Thursday, January 30, 2014

Learning From Your Child

It’s been awhile since I’ve been around toddlers, considering that my youngest son is 16!
Since moving to Florida I’ve been spending lots of quality time with my youngest niece and nephew {17 months and 4} and my Sweet Pea {who turned 3 September 1st} lives with the hubby and I for the time being.  I’m knee deep in potty training, temper tantrums, Bubble Guppies and the like. And, I LOVE it.  Toddlers and preschoolers have the sweetest dispositions and even when exerting their will can’t help but be cheek smooching adorable.

photo credit: Quiet Graces

Recently, Lariah {aka Sweet Pea} pulled me to the sliding glass door for the 3,491st time that day to “look at the lithards”.  I felt irritation creeping up my neck but it dissipated as I glanced down at her eager face.  She was genuinely excited to watch the lizards for the 3,491st time that day.  She watched and laughed and pointed as if it was a brand new experience.

In that moment, I wished I could bottle her inquisitive sweetness and drink it every now and then.  Her excitement is contagious and reminds me to pay attention to my surroundings. To take time to see shapes in the clouds and lizards in the grass.

So, I’m going to make an effort to learn from the cute toddlers in my life and inhale the life lessons they can teach like I inhale the freshly washed hair smell during story time each evening.
And, when I remember to, I’ll share them with you here.

Raising kids can be tiring and frustrating but it's also wonderful and sweet.  Try to take the time to get down on their level and see the world through their eyes. It will make your day brighter!

What lessons can you learn from your little ones?

Till tomorrow,

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Simplifying Your Morning Routine

Verse of the day:
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.  Proverbs 14:1
 I know that with kids to wake up, breakfast to eat and the pressure to not forget anything, mornings can be stressful- but they don’t have to be. When we are stressed out, we tend to be short and snippy with our kids and that's no way to start the day.

 Here are five tips to make your morning routine work for you and your family:

  1. Prepare as much as you can the night before.  This means laying out clothes, packing the diaper bag, setting the table for breakfast, etc.  The more you do the night before the less there is to stress about in the morning.  As your kids get older you can enlist their help with the evening routine as well.
  2. Set realistic expectations.  If there are mornings that you need to leave the house at a certain time (for work, appointments, school, etc.) then a gourmet breakfast is probably not the way to go.  So often we try to cram things into the morning routine that aren’t necessary and then wonder why we are stressed.  Be realistic about the time that you have and what needs to be accomplished.
  3. Have a command center.  Don’t you hate those moments when the kids can’t find their favorite toy {that they just can't leave the house without} at the last minute?  Ever had shoes or coats missing in action and you are already five minutes behind schedule?  The solution is to have a place for everything and help your family get in the habit of putting everything in its place.  We had a small table by the entryway where diaper bags, binkies, blankies and favorite toys can go.  We had three hooks by the door for coats and book bags when my boys were small and a basket for shoes.  The more accessible everything is, the easier it is to find.
  4. Menu plan.  I am an advocate for menu planning and not just dinner.  We have a menu for breakfast Monday- Friday.  My boys knew that Mondays were cereal, Tuesdays waffles, Wednesdays eggs, etc.  This makes the morning routine easier and I don’t end up feeling like a short order cook.  It also helped the boys know how to set the table for the coming day. Even a 3 or 3 year old can help set the table for breakfast the night before.  If you pack your child's lunch for daycare or preschool, have a menu plan for that as well,so you know without thinking about it, what will go in the lunchbox each morning.
  5. Reward yourself and the kids.  Initiating a new routine can be difficult until the routine becomes habit for your family.  Consider having a special reward {a dessert, an outing, etc} on the week’s that mornings run smoothly.  The only way for mornings to work is for everyone to be a team in the household.  Acknowledge when the kids have pitched in.  Thank your man for warming up the car.  Reward your family for coming together to make something work. 
The way we start our day can often impact what the rest of the day is going to be like.  Sticking to an effective routine is essential for busy young moms!

Till tomorrow,

Monday, January 27, 2014

Taming Temper Tantrums

I thought someone would've called the cops last weekend.  That is how loud my 3 year old granddaughter was screaming {and crying and stomping her feet and throwing herself on the cold, hard floor}.  What was she upset about?  Two little letters that form one powerful word- N-O!

I was a strict parent and even though I am a little more lenient with my granddaughter, I still have pretty high expectations of her behavior.  Since she lives with me, I discipline her more than the average Mimi.  And, just like when my kids were little, her tantrums push ALL my buttons. 

While it is hard to maintain your cool when your child is having a meltdown, it is really important that you do. 

Here are some tips for handling your child's next tantrum:

Photo Credit: Quiet Graces
  • Remember that tantrums are a normal part of child development.  While you shouldn't tolerate the behaviors associated with temper tantrums, particularly as your child gets older, the behavior is normal.  For kids ages 18 months to 3-4 years, you can expect tantrums to occur.  As they struggle to develop their language skills, kids sometimes turn to crying, whining and throwing "fits" to communicate or achieve an outcome.
  • Don't "feed "the tantrum. I will not give my granddaughter what she wants if she threw a fit to get it.  She is learning this and I can see her internal struggle trying to calm herself down.  Let your child know that mommy doesn't like that behavior and will talk to them when they calm down. 
  • Stay calm.  If you get upset or yell, you are contributing to the problem rather than correcting the behavior.  Our kids learn from watching us.  Let them see that even though they are out of control at that moment, mommy is not.  This will help them feel safe and will often decrease the length and severity of the tantrum.
  • Look for the cause.  Yes, sometimes tantrums are simply because a child wants their way but often there is an underlying reason for the behavior.  Hunger, fatigue, disruption of routine or emotional triggers like a new baby in the house are often the cause of tantrums.  Toddlers have a low frustration tolerance and they don't have the verbal skills to communicate their frustration so a tantrum often erupts.
  • Talk it through.  When the tantrum is over, make sure your child knows that you don't love the tantrums but you love them. Focus on the behavior while making sure the child feels secure. Instead of saying "you're a bad girl" try saying "Mommy doesn't like it when you yell". 
Take a deep breath, mama! The toddler years will pass all too soon!

Till tomorrow,

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Why I'm Here

How did a girl of nineteen, mama to two under two, take on another, wounded and broken, as her own?
God’s grace.
How did a family grow, through the pain and the twisted knife of fate, closer together rather than achingly apart?
God’s grace.
How did a woman break free from the bondage of silence and facade to spill out the grace from fingers to keyboard?
God’s grace.
How did she find strength to stand, heart bare and vulnerable and pour out the offering of her story for His glory?
God’s grace.
I spent many years viewing the gift of story as anything but.

The desire to hide the sometimes ugly and scarred truth of my life from people and pretend that everything had been okay, would be okay and was presently okay suffocated my story.

I kept secrets, not stories.

Tending deep, dark, festering secrets is a full time job.

Along with the secrets lived bitterness, regret, rage, anger and unforgiveness.
Until the day I allowed God’s grace to seep through to the crevices of pain and shine Light into the darkness.

God and I wrestle about words, my words, His story ALL the time.
Every blog post, article and manuscript bear the sweat of wrestling with the Word.  Laying heart issues bare in front of people I yearn to please is, to this closet introvert, unbearable.  There are days, like today, that clicking publish will take concerted effort.

God’s grace, meaning unwarranted and unmerited favor, was given to this girl. To be quiet, in this space or any other space God leads me to, would be to hoard grace.  The grace I know is to precious to hoard.  It must be shared.

There are two places in the Bible that speak directly to my heart when I feel conflicted about sharing my story.  One is found in II Corinthians 1.  We are told that one of the reasons for the trials we face in life is so that we can use the comfort we receive to comfort others.
I have been sent a Comforter.  One who wiped my tears, bound up my wounds and erased the slate of sin and shame.  That comfort would be wasted if I hoarded it.

Story is never wasted.

We are told in Revelation that our stories have power.
They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death. ~Revelation 12:11
The prospect of sharing my story, putting my heart and thoughts out for people to see, is something I shrink from.  In the shrinking, there is no triumph.

For the sake of not hoarding grace, not denying others comfort and for the pleasure of defeating the enemy every time I type or open my mouth, I must speak my story, write my story, share my story..all for His glory.

Sweet mamas, I started this site because I know the road you are walking as teen moms is hard.  Many of you are dealing with the pain of your difficult childhood on top of trying to give your own child a roof over their head.  Many of you carry the shame of a past abortion or a miscarriage you think you caused because, so many sleepless nights, you prayed the baby inside you would disappear. Some of you listen to the voices of those that tell you that your life is ruined because of the choices you've made and so is the life of your baby.  Many of you accept treatment by a boyfriend or husband that you do not deserve because you are terrified of being alone.


My goal in this space is to help you realize that you are not alone.  That your story, even if it doesn't have a happy ending yet, has power to help others and to help you! I have been where you are and I will share more of my story in the weeks to come so that you can realize that today is not how your story ends.  In fact, in many ways, your story is just beginning.

With much love and till tomorrow,

Saturday, January 25, 2014

What is More Important- Work or School?

Today's question of the week comes from a 19 year old mom of a 17 month old little boy. She asks:

I am currently going to college full time and working part time as a hostess at a restaurant.  I am so tired and feel like I never see my kid.  Something has to change so I don't know what to do. Should I give up school or work?~ Jenni S.

Thanks for writing in, Jenni.  I know just how you feel.  I started college when I was 19 and had two little boys.  I also worked part time.  And juggling all of that is hard with a capital H. I admire your desire to continue your education because, in the long run, you and your son will benefit from that choice. 

You did say that you are in college full time.  Have you considered taking a part-time course load to give you more time with your son and more time to sleep?  I know that part-time decreases the amount of financial aid and makes graduation seem further away but it is something to consider.

I don't want to advise you to quit your job, particularly if you are the sole breadwinner for your child. Now, if you live with your parents or your baby's dad, then that is a conversation that needs to take place with them. 

If you end up keeping the schedule you have now, I want you to remember a few things.  First of all, school is not a permanent situation.  You may be making a sacrifice of time with your son in the short term for something that will benefit both of you in the long run.  Secondly, the quality of the time you spend with your child is far more important than the quantity.  Try to set up a time once or twice a week that you and your son can spend time together without any distractions or interferences.

All that being said, it's okay to say "now is not the time for school".  Only you know what will work best for your life and your particular situation.  I encourage you to pray, talk to a supportive adult in your life and consider all your options before making a final decision.

--Do you have a question you want me to answer about being a teen mom?  Email it to me at and I may choose your question to be featured here.  I do respond to every email I receive, even if I choose not to publish the question so please feel free to reach out to me anytime.

Till tomorrow,

The information contained within this web site or within coaching sessions, classes, or workshops, is not a substitute for professional advice such as from a Medical Doctor, Psychiatrist, counselor or therapist of any kind. The information provided by Teen Mom 365 or Melissa Smallwood does not constitute legal or medical professional advice nor is it intended to constitute such advice.  Any decisions you make, and the consequences thereof are your own.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Baby Changes Everything

How has motherhood changed you?
It would probably be easier to name the ways that motherhood has not changed who I am but that, my friends, is not the question.  So here goes:
  • Where I once thought only of myself, there are now four human beings I would throw myself in front of a moving train for.
  • Those same human beings have made me want to jump in front of a moving train quite a few times.
  • I have become capable of incredible feats- cooking, baking, homemaking in general, purely out of a desire to create a cozy, comfortable environment for my kids.
  • My heart has physically grown as it swells with pride at their accomplishments and has physically ached when they are in pain.
  • Walls built around my heart, out of self protection, literally melted away when my first child was placed in my arms and by the time I adopted my step son (our third yet oldest son) and then my daughter (my oldest), my heart was made completely out of mush.  I am putty in their hands (and they know it)
  • Yet, I am tough when I need to be.  I learned it is important to me that I raise polite and contributing members of society.  To raise future husbands my future daughters-in-law (*gasp* that makes me want to cry) will appreciate. To show my daughter the kind of woman I pray for her to be.
  • I changed my focus thus far in life.  Career advancement, my personal accomplishments seem so unimportant compared to enjoying and cherishing EVERY moment I get to spend with these future adults.
  • I discovered that in order to be the best mama I can be, I have to care for my health, emotionally, physically and spiritually.  This lesson took me several years to learn and I hate that my children didn’t receive the best of me during that time.
  • But, I have also learned that in motherhood you can only look forward.  There is no perfect, there is no magical balance that means everyone gets all there needs met every time they have one, there is no way to undo something once it has been said, no way to take back  a harsh word.  Mommy guilt is toxic.
  • So, I choose to live in this moment with my children.  Treasuring when I can, nurturing when I can, disciplining when I need to, teaching something when I can, and apologizing for the myriad of ways I screw up and hoping they learn something from those moments too.
So, my friends, how has motherhood changed you?

Till tomorrow,

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Setting a Good Example

~My 3 year old granddaughter walks towards the door, her toy phone in one hand and purse in the other. "bye, I'm going to work guys. See you later". 

~Later, she puts her doll baby to sleep. "Now lay down and be quiet. It bed time. No crying or I shut the door."

Needless to say, she listens to everything we say and watches everything we do.  Good and bad.  Some of the stuff she repeats is cute.  Some of it makes the grown ups in the house cringe and realize we need to try a little harder to pay attention to how we behave. 

When you were growing up, did you pay attention to the lectures? Or did you watch how your parents acted when no one else was around? Which spoke louder to you?

Our kids are watching everything we do.  Yes, that is a lot of pressure but it is also what we signed up for when we became parents.  It's no longer enough to excuse poor choices with "that's just how I am" or "this doesn't have anything to do with my kids". Once you create another life, your own life ceases to be just about you anymore.  And part of your role as a mom is to lead your kids by example.

Here are some ways you can do that:
  • Use positive language.  Sometimes we don't realize how negative we are.  Instead of saying "something bad always happens to me" try saying "it's ok, we will get through this".  Instead of saying no to your child all the time, use different words or phrases including "maybe later", why don't we try this instead?", etc. Save "no" for times that you really need to get a point across or forbid a certain behavior.
  • Practice gratitude.  We will be talking more about gratitude later in the year but for now, I want to point out that counting your blessings is the best way to turn a bad day around.  The old saying is true "there is always, always something to be thankful for". Encourage your kids, even the little ones, to tell you something they are thankful for each day.  Get them in the habit at an early age.
  • Avoid arguing in front of your child.  If you and your spouse or boyfriend need to argue about something, take it outside or wait until your children aren't around to discuss it.  Kids quickly pick up on tension and anger and it can leave them feeling insecure and stressed.  If you fight in front of them it sends the message that yelling is how you express anger and that being right is more important than being in right relationship with those you care about.
  • Enlist your child's help from an early age.  A toddler is not too young to help pick up their toys and put them in the toy box. Make it a game or sing the Clean Up song. Teaching them responsibility and a sense of satisfaction from completing a task while getting the toys put away is a win-win.
  • Be good to yourself.  Kids need to see their mama take care of themselves and make choices that show that you respect and value yourself.  Don't settle for less than you deserve, don't sell yourself short and don't engage in any self harming behavior.  One of the best ways to show your kids you love them is to love their mama too.
How do you set a good example for your child?
Till tomorrow,

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Days Go By So Fast!

Last May, I texted him at 9pm “This time 17 years ago you were 45 minutes old :) Love you so much!”

How does seventeen years go by in the blink of an eye?

How do you put the brakes on this growing up and becoming a man thing that is happening before your eyes?  How do you look up into the eyes of the baby that is taller than you and not want to press rewind to the days when he sat in your lap asking you to “read it gen, mama” or when he would fall asleep on your shoulder with a strand of your hair wrapped in his chubby hand so he would be instantly alerted when you tried to lay him in his crib?
I know that when you are in the throes of temper tantrums, runny noses and sleepless nights that it is hard to imagine ever wishing of those days back again.  Believe me, I know!

But, you will.

spring 2013 107
The next time you think you just can’t answer one more question that begins with the word “why” or you are bent low, wiping up the milk that was spilled on your newly mopped floor or you are returning your strong willed four year old to the time out chair for the 15th time {that day}, know that you are doing a good job.  That while every parenting choice you make may not be the right one as long as you are doing your best and loving your best and just getting through the best you can, your child is soaking it all in.
And, one day when they are turning 17 and realizing their time under your roof is coming to an end sooner than you or they ever imagined they will say “You are the best mom” and they will mean it.
Cause those days you lost your temper or crawled into bed thinking “I can’t do this another day” or wished for the day they would be seventeen and not need you so much, that is not what your son will remember.
He will remember the days you played H-O-R-S-E with him instead of doing the dishes, the days that you kissed his sweaty forehead when he was sick, the days that you read that story for the 100th time.

And, you mama- you will remember it all. And wish it hadn’t gone by so stinkin’ fast.

Just a reminder to cherish every moment, mama's!
Till tomorrow,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Find a Way to Serve

One of the greatest things you can do for yourself is serve others.  In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. I am devoting today's posts to ways for you to serve.  Just because you need help at this juncture of your life doesn't mean that you can't give back at the same time.

Here are a few ideas:
  • Find a soup kitchen to volunteer at.
  • Hang out with younger kids at the Boys and Girls Club.
  • Use coupons and buy toiletries to donate to homeless ministries or a women's shelter.
  • Offer to babysit for another young mom while she goes on a job interview.
  • Take your little one to a local nursing home.  The elderly love to spend time with little one.
What ways do you serve others?  Remember according to Dr. King, you only need a "heart full of grace" and "a soul generated by love".
Till tomorrow,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When Should I Have Another Baby?

This week's question comes from an 18 year old mom who currently has a 2 1/2 year old daughter.  She asked:
"I feel bad that my daughter isn't growing up with a little brother or sister. My sister and were best friends when we were little. But, I don't feel ready for another baby yet.  I guess my question is, what is the best amount of time to have between babies?" ~ Kasey T.
Hi Kasey! Thanks for submitting your question.  And, it's a good question; one that I think many young moms think a lot about.

First of all, I want to point out that there is no right or wrong when it comes to the spacing of children.  It is a decision that involves many factors and requires many things to be taken into consideration. 
Secondly, research exists to support almost all age differences between siblings.  Meaning there are pros and cons to siblings being close together in age and pros and cons to having many years between each child. 

The most important thing to consider is this: Are you in a position to bring another child into the world right now?

 Ask yourself these questions-
  •  Are you living on your own? 
  •  Are you financially independent?
  •  Have you finished high school and any other education you want to pursue?
  • Are you in a stable relationship, preferably married?
As you know from having already had a baby, kids are expensive. They also take a lot of time and energy.  If you are struggling now to balance motherhood and school or a career, etc. adding another child to the mix could be too much.  One of the things working in your favor is that you have many childbearing years ahead of you so there is no rush.
Also, sibling relationships are wonderful and complex. I am just as close to my brother that is five years younger than me than I am to the brother that is 2 1/2 years younger than me.  I think the important thing about whether your kids will grow up to be close is the type of environment they grow up in rather than how close or far apart in age they are.
All of this to say, giving your child a sibling is a great reason to have a baby.  But, being a teen mom poses many unique challenges and there are many other things that need to be considered before making such a choice.  You are not cheating your child out of anything by focusing on yourself and the baby already here right now and choosing to wait to have another child. 
If the answer to any of the above questions I asked you to ask yourself is "NO" then now is probably not the best time to introduce another child to the family dynamic.
I encourage you to pray about every decision including this one and seek wise counsel from an older woman that you trust.
Without knowing the particulars of your situation, there is my answer. Please reach out to me if you want to discuss this further.
Hugs and prayers,

Do you have a question you want me to answer about being a teen mom?  Email it to me at and I may choose your question to be featured here.  I do respond to every email I receive, even if I choose not to publish the question so please feel free to reach out to me anytime.

Till tomorrow,

The information contained within this web site or within coaching sessions, classes, or workshops, is not a substitute for professional advice such as from a Medical Doctor, Psychiatrist, counselor or therapist of any kind. The information provided by Teen Mom 365 or Melissa Smallwood does not constitute legal or medical professional advice nor is it intended to constitute such advice.  Any decisions you make, and the consequences thereof are your own.

Friday, January 17, 2014

10 Ways to Make Life Easier with a New Baby

Life with a new baby is a sweet and memorable time.  It is also one of the most exhausting periods of a woman's life.  Anything you can do to make your life easier- DO IT! 
Here are a few things that worked for me:

{photo credit: Quiet Graces}
  1. When it's time for sleep, dress your baby in a drawstring gown rather than a sleeper. When you are hardly awake and changing a diaper with one eye open, it is much easier to get to than unsnapping a sleeper.
  2. Accept help. Let the baby's dad {if he is involved} do as much as he can. It allows them time to bond and gives you a break. 
  3. Sleep when the baby sleeps.  Some babies don't regulate their sleep schedules for several months. If you don't stay on the same schedule, especially the first few weeks, you will be very tired and very cranky.  If grandma wants to spend some quality time with the baby, take the opportunity to take a shower and catch some zzz's.
  4. As soon as you come back in the house from an outing, make it a habit to restock the diaper bag with whatever you used when you were out.  That way you have all you need anytime you head out the door.
  5. When your baby is fussing a bit, don't rush to pick them up immediately. Wait a few moments and see if they just needed to move around a bit or they fall back to sleep.  The more you rush in the second they make a sound, the more sounds they will make simply for attention.
  6. Make sure your baby's bottom is completely dry before putting on a new diaper. This significantly cuts down on diaper rash risk.
  7. Listen to your gut.  You are your baby's mama.  You will instinctively know what they need.  If you think they have gas, you are probably right. If you think they are hungry, trust your instincts.  If someone gives you advice but it doesn't feel right for your child, do what you think is best.
  8.  Take a walk or a drive.  It's important to get out of the house a bit, even if it's walking to the mailbox.  You and your baby will be home a lot the first few weeks and you will go stir crazy if you never breathe in any fresh air.
  9.  Stay calm.  If your baby is having a fussy moment, don't let yourself get flustered. Babies take their cues from you. If they sense stress, it can make their fussiness worse.
  10. Cherish every moment.  Your baby will only be a baby for a very short while.  Cuddle him, kiss him, coo and take lots of pictures.
You've got this, mama!

Till tomorrow,

Thursday, January 16, 2014

You're Worth More Than Gold

You are altogether beautiful, my darling, And there is no blemish in you. Song of Songs 4:7

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The tale of a really bad day

It was supposed to be a quick stop at the pharmacy and then home with two sick babies.  Looking back, I should have known better.  Expecting an 18 month old that doesn't feel well and his colicky 3 month old brother to keep it together in a busy Wal-mart was not realistic.  I handed the clerk the prescriptions and she said it would be 15-20 minutes.

And, an hour and 10 minutes later I finally had the prescriptions in hand and hauled my bags, baby in a car seat and toddler on my hip out to the car with absolutely no patience left. I could hardly think straight. The toddler had been flailing on the dirty floor for the last thirty of those 70 torturous minutes and I hadn't tried to stop him. The baby had cried himself to sleep and I had felt like joining him.  The other customers had looked at me like I was the worse parent on the face of the planet.

I was distracted and frustrated as I put the car in drive, finally on my way home and CLUNK.  I should have put my car in reverse but I hadn't and I managed to get my car stuck on the concrete curb in the parking lot.  I didn't have a cell phone in 1998 and just sat there and cried until I ended up slamming on the gas pedal and forcing my car off the curb.  I drove home and discovered I had completely torn off the oil pan on the bottom of the car.!

You will have moments like this in your parenting journey.  I've never met a mom that hasn't had those days before. 

You will have moments where you want to tear your hair out and scream at the top of your lungs. You will wonder how you are supposed to survive the next eighteen years. You will second guess your decision to raise your baby, thinking surely someone else could be doing a better job.  You will think you just can't do this another day.  You will yell, you will cry, you will curse, you will wish things were different and this wasn't your life.


You will pull up in your driveway, dragging your oil pan behind you and glance in the rearview mirror at the two little monsters, I mean miracles who have cried themselves to sleep.  You will sit in the car and watch their little chests rise up and down and their little eyelashes flutter on their snot crusted cheeks and you will realize your day could have been much worse- it could have been a day without them in it. 

Hang in there, mama!

Till tomorrow,

{photo credit: Quiet Graces}

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reacting versus Responding

Yesterday we talked about keeping our cool when our kids are acting out.  Today I want to talk a bit more about patience and how we react to our child's behavior. defines patience as:

an ability or willingness to suppress annoyance....even-tempered care. 
Suppressing annoyance does not come natural to me! Does it you?  Many times I tend to react rather than respond to my circumstances.

To react: to respond to a stimulus in a particular manner

To respond: to react favorably

See the difference? To react means that you are letting the stimulus {in this case your child's annoying behavior} dictate your response.  Responding indicates a positive reaction. A response requires an intention where a reaction is knee-jerk and impulsive.

Let's look at an example.  Your child spills their milk.

A reaction may sound like this:
"You spilled your milk again? How many times does Mommy have to tell you to drink your milk at the table?  Milk costs money and you just poured money on the floor.  Why can't you be more careful?"

A response would sound more like this:
"uh-oh, looks like the milk got spilled.  Let me get a towel and you can help Mommy clean up the mess"

Put yourself in your child's shoes.  Which would you rather hear when you make a mistake?  A reaction or a response?

People with understanding control their anger;
    a hot temper shows great foolishness.  Proverbs 14:29

Till tomorrow,

Monday, January 13, 2014

Keeping your cool

They say the two's are terrible but my little granddaughter is three and I'm thinking it may be worse.  Temper tantrums {she has quite a stubborn streak} combined with non-stop talking and a little girl attitude- oh my! She can test this Mimi's patience on a good day.

I remember being the same way when my boys were little.  My frustration tolerance was low and too many repetitive questions or mouth noises could push this mama over the edge. 

The Bible talks about maintaining our composure and I think verses like this can certainly apply to parenthood.

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.  Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires."~ James 1:19-20

Getting angry and frustrated with your kids doesn't fix any situation and it certainly doesn't make you feel good about yourself.  Here are a few tips for staying cool even when the kids are having an off day:
  • Count to 10. I know you've heard it before and it sounds cheesy but it really does help. If you can't count to 10, then at least count to 3. The point is to disengage your brain from your anger and give it time to think rationally.
  • Figure out the root cause. Kids don't act out for no reason.  Typically, they are over or under stimulated, tired, hungry, cranky or feeling out of sorts for some other reason. Figure out that reason and you can fix the underlying issue and everyone will have a better day.
  • Be consistent with discipline.  You can't punish a child for a certain misbehavior one day and ignore the same behavior the next or your child will be confused about what you expect from them. Focus on a few target behaviors and be consistent with the consequences. 
  • Let go of the little things.  If you are "on" your child about every little thing, you will both be cranky and irritated. You aren't perfect so it's unfair to expect your child to be. 
  • Stick to a schedule.  Small kids respond better to routine.  Have a bedtime routine, a mealtime routine, etc. It's okay to stray from your routine for a special occasion but the more a child knows what to expect, the better behaved they tend to be.
  • Put yourself in timeout.  It is okay to put a screaming child in their crib and go outside for a few minutes.  Know your limits and if you are going to act out in anger or frustration, put your child in a safe place and remove yourself from the situation for a few minutes. Call a friend or mentor, pray, listen to music- do whatever will help you calm down before you press re-start and try again. We all get to that place at one time or another. It is better to take a break for a few minutes then to do something out of anger that you can't take back.
What are some healthy ways you deal with frustration?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Truth about Church People

Last Sunday we talked about why you should go to church.  Today, let's talk about why you might not want to go.

Perhaps it was a negative experience as a child- were you the kid that rode the big bus that came to pick up all the poor kids from downtown, sat them in the front row and got yelled at about hellfire and brimstone for the next two hours?

Or maybe a more recent hurt when you walked in to a church and your swollen bellied self was met with judgmental glances and  there was not a friendly face to be found.

I'm going to tell you something about church- it is full of imperfect human beings.  People just like you- people that mess up, sin, go down the wrong path and make bad choices. People that misunderstand the Gospel and think they have to show you how to get to Heaven instead of introducing you to the only One that can get you there.

There are far more people there that have been where you are- people that messed up and had it tough as a kid.  People who one day realized they couldn't do life on their own anymore- they needed rescued.  And now they are eager to help others find their way to the Rescuer.

 I am so sorry if you have been on the receiving end of a Christian having a bad day or a church that is getting it wrong when it comes to reaching out to those that are looking for comfort and hope.  I wish I could say it won't happen again. But, the truth is- it might.  Cause like I said earlier, churches are full of imperfect people. 

There's a saying that going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car and it's so true. Just because you encounter a negative person at a church doesn't mean that person's feelings are indicative of how the rest of the congregation feels about you and your situation. If someone at church judges you or puts you down, they may need a dose of the same Jesus you came to church to find.

So, I am asking you to try again.  If you are staying away from church because things didn't go well the last time you were there- go to a different church {next week we will talk about what to look for}, ask a friend to go with you, call and talk to the pastor before you go but go again.
The benefits far outweigh the risk.

Till tomorrow,

Friday, January 10, 2014

Making Choices for Two

When women are pregnant, the phrase "eating for two" is often uttered.  Your mindset shifts when you become a mother. No longer are you living just for yourself.  You have an innocent, vulnerable life to protect. And, every decision you make from here on out will impact two lives.

What a responsibility!

Here are some things to keep in mind when making decisions that will impact not just your life but also the life of your child:
  • Do I truly need to make a decision right now?  Sometimes, what we are facing right now can seem huge and important but really, in the grand scheme of things, won't matter that much in the long run. Sometimes this sense of urgency will leave us feeling like we have to act on something or decide something right-this-very-minute when we need to push the pause button and think things through before acting. 
  • Have I considered the pros and cons, particularly the impact this decision will have on my child's life?   Just because you want to do something and you feel it is best for you doesn't mean it's best for your child.  As moms, we need to be willing to sacrifice our wants and sometimes even our needs in order for our children to have the life they deserve. 
  • Have I sought wise counsel?  I used to tell the teen moms I worked with that they shouldn't be seeking relationship advice from someone who has never had a successful relationship.  You wouldn't go to an investor and trust them with your money if they had never been able to turn a profit, right?  Find a mentor, a woman further along in life than you that mirrors the woman you would like to be someday. Find someone you can trust to confide in, a friend that isn't afraid to say "that's probably not the best choice" even if telling you that is going to make you mad.  Stay away from friends that agree with you about everything- I call them "yes" people. A true friend will tell you "no" every once in a while.
  • Have I prayed about this?  The wisest counsel you will every receive comes from the Ultimate Friend.  Be honest with God, talk to Him like you do the friend just talked about.  Tell Him your fears, your desires, your goals and your struggles.  Nothing you say is going to be a surprise to Him, so lay it all out there. Then, ask Him to show you the right choice.  He is faithful to answer us when we are listening for His voice.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
    do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
    and he will show you which path to take." Proverbs 3:5-6

What things do you consider when making an important decision?

Till tomorrow,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Moving Past a Bad Day

We've all been there. Those days leave you wanting a do-over before you even get out of bed.

You get up late because you forgot to set the alarm, you quickly realize you didn't wash your work shirt and the baby has peed through her pajamas and sheets.  You wipe the baby off with a baby wipe 'cause there's no time for a bath and spray your little brothers Axe body spray on your work shirt to mask any offensive odors.  You rush out the door with a cold poptart in hand and have to go back in the house because you forgot the diaper bag.  You hit every stinkin' red light in town on the way to daycare and get to work just in time to clock in before the 7 minute late mark. And, so goes the rest of your day.

By the time you pick up your baby from daycare, you have spent a 6 hour work shift in an irritated state and sat through a boring 75 minute lecture in your sociology class where you were assigned a 12 page paper due in two days. The last thing you feel like doing is listening to a baby who is teething and yes, starting to run a fever.

And then, by the time you close your eyes and try to catch an hour or two of sleep before it's time to get up and press repeat, you wonder how you will make it through the next four days, let alone seventeen years.

Sometimes we forget that we have the power to choose our attitude no matter what our circumstances are.  When I am grumpy or cranky, I tend to take it out on those I'm closest to- my husband and my kids.  They should get the best of me but often times they get the short tempered, snippy, impatient me that not many other people see.

It's okay to feel overwhelmed.  It's okay to have bad days.  Just don't let those bad days turn into bad weeks turn into bad years. 

When you feel like you just can't make it through another stressful moment, there is One person that can help you turn your frown upside down.  His name is Jesus and He is a great listener and always there to help you turn your attitude around.

"call for help when you’re in trouble—
    I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.” Psalm 50:15

One thing I do when I'm feeling really stressed is to write down 3-5 things that I am thankful for.  Not the big things like: I'm thankful for my child or thankful for a roof over my head.  But, I pay attention to the little things that happened that same day that were a blessing.  Like my favorite creamer in my coffee, the guy that held the elevator for me at work, the sound of birds chirping. There is no right or wrong way to do this exercise. The goal is just to open our eyes to the tiny blessings that we encounter throughout our every day life that we tend to overlook, especially when we are cranky and feeling sorry for ourselves.

What do you do to turn a bad day around?

Till tomorrow,

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

35 Things I've Learned about Life

Today is my 35th birthday.  My age doesn't make me feel old but having my firstborn graduate from high school this year sure will!  A few years ago I wrote a post about things I had learned through life and thought I would share it with you here in honor of my birthday.  I added two more to the list since I'm 35 now :-)

  1. Polka dots and hot pink make me smile.
  2. There are few sounds that bring as much joy as a baby belly laughing.
  3. Marriage is hard work, but oh so worth it.
  4. There is a huge difference between a job, a career and a calling.
  5. When people say “enjoy these moments because they grow up so fast” they are not exaggerating one bit.  Kids literally grow up in the blink of an eye.
  6. Having a near death experience will remove most fear from your life and replace it with a sense of urgency to live EVERY minute fully.
  7. Chocolate makes everything most things better.
  8. God is good ALL the time and ALL the time God is good.
  9. Having kids old enough to drive is scary yet very convenient.
  10. God’s plan frequently looks nothing like my plan, but is always the best plan.
  11. No matter how many children you have there is always enough love to go around.
  12. Speaking of parenthood, it is the most challenging, rewarding, frustrating, meaningful, exhausting miracle in the world.
  13. You are not defined by your past.
  14. Life is not fair, but God is.
  15. Friendships, like gardens, need tended, watered and weeded regularly.
  16. Nail polish is a cheap and easy way to feel pretty.
  17. You can make any house a home if the people you love are there with you.
  18. God’s heart is for restoration and when it is possible, love and time can heal wounds.
  19. Friends are your family of choice.
  20. Writing is a salve to the soul.
  21. A good yellow makes a perfect wall color.
  22. Being organized makes life easier.
  23. I wouldn’t remember anyone’s birthday if it wasn’t for Facebook.
  24. Teen moms are special people and working with them is a privilege.
  25. Parenting teenagers is like having your fingernails plucked off with tweezers.
  26. You can’t save the world and God doesn’t expect you to.
  27. It’s okay to take antidepressants.
  28. Pets are members of the family too.
  29. Being connected with a body of believers is crucial to spiritual health.
  30. Why not me?
  31. Every day, there are blessings and miracles happening around you.  All you have to do is open the eyes of your heart and be thankful.
  32. Words hurt.  Guard your tongue.
  33. Just as Jesus said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.
  34. Sometimes the best time is right now!
  35. Each stage of life brings it's own challenges and rewards.
I would love for you to share one thing life has taught you in the comments below!
Till tomorrow {and happy birthday to me!}

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

4 Keys to Being a Happy Teen Mom

Yesterday we talked about the fact that motherhood isn't always giggles and cuddles.  It's hard work and sometimes it's not at all that we expected it to be.

Motherhood is also a wonderful journey.  Two of my four are grown now and the other two are pretty close to leaving the nest.  So, I can tell you from experience that being a mama is the most rewarding thing you can do with your life- your time, your love and your energy.  In order to make the most of every mommy moment, there are some things you should keep in mind.

  • Ask for and accept help.  It has been said that "it takes a village to raise a child".  This is a true statement.  Whether you get help from your parents, your grandparents, a mentor, a teacher or a friend; it is important to surround yourself with people that want the best for you and your baby.  Being a young mom and trying to finish school or work or both is stressful and you are much more likely to be able to balance all those roles if you have supportive people in your corner.
  • Get enough rest.  When you have a new baby in the house, the concept of a full nights sleep isn't realistic.  The best advice I received as a new mom was to sleep when the baby sleeps.  Those first few months can be a exhausting blur so sneak in your cat naps when you can.  As your child gets older, set a bedtime and stick to it. It is nice to have a quiet time in the evening to unwind {or catch up on homework}.  Resist the temptation to stay up all night so you can get more things done because you will be one cranky mama and more likely to get sick. 
  • Cultivate a happy home.  I put a lot of pressure on myself when my kids were smaller to give them the "perfect" childhood {and let me burst your bubble- there is NO such thing!} My childhood was chaotic and my brothers and I spent time in foster care.  As a young girl I vowed that things would be different for my kids.  But, what I didn't realize back then is that it's not the clothes I buy my kids or the latest toys and trinkets that create a happy home.  It is the stuff you can't buy and provide that will leave your child feeling safe and secure.  It's snuggling on the couch reading stories before bed. It's singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" 347,295 times in a row.  Don't stress yourself out buying and decorating and manufacturing memories for your child.  Commit to being present in the moment with your child and even if you can only afford rice and beans for dinner every night, they will grow up with positive memories of their childhood!
  • Focus on what you are doing right.  There will be plenty of times that you will feel like a failure as a parent.  That is not just because you had your child at a young age. It is a feeling that comes with the title "mom". Try to take a moment every once in a while to look at your child- what have they learned, how have they grown and consider the part you played in those accomplishments.  Babies don't feed themselves! If your baby is chunky, kiss those little rolls and be proud that you are providing them nourishment.  Be aware and open to working on areas of your parenting that need improvement, but don't let the good that you do go unnoticed.
"When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say,
    and she always says it kindly.
She keeps an eye on everyone in her household,
    and keeps them all busy and productive.
Her children respect and bless her.." Proverbs 31:26-27

What brings you joy as a mom?

Till Tomorrow,

Monday, January 6, 2014

When having a baby isn't what you expected

There is nothing quite like the feeling of being pregnant. 

There is new life growing inside you. And while that can be an intimidating thought, it's also pretty cool!  You and your baby have a special bond since no one else gets to feel those first little flutters of movement. 

Then the baby arrives.  Maybe you have to have a c-section and don't feel up to bonding those first few days.  Maybe your baby arrives early and has to stay in the NICU for a while.  Maybe your baby was just born fussy.  Whatever the case may be, the reality of what life is like once the baby gets here is often quite different than what we expected.

Not to mention that everyone has an opinion about how you should care for him/her- breast or bottle? Cloth or disposable? Co-sleep or let them cry it out in their crib? 

And, who is going to watch your child while you go back to school or work?  How will you find time to do homework, let alone sleep?  How will you make your minimum wage paycheck stretch to afford diapers and daycare?

The reality of having a baby young can be a hard reality to face. 

The added pressure of wanting to give your child all that you never had growing up will leave you feeling overwhelmed.

But, wait! This was supposed to be fun.  You were finally going to have someone that loved you unconditionally.  You were going to be the mom you always wanted. 

But most nights you cry yourself to sleep, feeling like you failed your baby and yourself.

How can you be a happy mom with all this {and more} on your shoulders?

It is possible, I promise.  Come back tomorrow and we will talk about it.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

3 Reasons to go to Church

On Sundays, all across America and the rest of the world, people {including myself} venture out of their homes and into a church. Some church services are held in traditional church buildings while many others are held in less traditional venues including schools, movie theaters and homes.  The "where" of church is not important.  The benefit of church attendance is in the gathering together with other people.

As a matter of fact that is what the Greek word that is used in the Bible that is interpreted as church really means- the gathering together of people for a common purpose.  Modern day church is the gathering together of people to worship, pray, study and fellowship.

During these 365 days together I am going to devote our Sundays to talking about church- the good, the bad and the ugly.  I strongly believe that regularly attending a church is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your child(ren).  But I also know that many of you may have had not-so-nice experiences at a church that make you never want to return to any church, at any time.

I'm going to start by giving you three reasons to regularly attend church.  Next week, we will talk about how to find a church that you like and feel comfortable at.

  1. You will make friends.  Some of the best friends I've ever had are women I have met at church.  As a teen mom, you probably lost a lot of friendships when you had your baby.  Unless they have a baby too, it can be hard for the friends we grew up with to feel like they have anything in common with us once our baby arrives.  Conversely, you may not have been choosing the best type of people to hang out with before your child arrived and may have needed to distance yourself from your old friends.  Either way, being a teen mom can leave you feeling isolated and alone.  Church is a great way to combat those feelings.  Meeting other moms and other women in a setting like church is non-threatening.  You already have something in common- you both attend the same church.  I encourage you to get involved in mom's groups and women's events at the church you attend.   The Bible says "where two or three are gathered together, I am there with them." What better way to begin a friendship than with God right there too?
  2. Church is good for your {emotional and physical}health . Studies have shown that people that regularly attend church experience less stress and rebound from depression 70% faster than people that don't go to church.  Being around positive people, lifting your heart in worship to God and having others pray for you are probably some of the reasons that church is good for you.  Another study showed that people that attend church have a longer life expectancy and less health problems related to stress including high blood pressure and headaches!  We are told in John 14:27  that God gives us peace: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled..."
  3. You will get to know God better. A relationship with God, a true encounter with Jesus- girls, it will change your life.  You may have doubts about whether God even exists.  That's ok.  Don't let it stop you from searching for the answers you want.  Church is the best place to be when you don't know where you and God stand.  Find a church that encourages you to seek answers to the questions you have and points you to where you can find the answers.
There are many more benefits that we will talk about in weeks to come. 

When is the last time you went to church?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Setting SMART goals

I briefly introduced you to SMART goals in yesterday's post. Do you remember what SMART stands for?
Time Framed

Setting goals is great but if you don't think through your goals and how they will be achieved, then the only thing you are accomplishing is writing some sentences on paper. You won't have anything to show for it at the end of the year.
The Bible tells us that making wise decisions is more valuable than gold.

"How much better to get wisdom than gold! and good judgment than silver." Proverbs 16:16

Let me give you some examples.

You may set a goal that you want to lose weight.  Using the S for specific, you would make your goal to lose 15 pounds and go down to pants sizes. This would also make your goal measurable in that you would know when you achieved it. When you lose 15 lbs, you've achieved your goal.  You also want to remember the A for achievable.  Losing 15 lbs is an achievable goal. It doesn't mean that 15 lbs is all you can lose or you have to stop at 15. If you achieve the 15 lb. goal then you could move onto the next goal of another 15, etc. I've found this works better for maintaining motivation rather than setting your original goal to lose 45 lbs., getting frustrated when your weight loss plateaus and giving up altogether.

The R in SMART goals stands for realistic.  It is important that our goals be not only achievable but realistic for our time and situation.  It isn't a bad thing to dream and stretch ourselves but we don't want to live in denial or set ourselves up for failure either.

For instance, I am NOT a runner. I don't like to sweat and I'm big up top, which is just not fun when you run.  However, I have friends that swear that running is the best way to stay fit and that it makes them feel amazing.  So, I want to be a runner. I want to stay fit and I want to feel amazing.  I am trying to incorporate physical activity in my daily life.  But, I am not going to set a goal to run a marathon in 2014. That is simply not realistic.

Could I run a 5k? Sure {if fast paced walking counts as running :)} Could I run 3 days a week? Absolutely.  Those would be more realistic goals than running a marathon and if I stick with those goals, running a marathon could be in my future {except I don't like to sweat and 26 miles is a lot!}Definitely stick to realistic goals for yourself.

Last but not least, make sure your goals are time framed.  If you make a goal that you want to read more, how will you know if you've achieved it?  A SMART goal would be "I will read 1 book a month I haven't read before in 2014". That is specific {a book you haven't read before}, measurable {read 1 book a month} it is achievable and realistic and time framed {you will accomplish the goal in 2014}.

I hope that this has helped you see the difference between a generic goal and a SMART goal.

I would love for you to share a SMART goal you write for yourself in the comments below.

Till tomorrow,

Friday, January 3, 2014

What do you want your life to look like?

I read a quote on Facebook in the past few weeks and it fits well with today's post.

photo credit:

One of the things I love about New Year's Day is that it symbolizes a fresh start.  Whether last year was your best year ever or one you would rather not repeat, a fresh start is a good thing.  And, a fresh start is the best time to think about goals for your life- for this week, for this year and for your future.

The Bible tells us that planning ahead is a good thing as long as we understand that God is ultimately in control.
"We plan the way we want to live, but only God makes us able to live it.  It pays to take life seriously." Proverbs 16:9
This week, we have talked about general concepts to focus on in the year ahead. Now, let's talk about how to develop specific goals related to your life and your circumstances.

The first step is knowing where you want to go in life.  Your goals may be about different parts of your life- education, parenting, relationships.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • What kind of home do you want your kids to grow up in and what can you do to create it?
  • What would you do if you could do anything?
  • What did you want to be when you were a little girl?
  • What are the three things you want to change most about your current situation?
Use your answers to the questions above to set your destination {where you want to be in 1 yr, 5 yrs, etc} and then develop SMART goals to help you get there.  SMART is an acronym.
It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Framed. {We will talk about SMART goals tomorrow}

This year, my focus {similar to the 5 resolutions I encouraged you to make} is on staying healthy, spending lots of time with my family, working toward my career and ministry goals and sharing God's love with others. My goals are to lose 15 lbs before my anniversary {which is in July}, to decide on a master's degree program and apply for it and to help my 3 year old granddaughter and 16 year old son adjust to having a newborn {my daughter is having her baby in February} in the house.
Do you see the difference between focus and goals?  They go hand in hand as they both have to do with your values and your desires.  Focus helps you narrow down what you want to achieve and goals tell you what it will look like when you get there.

Time goes by whether we are intentional about how we want to live our lives or not.  Your kids will get older, you will get older no matter what.  The choice of whether your life will turn out the way you want it to is largely up to you.  When you have a plan and goals for your life, it makes it easier to get back on track when hard times come your way. 

Are you a planner or do you tend to let life just happen?

Till tomorrow,

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Bucket List for the New Year

Have you made a bucket list? I haven't but I think it's a neat idea.  The Bible tells us that having plans is a good thing. 

Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you further behind. Proverbs 21:5
When I was writing yesterday's post, I thought of several things that could be considered New Years resolutions, some serious, some silly.  Since we already established I'm not a big fan of those, I thought we could call them a bucket list for 2014.  Read what I came up with and let me know in the comments if you would add anything.

  • Paint your nails as soon as the paint starts to chip.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff.
  • Set aside spare change and save for a mama's day out or a family getaway day.
  • Don't wear pajamas to Walmart.
  • Remember that Twitter, Instagram and Facebook can't replace real life experiences.
  • Give your kids a bed time and stick to it.
  • Always have toilet paper on hand.
  • Drink more water.
  • Don't text and drive.
  • Stop beating yourself up- just move forward.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Step out of your comfort zone every chance you get.
  • Start a journal.
  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Read a book every month.
What would you add to this list?

And speaking of Twitter, etc. I wanted to let you know where else you can find me.  Click on the link of each site {I included my instagram username too} and you will be taken to my profile.

Instagram- MelissaSmallwood

Till tomorrow,

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

5 New Years Resolutions for Teen Moms

Alright, ladies! Today we are diving into 365 days of devotions written just for you.  Is anyone else excited that it is a brand new year?

Perhaps 2013 was a tough one for you. I've had those years.  Years where it felt like nothing went the way I planned or the way I thought it should go.  When those years were coming to a close, the countdown to midnight on New Years Eve was filled with even more anticipation than usual.

Our verse for today is from Deuteronomy 7:13. I love this verse because it talks about what God wants to do for us, because He loves us:

He will love you, He will bless you, He will increase you.

I'm not big on New Years resolutions. Don't get me wrong though! I think setting goals is very important {we will talk more about that on the 3rd}. But, going all in on January 1st to lose weight or stop smoking can be setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.  Today, instead of specific things for you to accomplish in 2014, I am going to share 5 general concepts I hope you will focus on in the coming year and beyond.

  1. Enjoy your child right now!! When my boys were babies, I was overwhelmed, exhausted and had a bad bout of postpartum depression (having two babies in 15 months will do that to a girl).  They were the cutest, sweetest babies in the world and I didn't take the time to enjoy them. It is one thing I regret. You don't get those moments back so make sure you cherish each one.
  2. Make your health a priority- your physical, emotional and spiritual health!  Do you need to make healthier food choices? Don't we all?  Do you need to let go of a grudge or exercise more patience? Don't we all? Do you need to go to church or blow the dust off your Bible?  Don't we all?  A new year is the perfect time for a fresh start. Make 2014 your healthy year.
  3. Don't get distracted.  We are going to talk a lot about things that can knock us off the train tracks of life.  A break-up, failing your college mid terms, getting fired from a job, nasty comments about your situation from someone you look up to and I could go on and on.  It is crucial that you don't let temporary set backs distract you from your ultimate goal- being the best mom you can be. 
  4. Cut yourself some slack.  I'm my own worst enemy and becoming a young mom didn't help me in that regard. I expected perfection from myself and when I fell short of my own expectations, I felt useless and sometimes even thought my kids would have been better off born to another mom.  Ugh! It stinks to feel that way and, more importantly, it's a waste of time and energy.  If you burn dinner, shrink your work shirt in the dryer, don't make homemade goodies for the preschool Valentine party or forget to call your sister on her birthday- IT'S OKAY!!! You have a lot on your plate and you will for the next 18 years. Now is a great time to start cutting yourself some slack.
  5. Learn as much as possible about your child.  Kids don't come with an instruction manual but we do live in the Google age.  Read as much as you can about child development- how their brains work, what to expect at their age and stage, etc.  Study your child to learn what motivates them, what makes them smile, what makes them sad.  Not only will this deepen your bond with your child but it will help you in the years to come. The better you know your child, the easier they are to parent.
Ok, that completes my list of things to focus on in 2014.  I would love to hear your New Years resolutions in the comments, if you have made any.  Let's cheer each other on!

Till tomorrow,