It’s naptime and the other children are asleep, and you’re almost dancing with excitement, anticipating all you will accomplish (and all the forbidden snacks you might eat) during this golden one and a half hours. But your remaining dearest little child has begun a new phase in which she battles hard when she wants her way, and your two year old is resisting her nap with violent force that you didn’t even know a 25-pound body could muster.
You try everything. Of course you’ve tried to reason with her and hold her, but she writhes away and screams. You’ve disciplined her, to no effect. You try to sing and pray above her screams, but she just screams louder. Her face is turning almost purple and you’re utterly clueless. Finally you close the door to her bedroom and sit in front of it, preventing her from escaping, just putting your head in your hands while she romps around angrily. It’s been at least thirty minutes and you’re at the point where neither of you knows what she wants.
All you can think about is how deeply you wish you could be doing something else. How insane and pointless it is trying to deal with this toddler when she’s so frustrating! But as you’re mentally repeating your whiny mantra of “What a waste of time!”, may a different thought sweeten the air:
“This is one of the most important moments in her life. And yours.”
Here are at least three ways tantrums can be defining moments:
1) This moment---assuming you persist in loving her and do not succumb to her rebellion---you are teaching her that she is not her own God. She is learning about the emptiness of self-reliance and how sin ruins everything. Even if you don’t tell her anything about Jesus in this time, sin is showing itself to be a harsh master, and the good news of Jesus will fall on ears more primed to hear it.
As Jesus said, it’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. By not downplaying the wrongness of what your child is doing, you are trying to rescue her soul!
2) This moment she is learning that you love her. Handing her the iPad, throwing her some fruit snacks, or allowing her to skip the nap, will likely calm her down and give a sense of peacefulness between you. (I would know, because unfortunately I’ve taken the easy way out many times!) It would even modify behavior.
But changing how your child acts is not parenting. That does not prove that you love her.
On the contrary, even if all your attempts at reaching her in her tantrums are wrong, at least she knows you’re trying. She needs to know that no matter how frustrating she’s being, nothing can separate her from your love for her. Nothing can mar your affection. And sometimes the best way to show affection to your child is to discipline her. (The Lord disciplines those He loves.)
3) This moment shapes you as a person. Guiding a hurting and angry little heart is an enormous privilege, and though it would be great if all your guidance could happen while you’re having a happy conversation at breakfast, that’s not how life works. Usually the biggest opportunities for loving your kids will come in crucible-scenarios, and in those tricky times, you’re probably growing as a person more than she is. Anything that shows you your need for the LORD is a good thing.
Remember that God is sovereign over all things. Even when a huge tantrum comes as you’re heading out the door for church or you’re in the checkout line at Target, just remember that He loves you and is giving you good providence. Thank Him for it. Ask for His help. Goodness and mercy are following you all the days of your life!
Photo by Bethany Petrik on Flickr.
Think about it: would God make child-rearing so expensive that most families can barely afford even one child?
A lot of my friends are pregnant right now, and a recurring theme I hear is “Babies are so expensive!” Our culture would certainly make it seem that way. Apparently the average middle-income family spends $12,000 on their baby’s first year.
Given that I’ve had three babies in the past four years—and that our income was $20,000 for our baby’s first year, yet we never had to go into debt—I think I can debunk that “babies are expensive” myth pretty quickly.
Of course every baby (and mother!) has different needs, but we have to remember that mothers all around the world and from all of history have been having babies and thriving on significantly less money than we think we need to spend on babies today. Motherhood is frustrating and difficult but certainly simpler than everyone wants us to think.
I’m not trying to be judgmental or tell every mom that if they’re using a baby swing or infant formula they’re doing a bad job, but I just want you to know that in most cases we really don’t need to be spending all this money on our babies and children.
Here are some things you can most likely cut out of your first-year baby budget, especially if you’re a stay-at-home-mom:
1. New Clothes ($720)
Sure, a well-dressed baby is cute, but is it worth it to go into debt over your infant's appearance?
-Yard. Sales. ($30.)
Scan suburbia in spring and fall (primarily April and October) and you’ll find community yard sales when you can hit 10-30 sales in one morning. You should have no problem finding baby clothes for sale; if you see a lot of them, make an offer on the whole lot.
-Hand-me-downs (free). This is a great part of being a member in a community. Other moms in your church or group can probably help you out in this area and they will be delighted to clear their closets. (Shout-out to all the wonderful mommies who have given hand-me-downs to me!)
2. Complex Travel Carrier Systems ($250) and Swings ($100)
You need a carseat, that’s for sure. But you do not need to be carrying your baby around in the carseat or transferring the carseat to a stroller. The Journal of Pediatrics even says it’s dangerous for kids to be strapped in all the time.
Alternative: Use a sling, wrap, Boba, Ergo, etc. Buy one used or make your own ($15.) Skin to skin is so good for you and your baby.
3) Baby Food and feeding accessories ($300)
Believe it or not, a breastfed baby does not need any solid food its first year for nutrition. The main purpose of solids is to help develop hand/eye coordination and introduce textures and different tastes. And you don’t need to spend all that money and preparation/cleanup time.
Alternative: Baby-Led Weaning ($0.) Look for the signs for when they’re ready, then you can go straight to introducing table food at 6 or 7 months or so. Plus you’ll save a lot of time and frustration, and your baby will eat when you eat. They tend to love the independence too!
4) A Fancy New Crib with Fancy Bedding ($450)
Your baby has just been in a really weird position in your body for 9 months and does not in any way need plush bedding. Crib bumpers, pillows, and blankets, are unsafe for baby anyway.
-Pack-n-Play ($30 used) or a used crib ($50) from Craigslist, yard sale, or a friend (just make sure it’s safe and holds up to today’s standards!)
-Co-sleeping (free.) This is controversial because babies have been hurt by co-sleeping, but it’s the most natural thing in the world and mothers have been doing it forever, as long as you take measures to do it safely (breastfeeding, careful with blankets, no smoking or alcohol, baby isn’t adjacent to Daddy), I can’t recommend co-sleeping enough.
5) Books and Toys From the Store ($100)
Baby toys are so expensive, and the sad things is that there’s a hefty chance the child won’t even show any interest in them.
-Yard sales ($15); everyone is always trying to get rid of books toys that are certainly 80-90% off store price and oftentimes in like-new condition.
-Most babies will be content to play with bowls or measuring cups or washcloths or whatever safe things you have lying around. They really don’t need toys. (Free.)
-The library offers plenty of board books that are excellent. (Free.)
6) Baby Classes ($300)
Baby & Me, Gymboree Play and Learn, etc. are all great ways to stimulate your baby’s mind, enjoy him/her, and meet other moms, but you simply do not need to be paying money for this.
-Library (Free.) My county, at least, has no shortage of awesome programs for every age!
-Family Resource Center (Free). Again, my county offers excellent classes that normally would cost a lot of money but are completely free of charge as long as you sign up and commit to them. This place also offers a variety of resources such as lactation consultants, dental clinics, etc.!
There are a lot of other choices you can make to save money (staying at home ends up saving a lot of money if you calculate formula and childcare costs) but of course every family is different and parenting is hard and awesome no matter how you do it. Way to go, moms and dads!
I’ve read a lot of storybooks that explain the good news of Jesus and overarching message of the Bible to children, and there are many excellent ones. But I really do think I’ve found the best one, and it’s from The Good Book Company and their series Tales That Tell the Truth. The Garden, the Curtain, and the Cross is written by Carl Lafterton and illustrated by Catalina Echeverri, and I simply cannot stop reading it to my kids. It’s so good for me.
Unlike most of other storybooks, there really aren’t many words, but 66 books of powerful truth about God has been packed into tiny little sentences that make perfect sense to little toddler-ears. The whole theme of the book is summarized in an excellent little catchphrase to which my children love to chant and wag their fingers: “It is wonderful to live with Him, but because of your sin, you can’t come in!” The separation between God that started in the garden of Eden and continued to the temple has kept us from the perfect enjoyment for which we were made, but Christ has torn the separation and risen again, and now our sins are forgiven and we can come in and know the Lord.
The illustrations are wonderful. They’re creative, modern, whimsical, and fun. I love the depiction of Heaven and how all the believers are wearing crowns. I love how happy Adam and Eve were.
You can tell that this book was made with much effort, care, and deep theological knowledge that translates to simple but beautiful truths about mankind and our relationship with God. My kids (2 and 3 years old) loved it and I’m sure younger and older kids would enjoy it too.
You can watch the book on Youtube, but I think it’s worth it to go ahead and purchase the physical copy or ebook.
Praise God that we can know Him and enjoy Him forever!
Disclosure: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
I love the recent viral commercial for an Indian detergent company that depicts a father feeling sorrowful that he and his generation modeled the idea that men get to sit on the couch and watch TV while women do all the housework and parenting. The commercial and #ShareTheLoad movement attempts to break down cycles of such established roles. If you’ve ever read my blog before you know that I am not a feminist, but I liked the commercial a lot.
I really think men should get off the couch and in the kitchen.
I think they should put their kids to bed and help with homework and brushing teeth.
I think they should care about their wives enough to say "You're so good at ____ and I know you really enjoy it. How can I help you have the time and resources to do that sometimes?”
But I will not credit modernism/feminism/progressive thinking for coming up with this idea that men should be serving their wives and families.
Sorry, but it's not very novel. Jesus started it.
This might sound disagreeable to some who think Christianity is bad for women. Men are to be the head of the family. Wives are to submit to their husbands. Women can't be elders in a church. Best case scenario is that women get the short end of the stick; others like to use words like misogynyistic, patriarchal, etc.
As a strong-willed woman, wife, and Christian who affirms and treasures the Bible, I can honestly say that Christianity is very, very good for women. I can imagine no other belief system that offers us as much dignity, security, and community.
Modern women tend to revile the biblical command that wives should submit to their husbands, but if they read the very next verse (Ephesians 5:25) they'll see that husbands are supposed to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. That's a huuuuge call for men and, if Christian men are seeking to obey the Bible, then leaving all the work to the wife is not an option. Jesus charges men to be plotting for her joy, seeking every opportunity to nourish her as best he can. Over and over again He calls men to care for widows, to run far away from thoughts and activities that would objectify or devalue women.
Do I personally believe that women are best suited for the role of homemaker and as the primary nurturer of children? Biblically, biologically, historically, and from personal experience I would say YES. I do not think my husband---as amazing as he is---could do my job nearly as well as I can. I'm better at multitasking and, well, breastfeeding, for example.
Come visit my church family (Which, by the way, largely affirms complementarian values) and you will see husbands doing the dishes and putting the kids to bed and sending their wives off for beach trips or Starbucks afternoon getaways. It's not uncommon at all. You will see single men treating single women with respect. You will see them care for the older women who are alone. This is not as a result of modern thinking. This is because the people in my church love Jesus and Jesus says true greatness is achieved through serving others.
Most of the time these men aren't doing the dishes because of practicality. I'm a stay at home mom and my husband is a business owner with a lot on his plate. We agreed beforehand on our responsibilities. So when he sits down next to me to fold the laundry, he's doing it because that's exactly the type of thing Jesus would do and Jesus has taught us both how we can love each other best.
If men are treating women like they are not worth as much, they're not doing it because of the Bible but because they must clearly not be reading their Bibles.
So yes, #ShareTheLoad, men; do not expect women to do all the work while you pursue your own interests to your heart's delight. Women, encourage your men to know the difference between macho chauvinism and genuine, noble manhood.
But know that all this good stuff about servanthood is not only not antithetical to the Bible but actually starts from the Bible.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 25, married to a rad guy, and raising three little people ages 1,3, and 5...and I'm now expecting my fourth. I like lime green, Coke icees, and I wear my Crocs until they have holes in them...or melt.
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Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today