I woke up early, as planned.
After some time in prayer, I pulled on some clean workout clothes, tied up my Nikes, worked my hair into a high bun, and dabbed on some concealer.
I headed out to the kitchen quietly, closing the door to my room ever-so-strategically so I wouldn’t wake my three year-old who had crawled into our bed in the middle of the night. Again.
I filled a large Mason jar with water, drinking it all down as I reminded myself, once more, that water is the river upon which good health flows. Because my body isn’t always willing to consume that much water that early.
I started the teapot, hoping I’d at least be able to make my decaf, with unsweetened almond milk and heavy cream and stevia-based sweetener, before I’d hear the rustling of toys and beds that would notify me of waking children.
As I stood at the counter, I rehearsed the upcoming events of the day. Morning routines, then breakfast. Academics, chores, then outdoor play. And, prayerfully, naptime for the littles and downtime (and maybe a workout) for me.
Today, however, I added something new: as I stood there waiting for my coffee, I started to think, on purpose.
Thank you, God, for these beautiful children you’ve given me. Thank you for the opportunity to be their mother. Thank you that I have the privilege of teaching and training them because really, they belong to You and not me, Lord.
As I stood there, eyes closed, turning my heart toward God, I could feel His peace. Genuine thankfulness began to rise in my heart, and I couldn’t help but remember.
I remembered when I didn’t do any of this. I remembered when I would wake up after my kids and the day would get started before I could even take my morning pee.
I remembered when I had to gulp a cup of coffee, extra strong, before I was even fully awake so I’d at least have enough energy to make it until lunchtime, when I’d let them watch an hour of TV just so I could get a nap (or take a shower).
I remembered when I would get so frustrated at the neediness and fighting children that I’d bark cutting, harsh orders at them, followed by empty threats.
I remembered that when all this was accompanied by financial hardship and marital tension, which magnified every. single.emotion.
As I scooped instant decaf coffee into my hot water, my heart welled again. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for how you’ve opened up my eyes. Thank you for how you’ve helped me to overcome these things. You are so amazing and I’m grateful that you are always with me. I love you so much.
Being a mama is no easy task. Add challenging life situations to raising kids and you can potentially have a toxic high-stress formula for disaster.
But did you know it’s absolutely possible to live at complete peace, even if there are stressors all around you? Did you know that you can go from a place of “I can’t do this anymore” to “I love my life”-even if nothing about it changes?
Maybe you think this isn’t possible. Maybe all you’re accustomed to are over-emotional responses, unhappy and whining children, and financial stuckness, and you desperately want out.
It’s true that these things have the potential to stress us out, and many times we actually blame all the situations in our lives for affecting us as they do.
But notice how I said potential?
That’s because situations aren’t supposed to rule you; you’re supposed to rule them. You have the absolute ability to affect, in a positive way, anything that comes your way.
But how? you ask.
Well in this post, I’m going to share seven different things you can do to face and overcome the stresses that accompany motherhood. These are things you’ll need to be intentional about implementing, one change at a time, but I promise that if you do, you’ll be able to live, and laugh, and love motherhood.
Don’t compare yourself to other moms
Whether you know them personally or just see them at the store with their kids, there are, and always will be, “those” moms who always seem to draw you into a comparison trap.
How come her kids aren’t acting crazy?
How come they walk alongside her and they’re younger than my kids, who can’t seem to be still for a second?
And for goodness sake, how does she get them to listen to her?
Yep. We’ve all done this.
The reality is, this mom you’re comparing yourself to is also raising real human beings. Even if her kids seem better behaved, they may not really be. You may have caught them on a good day (and we’ve all had those, too).
I think comparing ourselves to others in our same life occupation can be a major source of stress. You know why?
It makes you think you’re not doing enough. Like you’re constantly missing the mark.
If you find yourself in this predicament, I encourage you to let this go. When you see a mom with seven kids who are all laughing, smiling, helping each other, and saying “yes ma’am,” let her be an encouragement to you, not a source of grief.
Oh sure, it’s nice to hear that we’re supermoms. It may make us feel admired, and who doesn’t like a little self-esteem boost?
But the reality is that motherhood has FAR too many things that are beyond our control. Like your kids, for instance. Sure, you can teach and train them, but can you really control them?
The truth is that you can’t control anyone but yourself. You can’t control your husband, your kids, your in-laws, anyone. The only person whose decisions you have complete jurisdiction over are your own.
Then there are situations that are even beyond our control. And do you know what happens when we try to control everything?
Anxiety. The dreaded disorder I feel like I’ve heard all over the place lately, from doctor’s offices to talk shows to magazine covers.
Anxiety comes when we consistently focus on negative thinking and try to control things that are beyond our control. Why do we do this to ourselves?
We need to learn how to let go. There are more things beyond our control than we even realize, and we need to learn how to change the way we respond to these things. Which brings me to my next point…
You have a Helper
If you’ve been baptized in the Spirit (John 1:33, 3:5), then you have God Himself living on the inside of you.
It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to teach us and help us. He provides wisdom, insight, and counsel that we need when we don’t know what to do. Which, for many of us, can be a lot of times.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve turned to the Holy Spirit when I didn’t know what to do about a situation. I did it just the other day, as a matter of fact.
I was struggling with a particular habit I kept noticing about myself, particularly as a mom, and I didn’t know exactly how to loose myself from it. It had been something that was a part of my nature for so long that I had no clue how to begin thinking differently.
So I tied up the very full kitchen trash bag, walked out the door while the kids were occupied watching a documentary on giraffes, and prayed as I headed to the big outdoor trash can.
I spent quite a bit of time, not only then, but the rest of the evening, praying completely through this situation and asking the Lord to open my eyes and help me see what I couldn’t see. I wanted transformation, but I wasn’t sure where to start.
I never cease to be amazed at how faithful the Lord is to us. The Holy Spirit began to highlight some things to me, including how to think and see things differently, and I have already seen tremendous fruit from all that He revealed to me.
If you want God’s help, all you need to do is ask. He gives wisdom generously to all who ask Him (James 1:5).
Play with your kids more
Let’s be honest, sometimes our kiddos are the main source of our stress.
Or are they?
Did you know that nothing has the ability to stress you out or produce depression and anxiety in your life?
If you don’t believe me, watch this.
I was listening to this YouTube video a few weeks ago with my husband about the mind. The guy who filmed it was talking about how powerful the mind is and how our responses to our life situations is actually what causes these negative things in our lives. It was super interesting.
I’ve noticed that when I’m less connected with my kids, less involved in their day, I can tend to lean the wrong way in my responses to them. I can tend to be less understanding and less tolerant.
However, there’s something amazing about playing with your kids. It builds these invisible bonds that make them feel more connected to you, and gives you many opportunities to tie strings of fellowship with them.
You can read my entire post on Why Every Mom Should Play With Her Kids here.
Get more rest
When you’re rested, you handle situations way better (and more nicely) than when you’re not.
But you know this already, and if you’re mothering on caffeine, then need to know more than this. You may want help in figuring out how you can get more rest.
Well, the long and short of it is to go to bed earlier. However, for many mamas, this is a problem when it comes to babies that have weird sleep patterns, work from home situations, or other challenging situations that make it difficult to hit the sack early.
What I’ve found to be helpful for many moms is to develop some kind of home system that works for you. Many times, we struggle because all the million things to do are just floating around in our minds without any kind of rhyme or rhythm, and we always feel like we’re behind.
That’s why I created The New Mom’s Guide to Managing the Home. Whether you’re a new mom or wish you could start all over again and build some better systems, this ebook/workbook will set you on a solid, clear path to creating home systems of your own.
I teach you the nine areas of home managing and give you ideas on how to implement them. Then, you spend time working them into your own daily life.
If you think your home managing needs a good ole’ overhaul, grab this resource here.
Choose to see the good
Choosing to see the good is, in my opinion, the deciding factor for how our day (and our life) goes. In other words, we’re the ones who determine how things affect us, not the things (or people) in and of themselves.
Even if our kids aren’t listening, the house is an eternal mess, and you can’t seem to get ten minutes in to take a peaceful shower, you can choose to see the good.
For every challenging scenario or situation, there is a positive, if you choose to see it. For instance, I can say:
Thank you, Lord, that you’ve given me life today and that you’ve blessed me with all these children.
Ugh…the kids are up before me again, needing me and already fighting with each other. I don’t know if I can do this today.
The situation is gonna be the same, regardless of how you see it, right? So why not help yourself and change your own perspective so you can be in the right position to handle it?
Lower your personal expectations
If there’s anything I’ve had to learn the hard way over the years, it’s to stop expecting the unrealistic from myself.
Before I had kiddos, I was a one woman wonder. In college alone, I held three jobs, was an All-American volleyball player, and still managed to graduate Magna Cum Laude.
When I became a mom, I struggled with the fact that it took me more than an hour sometimes just to clean the kitchen after dinner. Since personal accomplishments had been tied to my perception of my personal worth for so long, I felt that because I was hardly ever able to accomplish my “to do” list, I just wasn’t measuring up.
It took me years to learn to let things go. So I only knocked out 5 of my 10 to do list items? No prob. I’ll put them on my list for tomorrow. So I didn’t get up for my morning run today? Not a biggie. I’ll just let go. And be ok with it. 🙂
See your kids as a joy
How do you see your kids? Do you love waking up to serving them all day? Or do you dread it?
Do you have stereotypes for your kids? Do you have a “loud” one, a “bossy” one, or one who drives you nuts?
It’s time to let go of those titles. They’re stressing you out.
Instead, see your kids as the Word of God intends them to be seen. Psalm 127:3 says that children are a blessing from the Lord, and that’s how you have to choose to see them.
But I know what you may be thinking. Kelani, they drive me nuts! Sometimes I can’t even stand to be around them because they don’t listen and they’re so needy! And the fighting…good heavens…
I know, I know. There’s no denying that these things are there. However, if you’ll choose to see your kids as a joy and a blessing, and train your mind in this direction, you’ll find that you’re responding to them differently. And inevitably, you responding to them differently will cause them to respond to you differently, which makes for a more peaceful everybody.