For The Overwhelmed Young Mother

As I was perusing Pinterest last week, I noticed one of the pins was a toddler lesson plan. Out of curiosity I clicked over and saw that this was a site that had lesson plans for toddlers.

The sample lesson had walking listed as the skill to be mastered. Walking. There were materials listed and instructions for allowing the child to walk on different surfaces.

Now, this very well could have been a site specifically designed for preschool employees, and I’m sure the person who made these lesson plans meant only to be helpful, but as I read over the lesson plan I was imagining stumbling across that plan as my 30 year old self.

I was a young, overwhelmed, stay at home, nursing mother of two children in diapers. I could barely manage to keep the diapers I changed from piling up on the changing table. There were crayon scribbles on the wall, play dough balls ground into the carpet, and lost puzzles pieces floating in the toilet. Dinner and laundry and sweeping were often left undone. During those long days, I was the only person in the house who could pour milk, tie shoes, and wipe a bottom.

I envisioned my tired self coming across that lesson plan and breaking down into tears. Just one more thing to add to my busy day. One more task to complete. One more expectation I couldn’t meet.

Dear Overwhelmed Young Mother,

You don’t need lesson plans for your toddler to learn to walk. You don’t need a list of materials, or objectives, or instructions.

Don’t be fooled into thinking your child won’t thrive unless you are making marks on a checklist.

Your child only needs your time, your love, and your attention.

Hold him. Read him picture books. Clap when he takes his first step. Hold his hand as he walks beside you. Smile at him. Snuggle with him at bedtime.

I hope you are not writing these things down, Young Mother. There is no need. God has written them on your heart already. Don’t ignore the mothering instinct you have been given by your creator.

Love your toddler. That’s the only lesson plan you need.

Sincerely,

Been There Done That

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Comments

  1. Catherine Vos says:

    thank you. Although I only have one 2 year old in nappies and am attempting to homeschool my 4 and 5 year old, this 32 year old still gets overwhelmed with the mess that children bring. Its so easy to compare against the homes of other mothers and forget that their children are older or that their children are at kindergarten or school all day. . It does make a difference.

  2. Thank you for this. As a 32 year old mother of 5, 3, and 1 year olds plus one on the way, overwhelmed is a feeling I’m quite familiar with. (So is the feeling of having unswept floors!)

  3. I just want to thank you so much for this! I have a 2 1/2 year old, a 1 1/2 year old, and a 5 month old. I have retreated from the internet a lot lately for this very reason. There are so many things to do, checklists, etc. I was feeling pressure to “do school” with my oldest, and while she loves learning, she wasn’t too much into sitting and doing a workbook. Anyway, thank you for the reminder!

  4. EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Thank you for your excellently worded encouragement for young moms. We are still on our journey to become a big family (Lord willing). I will try to keep this in mind as our family (hopefully) grows.

  6. Thank you! This is what I need to hear!

  7. This is great! I’ll be posting on facebook. :)

  8. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I almost cried when I read this, not sure if it was the hormones from being pregnant with #3, or the thought I am not alone, someone understands. I also have a 3 year old and a 2 year old and some days are very hard. I really needed to hear this :)

  9. Amen! a zillion times, Connie! I remember working so hard teach our oldest his colors and counting, etc, etc and being so frustrated when he couldn’t figure it out – PLUS he wouldn’t color inside the lines, horror of horrors.

    Then yesterday I was sitting on the couch reading with my 3yo (#7 in our crew) and she was pointing out colors as we read and I realized – “I haven’t taught any of my kids their colors or counting since our very first child!” :) Amazing how they figure those things out when they’re just spending time with you and reading together. Just a beautifully, relaxed, natural way to learn.

    Great post!

  10. The best advice I’ve ever heard for young mothers. I’m so glad you’re never afraid to simply speak the truth. :o)

    I’m amazed that children ever managed to grow up into functional, law-abiding citizens in years past, with all the lists & schedules & programs that are pushed these days. Ugh.

    I’m 48, smack in the middle of rearing & homeschooling 6 kiddos (17, 15, 13, almost 9, almost 6, almost 3) and just enjoying the amazing ride God has put me on!

  11. Wow, thank you! It’s nice to know that even awesome, with-it Connie of Smockity Frocks went through the same things I’m going through!! :)

  12. You are absolutely right. I have 9 children, I stay home, and homeschooled from the start. And over the long years of growing into their relative self-sufficiency, I did make the mistakes you are talking about.

    I ignored the pain in body, my tiredness. I worried all the time about what people thought of me/us. I kept everything clean, worried too much about their childish behavior, etc. I had manuals that supposedly taught your child EVERYTHING they need to know by 5 years old. And I beat myself up for not keeping up. I worried or became frustrated when the children wouldn’t or couldn’t cooperate. I was always worried about their character development, so every little misstep felt like it carried eternal consequences.

    I have since grown out of that, and anyone reading this needs to know IT IS NOT WORTH IT! And it isn’t God putting that weight on you. I don’t care who you are trying to impress, or how much you think that’s how you raise Godly children. It is not. The more I relax, and the more I let go of that legalism, and the less I read things that try to tell me what I SHOULD be doing to mold and shape my children, the healthier and happier we all become.

    It’s very hard if you’re surrounded by people who are always there to witness your weaknesses and make sure you know it. But I have found there is great power in inviting that person into your home with a smile, a good meal, happy, exuberant children, and A MESS EVERYWHERE! Go ahead, have them sit in your worst, most stickiest chair. You will be set free, I promise.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      Jenny, I think I love you! I would invite you into exactly that kind of house if you lived next door!

  13. Just an added note about my comment above; I hope I didn’t sound as though I moved away from God in any way. Absolutely the opposite! I went from living under MY OWN IDEA of God and what I thought would impress Him, to just learning to STOP. Stop and listen to His Word and trust. I had to stop striving and pressing and pushing. And I had to stop being a menpleaser. And I could not have done that except for the Lord working on my heart.

    Just wanted to clarify that.
    Jenny

  14. Thank you! I just love you and can tell you’re so real. We moms are so good at “mommy guilt” as I call it. Thanks for the encouraging words,

  15. Thanks again for this amaing Titus 2 post Connie. Your blog has definately gotten me through some tough times the past year or so. Unfortunately, young mothers are having to take to computers to have Titus 2 fulfilled these days. It’s sad!

    Just curious on your thoughts as to where you think the Titus 2 approach in the CHURCH has gone and why aren’t older mothers stepping in to help the younger ones hanging on by a thread. There was a point in time when I was hanging on by a thread when my “littles” were very little. They’re a bit older now but all 4 are still under 6 and 1/2. I think about this so often about where the church is in this and why have we failed our young moms. We’re losing each generation at a time and the question is “What can we do about it now?’

    Anyway, thoughts for a future “you asked it” post maybe? :)

    Blessings,
    Kelli

  16. A. Men.

  17. So true! I have similar thoughts when I read about moms concerned about homeschooling 3 year olds. Children can learn so much just by being read to, helping mom with chores, playing, etc. Formal lesson plans and structured learning will come soon enough.

  18. Thanks

  19. Sounds like I am your 30yr old self… our kiddos: 5yrs, 4yrs, 3yrs,1.5yrs, babe due in 6wks… I say AMEN & AMEN to this post! :-) While this a is trap that is so tempting for me to fall into I am slowly learning that there is a better way to raising many littles. If had one child only I think I might enjoy filling my days with lesson plan type activities -nothing inherently wrong with that but God has blessed us abundantly above all we asked or thought(!!!) so I am learning to care for our children HIS way for OUR family… not running my home or setting my expectations by our culture. There is great freedom and relief in realizing it’s the simple God-honoring things that matter… everything else is optional. Thanks for your encouragement!

  20. I loved this post! I’m 27, with a 5 year old; in June I lost my twins who were still born at 28 weeks! I’m the type of mom who lives by lists, but I have to say, when I was a new mom, it was so overwhelming! Now my daughters 5, she’s autistic, dyslexic, among MANY other concerns. I have no choice but to live my life by lists & schedules. Even if my twins had survived, I would have still had to live by my lists & schedules. My daughter can’t handle a day without them, due in large part to the autism & therapy schedules. That being said, honestly when I was a 22 year old new mom, I TRULY wish I had this post! I plan to share this with everyone I know! Do you mind if I share this on my autism blog please? I would love for new parents and parents to be that I know to KNOW they’re not alone & that what you said IS true! Wonderful post!!! I just love! So glad I saw this on pintrest because I saw the other post you were talking about & it really upset me! Wonderful post! Great job! I LOVE your blog!!!

  21. YES. You just might be quoted soon! Great post, Connie!

  22. Well said! I am going to post this on facebook!

  23. I shared this on facebook and it spoke to several young mothers of many littles. When I read your post I had one specific mother in mind and it REALLY spoke to her. Thank you for posting it :)

  24. So very encouraging!

  25. Thanks! Last week I came across about 6 websites I had bookmarked over 2 years ago. They are filled with toddler and preschool activities and “lessons.” My kids are now 5 and 3. We’re out of toddler-land, and it won’t be long until preschool is behind us too. I saw those websites and felt SO guilty. I know they had some neat and fun ideas. But I never found the time or energy to do even one thing from them. Your post has helped me remember that my kids did NOT miss out even though I never used those ideas. We still had fun. They still learned. And we still loved on each other. Perhaps it was even better that I didn’t use those ideas; I imagine I would have been even more frazzled.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] have any sort of checklists or activity books. Then, I saw this wonderful post entitled “For The Overwhelmed Young Mother.”  In Connie’s open letter, she writes, You don’t need lesson plans for your toddler to learn [...]

  2. [...] I’m not young, but I’m still the mom with the diapers piled up ~ For the Overwhelmed Young Mother [...]

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