How to Have a Good Day with Small Children

There’s this strange struggle to me. So many of my days have what I consider high notes: we finished school work for the day, I got in some work, we snuggled and cuddled and read. But even on those days there’s still the reality of life with small children. If I added it up in consecutive minutes some days there are literally several hours that one of the three children is either crying, fussing, or needing disciplined for poor behavior.

One Monday we had what I consider to be a high day with school going well and some quality work happening during naptime and yet there were those 2.5 hours of dealing with the behavior. I’ve been working on how I handle this imbalance. How I still have- and call it- a good day when there’s so many  trying, and yes, even hard times mixed in?

Two things have helped but they are a bit of circular reasoning.

First, what am I measuring for it to be a good day? If I’m waiting until the kids don’t cry or fuss or whine or misbehave, I will never have a good day. Or at least not for years. Am I waiting on flowers and coffee and Voxer chats with friends? I can actually schedule those into my day! Am I wanting perfection in my kids and a good hair day from myself to consider it a good day? That last one will never happen, at least not at the same time.

Have you really ever considered what makes a good day for you? Really, start a list on a notepad. Or your phone, I’m just obsessed with paper. Maybe that includes a Voxer chat with your bestie or a favorite candle burning. Those are simple solutions for a little joy so do those things. So many solutions are both spiritual and practical; we’ve studied this over and over in church as we’ve stepped through the Old Testament. There’s a combination of prayer and action every time someone has faced a problem. I want us to be in the Word, praying, and asking God to work in our hearts about motherhood and the work He’s put before us. But I also think if we can realign our routine and turn on our favorite music that we should do that.

baby bump outside

Second, I’ve settled on doing the work. God’s put a work in front of me and maybe it didn’t go smoothly, maybe I ran into problems I didn’t expect, maybe my plans had to change some, but am I doing that work? Am I seeing what God has given me to do and then putting my hands to it? That’s a good day even if there were hours of crying and discipline mixed in.

It also helps me to remember that the crying and discipline are part of the work. I’m not a mother because my children are perfect and continually delightful. They are tiny and need a lot of instruction. There are boo-boos and hurt feelings and blatant misbehavior because we are all sinners. Motherhood forces me to face the fact that not only are they sinners, but I am too.

Then there are days when you can’t even measure the physical work. There are the days when everything falls apart: a sick kid, a child in the hospital, unexpected visitors. Plans sometimes change drastically and you can’t get to the work of the day. There’s no laundry or school or dishes. What then?

That’s when I start measuring who I’m being.  Here’s where it gets circular because it starts here too. All the work doesn’t matter if it’s done out of the wrong heart. But with the right heart, you need to get up and do the work. The right heart isn’t the stopping place, it’s the starting place. But it circles back around to there when the work falls apart. There might not the physical work of the writing and the cleaning but there’s still the work of being gracious and loving. There’s the work of trusting that God knows what is going on in your life and you don’t have to panic.

It doesn’t mean that the kids don’t cry. It means I don’t measure whether or not the kids are crying when I consider if the day is good.

love