5 Things Every Thriving Mom Needs
- Kara-Kae James Author
- 2018 13 Nov
I’ll never forget the day I lost it. I had known something was off. The signs had been there for weeks—the obsessive cleaning, the need for everything to be just right—but I chalked them up to my perfectionist personality. Then came the day I hurled a sippy cup of apple juice against the wall because my two-year-old couldn’t clean up a mess correctly. What was happening to me? Who was this angry, self-absorbed person who couldn’t even allow a child to be a child? All I could feel was shame.
As a young mom, with three kids under the age of three -- I was diagnosed with postpartum anxiety and depression, and all my fears about myself came to the surface. I wasn’t the ideal mom I had tried to convince myself I was. I had worked hard at holding things together, always keeping my cool. As a writer and encourager of moms, I found my purpose and identity in the idealized image of picture-perfect motherhood that I wrote about. I had created my own motherhood dynasty, and now it was crashing down around me.
During that season, I was given some painful and detrimental advice. Mom after mom told me that parenting is about survival, about simply getting through the days, the months, and the years. That it’s about looking forward to bedtime, school, and eventually graduation when your kids are finally out on their own and your life can begin again. For a while, I believed this to be true. It had to be because I was finding it hard to do anything other than survive. But as I surveyed the broken pieces of what I thought motherhood should be, I knew motherhood could not just be about getting by until my kids were grown.
There had to be more.
God had to have a much bigger and better plan in all of this, right? After all, doesn’t His Word tell us that His grace is sufficient for us, even in our weakness? In 2 Corinthians 12:1–10, Paul talked about boasting in weakness. Not for his own gain, but so that Christ’s power might be made complete in him. That was my desire too. So, I began asking the hard questions. What if God’s grace really is sufficient—no matter the challenges we face? What if His power is perfected in our weakness? What if there is more to motherhood than just getting by? What if I could actually thrive in motherhood, even when it’s hard?
I wanted to be a thriving mom, but what does that even look like? A woman thriving in motherhood is a woman who looks to God, first and foremost. Her identity is safe and secure in Him. She rejects what the world says about motherhood and chooses to be the woman and mom God intended her to be. She’s intentional with her people and her kids and she joyfully embraces the chaos of this wonderful life she’s been given.
Let’s take a deeper look at five things every mom needs in order to truly thrive.
1. A Thriving Mom Needs to Create Time in Her Schedule for God
I’ve tried to figure out why being a mom has been so challenging for me, only to realize this truth: I cannot do this on my own. I’ve often felt like the best I could do was make it through the day. Then I realize my Bible has sat dusty on the table, unopened for days.
A thriving mom needs time with God. She has to create time in her busy schedule. As moms, we are naturally busy – running from one thing to the next. It’s important that we carve out that time to get into the Word and rest in the Lord and be refreshed by Him.
While we all need to take time to refresh our spiritual souls, I don’t believe each of us has to do it in the same way. I have a lot of friends who get up early in the morning before their kids wake to spend time alone with God. That has never worked for me. I finally faced the fact that I’m not a morning person (and God made me, so He gets that!), so I ditched having a “quiet time” and determined to embrace God in a life that isn’t quiet—to practice His presence in the midst of motherhood. I do this by stealing away for a few moments to read my Bible while my kids are doing homework or watching a movie. I find God in the piles of laundry and the mountain of dishes. I stick my earbuds in and listen to an audio Bible or worship music while waiting to pick up my kids from school. Wherever you may be, God will meet you where you are. Make time to meet with Him.
2. A Thriving Mom Needs to Find Time to Rest
What does the world teach us? To run to anything and everything but God to quench our thirsty souls. What does God tell us? To rest in Him. Let’s be honest, the phrase “rest in the Lord” seems a bit strange, doesn’t it? Can we find actual rest in a Being that is invisible to us? Shouldn’t our refueling be something we take upon ourselves to achieve? Because resting in the Lord can feel risky. There’s a lot involved when it comes to trusting God, and it is risky because we take the burden off ourselves and place it on Him. We let go of the tangible to plunge into the unknown, trusting we will find the rest we need.
Yes, motherhood is exhausting and our flesh screams for something to instantaneously cure our weary bodies and tired souls. But it’s time to realize earthly pleasures will never bring us the rest we desire. Only God will bring true rest to rescue and refuel us and rest is God’s will and desire for us. He wants us to be still in His presence, confident in His power, and full of His love. He reminded us over and over again in His Word (because as children, we need a lot of reminding!) that when we rest in Him, He will save and strengthen us in our weakness.
3. A Thriving Mom Needs a Community of Other Thriving Moms
God created us for community, and while motherhood can be extremely isolating, we shouldn’t try to do life alone. A thriving mom says, “Let’s do life together,” because she knows she is better when she’s surrounded by her people. She is a cheerleader and supporter for the people she does life with every single day. She stops comparing and instead links arms with the women around her. She is better because of them, and they are better because of her.
When we allow ourselves to dive headfirst into genuine community, we find the gospel lived out right before our eyes. And yes—real, genuine, biblical community is hard. But when we find that community, those friends who push us to be more and encourage us in our weaknesses, we grow and become better moms because we are doing life together, side by side.
4. A Thriving Mom Needs to Intentionally Connect with Her Kids
I thought that being an intentional mom meant finding the specific way to be a great mom. I thought it meant I made my kids the perfect meals, created Play-Doh from scratch, attended every PTA meeting, and cheered the loudest in the stands. I was wrong. Being an intentional mom means connecting with the Father and then, out of that relationship, connecting with our kids. When we abide with our intentional Father and allow Him to lead us, we can be the moms our kids need us to be. Right in their sweet spots, and in ours too. We can let go of trying to be everything for our kids and discover ways to be loving moms in our own individual ways.
5. A Thriving Mom Needs to Find Joy in the Chaos
What would it look like to find joy in the midst of absolute chaos? For me, it typically looks a lot like deciding not to yell and putting away my Grinch-like attitude. For me, finding joy is often deciding to be the adult in the room. For me, finding joy is choosing to change my attitude—less crazy-scary mom, more rational, level-headed mom—and asking my kids to forgive me for jumping all over them when they are simply acting like kids.
Many times, we have to make a conscious choice to seek out joy, sometimes over and over throughout our day. Some days finding joy is about admitting our weakness; other days it is asking for forgiveness (or maybe most days) or choosing to move forward with a new attitude and outlook on our situation.
Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!” You are new in Christ. This means you don’t have to live up to some idealized standard; seek instead to be the mom God made you to be, and you will thrive. God is inviting you to walk confidently in who He calls you to be as a mother…to be a thriving mom. It’s time to stop leaning on excuses and ask God to show you what you need to be a thriving mom.
Father, what do You have for me today? How can I be the best mom in these moments You’ve given me?
How can I be intentional and wise? How can I love boldly and confidently? How can I find rest in You?
How can I embrace the craziness of this journey? Show me the way.
Kara-Kae James is the author of Mom Up: Thriving with Grace in the Chaos of Motherhood and founder and executive director of Thrive Moms, a ministry dedicated to empowering moms. She and her husband, Brook, have four children and live in Texas. They are passionate about adoption and creatively reaching people for Jesus.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Choreograph