Thursday, May 23

hope for the little years

Sometimes even if you love life with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers in the home, things can get mundane and downright hard.
This last year, we've had four babies, toddlers, and preschoolers to raise, along with the three older school-age kids.  At times, the days caused me to want to jump right back into my bed willing it to be the weekend again.  And at other times it rolled along swimmingly.  I was exhausted, yes.  That's normal for a mom of littles, even on a smooth day.  On those easy-ish days, I didn't get teary or get a raging headache, like I did on those not-so-smooth ones.  

There were breaks in the clouds, bringing a lightness to our days
 that I was and am so thankful for. 
Days when I didn't feel so alone.  So wiped out and frazzled. 
Through the realities of this life God has gifted us with - and it is a gift - I've learned so much. 
Those days that were tear and headache free weren't the result of changes in my circumstances, they were a result in changes in me.

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.   Here's how the ratio of smooth days started to greatly outweigh the hard ones: 

1.  Be Kind to Yourself, Get Up Earlier Than Them

Before you roll your eyes at me, and what I'm about to write, hear me out.  I AM NOT A MORNING PERSON.  I'm normally a stayupwaypastyourbedtime 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, 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, and get on the computer. 

The kids have been trained since they were preschoolers or young elementary aged to stay in their rooms and 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 to feed the baby, get breakfast for the other little ones, get little ones dressed, play for a bit, and start school.  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. 

2.  Let Go of Perfect
Us 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. 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 and 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 play dough with the kids, or sitting on the floor reading books for an 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. 
"She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her."
Proverbs 3:15
Please feel free to share this with the moms in your life! 



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