December Synchroblog: Experiencing Advent with a Toddler?

NOTE: this post is part of the December Synchroblog I participate in. I’ll post all of the other links as soon as I get them, so please check back later to read some other great thoughts on Advent from my blogging friends all around the world.

EDIT: All the links are added at the bottom of this post now – personally I can’t wait to read what all these wonderful bloggers have to say about Advent. So, grab a cup of tea and join me in checking them all out.

I have to be honest… I’m really struggling with Advent this year.

I want to enter into it and really make my day-to-day life reflect the unique season. I want to have more of a rhythm for our year that includes the rhythm of God’s story. But, I’m not exactly sure how. I have read lots of suggestions. I’ve even tried a lot of them in various past years. But, truth be told, I feel like most of it hasn’t worked well for me. I’m really bad with routines and no matter how hard I try I don’t stick to them… so each Advent I think, oh I’m going to do an advent calendar this year, or I’m going to do an advent wreath or I’m going to do the daily readings from the lectionary for each day of advent, but then I just don’t. Sunday comes and goes without me even realizing it and I forget to light the candles. A week goes by and I realize I’m five days behind on the advent calendar. I start out well with the lectionary, but eventually there’s a day that’s busy full of Christmas prep and party and I forget and then the next day I forget again. This was how it was before I had a kid, I can’t imagine how it would be now, when I can never finish anything and my brain is constantly scattered because of a demanding toddler.

In the past the best way for me to enter into Advent was just to think about, meditation on, pray through and write about the meaning behind the season. I liked the years when I took time to do that. Even though it was informal and I didn’t stick to a schedule or remember to do the advent calendar, I still feel like I entered into Advent during those years.

Lately though, I’m not sure how to do that with a young child. I feel like I don’t have the space or quiet in my life (or mind) to think, meditate or pray more than a quick, jumbled up prayer. Writing has also become a bit of a struggle for me since having a child. I get a little tunnel vision when I write and like to tune everything out and just type, but I can’t do that with a toddler tugging at my leg saying “up, up, maum, up” every few seconds.

Essentially I’m realizing that, as the mother of a toddler the way for me to enter into advent is no longer through the door of the contemplative.

A friend of mine is writing an advent series on her blog with scriptures, prayers, and other resources for reflection and I love what she is doing and definitely recommend you check it out, but as I skimmed her first post I couldn’t help but think, “this is a great tool for experiencing advent for the stage of life that my friend is at, but these tools just don’t fit with the stage in life I find myself in right now.” Case in point, I tried to do the liturgy she posted and was interrupted by my toddler or my husband 4 times before giving up. I later went back and tried to watch one of the videos she recommended while my son was sleeping I got literally 10 seconds into it and he woke up.

On top of realizing that this stage of life is not very condusive to the contemplative I’m also wrestling with wanting to find ways to enter into Advent not as an individual but as a family. I want to experience advent not as something I participate in my own “quiet time” (not sure I have one of those much anymore anyway), but I want to experience advent as a mommy WITH my son. I do not want to separate my spirituality from my mothering, I do not want to practice my spirituality apart from my son, but how do I commune with the divine with a 14 month old? Mother is not something I do it is something I am now. It is not a role that I sometimes play and can sometimes lay aside to pursue spirituality. Mother is what I am. How do I connect with God AS a mother, within my mothering? This is my big question lately, and the smaller aspect of it is how do I connect with Advent, with this small part of God’s big story, within my mothering? How do I engage with Advent with my 14 month old? I have ideas for when my child gets a little bigger, but what about now? Am I supposed to just leave him out of it and try to find moments to myself when I can engage with this season? If that’s the case I’m really not sure I can do that.

How do I experience Advent, or any church season, as the mother of a toddler? How do I experience God as the mother of a toddler? Honestly, I’m not really sure right now. Most of the ways that I have experienced God in the past and connected with his story just don’t work for me now in this stage. So, I find myself really wrestling with this question. Where is God amidst the motherhood? I believe that God is present so how do I find him within my new role as mother.

I don’t have answers, I don’t have it all figured out, I don’t know how to practice Advent as a mother, but I do believe that our spiritual life is a journey and we figure things out one step at a time along the way.

Advent itself is a journey – a journey of waiting. And so today I find myself entering into that journey, simply by presenting my questions before God and before all of you and waiting…waiting for him to speak into my mothering. Waiting for him to speak into my questions.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

What some friends of mine around the blogosphere are saying about Advent:

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

A Random General Life Update

Well, it’s September and Love and Marriage month here on my blog is officially over – not that I won’t write about these things anymore, but the official themed month is done. This was the first time I’ve done a theme for a month and honestly it was hard for me. There were a lot of things I planned on writing about that I never got around to and there were plenty of times that I wanted to write about other things that didn’t fit with the theme.  I’m kind of glad that it’s done now and I again have freedom to write about WHATEVER.

So, today is dedicated to a little “whatever”. This is my random processing about a whole lot of things…

HEALTH

Yesterday I realized that the baby and I have been sick in one form or another (from Roseola, to food poisoning, to viruses, to bad head colds) all but about 6 days this month (and those days were pretty spread out). Literally it has been one thing after another. Usually this is a pretty good sign to me that I haven’t been listening to my body and that there are some emotional/spiritual issues I also haven’t been dealing with. Guess I should start listening…

RETURNING TO PRAGUE

We have now been back in Prague for 2 weeks – most of that time we’ve been sick. Not exactly the best way to return to a foreign country or ease our way through the culture shock. Thankfully we are finally starting to get back on Prague time and get Thaddeus to take naps and go to bed at almost normal hours… almost being the key word there. This has by far been the hardest it has ever been for me to come back to Prague. I miss the states. I miss English. I miss my family. I miss Bryan’s family. I miss all the conveniences of being in a familiar place.

FRIENDS

I’ve missed our friends here. They are what make coming back worth it. But, because we’ve been sick we haven’t seen very many people yet. Those we have seen have been so sweet though. One friend even made us a big batch of soup, which was WONDERFUL. What a blessing to not have to cook our first few days back. Then last Thursday we went over to dinner at some of our closest friends and it was just so nice to be with them and just relax with them. We need friends on this journey and I’m glad that I have the one’s I do.

MOTHERING

Lately I have sort of really hated being a mom. I mean most days this week I just feel like I’m not cut out for this. I can’t do it. It’s too much. It’s too overwhelming. It’s too constant. It’s the worst on days when Thad doesn’t sleep (which is often lately). I feel like I can’t even sit down and have a glass of water without being pulled on or screamed at. Bryan has been a lifesaver and so sweet through it all. He’s taken Thad for a little bit each day so that I can rest and get better. But, he can only do so much – he has to work too. Even with all Bryan’s help there have been multiple moments lately where I have SERIOUSLY wished that I never had a child. I know – I’m a terrible mom for even thinking these things. Like I said, I wasn’t cut out for this. I am not a natural born mama. It’s just not me.

ANIMALS

This is random, but I’ve realized more and more something else that just isn’t “me” – owning pets. I am just not an animal person. I mean I wish I was. I admire people who are. But, I’m not. I just don’t get the whole animal thing.

BLOGGING

I’ve been doing a lot of processing about the blog lately. I’ve been really struggling with what direction I want to take my blog and what type of place I want it to be. I’m realizing more and more than I’m actually not really “a blogger”. I mean I love blogging and have for years, I love writing and I do enjoy the people I meet through it. But, I’m not good at marketing my blog, I’m not consistent with my blogging, I don’t want to write in a specific theme or with a specific focus. I don’t want to spend hours upon hours a day working on my blog to make it into a business. I am realizing that I am not that kind of blogger. But, I also know that I’m not really just a personal blogger who just writes about her kids and she did that day. So, where does that put me? I’m not really sure. I guess I’m still trying to figure it out.

TWO FOR TUESDAYS BLOG HOP

Many of you who are regulars here may have noticed that I haven’t participated in/hosted Two for Tuesdays the past two weeks. I’ve been meaning to give an update on that and just keep forgetting – sorry. So, basically after much discussion and thought I’ve decided that the requirements for hosting are just too much of a commitment for me at this time. I just didn’t feel like I could do the event justice. In general I’ve been trying to weed through what aspects of blogging are really important and necessary for me and which aren’t – I have felt a little bit like blogging has started to interfere with my mothering and I don’t want that to happen. So, Two for Tuesdays was the thing that contributed most to my stress level and thus it was the thing to go. I do still love what the group is doing with it though and really like the other hosts who are involved. I do still plan on participating as a contributor whenever possible and I hope that you all will too. If you want to continue participating visit any of the hosts sites, for example, Alex at A Moderate Life.

FUTURE

I’ve felt very confused lately about the future. It looks so unclear. For so long even though the future was unclear it didn’t really bother me, I felt like I at least knew that I was where God wanted me and we would figure out the next step as it came at us. But, lately I want a plan, I want some stability. I am not 100% sure that we are where God wants us. I don’t know where He wants us to be. I feel less convinced than ever of my ability to discern that and more confused about where we should be and what we should be doing.

MARRIAGE

If you haven’t guessed from all that I’ve written already, Love and Marriage Month wasn’t exactly love and marriage month for us in real life. It was a difficult season, not an easy celebratory one. We loved each other well, and we aren’t fighting or anything, but it just feels like there’s a lot that’s been thrown at us both internally and externally lately. We’ve held hands and faced it all together, but it hasn’t left much time for turning towards each other. That’s been sad for me.

Well, that’s my random update for now. So, how are you all doing??

Rejoicing in the journey-
Bethany Stedman

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Nurturing Creativity in Children

Todays post is from my friend, Kara. I met Kara a few years ago in Prague and knew right away that we needed to be friends – She’s a photographer, a foodie who’s interested in health and nutrition, a world traveler, and she practices yoga. Kara has spent the last year living in the states and is currently working on moving back to Prague. I will be looking forward to seeing her there soon!

Happy child with painted hands

(Photo from Foundationphasewales.com)
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ~ Pablo Picasso
Children have an endless supply of creative energy. I see it when my nieces originate their own songs and dance moves; when my friend’s son takes a stack of white paper and a pencil and writes his own adventure stories. Children can make something out of nothing. Because they don’t care what people think they can authentically explore their uniqueness. I wish I had the imagination I did when I was 5!
As we grow up it seems that in our (American) culture, imagination and creativity are seen as childish and therefore we need to “grow up” and “live in reality”. Personally, I am passionate about art and allowing imagination and creativity to grow and I have my own mother to thank for that.
I grew up with an incredibly artistic and talented mother. She was born and raised in New York City and spent much of her childhood attending ballets, Broadway, piano and guitar lessons and spent her evenings writing poetry. Naturally, from the time I was very young she instilled a deep desire to explore my creative side and not feel pressured to think only “inside the box”.
If you want to encourage your child’s creativity start here:
Remember that creativity is not just a project or after school distraction. Encourage your kids to see the value in art. Take them to a museum, a gallery, a cooking demonstration. Allow them to witness others living out their unique talents. Ask the right questions. Find what kind of art your children like and take the time to explore that with them.
As an artist, I can say that I need my space in order to create. As much as you want to encourage your child, don’t hover or feel the need to monitor at all times. Allow them a safe environment to explore. Honestly, they don’t need us to tell them how to draw, build or design something. If anything, we can learn so much more by watching them! Also, refrain from giving judgment or too much critique. Remember that art is as unique as people are, and despite how you may want to react, your child needs to feel that what they offer to the art world holds value. Love them for their willingness to try, not the end result.
Offer guidance in whatever ways you can. If you enjoy cooking, bring your child into the kitchen with you and offer them the opportunity to participate. If you play an instrument, share your love of music. Whatever it may be, don’t hold back. Art is meant to be shared.
Lastly, it’s important that originality is cultivated. The greatest innovators have always been those who thought differently from the rest. Just think how different our world would be if people like The Wright Brothers, Pablo Picasso or even J.K. Rowling were not encouraged to be themselves, original and full of imagination.
To see a few young artists’ creativity, check out the International Child Art Foundation’s gallery.
Here’s a fun family art project that everyone can participate in!
Using an old toy chest, a cardboard box, etc you and spend time with your family making a family keepsake box; something to hold your mementos for years to come.  I love using recycled materials and craft supplies including glue, stencils, markers, paint, newspaper or used colored tissue paper  and gift wrap.
Get creative and cut out a variety of shapes and use lots of color! Let each family member design and contribute something that expresses who they are. The best part is deciding what to include in the keepsake box. My family has placed old movie ticket stubs, vacation photos, souvenirs, foreign money, music CDs that we all like, anything that reminds of quality time together. Ours even has a jar of sand and a small sombrero from a trip to Mexico. Take pictures of your family during this project and use those as the first memento to go in the box!

(Photo from Foundationphasewales.com)

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” ~ Pablo Picasso

Children have an endless supply of creative energy. I see it when my nieces originate their own songs and dance moves; when my friend’s son takes a stack of white paper and a pencil and writes his own adventure stories. Children can make something out of nothing. Because they don’t care what people think they can authentically explore their uniqueness. I wish I had the imagination I did when I was 5!

As we grow up it seems that in our (American) culture, imagination and creativity are seen as childish and therefore we need to “grow up” and “live in reality”. Personally, I am passionate about art and allowing imagination and creativity to grow and I have my own mother to thank for that.

I grew up with an incredibly artistic and talented mother. She was born and raised in New York City and spent much of her childhood attending ballets, Broadway, piano and guitar lessons and spent her evenings writing poetry. Naturally, from the time I was very young she instilled a deep desire to explore my creative side and not feel pressured to think only “inside the box”.

If you want to encourage your child’s creativity start here:

  • Remember that creativity is not just a project or after school distraction. Encourage your kids to see the value in art. Take them to a museum, a gallery, a cooking demonstration. Allow them to witness others living out their unique talents. Ask the right questions. Find what kind of art your children like and take the time to explore that with them.
  • As an artist, I can say that I need my space in order to create. As much as you want to encourage your child, don’t hover or feel the need to monitor at all times. Allow them a safe environment to explore. Honestly, they don’t need us to tell them how to draw, build or design something. If anything, we can learn so much more by watching them! Also, refrain from giving judgment or too much critique. Remember that art is as unique as people are, and despite how you may want to react, your child needs to feel that what they offer to the art world holds value. Love them for their willingness to try, not the end result.
  • Offer guidance in whatever ways you can. If you enjoy cooking, bring your child into the kitchen with you and offer them the opportunity to participate. If you play an instrument, share your love of music. Whatever it may be, don’t hold back. Art is meant to be shared.
  • Lastly, it’s important that originality is cultivated. The greatest innovators have always been those who thought differently from the rest. Just think how different our world would be if people like The Wright Brothers, Pablo Picasso or even J.K. Rowling were not encouraged to be themselves, original and full of imagination.

To see a few young artists’ creativity, check out the International Child Art Foundation’s gallery.

Here’s a fun family art project that everyone can participate in!

Using an old toy chest, a cardboard box, etc you and spend time with your family making a family keepsake box; something to hold your mementos for years to come.  I love using recycled materials and craft supplies including glue, stencils, markers, paint, newspaper or used colored tissue paper  and gift wrap.

Get creative and cut out a variety of shapes and use lots of color! Let each family member design and contribute something that expresses who they are. The best part is deciding what to include in the keepsake box. My family has placed old movie ticket stubs, vacation photos, souvenirs, foreign money, music CDs that we all like, anything that reminds of quality time together. Ours even has a jar of sand and a small sombrero from a trip to Mexico. Take pictures of your family during this project and use those as the first memento to go in the box!

Copy of P1060925webKara is a believer in living life creatively and holistically. Her passion for art has led her on many adventures through the years and she now enjoys sharing her creative gifts with aspiring young artists. Kara’s interest in a holistic lifestyle was fueled after years of being frustrated with traditional, Western medicine which caused her to step into the world ofalternative medicine. Shortly after making a few basic changes to her lifestyle, she saw results and now feels empowered to share with others the benefits of preventative, natural medicine. Her personal goal is to live as physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy and thriving as possible, 100% of the time and encourage others to do the same. You can follow her thoughts and travels at her blog: karabess.wordpress.com

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Parenting Thoughts From a Pregnant Mama

This post is a guest post from my friend, Melissa. I’ve known Melissa for a long time and I’m so excited for her to become a mommy. She writes here about some thoughts on parenthood and her experience finding out the sex of her baby. I similarly “freaked out” like she did when I actually found out the sex of the baby I was having – suddenly I could connect to the baby in a whole new way and it all felt so much more real. Thanks again for sharing this post with me, Melissa. I can’t wait to see you and your beautiful belly soon!

IMG_5702This is a letter I wrote to my still-forming precious little baby before I knew what gender “it” was.

Right now you are still an “it”. I don’t know if you are a boy or a girl. I will probably find out tomorrow. Everyone is so anxious to know what you! Everyone keeps asking, “Is it a boy or girl?” “Do you know what it is yet?” But I don’t mind putting it off for some reason. I’m not as anxious to find out what you are as other people. I actually kind of like that right now you are unknown and all the possibilities for you lay ahead.

I feel like once people know the sex, you’ll start getting pigeonholed and I think I might do that to you too. If you’re a girl I start seeing softball and baton twirling or dancing and things that I did when I was a little girl. If you’re a boy I start thinking blue and baseball and business savvy.

I just don’t ever what you to be limited by anybody’s expectations… including my own. I want you to be free to pursue whatever desires God places in your soul. To be able to proudly indulge and excel at whatever gifts God chooses to bless you with… even if those things aren’t sports or school or whatever it is that I might see in mind tomorrow when I find out what sex you are.

Girl or boy, I will love you either way and will try to remember to help you get to your success and the fullest potential of your gifts… not my preconceived notions of what those things might be. I want you to be free to be you… whoever that is…

We had the ultrasound soon after I wrote this letter and had the ultrasound tech write down if it was a boy or a girl and put it in a small envelope. I opened the envelope on Mother’s day and was pleasantly surprised to find out we would be having a girl.

Opening it on Mother’s day was a nice surprise but made me experience Mother’s day in a whole new light. Mother’s day was usually a day of appreciation and thanks for my mother and it still was. But this mother’s day was different, it felt heavy. Finding out this little being inside of me was a girl somehow made the situation all of the sudden so REAL. It was no longer this light fanciful little thing that I would be a mom soon… it was so real! There is a child inside of me… a girl. A girl that would soon need a girl name and girl room and would soon be out in the world developing her own little girl personality and would need a mom. Ack! It’s Mother’s Day… I am going to be a mom! That is SO MUCH responsibility! ! ! Can I handle that? I appreciated my mom in a whole new way that mother’s day. She did so much for me, and sacrificed so much for me, and loved me so well. I could only hope that I would be as good a mother as my mom was to me.

I still freak out about being a mom but with a little less intensity than that day. I’m not quite sure how to explain it or what a good analogy would be. Maybe like a road. Before I knew what “It” was, it was like a road that was going to be built in the future. “Oh a road! That’s nice! I’m glad one will be put in. That will really make travel easier and nicer. I could really use that”. Then, the day I found out she was girl it was like I was standing looking out at a straight 10 miles stretch of uncared for land with weeds and big rocks and all of the sudden I was told it was MY responsibility to build this whole long stretch of road. Freak out! Now I feel more like I know this is going to be a long road raising this child, but it isn’t going to be built in a day. It will take a few bricks or pavers every day and I will have the hands of friends of family to call on for help if I need it.

Thoughts on parenting from the Bible

  • Proverbs 29:15 “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”

  • Hebrews 12:11 “No disciple seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it”

  • Ephesians 6:4 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (The Message Version)

  • Proverbs 3:11 -12 “ Do not despise the Lord’s disciple and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves.”

Other parenting thoughts

  • The main goal of parenting should be to develop GODLY CHARACTER (not good grades, having your child be the top athlete, or having your child achieve worldly success).

  • Prepare your child for the path, not the path for your child.

  • Discipline with consequences rather than outbursts. Instead of raising your voice, raise your standards.

  • According to some research, a child’s moral foundation is in place by age 9 and there spiritual foundation by age 13.

  • Values are caught by children not taught to children. Am I walking what I’m talking about?

IMG_6771I’m a Christian, wife, medical professional, and soon to be mother from Phoenix, Arizona. I am fascinated with the physiology of our bodies, love almost all things food, and love to travel when I get the opportunity. I often find myself trying to find a balance between two very different ideas i.e. the science of western medicine and the methodologies of Eastern and naturopathic medicine, having a “family bed” vs “Ferberizing” my baby, fighting between champagne taste and a beer budget, etc. I feel like there is a ying and yang to everything and and my journey right now is about trying to find that balance… that and doing all the other everyday chores that need to be done. 😉

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.

Psychological Warfare: Parenting a Toddler

Today I’m sharing with you a guest post from my dear friend, Jane. My husband jokes that I get more excited to see Jane than anyone else – and it’s kind of true. Jane just has this grace about her that is compelling. She’s inspiring and yet down to earth, creative and fun and playful. She puts people at ease and is a joy to be around. I’m happy to share just a little tiny piece of Jane with you today.


Photo 153Nobody told me as I was becoming a mother that I was about to enter the battle of a lifetime.  So maybe  phrases such as ‘psychological warfare’ and ‘battle’ are a bit dramatic, but honestly sometimes they feel like an understatement when I am in the middle of it. Toddlers have a way of getting into our hearts and under our skin so easily. I don’t know how they do it so well. Sometimes it feels like they compare notes on the playground or stay up late reading blogs on how to torture and woo their mommies.

Let me just start by saying that I LOVE being the mother to my two beautiful daughters; the oldest, Sofia, is 2 years and the youngest, Mia, is 6 months. I feel a deep sense of purpose and I DO enjoy the adventure of the intense highs and lows of parenting. Nurturing came so naturally and was such a rich time for both my husband and I. I have so many strong memories with both of our girls during the time when they were little that could last me a lifetime.

But then it all changed.Photo 168

My oldest, Sofia, changed. Her needs and the way she needed me changed. My role as her mom changed. The way we interact changed. I am learning how to be her mother to teach and correct her, as well as provide love and care. And to appreciate it all.

Toddlers are smart. They are cunning. They run our emotions around and around and around.

Psychological warfare, according to Webster: Actions intended to reduce an opponent’s morale. Here are some everyday examples:

  1. The tantrum hug. This is an incredibly effective tactic of Sofia’s. After I’ve said ‘No’ or have done any kind of discipline, she leaps into my arms and gives me a bear hug while crying/screaming. This swings my emotions around in circles from feeling anger/fear/concern to compassion/warmth/love. It is the most confusing. It does help us both calm down…
  2. ‘Sama’. This means ‘i’ll do it all by myself in Czech’. It’s Sofia’s life motto at the moment. Which means not only that she thinks she can do everything by herself, but that I have to choose 100 times a day:  to either let her = peace+mess+time or not let her = war+faster+cleaner.
  3. Mealtimes. Oh mealtimes. Sofia has always been an all-star eater. She has happily eaten everything I’ve offered her. Well, recently she has experimented with saying ‘No’, pushing away her food, throwing it on the floor, using it as lotion, spitting it out. This has become very stressful for me. I never know when we sit down how she will choose to react. This DEFINITELY affects my mealtime morale.
  4. Learning new things and being ridiculously cute. Toddlers have this tactic perfected. They are learning so much so fast and they know very well the reaction that they will elicit from their parents. Sofia knows that I can hardly say ‘No’ to her as she is singing the ABC’s (only to ‘G’) in her sweet little voice. Or since she has learned ‘Peese’, how can I not give her a cookie? She has also learned that it is much more beneficial to learn people’s names….because then THEY are more likely to give her anything she wants, even after mommy has said ‘No’.
  5. Running to daddy. My husband has beautiful relationships with our daughters. At the highest moment of tension between my toddler and I, inevitably, daddy walks in the door and she leaps into his arms. Any other moment of the day and this would absolutely warm my heart, but in this instance, it hurts.
  6. The hug/wipe your nose on my leg move. I noticed that I was getting an above average amount of bear hugs from my little one and felt like the happiest mama in the world. Then later in the day I notice my pants have been used as a hanky over and over and over!

Photo 166I could go on and on….we all have our own stories. If your toddler is getting the best of you and your morale is down, take heart. Let me encourage with you a few tips…

(Have I already mentioned that I am NOT an expert? Just consumed by this topic at the moment and was invited to share)

Weapons? Arm yourself.

  1. Hold your baby/toddler when they are asleep. There is something deeply calming and disarming. I feel like my toddler and I have had extensive reconciliation times as she is sleeping in my arms.
  2. Remember the nurturing times. Remember that things will change. Remember that you are not alone.  Remember.
  3. Laugh ALOT. Play. Giggle alongside of your toddler. Get on all fours and listen to her giggle. Discover what she thinks is funny and see the humor in it. Laughter dissolves tension wonderfully.
  4. Patience. I’m not sure exactly when to get this quickly when it is most needed, except from God. This weapon alone is a reason for faith in God, because patience as a human resource is SO limited….and is exhausted SO quickly by a toddler. The patient kind of love really only comes from God. Believe me. I’ve tried to find it everywhere else. Ask Him for it.
  5. Don’t take things so seriously. I love having a clean, vacuumed, mopped floor. But I am slowly letting it become less important. It is very hard. With a toddler + food and toddler + toys and toddler + play doh, it is just impossible. I could really go crazy if I got upset every time I found a crayon bit somewhere. Take safety, health and love seriously. Maybe pick one or two things to really capitalize on and hold loosely to the rest. Let everything else be negotiable.
  6. Talk with your toddler. I have found that so many of Sofia’s meltdowns come when she simply can’t communicate what she wants or needs. The more I let her feel heard, the more questions I ask, the more I repeat what I think she is saying (it’s such a mixture of Czech and English, it’s hard to pull something recognizable out!), the more open she is to my instructions, discipline, and the worst word of all, ‘NO’.
  7. Soak in ALL the love your toddler gives. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles and the tackles.
  8. TRY to have perspective that everything will continue to change, including us. We are learning and growing as parents and as people, and this is an incubator for growth. Hard, but good growth. Our toddlers will change and the battles will look different….enjoy the journey!
IMG_6166Jane Hasik is an American expat living in Prague with her Czech husband, Martin and two lovely little girls, Sofia, 2 years, and Mia, 6 months. She loves having her red table full of good friends, food and conversation and enjoys being in the middle of a project of any kind. She loves being a beginner at many things and is an expert at nothing!

If you'd like to help with medical bills or the other expenses related to Bryan's cancer or Sage's special needs click here. Thank you! We are forever so grateful to so many who have gotten us this far and continue to carry us forward. Grace and peace.