Please Stop Telling us we are “in for it” when the Teenage Years Come.

I was a teenager once. I had an attitude problem. I disobeyed. I was unkind to my parents. I made bad decisions. I didn’t have a full on rebellion, but many of my peers did. And I know it’s possible. I have no doubt that raising teenagers is going to be extremely difficult.

With that said, let’s talk about what we, as young moms, keep hearing from moms of teens. We are constantly being told that we are “in for it” when we hit the teenage years. Whether they are raising teens or their kids are out of the house, not many people have anything good to say about the dreaded teenage years. And again, I know they will not be easy. But when someone tells me that I should enjoy this time now because of how bad it’s going to be, it puts fear in my heart and is very discouraging.

I’m raising two toddlers. It is a daily challenge to keep a good attitude, be patient and speak kindly to my children. When I hear that it’s going to get so much worse, it crushes my spirit. I already feel like I’m in the diaper and tantrum trenches at times. I need to be encouraged during this time, I need to hear that we are not all doomed because one day our kids will be teens.

Emily Ley, Simplified Planner, Grace Not Perfection

My prayer and my hope is that these words will not ring true. I know my kids will struggle through the teenage years, but my prayer is that the investment I am putting into them now, will come to fruition as they grow. That our relationship will have ups and downs, but the foundation will be strong. I pray that when those hard moments come, they won’t define who they are. They won’t define their teenage years. I have hope that as their parents, we can somehow turn the hardest moments into teaching opportunities. I pray that we can show them the forgiving, understanding and loving characteristics of Christ.

Now, if you have teenagers and you’ve got a good eye roll going on, bare with me. I do not fully know what we will deal with in those years. I know that it will be tough. But since we do not know what it will be like, let us have hope. Let us keep a positive attitude instead of speaking negatively about a season we’re not even in yet. Instead of telling us we’re “in for it,” just encourage us. We know you’ve got some wisdom up your sleeve because you have more experience than we do. Share it with us. We already know it’s going to be hard, we hear it all the time. But instead of treating kids getting older as a downward spiral, give us some hope we can hold on to.

Please know that as a mom of young children, I am enjoying it. What I normally hear is that I should “enjoy it now, because it’s going to get so much worse.” I cherish the moments I want to remember and try to forget the ones that made me cry in the grocery store. We are soaking it in. And we know it is going to fly by. I’m not sure that any season of motherhood is easy. Let’s try our best to encourage each other, no matter what season of motherhood we are in.

With love and donuts,

Jenny

To the Mom Who is Scared

As a mom of a one year old and three year old, fear has never been stronger. We need to talk about it. The enemy is attacking my heart and scaring me to raise these babies in a world like this. In a world full of so much tragedy, and so much pain.

Someone told me when I was pregnant with my first, “I don’t know why anyone would bring a child into the world we live in.” They didn’t know I was pregnant at the time, but I truly felt taken aback that someone would even think that fear would stop them from starting a family.

Now I am scared every day. The “what if’s” happen every time I leave my kids with someone else, every time we are out in a crowd somewhere, and every time I put them to bed. Fear is trying to take over my parenting.

All I can do is pray. I pray for peace. I pray for wisdom. I pray for protection. I pray for for the strength to tell fear that it is not welcome here. I will not live in fear. I will not be robbed of the joys that motherhood brings. I do not know what my children will go through in this life, but I know that if I live in fear, I will miss out on so much.

As a mom of two toddlers, I make a choice daily to focus on raising them well. Raising them kind. And raising them to know Jesus and His extraordinary love for us. There are things in this world I can’t control, but I am in control of how I raise my children and how I can love them well. I choose to focus on that. Let’s encourage each other to not live in fear. It can be tough raising babies, toddlers, teenagers. It can be scary. Let’s do our best to raise them well, raise them kind, and to tell fear it is not welcome here.


“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:33-34


This calling of motherhood is not an easy one. But we need to remember that as we are doing dishes, picking up clothes, wiping noses and making sure everyone is fed, we are doing kingdom work. We are fulfilling the call placed on our lives to take care of our family. And what an honor. What a joy it is to be a parent. What a joy it is to have clothes to fold! And noses to wipe! Mamas, we are called to this. We can’t let fear take over our motherhood.

I will still worry, because I’m a mom and that’s what we do. But I will not let it take over my motherhood. I will do my best to focus on what I can control, rather than the things I can’t. We can’t control what is happening in our world, but we can love our families well. Let’s start there.

 

 

What does the Bible say about Self-Care?

“As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer.” Luke 5:16 (MSG) 

How many times have you wanted to go to a lonely place to pray? Sometimes I go to my prayer closet, also known as my bathroom. The problem is that a toddler usually needs something every 0.5 seconds when I’m in the bathroom. What is that?

I have been hearing about this “self-care” concept for a while now. It’s all over the internets and especially in the blog world. I tend to breeze through these articles and think that one day, when the kids are older, I will do this again. But not now, not with two toddlers. They need me too much and I will set myself aside. But something I had to teach myself is that self-care is NOT selfish. It is necessary. How can we pour into our family if we are not filling ourselves up?

I don’t think self-care is something we can put on the back burner. I think as moms, it should be one of our highest priorities. The stresses that come from parenting fluctuate like the seasons, but one thing we can be consistent in is how we take care of ourselves.  I’ve missed those pedicure days, but what I’ve missed most is my “me time.” The time that left you feeling refreshed and like a better version of yourself. I wasn’t sure how to incorporate that into motherhood. But mamas, there is a way. There is a way to still have “me time” and do self-care even when you are parenting toddlers.

We’ve heard it over and over again. We cannot continue to pour into others if we are not filling ourselves up. But what does that really mean? How do we fill ourselves up? I think this looks different for everyone. The truth is that God wants us to rest. He talks about it all throughout scripture.

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“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) 

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 1:2 (NIV) 

Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” For there was constant coming and going. They didn’t even have time to eat. Mark 6:31 (MSG)

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from hisLet us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11 (NIV) 

I am constantly asking the Lord to teach me to be more like Him, that my thoughts and actions would reflect His. God leads us in example by showing us how to rest, just as He did. Mamas, this is so important. We are commanded to rest.  I feel like we often miss it in the busy and sometimes chaotic seasons of parenting. But it’s a necessity. How and when we rest will be up to us. But here are a few quick examples that can help you get started:
  • Go to bed early
  • Read a new book (currently reading Whispers of Rest – a 40 day devotional)
  • Take a walk
  • Take an epson salt bath
  • Journal
  • Do yoga
  • Treat yourself to a cup of coffee… maybe even a donut 🙂
  • Turn off your phone for a few hours
  • Pray
  • Say no to something
  • Declutter (so refreshing!) Check out this post to see how it’s changed my life.
  • Watch a movie or your favorite show
  • Workout
  • Take a nap
  • Call someone you love

These are all easy things that can be added into your everyday. Of course a spa day would be nice, but let’s be honest. Ain’t nobody got time for that. So for now we can focus on what we can do. Let’s get more rest and fill up our cups. We are called to give of ourselves, but we are also responsible for being the best version of ourselves.

Let me know how your self-care journey is going. Are you filling yourself up so you can pour out?

An Open Letter to my Husband From Your Stay-At-Home-Wife

To my husband,

Thank you for giving the kids a bath, even when you feel like you have nothing left to give at the end of the day.

When we are wrangling kids and trying to get out the house and you say, “What can I do to help?” Thank you for that.

I am constantly needed throughout the day. When you come home and see that the house is a hot mess – instead of saying, “What did you do all day?” You start picking things up and putting things away. That is what I need. That is what our family needs. Thank you.

I can’t tell you how much it means when you say, “Go take a break, I’ve got the kids.” It is very difficult for me to say “I need a break” when I know you’ve had a long day too. Words cannot express how much I need you to say it.

Thank you for loving me, even at my worst. I try so hard, so stinkin’ hard to do this mom and wife thing well. When I fail, I appreciate you being there as a helping hand, rather than being disappointed in me.

The kids are dying to spend time with you. Thank you for prioritizing time with each one of them. And thank you for treating them like the gifts that they are, rather than a bother.

Thank you for listening when the kids tell you about their day, even if you have no idea what they are saying. Thank you for being excited with them.

Please know that I don’t need much, I just need to know that you appreciate me too. Thank you for letting me know that I am doing a good job. It keeps me going.

Thank you for doing the dishes. When I hear that you’re doing them and I didn’t even have to ask you to do them, I get those same butterflies you gave me when we first met.

Thank you for not letting your job stop when you are done working. And thank you for understanding that just because I’m not away at a job everyday, I am working very hard.

Thank you for showing our kids that I am first, and they are second.

Thank you for leading us in prayer throughout the day. And thank you for showing our kids what it means for you to love me like Christ loves the church. You are setting the standard for their future spouses.

Thank you for loving me so well, day in and day out.

Thank you for supporting my dreams.

Thank you for hearing me, really hearing me when I need it most.

Nothing makes me happier than watching you play with our kids. Thank you for being a horsey, helicopter and every Disney character under the sun to put a smile on their face.

Thank you for being an honest man. A hardworking man. And a godly man.

Thank you for going along with my crazy ideas – like going camping for two nights with two toddlers. It’s going to be fun, I just know it.

Thank you for making me feel beautiful, when we both know I’m on day three of dry shampoo and sweatpants are my jam.


I love you more today than yesterday, but not as much as tomorrow.

– Your stay at home wife

Pictures c/o Lindsey Cassidy Photography

4 Ways to Stay Connected In-between the Date Nights…

Date nights. I think we can all agree that they are from the Lord. There are all kinds of date nights – the few and far between, the monthly, the weekly, the bi-weekly. Whatever your date night of choice is –  we know that they are sacred. Adults of small children love to spend uninterrupted time together. We have gone through seasons of weekly date nights, and then we’ve had moments when we say, “we should probably go on a date night since it’s been a little over three months.” We’ll set a schedule and then life happens and date nights get put on the back burner. Right now we are doing twice a month date nights. It’s working out well. It definitely gives us something to look forward to. But what about the time in-between date nights? How are we getting quality time in? I find myself craving time with my husband, but have a hard time making it a priority.

Let me just say that this time is precious. These moments with our littles are fleeting. And I know it is flying by. But I think something that we should also be talking about is the everyday struggle of focusing on your spouse in the midst of parenting babies and/or toddlers. They are all consuming. Spending focused time with your spouse can be difficult at times. What if the kids don’t nap at the same time? What if they’ve given up napping altogether? What if you are so exhausted by the end of the day that you can barely keep your eyes open to focus on your spouse?

I ask these questions because we are in the throes of it. We have a one year old and a three year old. Spending time with my husband is something I desire, but feel like I fail at often. To be honest, I’ve deeply struggled with keeping my husband first in the midst of all-consuming toddlers. I want to give him the best of me, but there are days when I feel like there’s nothing left. I’ve prayed through this, and reached out to others but haven’t gotten any solid answers. Pinterest even left me feeling disappointed. Which can only mean one thing – it’s time to get creative.

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1. Couch Time – Allie Cassazza (http://alliecasazza.com/) talks about this on her podcast. She and her husband spend time together at the end of the day and just catch up. We are trying to incorporate this into our everyday. We want to have just a few minutes to sit on the couch together and try to connect. We talk about how we’re doing and bring up anything that may have been on our heart throughout the day. We pull out an activity for the girls (1 & 3 years old) that we know will keep them busy for at least a few minutes so we can have this time. Ideally we would have this type of conversation before bed, but we are both so exhausted at that time and want to give each other as much focused time as possible.

2. Daily Devotional – Whether you have time with your spouse in the morning, evening, or during the day – a daily devotional will change the game. These devotionals will start the conversation for you, so there’s no pressure to figure out what you’re going to talk about. We are currently going through The Love Dare Day by Day. It’s wonderful!

3. Car Ride – Depending on the age of your kids, a car ride might just be the perfect time to spend time together. We have taken advantage of this many times. After the babies get past the “I hate the car seat and nothing will make it better” phase, it can definitely work. Coloring books are usually involved. Oh and side note –  Color Wonder books will change your life. They have markers that only write on the page of the coloring book. These people are geniuses. Snacks are also a winner in our book. It’ll give us at lease 10 minutes. If we are feeling a little out of sorts or that we just simply aren’t connected, we will take a car ride. It’s good to get out of your house and in a different environment for a little while, even if it’s a short conversation. It’ll be focused time to reconnect.

4. The Nap Time Quickie – Like a quick(ie) conversation. Sheesh, it’s not that kind of blog. But listen, it can be whatever you want it to be. Let’s just keep it to ourselves. If the stars align and your children nap at the same time and your husband is home – do not pass up this opportunity. I will say it again – stop what you are doing and go find your husband. There will always, ALWAYS be something to do. I am so guilty of not wanting to deviate from the to-do list. But in these times of being parents to small children, you have to jump at these opportunities. I never regret putting everything else aside to spend time with my husband.

It took a while to figure all of this out, and we’re still figuring it out! Is there anything you do with your spouse everyday? Anything that helps connect you quickly instead of waiting for a date night? Let me know in the comments below!