Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Ups and Downs of a Full Time Mum

Being a full time Mum is challenging.

There are physical challenges of waking early, waking in the middle of the night, surviving on minimal sleep as a result, and long work days. There are creative and educational challenges to keep things interesting and new for you and your kids. There are emotional challenges of standing up to your children and being consistent with your rules when they misbehave. There are challenges of isolation when you have no one to have a quick chat with, or have a coffee and giggle with over lunch. There are challenges of finding fulfilment when there are no bosses to pat you on the back, and no bonuses paid out!

These are all challenges that can affect how my day pans out.

There are days that sail by so smoothly and I have unending patience, my boys are lovelier than angels, and to them I am the nicest, most loveliest mummy on the planet. We go out on adventures down by the river, I teach them new things and they show me how smart they are, we read dozens of books in one sitting, and we sing and we dance, and we paint and we glue, and have lots of fun. On these good days when I put the boys down to bed and close the door, I grin and think "mission accomplished!"

That's a really great day.

Then there a days where everything seems to fall to pieces. They wake at some ungodly hour and sleep before lunch, which puts the whole day out of whack, making them tired and cranky by dinner. Other times the day seems to disintegrate because the boys are pushing the boundaries and I have to discipline them. Usually there's only one of them pushing the boundaries, but a week ago it was both at the same time. Hard.

Then there are days when you know you're not doing something the right way, and you have to find a new way. I'm so blessed to have a husband who is really encouraging and is a great sounding board for my ideas. He also has tremendous input into how we raise the kids, and if he sees something amiss he'll certainly point it out! He's usually working from home too, which is great as I feel more accountable with what I am doing with the boys on a daily basis.

Recently I had a personal 'victory' when strategising a new approach to counter the 'Thomas the Tank Engine addiction phase' that I wrote about in an earlier article. At that time I felt like the steering wheel had come off, and I had lost total control of where we were going! The boys were just careering here and there. It took some thought and actual strategy to try and get back in control.

The new rules that we've been working with are:

a) TV only on Saturday mornings, for no more than 2 hours, of vetted viewing material, else supervised viewing.
b) Trainset can only be played with on Thursdays
c) I will only read one Thomas book each day
d) More focussed prayer for them when they are acting up

I can say this has worked wonders.

In addition to restricting TV viewing, we physically repositioned the couch so it no longer faces the TV. The boys don't even ask me about the TV! It's like it's not there! They are content to find things to play with, or make up their own games. It's marvellous!!

With the trainset only available to them on Thursdays, I've found that they get their 'fill' within a couple of hours, and even though I leave it out for them, they don't play with it much after that. By bedtime I ask them to help me pack it away, and there are no dramas.

Likewise with the Thomas books, just lessening the focus on this character has been beneficial. In its place I've dug out all our Bible storybooks and taught them about David and Goliath, and Noah, and Daniel and the Lions, and about Jesus. They love the stories, and I feel like an idiot for not reading them to them sooner!

I've been wondering around in the wilderness myself. I'm so glad I'm back on track!

Lastly, prayer has been like a rock during crazy times. I use prayer like a weapon against things that affect my children, and I use it like a refuelling tank for my own strength and wisdom. And boy do I need it!

Being a full time Mum puts life into perspective. Things like project deadlines and reports make me want to laugh. They used to be so important before! I can't believe they used to keep me up at night!

Instead I am the manager of two wonderful, incredible little people, with whom I have to use my full capabilities and talents into developing two mature 'great people' with a mind and heart for God and His purposes. What a huge responsibility, what an honour, what an exciting challenge!

What more fulfilling career could there be?

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