A while back I had the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on mothering and parenting with other women and I was going through my notes just the other day and thought it would be good to share them again. This is really more for my benefit than for anyone else's! I've been struggling with motherhood lately and going through some of my own written convictions is good for me and helping to refocus my mindset.
When I shared these thoughts previously I was asked a few questions so I will include those as well.
What would you have like to have known going into mothering/parenting?
The biggest thing that I feel like God has shown me over the last few years that I wish I would have fully grasped and understood beforehand is:
That if God has given you a child then He meant for you to be a mother. No matter what the circumstances were that brought that child into being. If you have a child you ARE a mother and He CHOSE for you to be a mother.
And if God has chosen to make you a mother, which He has, then He has also equipped you with all of the necessary tools to be the kind of mom that He wants you to be. Not the mom the world wants you to be. Not the mom your friends want you to be. But the mom that God wants you to be!
The world and people around us will cheapen the role of being a mother. They will make it seem less than par and "ho-hum" but that is not what God thinks about being a mother.
Titus 2:4 talks about how we are called to love our husbands, love our children, to be self-controlled and pure, and to be busy at home.
- Home is where you as a mother will have the best and greatest impact.
- Remember that even when people pull and persuade you that things outside of the home are more important, your greatest and most important impact will only be made at home.
What are some things you felt were good to know going into mothering?
1) Consistency is key.
No, we’re not always consistent! But we have been able to witness the effectiveness of continual consistency and we have also seen the effects of discipline that is not consistent. Families we watched that made a purpose to be consistent now have children that need less correction, are respectful, live out the character qualities that their parents were consistent with teaching. The families that we have seen live more in the moment of discipline now have children who throw tantrums (at 11 years old), fight every parental authoritative decision, whine, argue, and show disrespect to the extent of screaming at their parents.
2) You need to have their hearts.
We have been told this important truth over and over since we first got married. If you want to have an impact on your children you have to capture their hearts. It's hard to gauge whether or not you have your child's heart but there are a couple things you can do that can help you determine if you do or not.
- If you are speaking to your child and they continually look away from you and you need to hold their little cheeks just to get them to look at you and even then they're still looking away with their eyes - that may be a sign you do not have their heart yet.
- If you tell your child to do something or you tell them no to something they ask for and they respond cheerfully, "Ok mom!" That may be a good indicator that you do have their heart.
- To really gain your child's heart you need to give them yours. As mothers it easy to think that that comes automatically, but it may not. You need to be investing yourself and your heart into them. And the best and most beneficial way to do that is by giving your time. Start by giving them large quantities of your time because quantity time turns into quality with your children.
3) Routine, routine, routine.
In our home we have Blanket Time, Room Time, Table Time, Bible Time, etc. I was fortunate enough to witness the power of routine in a couple of families when I was younger. These times give our days purpose and structure. They also help my children to know what to expect and that gives them stability and security. Ex: Emma asking to have blanket time and room time and Bible time! She will ask if I have not included them in our day. The kids also do so much better when we have these times implemented into our days. They thrive knowing what to expect at what time each day. Things run so much more smoothly when we have structure in our days.
What keeps you going? How you overcome when you feel like quitting?
Being a mother is hard work. The hardest job that you will ever have! And because of the daily repetitive nature and sometimes tedious work of mothering it is important to figure out a few things that help to lift up your spirit when the days get too long, too hard, and too exhausting. For me those things are:
- Getting up early to exercise. Exercise keeps me energized for the day and heals my body. I do a workout that only takes 20-25 minutes but helps my back and gets me moving!
- Daily Quiet Time. After I exercise I take 30-60 minutes and spend time in the Word. Before doing this my days were more filled with frustration and anger and bitterness. I would be more inclined to yell at my children and my fuse was extremely short. Not to say that there still aren’t days where I struggle with all of that but if I get in the Word before the kids are awake those things are less likely to be “normal.” There has been nothing that has affected my mood for the day more than my time with God in the mornings. Now, you NEED to find time to do this! Before I started consistently doing it in the mornings I would just say, “Oh, I’ll do it whenever I have time.” And that quickly turns into “I don’t have time right now; I’ll do it when they have Room Time.” And that would turn into, “I have to do other things right now, I’ll do it during nap time.” And then when nap time rolled around I would have other things to accomplish or get ready and so I would say, “Well, I can just do it before I go to sleep.” Well, most days with 3 children under 3 I would be asleep before I hit the pillow!
- Nap Time! Or Quiet Time if you have older children. And make sure that you aren’t spending your nap time cleaning! (That’s something K--- told me once.) Have your children clean up before they go down for their naps or their quiet times and then use that time to refuel. I get a couple things done during nap time that are necessary – maybe getting dinner in the crockpot or putting the laundry in the dryer, and then I take the remaining time to rest so that I can be energized and ready for the rest of the evening when my husband is home.
- Time away. Whether that is a conference on mothering, church event (Band of Mothers), coffee with a friend, read a book that encourages your goals in parenting, etc. Just make sure that you’re doing something that is going to encourage you in your purpose and drive as a mother!
Example: I recently e-mailed K--- because I had been a having a string of discouraging weeks as a mom. I was endlessly frustrated with Emma and just exhausted of the duty that being a mom includes. She e-mailed me back with the exact encouragement I just told you: and said, “Do whatever it takes to be encouraged in mothering!” So, I took her advice and asked my husband if I could go to Band of Mothers at our church, which is a group of mothers that meets one Monday each month for 2 or so hours. I was able to go and it was EXACTLY what I needed! It was all about disciplining and having your children’s hearts.
- Seeing people who have come out the other side! Get in touch with someone who has already been through the stages your children are currently going through and bend your ear to their wisdom.
How did we get a vision for raising your children on purpose?
Mike and I always had ideas about what we wanted from our children and our parenting. The things that first took us there were being in contact with a couple very real, very Godly families whose children exampled the same things we wanted to instill in our children. I was very fortunate to be closely connected with the D family for a number of years before I was married and before we had any children and because of that influence I learned a lot about the greatness that your children have within them because of the power of Christ.
I learned that the “norm” today is NOT the norm that God has for my children. And I was able to see a very real example of the success of consistent, purposed parenting.
If you think that that’s just not reality for you and your spouse and your children – you are wrong and you are believing a lie!
Satan definitely wants you to think that all your family can achieve is the world’s definition of “normal” and great.
But God has a far greater purpose for your family and you as a mother. Our children can become far more than we ever imagined if we are willing to parent with God’s purpose and will.
- One thing that Mike and I did on the encouragement from Premeditated Parenting by Steve and Kathy Nelson was to make a list of the qualities that we want our children to example when they are teenagers. That list is: Knowledge and belief of the Word of God, a personal relationship with Christ, Self-Control, Honesty, Responsibility, Integrity, Honor, Courage (to do what is right), Know that your word is gold (when they give people their word something will get done), Honesty, Strong Faith, Self sufficiency -to know that they can truly do anything in this world if they work hard and aren't scared to take chances, Good Work Ethic, Modesty, Purity …
- Being involved in a church that has a vision for families. It’s important to have people around you who will support and encourage what you are doing in your parenting. Not that you won’t meet people in your church that have a different vision or disagree with you, but you want the leaders of your church to have families that example the same things you want in your children eventually or will at least encourage you with your parenting goals.
- Our Vision: To raise kids who are strong in faith, self sufficient, honorable and then some. Our family should be an example to others as well as selfless. Our purpose is and always remains to love the Lord and to love others.
How do you and your husband communicate about parenting?
- Talking – whenever we get the chance.
Example: a lot of times we talk on the way to church in the car because it's uninterupted time!
Example: a way to not react when your husband wants to make a change in the way you guys discipline. If you bring up something or he brings up something and either he doesn't agree with you or wants to change something you are doing - do not just say, “Oh, okay.” Even if you’re like me and need time to process through changes your response still needs to be encouraging and supportive, “That’s a good idea. Can we talk about that more later?” That way I have time to think and process and he knows that I still honor and respect his decisions.
If you guys are not on the same page start with sharing with him what you do with the children during the day. Explain the details of how you discipline and what situations get what type of discipline. Then allow your husband to change, alter, or modify the way that you do things. It is far more important for you and your husband to be disciplining the same way than it is for you to be “right” about the discipline.