Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Best Mom Advice in Rough Times: "Feed and Clothe"

I did okay when I had my first baby. When he napped, I napped. Or showered. Or lounged around eating BonBons. I didn't realize how easy I had it, of course, until I had two. 

With the birth of my second baby, showering and doing errands in particular became super-difficult and I was stymied! 

When baby number three came along I just gave up completely for about a year. It wasn't pretty. I have housekeeping stories involving the cloth-diaper poop-sprayer alone that would rock your world. I really should have taken more photos of my house during that time because now they would be hilarious.

After weeks and months of just trying to feed everyone and keep some clothes clean, I realized this was the key: just try to feed everyone and keep some clothes clean.

To this day, when friends have babies, I share the same priceless bit of advice: just feed everyone and keep some clothes clean! Let the rest go for a while. Believe in God's grace and connect to it as much as possible in order to focus on your baby (or babies, or children) and keep your other responsibilities to a minimum.

If you read this and think: "Wimp! -- I balanced two sets of triplets, a full-time job, my 3,500 square-foot house and kept everything sparkling!"... well, you should write a book and tell all of us how you manage. Or if you're a person who refuses to believe your life or your marriage can go on without regular polishing of the baseboards, for instance - go on polishing! If you're handling it, I ain't gonna stop ya. My "feed and clothe" lecture is for those of us who aren't handling it.

And here's what I've discovered recently - it's not just moms of newborns who need extra grace and the "feed and clothe" minimum. I've found the following circumstances can leave me scrambling, and I am years past having a newborn:
  • seasonal transition times - (i.e. the beginning and end of the school year, or when Autumn turns to Winter) 
  • job changes 
  • illness of any kind, no matter how small
  • having houseguests
  • holidays and other times that involve extended family
  • travel
  • marking milestones - even good change is often difficult!
I can usually, though not always, recognize when I'm in the midst of a challenging time. When I do, I remind myself to take it a little easy for a few days, or sometimes weeks (the craziness of Christmas, for instance, requires weeks). "Feed and clothe," I tell myself. "And try to enjoy my kids."

The cool thing about having older kids is that when a tough time comes along, and I resort to "feed and clothe," those older kids get in on the jobs! I wish I could say that with them managing the minimum requirements, I'm able to go back to eating BonBons, but that hasn't happened. And I'm okay with that.

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