13 October 2014

Don't Delay: 3 Habits Moms Should Start ASAP


I'm so thankful for the progression of parenthood.

I had nine months to prepare mentally and physically for birth, for holding a teeny baby, for the sleepless nights and my recovering body.

I had four months of stays-put baby days before she learned to turn over and move around.

I had a year before she walked.

I had three years before we had intelligent conversations.




And each stage was beautiful.  Thankfully, I was advised early on never to rush my children forward, wishing they'd hurry up and walk, talk, and potty themselves. Thankfully, we've done our best to embrace each stage as unique and joyous.

Still--

Looking back now, I see how I fell into the habit of saying "later later later" with my own habits as I would (rightfully) say that about my children's development. Things I knew were not okay kept creeping back into my routines, or slithering out of them, and I would justify it all with my babies' ignorance, inability, and inactivity.

"I really should change this," I'd say, "but my baby can't tell the difference now anyway." But I was wrong to wait! Habits form early for children, and habits harden into ruts--for us moms.

There are habits that shouldn't wait. Delaying them only makes it harder to change later. Here are three habits that we moms need to work on immediately . . . not when our kids are old enough to notice.

1. Listen to them
It may be cooing, or babbling, or gibberish, or jumbled half-formed sentences. No matter the method, they are communicating. I need to listen to my children with all of my attention. Turn my shoulders in their direction. Keep my eyes locked on theirs. Reach out and touch them as they speak. Hear with open ears and an attentive heart.  Really listen.

Now of course this doesn't mean I throw manners out the window and let them think they can command my attention at any moment (i.e. during telephone calls, dinner parties, past bedtime). But it does mean that they get my listening ears when I say I'm listening . . . and not a pseudo-ear that's really attuned to something else.

2. Study the Bible and pray with them
Yeah, maybe they don't understand what's happening yet, but you're forming a habit. If we delay showing them spiritual disciplines until they notice, then they will notice that it's something new and have a hard time adjusting. Try teaching a toddler to sit still for Bible reading after three years of letting them reign during morning free time. It's harder.

My friend gave me this tip early on (and I'm so thankful). She had usually had her own devotions in the morning after breakfast. So after her son was born, she continued--even though he was an infant. Her son grew into this habit, and as he developed, his involvement increased. Yes, it may be difficult or seem unfruitful at first, but remember you're creating routine, shaping regularity, defining normalcy. You're forming good habits in them and in yourself.

3. Model good health for them
"Oh you shouldn't have too many Cheetos," I say at dinner time, monitoring my kids' plates but not my own. "And no, you may not have Coke."

"Just 15 minutes, okay? I've set the timer." And I monitor their screen time but not my own.

"Bed time, kiddos. You need your rest so you can have energy tomorrow." Why don't I follow my own advice?

They may not voice it as young children, but they soak in everything. They may be obeying my framework for good health while seeing me step outside of its structure. And eating right and exercising is so important anyway for moms during these early years. We need stamina, a reliable digestive system, and extra muscle to get through the unthinkable and unpredictable day after day. This habit may seem likes it's set up as a model for them, benefiting their futures (which it is), but its immediate rewards are theirs too.


Yes, each stage is beautiful.

And it's beneficial to everyone in the home if we moms start flexing these habitual muscles early. Don't delay! Start listening attentively. Teach your child about Jesus. Take care of yourself. And enjoy the progression of parenthood without stumbling over the new awareness they can spring on us overnight--making us accountable and wishful we'd started these good habits earlier.

Abide in Him,






Have you likewise put off some changes because your kids don't notice yet?
What other good habits should we start early on? Please share!

Related articles you may also appreciate:
The End-all Choice for Moms (Hint: It's not school.)
Motherhood and the Blessing of Sight
"Just Obey": My cry to my kids and God's to me
The Danger of Commiseration

4 comments:

  1. Great advice. Thanks for the reminders!
    --Gena

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    1. You're welcome! Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

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  2. Much wisdom here! Those early years are the perfect time to establish important habits that will serve you and your children well for decades to come. Thanks for sharing this encouragement in such a heartfelt manner!

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    Replies
    1. Jennifer, thank you for YOUR encouragement. :)

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