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


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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Why I chose to homeschool when I swore I never would. Our one year adventure together.

Why I chose to homeschool when I swore I never would. Our one year adventure together.

“Good for YOU…not me” was what I always thought when I met an amazing mom that homeschooled her children. I was confident that I was both a better mother getting a break from my children, and that a fully trained individual was more qualified for the job. Yet I spent the past year homeschooling my daughter for 5th grade. Here’s our story.

I love my children’s school, so much so I’ve written a post about my adoration for their teachers. My daughter is a disciplined, respectful, quiet student who takes delight in lining up her pencils and practicing her math facts. Her hard work and natural abilities have always made her successful in the classroom. Somewhere around the end of 3rd grade and the beginning of 4th she began to lose her academic sparkle. Her joy had been replaced with anxiety, and her smiles just fleeting moments. Tears became her release on matters pertaining to homework and tests. She was on edge.

I remember her coming home from school with an A- on a test, sobbing for having missed 2 questions. Bummed that my then 9 year old’s quest for perfection was overtaking her ability to have a joy-filled week,  I rebelliously took a pencil and drew a line through the minus turning it into a A+. This is just a letter. It does not define you. She was mortified that I had defiled her paper.

She needed me….but not the me she was getting. From the time we got home from after school sports until bedtime, my relationship with my 3 children was a checklist of orders: take a bath, eat dinner, do your reading and finish homework. We were stretched. I was not mentoring, modeling and even mothering in the way I thought she needed.perfection is my enemy printable {the House of Hendrix}

I craved time with my daughter. I wanted that extended atmosphere where we could tackle some bigger issues like perfectionism, confidence, and identity.  My concern was not necessarily where she was at now, because many children get anxious and stressed out, but where this could take her.  I wanted to affirm in her who she is in Christ and that no grade, award or even imperfection can alter that identity. She is already amazing. We listened to a Christian pop singer Francesca Battistelli CD with lyrics like “Perfection is my enemy. I’m free to be me.” We also read great books on that topic attached here.6 great books for yuor tween to read...about being a tween

So I said no to a lot of good things and Yes to her. This was not a flippant decision. I gathered information, asked questions, and prayed a lot. I finally decided I would never regret taking a year to pour into her. This was not an academic decision. This was a heart decision, a commitment to each other for one year.

Here’s what our year looked like:

Each morning, she made us each a cup of tea, we played classical music, and had our devotions. When we skipped this step, we ran into trouble. She craved that soothing transition from the morning rush of getting her brothers to school, to a place where our hearts were calm and teachable.

We continued her Classical Christian education. We read great books, laughed, and sang. We did math at Starbucks and literature in a British accent. She was required to dance as she sang her grammar jingles and we totally dropped Latin. We learned for the love of learning.

This was a journey we were going on together. I quickly saw my weaknesses revealed. I was honest and talked through them with her. Unknowingly, I was modeling bringing light to each other’s struggles…not being ashamed of them, and taking comfort in not being perfect. We don’t have to be great at everything. We are enough. We celebrated our strengths in confidence.

An author who I adore, Ann Voscamp, shaped my perspective on what I wanted this year to look like. She encourages both the homeschool parent and child to be committed to living in 4 key ways.

Live each day: (Ann Voscamp)

Live your life. Invite your children to join you! Read together. Pray together. Sing together. Work, bake, garden, chore, clean, sew, fix, build together. Don’t fabricate artificial demarcation lines between schooling and living. Live a one-piece life. Live holistically.

Explore! Be awed by His World! Restore Wonder! Be a creative, thinking, exuberant person who spills with the joy of learning. Your zest for learning and life will be contagious–the children will catch it!

Read, read, read. Fill the house with library books. Play classical music. Post the art of the masters about the house. Go for walks in the woods. Learn a new language, a new culture, a new poem. Everyday set out to discover again, and again, and again. The whole earth is full of His glory! Go seek His face…

Consistently prayConsistently read. Consistently keep the routine. Consistently live an everyday liturgy.

Our year together is now over, summer is coming to an end, and my daughter returns to her school in a few days. We didn’t cover everything in my curriculum plan. We didn’t take all of the field trips I imagined accompanied a homeschool experience, and I’m sure I failed to teach her everything she would have learned in school.

But my daughter and I… we are connected.  We’re tight! I can look at her introverted self and know the status of her heart. We built trust. We persevered through frustration. We gained confidence. We dealt with death. But more than anything, JOY returned to the face and heart of my child…a joy that is not temporary because it comes from that deep place of knowing who you are .

Why I chose to homeschool when I swore I never would. Our One Year Adventure Together {the House of Hendrix}.


Resources we enjoyed:

 “The question is not, ‘how much does the youth know?’ when he has finished his education––but how much does he care? – Charlotte Mason

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Stepping Stones of life

How life prepares us for the good stuff.Some days I listen to myself and wonder if my husband misses that innocent, fresh-faced girl he married. You know the one, the girl who had a locked gaze on her man, laughing at even his slightest of jokes. She greeted him after work with a giant smile and warm embrace, and followed it up with a foot rub and lousy home-cooked meal. She was determined to love him well.How life prepares us for the good stuff.

Check out this post for a little encouragement on the beauty in our changes.

Flash forward 13 years, he still gets my lousy home-cooked meal and is secure in my love, but the rest has changed. I’ve changed. My gaze is now divided amongst 3 children, 2 rabbits, unfinished projects and piles of laundry. When he comes home from work, he gets a “Hey Babe. (smooch) I screwed up diner again, should we order a pizza?”

I no longer slink into bed in a silk negligee ready for “theme night”. I fall into bed exhausted. Does he miss that girl from before?

I think we both do! We miss her because she represents a time in our lives when things were simpler. She had time for herself; time to be intentional in both relationships and matters of the home. There were fresh-cut flowers and love notes. There were surprise dates and thoughtful gifts. She was well rested and her mind clear. We both miss her.

I’ve learned though, she was a stepping-stone…a training ground for what was to come. All of that time she took for herself, she was figuring out who she was. Those warm embraces she greeted her man with, they are still there. They just look different. They greet the early risers of the morning and little faces after school. And when she falls into bed exhausted, it’s because she lives a full life, serves her family well, and is doing the best she can.

So although we miss her, we like the new version better. Her love has matured. Her visions of a picture perfect home now replaced by real relationships, often messy, and a love so deep it hurts. And that gaze into the eyes of her man, has roots that have dug deep, persevered, and are grounded in faith. Her gaze now tells a story, her story.

And she’s learned life’s harder, richer, and way better than her doe-eyed dreams.

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