by Lorraine Pintus
Mothering is an exhausting, all-consuming process that requires energy, concentration, perseverance, patience, and a host of other elusive attributes. What mother has not wondered at some point in her parenting, "Will I ever make it to the day when my youngest is potty trained?" I talked with eight parents who successfully survived the formative years of their children. "If you could share one ounce of advice to encourage mother in the stresses of rearing preschoolers, what would it be?" I asked. Here are their responses:
Live one day day at a time. Madalene Harris, mother of four, says, "Sometimes it's good not to look too far down the road. For thirteen years I changed diapers. That thought overwhelmed me! But changing diapers for one day? I could handle that. Matthew 6:34 says, ‘Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.'"
Don't be afraid to ask for help. "As much as you need help is as much as I need to give it," suggests Kit May, mother of three. "We all need help. We all need to be helped. That's why God gave us to each other."
Keep your marriage a priority. First you have a husband, then you have kids. It's easy to forget the importance of that order when you children are little, says Sherron Hudson, mother of two adult children. "There were times I was so stressed out from my day that I jumped on John the minute he walked through the door. That didn't work. What did work was to make John my first priority. I began spending the last thirty minutes before he came home preparing for his arrival. I'd put the kids in their rooms for a quiet time, comb my hair, put on a clean blouse, splash on some perfume, and pick up the house. When John opened the door, I greeted him with a kiss. Over time, his attitude about coming home changed. As I was sensitive to meet his needs, he became eager to meet mine. The best thing I did for my children-and my marriage-was to honor John and put his needs first."
Keep your goals simple. Lauri Bumann, mother of three, remembers, "When my children were babies, I felt as though I accomplished nothing. So instead of setting goals I'd never achieve, I set one or two simple goals. I'd take the kids on a walk and use that time to talk to God. This accomplished a spiritual goal and an exercise goal. Sometimes I'd think, ‘That's not much.' But it was realistic!"
Cherish each moment. John Davis, father of two teenagers, suggests, "Be glad that, right now, your kids want to be with you. In the snap of your fingers, they'll be gone. None of us can return to those early years once they are gone. That is why it is so important to enjoy the moments while you have them."
Apply consistent discipline early on. One of the best ways to ensure future peace is to be willing to have a little conflict early on, says Pat Reger, speaker for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs). "Be consistent. Think before your threaten. Follow through on what you say. Doing this now will prevent a lot of heartache in the future."
Don't neglect your spiritual life. Phyllis Stanley regularly mentors mothers with young children. "For many women," she says, "mothering does not come naturally. But we can mother supernaturally if we rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. Make your kids have quiet time so you can have your quiet time."
Be willing to admit when you are wrong. Don Couchman, grandfather of three, offers this: "It's important to be humble and honest with your children. If you make a mistake, admit it."
Advice salted with godly wisdom from nine seasoned parents-I have some tips of my own to share, not nearly as profound, but useful nonetheless.
1. Buy stock in companies that produce bandages and diapers. You will feel a sense of elation at being personally responsible for the economic success of these firms.
2. For girls, never buy a dress without first considering the "twirl" factor.
3. For boys, don't worry if the only word he knows is "vroom."
4. Keep your sense of humor. What upsets you now will be good joke material in five years.
5. In all situations, apply the "Thousand Year Test." Ask yourself, "In a thousand years, will anyone care?"
6. Don't be too hard on yourself. You will fail. Forgive yourself and move on.
7. Above all, love, "because love covers over a multitude of sins" (1 Pet. 4:8).
Excerpt from Diapers, Pacifiers, and Other Holy Things by Lorraine Pintus, ChariotVictor Publishing.
Mrs. Pintus leads Hearts at Home Ministries marriage seminars with her husband. Used by permission.