Stop Keeping Up

There is this idea I’ve noticed lately that we absolutely must be doing more things, particularly new things, with our kids in order to get them to learn.

We must always be creating new sensory experiences, new invitations to play, new craft ideas, for our little ones or we consider ourselves to be failing.

Can I be honest with you? You do not need to put so much pressure on yourself.

Really.

In our pre-internet parenting days, my husband and I kept things simple with our oldest daughter. We read to her. We coloured and drew with her. We played with play dough. We made snowmen. We dug in the sandbox. We arranged alphabet letters on the fridge. We went for walks. We climbed monkey bars and slid down slides. We played dress-up with funny hats and boas. We had tea parties. We played dolls. We cut with safety scissors. We picked out colours and shapes around us.

I didn’t concern myself with what other people were doing because we were doing what came naturally to us.

And you know what? Our daughter turned out fine. She’s an honour roll student. She’s a critical thinker. She’s creative.

We did much the same with her brother and sister when they came along. And they’re just as smart, just as creative, and just as good at thinking things through that she is, in their own unique ways.

I get bogged down some days with the overwhelming amount of ideas on Pinterest and Facebook. I actually have to take breaks from looking for more, I get so exhausted. I want to introduce all these amazing opportunities to learn to our toddler, that I sometimes forget to just do what comes naturally.

We can be that way with teaching our kids about the world around them, about discipline, and even about God.

We search and search for ways others have done things because we don’t have the confidence in the very abilities God has given us to raise our kids.

Yes, it is wise to look for resources when we don’t know. Or when we need encouragement. I believe God has gifted some very talented people for those purposes.

But when you find yourself in the comparison trap, when you find yourself overwhelmed, when you find yourself feeling like you just can’t keep up one moment longer, consider taking a break.

Grab some crayons and draw stick people. Crack open Dr. Seuss. Smush some play dough. Make sandcastles or snow angels.

Just because you can.

Setting Right Priorities

I admit it.

I am a list maker. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Lists are very helpful in keeping us organized, setting priorities, and staying on task. And some days, I just really need a list with crossed-off items on it to help me see that yes, today actually was a productive day.
Which is why on those days when I make my list, I include stuff on it that I’ve already done so I can cross them off immediately. And then have a cup of coffee.
Sometimes, though,  I get a little crazy about the priority setting. Sometimes I find myself making my lists the priority instead of allowing life to happen.
I’ve made it an unofficial rule of late that when my kids are home on a school break, my routines take a break, too. I don’t worry if my house isn’t tidied by 9:30, or if I haven’t showered before lunch. I want my kids to know that they are more important than whether or not the laundry is finished or the floors are swept. (Of course, this can backfire on me when I realize at 9:37 the night before small group that it’s my turn to host and the house is in complete shambles!)
I need to work on this, though, during the rest of the year. To remember that sometimes it is more important to cuddle with my little guy than it is to get the dishes done that exact moment. Or that checking Facebook can wait when my preteen needs to talk. I am still a work in progress!
I once wrote an article eons ago about setting priorities and putting first things first. I wish I still had it, but it was on my old old desktop that I thought we had backed up, only to find it didn’t save the things I actually wanted. (Not too long ago on Twitter, someone posted that it should be the new standard for being considered grown-up to actually save things to an external hard drive. To which all I can say is Amen.) While I can’t remember all the particulars, I do remember this:
In all our list making, priority setting actions, we need to make sure that we are including Jesus in every single item.
We have a tendency to rank things in order of importance. God first, family second, work third, etc. My argument with that is you can’t compartmentalize God. You can’t say He’s first without including Him in all the other things. Rather than saying God is first, it makes more sense to say above and in and through all these things, He is.
And maybe that’s the heart of knowing our true priorities. When we allow God to be central in our lives, He helps us to set aside the things that can wait and focus on what truly matters.
*****
Because I do enjoy a good list, check out my Organize Pinterest board, containing several that I really like. I also once designed my own list, but um, I lost that one on my old laptop, too. We really need to go shopping!
Linking up with Angie and Jen.

P.S. Remember when I mentioned that little tab up at the top of the page called “Joy(full) Knits”? You can go ahead and click it now for a preview. Or not. I’m not at all freaked out or anything!

Thanks(Giving) Jar

My teenager is a genius.

Yesterday Em came to me and asked me for a spare jar. When I asked her what she was planning (she’s always planning, my girl is. She’s so creative!), she told me she was going to write one thing she was thankful for on a slip of paper every day for the entire year, and read them all December 31st.
I love that. And as I mulled it over in my mind for what I could do, The Thanks(Giving) Jar* was born.
It’s simple, really. As my daughter, I’ll be writing down one thing I am thankful for every day for the year. All those little things I take for granted. Like socks. And heat. And other mundane things. But I didn’t want to leave it at that – I wanted to put my gratitude into action. So I’ve also decided to add a coin with each slip of paper and at the end of the year take that money and give it to a ministry that provides for those who don’t have all those things I tend to take for granted.

I’ll also be inviting the other members of our home to do the same – I think our kids can definitely stand to remember that we are so incredibly blessed!

I’m so excited about this! And I really hope it is something you will consider doing with your family, too!

Of course, my printer is out of ink, so I can’t print off the pretty little label I made and add it to my jar, but just as soon as I can, I will share a picture of it with you.

Even better, here are some labels for you to print for yourself, if you’d like! I included four, just in case you have other members of your family would like their own jar. You know, those siblings who refuse to share anything. Not that I would know anything about that sort of thing. *cough*

*Edited to add: I changed the name slightly after the original post went live. Sometimes it takes me a few days to really shape an idea into exactly the way I want it! Thanks for hanging in there with me!

This ministry of motherhood

You want to know something funny?

As I was typing the title for this post, my only-have-had-one-cup-of-coffee fingers kept typing “mothergood” instead of motherhood.

And there’s the whole point of this post.

I’m breaking my break for a moment because I feel like I have finally stumbled upon something good. This morning as I was praying and feeling sorry for myself over my lack of purpose (or, rather, my feeling of a lack of purpose), I finally got it. Back in January I shared that once summer holidays hit, I would officially be finished babysitting and that I felt God was calling me to not work for this next season. Back in January, I was really excited about that.

In June, when the repairs around the house started mounting up, I felt a lot less excited about that.

Not only my lack of excitement, but my need for doing something big in my own eyes for God, has led me to this place of discontentment. But this morning, He redirected my focus.

This morning as I was pleading with Him to clarify my calling, He clarified it by reminding me what He has already called me to.

Motherhood.

This world will have us believe, lovelies, that this is not enough. That its not enough to raise our kids to His glory, to be content building a home. That we must also pursue bigger and better things, otherwise we lose who we are.

It is in this pursuit of bigger and better that I have lost who I am.

So I am on a mission. I am driven to get out of this place of reluctantly accepting my calling of motherhood and instead find joy and passion in it. I am driven to find out how I can serve our God and my family authentically, without trying to become someone I think I should be. Because let’s face it. How many times do we resolve to be “better” moms, only to try to live up to someone else’s definition of what that is?

This is for Him. All for Him. Because there is a reason and purpose for Him calling me to this ministry and it is high time I started to view it as just that.

I want to mother good.