Like every other Sunday, my day “began” with church. Except, while everyone else was hanging out in the pews, I was camped out on the floor in the lobby with a fussy four-month old. My baby girl is going through a phase where she isn’t all too fond of anyone else holding her. I knew when I saw the nursery leader heading up the stairs to the balcony, that she was coming for me….
It would be A LOT easier to stay home. A LOT. With the road work going on near my home, church is about 35-40 minutes away. Added into the morning mix is my husband’s job. He’s a pastor at our church, so getting four kids (6 and under) ready in the morning falls on me. It’s a long drive….The older kids are fighting in the backseat while the toddler is fussing for his sippy cup. I’m heading into the fishbowl life of a pastor’s family, wondering if my shirt has spit-up, or if my son’s pants are on the right way. It takes about ten minutes to navigate the church campus and get my kids dropped off in their four separate classes. I head to my seat, knowing my number will probably flash on the screen….Like I said, it’s rough, and staying home would be easier.
I feel the same way every time I pack up the stroller to head to the neighborhood park. I pack and prepare for 40 minutes to go on a half mile walk…sunscreen, diapers, snacks, cups, shoe tying, ponytails, lovies….oh the hassle.
To go to a local restaurant with the kids, we do much of the same, packing a bag of snacks, kid silverware, sippy cups (’cause who wants their 18 month old using a bendy straw), crayons, paper, toys, long conversations about the rules and restaurant etiquette….
I could keep going….my point here is that leaving the house with young kids is hard, and that staying home is the easier choice. But, I do it….not always because it’s fun, and certainly not because it’s relaxing, but because I refuse to let my life circumstance keep me prisoner in my home.
I am here to tell you that you CAN do it. I KNOW (all too well) how hard it is to take young kids out in public ANYWHERE. I know it can feel like it’s not even worth it. When I end up sitting on the floor in the lobby at church because my baby won’t stay in the nursery (and I’ve just spent 40 minutes in the car with a six-year-old and a four-year old who can’t stop fighting, after I rushed around trying to get us all dressed, fed, and ready to go), I sometimes feel like it’s just a waste of my time. When my kids try to climb out of the grocery cart, squirm like crazy in their seats, run repeatedly towards the street at the park, yadda yadda….I feel like giving up, and relegating myself to my house for the next five years….and I know I’m not alone.
I want to give you just a bit of encouragement today and ask you to TRY. (And when it goes horribly, try again…) I know that going out can seem like such a hassle, and you worry about what everyone else is thinking. You wonder if it is even worth it…if spending an hour getting ready to go for a 15 minute trip is worth it…I know…I’m there…I’m you…..and if I can do this…so can you!
Don’t allow your fear of a fit or the stress of packing the perfect diaper bag keep you a prisoner in your house. Whether you have one child or half a dozen, they’re bound to go bananas every once in a while, and no, every outing won’t be magical. But let’s be real here…we need out of the house! There have been days when a trip to the mailbox was the highlight of my day, because I was so afraid to try. It’s so easy to not try. It’s easy to not accept invitations, not try that playgroup, not go to church, not browse through Target like you used to….
The more I thought about it, the more I began to resent my job as a mom….”these kids are locking me up”, I thought… What I wasn’t realizing was that it wasn’t the kids holding me back and keeping me chained to the house…it was ME. I was allowing all of that self-doubt we’re all so fond of, prevent me from seeing just how much I’m actually capable of handling. You have to remember that you’re bigger than them, you have the authority and ability to law down the law and hold them accountable, and that if things are going horribly, you can go home….But, you never know what you’re missing out on if you never try…You can’t wait for your spouse to be around, for a day when the kids are all being perfect (that day doesn’t exist btw), or for a day when you “feel like it.” You have to get over it, and get out there. Be the crazy lady with two carts. (Been there.) Be the lady pushing the double stroller with two other kids in tow at the mall. (Done that.) Be the lady on the lobby floor at church….(because I’m guessing, you won’t be alone, and no one will care.)
The more I went out, the more I realized I could do, and the more I realized that no one else cared that I look like the leader of one crazy kid parade everywhere we go. I’ve been able to talk to people over the age of 6, get errands taken care of, get fresh air, and have time away from the walls of my home! Granted, it doesn’t always go well, but sometimes, I come home feeling like superwoman! I just had to try.
Start small, or go big or go home…I’ve done both, and loved it. One time, I started with a trip to our TEENY town library, and told myself it that went well, we’d make another stop. We ended up doing the library, the bakery, and the park, and I felt like the most capable woman alive. I’ve also bit the bullet and once took three kids 5 and under (including a 1 month old) to Wal-mart on December 23rd….and we not only survived, but did well! What you may find is that your kids, like yourself, need to get out too! A change of pace does everyone good, and most of the time, you will succeed. And hey, if you don’t, there’s always room next to me in the lobby. =)
You ROCK!!! I’m not much of a homebody so I’ve always been one to venture out…until I had #3, I was scared (I do live in North Dakota & it was winter!) but when my first Sunday came and I was solo, I got up early and decided to try it, felt weird not going just because my husband was out of town traveling for work! I carried an infant seat and an 18 month old into the Pew with me hoping my 4 year old was not going to get run over by me, and I swear out of the woodwork came people left and right wanting to help me! I received a pat on the back, and quite a few other comments JUST for trying it! (my car was then covered in snow afterwards but the friendly man who carried a kid outside cleaned my car off too!) I did treat myself to a coffee afterwards. I felt SO free, free from captivity and a new sense of freedom came over me! My baby is now 7 months old and we are only home for naptimes daily! thanks for encouraging there, & if we were closer I might be joining you in the lobby 🙂
You’re so right. Never give up, never surrender. A friend and I both had VERY active boys. She also had 2 much older daughters so whenever she went shopping she left all of them in van while she was in the mall because she just couldn’t handle the chaos. I didn’t have that choice so I ventured into the mall with 3 kids. I always gave my son a chance to walk beside the cart like everyone else and for years he always crawled into the clothing rack or raced away to see something. Once he did, the rule was he had to get into the back of the cart, even though he was getting a little big. He didn’t really care – he just pretended that he was a lion in a cage or a prisoner in jail for the rest of the shopping trip. I quite often pushed one cart with him in the back & his baby brother in the seat (& coats making the roof of the lion’s cage) and pulled the cart full of items behind. At the time it could feel overwhelming, but now that they’re all 20-something guess which boy has the best social skills? Today’s struggle can make a brighter tomorrow – I can see this now with 20/20 hindsight!