I sat on my bed, knotting up the hospital-blue sheets with fidgety hands. When I checked into the hospital a few days prior, it was just me. Now I was a mother. I was about to leave the hospital with a baby and a car seat that I didn’t quite know how to work.
What if I couldn’t do this? I had no idea how to be a parent. The baby class taught us how to change a diaper and give a bath, but somehow this just wasn’t enough preparation to bring a baby home from the hospital.
A few days later, my mother-in-law, the baby pro, came to help us. She raised four boys and walks on water. I begged her not to leave.
Though parenting is one of the great joys in life, we can still struggle under the weight of responsibility. If I could go back and sit on that hospital bed with my twenty-seven-year-old self, I would pass along a few things I’ve learned.
1. You can do this.
You don’t have to be an expert to begin the parenting journey. You will learn and grow far more than you can imagine at this moment.
2. Trust God.
Trust God to grow you into the best parent you can be. Parenting isn’t just for raising children—it is also for growing up parents. Never forget that God has entrusted you with children and will help you where you struggle if you will seek Him diligently (Proverbs 3:5-6).
3. Pray every day.
Pray for your children, for your parenting and your marriage daily. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray and give you wisdom (Philippians 4:6-7).
Teach your children to love God and live by His word. Put God’s faithfulness in the little things each day (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
5. Be willing to wait.
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Today is not the end of the story. Some days and phases seem to inch along. Be willing to wait, letting time and wisdom do their job. Some days may seem long, but the years are short (Galatians 6:9).
6. Find a Godly mentor.
Build a friendship with a more experienced Christian mom(s). These moms will encourage and advise you, helping you to overcome challenges and grow in faith.
7. Set realistic goals and expectations.
Many frustrations of parenting come when we expect a two-year-old to have the self-control of a five-year-old. Unrealistic expectations frustrate kids as well (Ephesians 6:4).
Be willing to wait, letting time and wisdom do their job. Some days may seem long, but the years are short.
8. Don’t let nagging, complaining or whining become the norm in your family.
Negative attitudes are contagious and can become bad habits. Never forget encouraging words empower our children (Philippians 2:14).
9. Laugh often and let yourself play.
Master the art of building with blocks, cherish the hilarious things kids say and put on a ballet tutu and twirl. Find joy in the small moments with laughter and play (Proverbs 17:22).
10. Don’t underestimate rest.
Exhaustion warps perspective, making small problems seem like the end of the world. Nap time is a blessed space; keep a rest time in your schedule even after your child stops sleeping during naps (Lamentations 3:22-23).
11. Frequently evaluate your schedule, routines and discipline.
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Do you need to reset boundaries, add a new challenge or simplify a crazy schedule? Chaos in your home is generally a sign you need to reset.
12. Don’t neglect discipline and training.
You are the parent: it’s your job to say no when needed and to enforce wise rules (Hebrews 12:11). Teach your children manners and model kindness (Ephesians 4:32).
13. Enjoy your kids every day.
You will never have this day, this age again. Don’t let the hard moments cloud joy and appreciation of the gifts you have.
14. Your kids are amazing and so are you.
Enjoy the special qualities of your children and marvel at the wonder of God at work in their lives (Psalm 139:13-16). After twenty-three years as a mom, these truths still guide my choices and encourage my heart.