Goodness gracious, I LOVE being Mama to these sweet boys. Motherhood is such a sweet calling. But man, it’s tough sometimes, isn’t it?
A couple weeks ago, lots of my friends were sharing a blog post about “lathering our kids up with toxic sunscreen.” (That was the title anyway…the gist of the article was that everything is toxic/harmful/will kill us eventually…and the mom was explaining that she’s sick and tired of feeling guilty and overwhelmed with all of the ways we’re “harming” our children. So, she’s throwing in the towel and lathering her kids up with the toxic sunscreen.) Moms went crazy sharing it, and at one point I caught myself nodding in agreement. I wanted to give this author a high five and tell her “I feel your pain, sistah.” It is overwhelming sometimes, isn’t it mamas? Some days we feel like we’re just doing our best to keep our little boogers alive, right? Y’all feel me?? (Yes, I know you do.)
Now I don’t want to sound all super spiritual or anything, but after I read it and saw it shared over and over on social media throughout the day, the Holy Spirit started tugging at me. And I just couldn’t shake it. And then I felt like I needed to write a blog post about it. (Trust me, I didn’t really “want to.”) On the surface, everything in that post sounded right. Loving them IS enough, and we should be content with just “doing our best.” But it’s not right, friends. Because if we’re real & honest with ourselves, putting our heads in the sand and choosing not to research and make the wisest decisions possible concerning our little ones is not really “our best.” (And I’m convinced that’s how Satan attacks sometimes. By tricking us into believing something that sounds right, and feels right, but is actually the WIDE path.) If people took that attitude in their jobs, they’d be fired. These sweet blessings that God entrusted to me? They are my responsibility. They aren’t able to do that research for themselves, they can’t make choices and big decisions for themselves, and it is my JOB as a parent (especially as a mama) to protect them. We are the gatekeepers for our homes, and we have to guard their little hearts, minds, and bodies.
Trust me, I’m not mother of the year over here. My boys eat too much bread and not enough veggies. I struggle (uhhhh, especially in summer when the weather is so nice & it stays light out so late) to get them in bed early, even though I know earlier bedtimes are best. I’m guilty of letting Jase watch my phone to entertain him when I’m running errands or trying to get something done. And I even have a lot of help! (I know some of you who are doing this pretty much on your own. Keep fighting the good fight!) We could all list out millions of ways we feel like we’re missing the mark, so my point here is that I’m not judging or condemning in any way. I’m in the thick of it right there with ya.
I just want to be an encourager, so please hear me. Moms, you are doing a GREAT work! And that’s exactly what it is. Work. It takes WORK to raise up and train and teach and protect children. (Although, of any work I have ever done, it is hands down the sweetest, most rewarding, and most FUN! Children are truly such a blessing!) Jonathan says that all the time. Parenting takes so much constant effort. It’s way easier to be lazy than to take time to learn, to teach, to be patient, to enjoy the moment, and to research. But take heart, sweet ladies! When we feel discouraged, like what we’e doing is not good enough, or when we’re tempted to get lazy in our parenting, know this…God has a remedy! He is just waiting for us to get in the Word & find it so we can be renewed. Remember what the Bible tells us about these things, because I can’t think of anything more encouraging! Galatians 6:9 says “Do not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up.” Colossians 3:23 says “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” 2 Chronicles 15:7 says “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your hard work will be rewarded.” Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
So here’s the deal, ladies. If we turned off the t.v. or hopped off social media for just 20-30 minutes each day, IMAGINE all of the things we could research/learn! And remember, I am in no way saying that to be condemning…I am saying that as a GUT CHECK to yours truly over here. (P.S. If I ever read something and I feel offended, I stop to ask myself WHY? What is the root? And could it possibly just be conviction?) Anyway, wanna know the cool part about being an avid researcher? You can share that with your other mommy friends! I love that about my friends. They are learners, and they always tell me when they come across something worth me looking into. #nerdalert Why not be into something way more productive then talking about wine or the latest Real Housewives episode? (Or whatever is cool these days.)
Here are a few things that came to my mind when I was thinking of things I research on behalf of my kiddos. If you can thing of something I missed, I would love to know so I can start checking it out so feel free to reach out. I know many of these are controversial, and every family/child is unique…which is exactly why it’s SO important for you to learn as much as you can and pray about the best decision for your children and your family.
- Vaccines- If you haven’t already, do what it takes to watch the movie Vaxxed. I also would encourage you to read Dr. Sears’ book about vaccinations, but the movie Vaxxed changed everything for me (specifically regarding the MMR). I highly encourage at a minimum following a delayed vaccination schedule. And I will be changing some things up on this (from the way I did things with the boys) in the future after learning more about the brain barrier, the gut, nursing, etc.
- Toxicity- There are toxins everywhere. Many of them simply cannot be avoided these days, so we are going to control the ones that CAN be avoided. GMOs, chemicals in sunscreen, soap, cleaning products, cookware, fragrances, water bottles (BPA) etc. Yes, it is that important. We are super “granola” around here now when it comes to our cleaning products, laundry detergent, toothpaste, and anything that we put directly on our skin (lotion, baby shampoo, etc.).
- Nutrition – Friends, this is so, so important. What you put into your kids’ body is either helping them prevent disease or causing it. (I know that sounds harsh, but it is the truth- and we are the nutritional gatekeepers of our home.) I know there are people that hear “the importance of eating organic” and immediately shut down & think that’s for hippies or rich snobs. But there is a reason there is even a fuss over organic vs. conventional- and bottom line, pesticides are extremely toxic and harmful. Try watching a few documentaries like Food, Inc. I know organic can be expensive, but there are options. Farmers markets, plant a garden, cut cable and use the extra $1200 a year to buy organic foods. We also really need to avoid food dyes, additives, and refined sugar if/when possible. Kids can still enjoy treats. I’m not talking about deprivation. I’m talking about consistently making better choices. Kids are picky eaters when mom/dad are picky eaters or allow them to be picky. The fact that Jase doesn’t eat enough vegetables right now is nobody’s fault but my own. When you have a new baby, nurse if you can. According to the experts, at least a year is ideal. Also, juice, soda, and Gatorade? Just no. Did you know we are raising the first generation of kids that aren’t going to outlive their parents because of obesity related issues? Mamas, we have to do better. We can’t just claim ignorance when we have such a wealth of information at our fingertips! We have to CHOOSE to educate ourselves and learn to eat and cook nutritious meals for our families. IF you’re too busy to do that, something needs to come off your plate of life.
- Antibiotics- We are so quick to medicate kids when there are often natural remedies (I love chiropractic care and some other alternative medicine solutions) or it’s something that can just run its course. Antibiotics are absolutely necessary sometimes, and I’m thankful we have them for when we need them, but they are way overdone in my opinion. Know how they work? They kill bacteria. That includes GOOD bacteria that we need to fight infection. When you are pumping you kids full of antibiotics, you are destroying their gut/their immune system which ultimately leads to more sickness and more antibiotics. It definitely needs to be built back up with probiotics, but even better if it can be avoided in the first place by building up their immune system. Nurse them. Let them play in dirt. Try not to sanitize/sterilize every little thing to death. When your kiddo isn’t feeling well, is the first thing you do run them to the doctor ASAP? Or do you at least research some natural remedies? Also, we should avoid antibacterial soap and we can even make our own hand sanitizer. Little by little, antibacterial stuff is building our resistance to antibiotics which means we will need even stronger ones in the future.
- Sleep- This is so crucial to their development! Their little brains need time to recover from all they are learning and processing. It’s actually quite amazing how much sleep they really need. A good solid 12 hours at night + naps. I always feel sad when I see a kid misbehaving and getting in trouble when it’s obvious they are just tired. Honestly, I get cranky and irritable when I don’t get enough sleep, so how do we expect littles to control their attitudes when they aren’t getting enough rest? Earlier bedtimes have been shown to be better for children. That is DEFINITELY an area I need to work on, although I do make sure they get their 12 hours and I am pretty hard core about naps unless there are extenuating circumstances. I try to remember their sleep is more important than any selfish motive I have for keeping them up. We also believe in sleep training. We do this (basically) by following an eat-wake-sleep pattern, establishing a routine, using blackout curtains and a noise machine/fan, having consistent wake times, and making sure they get FULL tummies. There are plenty of books/resources. Life is just better when everyone sleeps!
- Supplements- Go to the Council for Responsible Nutrition's website and do your research. Basic basic, I personally believe kids need a multi, a probitoic, and an omega/DHA supplement (especially BOYS). You can talk to your doctor to come up with a time frame/regimen/plan based on your child’s needs. Kids also need vitamin D, but they need the REAL thing: sun! We can’t constantly slather sunscreen on either. Heat of the day and direct sun, yes. But I don’t personally believe it’s a constant necessity.
- It is recommended that kids get ZERO screen time before the age of 2. As in, zero. It’s ridiculous how quickly they become addicted, and I have personally found that our own heart issues are magnified in our children. (Read: I need to put my phone down.)
- BPA- This has been found to be highly carcinogenic & particularly harmful to the fetus when moms are carrying little boys in the womb. Avoid plastic water bottles when you can (we use stainless steel a good bit) and store your food in glass containers. Never heat food in the microwave in plastic containers. (Actually, just quit using the microwave all together if you can. I don’t even want one in our next house!) The stove works just fine to reheat food. Buy wooden/metal toys when you can.
- Wash their clothes before they wear them. Clothes are often sprayed with flame retardents. (Also, do not put a stain resistant coating on furniture.)
- Pregnancy- I believe women HIGHLY underestimate the effects of their choices during pregnancy on their child after they are born. This needs to be the time in your life when you take the absolute BEST care of yourself. Floss regularly. Eat healthy. Get plenty of veggies, fruits, protein, good carbs, and good fats. (If something is on the “do not eat” list…DO NOT eat it for crying out loud. Don’t listen to your friends who say “Well I ate lunch meat every day and little Johnny turned out fine!”) Stay active. Check out all the research on working our during pregnancy- it’s phenomenal & will definitely encourage you to get moving! Get plenty of rest. Stretch a lot. Take your prenatals and DHA. Avoid medication. Try not to stress. Do not drink.
- Car seat safety- Do your due diligence and pick the best one for your budget/vehicle. This is one area I always encourage people to splurge though. Actually read the manual/watch Youtube videos for proper installation. Know how to strap them in properly. It should be snug, at their armpits/chest, and rear facing AS LONG as possible. Know when it’s time to move to the next carseat.
- Don’t make assumptions or just blindly follow whatever you see on a blog post or just do what your mama did. I saw something the other day about swaddling leading to SIDS. When you opened it up and read the article, it said that it’s not safe for kids to be swaddled when they are able to start rolling. Duh. But man, isn’t that title misleading? Swaddling is great before they can roll! And trust me, no disrespect to your mama. Mine is the best!! But, times have changed. Our government is not “for us” when it comes to health issues. Big companies are not “for us” either- they are all about a dollar. So we OWE it to our babies to do the research. We can’t just “do what we’ve always done” because we’re dealing with a whole new set of issues.
Mamas, if we’re too busy to research, it’s time to clear the plate and reprioritize. Or maybe it’s just making some honest evaluations of how we spend our time. Find some moms you respect and pick their brain if you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. I feel like I have mommy friends who are experts in different areas, so I go to them when I have questions. We owe it to our babies, and it will be worth it. I knows it can be overwhelming and exhausting, but you were created “for such a time as this.” And of course, training them in the ways of the Lord is always the most important! That heart training, nothing trumps that. But we do have an obligation to take care of their temple until they’re mature enough to take over that aspect of their life.
All that being said, please don’t think I’m encouraging you to live in fear. I know we live in an “everything causes cancer and will kill you eventually” society. We can’t bubble wrap ourselves or our kids, and living in fear is paralyzing. I am NOT suggesting that. I am simply saying that knowledge (when applied) is power. It makes you more confident. It will serve you and your family well. The more I learn/know, the more confident I feel in my decisions. When I lack confidence, it’s usually because I have chosen the lazy route and haven’t put the work in.
I’m sure this post will rub a few folks the wrong way (although it wasn’t intended to do so). I hope you heard my heart and feel encouraged to start “studying.” Being a lifelong learner is something GREAT to model for our kids!
One of my all-time favorite roles is being a mama to these sweet boys. I am so thankful the Lord entrusted them to me and Jonathan, and I pray daily the Lord will give us wisdom in parenting. I pray he will make us more attentive, give us discernment, and strengthen us so we can finish the task at hand in training them up. I also pray I am an encourager to other moms (and future moms). And ya know, as a woman, you’re probably “mothering” someone. You were created to be a nuturer. I learn from my friends who aren’t even mamas yet, too. So, keep working!
“Children are a heritage from the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” –Psalm 127:3