I stopped by the library to pick up a stack of books that our local librarian was holding for me at the circulation desk. Our 11-year old had also asked me to snag The Princess Academy, so I headed into the quaint children’s section first.
I was so happy to see a friend of mine there. Her three beautiful children – all under 4 years old – were playing at the train table. They seemed so content.
But, that mama, well she looked at me with wide eyes and said, “I don’t think I’m going to make it. How do you get through the winter with little children?”
She went on to explain that they have a tiny living room and that she is at her whit’s end with the crankiness. She said that every other minute, one of them cries. And her daughter – oh, her 2 year old daughter – she’s just mean sometimes, she said. “I feel so unChristian that I have these difficult children! What should I do?”
I assured her that it is much harder to have 3 children-under-4, than 5 children-under-11. (Big kids are hope-bringers and help-bringers. I love them.)
I wished she could see into our home just once as we struggle with the same things. We’re a little stir-crazy, too. We whine and argue and yell at each other. At least she could see that we’re in this together.
There is no doubt about it, winter is long and wearying on the mother of young children.
But we can make it to the other side.
3 simple things to make it through winter:
Play background music.
Beautiful background music is like a magic show around here. It transforms a cranky atmosphere into a peaceful one, instantly. I’ve noticed that my children play happily when music is wafting around. Try it: sit your children at the kitchen table with play-doh and turn on the Elizabeth Mitchell Pandora station. You will be amazed at the peace that fills your home.
Of course, there is always a good reason to play some spunky dance music, too. Select something more upbeat when you want to lighten the mood and get your blood pumping.
2. G0 outside.
It is so hard to go outside with little ones, but it couldn’t be more important. The hard work you put into it will pay off in happier, healthier kids. I’m sure of it.
(Just a tip: Don’t ask them if they want to go outside. They will say, “no.” Just say, “Let’s go play soccer! Do you want to put your shoes on or should I?” Be happy. Bundle up. It will be worth it if you stay out there for 5 whole minutes. Fill a bird feeder. Get the mail. Look for animal tracks or pinecones. Play tag.)
When my children were younger, I made a Winter Challenge Chart on a piece of yellow construction paper. The Challenge was… “Go outside for 3 minutes.” Yes, this was the equivalent of an xtream winter sport. We kept the chart by the door and we did that thing. Of course, it took 20 minutes to get everyone’s boots, coats, and mittens on. I considered that a worthwhile 30 minute activity.
By the way, guess who will be boosted the most with a little sunshine? You.
3. Listen to encouragement about motherhood as often as possible.
I listen to Sally Clarkson’s “At Home With Sally” podcast almost every day. (New to podcasts? Download the app “Podcast Republic” and search for “At Home With Sally.” Click “Subscribe” and download any podcasts that look interesting to you.)
I need to hear that my work is noble, that it matters, that I am running a marathon, doing Kingdom work, and raising adults who will do great things for God. I need real, audible voice from the “great cloud of witnesses” cheering me on from day to day.
Get yourself some cheerleaders, especially now when you feel like quitting.
I’ll be the first. “You can do this. You can love those little ones today. You are the perfect person to help them through their winter struggles and give them a vision of transformation. God is gently holding you as you gently hold them. Keep on! You are going to make it.”
(Do you know a mother of young children who could benefit from this post? Send it along! And maybe offer to help her through one more winter’s day.)