In a day and age when being a stay-at-home mother is not the norm, I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom to five wonderful children. It is important to me to invest my time to raise children who are a blessing to me and to others, rather than a burden. It is not always easy, but it is always worth it!
Most of the time when my children are being naughty or whining, it is because of a lack of parenting on my end. For example, sometimes I am too busy teaching my second grader multiplication to correct my four-year-old for whining (which is something we try to be very consistent about). In my frustration, I sometimes give in and give him what he is whining for, rather than correct his behavior.
Let me backpedal a little and tell you about how I learned to be a mother. I learned from the best! My mother was a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled all five of her children. (Apparently, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) I am thankful for the mother that I have! As a teenager, I would often babysit for families with young children. I watched how mothers treated and trained their children, and how some did not train their children. I learned a lot from all of them. In some cases, the lessons on what not to do were as valuable as the lessons on what to do! Since having children of my own I have continued to learn from women I respect as mothers and will ask them about certain areas of childrearing. Not everyone is going to agree on each other’s parenting styles, but I think we can all agree that being around obedient, well-behaved children is better than being around wild, disobedient children. I say that to say, be careful before you ask advice from mothers who are not training their children for the Lord. Our first and most important responsibility as mothers is to point our children to Jesus Christ. What a big responsibility and honor it is to know that we have such an important role in our children’s lives!
I believe strongly that when children are wild and unruly it is because of a lack of proper parenting. That child just needs to have his behavior corrected! If my children are being foolish or disobedient it is because they come by it naturally, but if I allow it to continue without correction then I am being lax in my parenting. Proverbs 29:15 says, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.” All it takes is a few days of consistent discipline and they are a much happier, more obedient, and more pleasant child! Children love and need consistency! They need to know that there is a consequence for not obeying.
Motherhood is work and there is nothing wrong with acknowledging that. All seasons of motherhood will be different. There are some mornings when I may have been up all night with one sick child, and I would love to sleep a little longer. However, there are 4 other children who need to eat and be taken care of. It is on those days that I pray for a little extra grace. It is not my other children’s fault that I am tired- yet sometimes I take my frustrations out on them. Children learn a lot about how they should act from their mothers. Proverbs 31:26 “She openeth her most with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”
I think mothering is a lost art. There are so many “hot mess express” influencers on social media, telling you that you cannot possibly be expected to watch the kids all day, clean the house, and cook dinner. Yes, you can! You are the keeper of the home. God equipped you for the job! You will have to learn, get creative, and plan things out in advance. On busy days, crockpot dinners are my best friend. Get your kids involved in keeping the house, too, and give them jobs to do. I used to put all the kids to bed and come downstairs exhausted but still clean my entire house including picking up all the toys the kids left out. A dear friend told me, “Becca! Your children are old enough to clean the house with you.” It was like a light bulb went off in my head. From then on, I taught them what to do and now they can load the dishwasher, start the laundry, vacuum the floors, and clean the bathrooms! A clean home brings me peace and it makes the home more enjoyable for all of us to be in.
Right now, social media platforms emphasize how HARD parenting is. Tune this negativity out! Parenting is not easy but you were made to do this and God will equip you for it. Are there hard days? Yes. But you can do it! Philippians 4:19 – “But my God shall supply all your need…” Learn what the Bible says about parenting. Pray to Him for wisdom and help. Read the Bible (you can even use the Bible audiobook!). Play godly Christian music in your home to help keep the right spirit.
Something that should be non-negotiable is teaching children to obey the command “stop” or “no”. It can be a matter of safety. Children need to stop what they are doing as soon as they hear “stop.” Begin to train on this as soon as a baby starts crawling. This way when a baby is reaching out to touch an electric socket, a hot fireplace, crawling/walking toward the road, or a staircase, a simple command could save their life: “stop.” A disobedient child can be a danger to himself and to others.
I am a huge proponent of early bedtimes for young children. When my kids are under 5, they are in bed by 7:30 pm. (There are of course days that we are not home and an early bedtime is not possible, but we try to stick to this the best we can when we are home.) This is best for them and for me! Children’s brains need sleep to grow and develop. On this topic, I highly recommend the book, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. So many people keep their young children up later than they should and it deprives the child of needed rest and it deprives the mother of time to finish the day and unwind. It also allows wives to spend time with their husbands. Have a date night right there at home. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that you need to go on expensive dates to spend time with your spouse. This is another thing that is overhyped on social media! Do you see a theme developing here about social media?
Get up in the morning before your kids! Once your children wake up, it is on! You are going to put someone else’s needs before your own from the moment they wake up. It is so much better to get up an hour, or even just a half hour, before your children. Work out, do your devotions, shower, and get dressed before they are up. You will feel so much better about your day when you accomplish these things. There are some seasons of parenting where it is difficult to get a shower in the morning- so if you need to shower at a night then shower at night. Make sure you get to bed early enough that you can get
your needed rest, too!
I’ll end with this quote from Jenessa from LittleJemmings.com.au: “I’m defined by motherhood at the moment. It’s pretty much my whole purpose, my narrative. Most days it’s all-consuming and leaves little time for anything else. And that’s okay. I’m here for it. I’m actually all for it… And while I’m defined by motherhood right now, I know it won’t be like this forever. Right now, they need me a little less than they did yesterday but heartbreakingly more than they will ever need me again. One day soon the little arms will fall from my neck, the wee footsteps will stop following me around and the sweet voices will stop calling my name.”
You are doing a great job, mama! You are not replaceable. No one can be a mother to your children better than you can be. Invest your time, energy, and heart where it is needed most, in your home.