Last month I began answering questions posed to me by a mom with two small children. Her desire is to have many children and the energy to keep up with them all. At the age of fifty-one with eight children, three of whom are now adults age twenty-five and older, I can relate to her thoughts and concerns. I asked her permission to use her letter and answer her questions in these Mom’s Corners. As a reminder, here is the information she gave me with her questions:
“I have just two children. They are both very young, and I am very tired. I would love for our family to keep growing, and I dream of having LOTS of children, but I am worried about how I’m going to find the energy to keep up with everyone. I am having a hard time with my energy levels now. I do take naps nearly everyday. I am naturally a night owl, but would LOVE to be an early riser. I really need to get up earlier than everyone to get everything done in the day. But it seems hopeless to be able to do so. Do young children really take so much energy out of you like people say? I don’t like that excuse for being tired, but the daily chores of changing two diapers, changing two outfits, feeding two extra people, brushing mine and their teeth, and finally finishing about the time a snack or lunch is needed seems like it zaps my energy. Being overwhelmed when you are tired only makes things harder. I need some encouragement from those who have had their children close together, and any advice on how to keep myself healthy while having children and managing them.” A young mom (used with permission)
While I see waiting on the Lord as ultimately the most important aspect of gaining energy for being home with and raising little children, I also highly endorse the use of a daily schedule. Looking back on my days with little children, I realize what a bountiful blessing my schedule was. It gave direction for both my time and my children’s time. I had a concrete plan for the day—to accomplish the tasks I needed to do and to productively spend time with the children. The schedule became the framework for helping me receive more children into my family. The schedule gave me time to teach my children how to do their chores and become responsible. It helped me with my priorities for my time with my children such as reading to them, playing with them, doing preschool activities, and working with them.
I would encourage this mom that even though she is a night owl, she should get to bed at night early enough that she can wake up in the morning before the children. Her time in the Word is imperative to the daily preparation of her heart for her hours of mothering and homemaking. When we change habits, it takes prayer, effort, and determination. Upon choosing to begin going to bed at a reasonable time, one might lie in bed the first few nights unable to get to sleep. However, if we stay the course of going to bed and getting up at the determined times, we will soon find ourselves ready to go to sleep at the earlier bedtime.
I believe a schedule could be the key to finding solutions for the issues with which this young mom is struggling, beginning with her time in the Word. Working with the schedule, we can find the needed bedtime for our children so that we are waking them up when we want them to wake up in the morning—a time that is just after we have our personal Bible and prayer time. The schedule helps Mom, working with her husband, to find the proper time to go to bed each night so that she can arise in the morning to spend time with the Lord Jesus. It can also enable her to accomplish other early morning tasks she might want to do, such as making her husband’s lunch or exercising before he goes to work.
The schedule can ensure that a mom is receiving an adequate amount of sleep. Here is a link to a Mom’s Corner I wrote on the topic of sleep. If she is getting a good night’s sleep, has a nap in the afternoon, and is still tired during the day, she would probably want to seek medical attention to determine whether there is something causing her excessive tiredness such as a thyroid problem or other treatable medical condition. A day with busy children and toddlers does take energy, but shouldn’t, as this mom is indicating, cause her to be “very tired” and “zap my energy.”
Sometimes young mothers neglect a healthy diet and therefore undermine what would be of great benefit to them: to have the energy they need for their active and growing families. The time investment in preparing nutritious food will pay dividends in the family’s overall health and in developing good eating habits in the children. From the time my children were about two years of age, I began including them as meal preparation and cleanup helpers. When they were young, they were little real help, but they were productively occupied, learning new skills, and fellowshipping with Mommy. As they grew older, some of my time pressures were relieved because the children were able to do much of the kitchen work, reducing the amount of meal jobs that I had to accomplish.
Weather permitting, when the children were young, I always took them for a walk. That way I was getting exercise, and they were burning off some of their abundant energy. The walking was good for my health and the children’s as well. The mom who was asking these questions had also indicated to me that she wouldn’t feel safe walking in her neighborhood. In that case, if she has transportation, she could drive to a safer neighborhood.