We only lived a couple of miles from church, but that ride home back in 1993 contained a conversation I’ll always remember. We were just bearing right onto Mt. Vernon Road from Fairburn Road, with our son upright in his car seat and our daughter, just months old, laying snuggled in hers. I had just finished teaching about regular time with God to our students, and as Julie and I started to converse about the topic in the car, she commented, “Trust me, my time with God looks a lot different than yours right now. I can hardly find a minute to go the bathroom alone.”
What unfolded was eye-opening for me as she walked me through a day in the life of a mom with two little kids. There was nothing vindictive, cynical, or regretful in her tone, and no words were hurtful or unbiblical. Rather, they were helpful. Insightful. Beneficial. They provided a window for me into a world I knew little of—the non-stop world of young moms and the seemingly elusive goal of regular time with God (i.e., quiet time/Bible study).
Interestingly, just this past Sunday, after preaching on the priority of the vertical and the necessity of regular time with God, a pregnant young mom with two kids asked me, “How do I get to “regular?” Her husband chuckled, and she grinned. So did I. Some things never change; they’re present in every generation.
Back to the question. What’s a young mom to do when habits and routines she formerly knew have all been turned upside down by one two, three, or more children? How does a mother manage a young, on-the-move family and still prioritize her time with God, especially when ‘alone’ seems to be a word that has suddenly disappeared from the dictionary?
First, don’t expect me to go solo on this. Though I’m a little more in tune with the reality of that world now that I’m on the other side of it, having watched and partnered with Julie four times, I’d be foolish to think I had a fix-it set of answers. Thankfully, my wife’s life provides a great model for me. I’ve watched her bend without breaking, flex in various situations while holding strong to non-negotiables, and grow and develop as a daughter of God both with me and in spite of me. Her life is a wellspring of wisdom for me, as are her words.
Additionally, so are the words of other mothers who have given me some of their own survival techniques. Here’s a distilled compilation of what I’ve seen and what they’ve shared, all designed to help us not back away from principles (i.e., time with God is foundational to spiritual growth), but push forward with implementation that’s freeing not binding.
Pursue structure. As a young mom, you may never totally achieve it in the pre-puberty years, but chase it. Go after it. For children, structure is the lab where disciplined is developed, and for moms, structure provides the respite where breathing and balance are discovered all over again.
Be creative. Admittedly, your “regular” will look different, but it doesn’t have to disappear. Perhaps you have to segment it now—three minutes here, five there; more time on Tuesday, less on Friday. Or maybe you’ll need to multitask in some way to some degree—one mom mentioned she prays through requests while she nurses/feeds. Consider rethinking “how” instead of “what”—perhaps listen to Scripture when reading it is impractical because your hands are tied up. The point? Don’t give up just because it will now need to be different.
Remain flexible. Even structure and creativity will be blown out of the water at times. When that happens, remain flexible. God isn’t charting your success and failure on a whiteboard ledger, checking it twice like a cosmic Santa. And he doesn’t wear a watch. He is transcendent—beyond time. So relax in his presence when the best laid plans go awry. Don’t let your list override his love.
Think seasonal. This is true in both the short-term and the long-term. They won’t have the flu forever. The runny nose and cold will go away. At some point they will learn to sleep. T-ball doesn’t last all year long. Your husband’s overtime will end at some point. VBS is only one week.
Likewise, they aren’t a baby for eternity. They will walk one day. Even run. They do turn five. Then six. Puberty shows up, and adulthood comes knocking.
So keep your eyes on the goal, not the grind. Maybe your summer “regular” needs to be different than your winter “regular.” Perhaps the newborn stage needs to look different than the preschool stage. Think seasonal, and the word “regular” will become more of a habit you tweak as life unfolds than one you break as life unwinds.
Fight guilt. The changes young moms undergo and embrace can produce a lot of guilt if you constantly compare to life BK (before kids). So don’t compare. Remember, comparison kills, and its assassin is guilt. Embrace the grace God gives to be a young mom as well as a child of his, knowing he’ll provide the stamina and insight to create and sustain the new “regular” without the expectations of the old.
I’m curious — What are other tips and suggestions for young moms from young moms?