This month I am celebrating 10 years of being a full-time stay-at-home mother. Life since being single has changed me and certainly been keeping me busy!
During this time I have laughed and ached and cried through five pregnancies and four deliveries, in two different countries and at three different hospitals, delivered by four different midwifes and obstetricians! After our first baby we had a missed-miscarriage at 9 weeks and had to have a D&C, yet we carried on to have three more healthy babies. In this decade we have moved to three different houses and have renovated most rooms within while our children were playing around us. My husband has had five jobs with two unfortunate redundancies. He has worked away from home, worked from home and been without any work at home. We have changed schools once and have tried and done many extra curricular activities for our daughters over the years. We have lost contact with overseas friends, stayed friends with most of our friends here, have unfortunately become distant with only a few and grown closer to others. We have our closest relatives living in South-Africa, Croatia and thankfully for the last four years my mother has stayed here in South-Perth, now only 2km from our home. We have had my mother-in-law visiting every year since the beginning of our move here nearly 9 years ago and am expecting my father for the first time this Christmas. We have become Australian citizens and participate in voting and have come to love our new home and the beautiful nature we are surrounded by here in Perth, Western-Australia.
Motherhood and all of life is an incredible journey, isn't it!?
As mothers our children require us to love the unconditionally and care for them devotedly. We want and need to grow them up to be honest and helpful hardworking citizens that serve and build up their community.
Parenting is a great responsibility and mothers seem to be the ones most aware of this, often letting the fathers be the ones that are fun and playful. If we are not careful, mothers end up spending most of their time doing the household work as we seem to think we can do it faster and more accurately alone. Unfortunately in doing this, we miss out on creating space and the opportunity to also enjoy taking part in family playtime. When we try instead to all work together, we teach our children the responsibility in doing chores kindly with helpfulness.
Often mothers need to start making a determined choice to be present over having homes perfect. Our preschoolers grow faster than we realise and soon enough we have time for cleaning when they are at school.
It is better to be realistic in our expectations of how a home full of children should really look like. My friends and I find it very therapeutic to invite one another over for a visit when our homes are less than presentable or while we are busy with washing;) And then a friend's company is needed most and enjoyed best!
I have found it a wise decision to regulary consider the stuff our family accumulates and whether perhaps we could re-evalute how organised we are living. Making time to declutter spaces and clean routinely, definately makes life easier for everyone.
I have consistantly found that I am most calm and relaxed when I have a plan and follow daily routines and early bedtimes in our home. The atmosphere is better when everyone is well rested and knowing what to expect and what happens next is helpful for all.
Quiet times are also very important, we value individual time for playing or reading or just sitting still or even laying down. For thirty minutes to one hour will help you to refocus and manage your mind and mood, the same for your children.
I also favour us all to have time alone, whether it is short minutes during the day of simply finding a space alone in the house or garden or to organise some hours away from home. This alone time gives each of us time to think, breath, relax and "recharge our batteries".
Our best times and an activity we all greatly enjoy is playing music and dancing or singing along, this will cheer up most moods and is a great tool to relax.
Our family loves the outdoors and enjoy a walk, scoot or cycle around our neighbourhood. The exercise is great fun and tires out busy bodies and refreshes weary wills.
Self care is a must, don't forget to make time to take care of your own physical and mental wellbeing and find time to visit the salon for a treat.
In my experience in my motherhood journey I have taken some time to evaluate and write down my own motherhood priority list to keep myself focussed on what is most important. I suggest doing the same and thought it might be helpful to share with you what my priorities are, in no particular order;
-Start every day with quiet time
-Pray all the time
-Love unconditionally and care devotedly
-Husband relationship is most important
-Set regular routines
-Have family rituals
-Make time to rest
-Read every day
-Play together, but also individually
-Prepare and eat food together at a table
-Let kids do chores
-Learn something new
-Build new things
-Be creative: sing, dance and do art together
-Go to church
-Connect with friends
-Stay in contact with relatives
-Take time away
-Practice and model self care
-Minimise and declutter regularly
-Manage time well
-Write it down to remember
-Trust and truth
-Persevere when times are difficult
-Model appropriate behaviour
-Work at relationships
-Friendships are important
-Individual alone quality time when possible
-Live faith out in action
-Talk about safety
-Help your child with their Purpose
-Dream along with them
-Admit mistakes and ask forgiveness
I know that we are never too wise to stop to learn and grow and find it is very important for mothers to continue to educating themselves, keep up to date with technology and community and educational developments. We are the ones that help build our children's minds and develop their skills and talents, so we should priorities our own growth.
I love to read articles and books on parenting and I thought to share what I have found helpful in my motherhood journey so far...
Children's books I have enjoyed and can recommend are:
-Hard cardboard books with real photo pictures to point at with words
-Read with me Bible, Dennis Jones
-Little Blessing series and the One Year Devotionals for preschoolers
-When God made you, Matthew Paul Turner
-God loves all about me, Kate Toms
-God's love in my heart, Nadine Wickenden
-I am special and others by Max Lucado
-Playtown, Roger Priddy
-Spot, Eric Hill
-The things I love about ... and I am... series by Tracy Moroney
-Guess How much I love you, M'Bratney Jeram
-Feathers for Phoebe, Rob Clement
-One Woolly Wombat, scholastic
-Edward the Emu, Knowles and Clement
-Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne
-Hairy Maclary by Lynley Dodd
-Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit treasury
-Usborne's lift the flap Q&A's
Books I have found helpful in my parenting:
-Parenting Collection, Dr. James Dobson
-Loving your Kids on Purpose, Danny Silk
-The Five Love Languages, Chapman
-Battlefield of the Mind, Power Thoughts, 100 Ways to Simplify your life and
The confident Mom, all by Joyce Meyer
-Present over Perfect, Shauna Niequist
-Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren
Facebook Pages with tips and helpful articles and/or podcasts to follow:
-Focus on the Family
-The Better Mom
-Raising Children Network
-Love and Logic Institute
-Positive Parenting Solutions
Lastly I want to share something that I have thought of this month as I looked at the past decade and my first born who is growing up to be friendly, kind and responsible (to an extent;) so I must be doing some things right and I know all my prayers are heard.
I wanted to also acknowledge this decade and my own perseverance and hard work by getting myself a gift. I recently lost my last pair of sunglasses and thought this the perfect occasion to splash out on a decent pair, so when I arrived at the sunglass shop to find a 'buy on get one free' deal I could hardly contain my excitement in fitting and choosing. My husband and the young saleslady helped select the two most suited pairs and I would like to share this photo of me wearing them. The one pair being my mum sunglasses, which I will wear when I want to look more serious and responsibly and my fun sunglasses, for when I will just enjoy the moment and have fun along with my family and friends.
As you know, sunglasses help you see more clearly and protect your eyes, either being prescription and/or there are various coatings on lenses to help accommodate and reduce or enhance different light situations.
I think this relates to and is also true to how we view motherhood and look at our children.
May we choose to wear the right "sunglasses" (lens) for the right time!
Lastly I would like to leave you with this wonderful inspiration and motivation from the Bible.
Proverbs 31:10-30 AMP
An excellent woman [one who is spiritual, capable, intelligent, and virtuous], who is he who can find her?
Her value is more precious than jewels and her worth is far above rubies or pearls.
The heart of her husband trusts in her [with secure confidence], And he will have no lack of gain.
She comforts, encourages, and does him only good and not evil.
All the days of her life.
She looks for wool and flax.
And works with willing hands in delight.
She is like the merchant ships [abounding with treasure]; She brings her [household’s] food from far away.
She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And assigns tasks to her maids.
She considers a field before she buys or accepts it [expanding her business prudently]; With her profits she plants fruitful vines in her vineyard.
She equips herself with strength [spiritual, mental, and physical fitness for her God-given task] And makes her arms strong.
She sees that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out, but it burns continually through the night [she is prepared for whatever lies ahead].
She stretches out her hands to the [b]distaff, And her hands hold the spindle [as she spins wool into thread for clothing].
She opens and extends her hand to the poor, And she reaches out her filled hands to the needy.
She does not fear the snow for her household, For all in her household are clothed in [expensive] scarlet [wool].
She makes for herself coverlets, cushions, and rugs of tapestry. Her clothing is linen, pure and fine, and purple [wool].
Her husband is known in the [city’s] gates, When he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes [fine] linen garments and sells them; And supplies sashes to the merchants.
Strength and dignity are her clothing and her position is strong and secure; And she smiles at the future [knowing that she and her family are prepared].
She opens her mouth in [skillful and godly] wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue [giving counsel and instruction].
She looks well to how things go in her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired); Her husband also, and he praises her, saying,
“Many daughters have done nobly, and well [with the strength of character that is steadfast in goodness], But you excel them all.”
Charm and grace are deceptive, and [superficial] beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the Lord [reverently worshiping, obeying, serving, and trusting Him with awe-filled respect], she shall be praised.