This month has been filled with the ups and downs of busy life. We started the month with a crazy dash to find the money for my second born daughter for camp. We had planned to have a few more weeks to get that done but found the session we planned on was filled and had to step it up. God provided through extra work and a family member. We took trip one to the Poconos (3 hours round trip). The second week has been filled with getting the first born daughter working papers, for the same camp that second daughter is a camper at. So trip 3 to the Poconos (the 2nd was camper pickup). My first born will be working 2 weeks at camp. They are not consecutive! So I have 4 more trips up there before July is over. Why am I sharing this with young moms?
I wanted you to know that one day, this season of child raising will give way to another and before long they will not have daily needs but the needs might be bigger and different. But the same things basically apply. You will need to be a detective to feelings. You will not always get a teen who wants to chat and you will have to ask questions and use intuition to see emotions they might not even realize they are experiencing. You will guide them to use their upper brain processes to move from an animal action to a more rational thinking action. Just like you must do with a toddler, the subject matter just changes.
My girls get so much joy from camp, just like I did as a girl. Homeschooling makes it easy for us to not be too busy during the school year. We keep activities to the things that the girls really care about and point towards where God seems to be leading them. Camp is a investment that is crucial to these two girls. Just like you, with young children, you will have to see what the child really gets the most joy from and follow. You cannot do everything, even if your perfectionist brain thinks it can. So please, pick and choose the best things.
This makes me think of those, get out the door battles at toddler age. Your child likes structure but not at the expense of some downtime. If you have an activity planned at all times, you might be afraid of just existing with your child. I know moms like this. From park to library to nap to snack to gymboree. There is no free play or if there is a planned hour for free play it is only for the best of educational toys. Some days these children never touch the ground. Car seat to highchair to crib. If that child gets frustrated, is there any wonder? She just wants to spend time with you. You are her hero and role model and she wants to just sit with you or climb with you or eat with you. She is wired to copy you if you haven't noticed. This stage is aptly called the Parrot stage because this is what they do, parrot every word and every action. Monkey see, monkey do.
My point in all this rambling is that you need to slow down. Busyness is not your friend with an infant or toddler. Slow deliberate calmness is the way. Take time to read a story at the library. I visit lots of libraries, I hardly ever see a mom and child reading there. I see kids on the computer, parents quickly choosing books so they can leave and children playing with toys while mom says, 5 minutes and then drags them out crying. This is not just for them but for you. Stop and examine that bug or leaf with new eyes, young eyes that never saw the lines in a leaf. Not only will it help you gain new perspective but it can help your stress levels as well. Give up some of those plans and live in the moment. Try it for a little while and see what happens. Love to hear your comments about how this little experiment works for you.
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Paula is a single mother of 3. Follow along on her journeys of motherhood and her fulfilling work as a postpartum doula