Last fall, we welcomed my second daughter to our family. Those first few weeks were a beautiful blend of exhaustion and baby cuddles. Since my daughters are almost exactly two years apart, watching their close relationship has been a joy.
As anyone with small children knows, this season has challenges. My second recently started solids, sprouted two teeth (and is growing a few more, judging by sleep patterns), and is sitting up. My toddler and I are in the throes of potty training. Enough said about that topic!
The challenges of this season call me to a stronger version of myself. I don’t want to merely “survive” these little years; I want to remember and enjoy them. So when I become discouraged, I remind myself of the following truths:
- This is a season – a very short season.
Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecc. 3:1) This season in my little girls’ lives is very short – even though the days feel long! I can fight the season, or live it well for all it’s worth. The choice is mine.
Fellow Club31Women Contributor, Susan Yates, talks more about seasons here.
- Time spent with my children is productive.
I’m a Type-A person, and productivity is important to me. But it’s very easy for me to put tasks ahead of people. To troubleshoot this tendency, I remind myself that time spent with my children IS productive. It’s an investment in their hearts, lives, and memories. Even though blowing bubbles for the tenth time doesn’t feel like something of eternal value, it is.
- I am as strong a mother as I am rooted in God’s Word.
If there’s one stage of life that taught me I can’t “do it all”, it’s motherhood! If I want to be the best, strongest mother for my daughters, I have to start with the Word of God. This means getting up earlier, or juggling babies while I read my bible and take notes with one hand. It might be messy and interrupted, but what matters is that I draw near.
- My marriage is worth the effort.
Our culture tells us marriage comes second to kids. But even my two-year-old can sense when there is tension between mom and dad, and her long term spiritual growth is impacted by how we live out our marriage in front of her. My marriage comes first, because everything in our home flows from that relationship.
- I am not above humble service.
Jesus was not above washing feet. I thought of this last night as I washed my daughter’s dirty toes before putting her to bed. If I think there’s “something better”, something of more merit that I could be doing with my time, I’m denigrating the very actions which characterized Jesus’ life on earth.
- This is foundation-building time.
I don’t know about you, but caring for a toddler and a baby often feels like a holding pattern. I’ve found myself wishing my oldest was six or seven; wishing we could do more activities or talk on a deeper level. But this is a season of laying foundations. How I parent my daughters now, even in this little, repetitive ways, is building the relationship I’ll have with them when they are six and beyond.
- It is good to take time for myself.
Guilt is not from God. And while it’s normal to miss our children when investing in our own emotional and mental health, guilt should be rejected! Spending a few hours on a coffee date with a friend, uninterrupted reading, or whatever fills your cup helps you return to motherhood rejuvenated and ready to pour into your children once again.
- My children thrive on structure.
I know, for my family, structure is absolutely necessary. We have morning and evening routines, a cleaning schedule, and regular nap times that I protect with my life! This structure frees us spend time as a family without suffering from exhaustion and overwhelm. I’ve found my daughters have more energy when awake and sleep better during naps and bedtime just by integrating routines into our home life.
- Sometimes the routine has to wait.
Though my kids have always had structure and benefit from it greatly, sometimes the schedule is set aside. Flexibility is so important when you have little ones! Too much rigidity and you’re frustrated by shorter naps and toddler breakdowns. Too little structure and you can never get ahead. Finding that balance has been so key to my enjoyment of this season.
- They are only babies once.
This hit me hard when my second baby turned three months. I looked at her little form sleeping in my arms and realized: She will never be a baby again. There may be other babies, but she… she will never return to how small she was in that moment. And it’s true. She’s now twice that size, has two teeth, and is starting to sit up. Time is a thief, and babies must grow – but we don’t have to miss it.