While our older two daughters have been at a daily art camp for two weeks, I’ve been home with our three youngest children ages 5, 2, and newborn. I love our younger children dearly and am grateful that our family continues to enjoy the little years. In fact, I have a blog post coming about how I am filled-to-the-brim with joy just to keep the nursery rhymes fresh, the Bible stories simple, and the playtimes sweet… for a little while longer.
But this particular post is about how being home with three little children is tough.
Without my two helpful and creative older daughters at home, I’m remembering the weight of “the early years”.
Suddenly, I’ve had to take care of every request for help and come up with every fun idea. (Our just-turned-5-year old does help with all of his might, but… he’s 5 and just starting to make his way in the world.) By now, our older daughters help out in every way. It has been years since most of the household tasks were on my plate. So when the girls aren’t home, I feel like I’m walking around in circles with my arms full of babies and my mind full of limitless tasks to accomplish.
The hardest part about our older daughters’ absence has been missing their fun! The girls are so vibrant: full of ideas, initiative, creativity, laughter, insights, and care for each person in our family. Over the years, they have grown into pillars of our home. We depend on them in countless ways. And we miss them.
These two weeks have reminded me that having several little ones at home – without older children – is an all-consuming calling. In order to thrive this week (well, often just survive), I’ve dusted off 3 old habits from my early motherhood years. I thought I’d share them with you today:
3 Helpful Tips to Survive the Day: For Mothers of Littles
- Keep simple expectations. Each day, I jot down one or two fun things I could do with my children and one or two chores that I want to accomplish. Some days, we complete each thing; some days we don’t. But keeping my “To Do” list short-and-sweet increases my odds of redeeming the time and making the most of our days together.
- Choose a theme for the week to inspire fun ideas.
I haven’t planned a “theme week” in a loooong time, but when I’m home with several young children, a theme tends to invigorate my imagination and engage the children.The first week was “Beach Week” and we did one simple thing each day that had something to do with the beach: we read a beach book, looked at sea shells, played with water, and played with sand. On Friday, we had our “Beach Party” even though it was raining.
(‘Lest you think it was fancy, I’ve decided to share some photos from our half-hour imaginative get-away. This Beach Party was super-simple, but they loved it. In fact, they truly thought they were at the beach. I’m not kidding. I think it was the Beach Boys Pandora station that sealed the deal and transported them to Avalon. It turned out to be a refreshing get-away for me, too; I had a hoot taking photos and enjoying a fruit smoothie of my own.)
- Pace the day in small chunks of time.
Because I have a newborn who is on a 3-hour schedule, I see our day in 3-hour chunks. Each day, I try to focus on what we’re going to do during the baby’s next nap cycle so I don’t get intimidated by the whole day looming before me.This morning, while the baby was sleeping, we played a little baseball outside. Now, we’re inside and the children are playing with play-doh and listening to the Kids’ Praise “Play Ball!” album while I write this post.After the next nap cycle, we’ll pile into the car to drop off our recycling and buy eggs from our Amish neighbors ($1.50 for a dozen fresh eggs!).
After that… well, I’ll think about that later! The point is, with 3 little ones and many, many needs, I do better when I focus on getting through a few hours at a time, intentionally filling that time with something specific to accomplish or enjoy.
I hope these simple tips are helpful to another mother-of-littles out there who needs to know she’s not alone.
BTW: To the mother of young children who looks at bigger families and thinks, “I could NEVER do that!”, take heart.
To tell you the truth, I think that raising 3 little ones at home is harder than raising 5 multi-aged children.
Really! It’s harder.
So, feel like the rock-star you are.
And remember that those little children who need so much from you today will grow in maturity and ability. You’re love and attention during these early years will be a big part of that! May your children grow to love helping the family. May you sign them up for art camp and suddenly realize that they’ve become pillars of your home who love and care for you and your family.