Some how, some way all three of my boys are napping at the same time, two days in a row. So here I am sitting at my laptop enjoying the clicking sound of the keyboard and snacking on my children’s applesauce. 🙂 I love to write. Partly because it is enjoyable to organize my thoughts and feelings (believe me they are not organized in my head!) and partly because I am convinced that words have a great potential to stir souls and move hearts. Words are uniquely powerful…both written and spoken. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (Proverbs 18:21 ESV)” A lot of times we acknowledge and teach how dangerous words can be but forget that they can also bind wounds, nurture souls, and in the case of God–create something from nothing. The Lord could have brought the Universe into existence with the clap of his hands or wrinkle of the brow but he chose to use spoken word. “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (Psalm 33:9)” We, of course, cannot speak things into existence but, our ability to speak and intelligently communicate with our mouth is a gift from the Lord that uniquely belongs to mankind. It is a power the Lord has bestowed upon us–a part of what it means to bear the image of God. Jesus tells a parable in the book of Matthew about a Master that before leaving on a journey, entrusts three servants with a sum of money. Two of them invest their talents and have a surplus to give their Master when he returns. The third, however, buries his money in the ground and does not seek to multiply that which has been given to him. The Master is very displeased and severely punishes him. While this story in and of itself has nothing to do with words, I do think there is an underlying principle to be learned. It is not enough to avoid doing evil. We are called to use what the Lord has given us for good. So, applying that to the topic at hand: we could simply make it our goal to avoid speaking evil but then we would essentially be burying our words in the ground. We must take it a step further and pursue speech that glorifies the Lord and lifts others up. While we cannot literally create life with our words, we can speak words of life to others. I am always telling my kids, “Use your words!” Which is ironic because that is exactly what I should be telling myself. As we go about our days as wives, moms, friends, sisters, and daughters, let us remember to be intentional to use our words for good.
Have you ever had one of those days where every time you try to accomplish something you are quickly interrupted? “Mommy, Mommy! Come here! I need you!” or “Mommy! Come play with me!” or as my 10 month old likes to put it, “Ma Ma Ma AHHHHHHHHHHHHH AHHH MA MA MA MA” and on and on it goes until “MA MA” drops her task and gives them her full attention. I have a lot of those days. In fact, I do believe every day is one of those days! It’s very sweet that my children are so excited to spend time with me but many days there are things that really do need to get done! I mean I could wear dirty underwear but should I wear dirty underwear? 😉 It might be laughable but clean laundry is no easy thing when you have three littles competing for your attention and time. So what’s a girl to do? I find that as is the case with most things, there is no simple answer. Often times when we come across a problem or road block we tend to be reductionistic. We oversimplify and try to put everything into a neat little box but we have to be careful because in doing so we often gloss over the root problem and rob ourselves of an opportunity to examine our hearts and the hearts of our children. That being said, instead of asking yourself something like “How can I get stuff done despite my children interrupting me?” or “How can I get my kids to stop interrupting me?” it might be more profitable to ask yourself more probing questions such as:
“Why do my children demand my attention every time I start to clean house?”
“Am I spending too much time cleaning and not enough time with the kids?”
“Am I spending too much time with the the kids? Am I teaching them that they always need to be entertained by someone?”
“When I spend time with my children, is it quality time that nurtures their soul and leaves them feeling loved?”
For me, the answers to these type of questions change mostly depending on how well my relationship with the Lord is going. When I am not being intentional to spend time in prayer and time meditating on the word, my priorities tend to get out of whack and the time I spend with my kids tends to have less impact or rather not the right kind of impact. The past week or so, my children have been a little more demanding than usual and after asking myself the above quesitons as well as talking to my husband and asking the Lord for wisdom, I am pretty sure that the problem is twofold. One: I am not spending enough quality time with them. I have been putting too much emphasis on creating a “well oiled machine” and not enough emphasis on shepherding my children’s hearts (which takes focused time). Two: I have been inadvertaintly training them that they need to be entertained 24/7. Because I’ve been trying to get our house in perfect order, I have been setting them up with a myriad of crafts, shows, and activities to keep them busy and distracted. Crafts and activities are not bad in and of themselves but it’s important that we don’t model or teach our children that they need to be entertained at all times. Our goal in life is not happiness–it is holiness.
You might be saying, “That’s all well and good but I still need clean underwear!” Yes you do! I do too! But maybe I don’t also need to clean the baseboards today or cook that new complicated recipe I found on Pinterest. Maybe instead, I will plan something easy for dinner, get the kids involved in folding laundry, and when conversations inevitably turn to Christmas lights I can take the opportunity to talk about Jesus–the Light of the world.
My husband and I have lived through the newborn stage three consecutive times. I think that is quite an accomplishment! Having a newborn is no easy thing. Their only form of communication is crying and they are up anywhere from every five minutes to maybe every 4 hours if you’re lucky and you are willing to risk a low milk supply! That being said, while my mantra was always “if we can just make it to the two week well visit we’ll be good” I do miss those early days and tiny babes. Today I wanted to revisit those memories and share with you my tried and mostly true tips and tricks for helping your newborn or young baby sleep longer (because sleeping through the night is a myth!) at night.
1. SWADDLE. I can’t stress this enough! Newborn babies have what is called the startle reflex and it is exactly as it sounds! If they aren’t swaddled at night, they will startle themselves awake over and over again! Double swaddling worked like a CHARM with all three of my boys. Here’s a tutorial my best friend wrote!
Sometimes people think their babies don’t like to be swaddled because they cry while they are wrapping them. But usually their tears have more to do with you messing with their limbs than with the swaddle itself. And can I just be real for a minute? Even if your baby doesn’t like it, it is proven to help them sleep better and sleep is very important for their brain development not to mention your sanity! Newborns cry, it’s what they do. I know it’s hard to stomach but a little fussing for a short period of time is okay as long as you are comforting and loving on your baby.
2. Heating pad! Before you start baby’s bedtime routine, go plug in a heating pad and place it where your child will be sleeping. When it comes time to lay them down, remove the heating pad and place baby onto their now cozy sheets. The warmth makes it less obvious that Mommy is catching a breather.
3. Rice Socks! When my boys were newborns, I filled a couple of socks with rice and positioned them around their bottom half. I would even put one (that only had a little bit of rice) over their chest. The slight pressure made them feel like I was still holding them and would often help them sleep longer.
4. White noise!! Our neighbors like to play their bass at all hours of the night. Thankfully having a steady background noise cancels out their poor taste in music. :-p I use the app Chroma Doze. You can download it for free on android phones. I am not sure if it is available on the iphone but I would assume that there is at least one app out there that would do the job! If all else fails, a box fan will cut it.
5. Kissing baby’s eyes! When baby is very young, kissing their eye or eyebrows every few seconds will force them to close their eyes often enough that it will put them right to sleep.
6. Room Temperature. Make sure baby is not too hot or too cold. That can majorly affect their ability to sleep. The rule of thumb is to take what feels comfortable to you and and add a layer for baby.
7. Frequent Daytime Feeds. This right here is key! Make sure you feed your baby often throughout the day. My goal was every two hours. If you go 3-4 hours, while it probably will not hurt your child, he will make up for it that night and nurse more often which means he will wake up more often.
8. Reality Check. Remember that it’s normal for newborns to wake up often. No matter what you do, sometimes your baby will be up every 30 minutes. Don’t spend the night stressing and worrying that something is wrong. As long as baby has plenty of wet and dirty diapers and does not have a fever, he is most likely just going through a growth spurt which means cluster feedings! At the beginning, those nights can sometimes be more often than not and it is easy to get discouraged or feel hopeless. But it’s important to remember that this is temporary. It is a season and like all seasons this too shall pass. As with every season we go through, the Lord has things that he wants to show us and opportunities for growth that are unique to that particular time. Don’t miss out on those things like I did with my first! Set your blurry sleep ridden eyes on Jesus and ask him for strength, wisdom and endurance and ask him to draw near and grow your faith.
Hope these tips help!
I have three boys, each a wiry ball of energy! Just one of those bouncing super heros has more energy than I do but when you add them all together-wowee-that’s three times the energy! Triple Trouble! (Did I mention I have three boys? Three bouncing balls of energy? Three sticks of dynamite? Three-oh, I did? Well, okay, I’ll move on then.)
So what do you do when your energetic kids are super revved about the day and your not so energetic self just wants to pull the covers over your head? I don’t know about you, but if I’ve had a rough night with the baby, I usually down a cup of coffee. It’s my go to- it’s most people’s go to. And it works. For a while, anyway. After about 3 to 4 hours, I start crashing–hard. Like head on collision crashing. Like 8 hours of sleep sounds better than 8,000 dollars crashing. Usually by that point, despite my delirious state, I still have enough brain power to know that I don’t want to risk a second cup otherwise it might transfer through the breastmilk and contribute to another rough night. But all is not lost! There are several other things that we nursing Moms can do to give us that extra boost.
A Quality Vitamin and Probiotic:
Not only do children generally have more energy than their parents, they also consume what little we do have! Even baby joins in, taking what he needs from our breast milk so that he can grow strong and yes, you guessed it, energetic. Taking a good vitamin/probiotic is super important. A lot of times, we have deficiencies due to poor diet or some other factor (like having three kids back to back). Thankfully, our body is going to take what baby needs whether we have enough to spare or not. But while good for baby, that can sometimes leave us depleted and wan thus the importance of taking a good vitamin!! I take Garden of Life’s Raw Probiotic/vitamin blend.
Many moons ago, before my little energy suckers were born, I used to work at a coffee shop. On the days that I opened, I had to be there very early–around 4:30 am. Instead of drinking coffee, I would put a TBSP of honey under my tongue and let it dissolve. It would give me instant energy. Definitely something to check out if you are trying to avoid caffeine or have reached your daily limit!
Looking out the window won’t cut it. Put on your shoes and your kid’s shoes and go get you some vitamin D! It will give you some energy (if you don’t spend too much time out there) and might just help your kids sleep better tonight.
Get your Heart Rate Moving:
Most people would recommend exercising to increase energy but who has time for that? Or rather, this Mama doesn’t want to do that! If you aren’t feeling the gym, turn on some music instead. Go grab your kids and have a dance off. I guarantee you that it will get the blood pumping and lift those tired eyes. Guilty music pleasure: Shake it Off by Taylor Swift. 😉
As always, don’t forget that our main source of energy can not be depleted or restored by external means. The Lord is the one that sustains our bodies. He is holding you, me–the whole universe together. Don’t forget to spend some time in prayer and ask him to give your body and soul what it needs to use the day for his glory and the good of your husband and children.
Well, I am off to bask in one of those rare moments that my child wants to sit still and cuddle. Adam, my four year old, just asked me, “Mommy do you want to come watch Caillou with me and cuddle?”
“Yes son, yes I do!”
Lately I’ve been reflecting on Levi’s birth story and the gospel. Funny how pain drives us to our knees; figuratively speaking and literally. It has been my experience that the hard things of life uniquely shine light into dark areas otherwise left untouched. The more excruciating the pain, the clearer the gospel comes into focus and our desperate need therein. On my knees up against the hospital bed, 20 hours in, I can remember crying out to my husband, Bailey, “Talk about Jesus again. Tell me about the gospel.” It was the only thing that made sense in my mind, broken with pain. Every second passed felt like a second frozen in time. Even though he was my third child to birth, the pain was unimaginably raw, tremendous, excruciating. And yet, as so often is the case, it is in those painful moments, hours, days or whatever amount of time the Lord has allotted, that his glory is so clearly revealed, resonating inside of our souls. It is in the hour of desperate need that we are often viscerally confronted, comforted by the gospel. I remember clutching my wooden cross as an especially long contraction began to swell. I was walking the halls with my dear Mom and precious Mother in law- both women, his hands and feet materialized. As my abdomen began to tighten beyond what I felt I could bear, I stopped and asked them to pray with me. I started to ask God to take the pain away, to stop this madness when I remembered the words of my wise husband. Earlier as we walked into the hospital unsettling the morning dew, he had taken the quiet moment to impart courage and prepare me for the hours ahead. He charged me to be intentional and specific in my prayers to the Lord. To pray for relief but more importantly to pray that I would suffer well and glorify God in my anguish. So, right there in the hallway, a stone’s throw from the nurses station, as my mind started to slip into the blinding reality of pain, those words came back to me and took root, grounding my mind. I began to pray that my suffering would point others to the Lord, that my tears would bring glory to his name, that this ushering in of life would point others to the one who ushers in and offers spiritual life to all mankind. I had always thought the saying “peace that passes understanding” to be overused and trite and yet in that moment, those words are exactly what I would use to describe the calm that settled down on me, around me. The peace and love of the Lord sifted through my soul physically warming my body. I felt the presence of God in a way that I don’t know that I have ever felt before or since. They say that when you get married and then again when you parent children, you experience the gospel in a more personal way, that you get a hands on glimpse into eternity. I would submit to you, as would scripture that birth is another one of those pictures that point us to Christ. The affliction and wonder of birth certainly offered me perspective into the eternal beauty and mystery that is Jesus, the cross, and his glorious resurrection. You see, labor is an affliction. It is a curse, a result of sin, original sin wrought by Eve. And yet it is also a wondrous thing, it is the beginning of a new precious life. The days my sons were born are simultaneously the worst and best days of my life. The day that Jesus died was simultaneously the worst day and best day of history. Worst because the sin of mankind culminated in the murder of the God-Man himself and best because this same man sacrificed himself for the very ones that nailed him to that cross. He sacrificed himself for you, for me.
I did not suffer well every frozen second of the 26 hours. But there were those blessed moments, almost portals that transcended time, transcended the numbing pain. I will never forget those glimpses of glory and will always treasure this palpable perspective that the Lord has gifted me, established in my heart. Just as I painfully suffered so as to bring one life into the world, on a much grander scale Jesus perfectly suffered the brutality of the cross so as to bring many to life. But make no mistake, his savage death is not the culmination of his suffering or the cause of his bloody sweat spent at Gethsemane. What is more jarring than any torment by man is the wrath of the Lord God poured out on him in retribution over the sin of mankind. Jesus took the destruction that we deserved and tasted bitter death. It was in this hideous suffering that far surpassed my guttural screams, that birthed many sons to glory, that lit up the entire universe. Six months later, I look into the light that is my son’s eyes and I remember. I remember the pain, the brokenness, but more importantly I remember the light that is God’s glory.
Pretty much every time I scroll through my Facebook feed I will see at least one meme about coffee. Here’s a few that I thought were funny…
In case you didn’t know, coffee is right up there with flour and sugar, an american staple. As a stay at home Mom, coffee is sometimes more than a staple. About once a month, I am convinced that my kids conspire together on how to keep me up all night. I get one down? Another wakes up. I get that one down and two more wake up and so on, all night long! Anyway, it’s on those mornings that coffee becomes more than a staple. It becomes my very best friend. Or “best best friend” as my 4 year old would put it.
So what do you do when you’ve had a rough night and you suddenly realize that you are out of creamer? Do you drink it black? I don’t know about you, but the more tired I am the more I crave a good cuppa. Here are some things I do to spruce up my coffee when I am out of creamer and haven’t had a chance to get to the store (or am avoiding it because, three boys!).
- If you happen to have a carton of heavy whipping cream (HWC) laying around, take heart, your coffee is about to get a makeover! I actually prefer HWC to commercial creamers because it can make a regular cup of coffee taste like a latte without all the effort. Just put in a couple teaspoonfuls (doesn’t take much!) or more if you’re feeling naughty, then add some sugar, maybe some spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg and viola! You have a gourmet cup of a joe to help soften the blow of your rough night.
- No heavy whipping cream? Ees all good. Pour about 1/4 a cup of whole milk (almond milk will work too) into a small jar and heat in the microwave for 15-30 second intervals until it reaches desired temperature (don’t heat to boiling or else the milk will curdle). Pour most (or all) of it into your coffee and then add a wee bit of sugar along with some hot chocolate mix. This recipe tastes similar to a mocha latte. If you want to make it even more decadent, skip the chocolate mix and instead add a few spoonfuls of coco powder to your mug along with a few teaspoons of sugar or stevia. Coco powder is actually rather bitter (but oh so smooth) in it’s natural form so a sweetener of some kind would definitely be wise. Oh! And while you’re at it, add a pinch of salt. Mmm.
- If you don’t have any form of dairy to add to your coffee, all is not lost. Take a hike over to Pinterest and search “bullet proof coffee.” While not my personal favorite, many a Mom has raved about this interesting concoction.
- Another great option for when you are out of creamer is to simply head to your local coffee shop. Let someone else do the work for you! My favorite coffee shop is called Side Street Coffee, located in Kaufman, TX. I especially enjoy drinking their coffee because one, it tastes good and two, I know that my purchase will help support local coffee farmers in Honduras. Win-win! Here’s a picture of me and my family at Side Street Coffee:
- Finally, if you’ve had a rough night, remember that while coffee is a great help and blessing from the Lord, it cannot fulfill you or truly prepare you for the day ahead. As with all things created, the Lord wants us to use them and enjoy them, yes, but ultimately the Lord desires us to let those things and experiences drive us to his throne. We were made to worship our creator and find fulfillment therin. Looking to created things for our strength will leave us wanting. So, while you drink your new creation this morning or spend time at your local coffee shop, be intentional and do yourself (and probably your husband and kids) a favor and take the time to talk to the Lord. Ask him for strength, for wisdom. Ask him for whatever it is you need, remembering that he loves you dearly.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” -Matthew 7:11
Hey there Mama. I know you’re exhausted. I am too. I mean come on, it’s 4 am! Who wouldn’t be exhausted?? I don’t know why your little angel won’t sleep but I’m pretty sure mine is working on a poop to rival all other poops.
With this being the fourth time I have been woken up tonight, I was tempted to focus on and despair over the lack of sleep. Thoughts like “What if I turn into a Mombie?” and “If he doesn’t hurry up and poop his pants I may never sleep again” are fighting for front and center. But thankfully and definitely because of the grace of God, I am not completely overwhelmed by those thoughts or by this difficult night. Another thought has been knocking around in my head. And tonight isn’t the first time God has brought it to mind. It’s something the Lord has been showing and reminding me of over and over, tonight being no exception. It’s simple really…rather than thinking about what I don’t have (i.e. a good night’s sleep), I should meditate on what I do have and then find a way to use it for God’s glory right now.
Tonight I have an opportunity to pray for others. I have the opportunity to bond with my baby through hardship. And I have the opportunity to encourage other Mama’s that also might be struggling to keep their hearts in the right place at this late hour.
So, keep your chin up, tired Mama, not just because it’s what we do as Moms but because if your chin is up, then your eyes are too…put those weary eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.