My daughter has just placed "a magic crown" on my head that she says will turn me into a princess. Yes, as I type this note of encouragement to you, I'm wearing Cinderella's crown…and exercise clothes. It's precious moments like these that remind me of the blessing of being a mom.
Even while my husband was jobless, I was blessed to be a stay at home mom, a role I have always taken very seriously.
Sadly, the stress of not having a lot of money to come and go on, trying to keep my husband from falling into a deeper depression, and worrying about whether or not he would ever work again, consumed my mind and led to some not so proud parenting moments.
I lacked patience and would easily snap at the girls or break into a ball of tears which was something my then 2 year old and 5 year old didn't need to be confused by. I struggled to smile or laugh with my daughters, too. Most days, I simply went through the motions of life, almost numb. I also found myself lacking creative solutions which led to the response of yelling a lot.
It wasn't me. It wasn't who I had ever been or who I wanted to be. Luckily, (or not so luckily) I had three years to figure out how to be the best mom I could be, despite our difficult financial situation.
Fellow moms, we are human and broken. We are hurting and frightened. We are determined to do our part, yet are too exhausted to know where to begin. When life is stressful, motherhood isn't always, as my daughters like to say, "easy peasy lemon squeezy."
Motherhood IS always a blessing though.
Here are a few ways you can be the best mom possible during this difficult time:
Start Your Day In Prayer
I can't speak strongly enough about this. God will strengthen you and pour His peace over your day, but first you must seek Him and His kingdom. You need to start your day before everyone else wakes up, in quiet prayer with the Lord. Ask Him to guide your day. Ask Him to give you peace. Ask him to eliminate your fear and concerns. Ask Him to help you be the best mom possible to your children. Trust me. He will answer those prayers when you sincerely seek Him and pour your heart out.
Get Some Fresh Air
Money is tight and it's tempting to just stay home all the time, but it's not good for your mental health and it's not good for your kiddos either. Get outside. Take the kids to the playground and run around with them in the sunshine. Let your mind be free for an hour to play with your children and soak up their awesomeness. They are a part of you. Watch them. Laugh with them. Love them. Show them what it means to live fully in the moment.
Perhaps today is a rainy day. Put on rain gear and go stomp in the puddles. Is it cold and snowy? Bundle up and go build a snowman or have a snowball fight. None of these things cost money, and all of them create precious memories while teaching your children how to be strong in the storms of life.
Volunteer To Help Others
With your kids, look for ways to serve others who have more of a need than you do. There is always someone out there whose problems and struggles are far worse than our own. Check with your local church. Take the family to help out at a soup kitchen. Make a few brown bag lunches and go distribute them to the homeless people in your community. This will not only teach your children valuable lessons of service but it will also open your eyes to just how blessed you and your family are. Sometimes we just need to change our focus.
Take Care Of Yourself
I know you've heard this before, but I'm going to say it anyway. If you don't take time to take care of yourself and your own needs, then you won't be any good to your children.
- Set time aside each day to sit down and read a good book.
- Get dressed, fix your hair, and put on some makeup.
- Take a long bubble bath from time to time.
- Be sure you're getting enough sleep.
- Take your vitamins regularly.
- Eat a well balanced diet.
- Do your best to continue living life normal.
- Laugh and visit with your favorite friends.
- Attend a women's retreat at your church.
All of these ideas are ways to help you feel your best and when you feel your best, the way your respond to your children (and husband) will be more positive and loving.
Discuss Money Issues With Your Kids
I suggest this hesitantly. It really depends on your circumstances and how old your children are. You certainly don't want to scare them with the frightening details, but it can be helpful to explain to them what is happening and why mommy and daddy are so stressed out. Sometimes just talking to our children about real life stuff helps them to feel trusted, appreciated, and truly a part of the family. If your kids are older, discussing the financial concerns will help set their expectations for what money is or is not available for things like allowance, spending money, or the latest and greatest toy that all their friends have.
Instead Of Fretting, Say I Love You
This is a really effective method of interrupting worry and replacing it with something productive. Every time you catch yourself worrying about something that you clearly have no control over, stop whatever you're doing, and go hug your children. Tell them you love them. Spend a few minutes in their world with them. Listen to what they have to tell you. Work on a puzzle together, or enjoy a favorite treat with them.
Take control of your thoughts and don't allow yourself to get all upset over your circumstances. Remember, God's got this.
Do you have anything to add to this list? I'd love for you to share.