We are in the season of having young children in our house: two sweet daughters, Adelaide (age 3) and Clementine (6 months). This, sometimes chaotic, new reality we find ourselves in is one we have waited and prayed for (yes, we prayed for chaos, somewhat unknowingly LOL). And as beautiful and wonderful as having little ones is, it has without a doubt affected and challenged our marriage in new ways.
The vast majority of our posts are aimed at married folk in general. However, this specific post is for those of you who are in this same boat as us: you have young kiddos in the house, and by young I mean preschool and younger. I will say, I think the lessons God’s taught us in this season can apply to married folks no matter your current kid status is.
For those of you who are praying for children, please know, we are praying with you; prayers of hope and protection. For those of you who are on your way to boarding this ship (i.e. pregnant or in the process of adoption), be excited! Know that without a doubt, a wonderful adventure awaits! For those of you who are past this season and heading onto the cruise ship of “Empty-Nesters” (or even if you have kiddos that are elementary age or older): any and all encouragement, words of wisdom, life-hacks for raising young kiddos is WELCOME HERE!
Looking at our little family, God has truly blessed us in rich, deep ways through having children. I wouldn’t trade them for anything, not even on their/our worst days. But there has definitely been a learning curve, especially when it comes to maintaining sanity amidst the controlled chaos. Kiddos change everything about your life, especially your marriage. Little kiddos in particular take a lot of, well…everything you got. Any amount of physical or emotional energy you have, they want it all (as well as the cookie you’re trying to eat without them seeing).
That said, here are a few lessons that have helped Ryan and I remain close (spiritually, physically and emotionally) during these precious and crazy times of having littles:
All About Jesus
Remember how deep, rich and real his love for you is…especially when you mess up and don’t feel it. His love never ends and is not based on our feelings or emotions (praise God!). Look into the eyes of your children and remember the miracle they are because of Him. Remember the miracle your marriage is because of Him. The truth is that we don’t deserve anything good, but God, out of His great love for us, gives us every good and perfect thing (James 1:17) because of Jesus.
For me that means when I respond out of anger and crankiness to our three year old instead of out of love, His grace is there. Or when I take out my frustrations on Ryan in how I speak to him and or ignore him or don’t make any effort to be affectionate or loving towards him, for whatever reason; God’s grace forgives, restores, and renews us. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:23).
Remember that your marriage, and this season are all about Jesus. See him in it and if you don’t/can’t, or are having a difficult time seeing him – I would encourage you to ask him to help you see and experience him. Ask him to help you know how deeply he loves you and your spouse. Ask him to help you love your littles out of his love for you (1 John 4:19). Let us never forget that we are stewards of their souls. God has entrusted them to us, but they ultimately belong to Him. Ask him to help you love them well. Loving them well means first loving your spouse well, which is why we, as their parents need to be:
Ryan and I are a united front and our 3 year old is learning this daily. In her sweetness she will try asking mama if she can have a cookie after daddy has already told her she couldn’t (this usually happens around 8am; cookies for breakfast, she is so my daughter). Beyond the early morning cookie requests, it’s important for us to first be aligned in and with Christ. He must be our Source, the One our soul goes to for everything we need (security, hope, acceptance, grace) to love each other well, and love these little ones well.
Secondly, we are aligned with each other. This means that in the midst of our shortcomings, we extend grace to each other and we communicate the truth in love to one another. One question we try to ask each other when we are feeling distant or disconnected is, “What is God teaching you right now?” or “What is Jesus doing in your heart right now?” This usually reveals the real issues and struggles we’re dealing with.
Another question that really helps bring us into alignment with each other is, “How can I pray for you?” It’s not easy, and it takes a fierce tenacity to ask (and keep asking) these questions as well as answer them honestly, especially amidst the controlled chaos. But asking these questions has brought us closer together and has solidified our unity as a married couple, no matter the level of craziness.
Our intimacy is one of the most affected areas in our marriage. Let’ be honest here, sometimes it’s just downright hard to find the time to really be intimate. Here’s a few tips we have to help find good opportunities to staying close physically/sexually while little kids are in the house. God created sex for the marriage bed and it’s important for our relationship that we make time and keep it a priority as best we can. There are also different types of intimacy time we’ve written in posts past that I’d encourage you to check out. Ryan and I have found that as long as we are communicating, “Hey, I feel like we didn’t get much time for sex this past week, maybe we can figure out a better schedule or time?” and it’s mutually understood that even though we missed the mark for the amount of intimacy we “need” in our marriage because of caring for small children – it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. It really means we need to talk, realign and try again. This is where that fierce tenacity steps in to never give up or give in.
Let’s just take a step back and look at our new reality. Before kids, we have never had to be responsible for the entire care (24/7) of a young human being. It takes time to learn how to be a parent. To some extent, none of us really know what we’re doing AND THAT’S OK! Mistakes will be made, and God’s grace is there to guide us, forgive us and strengthen us. (Disclaimer: I’m not encouraging anyone to stop parenting their child, I’m saying, in the midst of parenting kids, mistakes will be made and God’s grace is there to meet us. This is not a license for negligence my friends).
Maybe we can all agree to never assume that none of us have it all together because spoiler alert: no one with young kids has it all together. We don’t have all the answers, but we have a Savior who not only has all the answers, but he knows (and loves) our hearts. He knows the hearts of our children and our spouse because He created us! Stay rooted in His love and let’s learn to be ok with being answerless and rest in the otherworldly peace he gives (John 14:27).
We can’t control it all my friends, but we serve a God who created it all and knows every intricate detail of our lives. In the midst of our lack of answers, let’s learn to trust Him.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. My pride has often cost me tears, heartache and hurt feelings (of both me and my little girls) because I didn’t ask for help. Ask parents/family to help with babysitting. In my experience, people are often waiting to see how they can help you. Family and friends, if you want to get in good with parents, here’s a little secret: be willing to offer to babysit. (You’re welcome.) Ask friends to playdates, or to exchange babysitting times, or to come over and hold your baby so you can shower or even take a nap. God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7)because we are secure in Him, so don’t worry about what someone else might think of you. Rest securely in your identity in Him and ask.
Ask a mentor or a counselor for help if you and your spouse are feeling like things are a bit out of control in this new reality you find yourselves in. This is not a sign of weakness, but in fact a sign of courage. And let’s not be afraid to ask for prayer for each other, as wives, and also for our spouse/husband. Again, asking for prayer often reveals where you/your spouse are at emotionally, spiritually, physically. Ask, ask, ask.
The days are long, the years are short
Having young kids is incredibly humbling and it’s a season that Ryan and I often say, “Don’t wish it away and don’t wish it to stay.” Simply embrace the season and understand that you will get sleep…in your own bed…all night…one day.
But more than that, remember God is sanctifying us daily through our marriage as well as through our kids. Take heart; breathe and take hold of every moment to love on your spouse and find new ways to stay aligned first to Christ and then with each other. Kiss your spouse, hug them, encourage them and speak kindly to them. Extend them grace, patience, and forgiveness especially in those crazy chaotic moments when your home is just beaming with life.
Extend yourself grace, patience and forgiveness. Let’s commit to learning what it means to love our spouse during this season. Remembering that we can love only because He first loved us. So let’s continue this fierce fight for our marriage by keeping our hearts close to Him, the One who aligns us and has given us a spirit of love, power and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7) even amidst the craziness that our littles bring.
Stay fierce my friends!