It has been such a boost these past couple of weeks to hear how the June Power of Moms Retreat has been an influence for good in the lives of our attendees. It takes more hours than I can count to run this website/organization, and it means so much to know that all this work matters to someone out there.
What's great is that the Retreat also made ME a new mom! I've noticed that since I returned from St. George, I'm more patient, I'm more excited about life, I feel less alone during the hard times, and I feel such a hope for the future. Just sitting in the same room with 30 motivated, dedicated, talented women helped me to see what's possible as I raise my children, and that vision isn't something you can buy.
One specific skill I learned at the Retreat (which I want to write as ReTreat--because it was such a treat!) is how to look at the "sticky points" of my day and create solutions. Some of the practical solutions I learned over the weekend are as follows:
- When I want my two-year-old to open his mouth while I brush his teeth, all I need to do is ask him to repeat a series of funny noises that necessitate him opening his mouth. It works like a charm...no more wrestling at bedtime.
- When my children are grumpy in the car, I ask them what special treat/privilege they'd like when we get home, and I invite them to sit nicely so they can have that treat. (It was amazing to see a whole van load of children calm down when they had a reason to do so.)
- When one of my children whines to me in the car, I ask them to start over and say, "Mother Dearest..." (That one always makes us smile.)
- When I see a child who has clearly "had it" for the day, I give him/her a chance to calm down: "Sweetie, go take a shower, eat a snack, and rest for 30 minutes in your bed until dinnertime." Why should I let cranky children keep getting more cranky?
- When Spencer (my two-year-old) won't obey, I make it a game. Fun and games is the key for preschoolers, according to Linda Eyre, and she's right! Instead of getting upset with him when he wants to run all over the store parking lot, I ask him questions like, "Can you pull that HEAVY door open? Are you strong?" Or if he wants to play in the van instead of coming into the house, I redirect him toward something interesting in the front yard: "Wow--what color is that leaf?" or "Want to help me find the BIG trashcan?" Allyson came to church with me after we returned from Saren's house, and she helped Spencer stay calm through the meeting by making funny faces at him. It was wonderful!
Being at the ReTreat helped me to see that there are tons of solutions out there that aren't difficult to implement. I used to get flustered when my children acted like children, but now I think, "What would make this situation better?"
Shawni gave me a great little tip that involves writing on my children's fingers. You just grab a pen and one of your children's hands, and you put one letter on the tip of each finger--each letter representing one thing you love about that child. I've been asking each child to come up with two things they love about themselves, and then I add three more. They keep trying to make the letters spell something funny, and they get SO excited whenever I do this. Thanks for the idea, Shawni! Here's Alia, practicing the piano with her labeled hand:
And then Grace decided that I needed letters written on my hand, as well. So cute of her.
My life isn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I've been in tears at least three times this past week as I've felt overwhelmed and exhausted with everything going on (a busy last week of school, a little boy who wakes up between 4:50 and 5:30 every morning--screaming, lots of messes, and lots of projects I want desperately to finish but can't quite manage right now), but through it all, I do feel happy. I know that everything will work out, and I know that if I keep trying, keep hanging in there, and keep taking my naps, this process of motherhood will be the best experience I can imagine.
My children are 10, 8, 7, and 2, but I am a new mom.