Peaceful mornings are always a challenge for Moms of toddlers, but I think there’s an element of spiritual warfare that comes into play for Christian Moms in the process of trying to do better (whatever that looks like). That’s why I’m issuing the peaceful morning challenge for Christian Moms.
The Peaceful Morning Challenge for Christian Moms
Recently, I went through a very rough patch with my toddler when it came to our mornings. Breakfast was a chore by itself to get around, getting dressed became a twenty-minute event with lots of screams and tears, and I loaded her into the car once without her shoes on just so I could get to the grocery store before her nap-time.
One morning, with the weight of an entire week of power struggles behind me, I asked both my daughter and the cat, “Why can’t we just have a peaceful morning?”
Neither of them answered me, but I knew the answer to my own question as soon as I asked it. After all, I dedicated an entire theme to exploring where faith and motherhood intersect with The Faith of a Mother. I’ve also touched on the subject in Why Christians Shouldn’t Strive for a Balanced Life.
But, for those readers who don’t have time to explore twenty-some blog posts, allow me to sum it up here.
The Effect of Faith on Motherhood
Our lives as Christians cannot be segmented into neat little boxes: Church, motherhood, employee, etc. That’s not the nature of God, who demands our all. And if being saved is supposed to change us, then it stands to reason that all of our actions and every area of our lives should change as well.
I’ve written before about how motherhood is a refining fire in my life when it comes to forcing me to deal with the sins buried within my heart. While motherhood is a tool that God uses in my life – and in the lives of many other mothers – I also need to let my life be a tool that God uses to shape and impact my daughter.
God has a place in my motherhood; He has a place in your motherhood as well. We cannot parent solely for this temporary earth, which means our actions as a mother need to go beyond just instilling good habits and teaching our children how to be successful.
We need to also reflect the eternal and Spiritual nature of humankind’s relationship with God. This means that we have to be sensitive to how the Holy Spirit leads us. Just like how sometimes we might feel compelled to say or do odd things in the name of ministry to others, sometimes God might be setting the stage for a much bigger lesson for our own children to learn.
For example, I recently wrote a post about how my parents involved me in ministry as a child. One of my earliest memories happens to be my father teaching me how to spackle walls. While I’m sure it never crossed my Dad’s mind at the time, that memory stuck with me. God later used it to teach me some valuable lessons about ministry – namely that even the little things that nobody will think to praise us over are still important.
(You can read that article by viewing Empowering Mothers to Serve Others. Please note that the links in that post lead to an external site.)
The Source of Peace
But there’s a bigger danger to not acknowledging God’s place in our motherhood. By not surrendering our motherhood over to God, we’re essentially saying, “I can do this on our own.”
Before we know it, we’re running haggard and are at the end of our limits trying to deal with our children. Just like I asked my child, we’re tempted to say, “Why can’t I just have a little bit of peace?”
In our minds, our hearts, and our souls, we overlook a very simple fact:
God is the source of our peace.
When Jesus talks about the Counselor (aka the Holy Spirit) who will guide the disciples after Jesus is gone, He says this:
“Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”
John 14:27 (HCSB)
As Christians we’ve been promised a special kind of peace that dwells within us.
How often do we overlook this when it comes to our role as mothers, though? It’s easy for our hearts to become uneasy, weary, and filled with internal chaos while we’re raising little ones. The world is uncertain. From working under a tight budget to wondering if we’ll survive the day without a trip to the ER room, there are so many ways for our internal strength and emotions to be thrown off balance.
So when we see the latest admonishment for Moms to self-care, we’re easy prey. We know that something needs to change. We want that peace, but we often forget to turn to the source of our peace. So instead we pursue temporary fixes to a Spiritual problem.
Worse, we become envious of the mothers who can take afford spa facials or who can at least get away in time for pedicure.
And the days keep whirling by, each one its own vicious cycle that further crumbles our internal strength as a mother.
(For more on self-care, see How Can Christian Moms Balance Self-Care vs. Caring for Others. For a little bit more on envy as a Christian, see Finding Freedom from Stuff: Why It Matters for Christians.)
The Peaceful Morning Challenge
Nothing that I’ve written so far in this blog is completely new to Chaotic Life. That’s why it’s embarrassing to admit that I fell victim to this trap. You see, I separated my motherhood from God during the month of June.
Rather than praying for wisdom and strength or for me to model a Christian faith for Hailey, I began to just react on instinct. Stop the bad habits from forming. Encourage the good habits. Get her involved in hands-on learning activities if you can.
Even while my view of bad and good habits is based on Christian ethics, praying for God to work His will through my motherhood wasn’t even a thought. Which brings us back to the scene that I discussed in the very beginning of this morning.
“Why can’t we just have a peaceful morning?” I asked.
My answer came with that punch-in-the-gut feeling of conviction as my own written words echoed through my mind.
Right. Peace comes from God. So I prayed and asked God to help us regain peace in our days. I asked Him to show me what needed to be changed.
The answer came back simple enough, “Stop struggling.”
I was struggling. I was struggling against time, my own ideas of what we needed to do in a day vs. my daughter’s personality, and even struggling to walk without getting frustrated at the cat.
In my limited experience, there’s only one way to break the amount of struggles we were having in our mornings: a complete change of pace.
Extending the Challenge to You
There’s no set way for a peaceful morning to look, as long as you remember the source of peace and find freedom from your struggles. However, I encourage you to try it my way if you feel like you’re caught up for struggles. While this will work better for other Stay-at-Home Moms, even the Working Moms might find this useful for weekends.
So this is what we started doing:
- Get up. Breakfast immediately – but not at the expense of a power struggle. I’ve found that letting Hailey “help” by picking some aspect of her breakfast keeps her in the kitchen with me. We watch a cartoon with our breakfast right now because I can’t make twenty minutes of small talk with a toddler who doesn’t talk back yet. You might find that reading a story out of a Children’s Bible or even just a short story is a good option.
- After breakfast ends – we both get dressed and around. Letting Hailey sit on the bathroom counter while I brush my hair has become a favorite activity in our mornings. We talk, sing songs, or make silly faces in the mirror.
- Go outside – We haven’t faced a storm yet, but going outside as soon as I get my hair in a ponytail is the next crucial part of our morning. Sometimes we stay out for almost an hour, but other times we’re only outside for fifteen minutes. For the most part, I let her decide on the time that we spend outside. I only bring her inside if it’s already hot out or Hailey thinks it’s a good idea to touch a spider.
- Praise Songs / Books / Bed Time! – Our next activity varies. Sometimes I put on praise songs to dance or sing to. This helps me to retain perspective on my motherhood. Other times we read storybooks. When I’m trying to be a good housewife and mother, I let her climb up on our bed to flop around while I fold clothes. The point is that it’s an activity that we can do together without any rush to get to the “next thing”. The only exception to this is on grocery shopping or park days, where we get in the car rather than go back inside.
- Lunch Time – And that’s it. The activities change during the intermission, of course. Some days she decides to play independently, which gives me a chance to work on chores or cleaning up.
So has this really had an effect on our mornings? Absolutely!
By the third morning I put this into schedule, the temper tantrums and meltdowns had calmed down to almost nonexistent (there was the spider incident). I’ve actually found that I can add in more of the chores that we used to have in place without Hailey getting mad because she’s suddenly back to wanting to help more.
Most importantly, we’re able to laugh together a lot more.
I’ve left out conversations about prayer during our peaceful morning. This is because I don’t have one big prayer time. Instead, as little thoughts drift through my mind, I tend to do micro-prayers like, “Help me to keep my motherhood in perspective of my faith today, “ or “God, please continue to help her grow strong.”
I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. I’m not praying a lot of these prayers throughout each day. However, I think that prayer itself is a crucial component to a peaceful morning. After all, prayer connects us to God.