Thursday, May 5, 2011

From the Archives: 6 Steps to Mindful Mothering

{In light of my last post, and in honor of Mother's Day this weekend, a re-post to serve as a reminder for all of, most of all}

photo source

During these quiet moments, after all are in bed and the only sound is the clicking of my needles and the moan of the wind outside my window, these are the times I think on it most. On the past 8 years. On the four babes welcomed and the one on the way. On the pregnancies, the births, the birthdays. On the scary moments every Mother dreads, the blood, the stitches, the bruises, the slip and fall accidents that punctuate our lives with drama.

Sometimes I can't believe it.  That the big boy holding little one's hand, leading him up to bed and tucking him in with a kiss, he was the same size as this little one in my womb right now, kicking and growing and waiting for his turn to take that first breath.  What's more, sometimes I can't believe that I am the same woman as that girl, clutching swaddled bundle in hospital delivery room, wondering why I didn't feel anything like a mother.  The truth is, I'm not her.

It has taken 8 years and four babies to make me into the Mom I am today.  And it can feel that I haven't changed enough since that day when I brought a squalling baby home in the moist July heat.  Have I grown in patience since then?  Understanding?  Have I learned how to nurture?

In this busy house chock full of busy people, I can see how critics of large families often wonder: "how do you have enough time/patience/energy to fully meet the needs of so many?"  Perhaps admitting that is shocking.  It shouldn't be.  I can see how mothering a large(r) brood can turn into assembly line parenting, should one become complacent.

The very thing I seek to avoid in the care of my children in their education, I need to be mindful of in parenting as well:  One size fits all.

I knew when I brought home my second baby that there was no such thing as One Size Fits All, or even One Size Fits Most parenting.  Children are too different from one another to be lumped together.  Sure, you can keep them basically fed and cared for that way, but there is a difference between surviving and thriving.  And oh, I want these children of mine to thrive!

A lofty goal, it seems sometimes, particularly with the realities of 3 meals a day, endless laundry, schooling, housework, playtime, pregnancy, babies, toddlers...

How does one mindfully parent in the midst of all of that?  How can one take the time needed for one particular child when the rest of family life clamors loud and To Do lists mount?

Here's my list, a few things that have been in my heart and mind lately.

1) Prioritize.  Place your children first on the to do list. The hours you have with them are precious commodities that should not be sacrificed or wasted.  This may mean that some cleaning or laundry or project of yours needs to wait.  Those things will be there tomorrow, but this day exists for this child only once.  Seize it.

2)Simplify.  If you find the above step overly difficult, you just may have too much on your plate.  Many families do, to their detriment.  There is nothing wrong with bowing out of one or two activities, taking less responsibility on your boards or charities, and just slowing things down for awhile.

3)Pray.  Think you are the one who knows your child best?  Think again.  Someone else does, and the greatest news of all is that He wants them to thrive, too.

 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart;" Jer. 1:5

4)Connect.  Talk with your children.  Touch them.  Look in their eyes and listen with your whole heart to the things they say.  Discover their personalities, and customize your parenting to their unique little souls.

5) Focus. If you keep a journal, write down some of the discoveries you make about each child.  Study them, invest in them.  Mothering is a final exam with no retakes.  Be serious.  Be dedicated. 

6)Sacrifice.  Mindful Mothering requires sacrifice.  You may find you do not have time for certain things you enjoy in your day when you throw yourself fully into focusing on your children.  They are getting the best of you, its true.  Try to make time for your own interests after the little ones are in bed, or before they wake up in the morning.  Some things you enjoy may disappear for a while.  You will never regret giving your time, energy and focus to your children when they are young.

Blessings to all of you other Moms on this journey.  It is difficult work, but it is also the greatest there is.

Happy Mother's Day to all of my lovely readers - keep up the great, important, eternal work!

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  1. Beautiful.

    I think the best advice I was ever given was "When you are feeling overwhelmed, stop everything, sit down and read a book to your children.". There are so many moments where I am frustrated because I can't get this or that done...but what really matters that day? What will my children remember? The moments snuggled on the couch, or mommy franticly trying to clean the house?

    Thank you for sharing this. :)

  2. Lydia, I love this! What a wonderful take on practical, loving motherhood. You're a fabulous writer and an even more fabulous mom!

  3. Lydia,
    I really am loving your blog. You have an amazing gift for writing and encouraging all in an engaging way. I appreciate what you have to say each time you post. Thank you for taking the time to write so thoughtfully!

  4. Beautiful post!
    I agree with everything you have send, but yet I find myself greatly struggling with it! I am an awful manager of my time...I need to spend time in The Word; I *need* to clean, cook, do laundry; I *want* to sit and knit or work on one of my zillion sewing projects; I want to bake this or that. So much that I want or need to do and I let myself get overwhelmed and upset that I never have time for "me"...but at the same time complain that my children are growing up so fast! *sigh*
    I loved what a previous commenter said..."When you are feeling overwhelmed, stop everything, sit down and read a book to your children"! GREAT advice!

  5. I know how you feel, Amy. Sometimes when I am trying to go to sleep, my brain just won't stop recounting the things I need to remember: pay this bill or that, go to the post office, register a child for this or that activity, get everyone to the dentist, etc. It really seems that there just plain aren't enough hours in a day. But I just try to remember that, in the grand scheme of things, although some of those things are very important, children matter more. And they won't be here forever.

  6. I cannot tell you the shelves of parenting books I have (and have read). You sum it up so simply and beautifully in just a few bullet points. I might have to write these down and put them on the fridge. Thanks for a great reminder and encouragement to focus on what matters!

  7. What wonderful advice you've shared! Thanks for reminding us as moms to focus on this mostimportant ministry - that of meeting the needs of our family.

  8. Beautiful post, thank you.
    Swinging by from HHH to say hi!

  9. Thank you so much everyone for stopping by!! :-)

  10. Thanks for this Lydia. I have a hard time balancing what I need to accomplish each day with what my children need. Working outside the home has different challenges than being at home, but focusing on putting our children first should always be the primary goal. I have a hard time living in chaos, but I just have to accept that as part of life right now and be with them. One day they will leave me and I will still have that laundry, those dishes. Time is flying by and I can't seem to hold onto it all long enough.

  11. Jennifer -

    I can imagine that working brings so many challenges! My sister recently went back to work and put her infant in daycare, and I told her that those hours in the evening that they are home together and he is awake - those are for him. Anything else she needs to get done can wait til after bedtime. You can really make the most of those hours with your littles if you stay focused!!

  12. Beautiful advice. I love connecting with another mama who truly "get it" such as you do. For me, patience is key. It's something that I work on every single day. I have nine children (so far!) and with each baby, with each child...I grow more patience. Right now all my children are young enough to still live at home, but I have two who are 18 and 19. They remind me daily that my time with my children (living under my roof) is limited. Time goes so quickly. I know the days of spilled milk, messes on the floor, and laundry (oh..the laundry!!) will not last forever, and I want to cherish every crazy and chaotic second around here. I don't want to waste my time with a short temper. I don't want my kids to remember life in this house with a mom who was always mad at some little annoyance. I am a much more patient mom now with nine than I ever was when I just had one or two. Some might say I've just gone soft, or the old "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mentality kicked in, you know, because they SO outnumber me, LOL. But that's not it. I am more patient because I know they don't stay young forever. I keep that in the front of my mind, always. Still, there are many nights that I go to sleep thinking that I could have done something better, that I could have spoken kinder, etc. I then pray for more patience tomorrow. Maybe, by the time all my children are grown and out of the house, and I am the grandmother to many, many little ones....maybe then I will have become the most patient person alive. Maybe by then they'll have to poke me with a stick to get a rise out of me. LOL

  13. What a great post! Thank you. With three little ones, I often feel overwhelmed by everything I need to get done. I know that my most important task of the day is spending time with my children, but I need to be reminded of that often because I get distracted so easily.


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