When you are in the trenches of mothering, you have a little one or a few and you are holding onto what seems like the last threads of your sanity, you need to remember why you are doing what you are doing. Why are you sacrificing time, effort, and energy for these little monsters that trash your house and cry a lot, sometimes incessantly? Because that is what God has called you to do. He’s put you in charge of little ones so that you can point them back to Christ and show them the same love the Father has shown you. That is exactly what Rachel Jankovic encourages you to do in this little book called, Loving the Little Years.
This little book came highly recommended and I was so excited that my local library had it to borrow as an audio book (because that’s how I get a lot of books read these days!). Of course it’s just when I start to feel like I have a handle on things as a mom that something changes (like planning to move around the world) and I feel like I’m back at square one. That first paragraph was exactly how I felt before I started this book. It is a wonderful, short, succinct read and I cannot recommend it enough. Here’s why you should read it today!
It’s Simple — The 20-minute Rule
Loving the Little Years is simple and easy to read. This book is split into shorter chapters, they almost read rather like essays. They are super easy to understand and very memorable. There are many times even now (a couple of weeks later) that I am reminded of something I read in this book during my day as a mom.
Rachel has a way of keeping her communication simple so that it’s very applicable to your own life. And, at the same time, she keeps it serious in that she always points back to the Lord and how we need to honor Him in our parenting. She even goes above and beyond by cutting to the chase and giving VERY practical examples of things that worked in her household and in her own heart.
I loved this advice about what to do when you are feeling overwhelmed, her 20-minute rule: “If things started seeming really out of control. I would look at the clock and note the time. Then I would tell myself that in 20 minutes this would be over. If I just kept my head down and did the work, 20 minutes was all I needed. And actually it was true. 20 minutes is enough time, if you are moving quickly and not moping, to change three diapers and one complete outfit, … tuck two people into naps, and sit down to nurse the other two. The storm would have passed in 20 minutes if I was cheerfully getting things done. But that moment when you first discover the blowout and then the 2-year-old hit the 1-year-old who is now having a naptime meltdown with a dirty diaper, and both the babies are mad because we were in the car when they both decided it was lunchtime and now, 30 minutes later, you still haven’t nursed them, but first you’ve got to change the whole outfit and maybe can’t find the clothes… Well? That moment. What was it? A moment. It passes. But when it passes, you will be very glad if all you did was work right through it. No self-pity, no tears, no getting worked into a dither. Look at the clock, look at the work you need to do, and bare down. That super intensity will almost always be over in 20 minutes.”
See? How helpful is that? I have thought about this lesson several times since reading this book. It’s very practical, but very doable and invites you into this mindset of taking control instead of letting your emotions and circumstances direct your heart.
Not only is her book simple, it’s also personal.
It’s Personal — Postpartum Body Image
Jankovic gets very personal in Loving the Little Years. There were many times I was literally laughing out loud as I read this book, especially the chapter where she shared her stories about feeding her twins late at night. Her humor is personal, but her candor on postpartum body image is even more personal.
She makes two great points regarding postpartum body image that I just love.
“Our bodies are tools not treasures. You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its 18-year-old form. Let it be used. By the time you die you want to have a very dinged and dented body. Motherhood uses your body in the way that God designed it to be used. Those are the right kind of damages. There are of course ways to hurt your body that are outside of God’s design for it and disobedient. But motherhood is what your stomach was made for. And any wear and tear that it shows is simply the sign of a well-used tool. We are not to treat our bodies like museum pieces. They were not given to us to preserve. They were given to us to use. So use it cheerfully and maintain it cheerfully. When you are working hard to lose the baby weight, as you may need to, think of it as a tool maintenance. You want to fix your body up in order to be able to use it more. It might be used for more children or it might be used to take care of the children you have. We should not be trying to fix it up to put it back on the shelf out of harm’s way. Or to try to make ourselves look like nothing ever happened. Your body is a tool, use it.
“Also, your body is a tool, maintain it. Having sacrificed your body for your children is no excuse for schlepping around in sweatpants for the rest of their childhood. When you were 18 you might have been skinny without trying. In your 30s after having a pile of kids, the chances are good that you will need to try.
“Scars and stretch marks and muffin-tops are all part of your kingdom work. One of the great testimonies Christian women can have in our world today is the joyful testimony of giving your body to another. While so many women choose to not have children or abort the children they were give, the testimony of women who know the cost and joyfully pay it is profound. So make sure that you aren’t buying into the world’s propaganda. While there are a great many rewards, sacrifice is very real. The reason so many women don’t want to do it is because it is very real and has very real costs. But the answer to these obstacles is not to run away in fear as the world does, but to meet it with joy and in faith.”
Wow, I was so convicted by that view. It is easy to get caught up in the perfect mom-bod and compare ourselves to what we see on the internet. But our bodies are tools that the Lord has given us to use for mothering our children. What a blessing! We must treat them as such by using them for their designed purposes and taking care of them as we grow older and get more use. That really changed my perspective and has helped me to align my thoughts about my body with the truth.
Overall this book is a great read and you need to get it right away! It was so encouraging to my mama heart and I only wish I had read it sooner. You will be encouraged and challenged by Loving the Little Years.
Buy It Here!
Here is one final quote that has really stuck with me, I hope it does the same for you.
“I try to remember that my relationship with my children will, Lord-willing, be one of friendship far longer than it is one of authority. This phase where we wield the rod is a short one. As they grow up and our authority is released, it should be releasing our relationship to friendship in that area. The best way to be sure of this is to emphasize fellowship, fellowship with one another and with God. When you have disciplined there should be a restoration of fellowship. There is not a time when you should discipline with a break in fellowship. You should never spend time being mad at a child. If it is broken, then restore it. Scripture says that if we walk in the light as He is in the light, then we have fellowship with one another (1 John 1:7). You cannot discipline a child for being out of fellowship if you also are out of fellowship. This is all another way of saying that the entire goal of disciplining your children is to bring them up to walk in the light with you. Teach them what it looks like to live under authority by the way that you live under God’s. When you sin against your children, make it right. Do not think that apologizing for being harsh will make you look like you shouldn’t be in charge. They saw the sin, they need to see you make it right. It is an example to them of how to live under authority.”
What About You?
What is a book that has really encouraged you lately? I’d love to know in the comments below!
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