By Melissa McDonald
I have a two year old and a one year old. I can get tired just thinking about it. But mostly I’m tired because they need me from early in the morning until they lay down at night (and often after they lay down).
It’s tempting to make all my decisions based on how much work everything is going to be: Play doh? Well, your little sister will eat it and mash it into the carpet. I really don’t want to deal with that right now.
But rules are not primarily for preserving my energy, they are intended to bring life to my children.
Of course there are times when we can’t go to the park because I need to make dinner. And there are times when I have to say no to painting. But I want to be a mother who gives life to my children, not one who clenches my fingers straining to have something left over for myself.
So here are five things I’m learning that help me enjoy my toddlers:
Go to bed
This one may seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times after I finally get the girls down to bed, I think to myself that I ought to get just a little time for myself today. Even though I am wiped out, I end up staying up way too late. Don’t do that. Go to bed!
Don’t spend your entire Lowe’s trip trying to get out of there as quickly as possible (unless of course someone is having a meltdown or is intent on using the display potty). Walk down the aisle with the lights. Point out all the different kinds of lights. Ask which ones are their favorites. Feel the carpet samples. Look at the plants. Do any of them smell good? The point is slowing down and experiencing life with your children, not checking everything off of your to-do list all of the time.
Does she like to paint? Does he like to explore at the park? Does she like to use the whisk in the kitchen? Don’t wait until your child asks, but offer it.
Laugh before you clean up the mess
Sometimes messes happen because a little person disobeyed. And sometimes messes just happen. Often little people are completely unaware that dumping all their toys on the bed and pretending it is Noah’s ark looks like a mess to you. When no one was being naughty, take a minute to enjoy their fun before you clean it up.
Beg for help
When my heart is all self-centered and I get angry that anyone could even think to impose on me for one more thing, I need to beg God for help. My most frequent prayers come from Psalm 119:36-37, “Turn my heart towards your statutes, and not towards selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things, preserve my life according to your word.” He gives grace to the humble.
So mom of toddlers, while it is busy and draining we must recognize that God has abundant grace for us to give to our kids. And a life of giving freely is much more enjoyable than a stingy life.
Melissa McDonald (@melissabmcd) and her husband Eric serve and disciple international students at The University of Iowa with their two daughters, Miriam and Annette. She loves cooking, taking the girls on explores, and writing. Melissa blogs at The Cross and the Kitchen Sink and has written the Bible study guide: To Live Valiantly: A study on the Proverbs 31 Woman.
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