I love mothers. I especially love mothers of young children. I love how you love. I know it’s not easy and I know it’s not always pretty, but you keep doing what needs to be done for your little people.
In the last two weeks, I have been writing about Creating a Beautiful Family Culture in a World that Seemingly Wants to Destroy Families. I have been writing from my current vantage point as a mother with three kids out of college, one in college, three in high school and one fifth grader.
They can all wipe and flush and most don’t have to be reminded to wash their hands.
All of them take showers by themselves on a regular basis. They brush and floss and get dressed by themselves. Their clothes are not too wrinkled. Most of them remember to use deodorant.
I don’t have a child hanging on my leg, one on my hip and one attached to my breast. I don’t have whiners and head-bangers. I no longer have kids with snot hanging down to their chins. I don’t have to take time out of my day to sit down and spoon feed anyone. My brain is no longer focused on keeping all of the children safe from scissors and stairwells.
I now go to the bathroom BY MYSELF and no one knocks on the door wondering where I am.
My days are no longer spent cleaning up after kids and playing Go Fish.
Yes, that time had an extremely special place and I am grateful I was able to be there for my kids but truth be told, I am grateful to be beyond that stage. Raising small children takes constant effort, constant work, constant energy.
Since my babies are past that stage, I now have the mental freedom to actually focus on and write about topics like How to Create a Beautiful Family Culture and I love that.
But since I spent so many years in the trenches with my babies, I want to take a moment and address you, Mother of Young Ones.
Most of us moms with older kids can easily apply the 80/20 Rule. We can step back and look at the 20% of activities that will yield 80% of our results.
We can ask ourselves, “What is it that we want to achieve this week? This month? This year?” And then we can take our extra mental energy and ponder what 20% of our efforts will be the key drivers for that change to take place. (I’m a big proponent of intentional living.)
Part of my 20% is figuring out the needs of my teens and preteens and creating family rituals that everyone enjoys. It is about working together to create the sort of family that we want to be. I get to ask and receive their (mostly) thoughtful input.
As we commit to that 20%, it’s as if All Is Right in The World. We know we cannot be on the mark constantly, but focusing 20% of our attention makes us all feel more connected 80% of the time.
Why does the 80/20 Rule work? Well, I have lived enough days that I know that perfection doesn’t exist. There is NO SUCH THING as 100% perfect peace, perfect home, perfect relationships. They (the family/home dynamic) all pretty much suck the life out of us at times. But if we can focus on the “rocks of life,” or the 20%, it’s truly golden.
As a mom of littles, you need to adjust.
Instead of the 80/20 Rule, apply the “98/2” Rule.
Even as a sleep-deprived woman, I know you want to create a beautiful family, too. And you CAN do that by getting a teeny tiny bit more intentional today.
So what are the 2% of activities that you could focus on that would yield 98% results?
Ask yourself: What ONE small change could I do to make this family run smoother and me feel calmer?
Whenever you read a mom blog about Doing All The Things, and especially when you read my blog about Creating a Beautiful Family Culture, please ratchet back.
You are doing something marvelous. You are doing something magnificent.
What you are doing on a minute-to-minute basis IS CREATING A BEAUTIFUL FAMILY CULTURE.
You are EVERYTHING to your little people. You are their bright shining hello for the start of their day. You are the warm eyes and the soft smile and the gentle touch. You are the soothing balm when they fall. You are their world.
Now, I know what you are thinking. You are bringing to mind all of the times when you didn’t have warm eyes, a soft smile or gentle touch. You are thinking of the times when you lost your cool and blew your top.
Yep. That’s part of it, too. But sometimes the kiddos need to know that Mama Means Business. So let go of your feeling of inadequacy. Even the calmest women would be stretched thin with three or four littles.
I may have told a priest in confession -when I was dealing with a three year old, a 18-month old and an infant- that if Mother Teresa would be living my life, she’d probably be drinking straight from the vodka bottle.
And yet I had FIVE MORE CHILDREN. It was difficult and crazy and intense. BUT WORTH IT. I love my life and I love having 8 kids.
I am overwhelmingly, achingly proud of your openness to life when it would be easier to put up the border control.
You are doing amazing things, Mama. I get your life and I get your desire to Do More.
And that desire is great. (I am happy to report that they all do grow up.) But for now, don’t get too caught up in the world of “I Must Keep Up.”
Focus on the 2%. Read your toddler’s favorite book to him or her. Again. Clean your kitchen sink or make your bed. Those little things are the big things when you are in survival mode. And they can make you feel alive and ready for the day.
I am proud of you, sister.
P.S. If you and your husband want to start a new tradition of connection (adding in your kids when they are old enough), check out this post: One Simple Way to Create Connection.
We even did the activity over Thanksgiving break, with three guests in attendance. We were shocked at how that one little activity opened up the way for real connection. It was glorious.
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