Finding Contentment in the Baby Season

- A post from LifeasMOM contributor, Lauren -

On November 23rd, my family was blessed to welcome our new little Anna Faye.  She is the fourth addition to our family and she has already settled in so beautifully.  It is so funny how it is hard to remember what life was like before a new baby came along!  Surely life wasn’t as good as it is now!

So I’ve had the privilege of welcoming four little babies into this world.  I could write a book, as I’m sure most moms could, of all of the things I’ve learned since becoming a mother: how to successfully potty-train, how to make it through morning sickness, how to survive the early days with a newborn and how to be a fun wife and mother while getting very little sleep.

Still working on that last one…

But the most important thing I’ve learned since becoming a mother?

These early years pass so quickly – do not wish away them away.

It’s so easy to do.  You have a colicky baby who screams for 4+ hours every night.  You have a 20-month old who can tear apart a room in less than 10 seconds and requires constant supervision.  Or you have a little one that just refuses to sleep through the night despite your best efforts.  These are my own real-life examples, by the way.

And your frustrated mind immediately goes to:

I cannot wait for this stage to be over!  Life will be so easy when ______! Fill in the blank with ‘he’s potty-trained’ or ‘she can feed herself’ or any other item with which you are struggling.

Here are a few ways I guard my heart and mind from going down the grass-will-be-greener path:

Make a conscious choice to change your thinking

I will readily admit that it takes discipline and isn’t easy.  It’s hard to have a good attitude when you haven’t slept much for months on end.  I struggle with it literally every day.  But my house runs so much smoother when I choose to think positively and I choose my words and even my thoughts carefully.  While you might have little control over your circumstances, you have almost total control over your thinking.

Stay in God’s Word.

This is so vital to me being able to change my perspective.  When I feel like I am in the throes of chaos, frustration and monotony, I rely heavily on God’s Word.  For example, when I am sick of washing dishes because no one else is old enough to do it (yet), I ponder over Colossians 3:23 –  “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men…”

His Word has the ability to transform my attitude in a way that I cannot do by myself.  It is vital to my being able to live in the moment with my little people — and be content.

If you can change what is not working, then do it!

If you cleaned up 5 potty-training accidents in one day, then maybe it would be better to wait a month and then try again.  If the toddler screams to get her way constantly, set aside a few days to work really hard on getting that behavior in check.

Take time to analyze the things that are most frustrating to you. If you can change some aspect, then make a plan and put it in action.  Sometimes we just need to re-group and decide what is working and what is not.

Be around other mothers in the same stage of parenting.

Thankfully, I have a very good friend who is a mama to many little people like me.  We share similar ideas and beliefs and being with her is just a breath of fresh air!  It rejuvenates me, and I look so forward to spending time with her.

You might have to search in different places (church, the library, the park) but find someone in a similar stage of life and cultivate a friendship with them.  Sharing hard times with someone who truly understands is a great burden-lifter.

Please don’t think I have all of the answers to living in the moment with my children down pat or that I’m a joyful, content mother all of the time.  I am certain my husband can verify that is not the case!  I daily (sometimes hourly!) work on my attitude so I don’t take these precious, albeit hard stages for granted.

Every day, my oldest child proves to me how fleeting time is.  While this is the little boy I see looking back at me, it was just yesterday that I was looking at his precious face for the first time.

I know that there is coming a day all too soon when there won’t be any little ones to spill chocolate milk during dinner and my floor won’t be covered in crumbs.  The day is coming when our house will be eerily quiet and I will look back at these hectic, chaotic times.  And I want to remember them with fondness, not as a time where I just couldn’t wait for time to pass and for everyone to grow up.  I’m striving to live in the moment.  And enjoy it.

Do you find it hard to live in the moment and be content with the stage your child is in?

What strategies do you use so you don’t wish away the days?

– Lauren Hill is privileged to be the mama to 4 wonderful little people.  She blogs about all things laundry at Mama’s Laundry Talk.

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Comments

  1. Oh yes, it is so true :( 20 and 18 now, and I keep saying that they don’t need their mommy anymore but thankfully, they do! :) Excellent words of wisdom … I’m one of those people who will look at a frazzled mom and tell her to enjoy the moment regardless … so cliche but it really is true … I miss my babies and would do so may things differently now.

    • Just curious, Jan, what would you do differently now? I am always trying to glean wisdom from parents of older children. I’m definitely in the throws of baby days, but already look at my six year old and think of things I would do differently with her if I could start over! I’d love to hear your thoughts… :)

  2. Thanks for the reminder. With a sick (throwing up) baby last night, I’m wondering how I’m going to make it through today since I’m exhausted. “Making it through today” shouldn’t be the goal, should it? I need to figure out how to enjoy my three children today despite my tiredness. God gives the strength we need, doesn’t He?

    • @Nikki,

      I’m right there with ya today. All 4 kiddos and I have the flu and we are definitely in survival mode today! Some days the goal IS ‘making it through the day’. I’m so grateful it is not like this every day, though.

      You couldn’t be more right – He does give us the strength we need! And I’m so grateful.

      -Lauren

  3. Thanks for such a beautiful post. I’m on a daily quest for enjoying this special time with my children. I have moved when my 2nd was 9 weeks old I moved across the country with my family…and into my in-laws home. A year later, I still struggle to accept my surroundings, which takes away from this joyous time. I pray, pray, pray and use this great site and others to help me on my journey.

  4. I have to say the FIRST thing I noticed here was that in the picture of your family with the new baby, the oldest two are looking so sweetly at their new sibling, while your toddler looks at YOU… thinking Mom, what have you done??!! :) Haha!! :) We are expecting our fourth baby in May, and while our kids are slightly older (my youngest will be 5 then)… I plan to keep this post in my mind EVERY moment! This has to be our last baby, for medical reasons (unless God intervenes!) :) so I really hope I can keep this focus and NEVER wish a moment away! I know how fast they grow! I can totally relate to what you said about your oldest and how just a short time ago you were looking at him for the first time! Time FLIES! Even when it doesn’t feel like it at the time!! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, this post is great and I plan to share it on my facebook page! :) God bless you and your new bigger family!! :) We so look forward to our expansion arriving soon! :)

    • @Jessica,

      Ha! You are right about my toddler! Thankfully she took right to the new baby and has wanted to ‘help’ ever since!

      Thanks for your kind words. I hope things go smoothly with your new addition coming soon! :)

      -Lauren

  5. Thanks, I definitely needed this reminder. With an 8 month old that STILL isn’t sleeping through the night and a 3 year old that’s very active I feel like I’m just in survival mode lately. An attitude adjustment on my part would probably help the situation a lot.

    • @Holly,

      BTDT with the baby not sleeping through the night at 8 mos. It is terribly hard to have a good attitude when you’ve had such little sleep for so many months.

      I’m so sorry you’re struggling with it. :(

      -Lauren

  6. Jennifer Ott says:

    I needed this today. I felt like you were at our house: colicky baby (we’ve tried everything, and we’ve never had such a fussy baby before!), kids tearing apart the house, etc. Our 4th was born December 11, and I’ve never had such a hard time getting everything done! It’s been a tough adjustment for this Type-A Mommy! Thank you for the encouragement!

    • @Jennifer Ott,

      I’m glad it gave you some encouragement. :) As for your colicky little one – have you tried to wear him/her? I have an Ergo, and while it is pricey it is one of the best baby purchases I ever made. My back hasn’t hurt one time with it and I could literally wear the baby all day if I had to.

      Just a thought.

      -Lauren

      • Jennifer Ott says:

        @Mama Laundry, Ha! He lives in the Moby/ring sling/beco until my back starts hurting or there is something I can’t do wearing him that must be done. I do think he does better when I’ve worn him all morning; he seems to cry less in the evening. Thanks for the advice…and encouragement!

  7. Thanks for posting this! I had the newborn that screamed and wouldn’t sleep for 4 months and I desperately wanted the season to pass and now she is 7 months and I am flabbergasted watching her sit up and hold her own bottle. As they say “the days are long but the years are short”…..it’s amazing how quickly it really does go even though just a few months ago I would have sworn that time had completely stopped!

  8. Thank so much for this post! I only have two little ones but there are days when I have to remind myself to appreciate ever crazy moment. My youngest has just recently become potty trained and as I was getting rid of the diaper changing pad I have been using for the last 5 years, I actually got a bit teary eyed. I am sure the me of 5 years ago would have been surprised to hear that!

  9. Andrea G. says:

    Oh my, you must have also been writing this article for me directly! Our children are around the same age, and my fourth is due in March. My oldest is 5, second is 3 1/2, and third is 2. We got a late start, but knew we needed to hurry if we didn’t want to be senior citizens while they were in highschool! :) It is very trying to say the least, to keep a toddler from screaming all day and the middle one from having a pull-up accident, all while pregnant! Every day is a challenge, and I try to remember that they will never be this young ever again and to enjoy this last pregnancy that I am having. (I’m sure my neighbors will be glad when the choas and the kids’ screaming ends too!) We decided to stop at 4. Every word of encouragement helps, and I look forward to reading more of your articles! Thank you so much!

    Andrea

  10. Lovely post, Lauren! What wonderful reminders for all of us mamas in each of our seasons.

    I try and remember they are just “seasons”. The good and the ugly. God uses both to prune us and grow us into a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. Isn’t it amazing that He even uses our children for this (sanctification) process! Everyday as I see my children’s sin it exposes mine in the most awful way, but to God be the glory

    I used to fill in the blank, as you mentioned above, until I realized it always needed to be filled in order to find peace and happiness! Then I realized to just leave it blank…..haha!

    You are so right, our attitudes are our choice. Choosing to walk it out in contentment can be a daily, even hourly battle. Pouring ourselves in the Word allows us to be equipped with scripture to battle those icky feelings.

    And yes, surrounding yourselves with like minded supportive moms definitely rejuvenates the soul! ;)

    Love you my friend!

  11. This is such a good post. I have a one year old and am expecting my second and am NERVOUS NERVOUS about going through that newborn stage again very shortly. Thanks for the perspective that once they’re grown, you miss it so much.

    It helps when I talk to my mom and mom-in-law and see how precious it is for them to hold and care for a baby – they don’t have that chance every day!

  12. I struggle most with keeping my head above water while attending to the needs of my kids & hubby. We are trying to sell our house & I feel like I have to marathon clean every time we have a showing!

  13. thanks for the beautiful reminder! The time does go fast, and I think I wished away some of that time with my oldest. :( Now, with my youngest, I am in no hurry for him to get to the next stage.
    It does take daily reminders to not get frustrated with what your children cannot (or can!) do.

  14. The opening paragraph speaks to me in so many ways. I’m pregnant with my 2nd, which to many of you with more kids seems like a breeze, but I find myself scared some days. Will I be able to handle a toddler and a baby? Will I be as good a mom to two as I am to one? Will my son feel neglected once the new baby comes? Will the new baby get the same love and attention that my son got when he was born?

    So many questions and fears, but hearing that “Surely it wasn’t as good as it is now” gives me hope and calms my fears.

    Thank you for this post.

  15. Like so many have already posted, I really believe it was absolutely Providential that this was written today.

    I am pregnant with #4, and I have an almost 5 year old, an almost 3 year old, and a 16-mo. old. Like someone else already mentioned, we are all sick today, and I have really had to go against that “I feel like a bad mom” mentality and just “survive” days like this which are out of the ordinary. The T.V. has ran MUCH more than usual, but instead of beating myself up, I realized this isn’t life every day.

    As for treasuring these years, this is also something the Holy Spirit has been speaking to my heart. The book of James talks about life being a vapor. I want to relish every moment of my “vapor” and that of my children’s and precious spouse.

    May God bless you for blessing us this day.

  16. I enjoyed your post. I had #4 in late October and my oldest is 5. I awoke at 5am to feed baby only to have her give me a baby puke shower after she was finished and cover my bed so I couldn’t go back to sleep.
    It’s starting to get easier now that she’s sleeping through the night and we’re getting into a groove (after 3 months) but I still have some very tough days. One thing that has helped is realizing how temporal life is, like you said. An internet friend lost her toddler in December and he looked just like my 2 year old. It has been a great reminder for me of how precious every minute with them is and how I should embrace every opportunity to read a story, give a hug, or just cuddle with them. I also felt myself getting really, really depressed and discouraged when I wasn’t getting enough sleep. The laundry seemed to overtake me, I had no motivation, and always felt crushed by all of my duties. Every day, I literally got up and told myself, “Here’s another day to watch Lindsey drown.”
    But, God amazinly knew what I could and couldn’t handle and allowed our #4 to start sleeping through the night at 2.5 months, something our other 3 kids didn’t do until a year or closer to a year. Sleep has made a huge difference. But when I wasn’t getting my sleep I found that taking a good multivitamin with B6, having a chocolate fix each day, using paper plates, buying super easy meals, and taking every shortcut I possibly could on housework, etc. I survived!
    We’ve had a tough year all around with having moved, fixed up a junker house, having our riskiest pregnancy yet, chicken pox, 3 stomach flus (one when our baby was only 16 days old), company for the holidays (raise your hand if you think it sounds fun to host 6 of your in-laws while caring for a newborn for Christmas?), and the busy holiday times. But I know, like you said, I will miss these moments with little ones. So, I take LOTS of pictures and try to laugh in the meantime, while knowing that someday I can get out more, do more, sleep more, and have more flexibility. When that stage comes, I’ll enjoy it, but I do enjoy right now too!

  17. This post totally made me cry! I stay home with my sweet 5-month old girl. I’ve been really struggling with contentment, and have been convicted of this recently. Just yesterday, I realized that my life today is the life I’ve been praying for for years… why am I struggling to be content? I need to be praising God every minute of every day for this beautiful life and beautiful gift He has given. I’m just not ready to see my little girl looking so big like your son does in that tree! Thank you for the encouragement.

  18. I agree with everything you said and just want to add that, judging by the posts, none of us are alone. There is some other Mom in the same situation and we need to help each other by reminding ourselves and others that we are not alone in dealing with whatever phase or problems our children have. Talking about it and just letting someone know what is going on, even if no advice is exchanged on solving a problem, helps so much!
    I’m also trying to turn my thinking around and look at the positives, reminding myself how I will miss the things that upset me, because I’ll never get this time back. They are only going to get older.

  19. Well said! To live in the moment is such wise advice. Time goes far too quickly to wish it away. I suspect that those who fail to find contentment in the present moments will also fail to find it in the ones to come; because, really, the problem isn’t with the moment itself but with the outlook of the person living it. I agree with you that taking our thoughts captive is a powerful and effective way to transform our hearts and attitudes, and I’m working on that right along with you!

    Blessings to you,
    Angela

  20. I definitely needed to hear this too. My second child is almost four months old now, not on a schedule or sleeping through the night yet, and both my kids have been sick with colds, ear infections, fevers, coughs, etc. for the last month and I’ve felt myself starting to chafe under my responsibilities as a mom. I’m trying to be patient and enjoy this time of life, but it isn’t always easy.
    After I read this post I had a good chat with my Heavenly Father and what I had expected to be a prayer of pleading for help and patience and strength turned into a prayer of gratitude for my many blessings. I think if I can stay in an attitude of gratitude it will go a long way toward helping me cope with the difficulties of this stage. (A little more sleep would be nice too.)

  21. Thank you for this posting! It came at a time I needed to hear it! I wanted to share one of my favorite quotes relating to this topic. “Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have”. It’s easy to take for granted how blessed I am and focus on all the frustrations and hard things (especially when I’m sleep deprived as my 2nd baby who is 9 mo still doesn’t sleep thru the night!), I ned to turn my focus back to God and all my blessings!

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