By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
The reality is Mommas are beautiful.
Our beauty comes in our amazing ability to create. We create loving homes, create magical experiences for our kids, and we create a shared life with the ones we have been given to nurture.
Our beauty looks like an inner strength we summon when we face the fears, pain, and challenges that motherhood brings. We are beautiful.
As Mommas, we work so hard at loving our people well but even so there can be many seasons where we may feel like our failures outweigh our wins. Yet, the work we are doing is good work.
It has an eternal value as these people you are striving to love have been wonderfully created by a good God. God will give you what you need to be a great Mom to the kids he has given you when you invite him into the mix.
You are not alone in this beautifully messy journey of motherhood.
Here are some simple and tested ways to help you experience more wins in our homes as the great Mom that you already are.
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1. Start and End the Day with Affection
Love covers a multitude of sins, frustrations, and helps remind your children that no matter what a day holds you are on their side.
Starting the day with a hug, kiss, and letting them know you love them helps set a positive tone for your day. It is a reminder that they are loved and helps them feel secure as they begin their day.
Science even tells us that affection shown to children by parents results in life-long positives for your kids. Some of these noted positives are higher self-esteem, improved academic performance, better parent-child communication, and fewer psychological and behavior problems.
It is as simple as pausing to give one big hug before they head out the door to go to daycare or school but it makes such an impact on who they become. Although you taking care of your children's physical needs is of course an act of love, the showing of affection is much more easily understood.
Wrapping up the day on a similar note with a bedtime routine that may include reading aloud a few books, a quick check-in with your kids where you ask how their day went, and some sweet bedtime hugs communicates to your children that they are safe and loved.
A bedtime routine promotes healthy sleep but also supports the general wellbeing of your child. This routine embodies a nurturing environment which leads to better language skills, literacy, emotional health, and more.
Who knew getting them to bed in a timely manner, doing bath, reading, and bedtime hugs could have such amazing benefits for your family!
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2. Be Consistent in Your Discipline
Motherhood can be so exhausting! How often can our exhaustion be an excuse for lazy parenting?
You know... when you’ve asked your kid to stop five times and they have ignored you and rather than getting up and clearly addressing their lack of obedience you roll your eyes and ignore the situation (I am so guilty of this).
Yet, I know that if I want to have the ability to enjoy my kids then setting clear and consistent boundaries is one hundred percent necessary. If I am not diligent as a parent in my corrections and guidance then they will never learn how to respect my wishes and the wishes of others.
This doesn’t mean I have to be a mean, strict, or never-offering-grace kind of parent. It does mean I have to be dependable, consistent, and predictable for my kids so they can live their lives securely within the boundaries set in our home.
I learned this lesson before becoming a Mom when I taught as a Special Education teacher in an inner-city school. Many of my students struggled greatly with the ability to self-regulate their emotions.
One student in particular would often scream and kick on the floor regularly when she started feeling overwhelmed. As a young teacher, I honestly felt utterly helpless when dealing with this behavior. Time helped teach me that just setting the same boundaries consistently with this student paired with regular praise and affection was effective in helping settle her when she was in this state of mind.
Now as a Mom I am reminded that when I feel overwhelmed with my kids behaviors, I don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I just need to be consistent and kind in responding to them.
I have to remind them of the boundary, enforce the boundary, and remind them that the boundary exists because I love them. If I stick with this pattern soon they learn how to adjust their behavior and I don’t have to devolve into a completely exasperated version of myself.
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3. Read Aloud to Your Kids
I have a confession to make… I don’t love playing pretend with my kids. When they were toddlers I felt like time stopped (in the worst kind of way) when they asked me to sit with them and build towers with those chunky blocks or let them play doctor with them.
Luckily, I found a workaround that allowed me to better enjoy this season with them and also has great benefits for their growing minds. I read aloud to them while they played.
Research has found many benefits to spending time reading aloud to your kids… and these benefits don’t stop once they can read on their own. Even taking time to read aloud to your big kids is still time well spent with them.
Reading aloud helps grow their language skills, develop their literacy skills, it increases their brain activity, and the time spent close to them reading helps strengthen your bond with your kids. Reading together is close, intimate, and adds to the affection they feel from you.
My middle son is my busiest guy and he never wants to sit by me when I am reading aloud a book. He will get out his trucks and play quietly while I tell the story. Sometimes I wonder if he is even listening but then all of a sudden he will stop what he is doing and come over to check out the pictures on the page or ask a question about the characters in the book.
Even if your kids don’t want to sit still and listen just hearing you share the story still is helping to develop their brains.
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4. Develop a Routine for Your Days
Depending on your personality the word routine may inspire great delight in you or it could be your worst nightmare. Some Mom’s thrive with a rigid and exact schedule that varies little from day-to-day (I always admired these Mom’s) while others prefer to fly by the seat of their pants! I personally land somewhere in the middle.
Our lifestyle offers a good deal of flexibility so we don’t normally have to be out the door or in bed at an exact hour but we all do better if we have a predictable rhythm to our day that we all can count on. No matter if you are more laid back or supertype A, our kids need a level of predictability to their days to feel secure.
Routines matter because kids need to have a sense of security in this very unpredictable world. We all at times can become overwhelmed with the fear of the unknown and kids are no different.
Routine helps calm that anxiety which is an important part of raising emotionally healthy kids.
Some other benefits of a routine include helping to avoid power struggles, helps reduce their anxiety, gives them a sense of ownership over their own activities, helps you stay consistent in your expectations for your child, and it helps you build in those precious connection moments into the day (like bedtime).
If you don't have a routine down yet, don't get overwhelmed trying to be perfect. Just focus on putting first things first, and have a simple integrity to your plan out of love for your family.
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5. Take Care of YOU
Self-care is not optional in motherhood.
This is one thing that I so wish I could go back in time to tell young-Mom-me. I let burnout steal so much of my joy, patience, and it is hard for me to think back to those ugly moments in which exhausted me lashed out at my kids and husband.
I pushed myself way beyond my physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental limits and the result was me living life as a person I did not much like. So do what I say and not as I do and take time to take care of yourself… even in the midst of all the chaos.
Have you ever secretly judged another Mom for leaving her baby with her parents for a night away with her husband or for taking a day off work and still dropping her kids off at daycare? If so I give you permission to stop judging them and join them!
You are not a failure for respecting your limits; you actually are a better Mom and wife for honoring the fact that you cannot do all things.
Making room for self-care helps us to better manage our children’s behaviors, stay calm in those stressful parenting moments, helps us to be more present with our kids when we are together, and helps us to be able to be patient with them too.
On the flipside when we begin to experience burnout we are more likely to also experience anxiety, depression, loneliness, and irritability.
I have been a Mom now for 8 ½ years and this is still one of the hardest things for me to do well in my own life. Give yourself grace for not always getting it right but even if self-care feels hard to accomplish and remember it is so important to prioritize so you can be that great Mom you aspire to be!
Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” The work of motherhood is good work! Don’t give up. You have all you need to be a great Mother to your beautiful children through God’s grace and provision.
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