Updated: Jan 27, 2020
This week my son turned one year old. It has truly been the best year of my life. I have been answering everyone's "How's motherhood treating you?" questions with "It's the most joyous role I've ever had." That is the honest answer. I don't negate the fact that mothers go through hard things.... HARD things. But for me, it's been such a natural transition. Yes my temperament and professional training has helped (I have a degree in Child and Family Studies), but honestly I think having an amazing mom is what set me up for success. My mom is truly a legend. She is all the things and does it all with grace. Founder of a large fruitful ministry with my dad, Pastor's wife, President of a Bible College (#GirlPower), Author, Teacher, Conference Speaker, a homemaker, mom to 3, and grandma to 2. Above all that, she is a pioneer and pillar in the Body of Christ. She is a confident disciple and faithful follower of Jesus. To have a front row view of her passion for The Lord, His Word and His people is a privileged I don't take lightly.
Growing up, her life seemed so effortless, and yet when I stop and really think of all she does I'm flabbergasted. People, believe me when I say, Rachel Burchfield is the real deal. Even in the fast pace life that ministry sets you up for, she has ALWAYS put motherhood first. I cannot honor her enough for the life and love she poured into me. She's taught me how to be a daughter of God, a lady, a learner, a communicator, a creator, a manager, a leader, a wife, and now a mother. Now that I'm a mom, I find myself with mindsets and habits, that I've learned from her, that I believe have been game changers in my motherhood journey. There's no way I could pass on all of my favorite "Motherhood Tips" from my mom in one post, so we'll start with these 10 (in no particular order).
1. Start your day before your kids, not to your kids.
If I close my eyes, and someone asks me, "Picture your mom", do you know what I see? Her sitting in her bathrobe, with her cup of coffee, and her Bible in her lap. As a little girl I would love to come out of my room and find mom in the living room in this posture. She would light up with delight to see us run down the hall. She always felt "ready" for us. As a young mom, I've learned quickly, my entire day is smoother if I wake up a few minutes before Oliver to get a cup of tea, read my Bible, or even just brush my teeth. (Let's be real here. I've been in the newborn life.) Moms set the mood of the house. So getting your mood in line first, before life hits, makes for an overall better home culture.
2. Wear real pajamas.
I know this seems so practical and odd, but mom always had matching pajamas, bathrobes, and slippers. (I'm laughing right now typing this because it seems like such a shallow things to add to the profound list of things my mom has taught me. But stick with me.) I never really noticed this pattern growing up, but I vividly remember the day I got out of bed to get Oliver and looked in the mirror and saw what I was wearing : random pj pants with a wrinkly old tshirt. (There is no PJ shaming here, if that's what works for you, go for it.) I was starting and ending my day feeling frumpy, and exhausted, and out of sorts mainly because I looked like it. And then it clicked. My mom always looked put together, not because she was but because she always had that fluffy bathrobe that made her look like a queen no matter what. I asked Ryan for some new PJs, and now my matching satin pajama set makes me feel so lovely. And moms, we need more of that. We need little hints in our days that remind us that we are not a high school teen any more, we are not cramming for an exam in our college dorm. We are adults. We are mothers. We are ladies. And by-golly, we deserve real pajamas!
3. Husband comes first.
Growing up, my mom made it very clear that she loved us, but Dad came first. Not only did it create a culture of honoring our dad, but it set a foundation for me too as a future wife and mother. It's easy to get consumed in our child's life, but may we not forget that children will come and go, but our spouse will be by our side for the long haul. We must continue to love and invest in our marriage. ***Special shout-out to my mom for not only giving this advice but also for babysitting Oliver once a month so Ryan and I can have regular date nights.
4. Consistency is a great gift. I want to write a book on this one day because I'm so passionate about it. In my opinion this is top of the list of the most valuable thing my mother gave us. Consistency. Schedules. Boundaries. Routines. Child development enthusiasts like myself feel so deeply about this for a reason. Children thrive off of consistency. It doesn't matter if your child is type-a or a free spirit, in the 10 and under stage especially, their brains, bodies, emotions, and overall well beings are wired for the need to feel secure. That's why schedules and consistency are important. It's not so mom can be in control, it truly makes for happier, more creative, well-behaved children. They thrive when they feel safe.
And for children, in their little brains, knowing they will be in the same bed at the same time every night brings security. Having the same morning routine brings security. Life doesn't have to be concrete strict, but overall, things should have a natural rhythm. Whether my mom read a book or just listened to Holy Spirit, somehow she caught on to this child development truth and she became the queen of it. We knew:
- 7:00am was breakfast, we were expected to be at the table dressed and ready. (The table included place mats and music playing.)
- 7:00pm PJs were on and we were on our bed reading. (We could read our Bible or a book of our choice)
-7:30pm Bedtime lights out.
- In the mornings, we were ready to answer with "Yes Ma'am" when the question was asked, "Did you do your 4 habits?" every single day. (Four Habits : Brush your teeth, Wash your Face, Brush your Hair, Make your bed]
- Backpacks were packed the night before, and set beside the door. If you didn't do it the night before it didn't happen. Mom didn't sign anything last min or dig for that missing book. If it wasn't prepped, it was left.
- TV was only allowed on the weekend. And we were only allowed to watch one 30 min show.
- Daily outdoor play was a mandatory activity.
- Friday nights were splurge nights and we could watch a movie with popcorn in the living room.
- Birthday mornings were started with "The Red Plate" and monkey bread.
The list goes on and on. All purposeful. All done with joy. All felt like a game to accomplish not a rule to follow. All made for a very peaceful, loving, and lovely home culture. I've definitely taken this over to my motherhood. Consistency doesn't mean you run your home with a stopwatch in hand, it's not about hitting those specific times, but it is about having routines and rhythms that create expectations for your children. Ryan and I have put this parenting philosophy to practice and so far we are already seeing the benefits. (Also, Oliver sleeps 7pm-7am every night so yes, I believe in this consistency, scheduling parenthood method. It's healthy for him, and healthy for our marriage to have time alone each evening.)
5. Plant treats in the ”push parts” of the day. I remember growing up, every 4:00pm mom would said with joy, "Ok, it's time for my Diet Coke!". She had one Diet Coke can a day and saved it for 4:00pm. I now understand why. (Ha!) Every mom has that part of the day that is an extra push. A part of the day that drags. Mom knew her "cranky trap" and planned ahead to prevent herself from loosing her joy. For me, it's listening to my favorite podcast. I save it for (go figure) 4:00pm, because it seem to be the hardest 90min push of my day before Ryan gets home. It's the perfect brain refresh I need to stay in the right mindset.
6. Give extra time to prevent the frazzle. Mom taught me to always give 20 extra min to anything you do with children. "It's always going to take longer than you expected, so instead of living in the "hurry up" motherhood mantra, you can plan extra time and keep yourself and children in peace." It's true. Something will always come up.
7. Consideration is caught more than taught.
My mom is one of the most considerate people I know. It's also the trait that Ryan mentioned first about me when we were getting to know each other. I give all the credit to my mom. She modeled it so well.
Instead of a lesson she lectured, she included us in this part of her heart. - "Grandma had a hard day, can you help me box up these cookies."
- "Your brother is really proud of his success on his math test, can you set out "The Red Plate" at his spot for dinner for me?"
- "Today is Friday, don't forget to look in your teachers eyes and tell her, "Thank you for this week. Have a good weekend."
I try to model this to Oliver even at a young age. A dictator commands but a disciple maker commentates. Simply explaining what you are doing as you are doing it really helps children absorb heart and hands of an action.
8. The Spoonful of Sugar Philosophy Really Does Help The Medicine Go Down
Our home is a Mary Poppins loving home, in more ways than one. For being a very structured and strict home, we honestly didn't know it was happening because mom made everything so fun.
- Carrying in groceries turned into competitions of who could do it fastest while walking backwards.
- Writing thank you cards to every.single.person. who gave us a present for birthdays or Christmas became exciting because we got to pick out the fancy stationary of our choice at the store.
- While waiting in restaurants or airports we would play "I-Spy" or count blue squares in the patterned carpet.
- Bath time was full of silly songs and big soapy bubbles.
She has a wonderful way of turning the ordinary into an extraordinary experience. I pray I have the same "sugar" in my motherhood veins too.
9. Life is Full of Lovely Things to Love.
I've seen myself cherish this one most of all this year. My mom is a lover of lovely things. She notices the tiny gold buttons on a sweater. She stops her day to pull out her binoculars to enjoy the red cardinal in her backyard. She savors every last bite of that gooey brownie with "oohs and awes" instead of scarfing it down mindlessly. She admires the crisp air and the sweet toddler's overalls playing outside. I LOVE this trait about my mom and with a curious little boy full of wonder, I love that I'm finding myself pattering after her in this way. Oliver and I will spend 10 minutes admiring the crunchy leaves, the bumpy toy, or the tasty banana. We stop and say hi to new friends in the store that may look different than us. We giggle at the way the blanket flows up and down, up and down, up and down.
It's the small details that make for a lovely life, and my mom is the one that taught me that best.
10. Jesus is a friend to be introduced, not a lifestyle to be forced.
My mom always modeled a life that loved the Lord, but she didn't put a burden or pressure on us to be "over spiritual". We had standards and expectations, but we also watched movies and listened to the Beach Boys in the summer. We learned our books of the Bible, but we also learned how to lick the cookie dough off of the spoon. The Jesus we were being introduced to was a part of every day life, not just the person who made us wake up early, wear fancy clothes, and sit still. I believe this was the key in allowing the Holy Spirit to mold and shape our hearts so well.
I am so very grateful for a Godly mother who modeled motherhood with joy. I pray I have the impact on my children that my mom has had on me. I love you, Mama! Big Hugs to All the Moms Out There, Abby ***Don't forget, the Cirkles are cheering you on!