Since having children, my patience levels have rapidly decreased, whilst the opportunities for patience have increased. Whilst Phoebe whines and hangs off me saying ‘mumma, mumma, mumma’ and not replying when I ask her questions other than to repeat the above, I have to find ways to keep my cool and stay patient. When I am waking up in the night to crying for the third or fourth time even though I know nothing should be wrong, I need to be calm and not get frustrated. [Read more…]
Living in a large village has define perks, the lovely local shops being one of them. Since our weekly routine has got a bit more stable, we are often popping to the row of shops before or after something nearby. [Read more…]
Parenting is hard. By the time they’re in bed I am often ready to crash. But, this is where naps are wonderful wonderful things. An hour or two to yourself in the middle of the day is bliss. Doing something good during naptime in the middle of the day leaves me much more like myself and able to cope with the afternoon.
However, throw in a two and a half year old who is struggling to stay in bed at bedtime never mind naptime, things can quickly get a bit tricky. Simeon is thankfully still napping really well- but Phoebe has willingly gone down for a sleep about two or three times in the last two months. If we go in the pram or the car in the afternoon after Simeon wakes she will often sleep, but it’s usually too late in the day for that to happen without causing bedtime problems. [Read more…]
Wherever you are, be all there. ~Jim Eliot
It is very easy in the days of smartphones and internet everywhere, instant everything, to be easily distracted. To look something up on google, to flick back to the social media apps. Or even to dash from task to task, not taking time to be still and appreciate what’s around you.
I feel a pressure to make sure I’m doing enough, that my time is used well, but can forget that there is value in sitting and watching my toddler lick her pretend ice cream, constructed from wooden blocks in a glass. [Read more…]
When Josh was working in London for the first seven weeks, and I was back in Sheffield with Phoebe and Simeon, I was essentially single parenting in the week, and packing when they slept. That, I can tell you, is not so fun, but the time actually flew by, mostly because we were so busy. I greatly admire parents who are single parents or doing things by themselves whilst the other parent is at work or away. What I learnt is that I can do it all, and it’s hard. Doing it in my own strength was impossible, and exhausting- I had to, and still should, depend on God for the energy and patience and perseverance requires. He showered me with grace in the form of friends in Sheffield who came over, kept us company, ate with us, helped us pack, clean, tidy, de-junk, loved the kids, babysat and were generally awesome.
This really hard time for me as a parent and as a family gave me a different perspective on things. When before Josh being out late or away made things really impossible, now if it happens I have the perspective to cope. Having him around at all in the evenings is a bonus compared to not seeing him at all in weekdays. It made me grateful for those little everyday things that you take for granted when your husband is actually living in the same house!
Right now Josh works quite a few night shifts or weekends. This can make a normal weekly rhythm a bit topsy-turvy but again, the single parenting stint has helped me to adapt to this change and get used to doing bedtimes solo and that kind of thing, which used to seem so hard. Keeping a simple perspective of gratefulness really helps me to view potentially difficult moments in a positive light.
When I finished my degree this June, I knew that life was going to take a different turn all of a sudden. For eighteen months I had been studying and mothering at the same time- what this looked like practically was Phoebe going to nursery three or four mornings a week, whilst I was in lectures and seminars- and the rest of the time spent with her. Simeon was born in the last month or two of my degree, and not much changed- I took him with me. Time they spent sleeping or napping I would do more university work. Phoebe’s first year, however, I had a year out from studying and spent it at home with her. I learnt some lessons during that time, and knew that I would need to be intentional about the way life was lived, being a stay-at-home mum again.
As it happens, I like routine, and knowing that our week has a regular pattern really helps. But on the day to day? I’ve found that functioning without much sleep has usually meant using Phoebe (or Simeon) as my alarm clock, stumbling headfirst into the day with a foggy head. A newborn mentality of needing to sleep and just doing what you can to get by went on longer than it probably should, and affected things. Most days have had anchors of weekly activities- like toddler groups- and the obvious daily routines of meals, naptimes and bedtimes, but I have in the past let the rest of it happen to me.
I am all for having a relaxed attitude, but I quickly found, particularly in that year at home with Phoebe, that I needed to plan a little in order for us to have better days. Letting life happen meant that while weeks and months could fly past, days could be spent with little company other than ourselves, and those things I always meant to do just got put off and off. Having a ‘do it as you see it’ attitude to housework meant that I went around always noticing more jobs and running in lots of different directions. It meant doing the easy thing of browsing the internet, watching the tv, staying in the house, rather than the things I actually wanted to be doing. (I still haven’t got this all sorted, by the way!)
Being intentional has meant a bit of planning, a bit of going out of my way to reach out to others to arrange to do things rather than waiting for people to come to me, making a choice to put in that extra work to get the rewards. Obvious really! In the next few posts I’m going to explore different areas of what being intentional has meant for me lately.
This post is part of my 31 day series, Learning to simplify and live intentionally as part of write 31 days.
At the moment I’m reading a book (okay, a Kindle book!) called Desperate: Hope for moms who need to breathe and it is just exactly what I needed right now, at this place and season of life. I read about it on one of my favourite blogs, ever, Your Wishcake, and knew that it was going to have to be the top of my reading list.
At the end of a long day of mothering, when all is finally still and quiet in the house, I am finding that the best thing for me to do is to curl up with my Kindle and read another chapter of this book. It is rest in the best way- setting me up for another day of mothering, encouraging me, challenging me, teaching me fresh things and reminding me of things I already know. I’m nearly three-quarters of the way through and I am dreading finishing, honestly, although I expect I will just go back through and read it again. I have highlighted most of it already, which probably defeats the point in highlighting.
Being a stay at home mum to two little tiny ones can honestly be quite a challenge. I found it really tough in Phoebe’s first year- being alone with a small person who needs watching 24 7 and who can communicate in a very limited way is quite a draining adjustment from any ‘normal’ life previous to that! As she’s grown and Simeon has been born the challenges have changed, and I am better suited to some challenges than others. It is a massive learning process for me, not just the baby who is learning how their body and the world works. It is also really amazing and wonderful, to have the privilege. Parenting, mothering is by far hardest, most rewarding, challenging and wonderful thing. Shaping small people, and shaping them in a way that will show them who God is, and glorify Him in the way I do it is quite the challenge. There have been times that I’ve felt lost, alone, tired and worn out. Reading other parent’s blogs, seeing their lives pan out over social media has really encouraged me at times I have felt a bit alone and at a loose end, but reading this book has encouraged me above and beyond that, with really truthful, helpful words.
Each chapter has honest reflections from Sarah Mae and Sally from their own experience of mothering, and the topic covered, and a few bits of Scripture to look up and some thoughts of things you can do at the end, to practically put things into action. Reading it has been the most refreshing thing, to know that I am not, and have not been alone in what I have been doing, thinking and feeling, and being refreshed to get up each day with new joy and intention and a better attitude towards the eternally important task which is at hand. It has been like breathing one big sigh of relief.
I am pretty bad, when reading eagerly through a book like I am, at doing the questions and action points at the end, but I have decided to dedicate an evening to go through them all and write them down once I have read the whole thing. If you have children at home, I would recommend a read- you can usually read the free sample on Amazon to see if you like it anyway- and if you may have children in the future, put it on the ‘to-read’ list!
PS. I was going to call this post ‘Desperate’, but this book is making me feel so refreshed that it was a much better fit!
In real life, the lounge is tidy and serene, being lit up in the thin glow of morning light through the net curtains, before life hits it. Toddler feet run through, stamping and pausing for a moment, hands reaching. Objects start to hit the floor- a wooden piece of food dropped, a basket of soft food placed before Upsy Daisy’s flowered feet. Light grows warmer, yellowing as the day runs on- more toys, cushions, blankets being spread about, moved. In real life our living space goes from tidy to messy in a matter of minutes- all picked back up again to hoover the stray crumbs, and the rhythm begins again.
We make a book corner, and Phoebe carefully pulls all the books from her shelf, into a big pile. ‘That’s enough..’ ‘A bit too more’, she asserts. Her fingers try to follow the words on the page of her dinosaur books as she pretends to know what they say. Attention spans are lost and found- a pair of plastic picnic glasses become binoculars, glasses, the remote becomes a phone and beds are made and unmade for the toys. In real life, every time one tv program ends another one is demanded, or screamed for. ‘Please use your words instead of shouting and screaming.’ Thankfully distraction techniques are becoming more varied and soon she can be off again, in a world of imaginary play.
There is giggling and jumping up and down when Simeon wakes from his nap. ‘Dih bake now!’ They look at each other from either side of the cot, Phoebe laughing and bouncing and saying ‘hi, li man’ while Simeon smiles his wide smile and reaquaints himself with the daylight. His arms and legs start to kick in happiness and I undo his sleeping bag to go downstairs. Phoebe gives him toys on his playmat, ‘hee arr’ (here you are) but still ‘gently, gently’ is the motto when she gets a bit over excited and forgets he is little.
Loving being out and about, Phoebe gets antsy after being in the house for too long, but when we go outside in the garden to build a den or have a picnic she ends up going inside and outside again and again. Her long legs curl up to push her scuttlebug up and down the garden, and she laughs and runs about after Poppy, telling her to come back. When we wander up to the park she gets really excited and runs to the swings ‘whee! high high mumma’, and asks other children to go in swings next to her. ‘Go dat bing’ she demands of the ten month old boy, or the three year old girl. Thankfully they’re usually happy to play along.
This season is full of keeping up, I feel like I’m washing up and wiping up and clearing up over and over again, an endless, inevitable cycle. Cookbooks which have been collected carefully on the shelf are being cracked open, a faint scattering of flour and sugar going across the pages. The table is wiped, again and again. There are some, rare moments alone, meatballs made from scratch, for baking with the little girl who now goes to the fridge, helps herself to butter, milk, and then gets the measuring jug from the cupboard. ‘Need bake cake’. There is good food in abundance, most of the time, and the clearing up from the mess made along the way!
Forgiveness is needed a lot in this place- there are time outs, and impatience and short tempers from everyone. There are little hands stroking my face, ‘better soon’, and ‘soh, mumma’, which melt my frustration away and remind me of the grace these little ones demonstrate, how easily they forgive. There are mistakes made and rebellious natures all around, and we’re learning together. In the evenings before I go to sleep there are pages read on my kindle, pages which are filling my soul with hope, and common sense, and truth from God that I need to be reminded of.
New people are being met, new places explored, and new shoes bought. Little throats cough and washing bins fill up and the grass grows longer. There are lonely moments, being in a new place, and lacking the deeper friendships which take time to develop, there are joyful moments with the little ones. Some days are hard and frustrating and I long for the fresh start which a night of (broken) sleep will bring, but then I remember that there were many great moments too. Other days are packed with fun, and my heart feels like it will burst from happy by the end of it.
My real life is hard, easy, busy, full of beautiful and messy things, mistakes and things done right. Some days I forget that mothering, looking after a household is work, hard work, because it feels like a joy. Other days I feel the frustration and the lack of sleep like a great weight, pressing in, but I have to look out, breathe the fresh air and remember God is in control, and this is work worth doing.
Phoebe is loving having a garden to roam about in. It’s one of the biggest things which ruled out a house, right away, was if it had paving all over, or no garden. Even in the rain she’s desperate to get out there, and has a newfound love of this umbrella. We have great plans for this garden- hopefully a wendyhouse, or a slide, possibly chickens?! That green stretch of luscious grass is so refreshing, and the red kites which swoop above just make everything feel more open. Most days when I hang out the washing Phoebe goes up and down on her bike, or ‘bakes birthday cake’ in the planter at the side. ‘Bye, see soon!’ she calls as she ‘go shops’.
Our days are really busy with childcare, particularly this one who’s struggling to nap, and then evenings are still spent catching up with unpacking and sorting things, so I’ve not had much chance to write of late. Getting the hang of our new normal in this lovely house is taking some time, but we’re gradually getting to know a few people and starting to get things in the right place. I forsee lots of fun in this garden- bbqs, dens, imaginary games, running up and down, and adventures for Simeon once he’s crawling too! Even in winter, little toes can be put snugly in wellies, zipped up into waterproofs for time outside. Coming into a warm toasty house from the outside, faces pink and tingling, drying off and warming up is one of the best feelings, anyway.
Two and a half is turning out to be the best age in a number of ways. Granted, there are still a number of tantrums, a lot of shouting very loudly, very early in the morning ‘PO, [Poppy, our cat] cuh back ere NOW!’ but a whole lot of fun.
[Just realised that this is the best picture I have of that granny square blanket I made Phoebe for her 2nd birthday, for her big bed. I’ve been intending to take a photo of it for ages- but here you go! It even matches the cushion Phoebe’s sat on..)
I have found every age has different joys and different challenges- playing is one of the joys at the moment. Phoebe is great at playing bedtimes with her toys, and lots of blankets. Imaginary play is really taking off and today she brought me a bunch of pens and was smelling them like flowers. Yesterday she went ‘swimming’ across our bed, shaking off her dress after, ‘all bet’. Thankfully the tickle fish intervened!
The challenges, really is the one main one, bedtime, then a few potty training or wanting to watch tv all the time moments. At the moment we’re working on quiet, patient voices, both of us! This morning Phoebe was ‘counting down’ for Poppy, although her version is ‘bree, bour, bive, six, ehht, nine’ and all said in a very growly voice.
Some favourites at the moment are ‘Beebee long hair like Pun [Rapunzel]’
‘My peppa pig top all dur. Need bosh. Bound bound [insert circling hand motion] boshing machine’
Upon seeing said top, clean ‘all clean nice clean’.
Phoebe has always liked books but we’ve been to the library, which she loved, and she’s started ‘reading’ these first reader books in the car, and spending ages looking at them and pointing things out. Her ‘cheese’ face is quite a sight to behold.
One of the most lovely things I’m finding at this age, and stage is how well she is interacting with Simeon. When he was upset the other day she said, very observantly ‘Don cry, Dih (Simeon), Mumma jus moo box’. It was so sweet that she was concerned that he missed me and knew that I wouldn’t be long lifting the box. Every time he wakes up she says ‘Yay! Dih bake!’ and says ‘hi li’ man’ all the time.
Now that he can nearly sit up and can roll over, she’s been bringing him toys announcing ‘hee ar’ (here you are), trying to get him to play the baby piano, and saying ‘no cry too much’ if he’s grumbling before naptime. She finds him hilarious, and he thinks she’s amazing, giving her the biggest smiles of adoration when she comes near. I dread to think what they will be like, and look forward to when they’re both mobile and getting into mischief.
Two and a half is working out quite well for us so far. I feel like we’ve reached that stage of speech where she can almost always communicate what it is that she wants or needs, has the independence and ability to do lots of things for herself, as well as having a level of understanding whereby things are all around less stressful. I’m savouring this semi-speaking stage, as I know before I know it she will be spewing out long sentences and I will wonder where my little one went, replaced with a grown up girl. Energetic, loud and loving, she’s fun to watch grow.