Two Secrets to Better Parenting

When I was a mother raising seven children, I learned some hard lessons. I wish I had learned them sooner but learn I eventually did. I haven’t forgotten these lessons and I live what I learned back then. It is still making a difference.

I want to introduce you to what I learned by sharing my garden with you. : ) I love gardening, weeding, watering, the harvesting. It can be a ton of work and I must admit there are times I am tired. But I still love gardening.

I used to worry about it much more than I do now. When I was a young gardener, I would go out to the garden in the heat of the day and some of the leaves on my plants would be wilted. I wondered, “Are they dying?” Then to my novice relief the next morning the plants would have revived and looked beautiful, full of life. What was happening?

These wise plants, when the day got hot, pulled their moisture down into their roots and took water from the ground so they could manage the heat of the day. Then as the sun set and the temperatures cooled, they ‘slept’ and awoke ready to begin again and grow.

Mom’s Are Like Garden Plants

Moms are a bit like the plants in my garden. Some days get hot! You know what I mean. A child has a meltdown. Work seems overwhelming. You forget to remain an adult. Yes, we all have hot days, and we wilt. There is no way around hot days. They happen and can happen often. Do you have a plan like the plants in my garden for managing those hot days so you can wake revived the next day? Do you take in enough water, and do you get enough sleep?

When I was a younger mom, I would stay up late reading. After a long day, I would draw a hot bath and sit and read, sometimes till midnight or later. I deserved this time to myself, right? I had just put in hours managing my family and all the work that goes with it. I needed and wanted a break. Many of you probably know how that worked out. The next day I would still be wilted and have another hot day.

Water was another struggle for me. I was so busy that I would let hours go by and forget to drink water. I was lucky to get 8 oz down in a day. I didn’t allow myself to take the time to take in enough water. This was another contributor to my wilting during the ‘hot’ days.

Over a thirty-year span of time, I went three times in prayer to God and asked him why I couldn’t manage better. Each time I got a very clear answer, “Go to bed earlier.” What! How rude. I wasn’t about to do that. After all, I deserved my night hours for myself.

Life never got easier. Parenting never got easier. I just got older and more tired. The third time I asked this same prayer, “Father, what can I do to be able to manage myself and my family better” I got the same response. It was clear, “Go to bed earlier.”

How I Finally Got a Handle On Water and Sleep

I wanted to continue resisting this advice but I knew that I had to commit to doing something different if I wanted a better outcome. I decided that I would go to bed by 10 as often as I could. It was HARD and for a full year, it was hard. However, I had made a commitment to myself, and God, and I went to bed by ten and I got up by 6-7. And you know what, it finally did get easier, and my life got better. I managed my responses better. I was an adult more often. I felt more compassion for the learning curves of my children because my cup wasn’t always empty.

As for the water, I eventually learned enough to know how vital it was for my health and well-being. Again, I realized that I was going to need to make a commitment and then keep it. I began by using a quart jar. I knew how many of those jars I had to empty each day, three. That was my goal. I know, I know, there are really cool water containers and thermos bottles out there, but I didn’t have one and I needed to begin. That first quart-jar helped me keep my commitment to myself.

Twenty years have gone by, and I am still holding firm to these commitments. I promise you that they have made a huge difference in my ability to manage stress, frustration, and the ups and downs of parenting and grandparenting in a four-generation household.

If you are struggling these are two things you might consider. You may feel resistance because you are giving up your alone time. I get it. Some days it is a struggle to find time to sit and read. But I have lived both sides of this coin and I would never go back. Give it a try. Make time for sleep and water.

I promise it will make a difference in your ability to parent well

and with more presence.

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