Have Dinner Ready in Only 2 Hours!

A realistic recipe for mothers of small children.

 

You will need:

  • 1 packet of hokkien noodles
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 3 carrots
  • 1 cup of mushrooms
  • 1 block of tofu
  • 1/2 a cup of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • A bucket-load of patience

 

Directions:

  1. Get out a box of toys for your kids.
  2. Place the baby on the kitchen floor and open that one drawer of stuff he is allowed to play with.
  3. Get your broccoli and carrots out of the fridge.
  4. Close the spice drawer and redirect baby to all the SHINY HAPPY COLOURS in the drawer he is allowed to access.
  5. Wash your broccoli and carrots.
  6. Start peeling the mushrooms.
  7. Put down the mushroom. Go break up the fight that has erupted between your older two kids because they apparently both want the same single toy. In a box of about 20 toys.
  8. Return to the kitchen. Clean up the pile of mixed spice the baby dumped on the floor while you were out of the kitchen.
  9. Finish peeling mushrooms.
  10. Cut carrots into sticks.
  11. Wait. Stop. Put down the carrots. What’s that smell? Go change the baby’s nappy.
  12. Finish cutting the carrots.
  13. Slice the mushrooms.
  14. Turn on the stove top and heat some oil in a wok.
  15. Pull the baby off the bin and wipe his hands. Don’t forget to check his mouth!
  16. Your kids are getting kind of loud. The kind of loud when they are playing a physical game that started at “fun” but is fast heading down the “fight” end of the scale. Remind them to only keep playing as long as they are both enjoying it.
  17. The oil is starting to smoke! Chuck that garlic in the wok and turn the heat down a bit.
  18. The baby is eating something. You didn’t give him food. Pull foreign object out of baby’s mouth. It actually is food. Give it back to him.
  19. Chop the broccoli into florets and then throw all the veggies in the wok and stir-fry for 5 minutes.
  20. Start chopping the tofu into cubes.
  21. There is a thud and a scream from upstairs. Put down the knife and get the ice pack. Comfort the thump-ee, chastise the thump-er, admit defeat and put the TV on.
  22. Re-enter the kitchen, taking care not the step on one of the 50 plastic kitchen utensils that are now covering the floor, especially the upturned cookie cutter – that thing hurts!
  23. Finish chopping the tofu into cubes and throw it into the wok with the veggies.
  24. Pull the baby away from the bin.
  25. Pull the baby away from the bin.
  26. Pull the baby away from the bin and put him in a high chair with some cheese.DSC_0632
  27. Give the veggies and tofu a stir. Pour over the honey and soy sauce, and stir again.
  28. Add the hokkien noodles and stir them through the veggies.
  29. Start serving food into bowls.
  30. Your 5 year old looks over the counter and says “Yuck! I hate that dinner!”
  31. Say, “Well, I hope you enjoy eating air for dinner then!”
  32. a) WARNING: Do not say comment in step 31 out loud! If you did say it out loud, then proceed to step 32b. This will add 10 minutes to your dinner prep time.
    b) Give your 5 year old a hug. Explain that they will not, in fact, be eating air for dinner. Explain why the dinner you made is, in fact, delicious (mmm, honey!). Go look up sarcasm in the dictionary together, because #teachablemoments.
  33. Finish serving up the food.
  34. Get all the children in their chairs.
  35. You are done! Enjoy dinner! (Just kidding – you have 2 minutes to scoff everything in your bowl before the baby screams to get out of the high chair).

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In all seriousness, it’s not often that everything goes wrong like that. And when it does, all I can do really is sigh, and think, “That’s life with kids!”.

I’ve found that chopping the veggies and meat earlier in the day goes a long way to making this time of night go more smoothly.

What do you do to help things run smoothly in the evenings? I’d love to hear from you 🙂

 

Should We Think of Motherhood as a Career?

Whenever I meet new people, the question is inevitably asked: “Do you work?”

I usually answer, with a grin, “Yes, I work a lot, I just don’t get paid.”

Now, there’s no hint of resentment there – the Lord provides for our family abundantly through my husband’s income. But I answer this way because I often think of my role as a mother as my career. This is my job, and I think it’s the best job in the world.

But recently I’ve been quietly self-critiquing this concept of motherhood as career. The way we think and talk about things matters, so I’ve been trying to figure out whether thinking about motherhood as a job does more harm or good – to my relationship with the kids, to my motivation levels and to how others perceive motherhood (especially younger women).

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The benefits of viewing motherhood as a career:

  • It helps me to spend my time during the day more wisely and productively. In fact, just recently, I confided in my husband that I felt one of the main reasons I was feeling so overwhelmed was that I was spending too much of my time on social media during the day, which meant that the important things weren’t getting done. In order to change this, I proposed that I implement a “work hours” policy, where I don’t use social media during specific hours of the day, and I asked his advice on what these hours should be (because, let’s face it, mothers often have demands on our time for all of our waking hours – and even some of the sleeping ones). He said 9-5 would be reasonable, so that’s what I’ve been trying to do since then – thinking of myself as being “at work” from 9-5, and not allow myself to slack off from the job.
  • It leads me to be more serious and intentional about motherhood. I make plans and I try to take advantage of the teachable moments with my kids. I realise that I am “it”, and I’m not waiting around for someone else to come and teach them all the stuff they need to successfully get to adulthood. This is the “thing” I do with my time, so I need to do it well. I guess the opposite of this would be if I just saw my kids as people who happen to be in my life now, and each moment passes by accidentally, with much thought or consideration. Or worse, if I just viewed motherhood as something to get through or something that is a hindrance to my “real life”. Thinking of motherhood as my career leaves no doubt in my mind about where my efforts should be directed.
  • It helps me to feel more valuable and appreciated for my contribution. If we can think and speak about motherhood in the language of career, it helps us to feel like we are doing something worthwhile with our time. Sometimes I have referred to my husband as the Chief Executive Officer of our family, and myself as the Chief Operations Officer.

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The drawbacks of viewing motherhood as a career:

  • The flip side of that last point is that this view of motherhood as a “job” or “work” comes from a capitalist system where people are valued based on their economic contribution to society. So there is a pressure on Stay at Home Mums to justify their existence in economic terms, or else risk being labelled a “drain on society” (as this recent OECD study said). When we talk about motherhood as a career, we are playing into this kind of thinking that people are only as important as the money they make (or save) and what they “do” for a living. This thinking is contrary to the Christian perspective, which says that people are valuable because they are image-bearers of God, not because of anything they do.
  • Another problem is that viewing motherhood in terms of a job often leads to a focus on fairness, rather than the service and selflessness that should characterise the Christian woman’s life. Let’s face it – there is so much about motherhood that is unfair. We often don’t get to go to the toilet alone or when we want to. We share our meals, or eat them cold. We have less time to devote to our own interests. And on it goes… Looking at it purely through an investment/return paradigm, we might be tempted to grow bitter about how much we “give up” for our kids, compared to how little we get back (at least in the short term). We can also be tempted to compare our “work day” with our husbands and think about how much longer and demanding our hours are (depending on what he does, of course – my husband has informed me that he too is frequently unable to go to the toilet when he wants to and often has to work through his lunch break!). Constantly thinking about whether something is “fair” or not is a sure fire way to lead to resentment or stinginess. Because even if things are fair, by your approximation, needing to vigilantly watch out for fairness will mean even what you do give is tightly meted out, being careful not to give or do too much, lest you tip the scales into “unfairness”.
  • When I think of my role as mother as my career, it can lead me to measure my success or failure based on things like how much I get done or whether I complete my to-do list. I’ve fallen into this trap before – going from elation when I get lots done to despair and overwhelm when I don’t. But then I realised that much of the work of motherhood is not measurable with pen and paper (or even Excel spreadsheets!). How do you quantify an hour spent in the sunshine, rolling around in the grass with three little munchkins? Even a note added to my list and checked off after the event – “play with kids” – seems hopelessly inadequate at capturing all that was achieved in that hour – the smiles shared, the fleeting embraces, the close examining of the leaves, the time spent watching a beetle, the discussion about why God made the trees. Some of my best “mum days” have been absolute failures according to my to-do list!

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How should we think of motherhood?

As I’ve thought through the points above, it’s become clear to me that I need to stop thinking of and referring to motherhood as my career.

Sure, I should take it seriously and be intentional about it, but I think using the language of jobs and career does more damage here than good.

So how does the Bible view mothers and motherhood?

 

Motherhood is fruitfulness:

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” Genesis 1:28

 

Motherhood is hard:

To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
    but he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16

 

Motherhood is a position of honour:

Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12

 

The happiness of a mother is caught up in the character of her children:

A wise son makes a glad father,
    but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother.” Proverbs 10:1

The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
    he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.
Let your father and mother be glad;
    let her who bore you rejoice.” Proverbs 23:24-25

 

The mother/child relationship is secondary to the Christian’s love for Jesus:

Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37

 

Mothers are gentle and caring:

But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7

 

Motherhood is ministry:

I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6: 6-7

 

Motherhood is a conduit of love:

 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children…” Titus 2:3-4

 

“Mother” is not my job title.

To call motherhood my career would only diminish what it is that I do.

It goes beyond the 9-5 and it is more than any list of tasks I can achieve.

It’s who I am. It’s why I was put on this earth. It is my calling and my passion and my joy to raise these little ones to know and love Jesus.

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Do You Need a Mummy Reset Day?

27 March 2017

Do you ever stop and wonder when was the last time you just sat and cuddled with your kids? When was the last time you gave them a really good tickle – you know, the kind that makes their little bodies hunch over in spasms of laughter?
I have moments when I feel like life has just turned into one event after another. The days start to look like this: meal time, get in the car, activity, meal time, back in the car, nap time, meal time, get in the car, activity, etc.

Instead of cultivating my relationship with my kids, my engagement with them becomes all about the hustle.

“Okay, go to the toilet. Get your shoes on. What’s that in your mouth? Come on – we’re late!”

Now, we all have busy days, but when they start to accumulate, one after the other, relationships suffer.

When I start to feel constantly frazzled by my kids, instead of delighted by them, I know it’s time for a “Mummy Reset Day”.

Read the rest of my post on the MOPS blog: http://mops.org.au/archives/7349