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.

How to Find Your Mama Community

Occasionally motherhood makes me feel like a crazy person. I’m often convinced that I’m the only woman in the world who has ever felt the way I do about my children until another mom says, “Oh no, I definitely feel that way too.” It’s doubly confirming when it’s coming from a mom with almost grown kids because it assures me that I (probably) won’t go permanently crazy from chaos that surrounds our normal routine.

One of my volleyball girls recently started babysitting my boys about once a month and in the middle of January Justin and I found ourselves sitting in a booth at a pizza place having an uninterrupted conversation that spanned the upcoming inauguration, our ongoing ball seasons, and how weird it was that we weren’t being interrupted. That was some of the best pizza I’ve ever eaten, but I’m not sure I would have noticed either way because we were alone for a few blissful hours. That helps center my marriage and I was ready to jump back into mothering with both feet when we picked up the boys.

We need to date our husbands, go to doctor appointments, drink the coffee while it’s still hot occasionally. We need to remember that we are women with skills and abilities as well as mamas. We need to offer our life experiences to women younger than us and we need to learn from those who are older than us. We need other women (not just mamas) to love on our kids and we need to love on other women’s kids.

What Anxiety Teaches Me about Marriage

I rolled over in bed and saw my husband pulling on his shirt. He leaned over to kiss me goodbye and I wished him luck at his ball tournament. We normally go with him but since he was leaving early, traveling several hours, and coming back after bedtime, I opted to stay home with the boys. As I heard the door shut behind him, I was overcome with fear that something would happen to him as he was traveling.

My overactive imagination is sometimes a blessing but more often a curse. Dan Zadra said, “Worry is a misuse of the imagination” and that misuse has colored my life. Justin was traveling with his assistant coach, a parent, and four of his athletes and I didn’t just imagine a car wreck. I could see the headlines: “Homeschool Athletes and Coaches Die on Trip to Tournament.” I pictured myself having to tell our boys that their daddy was dead. I imagined myself having to give birth to this fourth baby that would never know his father without Justin’s steadying presence. I saw myself trying to figure out all the things in our life that Justin takes care of.

This fear has been present my whole life. I remember being terrified that our house would burn down while we were away when I was growing up. I remember thinking, “But if I leave and go to this event, something might happen.” Once a pastor said that the story of Job comforted him in the worst of life’s problem.  My reaction to Job? He just makes me afraid that my whole family will die.

The Comparison Trap in Marriage

I really have gotten better at the brutal game of comparison with other women. I don’t handle it perfectly but it no longer consumes me as it has in the past. But recently I’ve found myself wrestling with another art of comparison that I thought I left behind long ago.

My husband had the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day off. It made for some great memories, a few magical moments, and other moments when I wished for bedtime and a normal routine.

When he went back to work, I found myself suddenly the only adult to whom the children could offer their requests. Three people constantly plying, and often whining (we’re working on it), about the things they wanted, needed, or injustices that were being done.

My response was irritation at my husband whose life I had suddenly decided was much easier than mine. After all, he can go to the bathroom in quiet, whenever he likes. He can leave work and come home to eat lunch, or stay at work in the conference room ordering lunch in like an adult, or leave and run out to get fast food. No buckling other people in car seats or telling children not to fight while they wait on their turn to walk out the door.

Before You Set Goals for 2017

An older woman once said that she talked out both sides of her mouth. She would say, “get up off the couch and get to work” at the same time that she was saying, “there’s grace for rest and recognition of limits.” But she explained that she was talking to both sides of the personality spectrum. There are some people who need all the extra prodding just to get up and get the basics done. And there are some people who will push, push, push until they are about to fall over from exhaustion.

It’s helpful to learn about yourself. Pay attention to what motivates you, take personality tests, find what works for you when it comes to planning and doing your work. Then you know how to talk to yourself.

I tend to to fall on the how many things can I cross off my list the fastest side. Usually this comes in handy, but as I’ve gotten deeper in motherhood, I’ve come to realize that’s not always the best method when you’re trying to nurture children and not just clean the house.

And Baby Makes Six

I distinctly remember being in the hospital after giving birth to our third son thinking, “I never want to do that again.”

Within six months of having our first and second sons, I desperately wanted another baby. Not right then, of course, because I could imagine the havoc of multiple children that close in age, but I knew with everything in me that I wanted more children. After my third, not so much. Not after he was born, not when he was six months old, not when he was 18 months old. Not to try for a girl, not to have an even number, not to feel the magic of a baby growing inside me again. We were having serious “are we done?” conversations.

There were so many things associated with having another baby that I wanted to avoid: the stress over whether the baby has IVA, making plans for the baby’s care just in case he does have IVA, the prenatal testing for IVA, oh, and let’s not forget the actual labor and delivery part of it all.

And yet, here I am celebrating the Christmas season of 2016, easing out of the first trimester and, Lord willing, going to do it all over again.

Setting Expectations for Your Kids

I’ve not parented for very long but I have learned one thing. Most often, when I’m having problems with my kids, I’m the problem.

While I was recovering from my broken ankle, I realized a lot of ways I was parenting weren’t working. I was frustrated. They were frustrated. It wasn’t the way we wanted our home atmosphere to be. So I started praying about it.

The majority of times when I start praying about problems with my family I don’t hear words from heaven. Ok- I’ve never heard words from heaven. I don’t see writing in the sky or get letters from Sally Clarkson or find that my children just magically start doing what I want. But as I spend time praying about it over the course of days or weeks I start getting ideas. I read something in a book. I see a graphic on the internet. I hear something on the podcast. And I realize I can change what I’m doing.