Hello to all Momo in the 6 blog readers! My name is Hailey. I’m a stay-at-home mom, and a mother of 3 little ones. When Morgan first asked me to be featured on her blog as a guest writer on motherhood I almost immediately texted her back with a polite and firm, “no thanks.” I’m happy to share my thoughts on being a mom with friends and family, but sharing my thoughts in a more public forum made me squirm. Our world today if full of differing opinions, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to share mine and have them critiqued. Here are some popular questions that are flooding our culture these days: How long should you breast feed? How do you get your baby to sleep through the night? How do you teach your children to share? Should you use cloth or disposable diapers? Are you a bad mother if you always rock your child to sleep? Are you a bad mother if you never rock your child to sleep? Unfortunately, there have been some all out wars between parents concerning these issues. “No tha” was about as far as my text got when I paused to think. The reason there are many opinions is because we all are created so uniquely and therefore parent uniquely. That’s not a bad thing. Frankly, I still seek out the opinions of other moms on a regular basis because sometimes we all feel like we have no idea what we’re doing. The wars on motherhood are preposterous, but it’s even more preposterous to think that we can do it alone. We need each other.
With that said, I think I have come up with a few core things I’ve learned over the years with my three kids who are 6, 4, and 1.
The 9 things I came up with have really helped me at one time or another and I’m hoping you may find a glimmer of hope or a helpful bit of advice in a few of them as well.
1) The exhausting and demanding newborn stage lasts 5 seconds. I can’t say this without feeling a little bit of guilt, but the newborn stage up to about 6 months old is my least favourite stage. It’s unpredictable and tiresome. Of course there is the insurmountable joy you experience as you fall in love with your new baby, but the rest is really, really difficult. Before I had my first child, a woman who had grown children gave me very simple words of advice that I implemented and was blessed. She said that when I became overwhelmed, I was to put that sweet babe safely in a bouncy seat just outside the bathroom door and take a hot shower in peace. She told me that the babe may cry the whole time, but I was to allow myself the time to take a breather. I cannot express how right she was. It seems so simple, but a hot shower gave me 15 minutes to myself where I could collect my thoughts, pray for strength, and feel refreshed. It did the trick every time.
This is a picture of my oldest daughter at 1 and a half, and now in the right picture she's almost 7. Sometimes I wish they would stay little forever, but 5 seconds is all we get!
2) Get on a schedule. I am a person who thrives on routine, so for me, getting my baby and I on a schedule was imperative to our success and sanity. From about 2 weeks old, I started implementing a schedule for feeding, wake time, and sleeping that helped keep me sane, and my baby healthy and happy. I used this book, but would encourage any new mom to find a helpful resource that fits with their personality and mothering goals. Now that my children are older, we continue to thrive as a family on a schedule of sorts. Consistency and routine breeds peace and limits anxiety within our household.
3) Kiss them all day long. Kisses make your child feel loved. Sometimes you wont feel like kissing them. Sometimes your newborn will be screaming for no known reason, or your 3 year old may have peed their pants for the 3rd time in one day. Take a deep breath, and kiss their sweet face off. It may not fix the problem, but they will know they are loved.
4) Let them make messes. Making a mess is like therapy to a child. When they make messes they are learning new and wonderful things. It’s amazing how a 1 year old can be quietly occupied for a whole hour as they meticulously empty your entire Tupperware drawer. Sometimes, your 4 year old may feel compelled to cover herself with mud. The joy she receives from doing this far outweighs the laundry.
5) Teach them to clean up their messes. If you’re going to allow number 2, you need to enforce number 3. Cleaning up after themselves teaches them responsibility. This makes so much common sense, but is so hard to do. Life moves quickly and most of the time it will take me 5 minutes to clean up the same mess that will take them 15 minutes to clean up. This is a short-term pain and long-term gain issue for sure!
6) Teach them to mean they’re sorry, not just say they’re sorry. The root of all conflict in our home is a sinful heart. Sin grieves the Lord, and it should grieve us too. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says that godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation without regret. Use every big conflict to teach humility, repentance, and forgiveness.
7) Let them fall and be wrong sometimes. Use your discretion here please. So often my children will be doing something where they may get hurt, or wanting something they may regret wanting. I tell them to stop, or I tell them it’s not a good idea, and they choose otherwise. An example of this is when I tell my 6 year old to wear a coat because it’s a little chilly outside. She says no with a pleading argument and is later cold walking from the car into the store. In some cases, a naturally occurring consequence is better than any one I can give them. Consequences are good because they help the child to remember that their actions did not produce a pleasurable result. Kiss the boo-boo, give the chilly kid a hug, and move on.
8) Remember that you’re the adult. Because you’re the adult, you’re also the boss. Children will challenge your authority from infancy. Stand firm and remember that you are the rule maker. Sometimes “because I said so,” is the best response to their protest. Your consistency with authority will bring your child peace as they learn to know exactly what they can expect from you.
We need to do more of what my son is doing here. In our generation we are constantly immersed in a sea of resources and information concerning parenting. This information is bombarding our hearts and minds faster than we can implement it, and a large percentage of it is garbage anyways. Before you know it your reading an article on how saying “no” and “don’t” too often to your preschooler can cause them to underperform and misbehave more. All of a sudden you feel like you’re on the fast track to ruining your kid. Don’t allow yourself to believe the lie that you are a bad parent. You’re not. In fact, you’re probably a good parent because you were reading material on how to become a better parent.
Morgan, thank you for the giving me the opportunity to write this. It truly is a blessing to be able to encourage and support one another through this wonderful journey of being a mom.