Does it Get Easier?

Overwhelmed mothers all over the social media groups ask for affirmation that their current troubles will improve. “My twins are four months. Please tell me it gets easier?!” 

Well. . . Not really.  There is a major trade-off for every improvement in parenting. You’ll be able to do housework once the baby can go four hours between feedings, but there will still be more work than you can complete. Babies won’t need to be carried everywhere forever. You’ll merely have to chase them down all day.  The child will learn to vocalize his needs, but then you must consistently monitor and correct mean and disrespectful attitudes behind the words. Little ones grow to care for their own physical needs, but they require your wisdom on complicated and deeply emotional matters.


Apply this to parenting, but also work, marriage, grief, faith, skill, lessons, health — life doesn’t get easier; you get stronger. The seasons change, but with every improvement of your situation, there will be a regression of some sort, another pressure to endure. Like the winds on a mighty cedar tree, our circumstances may stir or bend us. They do not cease, but we grow in strength.

“The righteous one flourishes like a palm tree, He grows like a cedar in Leḇanon. Those who are planted in the House of יהוה Flourish in the courts of our Elohim. They still bear fruit in old age; They are fresh and green, To declare that יהוה is straight, My rock, and in Him is no unrighteousness.”

‭‭Tehillim (Psalms)‬ ‭92:12-15‬ ‭TS2009‬‬

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Dear Mama, You can Conquer this Mountain 

Laundry. Mount Washmore. The never-ending chore.

Laundry! Once so clean in the moonlight!

Folded neatly and stacked tight;

It was beautiful then.

But the family must work and play and soil it and then,

I do the laundry, Yet again! 

(Set to the tune of “Memory” by Andrew Lloyd Webber)

Did you know that there is a hidden joy to laundry? Did you know that you can look in your hamper and smile? Did you know that it is possible to stroll through your house and not find a chair heaped with clean clothes? Did you know that you can go weeks without hearing your husband say that he’s out of clean socks? That all of this can be accomplished on autopilot? And even a toddler can help?

A load a day keeps Mt. Washmore away.

That’s it. Only handle one load of laundry every day. Sort, wash, dry, fold, iron, and put away one load – and stop.

Starting this method is the hardest part, but once you have managed to keep it up almost every day for two weeks, the clothes begin to behave themselves.

What does this even look like? FlyLady and Diane taught me how. Especially if you are a visual learner like myself, I recommend looking through Diane’s “Morning Routine.”

As for my own laundry routine, I try to avoid this chore on Sabbath, and I try not to start until I have fed the infants and gotten dressed for the day. Only then do I grab the dirty clothes basket in my bedroom and take it to the laundry room. There, I sort clothes into my lovely set of hampers that we received as a baby shower gift.


The bags are removable. So, if someone is taking my laundry to wash whilst I recover from illness or  childbirth, they can simply grab a bag on their way out. If my own machines are being repaired, the bags are easier to transport to the laundromat than baskets. Yes, I love this thing!

 

By “laundromat” I mean the closest neighbor who will permit my use of their equipment.

Anyways. I am the only one in the house who sorts things into the proper hamper, but that’s okay. Daughter throws her clothes into the hamper closest to the door, so I made that bag the children’s hamper. Husband throws one outfit at a time on top of my sorting system, so that takes maybe three seconds to sort out every day. No sweat. Whichever hamper is fullest I dump into the washer, start it, and then I get on with my morning.

Sometime before lunch, I have Daughter help me switch the laundry from the washer to the dryer. The most fun part for her is in the afternoon. My toddler loves shoving the clean basket into the laundry room, dragging out the clean clothes, cleaning out the lint, fishing out the wool balls (fabric softener), shutting the door by herself, and shoving the clean clothes away to be folded.

Then, Daughter can put some of the little items away for me as I’m folding. Once everything is folded, I finish putting away the laundry that Daughter is still too short to manage. Nearly anything I can put on a hanger, goes on a hanger, so all the shirts, skirts, nice pants, and onesies fall to me. Since it’s only one load, though, a little effort gets it done easy. “All done!” we say. “Let’s have a chocolate!”

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I am paranoid about dressers toppling on my adventurous climbers, and I like the ability to find clothes quickly. So, I keep a hanger on the child’s closet door for all the onsies, shirts, or dresses. Pants and socks fit into a light storage basket with the diapers and wipes.

 

Grab an oblong hanger off one of those gift blankets from Baby’s shower, and snap the onesies on it in plain sight. 

Keep an empty diaper box by the crib. Once you realize your child has outgrown a garment, throw it in the box. When it gets full, tape the box shut, label it, then stow it away or give it away.

Helping me with chores has given my daughter a good sense of accomplishment, and I enjoy having her company. I also notice our communication skills get stronger as we work together. Her help certainly saved me a great deal of teeth-grinding agony when I was pregnant with twins and unable to bend or twist.

Our little balls of energy are ready to play games with us to learn how to run their own lives one day. Age appropriate responsibility can help tone down sour attitudes, believe it or not. Have fun teaching them early, while the mundane chores are still fun for them to master.
There you go. That’s the way I keep the laundromonster in check and have some fun teaching my little one while we do it together. Check out those links above. This method is adaptable to people who work outside the home, or work odd shifts, too. With a little change in attitude, you can do this!

How I fold and put away sheets. Disclaimer: This method has not been approved by anyone’s Aunt Mirna. My camera’s microphone is defective, so please bear with the audio quality.

Daddy Fix It

Many Scriptures make better sense when you’re rearing children. “To have faith like a child,” used to sound like pretending that the pain doesn’t exist, or to remove our negative reactions and try to restore our former ignorance. 

Now, I see my daughter. No matter what goes wrong, what is broken, or how badly something has been damaged, she responds with a happy, “Daddy fix it.” The clothes washer was out of balance, the toilet didn’t refill, a hairband snapped. Her instant reaction remained, “Uh oh!…Daddy fix it.” 

Now, the washer had to go to a repair shop. The toilet filled on its own. The hairband was thrown away. She still relies on Daddy to fix anything, simply because he does fix the majority of our broken things.

How much more can we rely on the Heavenly Father?

When relationships are at an impasse, Abba fix it. 

Money gets tight. Abba fix it. 

Hearts break. Abba fix it. 

Loved ones are lost. Abba fix it. 

Evil increases. Abba fix it.

We don’t know what to do. Abba fix it.

We don’t know when, or by what means He will heal us and put things right. There is no need to force our own solutions as Abraham’s wife, Sarah, did. With the faith of a child, we can still smile and be satisfied that by the end of time Abba will fix it.

Dear Mama, Learning to Feed the Family 

 

Our daily priority is to feed our children, from proper diet during pregnancy, to keeping the pantry stocked for teenagers.  My family is currently feeding children aged three and under, but I have already found some “life hacks” that can make mother’s task less daunting.  To the mothers just a step behind me, here are my tips and tricks.

From an experienced mother living on the other end of No Man’s Land, here are some ideas for simple, convenient, yet healthy eating posted on Prairie Dust Trail.

Freeze Ahead

To begin with, cooking is an impossible task with a newborn in the house.  Babies require so much attention that nothing else will be accomplished for several weeks.  That’s okay.  Accept that life will become slow and basic, and plan accordingly.  First time around, my dear “Mother by Love” sent quite a few meals for us to subsist upon (along with her RICH, milk-boosting, hot chocolate.)  The next time around, I got ready.  Any leftovers large enough, I froze.  Sometimes I had the energy to double recipes so I could save the extra food for what was to come.  Even though the twins came two months early, I still had two weeks’ worth of meals in the freezer by the time we brought them home.  There I was, with a toddler, new twins, an abdominal incision, and much of the familiar help I was counting on was tied up with another new mother’s health crises – but I had my freezer full of food.  Adjusting to home life was much easier with that convenience.  Especially to the first-time mom, I recommend this preparation.

Mix Formula Once a Day

With the help of some haywire hormones, a mom’s instincts scream at her to care for the little one.  There is a mad dash in mother’s mind to feed baby IMMEDIATELY once he is hungry.  It’s one of those feelings you must experience to understand.  What can be done to ease the urgency and stress?

If you are not exclusively breastfeeding, you must take the time to fill a bottle with water, measure scoops of formula in your sleep-deprived state, and hope that you didn’t lose count while a baby wails that special manner that tugs at your very soul.  Thankfully, you only have to do this once a day, not at every feeding.  To keep from taxing the twins’ immature immune systems, I had to use boiling water to sterilize the formula.  So, I poured enough boiling water to a day’s feedings into a Mason jar, added the formula, and mixed it with a whisk.  The formula was good for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Make Pumping Easier on Yourself

If you pump milk for your little one, you have even less time to spare.  Pumping takes extra effort, and then the parts and bottles require cleaning.  A time-saving hack I found is to throw those pump parts into a Ziploc bag and into the refrigerator.  The milk on that parts can’t go bad, so you can wait a few sessions before completely dismantling and scrubbing each valve and shield.

Rabbit Trail for First Time Expectant Mothers:  If there is any chance that your may need to use a breast pump, GET THE RIGHT SIZE SHIELDS NOW.   Pumping is a rough experience, and in the post-partum phase, you may feel very emotional and perhaps inadequate. Often, women believe that their bodies are incapable of nourishing their children, when it is the equipment that is causing problems.  So before you even give birth, familiarize yourself with the equipment and the concepts that make it work, even if with a cheap hand pump.  Make sure the shields are not too large or too small. (Standard sizes were too large and could have torn me up. I am positive that a majority of negative pumping experiences are due to improper sizing.)  Check those valves for pin holes and tears.  Overall, take a look over the instructions and practice assembling a pump.  Your future self will appreciate it.

Cube and Freeze

My twins are eating solids!  It’s great to start moving away from formula, but it can be troublesome, as well.  Store-bought baby food gets expensive (and the popular brand seems to be in bed with the abortion industry.)  Blending a portion of your meals means you must detail-clean the blender parts multiple times a day.  Also, keeping small portions in the refrigerator doesn’t seem to keep well.  If you cook a fresh meal for baby alongside every family meal, you’ll surely lose what was left of your mind.

My solution?  Ice cube trays.

I cook an adult serving or more of cereal, boil and mash a whole potato, mash a couple of avocados or bananas, or strain out some bone broth from a leftover roast.  Then, I use each batch of baby food to fill an ice cube tray and flash freeze it.  Once the food is solid, I dump the cubes out of the tray and into a freezer bag, and throw them back into the freezer.  When it’s feeding time, I grab a couple of cubes, add a bit of water, and thaw it in a custard bowl or a mug over our bottle warmer.  I only have to cook, blend, and mash baby food once every few weeks!

Though I haven’t had a chance to try it, I’ve read of using ice cube trays and regular freezer bags to store breast milk.  That sounds simple and economical compared to pricey milk storage bags.  If a baby’s immune system were compromised, though, the specialty bags might be safer.

Utilize Those Machines

We go through a lot of bread.  My husband uses it for grab-and-go meals.  The toddler and I eat quite a bit of it for meals and snacks, too.  I acquired my first breadmaker and love it.  It saves us money, trips into town, and helps us avoid some unwanted preservatives.  Not to mention, a slice of warm, fresh bread dobbed with butter or honey is a delight to have with a cup of tea.  If we begin to run low on bread, I can dump ingredients into a pan, click it into the machine, push some buttons, and have a loaf just the way I like it in four hours.  There is no need to stop my chores to knead or bake the bread.  It requires just five minutes of effort on my part.

Crock pot recipes are popular, according to my social media, but we don’t have to have precise recipes or cream-of-something to fix up an easy, tasty meal.  Look through the pantry.  Check the freezer.  You need meat, vegetables, and maybe a starch.  Steak and roast are nice to brown over the stove before setting into the crock pot.  Throw veggies, and rice, potatoes, or noodles in with the meat, and cover everything with a liquid, be it broth, tomato sauce, milk, cream, or water.  My rule of thumb is to cook on low for up to eight hours, or on high for three hours. With a few basics, you can easily throw together a meal at the beginning of the day and forget about it until the family asks, “what’s for supper?”

 

For now, that’s all the family feeding hacks I have been utilizing, and I hope these tips can be helpful for you as well.  Keep taking care of yourself, and keep an eye out for the next installment.  Happy eating!