A sweet friend who is expecting her third child wrote me the other day asking for any advice or tips I have for transitioning from two to three children. So to my dear friend, and to anyone else who has asked the same question, this message is for you.
This post, though, can apply to any mother–whether you have one child or 10 children. I wish I would have known these things with my first child, or my second, or my third. But now I do, and I’m so grateful for what I’ve learned.
I can’t say I have any great wisdom or surefire secrets, but I can offer a few little ideas from my own experience, and perhaps they will help you too. So take a deep breath, relax, and read on.
- Before anything else, know this: You are cut out for motherhood and for mothering the three sweet children you have been sent. The very fact that you have been entrusted with this stewardship is a declaration that with the Lord’s help, you can do it. He trusts you, so trust yourself. And when the whispering doubts creep into your mind, dissolve them with positive thoughts and faith in Jesus Christ.
- Your heart always has room. Just because you only have two hands and you think you’re outnumbered with three children, your heart never gets too full. Yet, even though your love augments naturally, your time does not. So take just a few minutes to spend with each child individually. Maybe your daughter wants to have a tea party with you. Sit down for a few minutes and eat the pretend sprinkle cookies. Maybe your son just walked through the door from school and needs a little cuddle or a listening ear to hear all about his day. Do your hobbies with them and help them with theirs. It doesn’t need to be much or fancy, because as you set aside this heart time for your children in whatever way you choose, you will feel that your time is sufficient.
- Every routine is perfect–for now. It used to bother me that my daily routine changed almost every month as my new baby required adjusted feeding schedules and nap times. I wondered why I could never get it right. Then I realized that there is no “right” schedule. Whatever routine you create is perfect–for now. And in a few weeks or a few months, a new routine will emerge and that one will be perfect too. Go with the flow and trust that every time your schedule needs to be changed up, you will find another perfect rhythm.
- Your children need YOU–not your Pinterest boards. Do you ever see every gourmet recipe, every natural homemade cleaner, every math activity, every art project, every creative home decor project and wonder how these women do it all?? They don’t. The mother you see baking the decadent desserts may not do intricate preschool lessons with her children. The mother who embraces complex art projects may not have an immaculately clean home. You see, we have this perception problem–thinking that we have to compile all these pins and become this wholly perfect mother. It’s simply not true. We give and take. And our children love us for what WE offer. So choose what you love and bring your children into your circle. If you love to read, read to and with your children. Make up stories and act out skits. But maybe that’s not your thing. If you love to bake, create lovely snacks and let your children help you in the kitchen or play with play-doh while you cook. If you love to watercolor, let your children paint their own masterpieces right alongside you. Don’t do anything out of guilt–only love. This is the secret to contentment in motherhood.
- Nourish yourself. If there is anything I have learned it is this: you have to fill up your own well in order to give water to others. So don’t let your well run dry. Fill it daily with the things that nourish your body, mind, and soul. Spiritual anchors like prayer, scripture study, and temple attendance will connect you to heaven and fill you with the Spirit. Physical habits like exercise that you love, drinking plenty of water, eating healthy foods, and getting enough sleep are pretty much non-negotiable. When I do these things I feel strong and confident. When I don’t, my life suffers. Other practices such as meditation, continual learning, gratitude, and taking a break to spend time doing the things you love will help your mind and emotions stay fit. Customize your life-giving practices to fit you and your lifestyle and then put these things in your schedule so they happen. If practiced consistently, these anchors will make the biggest difference in your mothering abilities.
I hope you know you are treasured by your Heavenly Father for the calling you have accepted to be a mother. And you are amazing! If you don’t believe, just pray for Father’s acceptance and you shall surely find.
What wisdom have you mothers gained as you have raised your children? What do you wish you would have known earlier on? I’d love to learn from you!