Thursday, September 15, 2011

Adventures in Grouchland


Are you a frumpy parent? 

  I am.

There. I said it.

I am the mom I have always heard about...and disliked.

I tell my kids "no" all. the. time. I hate that about myself. I want to say yes. I want to spontaneously play dress up and tea party. I want to go outside and run around like a crazy lady. I want to wear my kids out with fun activities that I do with them.

Alas, I fail -- every day.

I homeschool Riley for up to two hours a day, and Silas gets an additional 30-45 minutes of "tot school" (fun activities to develop motor and language skills). And yeah, I try to make it fun for everyone. But it's hard work planning and organizing and coming up with new ideas (man, I love Pinterest!). I love it, but it is challenging and time-consuming.

Add to that the time and effort required to take care of the baby, prepare meals, do laundry, clean house, etc., and many days I feel justified in saying "no" to the fifth request to play Candyland. I tell myself it's good training in patience and respecting my initial answer when I say, "Stop asking me." :-{

I've tried to stop saying "no" so much and have instead switched to "not yet", "maybe", and "I'll think about it." But ambiguity may be even worse for a 4-year-old. Now I get this kind of response: "When will you know?" "Can you tell me now?" "Okay, I'll just let you think about it, an' I'll ask you again later." Are YOU crazy yet??


But I am not the mom I want to be. I admire moms who sing their children awake in the morning (confession: my kids are literally begging for breakfast while I am groggily dragging myself from bed) and to bed at night. I aspire to be the mom who inspires my kids to love Jesus and others and to act like it all the time (another confession: I sometimes yell, :-( and that makes me sad).  I know God can overcome my lazy, selfish, careless ways, but I want to do better -- I NEED to do better!

Frumpy(careless, dull, lazy, unattractive) parenting is unacceptable when I consider that I am to do all things for the glory of God and that I should do it with all my might. Yes, my kids need teaching, and they need training, and they need routine and order. But they also need ME! A great big hunk of lousy, stinking me! And maybe that's part of why I make excuses - perhaps I'm not cut out to be the great mother I want to be (I'm no Fräulein Maria, after all). But, I keep seeing this all over the place ---

Goodness, just about anyone can have a child, but not everyone is a great parent. And yet, parenting is a calling. Answering that call requires a little something extra. Yeah, that starts with prayer - for wisdom, peace, patience, love, kindness, energy, sanity....


For me, it also means being intentional -- using the moments I have while my kiddos are small and WANT me. Every article, blog post, and devotion I read about being over-busy is another punch-to-the-gut reminder of how precious my littles are. While part of me wants to be Martha, what I NEED is to be Mary. I must choose the better.

It's a bit like the Tower of Babel in our family - we all speak a different love language. Hubby's is a combo of physical touch and gifts; Riley's is almost completely quality time, but also words of affirmation; Silas is still young, but his seems to be very much physical touch. Mine is clearly acts of service - which kind of clashes with the physical touch and the quality time languages. :-/ So, sometimes I have to work a bit harder to show my family love in the way that they understand and to accept the love that they give me in their own ways.

Don't you hear it all the time? "The dishes, dust, and laundry will still be there, but childhood is fleeting." I'm not saying those things aren't a part of life, too (they are, in fact, a disturbingly constant part of my life). But a good plan helps these to be part of the background, and good training helps it be a learning part of your child's routine (don't worry, I haven't perfected either of these yet).


I've mentioned before that I'm a planner. I like to be spontaneous, too, but I'm more likely to follow through if I have a plan. I've also discovered in the past couple years that I do much better with routines. So I think, for me, scheduling specific activities and playtimes with my kids is going to be an important key to my parenting success. I want my kids to have special memories like some that I have from my childhood. Some very wise people have reminded me that "quality time happens when there is quantity time."

I'll be sharing ideas that I come across and my plans and activities that we do. But my goal is going to be to try to stick to a plan. Something like this:

Every Day:
 - Child-led, focused, one-on-one discussion/play/whatever with each child (10-15 minutes+)
 - Additional no-purpose family playtime (not attached to school or with other pre-arranged lesson in mind -- just play for the sake of play)
 - Work on saying "yes," or at least have a good reason for the "no"
 - Speak another language - love my family the way they understand it

Once a week:
 - Special "date" with one of the kids for at least an hour (probably just going with me to do what I need to do - shopping, sewing group, errands, etc.)
 - Planned fun outing for mom and kiddos (e.g., picnic, library story time, play date, indoor play place)
 - Let them help with dinner (I'll have to plan which dinner since some days are too hectic to double dinner prep time by adding little hands)

At least twice a month:
 - Plan something different (this will probably be messy or complicated things - making painted handprints, playing in the mud, building sand castles [I HATE sand!] - something that takes just a bit more planning on my part)

So, there you have it -- A Plan. It may not be perfect, but it's a start, right?

And now for a quick tip, I'll direct you to one of my favorite bloggy ladies - The Happy Home Fairy. She has some truly "magical" ideas for making your home a happy home, and she's got some of the cutest printables! I grab plenty of ideas from her posts, and I think I feel a special attachment because my Silas and her Happy Buddy look so much alike. ;-)

Happy Home Fairy! 

I'm thinking some crash piling and some bathtub icebergs are in our immediate future!

What are your plans to be intentional with your kiddos this week?

Having a plan to avoid frumpy parenting works for me. See what works for others at We Are THAT Family - Works for Me Wednesday!


  1. Wow! What a post! It's true - being a mom is the hardest job, but God does, indeed, equip you with everything you could possibly need to be that mom we all want to be - through Jesus.

    Not that you need something else to read, but this is my most favorite mommy article of recent -

    Motherhood is all about being the Gospel to our kids - showing them His unfailing love, His unending patience, His joy, and peace. You are doing a great job, my friend! The fact alone that you pay attention to your family's love languages tells me that there are some beautiful things happening. :-)

    Thank you for inviting me to your site today - it was a blessing!

    And thank you for the sweet shout out. :-)

  2. Oh Julie! Thank you so much for that link! You are right -- it is terrific! Here's my favorite paragraph, near the end -
    "Of course, this side of heaven we will not do perfectly. Harsh words will be spoken, patience will wear thin. Frazzled mothers will act frazzled. And when this happens, our own sinfulness does not detract from the power of the gospel, it illustrates why we need it. Do not use your own mistakes as an excuse to wallow about what a bad mother you are. Repent, seek forgiveness, get it right, and move on. Believe. Be forgiven. Extend that forgiveness, that belief, that joy, to your children."

    Thanks for visiting and for your comment!

  3. Thank you for this! I often feel this way, it is so nice to know that I am not alone :)