Here in northwest Ohio, we’ve been ready since Halloween because of our early snow. In fact, our youngest has been sure to thank God every dinner time prayer for our Christmas tree. Since October. We didn’t have a tree up until two weeks ago.
As Christmas approaches this year, I’ve tried to take the pressure off and focus on more important things. I could be trying harder to whip out some quick posts for you, sell you all my favorite things, and focus on all the commercialism. But I’m not going to. I realize that makes me sound a little bit like Charlie Brown.
Instead I’ve been focused on how blessed I am, focusing on my family, my goals for the next year, and focusing on my purpose.
A lot has changed for our family over the years. The biggest changes are of the heart for us. No one says life is going to be easy, safe, or that it will be constant. But I think God uses those moments of uncertainty to depend on Him. When we grow humble, we can see our blessings clearly.
Our family has been through a lot of stressful situations from NICU visits, ER visits, break-ins, military life, and at times financial strains. But those moments have shed some light on my blessings. I now see my healthy family, that we’re safe, we have amazing support, everything we need, and a God who loves us.
Our pastor has been preaching on the Nativity story leading up to Christmas. I’ve heard so many renditions of the same story. The basic story, the cultural break down, and even this hilarious viral video done done by Soutland Church!
In preparation for Christmas, we’ve been crafting, listening to a lot of Pentatonix, decorating, and making some goodies!
What have you guys been doing to prepare for Christmas?
I think I know you just a little better than you realize.
I know that those little eyes looking up into your soul is your fuel. I know that you delight in every new milestone that your little one accomplishes! I know that you are filling your memory bank with pictures of sunshine in your sweetie’s hair and the mental recordings of her laughter. “I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life,” you tell yourself.
I know your maternity leave may have never quite ended or that you quit working for various reasons to be home. I know you pour your heart and soul into this job.
Even as your babies grew up, you still couldn’t sleep well through the night. You still have urges to make sure they’re all still breathing and well. You get such little sleep some nights, even though you’re wrecked. You spend all day making mental notes and trying to stay on everyone else’s schedules. You focus on child development, health, nutrition, cleaning, and bills, and some days forget to fill your memory bank. Or do something nice for yourself even.
Regular days you play referee to break up your kid’s fighting. If you’re not breaking up fights, you’re repeating yourself to your kids. “They totally heard me,” you say. And all that can turn into a lot of yelling.
Just a little while before your husband comes home you realize all of your hard work appears to have evaporated into thin air. The nutritional breakfast/lunch is on the dinning room floor, the dishes are stacked high again, the laundry train lost it’s caboose, for every one mess you picked up there’s another 10, the fight you broke up is now back in full swing, and now you’re husband is going to see. So we panic that our husband will think we we’re lazy all day and we stress clean.
You hide the dishes in the dishwasher and clothes in the washer. At some point you just don’t care about the mess any more because you’re tired and defeated. You’ve spent all day feeling isolated, tired, and irritated.
This life is all you now know. And no one told you it’d be so tough!
No one told you that you would feel this pressure to be a good mom, even when no one else is even around. No one told you that you would feel lonely in your own home, surrounded by your minis. No one told you that it’s almost scary to wake up one day and realize you don’t have anywhere to be. No one else that needs you more than your children.
No one told you that you boarded the struggle bus with your own worst critic. You.
I never realized how all of those tough days would sneak up on me and make me feel so small. I never realized the weight of it all until I opened up about it. And I never realized how similar my feelings were to other moms until other people started opening up about it.
Motherhood is the most beautiful thing to happen in your life, but the most demanding. I know it may not seem the way you pictured it. I know it’s full of days when you wish you could work or that you hope the kids would become more independent sooner.
In 7 years time, this is what I learned about motherhood (especially being a Stay-at-home mom):
I felt most successful when I gave my kids the most attention
I always criticized myself, even when I didn’t use social media
I read so many expert tips and I felt like I tried everything, when I should’ve just used my motherly instinct
Treat yourself more! I almost never did things for myself. I started to feel more motivated when I had things to look forward to.
Call up your mom to talk. It’s such good therapy!!
Take help when it’s offered.
Find ways to record good memories, whether a journal to your kids for when they grow up, candid pictures, or videos of them being happy. Then just brain dump the days of yelling.
Look back on these recordings when you’re blood pressure is through the roof. You’ll just be looking through pictures thinking of how sweet your babies are.
Being a good mom holds a lot of pressure. You don’t always have to hold it together. Grow your faith!
And lastly, don’t let someone’s idea of you define you. You are so much more!
We do so much around our homes, but it never feels like enough. We always question how we’ve done as a mom. Somehow with how busy we are, it can feel like our lives are somehow incomplete. There is always still more to do.
To those of you wondering if you’re a good mom, or when you will ever even fit into your own schedule-
I once read a simple quote, “you are enough.” It changed my whole thinking and gave me a sense of peace.
Enough with the mom guilt. Enough with believing what people think of us. Enough with not giving ourselves something to look forward to.
We made it to December! What a great month to celebrate Christmas! Right after the month of being thankful, we celebrate a month of giving.
This warm season can be chaotic. Bake the cookies. Send the greeting cards. Select the tree. Decorate the house. Buy the gifts. Wrap the gifts. Visit Santa. Cook the nice dinner. Get everyone a nice outfit. Family Photos. Prepare for guests. And the list goes on.
It’s been a while since I posted on one of your favorite subjects, frugal living. But around the holidays we’re all really looking for good deals.
Being an advocate of early reading, especially in my own home, I take the boys to our local library often. They spend a good 30 minutes or more playing with puzzles, toy kitchen, and games on the computers. I usually spend a majority of that time selecting some cute books. Then they pick out a few more to top off our tote bag. (And I tend to read more blog posts and news articles than anything).
But sometimes we won’t make it to the library as often. Especially living in the country when we only make it to town once or twice a week. That leaves the pickings to the same few favorites from our bookshelf at home.
I started resorting to a few options at home. So many of the options available online are for free samples (less than a chapter or the first few pages) or you typically end up paying per book. Some of the apps aren’t as user-friendly or only have older books available.
But good free and affordable e-book resources actually exist. These 3 resources I found the most user-friendly, with a wide variety of genres (from romance novels to illustrated children’s books), and they had the best deals.