Wednesday, January 6, 2016

December 2015 In Our Home

Haba My First Games are fantastic introductions
 to games for young ones! It's so fun to begin
 playing games as a family!
    December in our home has been a bit of a challenge. Thanksgiving Day to Christmas Day is "peak season" at David's job, which means he works even more during the week and also goes in again on Saturdays. The holiday season is a stressful and exhausting time of year for certain industries!

     The children and I certainly miss his presence at home! I also miss having an extra set of hands with the children. Fortunately, God answered a prayer in leading a woman in our church to come regularly to lend a hand caring for the children or the housework. This has been huge as we don't have family or anyone nearby and rarely get a break. I could feel a weight immediately lift from my being. I have desperately needed this offering for quite a while to simply breathe.

The one sweet we've found that
he enjoys- ice cream!
      Caring for the home and two young children, especially one who struggles with the basics of properly eating and sleeping, has been more of a challenge than I ever imagined. Depression has crept into my soul as I've felt increasingly overwhelmed with the constant demand by someone or something.

     And so, through the struggle I've determined that some changes must be made. The first of which is to begin utilizing the offering of this sweet lady in being my "mother's helper". There are tasks that simply cannot be completed with two very young children underfoot, and her assistance would allow me to maintain those tasks better. Or, have a moment to myself.

     Another change is going to be to exercise greater self care. I've come to the realization of just how neglectful I've been of myself. I believe that properly managing the home and children requires a degree of self-sacrifice. However, I also believe you can't continuously pour yourself out, without ever refilling because eventually you'll reach the bottom and have nothing left to offer. That's where I've found myself. I've found myself dismissing self-care. Dismissing personal interests. Dismissing all those aspects that make me me.  If I'm ever going to teach my children to be confident and sure of who they are, I ought to know and show those entities in my own life. It's important for children to see that mom is a person too. I think this struggle is part of the precarious balance necessary in being a stay at home mama. It's so easy to be so consumed by the role and duties that you neglect yourself. Yet, it's the knowing and certainty of oneself that contributes significantly to the role and tasks. And so, I've determined to choose one area of self that I will focus on in the upcoming year.

This girl is no longer content at all
to be laid on the floor. She only wants to
sit or stand! She's growing up fast!
    This brings me to another matter of contemplation this month- my presence in the home and to the children. Tennyson has matured so much lately. It's absolutely incredible to watch him transform from a baby at the first of the year to a little boy by the end. He's becoming so much more self aware. With that comes the necessity to teach proper behaviors and attitudes. It's evident that these things are sourced from two places: what he learns from others (namely, David and I) and what he assimilates and creates on his own. As this has all developed I've become struck anew with how important the quality of my presence is on his development. Am I fully present or am I distracted? (A distracted Mama will not have the heart of her child!). Am I graceful with my words regarding others or situations? Or, am I teaching him to be critical and...well, less than loving? Am I handling challenges with calm and patience? Or, am I being reactive? What choices am I making and how are they impacting him as he is learning from me? 

      I'll be fully honest by saying the days are trying. To maintain a pleasant demeanor while caring for a small home that is well lived in, a busy toddler and a fussy baby feels like a lofty goal. Annelise continues to struggle with the basics of properly eating and sleeping. We've determined the difficulties to likely be attributed by the fact that she has always eaten in "snack" portions and consequently only catnapped day and night. We suspect she's getting enough nourishment to grow and not be hungry, but not enough to be fully satiated. This contributes to increased fussiness when awake and inability to sleep well (which adds more fussiness). Though we were assured that she being tongue-tied wouldn't be an issue, we believe that she might have had to work extra hard to maintain a latch and would therefore take in only as much as she needed to not be hungry at the time.
He's suddenly become interested and
attached to stuffed animals. "Monkey"
 is his best pal. He gets so excited
when he sees it. haha

    Consequently, she eats frequently but in very small amounts each time. We believe the poor eating pattern has contributed to a poor sleeping pattern. (She naps only 20 minutes at a time during the day and sleeps only in 2-3 hour increments at night). These patterns have been present for the last six months. The demand and exhaustion has been too great on me, and contributed significantly to feelings of depression. So, we've decided to transition her to a bottle (breastmilk for now, and then formula when the freezer is empty). This, again, has been a tremendous weight lifted from me. Hopefully, she'll learn to eat "meals" and sleep longer soon. We're all needing some rest at this point.

      In the midst of struggles, we enjoyed some wonderful moments of holiday celebration! I was particularly excited about Christmas this year. A child's first Christmas is special, but the subsequent Christmases become really fun as the child is able to more fully participate. We did several fun activities throughout the season. (You can read more about how we celebrate Christmas in our home Here). Tennyson really enjoyed pulling a chair to the counter to help make cookies. (He was actually more pleased with playing in the flour than the cookie dough! This is where his disinterest in sweets is really helpful! haha). He now associates the oven or baking tray with "cookies!" Haha. Another favorite of his this Christmas was the Christmas tree lights. If the lights were off, we were sure to quickly hear, "tree on" in that sweet little voice. I put up a small tree in the children's room, and he thoroughly enjoyed the "tree on" as he went to sleep and woke up each day. We did a couple of "tot school" activities, but decided not to add too much more to an already overwhelming time. In fact, that was the approach to advent activities this year. I came to the conclusion of adding one or two activities each year instead of trying to do twenty five all at once. Stree-free is the way to be! All in all, we had a wonderful Christmas season as a family.
Oh the fun we'll have building with Legos!
(Let's play a game with this picture-
What doesn't belong? ....
an ONION in the living room.
Oh, toddlers and their treasures. haha!)

      After so many stressful and exhausting weeks, David took a week off of work for a "staycation." It was actually the first time we've had that much time together..perhaps, ever! We normally spend all our vacation days traveling to visit with family. Simply staying home, being together, and even getting some projects completed was fantastic. It was absolutely wonderful to reconnect with David. I know I and the children will miss him greatly when the workweek resumes. It certainly gives us motivation to work hard so that we can one day be in a position to start our own family business.

      Next month brings New Year Resolution(s) and birthdays for three out of four of us in our family. Tennyson will turn 2 years old and I'll turn...30. On to the next month!







3 comments:

  1. Thank you for this heart-felt post. It is surprising how many of us mamas out there are struggling, all while trying to maintain the appearance that we have it all together! This motherhood thing is not for the faint of heart, is it? I totally resonate with you on needing your own outlet. I joined a MOPS group nearby and it has been an invaluable fellowship resource for me. twice a month I get to go and have breakfast at a leisurely pace while talking with other Christian women! in November we watched a video in the group about having an outlet. The woman in the video had 3 children under 3, and was feeling so depleted. So she joined a quilting class once a week. Her husband wouldn't watch the babies that one evening while she went to her class, and it has become a life-long passion for her. I found exercise classes have become my outlet! 2 times per week I go to a class at our gym while my husband puts our daughter to bed. It has made me enjoy exercise so much more, because it's my "me" time! Plus it is a great stress reliever!

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    1. No, not for the faint of heart at all! It is WORK. Our current feeding and sleeping issues has made the parenting experience exponentially more difficult. An infant who doesn't sleep or eat properly (and consequently excessively clings and cries) is exasperating to say the least. I deeply long for a solution. I know that if we could just get the eating and sleeping issues resolved we'd all have a very different life.

      Our struggles have led me to step back from the Moms group I am a part of. Though there are a couple others who have children close in age to mine, our situations are so different. It became discouraging to meet and be presented with resources that aren't available to us (house/space, family nearby etc). I quickly became THAT mom who was fried and frazzled chasing after a curious and busy toddler while also trying to manage a crying baby. I was embarrassed for myself! It was also a lot more work for me to manage both children by myself at each gathering. So, we've taken a break from attendance for the time being. Once we get the feeding/sleeping issues resolved, I intend to participate more.

      In the meanwhile, I'm very grateful for the lady who has volunteered to come to my home to offer me a little break. Currently, I take these opportunities to complete neglected housework that I can't get accomplished when it's just me and the children (the deep cleaning tasks that involve chemicals or me needing to move between floors frequently- scrubbing toilets, oven, vacuuming, mopping etc.). Not exactly a personal break, but I'll take what I can get! haha. I'm hoping that as the feeding/sleeping issues resolve, I'll be able to better get those cleaning tasks taken care of so that I can use her visit for personal time. I would like to see that "me time" become a reality. I know the "what" to do but I don't have the "how" figured out just yet.

      I'm prayerful that all things will work out in time. I'm also prayerful that this particular blog will be a place for resources for ideas of what has worked well for our family, as well as encouragement and reassurance for times of struggle. My heart is within each entry. :)

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    2. P.S. Thank you for continuing to follow along here. I'm so blessed by this online friendship! :)

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