How do we keep our kids from being our only focus, without feeling guilty about it?

How do we keep our kids from being our only focus, without feeling guilty about it?

When we become parents, we often fall into a trap. We decide our children are the most important things in our lives, we make them our priority, we start to idolize them and everything we do is for them. We stop putting effort into our marriage, we stop taking care of ourselves, and some of us lose sight of our purpose.

Kids are terrific. I love my kids more than anyone else ever could. I want them to have the best life they possibly can.

It’s a paradox of parenthood: the most important thing in our lives, can’t be our top priority.

As much as I love my children, I know the best thing for them is not to give them every bit of me until I’ve got nothing left to give to my husband or myself.

Striving for a healthy marriage.

If a kid can grow up in a two parent home, where both parents actually love each other, that’s one of the best gifts we can give them. I want for my boys to grow up seeing how a man should treat a women and believing that love can last a lifetime. I didn’t get to grow up seeing a loving and functional marriage, neither did my husband, that’s why a healthy marriage is priority: to give our children that gift we missed out on.

We strive to always make time for one another. We schedule semi regular date nights, and are intentional with the time we spend together. A marriage will not work if you don’t take time to make it work.

Take care of yourself.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

We can’t fully be there for our kids if we’re not taking care of ourselves. Our precious children take a lot out of us, though their sweet smiles fill our cup, most of our day involves our cups being drained for them.

Diaper changes, feeding them meals, keeping them from dying, it’s all very busy work. In order to show up for them and be our best for them, we need to care of ourselves.

An umbrella of protection.

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“He is before all things, and I’m Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17

I believe that when we place our faith in God he proves protection for us. There’s this umbrella of protection where God provides and cares for the husband, the husband provides and cares for the wife, and the wife provides and cares for the children.

Where does the home fall?

Caring for your home, house work, chores. Where does this one fall in our priority scale?

Your house is most definitely not more important than your children. At the same time, it’s pretty important for your children to have a safe shelter.

Sometimes the house will come first, because you need to have one and it needs to be a certain level of clean. Mold is dangerous. Piles of dishes on the counter can get to a point where they are a safety concern. Your children do deserve to live in a well maintained home.

None of this means your house needs to be spotless for you to enjoy time with your children. Sometimes for a short season, the house gets so out of hand it needs to be priority until it’s under control.

How can we live so our children aren’t our priority, but are still most important?

Remember your motivation. You need to take time away from them, FOR them. They need to see their mom shining at her very best.

Practice self care. Take regular time for yourself, even if it’s just 15 minutes to shower when your husband gets home to watch the kids, or 15 minutes to journal before bed. Find something that fills your cup every day, and do it.

Regular date nights. Make your husband a priority for even just a few hours. Get a sitter, go out, don’t talk about the kids. Fill each other’s cups, build your marriage.

Have routines for chores. Keep your home (mostly) clean by having a routine for when you do certain important chores. Always wash plates after a meal, do one load of laundry per day. Think small bite size jobs that can be done regularly throughout the day so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Maintain a budget. The best way to keep a roof over your head is to always know where your money is going, and to know when it’s time to take steps to either make more money or downsize your payment.

Devotion and prayer. Make it a priority to have devotional time and read your Bible first thing in the morning. This is best done in the quiet before the kids wake up, but sometimes it’s done with screaming kids in the background who can’t figure out how to share a toy.

Our Proposal Story

Our Proposal Story

This is the story of when we decided to stop dating and start planning the rest of our lives together.

I’d known for some time that he was planning to take things to the next level, but it was still in God’s timing, God’s perfect timing. I was finally given a weekend day off work to spend alone with my boyfriend, and God blessed us with a beautiful day. The sun was shining and the air was not too warm yet. It was the perfect day for a hike.

We got in the car, having not yet decided where to go, and he just started driving. He had set the GPS secretively, telling me it was a surprise. It didn’t take me long to know where we were headed – I can all but read his mind.

We went to Silvercreek Falls, a ten waterfall hike in the most beautiful little town in Oregon. A place that genuinely puts peace in my heart. We stopped at each waterfall and took in the beauty (though we did not see them all). I could see gears turning in his head at every stop, taking in the atmosphere, thinking of all the people around us and with each stop, we turned and went again.

We stopped at one small waterfall that was off the main trail, but still very public, and noticed that our initials were already carved into the wood fencing by coincidence. This place was cute, but not perfect. He knew it would not have been ideal as other hikers were within earshot. (I so hate public attention).

We continued down the trail until we were alone and decided to cave into spontaneity. We ventured off the trail, down a small dirt trail that was obviously not part of the hike but some other rebels had gone down it before. Following in their unconventional route paid off. The dirt trail led shortly to the top of a waterfall where few others had been before. It was beautiful, it was peaceful, it was private, and it was perfect.

The flora that surrounded us was similar to that of the forest in my parents’ backyard that I grew up with. So many memories brought back in the smells of the rotting trees and flourishing ferns. This place was ideal, and he knew it.

We stood awkwardly embracing and he tried to get the words in his head and I tried to not know what was coming. The butterflies stirred in my stomach and I was nervous that I would accidentally say “no” when I meant “yes”.

After telling me that he loved me a half dozen times, he finally falls to one knee and asks those four magical words that every girl dreams of hearing.

“Will you marry me?”

Of course I said, “Yes,” with a smile taking over my face.

And now my life will never be the same again, all for the better. I’m getting married to the man of my dreams.

The lies I believed about love and marriage.

The lies I believed about love and marriage.

Remember what it was like to be young and in love?

Remember when you ALWAYS had to sit right next to your significant other? Holding hands, touching thighs, stealing kisses.

Remember when you were always excited to see him? When you’d happily greet him with a kiss?

Remember when you posting about your Man Crush Monday every week? When you had no shame to publicly expose your husband’s hunkiness?

Remember when you HAD to fall asleep in his arms? When you were excited for a spontaneous romp? (Yeah, that’s how I’m going to refer to that… sorry, not sorry.)

When did that stop?

Why did that stop?

Somewhere down the line, I think we get told a few silent lies about what marriage is supposed to look like. Sometimes no one has to say them out loud, but through observation we pick up on it.

Lie #1: you don’t have to always sit together.

I remember when this first occurred to me. I was at a big family dinner and I saw that all the older couples felt no need to sit next to each other. They freely sat wherever they pleased and weren’t concerned with where their other half wanted to sit. It seemed freeing.

I suddenly felt as though my husband was my safety blanket, and I only wanted to sit with him because of my incredibly small comfort zone. So I sat away from him for the first time.

It didn’t take long before that “need” to sit with him at all time dissipated completely. And with it, a flame extinguished.

Lie #2: healthy couples don’t feel the need to tell everyone else how happy they are.

I do remember someone saying this to me. It was my sister, and we were talking about how annoying some couples are when they constantly post on social media about their love for one another.

Did you know when you stop sharing with others all those little things you love about someone, it becomes really easy to forget all about them? At least for me, it did.

When I stopped posting pictures with my husband, stopped sharing online all the ways I loved him, stopped talking about him positively to others, I stopped noticing all those things and began taking him for granted.

Lie #3: couples who’ve been married more than a year, just don’t DO it all the time anymore.

This one hurt us the most. This is where most of our disagreements happen. Simply because I believed it was NORMAL to withhold. Any excuse I could find, I used.

Any couple who’s been married many years, will tell you it’s the key to a happy marriage.

If you’ve read (or listened to) Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis dedicates a whole chapter to why you need to just get on with it. Her suggestion is to have a Sexy September- or whatever month it happens to be- and just DO IT every single day, no excuses, for the whole month.

Lie #4: your kids and house come first.

This is a lesson I had to learn from my son watching Sherlock Gnomes a million times.

In one scene of this animated child’s movie, Juliet (the leading lady) is having an arguement with Gnomeo. Gnomeo is desperate for her attention and just finished a daring act to retrieve a flower for Juliet. She couldn’t care less, he foolishly risked his life and she is only concerned with saving her garden (and home to all her family and friends, which she and Gnomeo have just taken rule over).

She says to him “the garden can’t wait, you can!”

And instantly he is heart broken. His face falls in a way I’ve seen only too often on my own husband’s face. The look of disappointment, feeling unappreciated, a feeling of shame and uselessness.

How often have we told our husbands that they can wait? We’ve told them they are less important than whatever else we are doing at the time.

When did your husband stop being the most important person in your life?

When did our hearts stop skipping a beat when they walked in the room?

I think it happened some time after we started believing these lies about what our marriage should look like at any given time.

What lies have you believed about love or the expectations of marriage? Share in the comments.