Sanity Saving Tips for Growth Spurts

Sanity Saving Tips for Growth Spurts

Our little boy turned 8½ months this week! He’s growing like a weed, in size and in ability. He’s crawling everywhere, pulling himself up on furniture, opening drawers, and playing with vents. I’m finding that I have to scramble to stay ahead of him!

At first, his growth spurt made everything seem suddenly off-kilter. My routines didn’t work anymore, and it suddenly seemed like I was playing catch-up. One day everything was normal, and the next felt like chaos.

Honestly, it took me a while to adjust. I liked the way things had been working, and having them change was hard. But our wonderful little boy was growing up, and now…. Mommy had to “grow” a bit too.

Below are just a few things I’ve learned in this growth spurt. I hope they’re helpful!

 

  1. Do a Heart Check.

This one hurt a bit. You know those moments when you feel frustrated and impatient and put out because things just aren’t going the way you wanted them to? That’s what I was dealing with. There were times when I’d have something I wanted to do, and our dear little boy just wouldn’t cooperate. Circumstances would get in the way of the things on my agenda, like doing the dishes, or reorganizing a cupboard or reading a magazine. Pretty soon our little boy is “into” something again, and I’m frustrated and impatient at having been interrupted again.

I had to take a step back and reassess. Why am I responding in frustration? Where is this impatience coming from? In the end, my heart was in the wrong place. I was valuing my agenda before my son and his needs. I was responding sinfully because my priorities were out of whack. That’s an idol.

Sorry for the personal questions, but what about you? Are there times when you are responding in frustration, impatience, or anger? What does that say about your heart?

  1. Hit the Refresh Button.

I love the time that I spend with God in the mornings. I’ve committed to waking up a little earlier than I really need to so that I can spend quality time with Him. I read the Bible, take notes, pray, and tell my husband about things that I’ve learned. If you’re a Christian, you’ll know what I mean when I say I’m able to start my day with a fresh attitude of joy because of something that God has taught me in the Bible that morning.

I’ve found that there are sometimes during the day that I just need a few minutes to sit down and refresh too. Mostly it happens during Baby’s nap. Just a couple minutes in God’s Word can help me reclaim my attitude of joy. Baby and I both have a better afternoon when I’ve taken a little time to “refresh.”

  1. Take Time to Play.

Now that my heart attitude has been set and reset, I’m ready to interact with Baby. 🙂 We share space all the time, but it’s really important to prioritize time when Baby has my absolute full attention too. I try to start the day off with at least fifteen minutes of “Baby time.” I sing songs with him, tell stories, build with blocks, and play farm. Baby might be getting more independent, but he does still need that Mommy playtime. It gives us a great start to the day, and he’s better able to play independently later.

  1. Build Play Safe Zones.

Baby is pretty good at playing independently, but I’ve had to brainstorm ways to help him play safely while I’m working around the house. Building those safe zones takes a little creativity, but it’s still really easy!

Walker – I like to walk around the house and tidy up in the mornings, and Baby’s walker works well for this routine. We’ll move from room to room together while I do some general cleaning. It works well because I can keep my eye on him, and he enjoys getting to stretch his legs and bounce around. (Our advantage in this one is we don’t have stairs that he can get to. You might need to do some more brainstorming if your stairs are Baby-accessible.)

High Chair – Baby is at a stage where he can feed himself Cheerios and bananas and things, so the high chair works well for kitchen work. I’ll give him some finger food to play with, and that usually keeps him entertained for the time I need to get things done.

Play Fort – This one is a lot of fun! We spend a lot of time playing in our living room, but there are some spaces there (like our fireplace) that are not Baby-safe. Solution: Barricade! I used blankets, a piano bench, and a quilt rack to create a safe space for Baby to play. Now I can walk out of the room for a few moments and know that Baby is playing safely.

  1. Go with the Flow.

I’ve also had to practice “going with the flow” with this growth spurt. With his abilities expanding and our routines changing, my flexibility has become really important. It’s a little harder to predict what his needs are, so there are some times when I might be in the middle of making supper and he’ll my full attention. Thankfully my husband is wonderfully understanding. He knows that I can’t do two things at once, and he’d rather I meet Baby’s needs first, even if it means his supper is fifteen minutes late. 🙂

  1. Be the Parent.

I’m finding that I need to say “no” more as Baby becomes more mobile. As parents, we do want our kids to be happy, but that doesn’t always mean we should give them what they want. We know what is good for them better than they do, and there are times when we need to exercise our authority. Baby loves ping pong balls, electrical cords, and our living room fireplace, but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to give them to him! He doesn’t know that ping pong balls are not for eating, or that electrical cords are dangerous. He needs me to keep him safe – that’s my job as his mommy. So don’t be afraid to tell him no!

What are your tricks for keeping your kiddos corralled? I’d love to hear about them!

~ Erin

Must Read Books for Mommies

Must Read Books for Mommies

I used to read all the time. Relaxing meant finding a sunshiny corner of the couch, ignoring the dishes in the sink, and getting lost in a good book. Since our little treasure has been born, moments like this have become few and far between. (If that hasn’t been your experience, you must tell me your secret!) Now relaxing means catching up on dishes, not avoiding them. 🙂

That being said, there are some books are worth making time to read. Books about marriage and homemaking and parenting keep me humble and help me grow as a wife and homemaker and mommy. That’s what I found with Rachel Jankovic’s book Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches. It’s a short read – only 102 pages, 2-5 pages per chapter – and it’s full of practical wisdom for parenting. (Rachel had five children, ages 5 and under, when she wrote this book, so she’s definitely writing from experience!)

Reading Rachel’s book was like a breath of fresh air, one of those books you want to read every few months, just to regain some perspective. Plus it’s full of fun – read her story about lacking sleep from twins! I’m including a few of my favorite quotes from Loving the Little Years below. I hope they tempt you into reading it too – it’s definitely worth it! 🙂

 

“…there is only one thing in my entire life that must be organized. The kids can be running like a bunch of hooligans through a house that appears to be at the bottom of a toaster, and yet, if organization and order can still be found in my attitude, we are doing well.” (page 11)

“Try to notice [the] little mile markers on the path of sanctification. If the sins have changed, it can be a sign of growth. It is not as though our children are going to emerge from their current problems into perfect holiness….They are going to emerge from one set of problems into the next, and that is good.” (page 22-23)

“…God does not tell us to necessarily be strategic with our fruit [spiritually speaking]…What happens to all our fruit is not our problem. That doesn’t that we are not to care about the fruit. While it is on our branches, it is our life work. It is an offering to God, and we ought to care intensely about the quality of our fruit. But the branches are our responsibility; the ground is not.” (page 32-33)

“Christian childrearing is a pastoral pursuit, not an organizational challenge.” (page 50)

“[Sometimes] it is like all my children have a growth spurt at the same time and develop new needs. This is only a problem when Mom doesn’t have a growth spurt herself.” (page 72)

“God does not command things that make life miserable – His commands are a means of joy. Make your children understand that obedience leads to freedom and joy – it is the path to life.” (page 98)

How to Thrive in Chaos

How to Thrive in Chaos

“There is only one thing in my entire life that must be organized…if organization and order can still be found in my attitude, we are doing well. But if my attitude falters, even in the midst of external order, so does everything else.”

– Rachel Jankovic, Loving the Little Years

Yesterday morning was crazy. Our little boy was fussy and managed to spit up through his nose before his nap. (I know. Gross.) It took a while to calm him down, because I can’t kiss it better if it’s on the inside. After his nap, he toppled a small table stand, breaking a snow globe and a glass vase of artificial flowers. (Picture glass and water everywhere with Baby looking at you like, that was a big noise…) Later, he managed to close his fingers in a drawer to our coffee table. That wasn’t a very pleasant experience either.

None of these particular events were on my agenda for the day. Things like folding cloth diapers and cleaning house were on my list, not mopping up broken snow globes.

As crazy as the morning sounds though, I wasn’t feeling overwhelmed. I honestly didn’t even think about all the crazy things that were adding up until after the fact. Life happens, babies bounce back, spills mop up, and we move on.

Rachel Jankovic https://www.feminagirls.com/about/ is a mother of seven children (including one set of twins!), and she is the author of Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches, a book full of real life and practical wisdom when it comes to parenting.  (If you haven’t heard of this book, you can learn more about it here https://www.feminagirls.com/books/. I would recommend reading it!)

Rachel’s premise is that it is possible for us to stay joyful in the midst of chaos if only we can keep our perspective. If we can look at our broken snow globe and think, Well, I’ve always wanted to know what was on the inside of those, and if we can look past Baby’s fussiness and be thankful that he is strong and healthy.

I’ll be completely honest – I can’t keep my perspective on my own. I might really want to. I might even manage for a while. But I’m too selfish to not mind when life’s craziness interferes with my agenda. I need help maintaining the kind of attitude that Rachel talks about. If you are a Christian, you know that help comes from God.

For example: Yesterday morning, before Andrew was up, I was struck by King David’s dilemma. He grew up the son of a shepherd. His training took place in the fields and consisted of protecting and providing food for the flock. Now he finds himself making decisions for a nation – making laws, executing justice, and defending borders.

David realizes that this governing thing is too great for him. He doesn’t feel qualified for the task. So he delights in the fact that God will help him! In fact, he has joy in the face of his enemies because God is with him. Take a look!

“For you make him [the king] most blessed forever; you make him glad with the joy of your presence. For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.”   – Psalm 21:6-7

Forgive me if I gush a little. Isn’t that amazing? It’s possible to have joy in the midst of the chaos! I know I don’t have the wisdom or the strength to raise Andrew. I am out of my league with this mommy-ing thing. But I know that as a Christian, God is with me! What strength can compare with God’s strength? What wisdom can compare with God’s wisdom? Whose presence is more precious than God’s presence?

Who would we rather be trusting in?

The steadfast love of the Most High God strengthens our hands for the chaos. He is with us in the “thick of it.” He will not let us be shaken as we trust in Him.

Okay, maybe I gushed a bit more than a little. But God is worth it, right? 🙂 The fresh perspective that He gave me yesterday morning filled me with joy and strengthened me for the chaos for the day. And I will praise God for that!

What do you think? How has God helped you keep perspective in the midst of the chaos? I would love to hear about it!

~ Erin

 

Baby Literacy

Baby Literacy

The teacher in me can’t wait to start homeschooling our little boy. I’m looking forward to the science experiments that we’ll get to do, the math games we’ll get to play, and the good books we’ll get to read. So I can’t quite resist finding little ways to incorporate learning activities into Andrew’s day, even if he is only eight months old. It’s not hard to do. In fact, you probably do most of these already! Here are a few of our favorite activities that encourage Baby Literacy!

  1. Sing the ABC song!

I love singing the ABC’s with Andrew. We clap our hands and pat our knees and do funny things with our hands in time with the song. Andrew loves it! There is also another great version if you are a Christian –

A B C D E F G

Jesus Died for You and Me.

H  I J K L M N

Jesus Died for Sinful Men, Amen!

O P Q R S T U

I Believe God’s Word is True.

U V W

God Has Promised You

X Y Z

A Home Eternally!

 

  1. Repeat their sounds back.

Andrew has learned the “m” and “b” sounds in the last few weeks, and I’ve been having a blast encouraging him to practice his sounds. I try to come up with as many words that start with m and b as I can, like mama, milk, monkey, baby, bottle, and bumblebee. He gets a kick out of hearing me make his sounds. We work on others too – especially “d.” We can’t wait for him to say “dada!”

  1. Play with alphabet blocks.

We got Andrew a set of Alphabet blocks for Christmas. Andrew and I put them in alphabetical order, find the letters for his name, and practice making letter sounds. The blocks are also great for making towers for him to knock down! In fact, most of the time we play with these blocks is not spend “academically” per se. Even as we make towers, Andrew is being exposed to the letters and getting used to seeing them everywhere. The time for him to know which letter is which will come soon enough. 🙂

  1. Have magnetic letters on the refrigerator.

We don’t have these yet, but they are on my list of things to get as soon as Andrew gets past the stage of putting everything into his mouth. It’s just another great way for kids to interact with the letters of the alphabet!

  1. Have board books around.

I try to put a few board books on the floor when I get toys out for Andrew to play with. I want him to grow up surrounded by opportunities to read. Of course he can’t read them yet, but he’ll pick them up and try to open the pages. He knows that’s what they’re supposed to do!

  1. Read books to them!

This one is my all-time favorite. Andrew likes to cuddle for a while before naptime, so we’ve made a little tradition of it. He’ll let me know when he’s tired, and I’ll grab his blanket and a couple of books from the shelf to read to him. Not only does it teach Andrew to like reading, it also gives Mommy some good cuddle time and calms him down so he falls asleep faster. That’s a triple bonus in my book! 🙂

 

What are your favorite ways to encourage literacy at this age? I would love to hear about them!

Favorite Games for 7-Month-Olds

Our little boy had his 7 month birthday last week. It seems like he grows every time I blink! I remember looking at the clothes he’s wearing now and thinking, “No, I can’t imagine him growing that big.” Now I look back at those newborn onesies and I’m amazed that he was ever that small!

Playing with our little pumpkin is so fun. He’s very curious, and I can almost see him learning as we play. I’m including a few of our favorite games below. Feel free to add your own favorite games in the comments below. I’m on the look-out for more! 🙂

  1. Pat-a-Cake

I think this is my top favorite. We do the actions, which always end in end in tickling Andrew, and I love seeing the anticipation in Andrew’s face. He knows what Mommy’s going to do, and he giggles so hard when he gets into it!

  1. Pop Up

Remember these toys? Andrew got one for Christmas, and it’s one of his favorites right now. He can’t make the little animals pop up yet, but he loves watching Mommy and Daddy do it. You can just see his mind trying to figure it out!

  1. Reach!

Andrew is close to crawling now. He doesn’t really use his knees yet; instead, he alternates between pulling himself forward with his hands and pushing himself forward with his toes. It’s so fun to watch! I’ve been using playtime to encourage his crawling – I grab some of his favorite toys and put them in a line on the carpet. He starts at one end and inches toward the nearest toy until he can reach forward and play with it. Soon, he’ll get tired of that one and start inching for the next. He really gets a work-out with this game!

  1. Mirror, Mirror, On the Wall!

We have a vanity mirror that Andrew loves to play with. He touches the glass, trying to reach the baby on the other side. He can never quite reach him though – the other baby’s hand always gets in the way!

  1. Laundry

There are some times when I need a place for Andrew to play by himself for a while, and that’s when I pull out my laundry basket. We put a soft towel in the bottom for him to sit on, and his favorite blanket gets draped over the basket. With a few toys tossed in, he can usually sit in the corner of the basket and amuse himself for good ten minutes. I love this trick because I can move the basket to whatever room I’m working in. He can see me and play, I can see him and work, everybody is happy. 🙂

What’s your favorite game to play with the kiddos? I would love to hear about it! 🙂