Have you ever felt completely tapped out? Do you find yourself at 3:00 pulling your hair out and searching for a chocolate bar (or ice cream, or coke, or wine)? I know I have, and let me begin by saying that I don’t think this is something that we have to accept as a “normal” part of motherhood. Let me tell you what saved me from this post-lunch, pre-dinner, still-have-2.5-hours-until-Dad-gets-home-disaster. The miracle answer?
What is this magical cure called quiet time you might ask? I’m so glad you did! I discovered quiet time several years ago. I cannot remember what particular atrocity brought me to my wits’ end that fateful day, however if I had to wager a guess, it was probably some combination of too many requests to entertain one child while another screamed and clung to my legs for dear life. You see, I never planned on playing Suzy Homemaker. Oh, no, no! My grand plan included slacks, business casual lunches, and a fulfilling career.
As humorous as it is for me to look back at those so-called dreams now, it’s necessary to see where I’m coming from. Some moms just totally get it. They were born to be moms. They wear their hair just so and it’s always nice. They don’t ever appear to lose their cool. They plan fun outings and educational activities on a weekly basis. They always have neat snacks packed in an uber-organized bag and they never run out of tissues. All right so I may be stretching things a little here, but seriously, there are some moms who are just awesome. They just totally were made for this mom thing.
The Possibilities of Quiet Time
Let me tell you a secret–you can be too! Oh believe me, friend, it is possible! I too was doubtful. I too was buried beneath the doubt and guilt that is parenting in the 21st century. But fear not! The answer for me was easy. Enter: Quiet Time. The magical one hour of each day that you can tell your children to go away and just be. And then you know what? You too can just be. Think about it…the possibilities are ENDLESS! You could shower! Eat something! Watch some TV! Or simply stare blankly at the wall and just be one with yourself and your own thoughts.
This is the time I use to make those important phone calls, eat a snack without sharing, and open my bible. We are constantly being encouraged as moms to rise before the children, open up our bibles and have some alone time with God to start the day off right. Let me tell you that I’ve tried this and I have one thing to say about it, HAHAHA! Seriously, my second child will rise when I rise. If I’m up at 7:30, she’s up and asking for breakfast. If I’m up at 6:00, she’s lumbering out of bed and asking what I’m doing and why is it still dark out?!
No, rising before the children doesn’t work for me, so I use this time to catch up on my time with the Lord. I’m not always successful in this endeavor. I really struggle sometimes in having enough discipline to apply myself to His Word each day. I feel like this can be a big battle for exhausted moms. Hopefully starting a daily Quiet Time for yourself and your children can help make that battle a little easier, if that’s something you’re struggling with.
My best tips to get started with Quiet Time
1 – First, let me tell you that I’m not encouraging you to put your one-year-old in a room alone and shut the door.
Independent play is something that does have an age factor to it. For my kids, Quiet Time begins when they stop napping regularly. For my son, that was sometime in his 4th year. My daughter started at three. If you have a two-year-old who has given up napping, you could try implementing a modified Quiet Time where the door stays open and the time is shortened to whatever is appropriate for that particular child.
2 – Regardless of when you begin, you’ll need to be prepared to work at it a bit.
When I began Quiet Time with my son, he was already fairly good at independent play. He has always enjoyed creating things, so for him it was just another opportunity to make something awesome. My daughter, on the other hand, was quite a bit younger, and being the second child, was used to always having someone else around. She took some work, but through perseverance, we made it through.
I suggest beginning with a short amount of time when you first implement Quiet Time.
3 – Remember to lay the ground rules and reiterate it a few times.
Children learn through repetition, so it won’t hurt to have them recite the rules back to you after you’ve told them what you expect. For us the expectations are:
You will be quiet while you are in Quiet Time. You may listen to music or a book on CD, you may talk or sing, however your noise level should not reach me in the living room.
You are expected to enter Quiet Time with whatever you think is necessary to get you through the hour. If you need a cup of water, snack, special toy, coloring book, etc., please gather your things on your way to your room.
If you need to come out, make sure it is for a legitimate reason. You may come out to use the restroom, ask me an urgent question, or tell me something very important. However, if you continue to come out of Quiet Time before time is up, you’ll receive extra time in your room.
When Quiet Time is over, Mom WILL come and get you. I will not just leave you in there.
You are expected to do a quick pick-up in your room at the end of Quiet Time.
Now, please know that I am not some crazy rule Nazi.
My children frequently come out to tell me that they made something super awesome or to ask if Quiet Time is over; however, I try to limit their chances before they get a warning. I always remind them that Quiet Time is for everyone and that includes me. If they come out, they are interrupting my Quiet Time as well as possibly disrupting their siblings. These are the rules that work well for our family. You’ll have to think about what works best for your family.
I did get pretty lax with Quiet Time over the summer, and let me tell you that after a few months I was getting pretty cranky and so were the kids!
Luckily, I recognized that I had been neglecting Quiet Time, which essentially leaves no time for myself. So I would say that once you get it going, you should really think hard about taking a long break. My kids don’t do Quiet Time 365 days a year. Some days we have play dates, other days we’re out and about, and of course weekends are family time, so they have plenty of non-Quiet Time days. However, taking a long break over summer had everybody gnashing teeth and lashing out at one another.
4 – Independent play is so beneficial for children that it really is something we should encourage.
In a culture that places an emphasis on scheduled activities and so many group get-togethers for children, it’s very important for kids to not only know how to entertain themselves, but to really be able to open their minds and explore their abilities. I encourage everyone to do some more research if you’re unsure about the benefits of independent play. A great place to start is here.
When are you able to get in your alone time with the Lord?
Do you implement some type of Quiet Time in your home? What does it look like for your family?
Growing up in church, there are several Bible stories you get used to hearing over and over again. As a child, it’s usually Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors, and so on. As a teenager, it’s generally lessons about obeying authority, modesty, and relationship advice. Moving into young adulthood, we’re generally exposed to the rest of the Bible. Believe it or not, there are actually many parts of the Bible that are still foreign to me, and may be to you as well.
I always find myself surprised when I hear a parable I don’t recognize–not that I feel like I know the Bible in its entirety. However, the parables are usually prime picking for good lessons, so they’re generally pretty well-known. I ran into one the other day when I was doing my morning devotional that really spoke to me. Now I’d like to share it so it can speak to you too!
The Parable of the Persistent Widow
Jesus Tells the Parable of the Persistent Widow Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said, “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’
For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care about men, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually wear me out with her coming!'”
And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes will he find faith on earth?”
Perhaps you are familiar with that particular parable, but I wasn’t. I also wasn’t raised with the mindset that you pester someone until you get what you want. I was raised with a more “southern charm” set of manners. Don’t backtalk, always say please and thank you, and if you ask a question once, you don’t keep asking because that will result in a punishment because it’s just rude. But the point Jesus makes is very clear.
Jesus wants us to pester the Father.
Be persistent. Carry on. Ask repeatedly. Insist on being heard. Pretty much the opposite of the general manners I grew up with.
Honestly, this one has proven difficult for me. The idea of continuing to petition God the Father day and night makes me uncomfortable. All of my good manners say, ask once and leave it. Maybe ask twice if it seems really important, but more than that is just rude. But Jesus clearly says…
“And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice and quickly.”
The words are clear. We are to petition the Lord and he will see that justice is served quickly.
Will you join me in throwing manners out the window and getting down to the business of being open and real with God?
Have you ever noticed how we search for common ground when we’re talking to people? A mother at the park engages you in a conversation about your child because they too have a daredevil. An elderly gentleman in the grocery store chuckles as you juggle three children and reminisces about his last visit with his grandchildren. A neighbor strikes up a conversation about the neighborhood park. We are comfortable with others when we can find something shared.
Making & Maintaining Friendships
Obviously, shared experiences are important to a friendship. I’d even venture to say that shared experiences are a base for which many friendships are built upon. So why is it that we as mothers sometimes struggle to find or maintain friendships? With approximately 85.4 million other mothers in the United States alone, how could it be that maintaining a good solid friendship is so hard?
I’ll break down some of the obvious answers:
You’re constantly chasing after smaller, sometimes faster little people.
You had time for a shower sometime in the last 4 days, but not much else.
You’re trying to make time for the baby’s checkup, your 6 year old’s request for a game of battleship and the fact that your poor middle child still can’t count to 20 properly.
You’re taking up a lot of brain space trying to sort out the essential oil wars and the vaccine debate and so many other qualifications that might label you as a “good” mother.
You can’t quite remember why you started this list so you’ll put it on the once organized cork board with your 50 other lists.
It becomes apparent that as mothers we have a lot going on!
How much easier is it to log onto Facebook and take a quick cruise through your news feed to see what everyone is up to than it is to actually send a text or make a call? I’ll tell you one thing that I see; Facebook doesn’t mind interruptions. Did the baby have a super explosion that requires a full change of clothing, bed sheets and a bath? Did you spot your son in the backyard tossing a chicken in the air to see if it could fly? Is your 4 year old yelling “Can someone come wipe me?!?” at the top of her lungs? Facebook. Doesn’t. Care. Facebook will wait while you change the baby and start the laundry. Facebook will wait while you have a heart to heart about treating God’s creatures with respect. Facebook will wait while you scour a tiny bottom.
You want to know something else I’ve learned through my long journey of struggling to be a good friend?
A good friend doesn’t care.
A good friend will stay on the line and laugh with you as you change and bathe a poo covered baby.
A good friend will agree to a return call when you need to have a heart to heart.
A good friend won’t mind being set on a counter listening to bathroom noises.
The Do’s & Don’ts of Maintaining Friendships
One thing we have to stop doing as mothers is we have to stop telling ourselves that we are too busy to do something that is good for us.
We DO have 20 minutes for a quick chat with a friend. Our kids need to learn patience and respect anyway.
We DO have 30 seconds to shoot off a “how is your week going” text to a friend. Do it while the oatmeal is cooking.
We DO have time to grab a coffee sometime in the next two weeks. It’s only $4 and an hour or two. Daddy, Grandma or a teen from church can handle the munchkins.
Mommas, we have to quit denying ourselves the friendships that can help strengthen us as women and mothers.
We have to quit denying old friends of our time.
Log off of Facebook and make that call.
Make the baby’s appointment and then send a quick text.
If nothing else, write down the people you’re thinking of throughout the day and then send an email or a private Facebook message when you finally get around to it at 11:30 at night.
There are never too many times to let someone know you care.
God knows the longings of our hearts. It doesn’t matter if you’re the type of person who loves to have a huge group of friends or if you prefer a handful of close friends. God knows. He has placed these people in your life for a reason. He wants you to foster a deep and loving connection with other children of God.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Do you find that you struggle to keep up with friends since becoming a mother?
How do you keep up a strong bond with friends during the busy seasons of motherhood?
Lately I’ve been going through some challenges. You know, growing older, raising children, constantly questioning my decisions, etc. I understand that trials will be part of this life and that through those trials You teach us valuable lessons. But sometimes I have small doubts about Your timing. Sometimes, in my humble human brain I can’t piece together the exact reasoning You have about some of the things that happen in my life.
You’ve definitely proven to me over and over again that I am not in control of this life.
I always thought that I would have a career that fulfilled me, and You brought me together with a man with very different ideas. I always thought I’d stay home with my kids until they went to school and then I’d find a job. Then You brought me into homeschooling. I had decided that three children were plenty, and now You’ve gifted me a fourth. It is quite obvious that You are in control.
As I’ve grown older and grown in the word, I’ve slowly but surely been able to release my grasp on control; not for Your good but for my own. As I’ve let go, I’ve gained such a feeling of contentment. As I’ve let go, I’ve gained a freedom that I’ve never known before. As I’ve let go, I’ve made time for other things that actually are my responsibility.
However, Lord, You still find ways to remind me to trust You.
You find ways to send me messages like, “Your day will go smoother if you’d start it with Me,” or “Take care of your children, your husband, AND yourself.” The latter seems like a long hard road that we’re now traveling down. Years of neglecting myself has finally caught up with me and I have been physically forced to slow down.
However, Your goodness and love never fails me.
You placed people in my life to support me during this time: friends to bring meals and clean my kitchen, grandparents to watch the kids, and an amazingly compassionate husband to understand. And through the rest, You revealed to me just how much I’d been neglecting myself.
I can’t help but wonder though, if You’re really sure You know what You’re doing?
I mean, through the pain and discussion of back surgery You brought into my womb a beautiful new life. How wonderful! But why now? Why, when I was on a dangerous medication? Why, when my baby was just barely 10 months old? Why, when our house is already nearly stretched to its limit?
Please don’t misunderstand.
I am incredibly grateful for this beautiful blessing. I’ve seen the pain of a barren womb and I thank You for this miracle inside of me. But Lord, was this really the best time? Proverbs 3:5-6 says:
Obviously, I haven’t given up as much control as I thought.
If I had, I wouldn’t be questioning Your perfect timing. I remember in those first days when I was in such pain that there was no sleep, no rest for my mind, body, or soul. In those days I remember asking You fervently to reveal the lesson that You had for me in this trial. As the pain lessened and I found my new normal, that plea slowly faded away.
I know that You aren’t done with me yet, and for that I’m grateful.
Perhaps You intend to teach me patience. Perhaps it’s more about putting my faith in You and not in the hands of any surgeon. Perhaps it’s about bringing glory to You in my time of weakness. I have yet to discover Your perfect plan through all of this Lord, but I know that I can trust in You. Through my struggles and my failures, You’ve always been by my side. Please forgive me for questioning Your perfect plan and open my eyes to the many lessons I have yet to learn. Thank you for Your goodness and Your love.
That right there should explain the title of this post. I’ve recently become more of a mom, or a mom to more, or something like that. We just had baby #4. That means that when we came home from the hospital with a tiny, wiggly, tooting machine, there wasn’t a honeymoon period. Now don’t get me wrong, there have still been plenty of sweet and adorable baby moments. But it’s different when a whole slew of children are running into and through those moments. You see, babies don’t change. This precious bundle does the same things that my others did. He eats, he sleeps, he poops (all the time!), and he makes those incredibly adorable little noises and faces while he’s dreaming. No, this baby is still a baby.
But what about me?
Well, I have certainly have changed. Gone are the days of endless snuggles with my firstborn. Now I have to battle myself over whether I’ve given each child enough individual attention. Gone are the days of watching a sweet baby sleep. Now I have to make the agonizing choice to lay my sweet snuggly bundle down to go break up an argument in the bedroom. Yes, those bittersweet days are gone and now it’s all toots, tantrums, and the terrible twos.
Now make no mistake: I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, maybe I would. I might take away teething, diarrhea, and sleep regression from my eighteen month old. I might shave off a bit of my four year old’s emotional sensitivity and I would definitely add on a mind reader so I can figure out exactly what my six year old was thinking when he made some questionable choice. But you know that’s just not how God designed things. And who am I to be making suggestions to God? I mean, it sounds good, but He just didn’t intend for eighteen month olds to be reasoned with. No, if God has shown me anything through this surprise blessing #4, it’s that His plans are so much greater than mine.
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19:21
God’s Plans are Greater than Mine
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve planned something only to later see God’s purpose to be more beautiful than I could have ever imagined. My plans were to marry the boy I was engaged to in high school. That plan had already brought me more heartache than any other plans I’d made. God’s plan was to break my heart and mend it and mold it for another…a godly mate who has cared for me like no other.
My plans were to go to college and launch myself into an exciting and fulfilling career. God’s plans were to show me the joy and love that only children can bring, and to lead me into a life of diapers, play dates, and home school.
My plans were to have three children and boldly state that my quiver was quite full. God’s plan was to bring a beautiful baby boy to be our fourth miracle–a blessing beyond any that I could have ever dreamed up.
Parenthood is definitely not an easy road, but I thank God for revealing his beautiful, more perfect plan. Some days I want to just break down and cry out that this gig is too hard. Other days I’ve got tears of pride running down my face at the beauty of my children. Some days are filled with poor choices and lots of discipline and molding of their hearts, while other days are filled with giggles and games and unspeakable joy. How much greater His plans have been than anything I could have even fathomed! I cannot wait until He comes in and wrecks my next set of plans.
Have you ever made a plan only to see God’s more perfect plan shine through?
How do you encourage others who are in the trenches of parenthood?