When I became a mother of two children, I felt a little overwhelmed. My parents were able to help for the first couple of weeks, but then they had to fly home and it was just me, a two year old, and a newborn for most of the day while my husband was at work. Our closest family members live nearly five hours away so we did not have any help with child care unless we sought the services of a babysitter. Even that is difficult when you have a baby who exclusively breastfeeds (even refusing bottled breast milk).
My two year old daughter was struggling with not receiving the same amount of attention (all of it) from me that she used to. I was spending large chunks of the day breast feeding and holding a sleeping infant (he did not want to sleep on his own, just like his big sister when she was a baby). I knew that I had to figure out how to get him to nap in his bed during the day so that I could give my two year old the attention she was craving but was not sure how. She was kind of happy about getting to watch television while I nursed but I was not thrilled that it was the only way I could think to keep her entertained while I was occupied.
Thankfully, a sweet person (and mother of five) offered to take my daughter for a few hours one day so that I could nap or enjoy a little one-on-one time with the new baby. I am a fairly independent person and do not usually ask for help even when I need it. However, I was apparently so overwhelmed and desperate that I readily accepted the offer. I guess she could probably see my need just by looking at me. At the time I didn’t know just how significant her act of kindness would be for me. I decided that I would try to use that time to encourage him to fall asleep on his own in his bed. I knew that I wouldn’t be as concerned about him crying if I didn’t have another child feeling distressed about the noise.
On the predetermined day, the woman picked up my daughter from our house and took her and a boy about my daughter’s age to play for a few hours. She asked if she could take her to lunch and I agreed. I know now that just about anything someone offers to do for a mother with a baby should be accepted (you never know whether you will receive another kind offer in the future).
When my daughter was gone, I steeled myself for whatever was to come and, after feeding him, laid him down in his bed, turned on a noise machine and waited. And he fell asleep. On his own. Miracle of miracles! I was in heaven. I now had confirmation that it was possible for him to sleep on his own. I spent some of my baby-free time reading more about babies’ sleep habits to help us continue to make progress with him in this area. When my daughter returned, I thanked the woman profusely for her kindness.
I will never be able to express how much it meant to me that someone was willing to watch my daughter for me for a few hours. It was just what I needed at that point in time and filled me with encouragement and hope for the days to come. It started a new routine for our family that allowed me to reengage with my daughter while providing for my son’s needs as well.
The reminder of how much this benefited me has inspired me to help other mothers in a similar way. Several times I have taken my children over to another woman’s house (because I am a stay-at-home mom and my kids are involved in just about every day time activity in which I participate) and watched her kids for a couple of hours while she got out of the house and did whatever she wanted. It’s much easier to be away when you know your kids are being well cared for (and, in these cases, getting to play with other kids) while you are caring for yourself. I didn’t do much more than make sure the kids were happy, clean, and fed lunch but I am confident that the time away from their home and kids refreshed the women. It is such an encouragement to me to be able to offer something beneficial to other young mothers. I know how much it can mean as a result of the kindness done to me years ago.
Megan Byrd is a stay-at-home mom of two kids in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA. She enjoys reading, writing, exercising, eating, laughing, traveling, and adventure. She published a book titled “Between Us Girls: Navigating College Life As a Christian Woman.” She continues to write with the hopes of encouraging other women through the journey of life and motherhood. You can follow her blog at http://mybyrdlife.blogspot.com and find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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