Cultivate Relationships in the Middle of Motherhood’s Chaos
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2009 7 Jul
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Lisa T. Bergren's new book, Life on Planet Mom: A Down-to-Earth Guide to Your Changing Relationships (Revell, 2009).
Becoming a mom changes your life in ways that significantly affect all of your relationships – with God, yourself, and every other person in your life. You need strong relationships to support you during this demanding season, but the chaos of raising young children can easily divert your attention away from cultivating relationships.
No matter how busy you are as a new mom, you need to invest in your relationships for your own well-being. Here’s how you can do so in the middle of motherhood’s chaos:
Look in the mirror. Take an honest look at how motherhood is changing you. You’ll likely see that you’ve become less selfish as you make sacrifices in your lifestyle to benefit your child. You probably understand more deeply what it means to love someone unconditionally. You may discover that you’ve become more patient. Invite God to teach you everything He wants you to learn through motherhood, and look forward to greater personal growth.
Invest in your marriage. Set some boundaries so your child doesn’t deplete all of your time and energy, leaving you nothing for your relationship with your husband. Plan to spend time with him on a regular basis while your child is either sleeping or with a babysitter. Think and pray about decisions or requests that you could make to carve out an hour with your husband every night.
Prioritize your activities and focus just on what’s most important. Be creative about ways to spend time with your husband: from date nights and bike rides, to making love and watching movies together. Pray with each other as often as you can, and ask God to give you both the strength and encouragement you need to deal with specific concerns in your lives.
Adapt to new relationships with your parents. Think about what positive attitudes and behaviors your parents can pass along to your child – their new grandchild – and encourage them to do so. Address negative or destructive attitudes and behaviors with your parents honestly and lovingly. Set healthy boundaries so you and your husband will decide how your child is raised, whether or not your decisions match your parents’ opinions.
If your parents refuse to change on issues that concern you (like interfering in your parenting), set boundaries and limit your interaction with them. Consider what parenting patterns you learned from your family of origin (how your parents disciplined, taught, conveyed love, expressed faith, modeled health, etc.) and recognize what was good and bad so you can prevent unhealthy patterns from affecting your own parenting.
Adapt to new relationships with your siblings. If your brothers and sisters already have kids, you can share parenting experiences and learn from each other. If they don’t, make sure that when you talk with them you discuss their lives as well as your own and don’t spend too much time dwelling on parenting talk. Even though you’re in very different seasons of life, you can still maintain a bond.
Make time for friends. Schedule some time regularly to keep up with old friends (either through phone chats or by getting together some evenings when your child is asleep) and make the effort to find some new friends as well. Make sure you have some close friendships with other women based on more than just shared motherhood, but also on shared priorities in life. Be devoted to your friends and offer them grace to cover their failures, as they should also give you. Aim to inspire each other to grow into better people – more loving, joyful, peaceful, graceful, etc. Rebuild your old relationships with non-mom friends and be open and honest about the differences in your lifestyles.
Reach out into the world more. Don’t let the demands of raising a young child cause you to isolate yourself from the larger community around you. Stay engaged with your neighborhood, church, groups, online communities, state, nation, and world. Let the new compassion you’ve gained for others as a result of your motherhood motivate you to reach out to people in fresh ways.
Visit an elderly neighbor, join a neighborhood watch group, write to your representatives in Congress about issues that concern you, sponsor a child who lives in a poor nation, and serve in any other way that God leads you. Follow the news each day to stay informed about all that’s going on, and pray about what you learn.
Draw closer to God. Let motherhood teach you more about God and motivate you to draw closer to Him. Just as you love and care for your child, God loves and cares for you. Just as you hope to teach your child how to live a rich and full life, God wants to teach you. Just as you’d like to train your child how to make wise choices, God desires to train you. Ask God to use your relationship with your child to strengthen your relationship with Him every day.
July 17, 2009.
Adapted from Life on Planet Mom: A Down-to-Earth Guide to Your Changing Relationships, copyright 2009 by Lisa T. Bergren. Published by Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Mich., www.revellbooks.com.
Lisa T. Bergren is the bestselling author of more than 30 books. She is a freelance editor, cofounder of www.FamilyTripster.com, and a blogger on www.BusyMomsDevo.com. She lives in Colorado with her husband, Tim, and their three children.