Some days being a working mom of four kids kicks my butt.
I admit, I really didn’t know what I was getting into when our household expanded from just my husband and me to a family with one child, then two, then three, then four children (not to mention the addition of 20-plus chickens, a cat and a German shepherd).
Parenting my four children (ages 8, 10, 12 and 14) along with all of my other responsibilities of work and home isn’t exactly easy.
A new phase
In our family, as our kids are getting bigger, they’re getting busier. The pace of our family life has accelerated as our children are becoming more involved in sports, competitions and other extracurricular activities.
We’re in that age pocket with our children where their independence is growing, but they’re still very much dependent on us — especially when it comes to encouraging them to make good choices, feeding them, paying for things and driving them places.
The energy it takes to keep up with this pace of family life creates a different kind of exhaustion than that of the baby years when we had the respite of pacifiers, midday nap times and 7 p.m. bedtimes.
The challenges we need to handle as parents at this stage are far more complicated than the challenges of when they were younger. We need to set and enforce boundaries with the Internet and social media, and drugs and alcohol. We need to help our children handle peer pressure, challenging friendships and their emotional and physical health. Our job as parents isn’t only to care for and love them, but also to give them positive guidance and direction as they navigate adolescence.
Taking it day by day
There’s no doubt that parenting is exhausting and challenging, but it’s a blessing that can bring much fulfilment and joy.
When I get caught up in the fullness of it all, sometimes I forget that I wouldn’t have it any other way: I absolutely love being a mom of four kids and I’m grateful that I have a fulfilling career.
I don’t necessarily love the sibling squabbles or massive amounts of laundry, not always knowing the right way to solve issues or problems or the unknowns that can cause worry.
I especially do not love my moments of burnout when I’ve run out of patience and my capacity for resilience has dwindled.
But I do love this loud, busy, messy, rich and full life of mine.
Parenting is hard and each stage of our children’s development has its own set of challenges. We have to accept that no parent or child will be perfect and there will be challenging times every single day of parenting.
There will be overflowing laundry, daily messes, arguments, tears, bumps, bruises and scars all along the way.
But approaching our children, ourselves and others with gentleness and kindness is important.
When times get tough, we can encourage each other to stay on course. We can tap into our support systems and support others whenever possible.
When I’m worn out, a positive boost in the form of verbal praise or accolades can help me overcome that hurdle and give me pause enough to reframe my situation so that I can put it in perspective.
So here’s to you, to me, to us:
Look at you, raising these kids the best you can with everything else going on in your life!
Keep at it, take it day by day,
Find moments to share your love
with them each and every day.
Be gentle on yourself.
Stay on course.
Surrender to the experience.
Enjoy the journey.
Megan Devine is a kindergarten teacher who lives in Northeastern Minnesota. Follow her blog — Kids, Lakes, Loons and Pines.