(by the moms of the Selah Summer Mentoring Group, 2017)
This past summer as I (LaDawn) was packing to move, I came across a box of index cards. They were from my first baby shower and contained words of advice from my friends and family. I chuckled at a few, nodded at others and thought about what I would tell a first-time mom at her shower. I took the question to my summer mentoring group and had them write down a piece of advice they would want to give a new mom. I was surprised by how much their words encouraged me as a woman who’s been a mom for over a decade! I quickly started writing them down in my journal so I could share them with you.
So, whether you’re a first-time mom who’s trying to find her bearings or a mom who’s been at it for a while and needs a cup of refreshment, remember:
This too shall pass! A tough moment is just that, a moment. Whatever you’re feeling or going through, you will get through it. Those sleepless nights and dirty diapers will end. I once read about a mom who would tell herself, “in 20 minutes this will all be over”. This was a game changer for me. When everything felt swirly and all my kids needed me at once, I’d recite that mantra to give myself hope.
It’s OK to admit mistakes and struggles. Being vulnerable is powerful. When your capacity is low, it’s okay to tell someone. Just sharing your struggles with a trusted person can help you feel better. What you’ll find is that you’re not alone. Whatever you’re going through, someone else has or is going through it too. And of course, venting to God is always the most helpful. He’ll never make you feel guilty for how you’re feeling. And even if your circumstances don’t change after you pray, you’ll feel better for letting it out.
Take time to invest in yourself. We all need breaks to do things that energize us. While this doesn’t mean that the work won’t be there later, it does mean that you’ll have fresh energy to tackle it. God says in His Word that He wants to give us rest. So we can pray and ask God to show us simple things that will recharge us (a coffee night out with friends once a week, time for a daily walk, taking a class, an early bedtime, etc).
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Pick your battles. Let go of expectations. Much of what we try to control, yes us moms love to control, won’t matter in the long run. That spilled milk really isn’t a life or death situation. So, use your “no’s” sparingly. Think about the big picture and what will matter in the end, which is relationships over problems.
Don’t try to do it alone. Ask for help. Receive help. Find community. God created us for community because He knows we need each other. Sometimes it means being brave and stepping out of your comfort zone but it will be worth the effort. Find a group of like-minded women who can help support you. I can’t tell you how many Selah moms have said that joining our community was the biggest thing that helped them in their motherhood journey.
Don’t compare! God made each of us unique and each of our children unique. One mom’s lifestyle and parenting strategies won’t necessarily be right for you and that’s okay! Each child will have their own strengths and weaknesses and patterns of development. So, there’s just no point in comparing.
Instead, look to who and what God says you and your child(ren) are. People and the world will always disappoint, but to God you are a masterpiece. And He knows because He created you!
Laugh. It makes everything better. Literally, laughing releases chemicals in your brain that help you feel better. So try to find a reason to laugh every day.
The small things you do matter. Even if no one notices, God does and He says He is proud of those who are faithful in the small things.
No parenting book is better than the Bible. Usually, you’ll find that parenting books include Biblical principles. Reading lots of books can be helpful for tools, but let God show you which tool to use when. Things will go much better that way!
Don’t google! It only leads to fear, guilt and worry. Instead, ask real moms who have journeyed before you, a medical professional or talk to Jesus.
Grow in gratitude and appreciation. Make time to look back and find things to be thankful for. We can so easily get our head stuck in the sand and lose hope. But when we lift our heads up and look around, we can see that there has been change and there is hope. A good challenge is to end each day by thinking of 3 things from your day that you can be thankful for.
Finally, it’s impossible without God! Even all of the above won’t make a difference if you aren’t connected to the true life source. Your relationship with God must come first because otherwise you have nothing significant to give to your family. So, make time to be with Him regularly, daily. Tell Him what’s going on and ask for His wisdom. Your day and life will go better when you make time to invest in your relationship with the Sovereign God of the Universe.
May these words of wisdom from your fellow moms encourage you today!