food, visit museums and see shows. You’ll find that each of these things is either more expensive, more difficult, or altogether impossible, at least for a little while. Travel enough now to save up some memories until your children are older and you’re not using your paycheck on diapers.

3. Sow seeds. This seems broad, but it can be specifically applied to three areas: your family, your friends, and your career. You will be busy when you’ve got little ones. And not any sort of busy that you’ve ever experienced. You won’t have much time to build new relationships, so sow good seeds into the family and friends you’ve got now. You want them to stick around during that time when you’re largely an unshowered, frazzled mess, alive solely because of coffee. They’ll be forgiving (and even helpful!) because you’ve spent years loving them well when you had the time and energy for it. Your career will thank you as well. Work hard and long while you don’t have those little ones who need you at home. You’ll build a base of trust and integrity, and likely receive grace later when you have a sick babe or preschool play to attend.

The last thing I’ll say, free and childless one, is when you do get ready for children, and you are expecting one of your own, don’t brush off what those mothers you meet will tell you. New mothers, old mothers, working mothers, stay-at-home mothers will all impart wisdom to you in their own way. Sometimes, you won’t know why they need to tell you those ridiculous things, or scare you with their labor stories, or be the hundredth woman to tell you, “Oh, just wait!” They’re all right; what they say will be true at some point during your mothering experience. You will be tired, you will get fed up, and you will feel the craziest, strongest, most permanently bonding love you’ve ever felt about anything. Open your heart to it, because it’s the best thing you’ll ever feel.

Emotional, Evolving, Steadfast Motherhood

Mothers.

If you could have told me about the feels you have when you join their ranks, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I’ve always been a sensitive person. I’ve cried at silly things my whole life – and of course that hasn’t changed. Books, movies, heartfelt cards and sappy songs all make me cry a little and always have. But moments… they’re what make me tear up nowadays. Little moments, like when my daughter reaches out to hold my hand while we watch a show before bed. Or last night, when Hubby kissed me goodbye as he was leaving for work, my son turned in my lap to give me a smooch on the lips as well. I couldn’t have made that moment up. I cried right there on the spot.

These moments of motherhood are precious and fleeting. They feel numerous and few all at the same time. They can sometimes be trumped by moments of frustration or hurry or tiredness. They can be a little tiny thing that happens every day, and we don’t realize just how magical it is until it stops. Those moments of a milk-drunk newborn as you lay his limp body in the bassinet. The early giggles of an infant whose chubby cheeks jiggle with every laugh. The first few times your child forms the words “I love you.”

In my three short years of motherhood, I am amazed by what I am constantly learning, and doing, and already missing. I am beside myself with excitement over having a new baby in the house again in three months, but I still have a little sadness mingled with my pride when I think about how big my first two “babies” are now. I am thrilled by my children’s personalities and abilities. I am bursting with happiness when I’m simply watching them be themselves.

I am blessed by these kids. I am blessed by the opportunity to be their mom. I am terrified by the responsibility to raise them to be kind and compassionate, not to mention functioning members of society. I am scared to death for them to grow up and not need me anymore. My identity is wrapped up in them without being solely theirs. I am a mother. I’ve been a mother of babies. I am the mother of toddlers. I will be the mother of three. I will be the mother of teenagers, of college students, of adults. I will be a grandmother. Our situation is constantly changing, yet always steady. I am their mother. The mother of my children. The mother of my amazing, beautiful, silly, growing, changing, sometimes frustrating and always loved children.

427894_829986134153_1659442766_n
Elena Kathleen, at one day old.The little gal who made me a mama.
1421263_10100249647077233_1107151579_o
Joseph Stevens, at one day old, meeting his big sister.