Here are some of the lessons I have learned as a mom of four, six years old and under. (See my birth stories.) This life is my dream come true, but it has demanded way more of me than I ever would have imagined. How can “dream come true” be so hard?
Accept sleepless nights.
In whatever stage you are, hard is hard. By now having just one sounds easy. But when I had my first the first months were very hard. She was fussy and wouldn’t go to sleep till about midnight. Now my fourth is just about as fussy. Sure it is tough, but I have learned some about how to just role with it. Sometimes I can catch up with sleep a bit, but if he doesn’t go to sleep till late, or wakes up earlier, it is much easier to accept it and do my best. Also, if possible and necessary, sleep whenever baby sleeps. Isn’t this a cute way I found my baby sleeping?!
Don’t plan exactly what you will do.
With babies you just can’t set high expectations of how much you will get done. There will be good days when you get more done, and days when you just keep everyone alive and fed. It is much easier if you don’t have your heart set on getting a certain project done a certain day. Maybe you will, and maybe you won’t.
Remember that this too shall pass.
With my first baby I felt like I would never feel like myself again, never catch up on sleep again, always be exhausted and behind in housework, etc. But after four babies I have seen the seasons of motherhood come and go. Sometimes I about got caught up before I had my next baby.
When I was so tired of daiper changes with my third, I wrote on the unfinished wall above her changing table, “This too shall pass.” It did (except that the unfinished wall with the writing is still there!), and now I change the pampers for my fourth baby.😁
It gets easier.
If you wonder how moms of many do it, just know that it gets easier with practice. My fourth baby is basically as hard as my first, but it is less overwhelming, and that that I have four little ones to care for! Sure I get some help, but one just learns to handle everything better with practice.
Be intentional with your littles.
I don’t have much time to give each of my children undivided attention, but I do my best to see them as little souls with their own individual personalities. If all I can do is look them in the eye, smile, and tell them I love them, I do. Each one is special, and I always want to remind myself of that.
Take time for yourself.
I can almost hear your sarcastic snort to this, and I wrote about how to get through those days when you can’t take time for yourself in this article. But I have also learned how I need to fill my own cup when I can in order to be there for my children. Once I run dry I can’t be the mother my children need. It is better to take a bit care of myself.
Sometimes all I can do is stop for a few seconds and breathe deeply and lift my eyes to the distant mountain and the beautiful veiw behind my house. It reminds me that life is bigger than what happens within the four walls of my home. Sometimes I can sneak in a bit of time to work on my favorite hobby, blogging. Other times a walk outdoors with my children is the break I need. But we need to work on filling our own cups, even if it is just a few drops at a time.
Remember that no one does it all.
In this world of social media, we see plenty of pretty, cleaned up homes, or families “making memories.” But few people show all their messy places and times. We have to remember that other moms are like us. No one does it all.
I have been very blessed with one lady whose statuses I see. She is about my age, expecting her sixth baby, works from home, and always looks like she gets everything done. But she is very careful to remind us all that she doesn’t do it all. Occasionally she posts pictures of a very messy part of her house, and says that when she is working on something that looks amazing, she is leaving other things undone. It is a good reminder.
I also read somewhere about someone who saw a “pretty curls” mom bring her daughter to the pools and take nice pictures together out of the water, and then let her girl get in the water a little while, while she was busy on her phone. The little girl wanted her mom to come in and play, but she never did. After awhile they left. The author imagined that other moms seeing the perfect pictures of “pool party with my little girl” would feel discouraged in their messy homes, but really they would be doing the better part by choosing to invest in their children more than in perfect pictures. (I am not saying we can never have every thing cleaned up and nice, but it isn’t always possible with littles.)
No judgement for other moms.
I don’t want to minimize anyone’s hard. Hard is hard, it doesn’t matter how it compares to other people’s hard. Even the most organized mothers will likely sometimes be in survival mode.
Before I had children I felt as though I could do it all. I was ambitious and healthy. But when I hit tough spots in motherhood I faced some humbling. I, who “could do it all” , couldn’t anymore. How did other women even manage? I learned that I couldn’t do it all. We all need the grace and strength from our heavenly Father.
It especially shocked me when I realized that I could understand how mothers could end up in jail for hurting their children, but still say they loved them. Postpartum depression and its relatives can be very real. I no longer judge moms who are going through hard times. But for the sake of your children make sure you find help, and don’t hurt them.
Ask God for strength and wisdom.
Remember that our creator will supply our needs, and when we are totally broken, His strength comes through.
A few nights ago we were coming home from my parents place. We left tired from a long day, and facing a two hour drive home. The baby was screaming for a good while, so offended that we left him in the carseat. Two of the girls were crying and feeling like they needed to throw up (which thankfully they didn’t), and one of them needed like three bathroom stops in the first 15 minutes. In all that chaos I remembered (probably because I have been thinking for a few days about what I have been writing about) that I can give myself as an offering to God, and care for these precious gifts He has entrusted to us. It didn’t try my patience as much as it might some other times.
I hope these lessons I have learned in my six years of being a mom can be a blessing to you as you go through these beautiful, sometimes hard and messy, years with littles ones. Someday we will look back and wish some of these moments could be repeated.
Remember to check out the article on encouragement for the times you just can’t take time for yourself.
What has helped you survive your toughest mothering days?
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