Thursday, April 08, 2010

intentional motherhood

My goal in mothering is to be intentional (plan ahead, dream, make lists, etc..) yet still allow myself to enjoy our life exactly as it is. I was cruising around some of my favorite blogs today, and I came across this quote: "We often don't realize that the now we currently live with represents our dreams of yesterday fulfilled." That hit me like an arrow straight to the heart!! How long did I dream about becoming a mother? How often did I pray, wish, hope for the sounds of little ones running through the house, taking them to dance classes, pushing them on the swings, reading to them all snuggled in their beds? God has answered every single one of those prayers, but how often do I take the time to stop and thank Him before moving on to my next set of requests?

Instead of being grateful for the children He has blessed me with, I am often frustrated that I can't go to the bathroom by myself, that it takes way too long to get dinner on the table, that one of my children (I won't mention any names) is constantly pulling his sister's hair, or that one of them is sulking off to her room to pout and/or slam the door.

Sometimes, I let those moments get the best of me and I raise my voice in anger..........sometimes I even resort to bribery or threats ("If you don't start behaving, I am going to get in the cabinet and start throwing out every single DVD that we own!!") Many nights, I am literally counting down the minutes until I can tuck then into their own beds, and I can plop down on the couch with their dad to watch some mind-numbing television or just curl up with a good book.

One thing I know for sure, is that motherhood is hard, and when you genuinely want to get it "right," it can seem almost impossible at times. But I have also realized that with a tiny change in my own attitude, I can change the atmosphere of our entire home for the better. Here are a few things that have worked for me (and that I need to put into practice more often!!):

1. Taking a 10-15 minute bath after dinner while my husband plays with the kids or gets them ready for bed
2. Walking away from a frustrating situation to take 10 deep breaths and to pray that God will direct my words and actions when I return to the situation
3. When my son is being especially difficult, instead of raising my voice and matching his tone, I have found that it is MUCH more effective to get down on his level, lower my voice and speak in a calming, gentle tone (DUH?.....I wish I would have figured this one out sooner)
4. I have found that when my kids are hungry for my attention ("Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!!"), instead of trying to accomplish something that isn't really crucial at that particular moment (sending an email or text, organizing a closet, reading a magazine, talking on the phone), it is better for everyone if I just stop what I am doing, get down on the floor with them and really PLAY
5. My kids really thrive on routine, and our nights tend to run much more smoothly when we follow the routine and get them to bed at a reasonable hour (the time change has really messed up our routine and it has been tough for all of us to get back on track)
6. There is no substitute for reading to your children. I have started putting this one back on my "Must Get Accomplished Today" list. It is a win-win for everyone and it means less time in front of the tv!!
7. I make my bed every single just makes me feel better :)
8. I recently came to the stunning conclusion (insert sarcasm here) that more toys do not equal happier kids..........more toys simply equals more toys = more clutter, more stress, more stuff.......and it also just might equal a little four year old girl who thinks I am supposed to bring her something back every time I leave the house!! So my BIG goal this Spring is to get a handle on the toy situation: donate what we have outgrown, box up some to be brought out at a later date, employ the "something in, something out" rule, buy more handmade/interactive/child does the work toys (i.e. toys without lights and noise....i.e. the ones my son hands me and says they are "broke"), and teach my children (by example) that you can only keep what you have room to efficiently store = no overflowing baskets
9. Get outside. It always makes us feel better!!
10. Pray without ceasing

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