Loving our children is almost always an instinctual, easy thing to do. I’d argue that loving your children is life’s most natural form of love. Yet, through countless screaming hours and fussy seasons of my son’s life I’ve learned that while loving him was easy, finding joy in him all the time is not.
Our babies cries literally set off a chemical reaction (oxytocin) in our bodies.
Their cries of hunger or pain or uncomfortableness tears us apart. Our emotions are so easily controlled by their emotions. Have you ever been trapped in a car with your crying baby? That is my version of hell on earth, folks…
Their sad, frustrated, and strong-willed days leave us flabbergasted and sometimes empty.
One day of feeling that way is tolerable but sometimes their colic; their ear infections; their moods last for more than day, a week, or a month. So, how do you cope? How do you manage your personal state of well being in these hard seasons?
I have struggled a lot with this, after living through an incredibly colicky baby season during his first year and then my husband deploying during my son’s second year. I have asked myself, countless times, “is this worth it?” “will I ever feel happy again?” will I “ever want another baby?”
But God has been working in that doubt, grief, and hardship. He is revealing to me that my happiness cannot be contingent on anything or anyone other than Him. Through this season I have discovered practical tips on how to enjoy my child (good times and bad).
Finding joy in our fussy, screaming, defiant children is possible. We just have to be a little more intentional.
Slow down. I’ve found that when life gets busy, I get more easily irritated with my son. My plans get thrown off and I subconsciously blame him. When I slow down I see him in a whole new light - I truly enjoy him when I stop what I’m doing and roll around on the floor with him.
Play. Sometimes we forget to just play with our kids! We have so much to do that playing feels like an option instead of a responsibility. When we meet them on their level we can enjoy them for who they are and not who we want them to be.
Ask God to remove any unrealistic expectations you may have of your children. Our intentions are usually good, we want to raise our children well. We are responsible for training them up but I find that sometimes our ideals becoming overpowering. I am guilty all of the time of wanting my son to be a certain child that he is not. Let’s love them for who they are and ask God to guide our standards and disciplining efforts.
Relish in your child. Soak them in - let them sleep with you. Push bedtime back so you can read an extra book. It’s ok to spoil our kids once in awhile!
Be spontaneous! Spontaneity is not a natural characteristic for me. I have to put effort into letting go and being spontaneous. But when I do… boy do we have fun! Our schedules are great and boundaries are healthy but sometimes we just need to live a little with our kids!
Evaluate your perspective. It’s hard not to pity ourselves after long bouts of hardships but I challenge you to shift your perspective on those days. It really is a privilege to be our children’s parents. We get to be the ones to comfort them, love them, and see them through the good days and bad. We are the ones who get to ride it through with them.
The good days wouldn’t be so good without the bad days. You will cherish the good days and moments so much more.
Surround yourself with a good community. Choose people that will set an example of loving their children well who also enjoy the process. Just as negativity is contagious, so is positivity.
Give yourself grace. You will make mistakes. You may lose your temper. You may feel inadequate in motherhood. Recognize that just like your child, you are NOT perfect and give yourself grace. This is just a season.