After spending the last few months talking about the ABCDs of parenting as laid out in the 4 Habits of Raising Joy-Filled Kids book, this month we are talking about the final letter “D”, which stands for ‘Developing Disciplines’. Developing disciplines looks different at different ages and at each stage of life there are life skills that need to be learned and then mastered. In a sense developing disciplines is the interior decorating of the house after the structure is built through Attunement, Building Bounce and Correcting with Care. Just like interior design, some disciplines are universal (like learning to feed and dress one’s self) and some things are a matter of personal preference (like playing soccer, learning to paint, or playing the piano.)
The authors wisely state, “During the first half of infancy, babies don’t really need to learn disciplines. They just need to be taken care of. As they enter the toddler years we begin to teach them to use their words, how to go potty, how to drink from a cup. These are big opportunities for relational bonding. We are with them – and happy to be with them – through success and failure.“ (Pg 70)
While logically we may know that infants need us with them in this learning journey as they try new things, the challenges of this stage can make it difficult at times to have patience with their learning process. In the infant stage, overwhelm and over-tiredness are common companions for us as mamas. I remember many times when I was so tired I thought, “When are you ever going to figure this out!” (Especially when it came time for potty training my boys).
It is important in this stage (and every stage) to squeeze in as much self care as possible and give ourselves lots of grace. Napping when our child naps, finding Jesus’ peace in the midst of the daily tasks of life, limiting our commitments, asking for help from friends, family and neighbors so we can have a short break and making sure that not only our child is fed nutritiously, but that we are also giving ourselves the fuel our bodies need. These are all important steps to make sure we are being filled up so we can have something to pour out. This self care helps us have the capacity to meet our kiddos on the rollercoaster through the ups and downs of learning (which includes many failures before success). This rollercoaster helps our children not only learn a new skill, but to find confidence in the connection that we are with them and that the world is a safe place to learn and fail. As a parent, this rollercoaster is draining and we need to be aware of how to keep our “bucket full” in the midst of our sacrificial giving to our family.
What routines or habits have you found helpful to keep your joy and peace levels up during the physically demanding season of caring for infants? Comment below so other mamas can benefit from your experience!
For more on developing disciplines, check out the new book 4 Habits of Raising Joy-Filled Kids and tune in to the next blog on how to develop disciplines with our school age children.0
Alexis G. says
Thanks for this idea that infants under 2 don’t really need to be developing much discipline. I have fought far too many will battles with my babies when I thought it was the perfect opportunity to teach obedience.
As far as self-care, I have found that eating nutritiously (and enough) helps me tremendously. Also, journaling “a line a day” gives me time to reflect on my day and notice the best or worst parts that make the day memorable a year and 5 years from now. (I use the 5 year journals that follow calendar days.)
In addition, taking a sabbath rest day every week (just like God gave us in Genesis 2) is quintessential for my own emotional and mental health. On those days, I eat leftovers and let the laundry and dishes go so I have time to rest and play. When my kids are awake, I spend much more playtime and outdoor time with them than on a normal “work” day. I usually pick an art project that I find fulfilling to tackle during naptime. And, in the evening, I devote myself to my husband for a stay up late (and sleep in) date night at home. God has gifted us with this beautiful rhythm of sabbath rest days and because of His grace through them I feel recharged week by week.