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I am not a morning person. And with hubby working the night shift, neither is he. But my children are. And one of the biggest challenges I faced was how to keep them occupied and quiet enough for Paul S. to sleep during the day. But the trick was to do it in a way where I could still get things done.
Why this was a challenge
You would think the solution would be easy. After all, Pinterest is full of toddler activities and ideas. And while I would love nothing more than to play with my children for hours on end, I have a very hard time doing that when every inch of counter space is covered because the sink is overflowing with dirty dishes. Not to mention I need to have my Bible time in the mornings for the simple reason of starting my day with the Lord.
See the problem lies in the fact that my kids wake up a good eight hours before my husband and it just isn’t practical to entertain them all day long and I certainly didn’t want to spend all morning going “Shh! Daddy’s sleeping.”. Not to mention that if the house is overwhelmingly messy, it adds to my already cranky mood. The other part of the challenge was that it was very hard to be consistent in discipline when you send your child to his room and he runs past daddy’s door screaming like someone ate his ice cream.
In the name of survival, I had to find a way to have a normal morning even with Daddy trying to sleep.
The keys of freedom
As always, I am in no way claiming to be all knowing in this area. I just want to share what I did to help get out of survival mode and enjoy my mornings with my boys. (***Side note, I first heard the term “survival mode” from this book by Crystal Pain. If you are looking for something to inspire you in your routines, I highly suggest you read it)
- Take time with them. I have been really bad about doing this lately. But I have found that when I spend some quality time with my boys they are fine with playing by themselves later on in the morning. And this doesn’t have to be a big thing. The time could be as short as reading a book for five minutes before they are off doing their own thing. One thing I have noticed is that if I allow myself to look at my phone during this time, it doesn’t work as well. But just a few minutes of undivided attention from mom works wonders.
- Get something to cancel noise. My husband is a heavy sleeper. But even he struggles to sleep through my oldest walking by the room while having a temper tantrum. Between the temper tantrums and the noise of children playing, I was so stressed about them disturbing their Daddy that I spent most of the day trying to quiet them down. Many suggested ear plugs, but Paul S can’t sleep with ear plugs in. So my next option was to find a noise machine of some kind. But I didn’t want to go out and buy a noise machine that may or may not work, so I started cheap. I went to Walmart and bought a box fan. Surprisingly, this fan made a huge difference. you can hardly hear anything outside the bedroom with it on. Now we could have a more stress free morning and Paul S could sleep.
- Use technology. I know. I just broke the internet. But hear me out. If I have any hope of getting anything done in the morning, T.V. is a must. Now there are days where it isn’t needed as much but there are some mornings where it’s a necessity for survival. And you know what, my kids are FINE. They still have imaginations and still enjoy playing with toys on their own. Obviously moderation is important and I try not to let them watch much after their dad wakes up. But in those early hours, before I’ve read my Bible and finished my coffee, T.V. is a means of survival.
Do what you can
A spouse working nights isn’t an ideal parenting situation. What’s even more frustrating is that I found very few people who were actually able to help and give some practical tips and not just a look of sympathy. It is for this reason I decided to write this. My ideas may not be perfect for your lifestyle but hopefully it will inspire you to find some other coping mechanisms or at the very least, encourage you with the knowledge that other mothers struggle with this too. It’s a hard enough task trying to balance children, marriage, and home, without the added sense of loneliness.
But you can do it. It may not look like the picture you had in your head. Your plans may change multiple times in the span of a week. But that is why God gives grace.
And give yourself grace
Another Christian term that many use but I don’t fully understand. Give yourself grace? What does that look like? I think it means recognizing you’re only human and that you will fail. It means recognizing that nothing we do will earn any status before God. If you are in Christ then you have been forgiven and justified and no number of good deeds, or bad, will change that. If you have not come to a saving knowledge of Him, then you are still “dead in you trespasses and sins” and nothing you do, good or bad, will earn you a right standing with God. But the good news is that God gives grace to all who believe. But God’s grace extends far beyond the moment of salvation. He gives us grace to live our lives according to His Word, also recognizing our humanity. But because we are His children, thanks to the death and resurrection of Jesus. He loves as a father should, corrects as needed, but is always there with grace and mercy to let us start again.
So maybe instead of saying “give yourself grace” we should instead say “accept God’s grace”.