Before I answer your questions I want to know: have you heard the birds singing outside your window yet? I have, which means spring is near! As a Michigan dweller, this is very exciting. The birds that flutter outside our windows are precious to me. Their songs are a comfort after a long stretch of winter. In this post I’m answering your questions on exercise, getting out of the house, and how to stay calm with young children at home. Take heart, growth is coming, both outside and inside our homes…
Q: Do you exercise regularly?
Not at a gym. But I’m good at breaking a sweat while power cleaning our home, almost always having a baby in my arms (or a child on my hip), and walking our dog Bauer. My heart rate shoots up while wrangling toddlers to the dinner table, chasing bare buns down the hallway towards the bath tub, and when my husband walks in the door after a long week of work. And if that’s not enough, it’s frequent we make the room dark and have dance parties for seventeen minutes of cardio, again with a baby on my hip. I’d say, based on my ability to fall asleep for a quick nap each afternoon, I get plenty of exercise.
Q: What are you doing to take care of yourself on a weekly/daily basis?
Really trying to get enough sleep at night (7+ hours; I work VERY hard to make this happen), healthy meals (I mostly avoid carbs & sugar), and intentional creative time. I do all of these things daily and weekly, some at greater lengths than others. But all three happen every day. I don’t like the idea of a schedule but I have found scribbling notes on paper left on the kitchen table usually becomes home to “the things that must get done today”. This helps so me much. Writing out a typical schedule is also a great way to see what I’m spending my time on that’s unnecessary. Have you ever done that? Sometimes in the moment a task seems necessary but once I zoom out it’s very clear it’s not necessary. Study yourself for a week. What are your habits? What are your wishes or goals? What things make you a healthy woman, across all fronts? What causes your stress or frustration? Study yourself, then use your results to take care of yourself.
Q: How do you get out of the house with so many littles who are on different nap schedules?
There are definitely seasons when I don’t get out of the house often. Homeschooling helps give us a healthy structure, and it definitely played a part in our decision to homeschool. I don’t like being pulled in too many directions. When I’m all over the place my mind feels scattered, like I’m not doing anything well. See also: I dis-like multitasking. My four children are very close in age, and they’re also young in age. Our oldest child is 6yo and from there we have a 4.5yo, almost 3yo, and a 9 month old. The concept, “do what works best for your family” is really what we’ve had to do. It doesn’t work well for us to be away from home (or out & about) all the time. It’s hard to sleep in beds other than our own. As for errands, I almost exclusively shop for groceries and household essentials at places that offer curbside pickup or delivery. This way I can pick up our order on the way home from something else, eliminating a variety of chaos.
Q: How do you stay calm with children when they’re obviously defying you?
I mean, I don’t always stay calm. But I’ve learned it’s OK to share with my children when I’m frustrated over their disobedience. I’m absolutely encouraged by the way Susanna Welsey threw her apron over her head to pray. I’ve found by own version of crying out to God and that’s to simply walk into a quiet room and say aloud, “Jesus help me. Jesus be with me. Jesus I need you. Thank you for walking with me always ” It is so comforting to call upon the Lord because I know he hears me, and the Bible reminds us of this (Psalm 34:17). So I usually step into a quiet room, which my older children have begun to notice. This allows us to have a proper discussion about their behavior once the scene quiets down. With my younger children, I remember it’s my job to teach them to behave, and this in itself gives me extra patience. A younger child can receive a time out in a crib or inside a room with a baby gate for a couple minutes (minutes = the age of the child). I try to stay with that child and teach them WHY they are in trouble and WHAT I expect of them without walking away completely. The point isn’t to distance myself from them, it’s to teach them right from wrong. Although, sometimes a little distance is necessary. Lastly, think about what is the root of their defying behavior. Are they hungry or in need of quality time or fresh air? Remember as their mom, you bring wisdom and unending love to the relationship. Be a loving leader for your children as you kneel down to their level and offer your gentle comfort.
I WANT TO ADD: I truly believe a dose of fresh air will help everyone to feel better. Get outside and hear the birds sing that we see from our windows, provide your children with a runway to stretch their growing leg. Let the shock of crisp air to our faces provide refreshment to all. Committing to exercise (in whatever form), taking care of yourself on a daily/weekly basis, getting out of the house with children, and staying calm during defying moments is much easier to handle with fresh air at your side.
Over the years a small group of women have poured into me with their wisdom. I write to share what I’ve learned from my experiences, but I also write for myself so I don’t sit in discouragement or overwhelm. xx