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If you’ve got one or more kids under the age of 7, this episode is for you! I break down the difficult aspects of this season of motherhood and how you can hold on to yourself through it all.
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Today, we’re going to be talking about life with littles; little kids, and this is going to be a three-part series. So today’s going to be littles. Next week is going to be teens and the next week is going to be. Young adults, but regardless of the age of your kids, I want you to listen to all three. Because you’re either in that phase, you will be in that phase or, you know, someone in that phase. And I think it’s really important to tell ourselves the truth. About the difficult things. Of a particular season to kind of separate out. Oh, is this just normal difficult toddler stuff or is something else going on? And so today Little’s. Next week teens.
The next week after that young adults. So when I say littles, Really, I mean, kind of the under seven crowd. And we can talk about middles a little bit in this episode, since I probably won’t include them as much in teens, but little kits. Under seven. I remember hearing someone once say, That children are much easier when they’ve reached the age of reason. Which the church says is age seven. And I loved that because God in his goodness always gives us these tools and these insights. And so knowing that we, as a church have said the age of reason, being able to reason through something is at the age of seven. Well, it makes a lot of sense to me that it would be much easier to parent a little human who has reached the age of reason. So I think when I first became a mom, I thought. You know, kids not being babies are really hard around age five. But after hearing that I thought, yeah. And after having so many kids. I think seven, like now in my mind, I’m like, it gets a lot easier at seven. You get a bump along the way.
So the first thing I’m going to say about having littles, including a baby, is in my opinion? I think having one child may be the hardest number. Because you are everything to them. Everything is new. Every stage feels new. There’s no distraction for the child in terms of another kid around. And it’s really, really lonely. And kind of boring, right? When you’re just staring at your baby. Like, I really wanted to be a mom. But we’re just hanging out, like it’s a lot. So I just. If that’s you, if you have one kiddo, Regardless of that kiddo’s age, just be gentle with yourself. You don’t get to have the feeling of confidence that you are really good at a particular stage of parenting because you haven’t gotten to do it twice yet. Right. So you’re just going from new phase to new phase to new phase.
So every new phase you feel kind of insecure, which is all of us. Right? All of us, I haven’t done 13 yet. My oldest is 12. So I’m like. I’m going to be a new mom. Doing 13. But I have the confidence of having done for age four, six times now. So I feel pretty confident about four and three and two. And what. And if you’re looking around at other moms and comparing yourself to them, right. Don’t do that. Just set that down and be like, this is where I’m at. And have some compassion for yourself that is difficult. It is difficult and lonely to have one child. And that may be your choice and it may not be your choice. You may want to have more children, but regardless, tell yourself the truth. That it is a unique challenge.
And I just want to love you where you’re at. So for those of you that have multiple little children, this is where I want to tell you about. Noise. Noise is very assaultive. And when you have many young children, There is a lot of noise. There is a lot of what I would call contextual crying like, oh, I, my diaper is full and I’m crying. Right. And then there’s just big feelings crying. Right. And I would say that’s the three and four year old set, although in my opinion, a lot are still at five and six. But a lot of big feelings at three and four, a lot of, I want something and I don’t know how to tell you. At one and two. Right. And so as that noise kind of comes at your body and feels assaultive, it feels low level violent. Okay. That’s why we have such a strong reaction to it. I want you to, to label what it is like, oh, we’re in this phase where the kiddo doesn’t have tools to communicate with me very well. That’s okay. This is just a phase because when you’re there and your 18 month old or your two and a half year old is throwing a fit. Your brain is like, oh no, this is terrible. This is what our life is going to be like forever. I don’t know what to do. Please turn it off.
And so it starts spinning a much bigger problem than, oh yeah. Age one and two is when they have. You know, we don’t have as many tools to communicate with us. Then ages three and four, they have a lot more tools, but their hearts are so big. Their emotional regulation is so low, which is important. That’s when they’re learning that. And so I just tell myself, oh yeah, this is the low emotional regulation age. Nothing is wrong. This is going to be fine.
And then it doesn’t make me feel like something is wrong with me. Right. Nothing is wrong with me. I just have a kiddo who’s losing his mind because he put his shoes on the wrong feet and I wanted to switch them. And for him it’s really big and they’re real feelings and real tears for him. And then I tell myself, Hey Sterling. This is a phase. You can handle this. You can meet this kid where he’s at. We’re going to be okay. This is not how your life is going to be. So I’m constantly coaching myself in my mind. About the truth of the situation. Because your brain sees danger everywhere, but it’s not really good at categorizing the level of danger. So it’s like sound the alarms. This is really terrible. But it doesn’t know the difference between. House fire and burnt toast. Like if we’re thinking about a smoke alarm, your smoke alarm doesn’t know the difference between a house fire and burnt toast. And your brain just really, for the most part goes, oh, this is dangerous. And a lot of the time. It exaggerates the danger. And so if you can notice you’re feeling stress and then just begin to calm yourself down. Right. I love you. You can do this. This is that big heart age.
Now for those of you that have a lot of littles. I had six kids in eight years. You know, when my oldest was seven. I would’ve been pregnant. And they would have been 7, 5, 3. One. New born. Pregnant. That’s crazy. Y’all. If I would have told myself back then, Right. Hey, Hey. This is like an Olympic size. Mother had challenged, like you’re running the Olympics of motherhood right now. My friend. It is supposed to feel. This difficult. Right. If I had normalized it for myself. Then it wouldn’t have felt as heavy. Right. Being in the Olympics is hard. But the people were in the Olympics are not confused about what they signed up for and that it’s supposed to be hard. All right. And so God gives us equal grace for our crosses. And so he was meeting me there with grace St. Sterling. I’m going to help you get through this day. But all the worry that I had about, oh, no, I’m never going to stop being pregnant and I’m ruining the kids because I can’t spend great quality time with all of them because I’m so tired. Like all of those are kind of made up problems.
And God wasn’t giving me grace for those made up problems. So it just felt heavy and stressful. And so we want to. Notice. That we’re a little stressed and then kind of check in with our brain. Hey brain. It’s just a house fire or is this burnt toast? There are house fires. Sometimes there are really big problems that need fast and big attention. But most of the time it’s burnt toast. And the thing I love about the burnt toast analogy is when we burn toast, it requires action. We’re not just saying, Hey, that’s fine. No big deal. We’re like, oh yeah, there’s smoke. We need to get the sheet pan out. We need to fan. The fire alarm. Right open the windows. There’s things we need to do, but it’s a little stressor. It’s a little problem. Or certainly a smaller problem than house being on fire. And so we don’t want to be dismissive of, what’s difficult about the phase of parenting that you’re in. Right. We want to say, yeah, that is difficult, but it’s not a house fire. You got this? And then when you can calm yourself down, that’s when we can say, what do you need? What can we do differently? How can we rethink the season of your life? And it is just a season. I’m a really big fan of telling myself, like you can do this for three months. Most things.
Last for three months. Right. Most even childhood phases might be six months, but it’s in our brain. It’s forever. I just thought it was going to be pregnant forever with a whole bunch of little kids forever. And you guys, I am. I was so surprised. I got really choked up. When my youngest turned four, my youngest just turned four, two weeks ago. And I just thought I’d feel so happy and be like, oh my gosh, we made it four years without getting pregnant. And I was surprisingly emotional about it. Like, oh, I have nobody under four and it really caught me off guard. And that’s okay. But now I just see it as crazy as it sounds. That kind of was a short time. Right. Having six kids in eight years and obviously eight years is a long time. But in another way, it was a short time. And that was four years ago. I had my last kiddo and we don’t know if it’s the last, but still every month. It’s just like, oh, there’s another month where we’re not pregnant.
Tell yourself the truth about the difficulty of littles and it’s. Just a huge amount of noise. And it’s people. Depending on you for everything. Everything. You have to wake up and take care of them. You have to feed them. When they are sick, you have to take care of them. You have to keep them safe all the time.
You know, and they get a little more capable. 3, 4, 5, 6. It’s amazing when they can put shoes on. And get a glass of water and then eventually when they can dress themselves, that always just feels like such a huge deal to me when they can dress themselves. And that’s a lot. It’s a lot that a whole human is a hundred percent dependent on you. Now I don’t go around telling myself. Everything is terrible. That’s not. What this is, we don’t want to do that, but we want to just be like, yeah, this is a lot right now.
This kiddo makes a lot of noise and completely depends on you. That’s not a problem. Right. We would just say that would be challenging for a lot of the humans. And then we can just say, are there some skills you need to acquire? Do you need to learn something? Do you need to try something? And maybe the only skill. That you really need. It’s just how to calm down. How to talk to yourself in your mind to calm yourself down. I think that’s just such a huge, huge skill, because then when you are calm, you will be a much better problem solver.
The other thing that is difficult. So we talked about noise and they’re completely dependent on you. The other thing that’s difficult. It’s just leaving the house. All of a sudden leaving the house is so hard. Going places is hard. The tension of protecting nap time, but still getting to do things. It’s hard. And so you just went from having a large amount of freedom, really. I mean, even if you had to go to your job until you felt like you had to go to your job, you could leave your job. You could go somewhere for three days. You could stay up late or sleep. And when we have kids, all of a sudden. Our time and our agency, our freedom, our ability to just kind of do what we want in the moment goes away. And that can be a big adjustment period. I think particularly for moms, because then we don’t know when it’s okay to leave the kids. Can I leave for two hours? Can I leave for two days? What’s too much? How far can I be? And some of this is just based on your personality. And your support system. But it’s a huge shift. Huge, like bigger than the shift of going to college. Okay. When you are in high school and then you go to college, all of a sudden, nobody cares if you go to class anymore. And classes are weird times and you actually have a huge amount of free time to do your homework. And that can feel really daunting. And it’s a huge shift in. I’m living at home. I have a lot of structure and accountability and all of a sudden I have way less.
I think the jump. From being a human who controls all of your time. To have one or two kids is just even bigger than that. Because you lose your ability to just, oh, I want to go here now. And suddenly things like going to the grocery store and buying food feel really big and really heavy. And I want you to do the same thing. I want you to tell your brain the truth about that. Because you may have gone to the grocery store and had one or two kiddos crying and felt shame and embarrassment. And now you feel kind of anxious thinking about going, or you’re trying to like squeak it in. At times that are not convenient for you, but your husband’s homes, then you don’t have to take the kids. And I think that’s a completely fine solution. If you like it. I’m talking about the mom who likes, doesn’t totally like that. Maybe she’s waking up at 7:00 AM on Saturday to, you know, run to the grocery store. Without the kids.
You can. Calm yourself down about that. And do some problem solving like, okay, actually it was just a one-time or one out of four times. It’s a little dicey. The other three times are fine. Am I okay with those odds? And then you can make a protocol. Protocol is just deciding ahead of time when you’re calm, what you will do. What are we going to do? Do the kids cry? What are they, what are we going to do? If they break something? Right. Are you like a push through and get it done or are you like leaving the groceries and Hightail it out of there? You get to choose and we don’t. Do this problem solving process when we’re still in that fearful stress state, and we think something is wrong.
And we’re kind of resisting the reality of what is, that’s why I really like labeling things. Like, oh, if I label for you, one of the things that’s difficult about having little kids is not having agency over leaving the house. And you’re like, yeah, that is a whole category of thing. Isn’t it? Yeah. And now, you know, it’s not a you thing. That’s just a totally normal and difficult part of having little children. And then you can problem solve. I’ll tell you guys, and I’ve said this so many times before. I’m just kind of a no mom. I don’t go to a lot of places because I have so many kids. They were so little and it was so difficult to put them all in a car and go somewhere. And I didn’t mind. Taking little kids, places when I had one or two, but as soon as they really started stacking up, it was just difficult. So my husband, when my husband and I would do split teams, like he would take the girls somewhere and I’d stay home with the boys or we’d switch. And we just started dividing things up like that. If you have little kids, be gentle with yourself. Tell yourself the truth about what’s difficult about that stage. These are the difficult things.
And then. When you were calm. Be a better problem solver. I promise you, if you have been problem-solving from a stress state, they probably weren’t great plans. And so you’re expending the effort of planning, but then it’s not going well. We’ve got to feel safe and calm first. Okay. So my heart goes out. To all of you moms with one little kid, two little kids, five little kids. It’s a lot of noise. They depend on you for everything. It’s difficult to leave the house and on top of all of that, I don’t feel like I need to explain this, but we’re tired. Like, that’s definitely like the most tiring phase of parenting. And. You’re doing a good job. You’re not screwing them up. You’re not blowing it and you’re a better problem solver than you think.
All right. My friends. I love you. Thank you so much for listening and have a blessed day.