My Motherhood Sweet Spot + a 3-Minute Challenge

posted by Andrea | 05/10/2019

Just over 5 years ago, right before Simon was born, I wrote about my anxiety, fear, and depression after Nora was born. I was more than a little nervous to hit “publish” on that post; but I can’t even begin to share the amazing stories, emails, and comments that have come my way as a result. 

Still today, I regularly receive comments and emails referencing that post and encouraging me in my motherhood journey or asking for advice in the midst of motherhood struggles. 

It makes me so happy to know that post touched so many people! 

Honestly, thinking back 5 years ago seems like a lifetime for me – in some ways, I suppose it was. 

Back then, I was in the trenches of motherhood — caring for a BRAND NEW baby (my most difficult labor/delivery/recovery) with a 2 year old who NEVER slept and needed me all the time.

I wasn’t confident enough in my own mothering abilities yet, nor did I have the perspective to look back and see how quickly this season of life would pass. 

It was not a happy time in my life, and if Simon hadn’t been such an easy baby, I’m fairly confident we would have stopped after 2 children. 

Now, 5 years and 2 more babies later, I’m much more confident in my abilities, and I have more perspective to help me wade through the muddy waters. 

I’m through the pregnancy stage, I’m through the newborn stage, I’m through the infant stage… and in another year or so, I’ll be kicking our diaper pail to the curb and donating our high chair and crib to anyone else who can use it! 

It’s honestly all a little surreal! 

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Thanks to suggestions from many of you, I’m currently reading How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen — a book written specifically for parents of children ages 2-7.

While reading, it suddenly hit me that I’m in a very short, but oh-so-sweet season of motherhood when my children are all “old enough”… but not “too old”. 

All four of my kiddos are in that 2-7 age group right now (Clara is 20 months, close enough) — the age when they are old enough to have different personalities, to understand basic life concepts, to learn the things I’m trying to teach them, to have an opinion, to have a conversation with me, and to sleep through the night!

Yet, they aren’t quite old enough to be fully independent or “too cool” to be with their mom.

They still need me… and best of all, they still WANT me! 

They love showing me their artwork, telling me all about the funny thing that happened to them, sharing their ridiculously bad knock-knock jokes, holding my hand in public, and often still climbing onto my lap to read a book. 

I am the one they run to when they are scared, hurt, upset, sad, or angry. Yet I’m NOT the only one who can care for them anymore — so I get a break when I need it too!

When all the old ladies at the grocery store tell me how cute my kids are and how “fast it goes”, I can smile and nod (a “yes-I-agree” smile, not a “gritting-my-teeth-so-I-don’t-say-something-rude” type of smile). I can appreciate these compliments and words of encouragement for what they are without constantly feel like the worst mom ever because I don’t “enjoy every single moment” with my kids

A 3-Minute Motherhood Challenge:

I was recently challenged to spend 3 minutes of one-on-one time with EACH of my children 3 times a day. The goal is to give each child my undivided attention for 3 minutes when they (1) wake up, (2) after naps/or after school, and (3) before they go to bed at night. 

The point of this challenge is NOT to stress about actually setting a timer for 3 minutes 3 times a day, but rather to make a point of spending a SMALL amount of focused one-on-one time with each child at these “transitional times” throughout the day. 

This challenge sounded extremely simple when I started, but it’s honestly A LOT more difficult than I thought it would be. 

Sometimes the kids ALL wake up at the same time, Clara regularly wakes up from her nap at the exact same time Nora walks through the door after school… and many of you know how “busy” bedtime can be with little kids who always just need “one more _______” before they can finally go to bed! 

However, I’m working at it! 

As I mentioned last week, there are ALWAYS exceptions to every rule. There are certainly many days when I don’t hit my goal of one-on-one time with each child. But I figure any extra one-on-one time is better than nothing! 

I am far from an expert in motherhood… but it sure is fun to look back at how far I’ve come over the past 7 years! 

After all… practice makes progress! 

Happy Mother’s Day!

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22 comments

  1. Nicky

    05/13/2019

    Hi
    As a half-empty nester I miss the busy days when they were little so much. But watching them grow into lovely adults is hugely rewarding. Big kids, my son is now 6’3″, can give some pretty huge hugs too! I love the Roger McGough poem, Bearhugs, especially the line where his son’s hugs ‘crush the life into me’.

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  2. Jo

    05/12/2019

    My los are nearly 1, 3 and 5

    We are done with the babies so I’m just heading out of the infant stage into the toddler stage. I walked through mothercare today for what I decided would probably be the last time (until the grandchildren arrive!!!) I didn’t really buy much new stuff for my los but there was something very melancholic about walking around the tiny clothes hanging up, the soft blankets and all the cute paraphernalia you don’t really need. I purchased a brand new sippie cup for my youngest and walked out the shop not knowing how to feel… until I got home and was bombarded with my los all running/crawling to tell me everything, hug me, drool on me, bite me(!) etc. And I looked at them and I am so excited for the next stage with them – one that doesn’t includ a cluster feeding new born and sleepless nights/exhausted mum. I’m definitely up for your 3 minute challenge – I do need to prioritise some one-on-one time with them…I know they’d love me to!

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    Andrea Reply:

    I was just sort of thinking the same thoughts — this is probably the last Mother’s Day when I’ll have a “little” child — one who wants me to hold her and put her down for naps and snuggle when she wakes up. By next year, she’ll be running around like all the older kids — but like you, I’m ready for the next stage!
    Happy Mother’s Day to you!

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  3. Becky

    05/10/2019

    As a mother of four grown daughters, and grandmother of 2, I often say I have yet to find a stage of parenting I don’t like,. There has been something to enjoy at every stage. Whenever I am asked for “parenting advice” at a baby shower or other conversation however, my usual response is, “you don’t have to enjoy every minute.” I feel like there is such freedom in those words. I can enjoy the journey, despite there being missteps and bad days.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I think there IS something to enjoy at every stage — now you get to enjoy being with your children and grandchildren (and then sending them home again!)

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  4. JJ

    05/10/2019

    So good!

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  5. Meghan

    05/10/2019

    Your family is the sweetest and thank you for sharing how motherhood has changed for you! I got to spend some super special time with my 9 year old today because his teacher puts together the most wonderful Mother’s Day event. I’d say the sweet spot goes until middle school. Then things get a little more complicated, but the relationships you have built over the last 12 years are still there underneath the ups and downs. I applaud you on your goal of 3 minutes, 3 times a day. Because my husband and I didn’t really have true relationships with our parents, building relationships with our children is a priority.

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    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like a fun mother’s day surprise for you 🙂
    I was gifted a finger print bookmark and a fun little story made my Simon and Nora 🙂

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  6. Pam

    05/10/2019

    I remember reading your struggles when Nora was a baby and they helped me so much. I realized that what I had felt was common. We adopted our baby when she was 8 months old and it was a hard hard adjustment for us. She didn’t sleep through the night until she was almost 3. I always felt like a failure and an awful mother because I didn’t love every minute of caring for her. I had post adoption anxiety and depression and would have loved to have been told about medication for that first year. She is now 15 and I look back and do see how fast it went. She is a joy to be with and I’d go through it all again to have her as my daughter. I feel so blessed. Take heart mothers of infants and babies who feel overwhelmed…it gets better and you will get to the point where you look back and remember mostly just the good things. Happy Mother’s Day!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Happy Mother’s Day to you too Pam! Thanks for your long-time readership, and for sharing a bit of your story.

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  7. Kim Foster

    05/10/2019

    Oh! You and your husband have such a lovely family. Your children will most likely always need you and want you, and cherish you as their one and only momma. I love the time and conversations I now have with my 28-yr old daughter, and now with my 3-yr old grandson, and new 3-month old granddaughter. Life is sweet what ever the phase/age. Enjoy the ride!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Kim — enjoy those grand babies!

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  8. Rhonda

    05/10/2019

    Oh that’s cool that you found that newer book by Adele Faber’s daughter. I hadn’t seen that. Hope you are finding a few useful tips (sounds like you are).

    Mine are 6 and 8, so maybe getting beyond that “sweet spot”. They really are good kids, but they need to be kept very busy, and now that I’m 40, quite frankly they tire me out. They are also starting to fight more. Recently my 6 year old checked out “The Berenstain Bears and the Blame Game” from the library. I had to chuckle as I was reading it. “…But lately, Mama hadn’t been all that friendly. Her smile was gone and she was feeling very discouraged. Why? Because life in the big tree house had turned into one long, miserable, never-ending blame game.” The bears continue to fight until the mom erupts in shouting. I said to the girls…”Hmm, does that sounds like anyone we know?” Ha! I hope I didn’t scare you Andrea. Happy Mother’s Day 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, this book is a follow-up to the first book (written by the daughters of the first book’s authors!)

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  9. Jeanne

    05/10/2019

    Thank you for sharing, Andrea. I’ve followed your motherhood journey since the beginning and I remember the struggles you had with Nora. I’ve cheered you on all the way. You all have come so far and accomplished so much. I’m thrilled for you to hear about your growth in confidence and being in the sweet spot. You have a strong relationship with your kids and I suspect they will always want you around. I have one graduating high school on Monday (sniff, sniff) and I was very involved at her request all through her school years. Happy Mother’s Day! I hope you have the day you desire! Thank you for sharing all that you share. You help , inspire and encourage so many.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow, thanks so much Jeanne! I needed all the cheering I could get back then!
    Happy Mother’s Day to you too — and congrats to your soon-to-be graduate!

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  10. Gail

    05/10/2019

    As a grandma of 5 and mom of 2 adults, I believe the sweetest spot as a mom is elementary school age. And then of course it is super sweet to be the grandmother of ANY age! There is a great deal of joy ahead. Thanks for you writing: I look forward to it every day.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Gail — I will admit that the elementary school age has been fun for me so far.

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  11. Michelle Bonk

    05/10/2019

    The sweet spot indeed!
    But don’t fear they won’t want to spend time with you as they get older!
    My 10 year old “baby” loves to cuddle every night and my almost 18 year old tells me all about her day!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    good to know 🙂

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  12. Alissa

    05/10/2019

    These types of posts are so encouraging! I have a two year old and a 7 week old. Although there are a lot of sweet moments in my day, I don’t feel like I have hit the sweet spot.

    I probably spend 3 minutes of uninterrupted time with my kids at those different times because I am changing their diaper, but it is less overwhelming for me to spend 1 10 minute interval of focused time per day per kid. Whatever works.

    Clara’s face in the selfie makes me smile. Happy Mother’s Day!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh wow — so you are IN THE TRENCHES!
    Congrats on the new baby and your growing family! Happy Mother’s Day to you too!

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