It seems like yesterday I had a baby on my hip and two toddlers clinging to my legs. The sleepless nights, temper tantrums (theirs, and sometimes my own), and the lack of ability to reason with them often left me feeling exhausted and outnumbered. Fortunately there was a handful of mature moms, whom I truly respected, that would gently remind me the days are long but the years are short. Some days were longer than others and on those days, I truly thought that someone was playing an evil trick by moving back the clocks in my house.
I find myself on the other side of toddler years and I'm here to tell you, we made it. All in one piece.
Well, I take that back. I left a few pieces of my sanity along the way, but I picked up a few pieces of flab and slapped them on my upper arms. So it all evens out.
Do you have the bewitching hour at your house? You know the time between the afternoon nap and dinner time. My kids always seemed to be very needy during that 2 hour span. Funny how it is the time of day that I was wearing down, needed to get dinner ready, and my patience was running thin. I tried doing dinner ahead of time so that I could devote more focused time to my little crew. But that often required thinking ahead, which didn't happen very often. Sometimes I would let their tv time be during the bewitching hour. Who could feel guilty when it's "preschool on tv"? Yeah right. But I bought it, hook, line, and sinker. I have a dear friend who fills that crazy time of day by going to the YMCA to work out. If I were doing it all over again, I think it might be the perfect solution. She gets her workout time in, the kids get a change of scenery. Timing is everything.
Speaking of timing, sometimes it is hard to look to the future when our today is so consuming.
This is where I want to encourage you. Right now when your life is full of no's, don't touch, come here, leave your sister alone, etc... I want to remind you that it will be worth it all. If you are consistent. So stick with it. Right now you are having to mold and shape your little one. Boundaries need to be kept tight.
As they get older, those boundaries can be loosened because they have a foundation and know what is expected of them. Not too long ago I took my children to a museum and it was truly relaxing. I didn't have to warn them about not touching things; they stayed with me; they were well behaved. Was it because I am a perfect mom or have perfect children? No.
I stuck to my guns when they were toddlers. I defined the expectation for their behavior. Was it tiring, exhausting? Yes. But just the other day, at the museum, I had an epiphany. It was all worth it. At the ages of 6, 9, and 10 I am reaping the benefit of consistency and it's so much fun! They know how to act appropriately when we are out and about. I'm not worn out at the end of the day because it is no longer a battle. By this point, they know what is expected.
So hang in there, young mom. You can do it. Decide today what you want in 5 years. Pray for wisdom in how to instill it. Be consistent. Pray for diligence. Be firm (with a gentle voice.)
Be encouraged. This mom thing is exhilarating!