By Diana Duke, Secretary on Momivate's MotherBoard
They say that patience is a virtue. Sometimes I wonder if it's a virtue I once mastered and then lost somewhere along the way. I think back to a time before I was a mother, when I had all of the patience in the world. I worked at a group home for children with disabilities and quickly found how much I loved it. As time moved on, I started a family and found myself venturing into other fields. However, at the top of my priorities was being a mother to my children. I had an amazing husband and, although we had our struggles, life was good.
I wish I’d had more time to be the wife I always wanted to be, but things took a turn for the worse and I found myself widowed at thirty-one. I completely fell apart for a while. I lost my sense of self, and that patience I’d had was now something that I was searching for. I feel that it is something I am really struggling with, yet all of the time everyone around me is telling me, “You have so much patience—I don't know how you do it!” I am constantly being told what a good mother I am and, though I am grateful for their kind comments, it leads me to wonder who I am.
I don't feel patient. I don't feel so wonderful all the time. I think we as mothers are often our own hardest critics. However, I am pretty competitive, so I have to believe that the bar that I set long ago for myself has to be attainable or I wouldn't have set it in the first place. I want to be happy, and I want my children to be happy. I find that getting back to the basics makes life so much easier. Being patient with ourselves, patient with our children, and being patient with those around us makes us kinder and more gentle.
I know that it can be hard when you don't know where to start. But you just have to start where you are. So that is what I'm doing--jumping in and starting where I am. Even as I write this, I have found myself worrying; not knowing what to write about; stressing out that nobody wants to hear about my chaotic struggles. But we are human and we all have our own challenges. We need to be patient with ourselves.
Right now one of my challenges is the never-ending laundry pile--I never get to cross it off my to-do list, so I never get the satisfaction of completion. However, what I can do is set a goal for how many loads I can do today. That way I am able to cross something off my to-do list with satisfaction. I can go on and on about the steps I have to take to be patient with myself. We are all different; what works for me isn't going to work for everyone else. But each of us can do something to quiet those negative, self-defeating thoughts in our heads. What are some things you can do to be patient with yourself?
My twin daughters are in a kickboxing class at the local community college and this video was assigned to them as homework. It struck me as so simple that it is well worth the couple of minutes to review information we likely are already aware of but need continual reminders about. Moms, this is what we do -- we are the reminders, the repeaters, the consistent, kind, and friendly reviewers and encouragers!
From the YouTube Description:
Wellness means overall well-being. It includes the emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. Incorporating aspects of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, such as choosing healthy foods, forming strong relationships, and exercising often, into everyday habits can help people live longer and improve quality of life. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness may also help people better manage their condition and experience recovery. This short animated video explores the Eight Dimensions of Wellness and helps people understand the practical strategies and ways they can begin developing healthy habits that can have a positive impact on their physical and mental health. To learn more about SAMHSA’s Wellness Initiative, click here.
Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there.
Ours boasts it quiet openly,
The signs are everywhere...
For smears on the windows,
Little smudges on the doors.
I should apologize, I guess,
For toys strewn on the floor.
But I sat down with the children,
And we played and laughed and read,
And if the doorbell doesn’t shine,
Their eyes will shine instead.
For when at times I'm forced to choose:
The one job or the other,
I’d like to cook, and clean, and scrub...
But first I’ll be a MOTHER.
If you want to know the value of...
ask a teenager who's been grounded.
ask a student with a research paper due.
ask a substitute teacher.
ask a guy getting bombarded with questions by the parents of the girl who is still upstairs getting ready for their date.
ask a basketball player, down by 1, in possession of the ball.
ask a gymnast.
ask a running back at a football game.
ask a bungee jumper.
ask a teenager who buys his own gasoline.
...a phone call...
ask the person who just put in a job application.
What would you add??
Being empathic -- able to feel the emotions of others -- can be a gift, showing compassion and wanting to ease sadness. It might also be stressful, since the other person is the one in charge of whether their complex emotions get resolved in healthy ways or not. Being able to "LET GO" is a skill that empaths must learn and practice! But what does it mean?
In high school, I took a class called Peer Facilitation, and it taught us how to keep ourselves emotionally level while reaching out to those who were off kilter. Here is one of the handouts from that class, which I've kept almost 30 years! It describes both what "LET GO" is AND what it is NOT.
May it help you in your journey as a mother, definitely a position of empathy! Also, a position with the temptation to try to control another person. Gaining this perspective, this ability to LET GO will make motherhood a much more enjoyable journey -- full of love instead of fear.
To "let go" does not mean to stop caring,
it means I can't do it for someone else.
To "let go" is not to cut myself off,
it's the realization that I can't control another.
To "let go" is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To "let go" is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To "let go" is not to try to change or blame another,
it's to make the most of myself.
To "let go" is not to care for,
but to care about.
To "let go" is not to fix,
but to be supportive.
To "let go" is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.
To "let go" is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcome,
but to allow others to effect their own destinies.
To "let go" is not to be protective,
it's to permit another to face reality.
To "let go" is not to deny, but to accept.
To "let go" is not to nag, scold, or argue,
but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
To "let go" is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes, and cherish myself in it.
To "let go" is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.
To "let go" is to fear less and love more.
If you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,000 ----
That carried over no balance from day to day...
Allowed you to keep no cash in your account...
And every evening, it canceled whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day...
What would you do??
Draw out every cent every day, of course, and use it to your advantage!
Well, you have such a bank----and its name is "TIME."
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night, it rules off as lost whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.
It carries over no balances.
It allows no overdrafts.
Each day, it opens a new account with you.
Each night, it burns the records of the day.
If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no going back.
There is no drawing against the "Tomorrow."
It is up to each of us to invest the precious fund of hours, minutes and seconds in order to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success!
The above is a quote I've had since high school and it has often influenced my decisions of how to spend my time. I used to think that sleep was a waste of time, until I realized that getting enough sleep helped me use the awake time more efficiently, plus it contributed to my health.
Due to this quote's message, I rarely watch television or get stuck in the rabbit hole of social media. I choose mindfully how much and which media to intake.
A few years ago, my brother died suddenly, with no warning, and that unexpected death taught me that procrastinating might mean I never have a chance to do what I really want to do!! So I learned that it's not just a matter of filling my time... instead, I invest my time and spend it on the people and projects that are most important to me!
I've figured out that I can't do everything, so I want to make sure that what I am doing is based on my priorities: People first (they have feelings!). Projects second. And the unimportant things are what go undone. What's unimportant to me (like cleaning out the kitchen sink everyday) might be important to someone else (like my mom), but we have to respect each other's usage of time!
Because I try to live according to this philosophy, I don't feel bad or guilty about taking down time when my body and spirit send the signal for it. I just relax, knowing I've made good use of my time, and that giving myself a break is important, too!
The Mom in the Mirror
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you queen for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what *that* mom has to say.
For it isn’t your facebook or instagram likes
Whose judgement upon you must pass.
The woman whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
Some people may see all your beautiful posts
And think you’re free from all wrongs.
But the mom in the glass knows about the burnt toast,
And the flats and the sharps in your songs.
She’s the woman to please - never mind all the rest,
For she’s with you (and your kids) to the end.
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the mom in the glass is your friend.
You don’t need to convince the whole instagram crowd
That they’ll never know anyone dearer.
Adore your imperfect self and be proud
To love that real mom in the mirror.
For when you accept that perfection you lack
And pursue simple progress instead,
You offer yourself the best kind of feedback
And happier feelings are spread.
Other moms need to know that your struggles are real
And how optimism can play
A critical role in how you manage and deal
With life’s topsy turvy melee.
No need to complain, no need to hold back
Let authenticity be your goal
And the mom in the mirror will share her life hack:
“Be true to the mom in your soul!”
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
By Grant Colfax Tullar
By Kandis Lake, RN, BSN, guest blog post contributer.
Learning your child has cancer or another life-changing illness is probably every parent’s worst nightmare. While the medical advances to treat these life-changing diagnoses have never been better, it is still a very taxing experience for any family. Ways to navigate such a trying and difficult situation can include learning all you can about your child’s sickness, leaning on outside support, and knowing ways you can help your child and family cope.
Learning About Your Child’s Sickness
Any good healthcare provider will provide you with ample education surrounding your child’s sickness, and what the sickness will mean for your child and your family. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, ask doctors to clarify meanings, and repeat what you hear to ensure you understand the information being given you.
If you are not in a good headspace to understand what you’re being told, it’s a good idea to ask if you can be given the information at a better time. It is also a good idea to have another family member or support person receive the education with you, so you can both learn together and help each other remember and understand in times ahead. If you get home and think about something you need clarified, you can always reach out to your child’s healthcare provider to ask questions or get more information.
Study any materials your child’s healthcare providers have given you or resources they have suggested. Seek out reputable sources for further information. The American Cancer Society has a lot of information online about all types of cancers. Advocate for yourself and your family to ensure you understand what you need to, and can feel empowered moving forward.
Take Care of Yourself and Get Outside Help
Be sure to take care of yourself so that you can handle your difficult situation in the best way possible. Take care of yourself so you can take care of your child. If your child is staying in the hospital, take advantage of working with a social worker and case manager to ensure you and your child are provided with everything you will need when you go home. Many hospitals have a chaplain whose job is to help patients and families care for their spiritual needs. If your child is being cared for at home, take regular breaks by setting up respite care (when a healthcare professional, such as a nurse, temporarily cares for a patient at the patient’s home).
Accept your feelings about the situation you are in without judgement. Talk to a friend, family member, or counselor about the difficulties you are facing, or write your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Talking and writing can help you process your experiences and help you better cope. There are online support groups for a wide variety of situations and illnesses. An online group could connect you to other parents or caregivers who are going through something similar.
If you have other children, seek a balance of personally caring for them and asking for help to care for them as well. This could be a very difficult time for them and they will need help and support through it. You will likely need help caring for them while your child is sick.
Utilize any church or community support available. Don’t be afraid to ask for help during such a difficult time for your family. It can be hard to ask for and accept help, but doing so is in your child’s best interest, as well as your own. The less stress you feel in regard to all aspects of your life, the more energy and focus you can put into supporting and bonding with your child when he needs you.
Cheryl Harris’s son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia when he was two and a half years old. Cheryl said, “Almost more than the sleepless nights and endless tears during that time, I remember the amazing, wonderful good people who showed up for us.” She describes friends, family, and hospital staff giving immense support.
Her own parents drove across the country to help, and her mother stayed with them for six whole months. They had friends that brought gifts for her child, and others offered to watch her one-year-old since Cheryl was so frequently at the hospital and at appointments. Friends and family who didn’t live near them sent the family frequent words of comfort and love.
Many people also find strength and support in spirituality or religion. Faith or spirituality can be very helpful in coping for some. Cheryl remarked about her faith, “I am so grateful for the gospel and the knowledge of God's plan during that time. I knew no matter what may happen, everything would be okay.”
Helping and supporting your child
The most important thing you can be doing at this time is helping your child. You will best accomplish this by taking breaks and accepting help yourself, as discussed above. Take time to address your child’s concerns and answer his questions. Speak to him about what is happening in a way that is appropriate for his age and level of understanding. The American Cancer Society has some great advice for communicating in age-appropriate ways here.
When asked how she helped her young son, Cheryl said, “I prayed for and tried to have an abundance of patience and stamina. That was absolutely necessary. I cleared my schedule and dedicated my life to comforting him in any way I could.”
Your child will likely feel a range of emotions as he lives with his illness, as well as because many aspects of normal life are altered because of it. Be a safe space for your child to express thoughts and feelings, free from any judgement or shame. Resist the urge to try to change those feelings. Every time your child has difficult feelings, it gives you the opportunity to strengthen your relationship through supporting him. Having a strong and secure relationship with your child will in turn help him build resilience and confidence, and also give him the tools to navigate difficult feelings in the future.
Cheryl kept a blog during her son’s battle with cancer. One story illustrates the need children have for their parents: “He woke up once while they were taking his vitals and was in pain. His little body tensed up and I could tell it hurt when I moved him. He asked to ‘give Mommy hugs,’ which means to hold him chest to chest, bear-hug style, but when I picked him up he was so rigid and stiff and couldn't relax. I called for more pain meds. I asked him where it hurt and all he said was, ‘Mommy kiss it better.’ He's said that a lot the past few days. That has been the hardest part for me.”
Helping your child cope with stress, navigate difficult emotions, and express himself could prove to be extremely difficult, especially if you haven’t had a lot of experience with healthy coping and emotional expression yourself. A child life specialist (often employed at pediatric hospitals) or a counselor can help you and your child with this.
Recognize things that comfort your child. It may be a pacifier, blanket, special toy, or favorite book or movie. Whatever comfort object there might be, allow your child to have it readily available. Be sure hospital staff and any other caregivers know ways your child likes to be comforted. Like Cheryl with her son, be there to comfort him yourself as much as possible.
It can also be important to try to incorporate some routine and normalcy into your child’s life. This can include doing schoolwork, socializing with family and friends, playing and being silly, and having some routine to his care. Let your child take opportunities to enjoy being a kid. Find ways for your child to maintain sibling and family relationships.
The ways you can help your child with illness as his mother is monumental. You and your family will be empowered through learning and understanding as much about the illness as you can. As you take care of yourself and to seek and accept help from others, you will better be able to care for your child and be there for them. You can play an important, unmatched role of providing support and comfort to your child during this very difficult time.
Cheryl’s advice to other moms who experience something similar is “Let people help you. Take care of yourself. Let things go that don't matter. Count your blessings along the way and recognize and appreciate the beauty of all those who are trying to help. It will lift you.” Cheryl’s son received cancer treatments for five years. He is now a healthy, thriving eleven-year-old.
For more information see:
Kandis Lake, the author, is a professional health writer and can be found at www.healthwriterkandis.com
Written by Cindy Thomsen, Momivate's Director of Schedules & Systems
(Note: Cindy wrote this BEFORE Christmas, and unfortunately I (the webmother) am only getting it posted today, on New Year's Day. Cindy's writing is always worth reading, though, so go ahead and indulge yourself! There's always a mindset to learn and apply even if outside the holiday season.)
WOW! This is has been a crazy year! Covid has changed all of our usual Christmas traditions. Now we find ourselves wondering what we should do as a family and focusing on those things that are most important for us. Is it possible to have a great Christmas this year? How about a perfect one? Click here to learn more about how to add more peace and joy to your home this holiday season.
Link to my blog post…
Written by Leigha Westover, Co-Founder of Momivate and Director of Income & Outgo
What does Self Reliance mean to you?
Please take a moment to ponder the meaning of Self Reliance.
Webster's dictionary states that self reliance is reliance on one's own efforts and abilities.
If we are to take this into account then I am not very self reliant -- I need the aid of others to provide my clothes, food, and shelter. In our society we have prospered by using our personal efforts and abilities to share and provide for others’ needs, as they also do for us. In exchange for the services rendered, we use the value of currency
As a child I learned to work and contribute in our home while my father went to work to provide for our needs. As I progressed in years, my desire to become more independent increased. I secured a job in a delicatessen as a part time server, so I was able to provide for some of the increased desires of a teenager, such as entertainment.
Approaching my young adult years I continued to thrive, and advanced to being able to purchase a car and move into an apartment with other young adults. My understanding of finance was just to meet the basics and get by. As I was learning and growing socially, spiritually, and mentally, I did not increase my understanding of providing beyond what I needed.
I continued to live by the basic principles of earning just enough to get by for the first 25 years of marriage. We struggled, trying to get ahead financially and we never got there. We always had barely enough for us and sometimes not even that. My underdeveloped outlook on budgeting limited my family. Occasionally I would stretch out my faith to believe there would be enough when the kids wanted to invite a friend to eat with us. And there alway was even when I lacked faith and said no.
As you seek to understand what self reliance means for you in your life, you may discover that you have more learning to do. Identify principles -- statements of truth -- you can try to apply to your daily life.
Some principles to consider
Pay the Lord first (tithing and/or donations), then pay yourself (savings), then SPEND WISELY.
Build up the self-discipline necessary to live according to your budget.
Be willing to sacrifice for the sake of stability.
Less really can be more. Simplify! Embrace the concept of ENOUGH.
Get out of debt and save to purchase what you want.
Money is not a god worthy of our worship. Trust in financial good karma!
It may not always be money you will be blessed with. It may be as simple as creating a revolving closet in your home or extra food in your garden, etc. As you are blessed with plenty, bless others with it as well. We do not need to hold on when others' burdens can be lighter.
Work together to make things work: Value ALL the work necessary to make a family successful, whether or not it brings in financial income.
In the Bible, we read “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). I believe that if our desire is to do good continually to comfort, strengthen and clothe our neighbor (love them!), we must budget wisely, and then when we are blessed with excess, we can pass it on to others.
By Cindy Thomsen, Momivate Director of Schedules & Systems
I am a mom of 3 kids. When my kids were younger, we set up several systems to facilitate our life. I have found that having good routines in place has helped our family tremendously. Finding meaningful schedules and systems keeps our family household running smoothly, creates structure in our home, prevents many arguments, and gets us through daily tasks quickly and efficiently, thus leaving more time for other things.
Creating regular and consistent schedules and systems in your home will help you feel more successful as a parent. When life gets busy, setting specific routines can help you simplify your workload and elevate your family life, allowing you to feel more control in your everyday family life.
One of my favorite systems that we have in place in our home is our afternoon schedule. When my oldest was in first grade, I really felt like we needed time to do homework, reading, and any other projects and assignments that came up. So we set up a homework area by the kitchen table. When my kids came home from school, the first thing we did was sit down and work on their homework. I made sure that my schedule was open as well so I could be there to help if needed.
Amazingly, within a year or so, it had become such a habit for my kids that when friends would want to play with them right after school, they would tell them they could play after their homework was done. Usually, they still had time to play with friends before dinner. Here is a picture of my kids all doing their homework on the porch. Great way to enjoy the nice day!
What I have learned over the years of following this system is that as teenagers, my kids continued to follow this routine. It is such a part of them now that they still do their homework first as soon as they get home (or first thing in the morning on social distance days). Now, I don’t have to nag them or follow through on their homework, they just do it. This one simple routine has saved us so much stress and potential headaches. It had a major effect on their ability to get good grades and prioritize important things in our lives. I’ve also found that when they have a question, they could ask each other!
I also found that I have really enjoyed this special time after school with my kids. I like to call it my “golden hour” because my kids are super chatty right after they get home from school. Once we get done talking, homework is done quickly and that leaves us more time after dinner to have fun together!
It feels like there are things that always need to be done in our home. These systems will help simplify your life! Setting up specific schedules and systems in your home will allow you to create a home environment that can flow seamlessly, elevating your time together as a family.
Over the next few months, I will continue to add systems and schedules to the website that will inspire you to create the systems and schedules specific to your own family!
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