Heart Pondering

The ponderings of one Christ-following mom on raising preschoolers

Embracing the seasons as we mother January 22, 2010

Filed under: For moms,Mothering role,Routine — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 2:44 am

My son turned four a few months ago, and he no longer naps. It’s been an on-again-off-again thing for six months now, but only recently we’ve hit the Real Deal. He’s done; daytime sleep is over for him as a regular part of life.

This reality been one of the hardest milestones in my mothering life so far.  Man, I loved the daily break from kids in my day that naptime reliably provided.  I depended on it in more ways than I even realized over the past four years.

My son still takes an afternoon rest time, of course, about 75 minutes long.  But these rest times are shorter than naps were and don’t always go down as peaceably as nap times unquestionably did. And even when they do, it requires some thought from me. I have to consider how best to handle non-sleep rest times with my son, especially since we have an independent playtime already in our schedule.  Bottom line: the times they are a-changin’, and there’s no going back.  Often I’ve had to fight a spirit of resentment and annoyance as the naps showed themselves to be evaporating for good….  at my son, at my life, at the New Us.  I didn’t want to give up that part of the Old Us one bit. (more…)

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Adopting homeward diligence: before and after January 18, 2010

Filed under: For moms,Household,Mothering role,Routine — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:50 pm

How does my life look different today than it did before my October diligence revelation and commitment?  What does diligence in the home look like for me?  Several readers asked me this following my series of homeward diligence posts (more posts on this herehere, and here); this post will answer those questions. 

First a reminder: diligence is is not a to-do list or an organizational system. It isn’t legalistic and thus can’t be distilled to daily action items. Rather diligence is a mindset and a heart commitment. It’s  Spirit-empowered focus and attentiveness to the tasks God’s put before you – to optimally stewarding your life and all its details.  So there’s nothing right or magical about my specific habits in pursuing homeward diligence. They’re things that work for me, allowing me to convert diligence from theoretical to practical.  Another mom’s diligence in the home might look entirely different. That by way of disclaimer, to encourage all moms to reject legalism in favor of straight-up faithfulness to God and his call on them, as a lead-in to my list.  My personal “Top 8 Things that Foster Homeward Diligence“:

1. Undergirding diligence with Scripture.  The two verses that God used to spark diligence in me – through a kick in the butt by the Holy Spirit – were these from Proverbs 31 about the wife of noble character: “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks… She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (Verses 17 & 27).  I read these verses over from time to time during my morning prayer times, and I whisper them to myself sometimes as I go about my household tasks as a form of active meditation and on-th-go prayer.

2. Investing in the necessary tools to manage my household effectively.  Until three months ago, I used my Outlook calendar almost exclusively. Great for my personal and professional lives, bad for centralizing information for family life. My main tool for daily reminders were post-it notes… strewn all over my kitchen. Not optimal. So I thought through the items that would best foster my household management and then purchased them.  These included: two white-board calendars (a month-planner and a week-planner) that hang side-by-side in my kitchen; a whiteboard to-do list on my fridge; kitchen step-stools for my preschoolers; two recipe binders with labeled tabs to organize my cooking; craft supply organizers for my pantry cupboard.  Total investment about $80, which I overcame my reluctance to spend by meditating on the fact that my heart will reside where my treasure is spent.  And also by drawing the parallel to professional life – how effective of a consultant would I be if I used dial-up internet or a typewriter? One must equip oneself for success, whatever the realm of work.  And because I acquired the tools after the commitment was firmly in place, they’ve worked wonders. (more…)

 

Vision and planning in mothering October 30, 2009

Filed under: Behaviors,Mothering role,Routine — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 10:36 pm

029v1200ecThere’s something to be said for planning.  While I’m a decent planner in general, I can’t say I’ve done a lot of planning in my mothering beyond logistical basics like readying a nursery for a newborn or packing my diaper bag the night before an outing.  And that’s fair because a lot of mothering simply is reactive.  Like – my kid learned to turn the TV on; now I have to figure out how to address it.  You deal with phases as they come.

My recent diligence kick, though, and the fruit that’s coming from it has left me thinking about planning…  And about developing a vision for building what you want to ultimately see in your kids, step by step. And since I’ve begun putting my house in order – literally and figuratively – space in my brain and our schedule is being created to envision some new things.  Things that my older children, now 2 and 4, are (or soon will be) ready for.  “The plans of the diligent lead to profit,” the Bible says, and I want to spend my time with my children profitably.  Better said: I want to be diligent to ensure that they profit – spiritually speaking – from theirs years in our home.

In that vein, I’ve begun thinking and praying through a few new ‘initiatives’ (to apply one of my oft-used consulting terms to parenting life) to begin with my kids in the coming months: (more…)

 

Evaluating “enrichment” for our kids April 13, 2009

Filed under: Culture,Routine — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 11:35 pm

I’ve been thinking about the modern concept of “enrichment.”  You know, exposing your kids to stuff, getting them out there, helping them learn and experience all manner of things.  There can be a lot of pressure on moms to involve their children in a variety of age-appropriate activities…  and a commensurate amount of pressure, I think, to assess our own households and judge them as lacking in this department. 

A few months ago I was chatting with my mom about possible fall preschool options for my son, who will be four in November.  I made some passing comment about all he’d do and learn there – how much he would get out of the activities.  I must have unconsciously disparaged our own quiet, normal household routine to some degree, because her response was to affirm what she sees that I am doing to build into him and ‘enrich’ him (in a different sense).  The overarching goal for a three-year-old, she suggested, should be less about finger-painting or plunking on various instruments or meeting live animals (not that any of that’s bad) and more about living life alongside an invested parent whose primary goal is character-building and instilling skills for godly life.  (more…)

 

Praying with preschoolers April 3, 2009

Filed under: Books,Prayer,Routine — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 9:54 pm

prayg1A friend recently asked me what prayers we use when praying with our three-year old at bedtime.  She remembered the “Now I lay me down to sleep” classic and wanted to avoid it with her two-year old as the “if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take” line had always freaked her out when she was a girl.  (And why wouldn’t it?)  There’s now a less fatalistic version of that prayer out there, as I told her, but there are other options too.

We use a short, customized evening prayer with our son that’s routine enough for him to know what to expect and allows him to chime in, but malleable enough that we can add in specific components that may be pertinent for that day — phrases like “heal so-and-so who’s sick” or “please help (our son) become kinder to our dog.”  Whatever may be relevant for that day. (We do a similar but shorter version with our pre-verbal 19-month old too.)  We will likely teach him the Lord’s Prayer soon and incorporate that into our evening prayers too. (more…)

 

Teaching kids to appreciate stillness March 27, 2009

Filed under: Culture,Routine — Susan @ Christian Mothering @ 5:17 pm

337019When our son was about 18 months old, my mom (who’s wise and not at all overbearing) made a helpful suggestion.  She recommended we consider implementing a short “room time” for him into our regular routine so he could begin learning how to play contentedly by himself.  She’d followed this practice with her own firstborn, in whom she’d observed some similarities to our son, and found it to be a boon to both his life and her own.

So I tried it out, gating him in his room in the morning with ample toys, for about 8 – 10 minutes during which I’d shower and/or dress for the day.  He disliked it at first and protested for some or all of the time he was in there.  Before long he grew accustomed to the time and seemed even to enjoy it, and I gradually lengthened the duration to 12, then 16, and eventually 20 – 30 minutes per day.  It became quiet alone time we both could count on.  I’ve continued the practice since then and recently implemented it with my daughter too (hers is in a playpen) when she gave up her morning nap.

(more…)