The adjustment after having our fourth child has been just that – and adjustment. I’ve realized it doesn’t matter if there’s two kids or ten kids in a family, it’s always an adjustment when another precious life joins the clan.
There was much I learned before hand and much I’ve learned after Zion’s birth. I want to share some of these tips with you in hopes you too may benefit no matter the size of your family.
1st – Relax. Lighten up. Let things go undone.
I had heard it before and witnessed it myself that older moms or moms with many children are more relaxed in certain ways. I’ve always had a good amount of flexibility in my parenting. Being a missionary, life is rarely going to be tidy. (From my past experiences I’m keenly aware that life is much more tidy now that we are living here in Kansas City!) But even with my generally flexibly style, after awhile I don’t want to deal with any more dirty dishes, muddy feet, runny noses or DON’T PUT THAT IN YOUR MOUTH commands. Yet, one thing I’m learning from having yet another sweet Pugsley is that with all the mess and difficulties that come with raising children, that stuff isn’t worth getting upset or frustrated over. Our KIDS need our love and encouragement, our guidance and instruction. They don’t care about how clean the house is, how long it took to make that meal, or whether mom has the whole week planned out in advance. They just want love. I don’t want my kids to remember a mother (or father) who always brushed them off because there’s just “too much to do right now.” My kids are priority, not the other “house” or “work” stuff.
Disclaimer: With the above being said, I need to clarify…. Most kids do play better when their toys are organized, they like to know where their clean clothes are when they are getting dressed, and some kids (like my 5 year old) are often asking “what are we doing tomorrow? And the next day?” Organization is important. That doesn’t contradict the “relax” tip above – not at all. But organization and structure can be accomplished from a place of relaxation not anxiety.
2nd – Don’t ignore YOU.
When my body needs something, I listen. If I’m hungry and no one is calling “MOMMY!”, I eat! I know that if I don’t, it could probably be a long time before I have another opportunity. (Moms don’t always get to eat at regular meal times, you know.) Even when I had three kids, there were times when I’d heat up my food three times before I’d get to eat it. That’s just mom-life.
Because my kids need me so much, I need to stay healthy and strong. To do that, I need rest. There are different seasons of parenthood in which different things will be accomplished. After giving birth like I did recently, I know that it’s important to rest more. The next couple months of my life will not be an outwardly “productive” season in the same way that other seasons have been, and that’s okay.
A quick, heathy energy boost is a protein shake in the morning. I add lots of stuff – protein powder, flax seed meal, Amazing Grass greens powder, chia seeds and PB2 (the powdered peanut butter stuff – it’s pretty cool.) I made a mix of this stuff that I keep in a container so I can put however much I want it in my blender with milk, a banana and some ice cubes (frozen fruit is a nice addition too.) I also love having it in a container so I don’t have to mix everything together every morning. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
(A green smoothie is a great option too. Green Smoothie Girl rocks this!)
3rd: Teach your kids to help.
“Everyone is big enough to do something.” That’s a silly song from a show my kids sometimes watch. And they have got the concept!
So often we as parents do things for our kids because it’s easier and quicker for us. But, as I learned at the local Parent Educator conference, doing things for our kids that they are actually able to do themselves hinders their development. We don’t want that now do we! (For how much I love my babies, I actually do want them to grow up and learn to be responsible, independent, thoughtful adults!) So, my 5 and 4 year old fold their clothes and put them away in their drawers. I fold my 2 year olds clothes and he puts them away with me supervising. Most days, I require them to put their clothes and toys away before they watch a movie. (Since our new little guy was born, we lost the habit for a couple weeks, but we’re getting back on track with this.) I also look for opportunities for them to help with Zion, too. (There’s a bunch of good chore charts out there that can help guide you to what things are age-appropriate for your kids. We are about to start The Money Smart Kids program. I think we’re going to love it!)
Ok, that’s all for now. I’m sure as my children grow there will be more tips I’ll want to share. (I love writing because it helps me process what I’m learning!)
Be encouraged! YOU are the best parent for your child. God gave you this child and is giving you all you need to parent well.