Updated: May 9, 2019
With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, I found it perfect timing to share some of the lessons I’ve learned as a Mom to three (soon to be 4) children of various ages, throughout different seasons.
Motherhood can often be isolating, intimidating, and with voices on every side, in every day life and social media, it often leaves us feeling…inadequate.
SO, why not share some lessons I’ve learned along the way (not easily attained, might I add) in hopes to bring encouragement to YOU? Young Mama, Working Mama, Stay-at-home Mama, Side-Hustle Mama, First-Second-Third-time Mama. What we choose to identify ourselves as, has complete influence over who we are as mothers. Whether we embrace that confidently, or not, is fully our responsibility and no one else’s.
So here they are, 10 Things I've learned in the last 10 Years:
1. SELF CARE IS A PRIORITY, NOT A LUXURY.
We often find ourselves frustrated, anxious, even resentful towards our children and spouses because we neglect this very thing. Might I add, this doesn’t have to be a monetary issue. Self-care and how we re-fuel, looks different for each and every one of us. If it requires budgeting for a manicure or massage, taking a bubble bath, exercising, reading a book, do that. If it means hiring a sitter, budget for it. I took a trip with my childhood girlfriends last fall, and it was so refreshing to my soul. Don’t place the expectation on your hubby to be a mind reader either, he doesn’t automatically read your mind when you need a break. You will be the best when you feel the best!
2. MY SPIRITUAL, EMOTIONAL, & MENTAL HEALTH SET THE THERMOSTAT OF MY HOME.
I don't know what this looks like for you, but I need Jesus. Quite honestly, I wish I would've been better about making "quiet time" my 1st priority in the earlier years. Now it's a non-negotiable. Exercise it a vital component for me too. And for my mamas in the newborn/infant stage, there's no standard here. Squeeze in the time where you can and make it count. Shower? Car? anywhere. We can't pour from an empty cup. When I’m making sure to invest in these 3, I can parent from a place of wholeness. If we want to raise children who are whole and complete, we must first start with us. Listen to me when I say: they will model who you ARE more than what you SAY.
3. HUSBAND IS FIRST, KIDS ARE SECOND.
This is a big one! Don't stone me to death here. It works two ways for sure. It is so easy to confuse the two, but I need my partner and if our marriages aren't healthy, we can't cultivate healthy parent relationships. It flows from the top! How I choose to respond to my husband, gives them the ability to learn how to respond and show respect to their father. And even shapes how they will allow themselves to be treated in future relationships. Honor in public, share disappointments in private, and model what healthy discussion looks like.
4. DON’T BEND ON YOUR CONVICTIONS.
Raising children of conviction means we don’t have the room to bend on our own convictions. This means no one else’s opinion really has the authority to influence the healthy boundaries we may feel led to put into place. We are surrounded by the strong opinions of family, friends, media, etc. And yes, that may even mean going against a ‘cultural norm,’ but I’m not accountable to cultural relevance. And quite honestly, no one else is responsible for these young lives, but YOU and your partner. Trust your discernment!
5. RESOURCE YOURSELF.
As my husband would say, “Readers are leaders.” As mothers, we are naturally leaders in our homes. Reading a variety of books and listening to podcasts, is something I’ve taken a liking to later in life, but it has helped me tremendously when dealing with various situations in parenting. Therapy/mentorship is also a great way to keep learning and growing.
6. RESPONDING REQUIRES WISDOM, REACTING IS FOOLISH.
Can we have a real conversation for a sec? Choosing to respond comes with SO MUCH self- control, but the outcome is so much more fruitful in the end. Stop, examine, process, THEN speak. Whether it’s disciplining your children, or helping them deal with a difficult peer at school, if our children see us resort to panic, so will they. Reactive behavior typically leads to disaster, and I for one, would rather not spend time cleaning up what could have been avoided in the first place.
7. OUTSOURCE HELP.
Don’t buy into the lie, whether you stay home with your children, or work full time, that you have to do it ALL. I've lived out both of these roles. Friends, we weren’t created to do it all. If we could, we wouldn’t need Jesus. I would rather sacrifice elsewhere, than to spend my Saturday cleaning my house top to bottom, so I hire help. That gives me the ability to spend time with my husband and children without giving them my leftovers. Communicate to your partner when you need them to step in or when you feel it's time to bring in some help. However that looks for you, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Reach out, ask for help, hire help. No need to be a martyr.
8. THERE IS A SEASON FOR EVERYTHING.
You’re not missing out because you’re raising babies! And if you're a ministry wife like me, your first and most important ministry IS your home. If that isn’t in order, neither will your ministry be. And it will be a never-ending season of “chasing your tail” until that is prioritized. There’s absolutely no point in being available to others, at the expense of your children or husband. Friends, we only get a few years to instill and raise them up in the ways they should go. Your children are the greatest evidence of fruitfulness in your life.
9. YOU CAN STILL CHASE AFTER YOUR DREAMS.