My house is a disaster area.
I am afraid to look in dust bunny-ridden corners, and the bathrooms make me want to wave a white flag.
My approach to school has been hit or miss, at best.
The number of doctor appointments, dentist appointments and therapist appointments we have each week is just plain stupid.
And my hair? Well, let’s not talk about the last time I really did anything with my hair.
There are some seasons in motherhood that are just more difficult than others.
(and all the mommas said, “Amen!“)
My family has been in crisis mode for the last few months.
I am grateful to be able to say that things are starting to calm down a bit.
But the chaos and crazy remain. Not in our circumstances as much, but in my home, in our routines and in my heart.
I found myself thinking yesterday about when my boys were each around six weeks old.
In addition to the usual, “Sigh, they were so cute and snuggly and wasn’t it great when I could just hold them and make everything better,” I also remember what began to happen in that time-frame.
After the initial shock of a new baby, no sleep, healing from giving birth, and crazy hormones, everything in my life at the time felt very similar to today.
It was like I suddenly had no idea how to do my life.
But slowly and surely, over the course of a month or so, things began to fall into place. By the time both of my boys were three months old, even with some medical issues at the time, I felt more capable, more in control, and more on top of things.
Motherhood has a way of pulling us along, even when we feel like we can’t go any further.
The truth is, even though my children are now eleven and almost fourteen, I find I need to take the same approach to our life as I did back in the early weeks of babyhood.
When Mom Needs To Get Back On Track
As I look at what is creating the ongoing overwhelm in our home, it’s the basics. The most basic aspects of motherhood are as pressing for me today, as they were back in the early weeks.
Savoring The Small Moments
When my boys were babies, it felt somehow noble to only be about these things.
Now, I feel like a failure that this is all that is on my to-do list. (Sleep, really? Shouldn’t we be focused on bigger things by now?) This attitude is not serving me, or my family well at all.
It’s time that I banish the guilt. It’s time that I just do what needs to be done for us, instead of thinking that it is somehow not enough.
It’s time to get back on track.
I am necessarily militant these days about my youngest son’s sleep schedule (mood disorders require it). A consistent bedtime routine, and set times for bed and wake-up, are a worthwhile objective right now. No matter how much I wish we could figure this sleep thing out (it has been 14 years after all, sigh), the reality is that sleep for both of my child requires planning and time on my part.
As life has become more and more out of control, our eating habits have become more and more haphazard. Both of my children benefit from a careful, more natural, dairy free diet. They also both suffer significant sensory issues associated with eating. I know this, but it requires a lot for me to manage their diets well.
Lately, as I have felt the overwhelm, I have allowed many more foods than usual into their diets. The effects are noticeable and not helpful – for any of us. Again, I wish that feeding my children was not as difficult a task, but it’s just reality. The truth is, I think about their “feeding schedules” almost as much as I did when they were babies. Instead of lamenting this very real fact of life, I am determined to just accept it as a necessary part of mothering my children well.
“Sleep when the baby sleeps.” Everyone tells a new mom this. I heard it several times in the first weeks of my boys’ lives.
I need to tell myself essentially the same thing today. Rest when they are otherwise occupied. If they are happily completing a project together, this is not the time to hurry up and scrub the kitchen. It might be that sitting down with a hot cup of coffee and relaxing a bit, will better serve us all. Self care matters more than a clean kitchen. I need this to play on repeat I think. (Self care is a top priority. Self care matters more than the dust bunnies. Look at you practicing self care – aren’t you amazing!)
Savoring The Small Moments
This is perhaps what I need to remember the most. Cherish the time with your babies while you have it. This season doesn’t last forever. They are young now, but all too soon this will not be the case.
Just as the baby years flew by (although at the time it seemed like the stretch to six month old lasted three and a half years), so too will these tween years. I perceive it, when I slow down enough to notice.
My youngest asking me to play a game with him.
My oldest excited to show me a funny You-Tube video.
Both of them still eager to listen to Harry Potter on audible whenever we are in the car.
I know these days are precious, no matter how overwhelmed I feel. I every one of these presents moments is as precious as those early, sweet baby smell days.
The more I can give myself the grace to just do the things that we need, instead of all the things I think we should, the more joy I find in our reality. The more I revel in these cool kids that I get to be a mom to, the more grateful I am for the gifts I have been given.
The more I feel like I am right on track.
For more encouragement and support:
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.