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Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

SAHM: Oh the pace of life!

So now that I’m about 3.5 months into this new phase of life as a stay-at-home mom, I have some random thoughts.  What I don’t have, however, is the mental energy to document them all in lovely paragraphs with pretty words and cute pinterest-friendly graphics.

But I still want to share my thoughts. Mostly for myself.  Because it’s good to reflect on life and ask yourself how it’s going.

The thing that I’m loving about life right now is the pace.  It is WAYYYY less stressful being a stay-at-home mom. (For me.  Right now.  You might be a different story, but this is my story at this time).

Our daily schedule is pretty uncommitted.  3 afternoons a week, one of the boys has pre-school. Once a week, I have a morning Bible Study, but that’s optional.  Two other times a month, I attend (or will attend) MOPS.  That’s also optional.  It’s heavenly.

There’s no rush to get the boys up and ready in the morning.

There’s no rush to fit in 40 hours of work during the typical 9-to-5 workweek.

There’s no rush to get to the daycare to pick up the 3 boys.

There’s no rush to get the needed information from their daycare teachers on how their days went.

There’s no rush to get home and get dinner on the table before HANGRY hits the family.

There’s no rush to get them into bed ASAP because 6:00 a.m. comes early.

The boys still go to bed by 7:00 p.m. (except the baby – he’s a little more loose with his bedtime).  But they wake up when they want to.  They get dressed as our schedule dictates.  If someone needs extra time to sleep, they can have it.  If someone needs an extra or an early nap, they can have it.  If someone needs some dedicated potty training time, they can have it.  If I want to cook a meal that takes just 4 hours in the crockpot, no problem.

The pace of life is just so nice.

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Man, for a stay-at-home mom, I sure do get out a lot.  Okay, not really a lot.  But more than I thought I would.  When I was picturing this stay-at-home mom thing of 4 kids, I thought I’d, you know, STAY at home all day.  That the hassle of getting 4 kids out the door would be enough for me to just stay put.

But that isn’t really panning out that way.  After all, you can go kind of stir crazy if you don’t get out.

And it’s hard to train kids how to act in public if YOU NEVER TAKE THEM OUT INTO PUBLIC.  So we’ve been going to the library 2-3 times a week.  The grocery store once or twice a week.  (But always short trips – no need to tempt fate!).  We’ve met Grammy and Papa for lunch at Chic-Fil-A a few times.  I’ve taken all 4 to the pediatrician’s office twice.

And now that fall is here, new opportunities to go out are presenting themselves.  I’ve started attending a Bible study on Tuesday mornings at my church.  And in a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending a MOPS group twice a month at my church.  And this week, Finn starts pre-school three afternoons/week.

That gives us plenty of chances to be up and about.  I’m definitely getting more comfortable with it.  My kids thrive on routine and knowing what to expect (I think most kids do), so these ventures out were very rocky at first, but have gotten much better.  There’s still definite room for improvement, but we’re doing well!

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Training them kiddos

One of the major things that made me realize that I needed to become a stay-at-home mom is the behavior of my oldest 2.  (They’re 2.5 and 4.)  It just hit me one day that they had traits and behaviors that I wanted addressed and I was the best one to do it.

Kids of all ages need their moms – I’m not discounting the mother/child connection at all.  But I think that in the beginning of a child’s life, mom is mostly there to keep the child alive and thriving.  Meet their emotional needs?  Yes, of course.  For sure.

But as the child gets older, it’s less about meeting physical needs and more about training them.  Shaping their behavior.  Socializing them.  Helping to root out negative tendencies like selfishness, temper tantrums, and outbursts.

I was facing an uphill battle when it came to that.  I haven’t been diligent in the small stuff when they were younger and it grew into bigger things as they got bigger. It’s just snowballed into something really difficult to correct.

I realized that the daycare was in charge of that molding for far more hours in a week than I was.  I knew of most of their daycare teachers, but not all of them.  And I didn’t know them very well. Each teacher had their own way of doing things and sometimes my ways were different than theirs (not necessarily good or bad, but different brings confusion).  Each day, I got a few seconds with their teachers and a written report. Essentially, I was left with 1-2 hours a day during the work week and then the weekends to influence my kids.

It wasn’t enough.  Not based upon the behavior that I was seeing.  Each kid is different.  Each kid needs different things.  Each kids thrives under different circumstances.  And mine weren’t thriving under the situation we were in.

So now that I’m at home, I’m trying to be intentional about training them.

  • Helping them manage emotions (“It’s okay to be angry, it’s not okay to throw things.”).
  • Being very clear on expectations.  Around all kinds of things, even dinner (We don’t talk when daddy is praying.  We sit on our bottoms, not spin around on our head.  We don’t take food off others’ plates without asking.  We ask to be excused when we’re done.  We don’t smash banana in our hair (ok–that’s the 15 month old who does that!).)
  • Practicing skills.  Skills like walking near me when we’re in public. Learning to button our own shirts.  Using the bathroom (Stephen is potty training).  Brushing our own teeth.  Things that used to be easier for me to just do for them, given the time constraints that I had.

It definitely has some rough moments that turn into rough hours and rough days, but it’s been eye-opening and rewarding.  And I think maybe we’re starting to see progress.  Little by little – it’s going to take time!

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One of my facebook friends recently posted this:

“I love my kids but anyone that says they don’t like the “empty nest” didn’t marry their best friend.”

Her youngest child just went off to school for a year and her oldest three are married (and thus out of the home). I don’t know exactly how long they’ve been married, but I’m guessing it’s at least 25+ years.  It’s just always fun to see people happy about great marriages – especially when they’ve been married for more than 2.6 seconds.

I read her status and wondered “How do I get that!?” Not how do I get a great marriage? Not how do I marry my best friend? My question is mostly: “What can I do so that in 25 years from now, when my kid(s) are grown and gone, I’ll still feel like I’ve married my best friend?

I’ve been thinking about this topic for a while. I was reading a book by John Rosemond (called New Parent Power!) that spoke to this briefly:

In the years since World World II, we have become increasingly and neurotically obsessed with the raising of children. Something that used to be a fairly commonsense responsibility has taken on the trappings of science. … Within the child-centered family, the implicit understanding is that the children are its most important members and the parent-child relationship is the most important relationship. …

Well, if you want raising children to be difficult, you need only to put them first. By putting your children first in your family, you guarantee they will become manipulative, demanding, and unappreciative of anything and everything you do for them. …

Again, its a question of priorities. In a two-parent family, the marriage must come first. After all, the marriage created the family, and the marriage sustains it. The marriage preceded the children and is meant to succeed them. If you don’t put your marriage first and keep it there, it’s likely to become a mirage instead.

It’s a concept that’s foundational to most of his advice: the marriage must come first and children should not be the center of the family. It’s what makes parents happier and it’s what makes children happier.

I want that! I want 25+ years to go by and for Jeff & I to send our last one off to college . When we do, I want to say “Love ya kids, but get out! Daddy and I gotta cuddle!”. I don’t want it to be “No kids!  Come back!  Don’t leave me alone with this stranger called Hubby!”

I’m beginning to realize how hard it is to keep your marriage front and center while raising children. Children will take all the attention that you are willing to give them. They don’t start out independent in any way, shape or form. And it is easy to want to give them all your time and energy.  They’re fun – the questions they ask, the smiles that they give, the new milestones that they reach. They’re unique – each child doesn’t something a little bit different and has their own personality. Eventually, their needs can dominate the family schedule with school, church, sports and other events.

Kids are cute, fun, unique and needy. Particularly, the first several months of your first kid’s life are i-n-t-e-n-s-e. At least, for me, it was. You’re learning so many new things. You’re making decisions you’ve never made before. It can take alot of focus. In fact, it can take ALL of your focus if you let it.

How you prevent a kid-center marriage probably doesn’t have a magic formula. There’s no “do these 5 things together and you’ll be fine”. I’d guess there are some generalities though: keep talking, keep having fun, spend time together. How and when you talk is up to you. How and when you have fun is up to you. How and when you spend time together is up to you.

Kids will take all the energy and focus that you let them. Seems to me it is important to give them lots of energy and focus, but not ALL of your energy and focus.  Now that I’m staying at home, I am hopeful that I have more time to focus on my marriage.  That doesn’t mean giving the boys sticks and knives to play with and to ignore them, but to make sure I have time for Jeff too.  Our marriage will sustain our family!

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It’s officially been 1 month since my last day of work.  Since then, we also welcomed Baby Ben into our family, so the time has been full.  Thought it’d be good (for me) to document some of my thoughts on how the ‘Not Working’ thing is going.

Answer: I LOVE IT!  Since I’ve been employed since I was 15, the closest thing I can compare ‘not working’ to is my maternity leaves where I took 6 weeks off work.  Which is pretty fitting because if I was still employed, I’d be on maternity leave right now.

But this is pretty different than my maternity leaves.  For a couple of reasons:

  1. I knew that my maternity leaves were temporary.  The time was limited and I knew that I was going back soon.
  2. I still continued to work during my maternity leaves.  Not full-time, of course, but I dialed in to keep my email Inbox as clean as possible and to respond to anything critical.  I had people doing parts of my job during each leave and I knew that I was putting a burden on them.

This time?  I can’t work even if I wanted to.  No access to any company resources.  Why?  Because I’m not employed there!  I might wonder what people are doing while I’m gone, but it doesn’t cross my mind often.  I don’t know what meetings I’m missing.  I don’t know what decisions they have to make.  I don’t know what software enhancements they’re designing.  I just don’t know.  I don’t have to worry about the work that’s waiting for me when I get back.  That makes it infinitely easier to not think about my past life.

Right after Ben’s birth, I had this thought: “Man, having Baby #4 sure is easier than Baby #1!”  I chalked it up to confidence brought about by experience.  But I don’t think that’s the cause of my calm nearly as much not having to think about work and what impact my absence is having on my co-workers.

I wrote about this almost 5 years ago, but so far, my experience is proving it out: Being a Stay-At-Home Mom seems to be emotionally great!  My attention isn’t divided and that is very freeing right now.

 

 

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Our little Sammy is starting to exhibit his personality more and more. Having 2 older siblings, I can’t help compare his personality & actions to his brothers. He seems more like Finn than Stephen – in terms of stubbornness and seeking out the company of others. Stephen prefers to be by himself quite a bit more where Finn always wants to be right there with you. Right now, Sammy is fascinated with his brothers and is always watching. He’ll just follow us room to room.

But…he’s also my first thumb sucker. That’s been unique to him.  He’s only been doing it for a couple of months, but he’s my first to do so. It only happens when he’s sleepy. If one of us is holding him (like upright on our hip), then he’ll suck his thumb. If he’s laying down in his crib, then he tends to suck on a couple of his finger.

I particularly like feeding him his last bottle of the day, right before bed. As I’m holding him in the recliner in his room, he’ll hold his own bottle, drink as much as he wants, then he’ll drop it. He’ll roll over onto his stomach to curl up on my chest. He’ll put 2 fingers in his mouth and start sucking. If I don’t start patting his back, he’ll reach back around and pat it himself as if reminding me of my job. It’s just adorable. It’s a good moment in a good phase of life.

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Have you seen the Chewbacca lady on YouTube? I’m sure you have, but if you haven’t, check out her hilariousness!

A friend of mine posted an interview she did by her pastor at her church and she had a couple of points (made to students) that really resonated with me:

She gives 2 words of advice at the very end. Something like this:
“Have patience. Have those moments where you wait upon the voice of the Lord. Don’t rush into a ministry or opportunity because it seems shiny.”
I can see myself doing this. As I transition to being a stay-at-home mom, I can envision all the new opportunities that I could have. I could actually join a Women’s Bible Study now! I could attend a mom’s group. I could volunteer with a ministry. I didn’t have time for any of those before. Most of the Women’s Bible Studies & Mom’s group met when I was working.

I gotta have patience and not grab onto the shiny things just for the sake of shiny.
“Have obedience. When He tells you to move, move. When He tells you to stop, stop. When He tells you ‘indulge in the delights of my table’, indulge. But when He tells you ‘that’s not yours, you can’t have it’, step away.”
This is where I’m at. He’s told me to step away from working. Left to my own decision, I might not be stepping away. Or I might pursue working, but in a different way than I have been. Working, for now, is something that I feel God saying “That’s not yours, you can’t have it, step away” and so, stepping away I am. And I don’t say that lightly. I’m not a big “God told me” kind of person…I just feel like this is where He’s leading me.

So..hi ho, hi ho, it’s away from work I go!

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