So I am pretty sure the karate chop that my 7-year old son did to my 4-year old daughter’s neck in the checkout line was my final straw. Although, it could have been the yoga/exercise down the aisles or the hide-and-seek in the clothing racks that did it. It does not matter much because I WAS DONE! And by done, I mean really done…like really, really 15 steps past done. Every bit of patience I had left after the spilled coke and melted ice cream cones had dwindled away, and what saved my children was the fact that I was forced to maintain a calm demeanor in public.
As I stepped foot into my household, it was all I had to hold it together. I declared a one hour moment of silence for nap time, or silent reading time, or carpet time, or whatever the kids needed to do to give me a moment. It took me days to recover…DAYS! I did not make my husband’s last home game. I did not make the afternoon getaway the next day with a friend for the craft show. I did not make brunch with my girlfriends. Leaving the house was out of the question.
When I get like this, my husband and my friends always ask me what they can do to help. My typical response is “I don’t know”…something…anything really, but I give them no specifics. On my third day of non-recovered, short nerves, I began to soul-seek for solutions, and I came up with the following list on how to help toddler moms. For anyone who is looking to extend a hand, looking for a Christmas gift, or a Mother’s Day gift, or a birthday gift…for all of those who look on and see moms struggling and want to know what they can do…here they are. Here is a list of lifesavers for toddler moms.
I am forever indebted to my husband. The man that I married has no problem ensuring that the kids receive 3 square meals a day. He comes home from work ready and willing to make dinner. While I recognize this is not the case in all households, I also recognize that taking over breakfast, lunch, or dinner takes off a tremendous load. At one points, when my best friend saw that my life was overwhelming, she gifted me homeade crock pot pre-frozen meals. Life. Saving. When you see a mom fighting to hold on, feed her and feed her children.
Certain moms have certain things that they like to be a certain way. All moms could use a little help getting those things that way. Somewhere there is laundry that needs to be folded or put away. There are base boards, doors, counters, cabinets, or fridges that need to be wiped down. There are tubs that need to be scrubbed; floors that need to be swept or mopped; carpet that needs to be vacuumed. There are dishes that need to make their way into the dishwasher or into their proper places in cupboards. You are just the person to aid her in making that happen.
3. Take her somewhere
Take her on a coffee date, a brunch date, or date night. Get her away. Give her a chance to breath. Let her clear her mind. She is stressed out, and she is doing her very best to be positive in a negative environment. She has given it all she has, but she has nothing left. She has fully accepted that mommin ain’t easy, and right now she could just use a chance to relax. Offer her that moment. Make it recurring. Give her a mini getaway.
4. Undo whatever is done in her absence.
The last thing a mom needs to come home to is chaos. I have experienced days when I was sick and rested the entire day, but when I came down stairs after much needed rest, the house was in shambles. There were toys everywhere, papers everywhere, and dishes everywhere. There was mess everywhere. A mom feels like she cannot be sick. A mom feels like she cannot do mini getaways. She fears what is waiting for her when she gets back. If the room is neat when she leaves, she needs it to be neat when she returns. If the dishes are done when she leaves, she needs them to be done when she returns. If the counters are clean when she leaves, she need them to be clean when she returns. If there is no laundry strewn across all of the couches and beds when she leaves, then she hopes there will be no laundry strewn across couches and beds when she returns. It destroys every bit of calm she worked so hard to achieve. It creates unnecessary anxiety, makes her feel as though she does not have the time to rest…not because she cannot use it, but because of what is waiting for her when she gets back.
5. Tell her she is beautiful
She knows that vibrant eyes have been replace with dark circles. She knows that fine lines have replaced smooth skin, that gray hairs have replaced the dark tresses. She knows that her waist line is not what it was. She cannot afford to spend her money on the latest styles, manis and pedis the way she did before. Sometimes a messy bun, no makeup, and sweats are the best she has to offer. She needs to know she is still beautiful even when she is not all dolled up. Tell her as often as you think to say it. Text it to her. Email it to her. Write it out for her. Make sure she knows she is absolutely stunning.
6. Tell her that she is enough
She remembers how the Mardi Gras float that she worked on so hard for her son was underwhelming compared to the rest of the paraders. She remembers that her other son’s Polar Express train car took hours to create and did not make any of the photos on the teacher page. The nap mat that was supposed to go back on Monday after being washed over the weekend, never left her car, and she accidentally took it to work with her the day it was supposed to go back to school with her daughter. She does not have enough Pinterest perfect photos.
She needs to know that she is enough. She needs to know she is doing fine. You think she knows it. You are wrong. She does not know. She needs you to tell her over and over. She needs as much reinforcement as she can get.
7. Pray for her
One of the greatest memories I have of the power of prayer was a youth minister in college. At the time, I was not Catholic, but I had a close Catholic friend who attended Catholic Student Organization faithfully. My boyfriend and I at the time hit a rough patch, to say the least, which led to lots of tears and even more hurt feelings. I vividly remember that every time I ran into this man, he would tell me he was praying for me. And he meant it. I knew he was. I sensed it. Every toddler mom needs that. The greatest gift you can give to help moms is the gift of prayer. She is raising tiny disciples. The more people speaking to Jesus on her behalf, the better.
Everyone needs help. We could all use help. No one was meant to do this thing alone. So for all of you looking for a way to be there for the mom just trying to hold all the pieces together, she really just needs you to be there. She could really use a friend – to hear her out, to take her out, to build her up when she breaks. Talk to her. Pray for her. Then remind her that God has already equipped her with more than enough. She is more than enough.
And now for an exciting announcement. For all the moms looking for a getaway, I have teamed with Karissa Littlejohn at She Flies Solo to do a Mommy and Me at Disney: the Ultimate Mommy Daughter Date. We are headed to Orlando on March 2-6 for a Disney Spa getaway.
We will enjoy a day of uninterrupted mommy and me time with your toddler including lunch at Cinderella’s castle and make plenty of memories at the Magic Kingdom. We will follow-up with a much needed day of rest and relaxation for mommies. A licensed professional will watch the girls, and mothers will get to enjoy adult time. We will have brunch and spa time. We will not have to worry about what is waiting on us when we get back. It is the perfect mommy care package.
What are some ways that you help moms relax?
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