“Finding Joy with Preschoolers,” Ensign, June 2000, 68
If you are a mother of young preschoolers, do you ever find yourself feeling drained by the demands of children? Do you ever crave adult conversation? As a mother of six children, I know that at times I have answered “Yes!” to those questions. I began searching for ways to better meet my needs and those of my children while more fully enjoying my experiences as a mother. The following ideas have helped.
Have fun with the children. One day I realized that when my husband arrived home each night, our children typically ran to tackle him with shouts of delight. He often stopped to spend a few minutes with the children, wrestling on the floor or playing airplane with them. As I watched, I realized I seldom spent time just playing with my children.
I decided to set a play time every day. First I made a list of fun things my children and I could do together, such as coloring, playing tag, and other fun ideas, then I made time each day to play. I soon found myself laughing and enjoying being with my young children.
At bedtime my husband and I began spending a few minutes with each child, talking, singing, or reading stories. Those have become happy times for us.
Handle children’s needs respectfully. I begin each day with a prayer that I might understand my children’s feelings and handle them with tenderness. During the day I make a real effort to be more respectful when replying to them. When several children are upset at the same time and I am overwhelmed, I feel more confident if I take a deep breath, say a quick prayer for guidance, and then speak in a quiet and gentle manner. This can help us all feel calmer and better able to find the best solution.
I have also allowed the children to take more responsibility for their needs. This has meant allowing more messes to be cleaned up by the children at their own rate, which required much patience on my part. As I have done this, the children seem happier and more confident.
Another helpful idea has been to identify those times in our day that seem most stressful: mealtimes, bedtimes, and getting ready for church on Sunday. I thought deeply about what we could do to make those times go smoother and found that, in most cases, better preparation takes away a lot of the stress.
Fill my own empty bucket. After lunch each day I put the youngest children down for naps and take the others to their room for a quiet time with toys or books. I let the children know that this is Mommy’s quiet time too and that they are to play quietly. After the children are settled, I turn to doing something I want to do for about an hour. This break in the middle of the day gives me a chance to renew myself and do something that is important to me. About once a week I swap baby-sitting with a neighbor, and we both enjoy the benefit of a few hours to ourselves.
Another way to take care of my own needs is to spend time each day with my husband. Each evening we wait until the children are in bed, then spend time talking together. This adult conversation helps us to feel we are partners in our home and gives us an opportunity to share our responsibilities and concerns with one another.
As I have realized I had the means of bringing creative solutions to stressful times, I have found myself experiencing more joy in my role as a mother.—Jonene Ficklin, Ben Lomond Fifth Ward, North Ogden Utah Ben Lomond Stake