I was at a graduation party recently and met a women with four little ones all in row. She had a tiny baby strapped to her chest and then boom, boom, boom, the kids went right up in age. Someone introduced me as “a mom with six” and this young mom asked right away, “Oh good, you can give me advice.” I listened to her for a little and I will admit that I am becoming an old lady because in my head I’m thinking, “Just enjoy these days, they go so fast, look at how cute and small they all are!” and I know that is such general unhelpful advice that moms with little ones don’t really want to hear-I know I couldn’t really wrap my head around that sentiment until my oldest started high school, and then as those big milestones came quickly year after year, I “got” what all those moms of older kids were talking about.
I will say this. Almost every time a younger mom with more than two little ones has asked me for some advice on how to manager her growing family the answer is almost always:
Stop doing so much outside the home.
Rushing and a tight time table does not equal happy moms or happy babies or happy toddlers. Settle in. Settle in at home with your role as mother, embrace it fully and trust that the time you give these years-if you give your children your attention, and structure and find ways to enjoy your days at home, it will all pay off.
There is time for everything! There is time for kids to do all those fun activities as they get older, and there will be more time to explore our own interests whether it be yoga classes or tennis lessons or a master’s degree and there will be time for us to be passionate about a career-there is time for it all, but if you want it to happen all at once (I understand the pressure, I really do!) you will struggle to be able to enjoy any of it.
When we feel rushed, frazzled, stressed and our little ones will feel our energy and react, they will be less enjoyable for us to enjoy. Does that make sense? We have eighteen or more years with each of our children in our homes, and it does get easier, and as their needs let up as they grow and become more independent, there is time to fit outside activities into their lives and our lives.
I would give myself this same advice twenty one years ago. I have learned slowly and surely (and back then there weren’t quite the abundance of distractions and classes and activities and opportunities that exist now!) that children need breathing room, quiet time at home, activities that don’t involve time tables, and that mothering little ones takes a lot of time and energy and focus to be enjoyable.