Ep. 40 || To-Do Lists & How-Tos: Finding Practical Help in Motherhood Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here. In today’s show, we are talking about practical stuff. On Risen Motherhood, as you guys know, often we steer away from talking about practical stuff because we know that there are a ton of different ways to do motherhood. Today, we are going to talk a little bit more about, if you’re looking for that practical help, some of the filter to think through it. That didn’t make sense.    

Emily:  [laughs] Looking at motherhood, I know that I came into motherhood feeling like I have no idea what I’m doing. You drive home from the hospital feeling very ill-equipped and not comfortable with it. That’s a common feeling, and we wanted to talk through that because we constantly get requests for the practical. It is so good and it’s really interesting that so many moms in our culture today feel ill-equipped to be a mom.  

Laura:  That goes back to a lot of our culture were very much trained to, “Where are you going to college? What’s your after-high school education plan? What do you want to be when you grow up?” At five, it’s okay to still want to be a mommy but then at 15, that’s not really an answer that you can give and that’s fine, but that’s how culture prepares us. So often, a lot of us were raised with mothers who did it all for us so we weren’t learning how to cook and clean, and manage a household. We do internships for a reason; to get that hands-on practical assistance in the job world. We really don’t have a trial period for a mom. You’re just tossed into the fire.   

Emily:  So many people in our generation had tons of activities growing up. Our times were full outside of school. I did dance growing up, and that took up all my time but then once I was in high school, I had something every night of the week. There wasn’t a lot of that time for learning how to do important things that help you manage a home or understanding being around little kids. I remember going huge seasons of my life without even being around young children. Of course, when you get to adulthood and you’re a mom and you have a baby, you’re literally walking into something that many of us have had almost no training on how to do. Even if you have friends that are moms, sometimes we are not super good about talking with women, who have not yet had children, about what we are experiencing, This is what a day looks like for me. This is how I figured out how to swaddle a baby,” or whatever that thing is. I’ve had to really seek out those opportunities to find out those practical things.     

Laura:  Growing up, I was not a kid person; I literally claimed that. In church, if someone wanted me to hold a baby, I was like, “No, thanks. Not interested.” [laughter] I never really babysat. I had a few instances that I babysat with some girlfriends, so I had other people to help me. I know that when I became a mom, I was really out of my comfort zone. I'd  not even given a child a bottle before. I did with my nephew. He was two or three years older than my eldest son so I had a little practice with him, but again, it’s not the same until you have your own child too. I’m not necessarily interested in, “What are the benefits of breastfeeding?” instead of, “Just give me the bottle. This will be fun. I get to hold my cute nephew.” It’s different when you become a mom. If you need proof on which one’s more popular, practical or heart issues, go on social media and practicals explode every time, dealing with heart issues, which is fine because we need help; that’s why.     

Emily:  Something that I wanted to bring up that blew my mind when I first heard it, and it’s so, “Duh,” when you hear about it, is thinking about motherhood and home management as something that we can actually increase in our knowledge, and in our performance, in our achievement in that area over time. A lot of women, in our culture, tend to think you either have this special mom gene or you don’t. Or it’s your personality—you’re either really good with kids and you’re really good at home or you’re not. I think that that’s not really true. This is a learned skill like anything else. Yes, there are some personality elements that play into it. I probably don’t have a personality that would do well as an accountant or something, but I could learn how, and grow in that if I needed to do that. The same thing is true for motherhood. There is no special mom gene. You learn from experience, through practice, and you learn through getting good training. As you do it, you can grow more comfortable with it and much like, again, in a career, you can go in entry-level. Over the course of years, as you take on more and more responsibility, and you get better at it and you learn new things, you can grow in your ability to manage a lot of things—a lot of kids or a lot of time at home. It’s definitely possible and I think it’s a myth that it’s not.          

Laura:  Whether or not you work, have a part-time or full-time job, all mothers need to grow in this skill. This is not speaking to those who are home all day, who need to grow the most at home management. This is a skill that it doesn’t matter what your extracurricular activity is, for lack of a better term, or what your life outside motherhood looks like. This is something that we all should grow in. That practical stuff is something that we can get better at. That’s something that I learned, that it takes skill and talent to manage a home well, just as it does to write a brief or give a presentation. There are skill sets involved in running a home. When you start to look at that, even though we don’t have that boss over our shoulder checking in, or we don’t have the quarterly reviews or the yearly reviews, but we can still apply ourselves in a way that looks very similar to what it might look to work outside the home.    

Emily:  I’m sure Laura and I have both experienced this in different ways because we have different personalities. Laura is a bit more of the A-type and task-oriented and naturally organized and on top of things. I’m a little bit more driven by my passion and my feelings or what comfort I want at that moment or relationships. It’s been interesting as we talk. We both have different areas where we feel like we’re weak. No matter where you feel like you’re weak, I think the temptation for us, as moms, again, growing up and not really being equipped for the practical things of motherhood like how to swaddle a baby, or how do you help your baby sleep through the night, or how do you introduce new foods, or how do you discipline a toddler, or all of those things. We’re not equipped and so we get insecure and scared and think, “Maybe wasn’t meant for me. Maybe this was meant for someone else.” We can then do a variety of things to get out from underneath that responsibility that the Lord has given us, to train up our children in the Lord and disciple them well, because we’re really not equipped. We can all benefit from that but we do a lot of things to get out from it.      

Laura:  We do a ton of things to get away from it. I know that I’m guilty of this. Pretty much every mom goes through seasons of this, so this is something that I think we’re all not immune from, but it shouldn’t be allowed to continue to stay in that. I think we can find ourselves checking out with TV or music or podcasts, entertainment; just being generally lazy. That can happen a lot for stay-at-home moms of, “We’ll just run the TV all day and I don’t have to really deal with this.” Again, there are seasons for more TV and seasons for not, so we’re not saying this is necessarily a heart issue always, but I think that can be something. Another thing can be placing hobbies really high on the list. I know I have seasons that I’ve thrown myself into DIY projects or decorating my home where it’s a good thing, but I’m using it to service a distraction to not deal with other things that I feel less good at in home management. That can also be working out or cooking or crafting or blogging or any hobby that we do. Those things can both be good things but you have to reevaluate, “What are my heart motivations for doing those things?”   

Emily:  We wanted to point out, I think that is our default when we feel insecure, that I think we all go into motherhood feeling this way. There are very few people that were equipped. I think this idea too of not thinking, “I’m alone in this and I’m the only one who’s feeling insecure.” We wanted to talk through, of course, what we always do on the show of how should we be looking at this in light of our faith and the gospel, and why being a follower of Christ changes our perspective and helps us not just check out and say, “I’ll put a band aid in that so that I don’t have to grow in that calling.”

One of the biggest things we’ve talked about a lot on the show is that our identity is in Christ. Because God is not looking at our performance and judging our salvation based on how we’re doing as a mom that day, we don’t have to fear our failure. We can take our failure to the cross. We don’t have to have this specific idea of motherhood. We can go to him and say, “Lord, what would you have me do?” There’s just this peace and freedom in that, so I think we can be mothering and doing our home management from a place of peace in knowing that it is settled. Our status in the Lord is settled so we can ask for his help.   

Laura:  I always love to remember the way you diaper your child or what kind of school you can send your child to isn’t in the Bible. That’s not explicitly written out and so there is no magic bullet. You can read through the Bible and you’re never going to find it tell you, “You must breastfeed no matter what,” or, “You must homeschool your child no matter what happens.” That should be a relief for us to remember that it is about the heart attitude. God is not about changing our actions and the things that we do, but he is looking at our hearts and wants to know, “Is that soft towards me? Is that dependent on me?” He is gracious to us and offers so much practical wisdom through blogs, friendships , books, and things like that. Those things are not bad but that cannot be what our ultimate hope is in. Before you move out and look at all these practical things, check your heart. Is it focused on the cross? Are we mirroring God’s image and knowing that, “I don’t have to compare myself to my neighbor down the street because I am God’s creation. I am made new in him and I have my own areas of failure, my own areas of sin that I have to work on. I can’t look like my girlfriend because I have a unique and individual relationship with the Lord. I am a unique individual.”  We want to work out our salvation with him and him alone, and know that there’s no handbook exactly, for what that practical has to look like for you. The heart is the most important above all.

Emily:  That is one of the reasons why, on Risen Motherhood, we don’t spend a ton of time talking about all the practical nitty-gritty. It’s not that Laura and I don’t have any ideas or that we haven’t found things that have worked for us. We just look among our friend groups and among all the moms that we’ve encountered, and see how different it is for different women. We feel like, “That’s not where we need to start; it’s the heart,” but there is totally a place for the practical, and we wanted to really quickly talk about it. If you are in a spot like most us are at various points in our mothering of feeling like, “I really don’t know what I’m doing here. I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to be loving my child well. I’m not sure how I’m supposed to be juggling motherhood and raising children,” or whatever the things are that you are feeling like you don’t know how to do, where do you go from there?

One of the biggest things that’s helped me is surrounding myself with women who are a little bit older than me, or even a little bit further in the next season of life, that can truly sit down and talk to me about the things that they’ve done that have worked, and know me personally, and can see our life, and help speak into what may work for my family, not just generally.  

Laura:  Like we said, there is still value in looking at research and studying. As Emily has said, I am a super type-A and I am research crazy, so it can definitely go the wrong direction as well. But I think overall, be vigilant about learning in motherhood. That should be the place that, next to your relationship with God and your relationship with your husband, where you should be applying yourself; it’s learning and growing in motherhood as a skill. You are not victim to your personality. Like me being type-A, I can get so overwhelmed and be like, “I need to do all of the things. If I cannot do all of the things then I shall not do everything.” Or with Emily’s personality, being more flexible and free flowing and the same issues that come with that type of personality. Don’t play the victim card on those things. Know that you are a new creation in Christ and you can overcome those things. You can do that by his power, the work that he has done for you. He can help you grow and improve, and he desires to do that. Know that however you’re naturally prone towards, you can overcome those things and that starts by a heart issue. Not with doing practical things, but by a heart issue.      

Emily:  And just do something sometimes. If you feel like there is an area and you’re like, “I don’t know what to do,” do some research and step out in faith, pray about it, and then try something. I feel like I’m constantly, as our kids are moving into new seasons, trying new things. Don’t feel like you’re a weirdy or you’re doing something wrong. Finally, we want to mention, again, this is an eternal thing. Your child’s soul is worth investing in. Your home is something that God’s called you to manage, regardless of what other work that you do. That is something we are called to take good care of; we are all called to serve our husbands well. I think it’s worth investing that time to learn how to do that well, and to thrive in that, and to get good at it practically, and to not feel like, “This is something I can never learn,” because it is worth investing in.   

Laura:  That DIY project I like to do  is not going to last forever, but my child’s soul is. I want to do everything that I can to make my home, to manage it well so that everything in my home points to Christ. That might be keeping my kitchen clean so that I can do hospitality. That might mean researching quiet times for my kids and how to employ that, so that I know how to communicate with them. It bridges numerous different things. We want to grow most in that because we can have all the practical in the world but if we don’t have Jesus, it’s totally meaningless.

Apply yourself to motherhood; it's definitely of utmost value. We want to encourage you guys in that today, to both remember what your identity is, but then also feel freedom in figuring out how motherhood should work for you.    

Emily:  Feel freedom to figure out how it should work for you. Definitely check out our show notes too. We will try to have some additional articles there for what to do when you don’t know what to do. Then as Laura mentioned at the beginning of the show, you can find us on social media. All of that can be found at our website, risenmotherhood.com. Definitely, as well, it would mean a lot to us if you would leave us a rating and review. That is one of the best ways for other moms to hear about this show. Thank you guys for listening.