Mommying is glorious…hard…rewarding…tiring! So when I revealed my heart about not wanting to be a momma, I shared how I had to transform my mind to trade joyless mommying to joyful mommying. As I pondered my transformation, a "tricks of the trade" list began to emerge. What started out as 3 tricks morphed into 20. No worries though, I've whittled it down to my 10 favorite ones. There is no rhyme or reason to the order, just tricks that have made this mommying job a whole lot more enjoyable.
1. Mommying in my Strengths - I realized early on that I don’t play well with dolls or trucks for an extended period, but I do love puzzles and games and outdoor hikes. So as soon as their chubby hands could fit puzzle pieces into the correct slot, we solved puzzles together. When they were old enough to start playing games, I introduced the joys of board and card games. The outdoor world became our playground simply by taking long walks, marveling in everything from a fluttering butterfly to splashing puddles following a storm. Gone was the guilt that I wasn’t like other mommies. In came the contentment that I could mommy well just by playing in my strengths.
2. Have Favorites - My “Terrific Three” consist of a girl, a boy, and another girl. Just like God does not have favorites (Romans 2:11), I strive not to either (1 Timothy 5:21). My kiddos know I have a favorite oldest girl, a favorite boy, and a favorite youngest girl. They’re all my favorites in their special way, and hopefully don’t feel the need to fight for my favor.
3. Safe-Zone - When our kiddos hit the tween years, we knew we needed to keep the airwaves open. We happened to be eating Oreo McFlurries when the following revelation happened: Anytime one of them needs to share something with us, but are fearful of our response or the impending consequence, they approach us and say, “Oreo McFlurry.” We then prayerfully know to brace ourselves for what they're about to say and calmly listen.without.saying.a.word. It’s a safe-zone, and they honestly haven’t abused it.
4. Apologize with No Strings Attached - It is so important for Momma to apologize when she’s messed up either in word or deed. In that apology, I learned it was necessary to own my mistake and not tie their actions into my foible. It is easy to excuse my angry response by pointing to their wrong action. Yet this causes my apology to fall on un-listening ears, especially the older they become. Rather, I taught myself to focus on what I did wrong and ask for forgiveness. Not only does this show them that parents can make mistakes but that it's important to apologize for them!
5. Calm in the Storm - If child A was "on my good side" but child B was not and had gotten into trouble, I caught myself disciplining them differently. I would irrationally lash out or be harsh and impatient with the not "on my good side" child B. I began to purposely visualize how I would lovingly discipline child A if they were the one who had just gotten into trouble. Then, I would pray that the Spirit would help me disciple child B with the same gentle heart. This practice alone was revolutionary for my parenting!
6. Laugh at Yourself - Recently, we had just finished floating a local river, and I wanted to get one more group picture. As I was gesturing for the group to move over, I was side-stepping on the rocky beach. My toe caught under a rock causing me to trip and in s. l. o. w. motion I splatted on the rocks in full view of everyone! Quite embarrassing and painful! But as I collected myself, I just laughed and laughed at the spectacle I made. This released the group to laugh with me and recount my performance. I could’ve been mad and nursed my pride and ruin a glorious day together. Instead, I chose to laugh and make a fabulously funny family memory.
7. How to Text and Drive - If I “need” to message someone while I’m driving, I ask my kiddos to serve as my scribe. I dictate my message to them as they type it into my phone. They then read it to me before pushing send. This trick serves three purposes:
1. I’m safe and not looking at my phone as I drive.
2. It teaches them how to communicate effectively and (hopefully) kindly via text messaging.
3. It serves as an example of when they’re -gulp!- driving on their own.
8. From Darkness to Light - one of the hardest prayers I pray over my children is that any sin they are hiding would come to the light. It’s quite breath-taking what the Spirit reveals, and they’re always like, “What!? How did you know?!” ha, ha! But I much rather deal with childish heart issues while they’re under my roof than them having to wade through their childhood junk as an adult.
9. Momma Timeout - ha! If I feel my mommy tank quickly depleting itself of joy, I take a momma timeout. I may take a hot bath, take a walk outside, or sit in my room by myself praying and calming down. This trick allows me to rejuvenate and relieves my kiddos from being the recipients of my less than lovely attitude.
10. Bedtime Bonding - Most nights, I choose to sit on each child’s bed and connect. It can be as short as 5 minutes finding out about their favorite thing of the day, or it can stretch into a lengthy discussion about a life issue they're working thru in their heart and mind. We then end our time with prayer and a kiss on the cheek, and they’re hopefully left going to sleep with a heart a little lighter because Momma chose to invest the gift of time into them. It is always worth the time and effort to give up a bit of me time at the end of my day to get a little more of them.
Looking over this list just fills my heart with awe. God has truly filled and continues to fill my parenting gaps. But that shouldn’t surprise me, for He parents me so well as my Heavenly Father, the giver of every good thing. James 1:17
How about you? What are some of your favorite parenting tricks of the trade? Or perhaps you’re feeling overwhelmed in this great adventure of parenting. Pray Matthew 7:7 and purpose to implement one or two of my tricks. Trust me, if I can do this mommying thing joyfully anyone can! Through Christ’s power, you can mommy joyfully as well! Philippians 4:13, my friend!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.