Status

Earnest Bedtimes + the 5 Stages of Grief.

A slightly comical look at our bedtime routine, remember what may work for one family may not for another. Glean what you may and enjoy!

Typically these two things are not correlated, well not formally but I have come to discover that every single night my children (particularly my darling sweet middle child) experience ALL five stages of grief at bedtime. Here is a typical night at the earnest household, where both earnest dad and I are usually home as we try our best to have dinner as a family and visit together before bedtime.

Stage one: Denial.

Picture it: dinner is done, the kiddos are finishing homework, or chores; then we like to enjoy a show on Netflix before bedtime starts. So we are usually all snuggled up in the living room together and around 7:20 pm I announce “5 minutes and it is time to start potty and brushing teeth.” The reaction: my 9 year old instantly bolts from the couch in disbelief to check the clock in the kitchen; my 4 year old laments, “whaaaaat?! We have just had dinner, it is not time for bedtime yet.” And my 16 month old yells out “teeeeeeth” (he is just excited to brush his teeth). This first stage usually last about 2-3 minutes before the next stage hits.

Stage two: Anger.

Earnest dad or I typically reply to the confusion, “yes, we have about five minutes and then we need to start brushing teeth and going to bed.” My 9 year old, “ugh, why can’t I stay up????” And he may or may not be stomping or dropping to the floor. My 4 year old, “what?! Bedtime?! No!!!” Followed by her loud, tear-filled cry and hugs. My 16 month old, “teeeeth.” He is still excited to brush his teeth.

Stage three: Bargaining.

My 9 year old calms and slyly sits down next to me and asks the following in a hushed voice, “mom, can I stay up just a little bit later tonight? Please? Just a little.” My 4 year old, wiping tears and calming down, “wait” sniffle, sniffle, “can we watch just one more episode?” And my 16 month old, he has gotten up walked to the bathroom and is waiting for someone to open the door to hand him his toothbrush.

Stage four: Depression.

Here we get full on tears, and earnest dad and I stay firm. “Okay guys, time is up let’s go potty and get our teeth brushed.” All kids sadly get up, turn off the TV and head to the bathroom where the chaos of toothpaste, toothbrushes, potty time scheduling and a quick diaper change for the littlest happens. Then boom, we are all walking upstairs together and this is where the final stage sets in.

Stage five: Acceptance.

Kids are calm, I am usually with our 4 year old daughter and earnest dad takes the boys to their room. I tuck her in, we read a book, say prayers, give kisses and back scratches and, as I wind up her musical unicorn jewelry box she turns to me and says: “mama, what we doing tomorrow?” We review the plans for the next day and as I walk out of her room I get one final “night mama, I love you.” As I close her door I hear the same events taking place in the boys’ room. Their love tanks are full and, my earnest heart is overflowing.

By 8:00 pm all three are in bed, where they stay all night. And since realizing this routine they experience every night before bed, I am able to know just what to expect. There is so much joy in that, I find our bedtimes even in the 5 stages are smooth and fun. By the time we are heading upstairs the tears have turned to giggles, the cries have turned to ‘I love you’s’ and the one goal earnest dad and I try to meet every night in our marriage is being met with our children: never go to bed angry.

I know I am comparing parts of our night with the stages of grief, but when you are little and every day is the ‘best day ever,’ why would you want it to end? I am so blessed by this predictable, earnest little event we have every night; it is in this routine we all find the comfort we need to sleep peacefully in our earnest little home. Let me know what your bedtime routine looks like? What works for you, and do your children experience any of the 5 Stages of Grief before bed??

x. earnest mom.

Status

Life AFTER Kids; Me and My Earnest Marriage.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day; a day full of love, roses, chocolates and well a celebration of the one or ones (like my kiddos too) that give us all the heart eyes.

Since we have had children, Valentine’s Day morphed into celebrating them. We usually have either a color or heart themed dinner followed up with a family night of fun. This year however, I wanted to be more intentional on celebrating my marriage.

My situation may sound like yours, I am a stay at home mom – day and night I am always on call. My husband (bless him) holds 3 part time jobs (which feels like 3 full time jobs most days); all so I can be home with our children. To top it off he is a full time (unpaid) pastor in the church we attend. Needless to say, sometimes the busyness of life like this takes the focus off of just “US.” This Valentine’s Day, I needed to change my focus to just him; trust me y’all he is worth it!!!

I took myself back to our dating, early marriage and pre-baby days. We took off on whims, laughed a lot (well, we still laugh a lot) but I remember waking up in the morning or finishing work in the evening and I could not wait to see him. So I went back there, two younglings blessed and in love – I started to be her again. Everyday I try to get back to that cute 23 year old and date my husband again. Do not get me wrong – we go on dates but I can honestly say I have not been dating him. I talking full on, thinking of you texts, his favorite meals, surprise date nights, and big squishy welcome homes when he walks in the door.

I know we talk about keeping our marriage a priority but I needed to do more than say it is. I am working hard to know it is. I am honored that this man is my husband, I want him to feel that honor. Soon enough our kids will be grown and gone, but I do not want to wait to focus on him until then.

Any other moms relate?! I mean I know, between homework, a demanding 16 month old who is still nursing, colds, flus, a preschooler blossoming before me and my own sanity – needing to share my attention can seem daunting but it is necessary. So this Valentine’s Day, we will be off for three days (2 nights) there are surprises planned, dinners planned, fun to be had; and because we are responsible/practical adults – we also scheduled our tax appointment because we will be kidless (I mean, adulting is hard and annoying sometimes)!

There are seasons in any marriage, and the children season seams to be rewarding but trying one that really does test many limits. But it is also worth it to stop, slow down and focus on your marriage – at least it has been for me. Taking myself back a decade and reminding myself how in love with my husband I really am has changed my outlook during this crazy time. Dating again may not look as grand as our weekend planned (taxes and all); but it can start with flirting, hand-holding, letter writing or even learning each other’s love languages and spoiling each other in them – every moment invested in your marriage will come back ten fold.

x. earnest mom.

Status

Best Mom Ever. Attainable or Unrealistic?

Truth be told. The idea of being the “Best Mom Ever” is actually both attainable and unrealistic; it all depends on how you look at it.

Rewind to 9 years ago when I welcomed my sweet, darling first born child. I was absolutely convinced that I was meant to be a mother, but I was also meant to be a mother to only one child. I still remember the moment when he was about 9 weeks old, swaddled, sleeping and full of milk; I looked down on his darling cherub of a face and cried. I cried feeling how full of love my heart was and knowing 100% that I could never have another child because I could never love another child as I loved that sweet sleeping babe.

I gave him the best I could; I mean I was a brand new mama and all those mama bear instincts were at the forefront and I served up being the “best mom ever” every moment I could. Breastfed because I knew breast was best, until my breast was no longer best and we supplemented; I fed him only “organic, zero food dye, and low sugar/zero artificial sweeteners of any kind” foods; making all my own baby food. I cloth diapered his sweet little butt, used all organic soaps and shampoos, natural lotions free of all the stuff that was bad for us. (Trust me, I was THAT mom standing in the aisles of the supermarket reading EVERY INGREDIENT in EVERY PRODUCT that would come into contact with my baby). He did not drink any kind of juice before 2 years old, honestly had nearly ZERO screen time before 2 (as recommended by ALL the professionals), slept through the night by 9 weeks; and ugh, if I go on, this current mother of three will may straight up disown that intense mama of one, bless her little mama heart!

Once baby number two had come along, my heart honestly grew. (Yup – full on Grinch style, I mean as a mother of three now I know that my heart has grown three sizes). Anyways, as a mother of 2 week old and a busy but adorable 4 year old I convinced myself that I had given the best I could ever be to my first born and from here on out, every consecutive child after him would inevitably suffer since they would be getting a more lax, hand-me-down kind of mama. Man – I really let that though dictate the last few years of my life – and it actually makes me a bit sad that I accepted that lie, that only I had told myself. “He got the best of me, and well good luck all future kids.” So when my second born watched Sesame Street before 2 years old, PROOF. When she ate non organic fruits and veggies, PROOF. When she took a pacifier until 3, slept in our bed until 2.5, definitely drank juice before two and I could go on and on but needless to say I proved daily how terrible I was as a mom.

My third child, he is wild and squishy, loving and juicy all at once. He is barely 1.5 and loves watching Cars. He was walking, no running by 10 months and has eaten all of the foods – organic, non organic, GMO and non-GMO and truthfully even even straight from the trash can and until about six months ago I shrugged it all off with this thought that “The Best Mom” no longer exists because she was all used up with my first born and now, she will never be seen from again.

Reader; I tell you I was wrong…so wrong. I had an epiphany this summer. It was raining, we were stuck inside and my children were way MORE than “slightly less than tolerable” – I mean this mom was done. I told myself I am the worst mom ever because only the worst mom ever could raise such little terrors at that moment. In my haste and anger I stopped getting after them, walked into my room and said “Mommy is on a time out.” I knew that I was so angry that if I went bonkers, at least I would spare them from that unpleasantness. But as I slammed the door so hard that the sign fell off the wall next to it, and my oldest said “uh-oh, she is really upset.” I realized; I will only ever be the best I allow myself to be.

That was a wake up call. Before that moment, I secretly told myself daily, I was a bad mom. I had over heard friends complain about my children’s behavior (which in their defense was TOTALLY normal behaviors for 8,3 and 1 year olds when birthday cake was present) and told myself it was because I was not a good enough as a mom. Even while writing blogs and posts about lifting other moms and getting through motherhood together; I was still silently shaming myself. But in that moment after the door slamming, it was like I heard myself say “okay, maybe not ‘The Best Mom’ but I am the best mom for my kids.”

And that was it, I am not the mom I was 9 years ago (phew because she was exhausted trying to be the BEST MOM EVER) but I am also not the mom I was when I was a mom of two. But I am the mom that God saw fit to bless with these three beautiful little souls. He chose me. I want to live every day trying my best to be that mom. The imperfect, loud laughing, introverted, impatient, hard loving, life speaking, hug giving mama that I am. I am satisfied today, to be earnest and perfectly-imperfect.

So, is there an actual “best mom?!” YES, yes…YOU. You mama are the best mom for the little ones that you tuck in and kiss at night. You are the best that could ever be for them and in that, there is so much perfection. Perfect love, even in the mess ups, forgotten play dates, I mean – I know I have accidentally let me kid fall off of the couch. But perfectly imperfect for our children is exactly who we were meant to be. The best moms ever! And just as every child is different, every mom is different but if you are worried about being the “best mom,” you probably already are. Give yourself some grace, we all deserve it and know – even in our low moments we are still the best mamas for our littles. Trying your best looks different every day (also looks absolutely different for every family). What a blessing it is that children are so forgiving and wreck less with their love, because even when we mess up they still come back to us with the best hugs and kisses ever.

Be encouraged today mamas, and know you are the best mom your children could ever have! Imperfect, but perfect for them.

x. earnest mom.

Status

Are You Tidying Up?

Here Is How We Adapted the KonMari Method into Our Earnest Home, and What We Did Not Do.

This New Years Day, Netflix gifted us the lovely Marie Kondo. She is adorable, sweet and according to her series Tidying Up – she has helped a lot of people tidy up. I read her book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” when it came out a few years ago and it made me reevaluate our clutter. However, reading and seeing the method in action on Netflix were two different experiences for me.

I absolutely agree with the reasoning that less clutter creates a more peaceful and joyful space. The past few months we had already gone through every box in our basement and got rid of an embarrassing amount of donations, recycling and trash that we had been storing in our basement for the past few years. Before Christmas we went through toys with the kids and tossed what was broken and missing pieces; then donated toys that had not been used in a long time. Since we were already on our journey to less is best – Tidying Up got us back on track, especially with clothes.

One of the methods in KonMari that I love is the folding and storing of clothing. I have purged so many old and unused clothes it is amazing. I literally have a drawer and a half empty and one drawer that has my essential oils, hair items and jewelry organized! The clothes are easy to see and believe it or not, since “tidying” my clothes the KonMari way, I actually enjoy doing my laundry. Until this point, my whole life I have referred to laundry as my nemesis, but after adopting this new way of handling my clothes I really do enjoy it. It was really fun to do my 4 year old daughter’s clothes and see what items she treasured and the ones she did not; there were some I wanted to keep that she said no, and some I wanted to toss that she wanted to keep! Of course, I stayed respectful of her likes and dislikes. Now she loves her clothes and what she chose plus putting them away!

Another part of her method I like is putting all of the items that need to be tidied in one big pile. It truly is moving to see how much I had, and how much I actually used, or even liked. This process really helped me put into perspective what items were necessary and what items were simply cluttering up my space. So far, 3 out of the 5 of us have our clothes all tidied up and we are moving on to the next tasks.

One thing that did we not follow, was whether or not an item “sparked joy” for us. We are not ones who have ever had on object that brought true joy or looked to find joy in an object – rather it is having Christ in our home and each other where we find our joy. Mind you, I do respect and understand being around things that make you feel joy so you will have a joyful space, it just was not for us. So instead of looking at inanimate objects and “waking them up” or “thanking” them for being in our lives before we get rid of them , we used a more relatable approach. Instead of holding an item and asking ourselves if it sparked joy for us, we held the item and asked, “do I use this, will I use this, do I really need this, or do I still like this?” We found these questions were more practical for our home.

One phrase that has become my motto is “not having what I want, but wanting what I already have.” This mind set has helped me to appreciate what I have. I thank God for the items that I have used and am now passing on or simply throwing away. This mindset has really changed the way I look at items in my home, and the journey is a slow one but I am excited to see the final results.

So, are you tidying or is the KonMari Method not for you? Let me know if organizing or minimizing is a current or future plan for your home!

x. earnest mom.

Status

Earnestly, on Christmas Night.

As I sit here in the quiet dim light, my heart is full and head swirling with the day we have just shared. Everyone now asleep while I recount this blessed day. We have celebrated our 10th Christmas as a family and I think every year it gets better. It has nothing to do with the boxes or wrapping but everything to do with the sleepy faces that surrounded the tree.

My middle-little is still so awe struck with Christmas, it made the day full of love, wonder and hope. Three traits that perhaps I have forgotten in the quick paced world that is motherhood, especially this busy season.

Earnest dad and I had gotten up before the kids (after wrapping and visiting until the wee hours of the night) and our excitement brimmed in anticipation for our little ones to wake and come downstairs. Our eldest had been awake before us but our rule was no kids out of bed until 7; which they complied. We sat in the glowing light of the tree that illuminated the boxes of treasures below and waited for the footsteps on the stairs.

We cheered them down as they took in the scene before them – the presents that had appeared, the stockings that hung heavy and the empty milk glass left among the cookie crumbs. Grammy joined and we enjoyed hot coffee, sweet orange rolls and watched the faces full of joy and surprise. Of course the gifting was but a portion of our day.

We enjoyed two hearty meals together, played games filled with joy and laughter, crackers that brought crowns and jokes to all; then poppers that left glittering red and green sparkles on the snow. One of my favorite moments was the glowing candle that burned atop a Christmas cookie cake as we sat around the dinner table and sang “Happy Birthday Jesus” only to have earnest babe request we sing, “This is the Day that The Lord Has Made” and indeed we rejoiced and were glad in it.

As I settle in and leave this, another Christmas in the books I am so thankful for the family that I have been given. The health of my husband and children, the joy and peace that fills our earnest home, and the love that is felt each and every day – which is my favorite gift this year. So as this season whooshes by, hustling and bustling I have to pause and soak up this moment. Such contentment, such blessings; I am so thankful that His law is love and His gospel is peace.

Merry Christmas earnest readers, I am thankful for each and every one of you that follow along in these adventures of our little earnest family.

x. earnest mom.

Status

For the dads; an earnest recognition.

Okay I am here to confess: Dads, we could not do it without you. Yup, us moms who hold our homes, families and the weight of the world on our shoulders – we need you! We need you when we are “fine,” when we are home with the kids all day or working full time jobs. We need you just as you are – the one we said “yes” to.

I remember bringing home earnest boy 1.0 almost 9 years ago. We were so green, we had no idea what we were doing and we drove home in shock, looking over our shoulders saying “are they really letting us take him home?” Newborns are crazy hard work as we get through getting to know this tiny little stranger that we have been gifted with – the demands were endless. Diaper changes, nursing, bathing, outfit changes, swaddling baby, backs to sleep. So much to learn and I know that had I not had earnest dad, I have no idea how I would have survived those first few newborn months.

Fast forward, ten years of marriage and three children later and I still have no idea how I could do this on my own.

We see you dads – we see you when you come home worn and tired from a long day’s work and can hear that mama needs a break, so you grab all the kids and snuggle up with them so she can have a minute to breathe. We see you in those moments before bedtime starts when mama is falling asleep on the couch and you wrestle with the kiddos on the floor. We see you when the baby won’t stop crying, mama is crying and you quietly take the baby to the other room to rock him and as you close the bedroom door you whisper “now rest my love.” I see you when, I am overwhelmed with the mess, the energy level, the noise volume and the non-stop “mom, mom, mom, moooOooooms” and you walk in and say “time to go downstairs” so I can get a few moments of peace. I see you when I get all worried about my mama worries and you reach out, hold me and tell me it will be okay.

This life is chaotic at times, quiet in others; it seems to be fleeting faster that I could have ever anticipated but there is no one else that I want sitting beside me in any of those times. All dads, you are so important and there is no one way to be a perfect dad but one million-billion ways to be a great one!

Thank you daddies – and thank you earnest dad. Thank you for working hard so I can stay home with our littles. Thank you for loving all of my quirks and passions, even the goofy ones. Thank you for keeping Christ the center of our marriage, our family and our home. And thank you for being the calm to my storm, the strength to my faults, the right to my wrong, the joy in my sorrow and the man of my life. Thank you for choosing me to ride along side you in this incredible ride of our lives. I appreciate you!

Mamas, join me in taking a moment to thank that support person in your life. The one person that helps makes sense of it all.

x. earnest mom.

Status

Motherhood: A wild and incredibly blessed ride!

Wild and blessed, two words that can describe exactly where I am right now.

I am always shocked when I hear the words: ” I do not know how you do it” or “how do you get anything done in a day?” Honestly, I never feel like I hit the mark, I rarely feel like I have gotten anything done in a day and sometimes the only gage I have that I’ve accomplished something is by my husband’s reaction when he come in the door.

Seriously, as a stay at home mom to an 8, 4 and 1 year old my time feels like it is spent assessing risk factors from wild toddler antics, throwing snacks out like candy at a parade and refereeing disputes over claims of “bad words being said, walking passed someone too fast or slow, and simply not agreeing on the next show to watch on Netflix.” And yes, my children watch Netflix, I mean yeah, I could totally parent without screen time – I could also churn my own butter but let’s not get too crazy now.

Friends have told me how I seem to have it all together and that my kids are so lucky. I am here to tell you, looks are deceiving. There are days when I get up before my children, make the coffee and have laundry and dishes running before 9:00 am. Those days are rare. To be honest that happened once last week. The rest of the week looked more like me walking out of the bathroom to my two oldest using a half a stick of butter in each hand from the fridge to butter their toast because there was not any softened butter available. No kidding, this was last Wednesday and I chose to look at the fact that not only did they make their own snack, but they did as a team! Yay, MOM WIN!!! Another day I turn around from loading the dishwasher to my one year old eating a burnt waffle he took from the garbage. Perfection?! NO WAY, but like I said I am wildly blessed by this.

In my days as a stay at home mom I have learned to let go and let live. My children are growing so fast, right before my eyes and if I do not stop all of my busyness I will miss on theirs. My house is not always tidy, some days my sink of full of dishes and there have even been times that we have run out of clean laundry; but my kids are loved, happy, fed and safe. Those four elements are a language of love for this mama’s heart, and perspective is everything. My home may be messy but we have a place to live, my sink may have dishes but we have food to eat and laundry may be dirty but we have clothes to wear. My kids may be loud but they have a voice, they may be busy but their have a love of life to live. Pretty soon, in a blink, my kids will be on their own; the house will be perfectly clean and too quiet, and I will miss these wild and blessed days.

I know that I am in no way a perfect mom, but I know I have been made perfectly by God to grow these tiny humans He has given me. I hope that when I fall short I can give them an opportunity to see humility and compassion; when I make mistakes I can help them learn to forgive; and when I hold them, they feel what true love is. I am mothering the best way I know how, I know that the best of me as imperfect as I am is exactly what they need. By this mere fact, I am able to forgive myself the moments when they eat from the trash or use way too much butter, and find joy no matter what. This is us, this is our little life and our little home is massive in love, for truly we are wildly blessed.

Mamas, no matter what season you are in, please know you are perfect just as you are. I love the saying “to the world you are just a mom, but to your children you are the world.” Our little ones have this amazing God-given power to love us mamas unconditionally, let us too start loving ourselves unconditionally too. Doing our best everyday is the best we can for them, and even when we totally fail, guess what?! They will be right there, still loving us.

You are seen, you are loved and you are everything to those little eyes that look to you every morning. You are just what your family needs. Be wild and blessed, the days are long but the years are short.

x. earnest mom.