Monday, January 28, 2019

The problem with discipline

In my last blog post I talked about how having children taught me discipline and I explained some of the things I do to manage my household. I am now going to talk about the other side of the coin: how I rage against the need of discipline, and how my own selfish nature throws darts in the cogs of my well-ordered life.

Raising a family and being a mother is a lot of work. I love it 85 percent of the time but the other 15 percent leaves me curled up in my armchair throwing a pity party. I vacillate from anger over our tight finances, anxiety about our cluttered house, my lack of free time and the never ending laundry rotation. I want a break. I deserve a break, I tell myself. Because sometimes after working hard to feed, teach, clothe and love my children, I am emotionally and mentally worn out. And I have to feed, teach, clothe and love my children every day. Parenting is 24/hrs around the clock.

As a mother, I often get stuck in this self-defeating negative cycle. I am worn out, so I crab at my kids. My kids act up because I am crabby causing me to loose my temper and yell at them. Then after I apologize and calm down, I need a break. Trying to find a break takes all day only for me to be too worn out to cook supper, leaving me frustrated and angry. Husband comes home to a frazzled mess of a house with no food to greet him and a snappy, anxious wife who desperately wants him to hold a baby so she can escape. I will also mention that the above cycle makes me feel like a bad mom, causing guilt and anger to simmer in my soul. Why can't I manage everything like everyone else? Why is this such a struggle?

During this time I just want my husband to take both kids (no matter how tired he may be) while I go check out at a coffee shop and relax on the internet. Or knit. Or crochet. All my discipline goes right out the window and I throw what I like to call an “adult tantrum”. I want to be left alone. I want to do something for myself. My kids bother me and I am easily annoyed and angry over every small thing. Instead of thinking of all the things my husband does for us, I start obsessing over everything he does not do. I'm not a pretty person when I am stuck in that negative mindset, nor am I easy to be around.

After several rotations through the above cycle I finally (with the help of my counselor) began to recognize the lies I get caught up in. And while I still get stuck in my pity party mode, I now am working on breaking the cycle and escaping my negative thinking and attempting to generate more positive reactions to the things I can't control. My counselor is helping me identify the cognitive distortions I am allowing to control my life.

For one, I am participating in all or nothing thinking. I am seeing things as black and white (I'm a bad mom because I didn't make dinner/ yelled at my kids). I am allowing that tiny fact to color my perception of myself. I'm no longer a struggling sinner, saved by grace. With my black and white thinking I am a total failure for not making dinner. This is a huge overgeneralizaion. I am allowing this single negative event to cast me into the depths of a guilty pity-party. My mental filter is skewed as I obsess over a single detail and dwell on it exclusively, like one moment eclipses all others in a day.

Motherhood is not the sum of one moment. Yes, I yell at my kids sometimes when I get frustrated. Yes, sometimes I am too tired to make dinner. But I need to stop jumping to conclusions when things go different than I imagined! I should not allow the fact that I lost my temper to discolor my entire reality and destroy my entire day.

If I am honest with you and with myself, though: sometimes a small thing that goes wrong does destroy my entire day, or days.

Where is God when this happens? Right where he as always been. It is me who has moved away from my biblical foundations and forgotten his promises. It's me who is is trying to manage my own life without anchoring myself in the word and surrendering my purpose to his glory.

I am forgetting that everything comes to me by the loving hand of the father. God is with me. Many are the afflictions of the righteous (Psalm 34). Trials show us how to live by faith. And faith conquers kingdoms ( Hebrews 11:32). Don't forget, dear mother, that the Lord disciplines the ones he loves as a father disciplines as son (Hebrews 12:3).

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12). Don't let one moment destroy the future or one tragedy blot out all the light.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Practical Advice for Managing Motherhood

Being a mom to a baby/toddler is so, so hard. It feels like nonstop work with a few pockets of rest. Rest, for this mom (me) of 2 kids under 4, has to be carefully scheduled. And I need rest, so I have to make sure to schedule it or I will quite literally fall apart. On top of being a mother, I surmount other obstacles. Like my husband working late. And our food allergies—I have to do a lot of cooking. And, of course, on top of managing a household, I have to try and teach my 3.5 year old patience, kindness and the alphabet when I don't feel patient or kind myself. 

Through the years I have learned a lot about managing my time. Practical advice for managing motherhood—or you can call it tips for stressed out moms who need ideas. This blog post will be full of the tips and tricks parenting has taught me about, well, parenting. Motherhood is 24/7 baby, so roll up your sleeves and dig in. This season is full of joy if you just know where to look. And a little bit of discipline never hurt anyone.

That was the first thing motherhood taught me. Discipline. I have never been what you would call “disciplined” in my life. I used to quit things when they get too hard. In school, I gave minimal effort when I felt like it, or no effort when I didn't feel like it. I followed my whims and for the most part (before kids) was content with doing what I could, when I could. Or putting off what didn't appeal to me.

Motherhood, as I have said before on this blog—hit me like a freight train. It only took one day for me to become an anxious stressed out mess. When they placed that that precious 10 pound 6oz baby boy into my arms (that yes, I delivered vaginally, may we pray for my nether regions) it's like I went from a relaxed, happy wife to a irritable, cranky mother all at one moment. It didn't help that I had an emotionally high needs baby who didn't sleep and who had serious food allergies that I had to contend with, on top of managing motherhood. 

I've already talked about how that first year was the worst year of my life.

But the second year something changed. Well, someones. Me, and my husband and my son. We all adjusted. And it wasn't something (at least for me) that happened naturally. It took a lot of hard work as I gave up a lot of control, praying that I would trust in God's plan, and accept his grace. Somewhere along the way lazy me found discipline. And learning to be disciplined changed my life. Changed my motherhood. Changed me from a sourpuss into a planner, from a grouch into a willing servant, giving me the power and the strength to serve my family.

What happened is this. I saw that the dishes, laundry, floor, all needed to be cleaned. And if I put it off today, it only grew worse overnight. And the bigger the mess, the more I did not want to clean it and the more resentful my heart was. Not only did I have these chores—but I had a small demanding child to take care of too! But I also saw that my mood was lighter, happier when these chores were done. When the house is clean I feel less stressed. And thus, somewhere along the way I realized that 1) I needed to clean because no one else was going to clean and 2) if I did it when it needed to be done, it was less work and caused the least amount of stress.

Being a minimalist is somehow caught up in all my discipline. Because not only did I start to clean and schedule chores to manage my time the best, I started to declutter as much as I could so I had less to clean and organize. It's all one big circle.

Somewhere a long the way doing what I had to do became a romance, a machine of enjoyment, as I worshiped God as I worked. I don't know exactly how or when it happened, but it did. I think it might be a God thing. God working slowly on my heart to help me be disciplined and to love the motherhood role he placed me in.

So, discipline. And rest. I am disciplined enough to get the chores done that I know I need to every day, I am wise enough to minimize my tasks so that I don't feel overwhelmed or stressed. (Okay, I still get overwhelmed and stressed, but its a lot better than it used to be). And here is the thing: discipline begets rest. When I get my chores done, I can rest. I can take breaks between chores and I don't have to worry or feel stressed about “all the things I didn't do” because I know the plan and I've scheduled them out so they all get done.

It is a weight off my back for sure.

Now, when I say schedule—I don't mean like I have every hour of every day scheduled out or even written down. What I have is a loose handful of chores that I make sure get done every week so that our house runs smoothly. My goal isn't to micromanage myself. My goal is literally: can we can find what we want where it is supposed to be?

So every day I do 1-2 loads of laundry. We cloth diaper, and I wash diapers every other day, so the days I wash diapers I do 2 loads of laundry. Every other day I do 1. This way everything gets washed each week. Sometimes I do skip a day of laundry, and then I just do 3 the next get the idea. We grocery shop on Saturdays, together as a family. I do the dishes either after breakfast or after dinner if I don't get to them after breakfast. Sometimes if I desire a clean kitchen for my anxiety, I wash dishes in the morning and the evening. I love to wake up to a clean kitchen!

I sweep the floor after every meal because if I don't, Becky will crawl through the crumbs and make a bigger mess.

Other chores, I do weekly or bi-weekly. For example, I clean the bathrooms once a week. I wish I could do it twice a week, but I just have not been able too. I vacuum every three days, I change the sheets bi-weekly.

One of the biggest pet peeves of mine is trash that is not in the trash can. Recipes, drive-through coffee cups, disposable bags, wrappers for things we bought...I always make sure to put trash directly in the trash. I don't let it pile up into a mess, and I don't let the kids play with it. This drastically reduces the clutter in my home!

Another thing I do is I am always putting everything back where it goes all the time. Every time I walk to the bathroom I pick up things I see out of place and put them back. Like the VHS tapes under the TV. Becky loves to pull them out, and I let her because it distracts her and is harmless. But then I go back and fix them 2-3 times a day so it doesn't get totally out of control. This concept may seem like a lot, but cleaning with this method spreads the work throughout the day, and keeps me from becoming overwhelmed by a huge mess as evening looms.

I have a disciplined daily routine too. I wanted to make sure I took all my supplements, got to brush my teeth (before Becky fell asleep on me) and exercised twice a day for my blood sugar (I have borderline type two diabetes, usually called insulin resistance). I get all these things done. It was hard when Becky was really little, but once she hit six/seven months meeting my personal daily goals became easier. Now that she is one, I try to make sure I brush my hair every day, but that sometimes does not happen. Life with kids is what it is. I know when goals are fundamental and when they are superfluous.

If you want to check out my other posts in the practical advice for managing motherhood series, you can below. #1 is Discipline, #2 is Letting Go of Control, #3 is Build a Space of Calm and Peace, #4 Ask For Help and #5 is Love. All #1-5 are integral to managing my day and enable me to (mostly) live a life free from stress and anxiety. Motherhood is not an easy walk in the woods by any means, and I am learning to gird my loins. Onward and upwards, weary travelers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Becky Bunny Hat

Becky needed a new hat. So I made her a bunny hat. It is so cute I literally squeal when I see her in it! I finished it right before bedtime and had to take these pictures even if it was dark, and she was ready for bed and not ready for hat wearing. I know myself: I need to take pictures when I can, because Life Happens. She loves her hat, most of the time. We wear it everywhere now, on walks, to church, and even on grocery shopping outings.

sad bunny

This is based on the crochet Ribbed Bunny Bonnet pattern I found on Ravelry. I made half the hat following the pattern, got bored at reading the pattern off my screen and made up the other half myself.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

2019 Update

December was awful. I don't even want to think about how awful it was. January, I hope, will be better. Or at least, I pray I will have a positive mood regardless!

After a stressful, horrible thing happened to a person in my extended family (that I am still praying about), mid December hit us like a freight train. Without fail, 24 hours after “the stressful family event” we all caught the stomach bug. The kids had it the first day, and 24 hours later Brian and I both succumbed. It was awful. Luckily my mother in law was amazing and came over and took care of the kids while Brian and I both puked our guts out. I don't know what we would have done without her, I could not move off the couch. I could barely nurse. Movement made my eyes swim. I had visions of what the first trimester of pregnancy was like and remember vehemently telling myself not to get pregnant again because constant nausea is horrible.

celebrating Christmas with family when we arrived home
Then Christmas happened, and we traveled. It went smoothly, but traveling brings out all my anxiety! We arrived home only to have me catch the worst eye infection I have ever had in my entire life. My whole left face was swollen and I was absolutely miserable. I went to the doctor three times and I never go to the doctor! It was exactly how my husband dreamed that our last week of 2018 would go, of course—he was off work and thus spent most of his vacation taking care of a sick wife and two small children. That last sentence is sarcasm.

Now January is here. I love January. It's my birthday month, and now my daughters birthday month too! As the new year dawned I was still recovering from conjunctivitis and scrambling to get back into my routine. My routine is the soft safety net that makes life bearable and places the chaos of managing my almost toddler and my almost child into a semblance of order. Being a mom of two wilds isn't easy, ya'll. I am an woebegone mess without my morning routine! I am a lost, dejected mess without my night routine.

It's January 8th now. My eye has just a smidgen of recovery to traverse. My routine is back in place and my wilds are doing their wild thing while I sit and contemplate 2019. 2019 with two babies. 2019 where I met my weight goals and feel great about my body. 2019 that I hope remains pregnancy free. 

My only “resolutions” this year are culinary in nature. Sure, I'd like to publish my book and have more of a personal life, but I don't think that is going to happen so I am not going to set myself up for disappointment. Instead, I would like to bake homemade bread and make nut milk at home to save us money and to reduce preservatives in our life. So far those goals have been going well! Reuben loves to bake with me and making nut milk is so easy I can't believe I have gone this long without trying it. It tastes 600x better than the stuff they sell at the store, too. 

this is the only pic I could find of me! new resolution: take pictures of self
I have a lot of fears to face in 2019. My daughter turns one and my son turns four. I approach mid30s. Homeschooling is right around the corner (in our state it starts at 5) and I still have a house and a marriage to manage. I have so many dreams and ideas and no time to do them. For example, I would love to make some YouTube videos for my main YouTube channel. I would also love to have a baby-free night with my husband. One of our kids goes to bed easily now, but the other does not, causing me to hold said kid from their bedtime until my bedtime! It's only a season, I know. But I am tired of this season and ready for the next!

I also want to start a mom club or mom meet up at my house! We just need to fence in our yard and I can do that. I need some society, and stressed out moms sound just like the kind of people that would love to let their kids run wild in my yard while I serve them tea.

I also want to spend more time writing here, or writing in general. And I would love to have a clean kitchen floor for more than 2 hours of the day.

So many goals. So little time. 2019 will fly by. All I can hope for is that I honor God through it and cover myself in prayer and grace. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sweater Redo

This has been my favorite sweater for two years. Unfortunately I spilled some bleach on it and was about to throw it out...when I realized that I could cut it up and sew it into a smaller sweater for Reuben.

I was able to sew late at night and didn't get very good pictures, but there it is. I also did not adjust the neck but it is what it is. He loves it and my old sweater gets a new life! Perfect for new years.