|Mother's Day 2014|
2. Create a Mom Cave and hide in it when necessary! It is ABSOLUTELY necessary to break away sometimes. I have created an isolated little corner of my bedroom that is quiet, calming, and tucked away from the rest of the house. Sure, they find me, but at least it is a spot that I can call mine and when I'm lucky, I can enjoy it alone for a little while. If I go into "emergency mama meltdown mode," I hide in the bottom of my closet. That's only in severe cases though!
3. Tell your child how amazing he or she is! The world is cruel, people are mean, life is hard sometimes. Before they begin to hear from others what they are doing wrong or discovering what they are not good at, help them to know they can be anything they want to be and that you are proud of them! Be their biggest fan!
4. Choose your words carefully - they hear you and they will repeat! Enough said.
5. When your child is talking, look them in the eye and really listen to what they are saying. It may be the 14th time that day that your child is telling you about their imaginary horse, Lightning. You may be sick of talking about the silly horse that you can't see anyway. But to them, Lighting is important. What they tell you is important to them - right then, right there, at this moment in their little life. If you don't listen to them talk about the important things in their life right now, they may not feel they can talk to you about the important things later - as they grow older.
6. Trust your motherly instinct. It will usually be right! I am amazed (and a little freaked out) at how my motherly instinct has been right in the past. Don't underestimate it!
7. Don't cry over spilled milk! Spilled milk, stained carpet, worn out couch, a broken lamp, toys left out...it is temporary. Before we know it, they will leave and then we can take our houses back. For now, keep things in perspective and try not to sweat the small stuff! (Whoa. Who just said that? Did that come from ME?)
8.Love their daddy and be committed to him! Tell your children you love them every day but also, let them hear you tell their daddy that too! Invest in your marriage by finding a great babysitter that allows you to comfortably make time alone together. Teach them that they can not interrupt when you are having a conversation. Tell that that daddy is your BFF and remind them how fun it is to spend time with your BFF! Pray together and let them know you are praying together, praying for THEM together. Let them see you hug and kiss. Hold hands and let them hear you compliment their daddy.
9. Don't let your child get away with, "But everybody else's mom lets them ________" You are not everybody else's mom. Stand your ground.
10. Don't stress over potty training. It'll happen. No one ever left for college wearing a Huggie's Pull-up!
11. Don't let them wear you down with their begging. If you've already said, "no" and they continue to beg, stop, look them right in the eye and say, "Do I look like the kind of mother who is going to change my mind because you're begging?" Absolutely not. My nephews know that if they beg their mom (my sister) then the answer is automatically "no."
12. Have an open mind and truly consider their interests. If your child comes home excited to join the soccer team and neither you nor your husband know the first thing about soccer, it's okay. If this is an interest they really want to pursue, give it a try. You never know. Just because it wasn't right for you, doesn't mean it is not right for them.
13. Choose your battles wisely. It is not worth the energy to argue about him wearing his Spiderman costume (mask and all) to the grocery store. Sure, that's not what you'd have chosen for him but allowing your child to make his or her own choices is part of raising an independent, confident child.
14. Be your child's advocate. We are all different. We are all unique. Get to know your child's strengths and weaknesses. Know what tricks work and don't work for your child whether it comes to their education, their health, or their behavior. Get to know your child's teacher, day care provider, or coach. Get involved. Communicate openly and often with the adults in your child's life. Communicate joys, as well as concerns, and make the adults in your child's life know that, when it comes to your child, you are always available to talk. Write things down and refer to them later if need be. Above all else, remember that YOU are the parent. It is the parent(s) who makes big decisions for their child. You can always get your child's opinion/requests/input but it should be you that makes decisions. And, also, refer back to #6 - trust your instinct!
15. Remember it doesn't take much to impress them! I am guilty of over-thinking details to make Christmas magical, and I'm guilty of planning lavish birthday parties but...really, they are so easily impressed. Think of how excited a young child gets over blowing bubbles and popping them! How about trinkets from the dollar store? The way baking soda and vinegar make fizz! Really. It takes VERY LITTLE to impress them!
16. Sing REALLY LOUD! This is a clever little trick I've come up with just in the past couple years. I find myself using this mommy survival technique a lot on hectic mornings when we are hustling to get out the door. If they are all trying to talk all at once, crying, yelling, laying on the floor kicking their feet and screaming - just sing. SING LOUD! I sing old hymns. In stressful times like these, it helps. It draws me closer to God and it confuses the children.Win/Win situation! They always end up quieting down apparently because they wonder what the heck is happening to mama. Ha!
17. Go outside! Kids always want to go outside - rain, snow, sleet, or hail - they will want to go outside! Say "yes" as often as you can! And go with them! Chances are you will find the daylight and fresh air to be therapeutic and rejuvenating. Just last Friday, I experienced this. I was home with the two little ones (3 and 5) while daddy and big brother were gone. After a full week of being an elementary teacher and a mom, meeting everyone's needs, and rushing from one appointment/practice/meeting to another, I was pooped! The kids were tired too. They were whining and demanding and truthfully, I just wanted to send them to bed and veg out on the couch. I hadn't exercised that day and the kids wanted some fun plans but it was getting late. I finally said, "I know! Let's take baths and get in our jammies. Then we can go for a walk and I'll pull you in the wagon." They thought it was a splendid idea and were cooperative for baths and PJs. It was late, but the air was still warm. I pulled them in the wagon for a mile and a half. We saw some wildlife, heard tons of birds chirping, talked about the moon that was already in the sky....it was lovely. It was like rocking them to sleep. All three of us were just soothed by that walk. When we got back, I easily put them to bed and then guess what?!?! I DID GET TO SIT ON THE COUCH AND WATCH A MOVIE!!! That hardly ever happens!
18. Tell stories about when you were a kid. My kids LOVE hearing stories about when mom and dad were kids. They almost prefer those stories over having a book read to them. It's nice for them to imagine mom and dad being little too. They love to know that lots of the things they do and like are the things you enjoyed when you were their age too.
19. Go on dates with your kids. Every once in a while, we will plan a special mommy/kid day. I will take one of the kids and dedicate some time to focus on just them. Claire and I like to go shopping, get our nails done, or stay home alone together baking. The boys like to go out to eat, go on a bike ride alone together, or go see a movie. Our youngest, Oliver, is just happy to be home alone with mom or dad and play tractors together. Some of the very best, most important, memorable conversations I have ever had with my kids have happened while we were on our special mommy/kid dates! Find some time to spend with each child alone. It is so rewarding and they feel so special!
20. Teach this: Jesus Loves You and So Do I. Our oldest son, Hugh, was born at just 24 gestation. He spent 115 days in the hospital before we were able to bring him home. And do you know one of the first things the NICU nurses did? They taught him to suck on a pacifier. If he was upset, my voice or my hands just laying gently but firmly over his tiny body, could calm him down. But I couldn't always be at the hospital to do that when he was upset. The nurses had lots of other babies to take care of too, and therefore, they couldn't always be available to soothe him when he was fussing. They wanted him to like his pacifier so he could learn to soothe himself at times. I feel like teaching your child that Jesus loves them is very similar to a newborn having a pacifier. They know that, as their mama, they can come to you when they need some love. We can't be there for them every moment of the day though, especially as they get older. Teach them that in times of trouble, sadness, fear, pain, etc. that they have a Heavenly Father who is always there for them no matter what situation they are in. Teach them that they can pray about anything and everything, and that God loves them and is looking out for them at all times. Help them learn how God's never-ending love can soothe them even when you can't be there.
There is no job that is more rewarding, challenging, exhausting or exhilarating as being a mom. Enjoy every moment!