I do not consider myself an "experienced mother". I have four children with one on the way. The ages of my kiddos are: 7, 5, 4 and 1.5. Even though I have only been at this for 7 years I would love to share with you the top 10 things I like to remind myself of on this beautiful journey called motherhood.
#1 Tell them how you feel about them. Scott and I have encountered MANY grown adult men and women that are still upset and hurt by the lack of love that was communicated to them as a child. I am not sure what it is that prevents us from verbalizing positive things to our children OFTEN but we need to stop it! When your son opens the door for you thank him and compliment him for being such a gentleman. When your daughter wakes up in the morning wrap your arms around her and tell her how thankful you are to have another day with such a special lady. When your toddler is proud of something "little" they have accomplished encourage them with a "good job sweetie!". Don't underestimate the importance of saying good things to your children out loud. And while you're at it, accompany your praise with a gentle touch, hug or kiss on the cheek. Children crave not only words of affirmation but physical affirmation!
#2 Look for ways to teach them about their Creator. They can't hear about their God enough. They can't hear about His love for them enough! Especially in a world that is seeking with all it's might to teach them there is no God and that they were certainly not created! If our children don't hear about the Lord from us they will hear plenty of negative, anti-God, anti-creation, anti-bible hoopla from everywhere else. There is a battle for your child's soul, be sure to stand in the way of the enemy winning!
#3 Live out what you preach. Children start to grasp at a young age if a parent's words aren't matching what they are preaching! They are learning from you what it means to be honest and have integrity. If you tell them God wants us to be content with what we have then you better practice contentment. If you tell them to be thankful for what they get then you better be thankful
when you don't get what you want. If you tell them there is a loving God that cares for them then you better demonstrate your faith in Him when the going gets tough. If you tell them it's important to read your bible make sure you are reading it often. If you tell them it's important to follow through and keep their commitments then you better be consistent and do what you said you would do with them. If you teach them to trust God in all things demonstrate your trust in God by entrusting your children to Him. Don't say it if you don't want to live it! p.s we all mess this one up... when you do, be quick to recognize it in front of your children and apologize.
#4 Have fun! For goodness sakes, don't be a stick in the mud! Who wants to live with a fuddy-duddy-grumpy-head? I don't! It's hard for me to remember sometimes in the midst of dirty laundry, dirty diapers, dirty dishes and dirty floors to be happy but if I don't remember then I am simply training my children to not be happy in the midst of day to day life as well. Feeling down? Crank up your favorite worship music and sing praises to your King! This will speak volumes to your children when they see that you are tempted to be in a bad mood but you CHOOSE to worship instead. Run through the sprinkler with them. Tell silly jokes. Play with them outside. Read to them. Their life with you is their life, make it enjoyable.
#5 Be good to their daddy. The power we have to bring our children joy through how we treat our husband is amazing. The power we also have to bring our children sadness through how we treat our husband is sobering. There have been many "decent moms" that destroy their witness by how poorly they treat their husbands. One of the very best things you can do for your children is to treat their daddy well. Respect him. Honor him. Submit to his leading. Verbally praise him in front of the kids when he is around and when he isn't around. Give him a kiss and hug when he leaves
for work and gets home from work. Look for ways to bless him WITH the children. Present a united front, let them know you are a team. Put him first. You can't separate how you are as a mom from how you are as a wife. Be a blessing to him and you will in turn bless them.
#6-Remember to keep what is important important- It is so easy to misplace our priorities. We can slip into the pattern of making things more important than people without even noticing! For example, when your child breaks something, do you act like it's the end of the world? Do you say harsh things over something temporary? Worldly people can have nice, clean, orderly homes (not that there is anything wrong with those kinds of homes! I strive for that to some extent) but they will never have Christ-centered homes! Our homes should be filled with fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That's what we want our homes to be overflowing with! If we want our children to grow up with an eternal perspective then we have to have one ourselves. Meditate on and memorize 2 Cor. 4:16-18 and Col. 3:1-2 as a family. Remind your children that we are just pilgrims passing through and that our true home is with the Father. Make the things the Lord says are important important in your home. Be more of a Mary and less of a Martha.
#7 Discipline them BEFORE you get angry- I really stink at this. I tend to want to spank my children when they should have been
spanked long before that and then I feel guilty because I feel like I am training them to misbehave and not listen to me until I get "really mad". Discipline your children when they disobey. Don't teach them to disobey by delaying discipline. And remember, discipline IS the loving thing to do "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them." Proverbs 13:24
#8 Spend QUALITY time with them- It's easy to think that just because you're in the same room as your kids that you are spending time with them... the question is what kind of time? Just because time is passing doesn't mean you are spending quality time with them. Spending quality time with our kiddos takes GREAT intention and sacrifice. Honestly, I don't like to play. I am not a "playful" kind of gal. I don't like games. But this is such an important way to communicate to my kiddos that I love them. All kids enjoy quality time with their parents.
#9 Be approachable- Your kids are going to have lots of questions as they grow up. Questions about girl and boys. Questions about their faith. Questions about their bodies. Questions about marriage. Questions about sin. We must ask ourselves: "Am I approachable? Do my children feel comfortable coming to me with their struggles and doubts?" If we are not approachable then our children will look for someone or something that is... the internet for example. The last place we want our children going with their questions is the internet. Make it clear to your children verbally, with your demeanor and your responses to their questions, that you are approachable.
All of these are difficult. All of these are areas I fail in. We need the Lord's help to train our children in the way they should go and to love them as He has loved us. Oftentimes when I think of motherhood I think of this verse: "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." (1 Cor. 10:13) All moms all over the world are tempted to "lose it" with their children, to take for granted the time they have with them, to nag their husbands and to be lazy in their parenting BUT God is faithful and He will provide a way out from all those temptations. Be in the Word, sing to Him and pray.
What about you? Leave some of your top mothering tips in the comment section below!