My Village

Our newest little one is now about 10 weeks old, and I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on life since he arrived.

I still feel absolutely run ragged most days, but I feel like we have hit our new normal. Life is moving at a fast pace, but at least it is becoming consistent and somewhat predictable (I know, that probably jinxes it).

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and honestly, I don’t know how I would have survived this last 10 weeks without my own village of caring people.

I wanted to be really intentional about resting properly in the postnatal period this time (after probably pushing it last time), and I really feel like it has paid off.

I had people here helping out a lot for the first 6-7 weeks – my husband for 4 weeks (off work), then my Mum and Dad, then my Sister and Brother-in-law.

My husband was amazing – looking after the older two kids and running the household the whole time. I pretty much got to just look after the baby and sleep, doing other bits and pieces as I could manage.

In fact, I don’t think I washed a single dish for one and a half months! That was almost as good as a holiday! 😉

Many people from church made us meals in those early weeks.

I’ve also had to learn to ask for help from friends, which is really hard for me.

But after many repetitions of my husband saying, “Call someone to come and help you!” and my friends saying “Call us if you need help!”, I guess it is sinking in.

One day, my second child was sick and I had to pick up my eldest from preschool in the middle of the day. So I called a friend to ask if she could pick her up for me, which she was happy to, and then when she brought my daughter home she also gave me a meal she had in her freezer – I was so blown away by her kindness!

The other week, I called my friend over to come and watch the kids while I washed my hair. And yeah, I did feel a little ridiculous asking her to do that, but well, it was almost two weeks since the last washing, so I was getting desperate! She totally understood, of course, being a mother of older kids herself.

One time, my husband had to work on the weekend and as the end of the day approached, he told me he had to scrap everything he’d done that day and start again. So it was clear that instead of being home within the hour (like I’d been expecting), he was actually not going to be home any time soon. At that point, I felt like locking myself in a small space and assuming the foetal position. Or calling my husband back and applying some combination of sobbing/begging/pleading him to come home. But I didn’t. I contacted two of my closest friends to have a quiet vent about it and ask them to pray for me. Then one of my (non-local) friends contacted another (local) friend, who then showed up on my doorstep unannounced with a meal to heat up for dinner, her daughter to entertain my kids for an hour, and willing hands ready to do the dishes and tidy up my house. Yep, my friends are kind of amazing!

These are just some examples, but there have been many more instances of practical help people have given me and our family.

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They’re kind of cute when they’re not killing each other…

And it’s not just practical help. There’s also been much good advice given to me. I kind of feel like I’ve got the baby thing down pat now. I don’t mean it’s easy. But I’ve got my systems and I know what to do.

But the three kids thing? I have no idea what I’m doing…

The other day I read this article: Motherhood 101:The Class We Never Got.

It’s really long, but I highly recommend reading it. Anyway, Jess Connell talks about the importance of seeking out advice from other mothers who have demonstrated success in the areas we lack in motherhood. She lays out how you do this – identify your most pressing need at this time, find someone who does it well, ask them for their advice, listen and apply what they suggest, then evaluate how it worked for you.

Well, I did this the other week. I was finding it a real challenge breastfeeding the baby with the older two around. They were either climbing all over me and the baby or fighting with each other each time, then I would get stressed, then the baby wouldn’t feed as well.

So I asked a Mum from my MOPS group how she managed it. She suggested I go to the Kmart craft section and get a bunch of stuff for the older kids to play with just when I’m feeding the baby. Well, I did that and have been applying that method for almost a week now, and most of the time it works really well! Not perfectly, but it’s way better than it was. I’m so glad I asked!

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Sometimes I feel guilty about asking for help so much (or maybe just prideful?), but it helps me to remember there are different seasons in life. I am just in a season where I happen to need to receive more help, and one day I will be in a season where I can give more help to someone else.

In a way, I feel like all these people who surround me with love and practical support are training me to be a good friend. I’ve been helped and supported in ways I never would have thought of on my own.

So, if there’s anything I could say to my fellow Mums, it’s this:

Don’t be too proud to ask for help. Don’t let fear of getting in the way stop you from giving help.

Receive help. Receive advice.

Give help. Give advice.

Embrace the village – we need each other.

What Makes a Good Mothering Community?

Here’s an article I had published on Growing Faith recently.

What makes a good mothering community?

Finding a supportive community to join you in your parenting journey.

 

Have you ever considered why it’s so common for stay-at-home Mums to talk about feeling isolated or lonely? How often do we go back to work because “I just needed some adult conversation”?

We diagnose the problem as a woman losing herself in the midst of early parenthood. And the solution presents itself as finding something – whether work or hobby – to reclaim her identity and remind her that she is someone apart from “Mum”.

However, I’m convinced our problem is often not a lack of personal identity, but a lack of community identity.

Read the rest at https://growingfaith.com.au/parenting/what-makes-a-good-mothering-community

Organisation Shortcuts…

(…save my back and my sanity.)

There are several areas of the house I’ve been wanting to get organised before the baby comes. Because, frankly, organisation seems like a frivolous use of time when there’s a newborn around.

Some of this has been going well – I cleared out my under-desk fabric stash a couple of weeks ago.

One area that I’ve been a bit stressed about is all the kids/baby clothes that no longer fit (and some that will fit the kids next season – we get given a lot of hand-me-downs!). They are all in different boxes and bags, some labelled and some not, and stacked in no particular order.

See, not particularly messy, just a bit chaotic. And the thing that’s been stressing me out is that I will soon need these clothes again for the baby. Which was giving me visions of having to pull everything out and go sorting through it all each time the baby has a growth spurt.

Now, the proper, Pinterest-approved way to organise these clothes would be to get cute, matching tubs, coordinating labels and then stack the tubs in the order of sizing. Like this:

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Doing it right. From here.

But honestly, I’m in no condition to be pulling everything out at this point either, even if it is to get it reorganised.

So, this morning I grabbed pen and paper, and my handy label-maker and made an inventory of which clothes are in which bags/boxes, and where they are located. I also labelled anything that hadn’t yet been labelled as I went.

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Some of the tubs were stacked so that the labels weren’t visible, so in those cases I just had an educated guess about what was inside, but noted it down with a question mark.

So not much has really changed in the physical situation of all those kids clothes (just the addition of a few labels), but making this inventory now means I can relax about finding clothes as the baby needs them. Having this list down on paper is a short cut for having the boxes all in order.

What I needed to achieve was being able to access the clothes I need, when I need them. And I have done that, even if it doesn’t look that pretty.

Sometimes in home-making, good enough really is good enough.

Blogging and Life Updates

Hi Friends,

I have more posts in the works that will be published soon, but in the meantime, I just wanted to call your attention to two new features on my blog…

 

Stuff I Write

The first is a new tab on my menu bar at the top of the page – Published Articles.

Some of you already know this, but BK (that’s Before Kids) I studied Journalism at uni. For many good reasons (like marriage, ministry and kids), I’ve not yet worked in this field. But for the last couple of years, I’ve been trying to “get my foot in the door” in small, manageable ways.

Blogging is part of this – continuing the practice of writing is really important for keeping up writing skills.

Doing some freelance work has been another part of it.

And last year I joined the MOPS Australia writing team as a volunteer staff member, which means I get to write promotional articles about MOPS as well as contributing to the blog. So that’s the kind of thing you will find on my Published Articles page, if you’re interested.

 

Stuff I Make

The second new feature is actually a new craft blog – Make it in the Margins. (You can also find a link over in the right hand column.)

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The other aspect of my involvement with MOPS at the moment is that I am the new Craft Coordinator at my local group.

The blog is going to be a fairly low key way of cataloguing all the crafts we do at MOPS, as well as some of the crafty things I do at home. I say “low key” because, with the new baby on it’s way, I don’t want to overcommit myself to a new big thing. My goal is to post each MOPS craft at the very least, because organising these crafts is something I’m going to be doing anyway.

I’m particularly hoping this will be useful to other MOPS craft coordinators, but many of the crafts will be things you could easily do on your own. So if you are craftily-inclined, pop on over and have a look!

 

Getting Real

At this point, some of you may be wondering why someone who writes so much about the value of being a stay at home Mum, being a good helper to my husband, home-making, etc seems to now be taking on many things that are, well, not those things…

Well, the first thing to clarify is that I’m actually not taking on much more. I’ve already been writing and I’ve already been creating things in my spare time. It’s just that I am now publicly cataloguing those efforts.

But here’s the more important thing…

I think I am a rather, shall we say, unambitious person. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I’ve written before about how I would be content to live a life of “faithfulness in the small things”. As long as I am serving Jesus, I know what I do is incredibly valuable.

I think I would happily be a stay at home wife for the rest of our lives, faithfully serving the family and (hopefully) getting really good at it! I think that is an incredibly noble thing for women to do.

But my husband has always said that he would like me to go back to (or just “to”?) work once all our kids are in school. And lately, we have contemplated whether that would be sooner (for various reasons).

He has enough ambition for the both of us, and then some left over! He is a passionate dreamer and a visionary, and I think I have been standing next to him for long enough that my branches have dried out and I’m starting to catch his fire.

Being a stay at home mum was always my dream growing up, and here I am, living that dream! And I’d love for my husband to have the chance to live his one day too.

When the time comes for me to go back to work, I would happily scrub toilets or stack shelves or answer phones if that’s what I need to do. I mean, I practically have a degree in scrubbing toilets at this point ;).

But we both think it would be really amazing if I could somehow make a career out of writing. That’s what I’m passionate about and what I really enjoy doing.

And that’s the bigger story behind these new features on the blog. This is me taking a step in faith, starting to lay the foundation for perhaps being paid to write one day. Thanks for listening 🙂