To my Kindergartener

To my Kindergartener

When did you grow up little one? This all happened too fast. Here we are on the brinks of Kindergarten and all I can think about is how fast this all happened. I wasn't ready for this; no one really prepared me for it. 

People say so often, "It flies by so fast," but when you're in the brink of sleepless nights and never ending baby spit up, nothing seems to be going by too fast. In fact, at times I wished for you to grow up and overcome whatever hard stage we were in (like terrible twos) but here I am wishing you still had chubby baby cheeks and short curly hair. 

It seems just yesterday you were drinking from that cute little sippy cup that you used to throw everywhere. Now here you are telling me, "I can do it" when it comes to putting the straw in your juice box. Sometimes you do struggle with it and then you need me, and perhaps I secretly like that. 

It seems like not that long ago you were saying words all cute and funny and I thought it was so adorable that I hardly corrected you. Gosh, I can't even remember some of those words now because you're so grown and that's all so far away. Now, you speak some days as if you're in junior high and I'm just sitting there with my mouth hanging open wondering when did I start raising a thirteen year old? 

You're beyond excited for school and my heart is thrilled that you are. I know this means new friends, new lessons, new challenges and a whole new norm for you. But what about our old norm? 

What about all of these years of you staying home with me and learning life lessons from me? What about the days of running through the sprinklers or playing at the park while the rest of the world was tucked away at a desk, will you remember those days? Will you remember all of the snacks eaten on the front porch and the days of lazy cuddles after nap time where we just snuggled and watched your favorite movies? I pray you do. 

My normal for so long has been you. You home, you here and you spending so much time with me. I provided your safety net and now someone else will (and that scares me). I buckled you up tightly and drove slowly, and now there's a big yellow bus awaiting you (and that scares me too). 

Here we are, on the brinks of having our normal forever changed. Alarms need to be set, bags need to be packed and this is the real deal. This isn't preschool where we can just go for a couple of hours and come home or skip just because. This is the real deal and my heart is having so many mixed emotions about it. But...I have to be strong for you, because you're so strong. 

As you go out there and create a new normal for yourself, as you make new friends and as you learn new lessons, I hope and pray that you carry the ones from our time together. I hope you always feel my love and my snuggles, even when we're apart. I hope you carry the kindness I've taught you and show it towards others. I pray you remember you're worth, your beauty, your joy and your love for yourself no matter what things are tossed your way. 

I hope that when you open your snack at school that you remember all of our moments of snacks on the porch or baking cookies at home; and I hope you share yours with others who need it. I hope that when you think of me, your heart fills with joy and that you shine that joy to others. 

So here's to you my sweet child, as you begin a new normal. Here's to us as WE begin this new normal together. Life is changing fast and the seasons and rhythms of motherhood and childhood change more than I think I am prepared for. But we will get through it day by day. 

So go my love, shine your joy to others and bring your kindness to the table. Carry my love in your heart and turn to the warmth of my snuggles when you need to; because I'll be right here ready for you and all of the new norms that life will present. I'm not going anywhere, it's just a new norm. 

Simplicity: Sign Me Up For It

Every day, every hour, the parents are either actively or passively forming those habits in their children upon which, more than upon anything else, future character and conduct depend.
— Charlotte Mason
Simplicity and Childhood

Awhile back I posted a photo of my kids swinging in front of our home and someone commented, "Such simplicity, sign me up for it!" I cherished that comment because simplicity is what it's all about for me. It's what I strive for. 

You're probably thinking though that there's no way you can do that or even that I'm a little crazy. What is simple about three kids ages 5 and under? Well not much if we're being totally honest here, but there are ways around it and ways to strive for simplicity and to achieve it. 

Just like many parents, we have goals and dreams for our children. We want them to dance, play sports, do Boy Scouts and all of those fun things that we did growing up (if they want to of course). When I reflect back on my childhood I remember my days of dancing and 4-H club and Beta meetings. Those things were great and to this day I still dance and teach others dance now, a passion that will never cease for me. 

Children in the Outdoors

But when I look back at my years growing up, the things that so often stick out to me as pure pleasure are truly the simpler things. The evenings of riding bikes and ATVs around the neighborhood with my friends until the sun went down. The evenings of eating dinner as a family and then watching a movie, or Nick at Nite, with my mom until bed time. I remember the camping trips in the woods, not at amusement parks, but deep in the woods where you played outside all day and was lucky if the antenna caught PBS in the camper during a rainstorm. 

I remember swinging late in the evenings and watching the sky turn pink while my parents worked in the yard. I remember swimming in our pool and my mom baking brownies and making lemonade for my friends and I. I remember my mama making a homemade dinner nearly every night of the week and us eating it together. 

Simplicity and Children Growing Up

For some of us and our families, these things are every day occurrences. For others it's only on occasions or rare. Is there a right or a wrong way here? Of course not. But I know what sort of memories and life I want my children to reflect back on, and that is that life was simple, wild and free. 

As I move forward into my first year of a school age child, here's the guidelines I want to try and follow as we navigate life ahead while still striving for simplicity. 

  • Limit extra curricular. This is going to be harder for my husband than it will be for me, but I do firmly believe that children should be engaged and active. It helps create more self discipline and ignites passions in children, however if every night is some sort of activity, I don't feel that is healthy. Young children need to be free, they need to get bored and they need to play. I know this can become debatable among parents, but for me, free nights at home are treasures. 
  • Eat together daily. While sometimes extra curricular may interfere, strive to do this as often as possible. If week nights are somewhat crazy, make it a point to have Friday pizza nights and Sunday home cooked meals; the same goes for breakfast in our home. 
  • Go to church weekly. This is different among us all, but it fits into my list for simple balance and grounding in life. 
  • Limit screen time and electronics. Oh this topic. It was one that I was firm about for so long, but as my children have gotten older, I have found ways to cope with it. Some days we barely watch TV and other days right now where it is scalding hot outside, we do watch it. I have learned to find some balance with this and to give myself grace when I just want some quiet time. I do think having time limits and shutting the TV off requires kids to go play, to get bored and to use their imaginations. I monitor what they watch, how long they watch and I make them turn it off to go play in their rooms. An iPad is a treat here and they will never have their own iPads (not for many more years at least). 
  • Less is more. We mostly all know and believe this statement to be true, however living it can be harder. Of course we get excited when Christmas comes around because we want to give so much to those we love. I have been already brainstorming and making lists of how we can cut the costs and "toys" back for the holidays this year. Whether it's gift giving or filling your home with things you love, sometimes less can truly lead to more. Less clutter leads to less anxiety. 
  • Make Nature your oasis. I love when my kids are out until the sun goes down playing, just as I did as a child. Some days this is difficult because the later bedtimes are not good for me, but I know that it's fun for them. They are climbing their swing set, swinging on our tree swing and watching the moon peek out from the colors of the evening sky. These moments are the memories that they will hold onto throughout their life. Summers can be harder here because of the heat, so we wait until late in the evenings to play for a longer period of time. 
  • Name brands are pointless. I put this here because in our modern culture, there is a lot of weight placed on name brands. I remember dreaming of owning my first Coach bag back when I was in college. Now here I am years later with several Coach bags piled up in my closet because I don't have the heart to get rid of them (mostly gifts from my husband). These things have no real value in life. I hope to instill this in my children because truly, brands are meaningless. I understand good quality but not labeling. As my child heads to Kindergarten, all of her new school shoes come from Wal-Mart. I laughed at this one day because I actually hate Wal Mart with a passion. But here's why it was simple: I was able to get everything at once - she found shoes she loved - I got more for my money than just one pair somewhere else - it was stress free and fit our budget at the time. It made my life more simple to get it all there. Easy, peasy. 
  • Get kids involved. I won't lie, I struggle in this area because of my need to just get things down my way. However in the back of my mind, I know it is time to start involving my girls in the kitchen more and learning about cooking (I opted out of this growing up often and regret it). Getting them involved in understanding simple, real food and healthy nourishment for our bodies can also set them up for a healthier future. 
  • Think of the old days. When I want to simplify our life and find balance, I think of how it was in the old days and how simple life was. I want that life but of course, we just have to find the balance of modern and old. 
  • Stop the comparison game. This can be hard but it's true. Stop comparing our cars, our homes and our wardrobes to others. Comparison is the root of all evil sometimes and we are much happier when we are just appreciative for what we have. Just because someone has nicer things doesn't mean much. Sometimes nicer comes with more debt, unstable emotions and more unhappiness. Everyone has a story and we don't know everyone's story. 
  • Simplicity is proven to be helpful for children. Routines and simple childhoods are previously mentioned in several articles as helping to create more balanced children who use their imaginations and are healthy and will likely continue to grow healthy with less anxiety

Simplicity rules in my book and I am always striving on how I can make their life more simple. We frequently purge toys, keep clutter to a bay and practice cleaning and respecting our home and nature. Get outside with your little ones and begin forming a life of simplicity and less chaos. 

Find your grace as you grow into this role as a mother simplifying the lives of the little people you create. Our modern world doesn't care for simplicity but many are starting to realize how important it is to our mental health.

Be the voice who decides how your children will grow and navigate life! Never underestimate the power of simplicity. 

Summers and Childhood
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Sasha Savoy

Sasha is the owner and founder of The Mushy Mommy, a natural mother and baby boutique and The Mushy Mommy Village. She is a SAHM who works hard at living as minimal and unprocessed as possible, but never claims perfection. Her mission is to inspire, encourage, enlighten and empower mothers all over to feel good about their choices, to make healthy choices and to enjoy motherhood and all of its beauty and chaos. 

My Strong Willed Daughter: You are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Parenting the Strong Willed Daughter

"I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)."   I have been sitting on this scripture for some time now as I constantly remind myself daily of who I am and who my children are. That not only are WE as mothers "fearfully and wonderfully made" but so are our children. That not only did God write out all of the pages of our story before we were made, but the same for our children. 

As the mother of a very strong willed child, I have often caught myself saying things like "Why are you like this?" as I call out in desperation from the antics this child pulls. I  just call out to myself and wonder why does this sweet baby girl of mine do things that her older sister never did? Why does she continually test me and defy me, despite parenting my children the same? Why is she like this and did I do something to make her like this?

I'm sure many of us mothers to strong willed daughters have wondered where on earth did our child get this will from. I know that she didn't get it from me. So often we ask why are they like this and why do they do these things? But rarely do we sit and appreciate that this is just who they are. 

Now obviously there is a line between just plain ole' defiance and poor behavior choices, and strong willed. Some children have a personality that blooms and illuminates light from every corner. Some children have a strong willed personality that often makes you want to cringe. And then of course there are children who are everything in between these two. My three year old is a little bundle of it all, with a whole lot of sweet but a TON of spice. 

Her spice knocks me off my feet sometimes. Her will to just do it her way stuns me. Her headstrong ways make me feel like I'm failing. But never once have I actually just sat and realized that this just may be who she truly is. She'll likely grow up and know who she is, speak her truth and strut her stuff with confidence. She'll be independent and strong and she likely won't take crap from anyone if I can imagine. And she may even throw out a few knuckle sandwiches in the process (gosh I hope not). 

There are obviously rules that have to be followed and parenting that has to happen to help teach our children respect, obedience and compassion (no matter how strong willed they are). Having a strong personality isn't an excuse to just always get your way or be disrespectful to others. But what if these little humans just grow up knowing their truth? They'll know who they want to be, how they'll get there and where they'll go. 

Perhaps they are "fearfully and wonderfully made" because God has grander plans for them than we can ever envision. Perhaps they will lead a fortune 500 company. Perhaps they will actually be the first female president. Perhaps they will be one of those teachers that goes down in history as one of the best. Perhaps they will walk a righteous path speaking God's truth to all. Because let's face it, they know how to make people listen. They'll demand it. 

Perhaps this trait that is often so incredibly frustrating is actually a gift. 

So mamas, when you're frustrated and you feel defeated from dealing with your strong willed daughter, remember that maybe you're not doing it wrong. Maybe there's nothing wrong with your child, she's just learning how to handle the strengths that God wrote in her heart. After all, he knew all of our days before we were even born and he wrote our truths from the get go. He helped make us who we are. 

Parent her the best you can but find the moments to give her the grace and honor to be who she is. Give her the ability to have choices on things, let her get her words out and help her handle her strong emotions. It's hard, oh my gosh is it ever. It's frustrating to the max and it takes a lot of prayers for patience and wisdom on handling her at times. No one said you had to do it perfectly and no one said there was a right or a wrong way. You figure it out as you go with lots of Jesus, a good bit of wine and a few cry fests here and there. And a ton of kisses and cuddles. 

But remind yourself that she is "fearfully and wonderfully made." God wouldn't give you anything you couldn't handle. He just gave you a wildflower in a field of roses. Don't pick the wildflower down, just show her how to handle the wind from the storms. Let her bloom, let her grow and let her colors shine. 

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Sasha Savoy

Sasha is the owner and founder of The Mushy Mommy, a natural mother and baby boutique and The Mushy Mommy Village. She is a SAHM who works hard at living as minimal and unprocessed as possible, but never claims perfection. Her mission is to inspire, encourage, enlighten and empower mothers all over to feel good about their choices, to make healthy choices and to enjoy motherhood and all of its beauty and chaos.