I love to listen to podcasts and audio books. I’m a young mom, and don’t have a lot of friends or social outlets at this point in my life, so I tend to listen to something audio when I need a break from the being-home-alone-with-toddlers-24-7 overwhelm.
I like mom podcasts, and enjoy learning about parenting. Being a mom is hard, and it’s helpful to find resources to work through issues we’re facing with our kids.
So last week I turned on an episode and the ladies commented about how hard shopping is with young kids, and how lucky they are to live in an era of grocery pickup, because they don’t have to live through the struggle with toddlers that their moms did.
Oof. First of all, shopping with toddlers is so hard. I am extremely thankful that pickup orders are possible, it’s so convenient to drive up, pop the trunk and drive home.
BUT. I think avoiding social situations like shopping with young kids is doing them (and yourself) a big disservice. Every outing is a training opportunity and avoiding the hard situations means that your child isn’t going to learn how they are expected to behave in a store, restaurant, or place of business. Instead of learning early, it’s going to be impossible to run errands or shop as they get bigger/louder, because they just didn’t learn how to behave in a social setting. (And the tantrums will get bigger if they’re not addressed and worked through as toddlers.)
All of this is to say:
1. Don’t be afraid to take your kids with you, even when you know it’ll be hard. The work will pay off later when your kiddos are able to be respectful in businesses, and have FUN learning life skills with you! (And don’t worry, shopping is stressful for me too right now, I’m right there with you, there is a 100% chance that either Tori or I will cry in the store or the car on the way home. )
2. Let’s give lots of grace to the mamas in the store/restaurant/church who are dealing with those toddlers meltdown. She’s made the decision to push through the hard and embarrassment of meltdowns and tears to help her kiddo learn how to navigate social situations, and snarky comments/judgmental stares and unsoliced advice are not helpful or edifying in anyway! In fact, having someone tell me “you’re doing great,” or “keep it up, it gets easier!” Is literally something that will brighten my entire day!
There are two vastly different worldviews I regularly see all over social media, and in real life, about motherhood.
The first is “wine mom culture.” You know what I mean, messy hair, messy house, flaunting the less than perfect parts of being a mom, turning everything into jokes and witty captions. There is a touch of realism in this portrayal of motherhood. These people and posts are relatable. They show their life as it is, not hiding away and pretending life is a-ok 100% of the time.
The second view I see the most is the “very religious,” spiritual people talking about how motherhood is a blessed calling. That as Christian mothers, we should never complain to anyone, or show a negative outlook of our life online or in person. A lot of these well meaning Christian people take it a little too far, encouraging fellow moms to personify a bright, flourishing perspective all time, no matter what is actually going on in their lives. That if you’re not talking about how blessed you are, and radiantly shining as a mom, you’re failing as a Christian, because if you’re saved you shouldn’t have struggles, or anxiety.
Both of these views have some merits, but both have some really dangerous flaws.
While wine mom culture is relatable, and it’s nice to find people who are dealing with the same things you are, and it can be hilarious to poke fun at some of those things, using wine to cope in any area of life is dangerous, especially when you’re coupling it with parenting. The “wine mom” label that people are using is really cryptically masking alcoholism. It isn’t just fun and relatable, but covering up deeper issues that need to be addressed off of social media.
I agree 100% with the view that motherhood is a calling and a huge privilege. It isn’t lost on me that I have been given the gift of two sweet babes, when so many can’t have children. I also see the merits of being careful not to complain on social media, and remembering that you are a witness for Christ. However, when taken too far, this is encouraging moms, usually young mamas in the thick of babies and toddlers, to hide the struggle, and just put on a happy face. And I don’t think that is serving anyone.
As a young mom of two toddlers, I have seen and experienced this first hand, and how detrimental it. It encourages mommy judging from those who aren’t struggling currently. And makes those who are going through a tough time feel shame on top of everything else because they don’t see other people dealing with the same exact thing. It often feels like, since we are “Christian,” we’re expected to take that label, but aren’t allowed to admit that we are also human. And that being a human is really hard sometimes. There are stages of life that are truly amazing, and it is easy to be that bright happy witness. And there are stages that are really hard. Whether that is due to life changes, like having a new baby, losing someone you love, or struggles in your marriage, or spiritual drought or warfare.
I really think that as Christian moms, we should be able to normalize admitting to struggling within motherhood, and life in general. We should be able to reach out to those around us for encourgment, and help, without judgement for feeling overwhelmed.
My perspective on this has slowly evolved over the past couple years, as I have had my kiddos, and experienced postpartum twice now.
After Victoria was born, I spiraled into postpartum anxiety, without even know what that was, and it was a really dark time in my life. I had a perfect birth, but still ended up with tearing and stitches, and when my husband had to go back to work just 4 days after I had her, I was in a really rough place. I was trying to take care of everyone, but wasn’t nearly recovered myself. I was having trouble with breastfeeding. Victoria had a severe tongue tie, and she was getting horrible blisters on her lips from just trying to eat. (It took 9 weeks to be able to get in to have her tie fixed.) And then just a few short weeks after she was born, Victoria was diagnosed with a cataract, sending her into surgery as a newborn, and resulting into a host of vision appointments that continue to this day. Just two weeks after her eye surgery, she had another surgery to deal with her tongue tie.
Both of those surgery’s had after care that had to be done 4+ times a day, and that naturally fell to me. I am so grateful we were able to have those done, so that she has vision, and was able to eat without getting sores on her lips. But It feels like I missed her newborn stage, because I was so busy trying to take care of her and everyone else, that I couldn’t even sit down to enjoy my baby.
It was so much for me to handle, and I started to spiral into PPA. There were so many ways it presented, but one of the things I remember clearly, was putting my kids into the car one night, and having to drive with my hand reaching back to feel my baby’s cheek, because I couldn’t see her in my mirror in the darkness, and my brain was terrified that I had left her at home. (It doesn’t make sense, but that is what anxiety is like. This is just one example of how the anxiety was affecting my life.) It presents as rage, and there were times I sat down and wondered why on earth I was screaming at my toddler over his shoes on the floor. It was such a little thing, so why was I so angry? I have always loved a clean house, but I started compulsively cleaning, and thus began the vacuuming 3+ times a day.
This is all to say, it was a really hard time. And I’m finally coming out of that darkness, thanks to time, and finding some supplements and exercise that have helped tremendously. But I’m realizing that it isn’t normal or necessary to hide the struggles away, and pretend everything is okay. We should be able to talk about real life, and support the other moms in our lives.
So while I’m not condoning complaining, or whining about everything you don’t like in your life, I am suggesting that we start to be more real with each other. Motherhood is hard sometimes, but it’s easier when you can find those people who will brace you up and encourage you no matter what!
Yesterday last year Tori was having surgery on her eye.
It was a really hard day for me. Handing my 7 week old baby off to a nurse, and walking out of the room was torture. I had a panic attack in the room, and the second nurse gave me a hug, even though she wasn’t supposed to.
It took a little over 3 hours. We sat 4 floors down, waiting for a phone call from the surgeon, and then for the nurses to let me come up. They won’t let you stay with your children as they wake up, and the nurse told me they waited too long to call me, so by the time I got up to her, she was hysterical, and it took over an hour to calm her down.
With her birthday last month, and coming up on the holidays, I’ve been thinking about where we where this time last year. It was such a joyful time, with a newborn, getting to watch Liam become and thrive as a big brother. We were so in love with our little family.
But it was also the hardest time. Looking back makes me so sad too. Between her eye surgery/appointments/care and the tongue tie issues/pumping/bottle feeding and just being postpartum in general, I feel like I completely missed her newborn stage. We were up every 2 hours every night for 4 months, trying to keep her weight and my supply up, and when you’re sleep deprived, everything melds together. It’s just a blur. There wasn’t enough time to just soak up the newborn snuggles, and it hurts that it is gone so fast and forever.
It’s strange that something can be both the most magical happy time, but also the hardest and darkest time too.
All this is to say 2 things:
1. Soak up the little moments with your kids. They grow and learn so fast. Slow down, when you’re able, hold them longer, they’re only little for a couple years, and then they’re independent little people.
2. The hard times don’t last forever. Things will get better. So if you’re struggling, it’s okay to slow down, and go into survival mode for a while. Ask for help, and then actually let them help!
I have been thinking about Christmas for several months, and about different traditions surrounding that time of year. Now that Liam is a little older, able to be involved and understand a lot more, I was looking for some traditions to start. Something that would be both fun and meaningful. I decided an Advent calander sounded fun, but the more I looked, I just couldn’t find one to buy that fit what I was thinking. There are lots of candy Advent boxes, but I didn’t want him to come to expect candy every single day. And I didn’t love the toy Advent calander, as we live in a very small space, and we tend to be very minimal, and intentional about what we being into it. (Clutter builds up so fast! )
So after looking at a ton of ideas online, I decided to try to make my own, that fit my toddlers personality, and the mix of fun, and “the reason for the season” that I was wanting!
I found all of the components for this at The Dollar store, and all together, it cost about $7 to make. Most of the activities on ours are free, and the couple that cost money are less than $10 each, making it exciting, but won’t break the bank, which is important to us!
What you need:
-tiny clothes pins
-decorations (I made the trees out of yarn, and found the tiny ornaments there too.)
1. Write out your list of activity’s on slips of paper, and make tiny envelopes (you could probably buy some!).
2. Label the envelopes 1-24, stuff them with your activity’s.
3. Tack 4 or 5 strands of yarn to the wall, (you’ll do 4 strands of six envelops across, or 5 with 5 envelopes on 4 strands, and 4 on the last one, I ended up liking this look better.)
4. Attach envelopes using the tiny clothes pins.
5. Then add any decorations you want, and enjoy a fun, inexpensive advent calander! (Plus most of these activities are free, and feel free to add your own activities that work best for your family!
1. Read Christmas books
2. Watch Rudolph the red nose reindeer
3. Bake cookies to take to the neighbors
4. Make a Christmasy craft
5. Go look at Christmas Lights
6. Decorate a gingerbread house
7. Read the Christmas Story and talk about all the characters
8. Make Christmas cards for grandparents
9. Decorate a Christmas ornament
10. Go out for Hot Chocolate
11. Mail a Letter
12. Decorate sugar cookies
13. Color a Christmas picture
14. Go shopping for a gift for Sibling
15. Have lunch with Daddy at work!
16. Watch a Charlie Brown Christmas
17. Watch The Snowy Day (Amazon)
18. Watch a Merry Pooh Year
19. Go to the Library and read Christmas books
20. Homemade hot chocolate night
21. Decorate the tree
22. Make a Christmas garland
23. Take pictures in Christmas pajamas
24. Go Look at Christmas displays in stores (Costco etc.)
Let me know if you end up making one! I can’t wait to start this with my son! His birthday is at the end of December, so it’s also a countdown to that, which makes it double fun!
We are also also planning to go through the book Waiting for Jesus, from The Daily Grace Co, and do readings out the the Jesus Story Bible.
I love books. I’ve always been a avid reader, and continue to make time to read, even as a busy mom, (Once I’m done typing this post, I am going to read a bit while the kiddos nap! A book I’ve been waiting for on hold at the library finally came in!)
So it stands to reason that we also love children’s books, and have amassed a little library! I’m always looking for new books to add! These are some of our current favorites!
Lost and Found- by Oliver Jeffers
A boy finds a penguin, and sets off to take him home to the South Pole ! On the way they become fast friends. The story is really sweet, and the artwork is adorable!
Cuddle bug – by Nicola Edwards
This one is a very favorite! The rhyme is so sweet, and endearing, and my kids love the cute cutouts! A perfect bed time story!
Toot- by Leslie Patricelli
This little book explains certain bodily functions, and always makes my 2 year old and husband giggle. Okay fine, it make us all laugh! This isn’t my kind of humor at all, but I knew they would appreciate it, and it’s become a favorite as it always brings hilarity!
The Going to Bed Book- by Sandra Boynton
Her artwork is so cute! And the stories are nonsensical and perfect for bedtime! A group of animals gets ready for bed!
I Am a Big Brother- by Caroline Jayne Church
A new baby arrives, and big brother learns all about how to help out with everything Baby needs! We bought this before our daughter was born, and it’s been a fun book to read as our son learned about being a big brother himself!
Little Blue Truck – by Alice Schertle
We love little Blue! The artwork is so fun, and the stories are wonderful, and sweet! Usually there’s a good lesson woven in, and little blue truck is so kind! A great read with littles!
We also love the Block Books! (We have found them at Costco.) they are so informative and so fun! The Alphabet one is our favorite right now, it’s perfect as a tool to help learn the alphabet!
What are some of your family’s favorite children’s books?
Parenting has been really hard for me this year. It’s been hard for a combination of the season we’re in, (toddlerhood, with a baby, postpartum, Scott works a ton, we are living in a very small space, just a lot of things.).
Even though we are younger statistically than the average parents these days, I don’t think we had crazy expectations that parenting was going to be a breeze… I’ve been around toddlers and babies my whole life, and knew there are seasons where it is just hard. What has been unexpected has been the overwhelm of always onto the next thing. You get potty training down, they go through a sleep regression. You get them sleeping again, and they start having meltdowns in public, you work through the meltdowns, and they try to give up naps even though they desperately need them daily…. Always something hard. At least that’s where we are at. Last night alone I got up 6 different times to deal with kid needs, and by the time the alarm went off at 5:30 I could have cried I was so exausted.
And this is totally normal;
this is toddlerhood.
I’ve been really discouraged lately, especially by the comments I have been getting, and hearing from other young mamas. They are from moms of older kids who are no longer in the thick of toddler hood and babies, essentially it’s “ I am so glad I’m not there anymore,” or “I’m watching these young moms with their kids and just so glad that I don’t have littles anymore, it’s just looks miserable.”
And every time I hear someone say this, whether it’s to me or to someone else, it’s just so disheartening. I understand being thankful you’re past this stage of parenting, but vocalizing that in such a negative way is really damaging to the moms who are in the young children stage of parenting right now.
So this is for the mama of toddlers.
You are doing amazing! I see you being consistent, patient and loving even when it’s frustrating and exhausting. I see you holding back tears while you handle yet another meltdown. I see you alone, supervising your kids at every social function. This is really hard, but I can see you’re doing your best! And it’s 1000% worth it when your kid smiles up at you, or hands you the weed they picked. When they loudly announce “me happy!” Or cuddle up in your lap! So keep going, it’s just a season, and the seasons change eventually.
My kids (2 and 9months) are loving this pool! It’s a great size, and I have been happy with how it’s holding up, especially for only $15! The kiddy pool we had last year was great, but toddlers are hard on things, and Liam ended up braking the sides pretty fast while climbing in and out. The inflatable pool seems a little more forgiving!
I love bucket hats on little ones, and they are great for extra sun protection! Especially with a babies with not a ton of hair to protect their scalps! Bonus points for the straps that keep them on.
We put a trampoline in the yard a couple of months ago, (found extremely cheap but in great condition on Facebook marketplace.) and it’s been the best purchase! Both the kids love it, and the trampoline has a net around it, which is amazing with a crawling baby! I can let Tori play freely, and it’s honestly one of her very favorite things.
I was getting frustrated with lunches, but realized that I’m feeding a 2 year old. He literally doesn’t care what he eats, so long as I feed him something. So often when we don’t have leftovers for lunch, I feed him a snacky lunch, usually cheese or chopped chicken, a fruit, a veggie, and possibly chips or a piece of bread. It’s quick, super easy, not very messy, and Liam loves it!
–early morning stroller runs
I started running back in March, and as it has started really heating up, we are heading out the door around 6:30am, for about an hour, and we are all loving it! The exercise is invigorating, and I am much more likely to actually get it in first thing, but it also means that no matter what our plans for the day, we have spent at least an hour out in the sunshine and fresh air.
–getting outside as much as we can in the morning before it gets super hot.
This is similar to the last one, but I am trying to let go of my morning routine of sorts, and prioritize getting the kids outside as long as we can in the mornings. Our patio is in full sun in the afternoons, and gets extremely hot, so it isn’t safe to be out in in the summer heat. We also take advantage of the wonderful HOA parks around us.
–letting go of expectations in the afternoons.
I am a creature of habit, and routines. It’s hard for me to just relax or enjoy slow lazy days. But the kids are little, and I am trying to make a point of enjoying these slow summer days.
–all the berries and apples on hand for snacks.
Liam is super into snacks right now (growth spurt!) so I am keeping lots of berries and apples on hand for easy snacks! He can even get himself an apple out of the drawer in the fridge (with permission.) which is a bonus when we are busy!
–ice and lime essential oil to encourage drinking water.
I struggle with drinking enough water, so this has been a game changer for me, and it really helps encourage Liam to drink more water too!
–pizza one night a week
I started getting pizza one night a week a couple months ago, and it has been so nice to know I get to have a break! I love cooking, but sometimes it gets monotonous and exhausting. Knowing that I don’t have to think about it one night a week has been really refreshing!
What are some things that are making your summer better this year?