6 Ways I loosened up to survive the early years of Motherhood

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I’m that mom that people in Publix give dirty looks to because her children are playing “Spies” down the aisles. The mom who let’s her kids play with all the toys in Target while she sits on the floor and talks to her sister on her cell phone. I’m the mom that has been known to let her boys pee behind a tree in a semi public place because legistically is seems most efficient. I know, I NEVER thought I’d be her.6 Ways I loosened up to Survive the early years of Motherhood - the House of Hendrix

Before I had children, I was appalled when I saw wild children in public places running around …I swore my children would never behave that way. I really did. I actually said it out loud to my husband. “Just so you know honey, our children will never act like that. They are going to say Yes Mam and Yes Sir, and know how to properly sit at a restaurant table until each adult is finished”.

Yay, they really don’t. I mean I can threaten them to said desired result but it’s not natural.  And it’s not that I don’t try. It’s that as moms we have to pick priorities and EVERYTHING can’t be a priority. I applaud you moms who have 3 kids in a grocery cart each with their list of items to look for, with a pencil and pad and a plan. You’re doing a great job! (and I’m not being condescending)6 Ways I Loosened Up to Survive the early years of Motherhood - the House of Hendrix

I actually channeled that mom for 3 1/2 years when I had my daughter and infant son. I had it together, or at least thought I did in my sleep-deprived state. Then I was blessed with another boy a few months later and well…God thought I needed to loosen up a bit or just wanted a good laugh. I had one was crawling this way, one toddling that way, and a 4-year-old with an opinion on it all.

I had to change or else this idealistic vision of mothering would be the death of me. Every mom is different. Every threshold unique. I was maxed out. There were specific areas I had to loosen up to survive and thoroughly enjoy these early years of motherhood.Encouraging and refreshing post!! "I guess I just quit trying to make it all look perfect: my kids, my house, my parenting...and as a result we had more room for joy and increased time for laughter." |the House of Hendrix

6 Ways I loosened up to survive the early years of  Motherhood:

1. Be thankful in the storm. When I feel exhausted and overwhelmed, I look for the blessings around us.  Have you read “1000 Gifts? The author writes a journal of 1,000  things she is thankful for…the result, JOY.

2. Laugh - Laugh when life is messy, chaotic, or just not going your way. Laughter helped me find perspective in the most frustrating mommy moments. My mother faxed me a paper at work one time which read in giant letters, ‘Don’t let the stress take away your joy’. That totally changed me. {humorous table manners post}

3. Re-Prioritize - My heart wanted to be a great mom to our children…but I just couldn’t do it all. We had to define what the most important priorities were for our family.

Unchanging Priorities: Obedience, Respect, Honesty. These are not the areas where we  loosen up, yet are still our biggest struggle.

Family-Specific Priorities like Serving Others or Having a Strong Family Unit. Defining these helps determine how we choose to spend our time.

Our Fallen Priorities: These are good parenting practices that just aren’t our priority. Keeping my boys clean for 6 Ways I loosened up to Survive the early years of Motherhood - the House of Hendrixinstance. It’s impossible. We wash our hands and take baths, but it really ends there. Over the summer they only look clean because we live in the pool, but if I met you at the park for a playdate, you would be baffled. I think of it as their special gift, they know how to play hard…and get dirty.

4. Slow down - This occurred to me one day when I took the kids to Sea World. They were looking at the flamingos, and I pleaded for 5 minutes for them to hurry up so we could go see the dolphins. Who goes to Sea World to see flamingos after all? Suddenly I stopped pushing and just observed. They posed like flamingos for 15 minutes fully convinced that the tourists could not tell if they were a one-legged pink bird or a child.

We never made it to Shamu that day, and I can’t recall what we actually did see, but they still laugh about all of those “in between moments” that never made the schedule, those memories based on relationship and interaction with each other, those memories that almost didn’t happen because I was rushing for nowhere.

5. Simplify – I simplified the over-the-top birthday parties and put that energy into creating a memorable birthday atmosphere within our home.  I simplified making baby books…actually I quit them altogether but you shouldn’t do that, they’re good to have.  

6 Ways I loosened up to Survive the early years of Motherhood - the House of Hendrix

I guess I just quit trying to make it all look perfect: my kids, my house, my parenting…and as a result we had more room for joy and increased time for laughter.

6. Trust –  I have read more parenting books, heard speakers, and taken parenting classes that I understand the importance of family meals, consistent discipline, fewer activities, more alone time with each child….which is why it’s so easy to feel like a failure as a parent. There’s always something more we could be doing as parents.

But that is exactly where the scriptures changed my heart. They promise that if I ask God for wisdom over my children, He won’t deny it from me. But to truly have confidence in that, meant I had to trust that God would equip me for the children He entrusted to me. When I embraced that truth, the pressure was off. I was enough for my kids. My kids still keep me quite humble on a regular basis, but I take comfort knowing that when I seek God for guidance, He will provide the insight and wisdom I need.

So that’s how I became “that mom”. People still roll their eyes and gasp from time to time, but I’m ok with it. My family is not supposed to look like yours, and we are in fact a bit quirky. But like you, I cherish my children. So if you bump into my Secret Spies in the cereal aisle at Publix, or if I see your children eating chocolate bars for breakfast, let’s give each other a break, and replace those looks with an understanding smile, that we’re each doing the best we can.

The House of Hendrix

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60 thoughts on “6 Ways I loosened up to survive the early years of Motherhood

  1. Thanks God there is another “Normal” family like mines!! I have four boys, WWE everynight with them and not to mention I have the most gorgeous Stress Highlights in my Hair!! LOL Sometimes we need reminders to take a deep breath and smile. they are only young once! lets keep creating memories that last a lifetime!❤

  2. Just wanted to say thanks for this! Been feeling a bit overwhelmed lately. Thank you for the reminders: to ask for wisdom (so simple, yet why don’t I do it?) and to be grateful, find joy, and see the humor in those stressful moments of mothering. {P.S. I hear dirt is good for developing strong immune systems. We are fans of playing in the dirt too. ;) }

  3. I can’t even describe how beautiful you’re message is. It is wonderful that you could write that we are enough for our kids. I think many moms feel pressure from outside to do this or that but you’re thought is a call to reorient oneself. Its wonderful to know that God has entrusted us with his children and that could be a daunting task for anyone. I love that you have flipped that on its heels and said “God entrusted you with them, but that’s because you are perfect for their needs.” That’s so amazing.

  4. I love reading your posts. With my first baby on the way, it’s so reassuring to remember all of this! Your honesty is truly refreshing, and your children are lucky to have you.

  5. Love this post! I still let my kids go play in the toy section. Sometimes, for fun, we’d go to Toys R’ Us just to play. You’re right, we can’t do everything. We can usually do a few things really well though and I think those things are different for every mom….like you said, prioritize.
    ~FringeGirl

  6. LOVE it Alli. My Mantra and best advice for Mom’s is trust God, it is never fair to compare, don’t take anything personally and don’t worry about what other people might think…it is between your family and God and was never about them anyways!!! Love you so much.

  7. AWESOME. My house was pretty much a wreck when my daughter (yes, I only had ONE, and STILL had to make these same choices) was tiny. Actually, it still pretty much is a wreck, I never got my “care” back about that. Time with my Precious Angel Baby was WAY more important than a perfect house. Besides, it was fun raking the leaves out of the kitchen because the back door got left open all day! LOL

  8. This is delightful. As a parent of only 2, I can do a lot of those things parents with more can’t (like over the top birthday parties…) I loved that you didn’t condemn or dismiss those things that SOME parents do, but are fully owning the way you parent. It’s beautiful, it doesn’t come across as judgmental (like many of these posts do) and you seem to be genuinely enjoying being a mom. How refreshing! I also really appreciated your unchanging priorities, those are the most important to me too… Love this!!

  9. So good. I love to hear “let’s give each other a break.” I vowed not to be Super Mom but Good Enough Mom early in parenthood, and I still feel like I can do better at giving myself a break.

  10. Prayed for wisdom tonight for the first time ever. Never knew to do that. Peace fell over me. Please keep writing, I don’t care about what.

  11. I love your advice and definitely agree with prioritizing! I’ve had to re-prioritize of late and it has made a world of difference. I was like you pre-kids but I reckon with my little son, it’s likely that that will change!

  12. Thank you! I’m reading this with tears in my eyes! Been feeling like a big fat failure lately and I needed to read this. Thanks for the encouraging words!

  13. I totally agree! I was quite uptight with my eldest son, it was all about routines & trying to do much all of the time. Since my little one has come along (16mth age gap) I am learning it all about prioritising what is really important and enjoying the everyday moments.

  14. Allison, this was such a wonderful, wonderful post. A fridge-worthy post, in fact! I’m in the thinking stages of writing my own blog post about resetting as a parent, and I’m definitely going to link to you.

    I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog.

  15. So glad to have met you today at the #weteach event, Allison! I loved reading this post just now when I came over to check out your blog. Truer words have never been spoken. With my kids being just behind your oldest two, I feel these pains every day, the struggle with being “this” mom or “that” mom. There is so much here I am taking note of because one day my kids will be grown & gone and I’ll miss these days, perfect or not!

  16. Thank you for putting it all out there, honesty about real life is so appreciated. I have found that the definition of clean has changed for me many times in the past six years!

  17. I found this post through Pinterest and I LOVED IT!! I’m about 4 weeks away from having my 3rd baby and then I’ll have a 3 yr old and barely 1 yr old and a newborn and I’ve been feeling VERY overwhelmed. This post helped calm me down and was just what I needed to hear. I just wanted to thank you and say if you have any other great advice for surviving the early years of children I will take all the advice I can get!

  18. Thank you for this…my 3rd child (5 year old boy) is convinced he looks cool in his 10 year old brother’s Nike Elite socks, he wears them with shorts so they kind of look like tights…I think I am just getting used to this or am just too tired to care…I know I need to have a little more of a sense of humor with these things, God is really working with me on this! Thanks for putting it all in perspective!

  19. This is SOOO me! I always say, “I was a parenting expert until I had children.” I have a 5, almost 3, and 1 year old, and let me just say that God sufficiently humbled me! Their clothes rarely match (let alone stay stain-free), they sing at the top of their lungs in public, they avoid vegetables like the plague, and yes, I am going to let them eat those crackers straight off the floor. But, they stop and pray when an emergency vehicle goes by, they can quote Proverbs 3:5 with gusto, and they are amazingly happy, healthy, loving kids in spite of their terribly flawed mother.

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  21. i really like how you have written this. I to admire parents for upholding certain values that were values I have let slide for my own sanity. Picking the ones that are improtant to you and your family is a great idea. Thanks for sharing on the Sunday Parenting Party. I’m pinning this to the SPP pinterest board

  22. I am a mom of three boys all two years apart. I love your post. Try to laugh more and know that God has blessed us with our children and we are the best suited for the job. I have recently lost a friend because she believes my son has bad behavior. It really hurt my feelings to see how judgemental people can be rather than understanding or helpful. As moms and fathers we all have so much stress pushing us to try to be the perfect parent. Thank you for your supportive words.

    • I’m sorry you lost a friend over your child’s behavior. I find I am most vulnerable with matters pertaining to my kids, so I understand the emotions and mama bear involved. Does your friend have kids? Are they younger than yours?

  23. What a breath of fresh air! The most important part to me is to feel confident in how you parent. Never parent to please others, you never will and that’s not your job. Thank you for this post!

  24. VERY true! I think I finally came to that conclusion somewhere between baby #4 and baby#6 (I’ve got 8, so go figure!) I love the picture of your boys washing their hair in the rain gutters!
    I totally get the story of the kids wanting to do something else (see/imitate the flamingos) than what we think will make them happy, and learning to just go with the flow! Great post! Kudos to you for being a happy mom!

  25. This is so wonderfully sensible and exactly how I feel about my three. Sometimes I can feel myself getting uptight when the place is in such a mess but they always manage to make me realise that it just doesn’t matter!

  26. I was reading this and it was as if I was writing this post! Mom of four boys who keep me in my toes. Thank you for your outlook. We all need reminders that we are doing a good job despite all of the things undone.

  27. loved this post.
    I’ve relinquished my desire/need to the mom who looks like she has it all together, too. I tried so hard to make my boys’ look a certain way, you know, so I could look a certain way, when they were little. I swear, they were on to me from the start. :) They would pee off our deck to see who could pee the farthest. They played spy games in the aisles. :) I finally surrendered all those minor things and decided to just focus on the majors. I would so much rather have their hearts.

    LOVED this post. LOVE your heart!
    xo

  28. Great read! The “slow down” and “don’t let your stress take away your joy” are really important ones I’m trying to remember lately. Thank you for this wonderful post!

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  30. I am so glad there is somebody else out there besides me that had to “loosen up” with their kids. I am still learning with 3 boys ages 5, 3, and 1. I’m slightly OCD and I do want perfection and for things to go the way I plan them but I am learning that that’s not what’s important, it’s living in the moment and enjoying it however it turns out as long as everyone is having fun. So thank you for this post, I may make a printout of your 6 tips and hang them on my bedroom mirror as a reminder every morning to loosen up and have fun with them. Thanks again!

    • I hear you Bailey! Our kids are the same # of years apart too. It sounds like we have very similar experiences. Enjoy them in the little things. Have a great night and thanks for commenting.

  31. What a beautiful post! This is exactly what I’m going through right now. I’ve got an almost 4 year old, and almost 3 year old, and a 15 month old. I work part-time and I hate it, and I think for some reason, since I work, I’m even harder on myself than some SAHMs. Or maybe just as hard, I don’t know. Either way, I tend to have ridiculously high standards when I’m working and I Hate it.

    But I’m currently on a medical leave from work, so I’ve HAD to slow down but my expectations didn’t really change at first. Not to say that I’ve got it all figured out, because seriously? But I’m definitely getting my “Mom pants” on and feeling a little more a home and slowing down and finally not in survival mode anymore. I feel like I’ve caught up to my kiddos. That feeling will probably change again in like 3 weeks, but for now, I feel so much better than I have in a very long time! And this post definitely helped me narrow in a few things too:-D

    • Katie, it sounds like you can already see some blessings coming from your medical leave (from which I hope you are recovering well). Like you implied, I don’t think we ever get it figured out because it just keeps changing, but you are being intentional with your kids in the areas that matter…and that makes all the difference. I’m learning that sometimes I have to put things on the back burner for a season, not forever, to make space for something else. Keep enjoying this time with your little ones. You are a good mama.

  32. Thank you for your wonderful perspective on motherhood. I get those judgmental looks sometimes, but dang it, sometimes you have to go to the store and buy milk even when your 3 year old decides he wants to have an emotional breakdown in Target for no apparent reason.
    Thank you for reminding me to slow down! Maybe if I slow down, my 3 year old son and 5 and half year old daughter will stop fighting so much if I get more involved in their daily playtime. The house doesn’t have to be spotless all the time! I have 3 kids and you’ve reminded me that they’re only little for a short while. I should know that. My kids are 15, 5, and 3. Thanks again!

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