Taking care of yourself as a mother isn’t complicated, but it does take dedication. Our hearts want us to focus only on others. Our minds worry that there isn’t enough time. Our bodies feel too tired to consider yet another task.
Remember two things: 1. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself. 2. You are a beautiful child of God who deserves to be cared for, too.
So, next time you are feeling worn, look at this infographic and consider how you could be treating yourself to some better self-care.
A wife of noble character who can find?
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Women are naturally caretakers for those around us, but we can get so caught up in our role that we begin to develop habits that make us both unhealthy and unhappy. Look at the list below and identify any that you are particularly guilty of.
1) Frequent sleep deprivation
When pushed to get something done, using our sleep time seems like an easy answer. Or, when we are needing time to relax we stay up late, knowing we will pay for it later. The problem is, everything starts to crack when we don’t get enough sleep. Studies shows that sleep deprivation makes us feel angry and frustrated. It makes it difficult for us to focus, retain memories, and even engage socially with friends. Tomorrow isn’t going to be better because you watched one more episode of your favorite show or got that last load of laundry put away. Tomorrow has its best shot at being beautiful if you begin with a well-rested body, heart, and head.
2) Giving no priority to our diet and exercise
We skip breakfast, eat what our toddlers eat, guzzle caffeine, forget where we put our water bottle, and decide there are more important things than taking a walk. Woah there, sister. That body that you depend on to change diapers and get the grocery shopping needs some respect. It will start to tell on you if you ignore the needs of your body for too long.
3) Quality time with Spouse and Children, Friends and family
Quality time means doing a single activity with your loved ones and enjoying those moments with them. It is so easy to get in a rut of preparing dinner and washing laundry for our family that we forget to stop and simply enjoy them.
4) Multitasking—during quality time, quiet time, any time
Multitasking is one big fat lie. The reality is we only attend well to one thing at a time. So, if we multitask our focus and quality of work plummets. Plus, it starts to make us feel insane. Don’t worry, sweetheart, God has your back. Take a deep breath and give yourself license to do one thing at a time.
5) Quiet time.
Introverted? Extroverted? It doesn’t matter. That quiet time, alone with our own thoughts and God, helps us reboot. It gives us room to think about what we are doing, how we are feeling, and what is important. Without this, the world can either morph into exhausting auto-pilot, or spin out of control into chaos.
6) Negative Thoughts
If your life is anything like mine, we are already pretty low on head space. There is too much to remember and too much to do. Worse, we are low on heart-space too. Our role puts us in situations where we must help others deal with emotional crisis. So, those negative thoughts about our life and self must be cut out. If your head and heart were a refrigerator, would you stash away a bag of moldy potatoes inside. No way! Learn new ways of thinking so your heart and mind are filled with good and healthy things.
7) Saying No to Help
I’m so guilty of this one. For years I tried to handle my kids and family with little-to-no outside assistance. I didn’t want to burden anyone nor did I want to admit that I was not capable of doing it on my own. However, about a year ago I had an epiphany: God did not design child-raising to be a lonely job. In the age of Abraham and Sarah, raising a child and caring for the sick was done with an entire group of family and workers alongside you. This idea that we must handle it on our own isn’t Biblical, it is a concept our society has created.
Stay tuned. Our next blog post is all about how you can turn these habits around and become your own best advocate for health and happiness and become an even better wife, mother, friend, spouse, or caretaker.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Can you think of some other ways you undermine your health and happiness?
I was fairly certain the roof shuddered as the last syllable came from my mouth. It had been a bad day. No, it had been a horrible one. Both the girls were whiny, defiant, and inconsolable messes. To top it off, since we had spent much of the week visiting with family, I had a list of chores that could have wrapped around planet earth.
By the end of the day my patience was all gone. It was bath time. Adela and Micaela seemed angry about everything—water temperature, bath bubbles, toys, hair washing, etc. As their complaints resounded on the bathroom walls, my frustration built.
And then, I exploded.
I can’t remember what I said, but I know exactly what their faces looked like. I was very ugly with them. As I finished bathing them in near silence, I felt so ashamed. What had I done?
Okay, I could just say that I’m human. I know. But I want more for my daughters than a mom who is hurtful with her words whenever she is feeling frazzled. Thankfully, I found some priceless Biblical solutions to put in place the next time I am starting to feel too close to the edge. If you are struggling with this too, perhaps you’ll find these tips helpful.
I thank God that His mercies are new every morning and that my girls are small and won’t remember everything about that day. Little by little we are all being changed into better children of God. Hallelujah! It will take time for me to learn self-control and safe guard my words.
I will just have to trust God to grow me in this.
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Do you struggle with watching over the words you say as you interact with others?
I was “that” kid. I loved school. I loved having the right answer and waving my hand for the teacher. I loved my perfect handwriting and A+ finished assignments. Later in life, the decision to earn my teaching degree was an easy one.
A decade later I became a mom. I stared down into the sleepy eyes of my newborn daughter and imagined how bright and brilliant she would be. God had some lessons to teach me about that.
For the past two years, Adela has not been even slightly interested in academics. She stomps around outside instead of drawing on paper. She colors to get it done instead of make it pretty. She wants nothing to do with flash cards and letter-tracing and counting.
Frustrated, I told my best friend with three young boys how worried I was. Surely there must be something wrong with my parenting techniques. My friend’s five-year-old could already identify letter sounds while my little Adela wouldn’t even write her name.
Expecting my friend to share secret learning activities with me, I was surprised when she laughed and said, “Lora, relax. There is a lot more to life than school.”
My friend said she felt lucky that her three boys were interested and quick to earn academic subjects, but that wasn’t going to help them become happy and healthy adults. Our society places so much weight on academic success, but the reality is that we need to know how to have friends and a relationship with God to find true joy.
“Look at Adela,” she said. “She is sweet, sensitive to the needs of others, and she is happy. She plays well with others and works hard to do her chores at home. Who knows what plans God has for her? I don’t think we get to pick that as parents. We are just here to the best job we can in helping them fill God’s purpose for their lives. That might involve a doctorate from a prestigious college or it might mean a GED and an ability to be loving wife and mother. Are you ashamed of just being a stay-at-home mom?”
My eyes widened. “No. I love it. I don’t even miss teaching.”
She smiled. “See?”
I did see.
From then on, with a lot of prayer, I’ve learned to release my child’s life into God’s plan and purpose. I help Adela work on those academic things, but I appreciate my daughter’s unique gifts. She is brilliant. She is bright. She sees the world with eyes that are not mine and loves with a heart that I could never have.
God made my little Adela. I will honor His creation and pray that as I mother her I prepare her for His loving plans.
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Hope this article encourages you today! Have a wonderful school year!
With Micaela’s slow development I have started to forget that these preschool days won’t be here forever. Adela has already begun to metamorphose into that next stage and these last few months have been a wakeup call to enjoy that little girl while I can. This revelation could not have come at a better time, for as Adela transitions into big girl life, Micaela has entrenched herself in some exhausting attributes of two and three-year-old.
So, lets take a deep breath, and focus on the good. And hey, if you are one of my readers that don’t have little ones at home, memorize this little list so the next time you see one of us young mothers struggling you can give us a big hug and point out something precious about this season we are in.
1. Unlimited hugs and cuddles. A few months ago Adela awoke and didn’t want a good morning hug. She said she didn’t need one. End of story. Ugh! I didn’t realize how special it was to me until she didn’t want it anymore. Now, on the morning she asks for a hug I soak it up. I soak up holding my girls, hugging my girls, cuddling on the couch, etc. It won’t last forever.
2. Still working on their emotional foundation. This means they are learning how to handle disappointments, hurts, surprise, love, etc. We have an opportunity to model for them how we react to hardships and instill habits that will last a lifetime. We still have the ability to positively influence life-long emotional habits.
3. I'm still funny. I can make a silly noise or dance like a crazy woman and the girls giggle uncontrollably. It is too easy to get a smile and chuckle out of these little ones. However, before we know it, that sense of humor is going to mature and become sophisticated. You can bet that mommy’s silly face won’t cut it anymore.
4. Being needed. Right now the thought of not being needed sounds like heaven on earth. Can you imagine an existence where you don’t have to help someone get dressed, cut their food, and strap them into car seats? But, we are constantly reminded that we have worth, value, and are needed. It is something we can have pride in.
5. Loving spending time with you. Right now, with Micaela, it doesn’t matter what I offer to do with her, she is excited that I am sitting down and hanging out with her. Adela, however, usually has a clear idea of what she wants to do or she doesn’t want her mommy to play with her. Some day there might be a short list of the things we enjoy doing together so I’ll savor these times.
Being a mother to a preschooler is one of the most trying seasons of our lives. We have to be “on our toes” emotionally, mentally, and physically 24/7. But, God made sure that there was a beautiful sweetness of this time that we could draw on to keep us going. I hope it uplifts you and strengthens you today.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
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The world was soaked. The monsoon season has been treating the pastures and fields well. We are thankful for the blessing of rain. But, it also meant that we were indoors until the things got a little less soggy outside.
We had a friend over spending the day with us and a quick pinterest search gave us an idea for a craft project. Even though I had a lot on my to-do list that morning, it felt great to stop and enjoy creating some art.
Here is how we made this Horsey Craft.
1. We gathered materials. We decided to use beads and buttons. I bought a cheap bag of mixed beads at the thrift store last year and confiscated a jar of fun buttons my mom had collected. Note: if you are gluing buttons to paper it helps to get a pair of pliers and either break off or bend the loop for thread at the back of the button.
2. Found and printed a simple horse image. The image we used was from google.com when we searched for a "horse template". Apparently, the one we found is from discoverhorses.com. We printed out the image on colored printer paper.
3. All that was left to do was to glue the beads and buttons to the paper. We picked out the beads and buttons we would use, placed them in paper bowls, and got started. The end results were beautiful.
I enjoyed this more than I imagined. Plus, it was interesting to note that the girls were more intent in their work and more excited about their project because they had an adult doing it with them instead of simply giving them instructions.
Yay for rainy mornings and Elmer's glue. I totally felt like this day was a win.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
What are some great memories you have of doing art projects with kids, family, or friends?
Have you ever read a novel in which you refused to go on to the happy ending because you kept re-reading the chapters of despair and sorrow?
Yeah. That’s what I thought. I don’t either. I love those happy endings. It is painful to see the characters suffering and struggling. Getting to the end where the hero wins, the guy gets the girl, and justice is served, that is the reason I read the book in the first place.
In life, however, I have re-lived over and over the painful moments of memory. For a long time, I returned to the minutes that I held Isabela as she passed away, the moment I turned away and left mom as she cried (the last time I saw her here on earth), and the sickening moment I stared at Micaela’s MRI and saw all the destruction of her brain. I returned to those memories over and over in a cycle of pain and grief.
Adela received a super book for her birthday, 5-Minute Princess Stories. The stories, beautifully illustrated, are short enough to hold her attention and meaty enough to feed her growing mind. We were reading the story of Cinderella and the Lost Mice. In the story, the mice were about to be thrown into the cold when Micaela’s feeding machine started to beep. I apologized to Adela and had to put down the book and get Micaela settled into a nap. Frustrated, Adela flipped through the story, staring at the pictures, and asking me what happened. Until I could sit down again with the book, Adela had no peace. The rest of the story had to be known. She was not content stuck at the part when it looked like those cute little mice were about to freeze to death outside.
That is a completely normal and healthy reaction, right?
In time, I had to choose to be healthy, too.
Those moments that I kept clinging to were not the end of the story. Until I moved on and embraced God’s beautiful plan, I was stuck in a cycle of pain. The reality is, Isabela’s story did not end when her heart stopped. She is beautiful and God’s joy in heaven. My story with my mother did not end when I let her hand go and walked away because it was time to leave that day. She is sainted and cheering me on as I live out God’s plan for me on Earth. And that MRI was in no way the end of Micaela’s future. Her story continues to unfold with the loving miracles of my Heavenly Father.
It took a long time to learn to stop clinging to the dark moments. But as I chose to embrace the beauty of those stories, I was able to step into new amounts of joy and memories that were not shadowed by grief.
God set me free simply by turning my head to look upon the rest of the story and seeing all the love that lies there.
Are there moments or memories that you still cling to, full of pain and sorrow? Have you asked God to show you the rest of the story?
Day 1: I liberally dumped milk into the steaming coffee. The cold liquid brought down the temperature. It did not singe my throat when I gulped a few seconds later. I mixed a second cup and trudged to the kitchen table. My bleary eyes gazed down at the words of my Bible. I drug a hand through wayward hair and prayed, “God, this is going to get easier, right?”
A long time ago, before children and traveling, I used to get up early each morning to read my Bible and pray. That ritual went out the window with newborns and a working husband needing an early breakfast. But I remembered how vital it had been to start my day on solid ground.
This year my husband started a new job and it was tough for me to adjust to our new schedule. Each day got progressively harder and more frustrating. Adela became defiant and Micaela’s antics with increasing mobility kept me on my toes. Quiet time found during the day dwindled.
Nothing about me was okay anymore. I was grouchy and filled with self-pity. I began to battle anger and resentment. I felt like I was slowly changing into a monster.
I knew that the answer had to begin with God. But when could I go to Him and have that one-on-one relationship grow? There was only one answer: Mornings.
So I did. It has been 90 days now of me waking 30 minutes before I need to start cooking breakfast. I won’t lie, the first couple weeks were difficult, but now I love it.
We all need this. There is nothing wrong with including God in the daily activities of our lives, but, remember that the best friendships are cultivated by giving full attention and priority in our hearts. These mornings that I wake, read my Bible, write in my Prayer Journal, and meditate on scripture, are my best days. I feel like I begin the day completely ready for the challenges that will come. I have an extra dose of peace in my soul and an extra measure of love in my heart. Lord knows I am desperate for that right now.
This habit began feeling like a sacrifice of time and rest, but now it has become a blessing I am eager to claim each morning.
God said, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8, ESV
If you are struggling to find our own special time with God, I want to encourage you today to take a leap and put a new habit in practice. There are so many amazing ways to connect with God. There is personal Bible study, creative devotionals, podcasts with gifted ministers, Bible journaling, and much much more.
I made a Pinterest board with devotional time ideas that might provide information and motivation to help you move forward in a stronger foundation of devotion time with God.
All of us have hearts that crave a closer relationship, a special friendship, with our Heavenly Father. Let us seek Him out daily and be blessed.
I rise before dawn and cry for help;
What daily devotional routines and resources have personally touched your relationship with our Heavenly Father? Comment below.
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"...and God was already there with me."