This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Hello and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here with me. We have a really fun, long episode planned for you guys today. This is the Ask Us Anything Show that you probably heard a little bit about on social media, so we’re super excited to kick things off today.
Emily: We feel like over the last, what, year and a half now Laura, we’ve been storing up questions, and we have some questions we get pretty frequently. As you guys know, each we week, we don’t really necessarily talk about super practical stuff on the show, so we thought it would be fun maybe like twice a year, to sit down and have a group question-answer session [laughs].
Laura: We threw this out on social media a few weeks ago, and we got covered in questions. It was unbelievable how many you guys sent, and we so appreciate it. They ran the gamut from really simple stuff to really hard stuff. Come on guys [laughter]. There were all sorts of things, but one thing to note, is that a lot of these things we do answer on Instagram stories. If you’re not on Instagram, get over there, come over and follow us because those are only 24-hour things that last, so unfortunately it’s not like they last a long time. You can head over to Instagram and periodically we’ll answer some of these frequently asked questions that we get throughout the week that relate to that week’s show. We hope that you’ll find us there. It’s probably our most active platform and the community of women there is awesome. I love hanging out over there.
Emily: Feel free to email us too because what often happens for show ideas, other than the fact that Laura and I are always generating all these show ideas, but sometimes we’ll get several emails in a row over the course of a month, about the same topic. We’ll go, “Okay, I think the Lord may be leading us to do a show on this.” Don’t hesitate. If there is a burning question that you have, because there are maybe other women who have it too, and it may become a show topic, which you’ll find out. We got several show topics from this little question session.
Laura: Let’s dive in with our first question. Somebody asked, “How many coffees, AKA life juice,” those are her words, “Do you guys drink each day normally, then when you’re pregnant, and then when you’re nursing?” You want to kick us off Em?
Emily: Sure. I’m one of those pregnant ladies who gets sick in my first trimester, and I think coffee sounds disgusting, but I have to drink it [laughs]. I choke it down for the first twelve weeks, but that usually ramps me down a little bit from my normal maybe three-ish cup, four-ish cup habit.
Laura: Four cups?
Emily: No, not really. I think it’s four cups in my mind, but realistically, it’s probably 2.5.
Laura: Reheating it four times probably.
Emily: Yes, I don’t think it’s really four. Maybe I’d fill it up four times and I don’t know what happens to it [laughter]. After my first trimester, usually I’ve naturally ramped down to about 1.5. I don’t even know what the cup measurement is. I literally mean a normal-sized mug. I drink a one and a half normal-sized mugs.
Laura: I’ve seen some of your mugs. Some of them are kind of oversized girlfriend. [laughter]
Emily: I don’t drink out of one of those jumbo mugs. I am only like, “This is just my one cup” [laughter].
Laura: It’s like six total cups. [laughter]
Emily: Same when I am nursing too. I don’t know, I almost never totally ramp down.
Laura: I never change anything. I am a two-cup girl, and I don’t change it when I am pregnant, I don’t change it when I am nursing. I love coffee all the way through pregnancy. I am one of the lucky few, I suppose. There are other things that get me. It’s not that I don’t get sick, but coffee has never been repulsive to me. I learned to drink it back in college, but I love it all the way through. My kids, when they’re nursing, you have to get used to it baby.
Emily: I really liked this question.
Laura: Of course you did because you like fashion more than me. [laughter]
Emily: Even though it’s becoming a smaller and smaller portion of my life, [laughter] the question is, “What are your go-to momiforms; mom uniforms, for on-the-go with your kiddos and what are your favorite places to shop for pieces?”
Laura: We have a whole episode on momiforms that we’ve covered, so you can learn about how Emily and I are so different in this area [laughter]. Emily is much more fashionable, and has a lot of variety in her wardrobe.
Emily: I am coming around though. I just don’t have time for that anymore [laughs].
Laura: Well, five kids will do that to you. My go-to everyday is jeans, shirt, a nicer-ish shirt, but not a blouse. The silk blouse is a no-go with kids. I think every mom is going to be nodding along. But just like a cool tee, or whatever, and then a cardigan. And I wear sneaks; I wear slide-ons, whatever you call those.
Emily: Like your Vans?
Laura: Like my Vans. I wear them a lot. But I don’t change it up. I wear the same clothes all the time. You’re going to see me in the same clothes [laughter]. I am very boring, and I wear almost all neutrals. I’ve gone more and more towards that way.
Emily: You always rock some cute flannels. I feel like I see you in sweaters that are cute and flannels.
Laura: Yes, oversized sweaters. I’m totally into the oversized stuff [laughter].
Emily: I am right there with you. I am glad that oversized is in style.
Laura: Thank goodness the midriff style is not in because there would be baby bellies all over the place.
Emily: I think I like the moms in the ‘90s when it was like your shirt barely matches to the top of your jeans.
Laura: Or didn’t even match and you we’re just… [laughter]
Emily: Now we have this, “Okay, sure, if you pull on some leggings and some long wavy tunic...”
Laura: Yes, like, “What’s under there? I don’t know. It’s a magic trick.” I just love it. I love it. You don’t even have to care [laughter]. So where do you shop at?
Emily: It totally depends on if I am pregnant or not. [laughter] But when I am not pregnant, I love LOFT. It has this line called Lou & Grey, and it’s like a little bit of an ‘athleisure’ line. [laughter] Is that what it’s called, ‘athleisure’?
Laura: I think that’s a legit word.
Emily: I have several, what I would call ‘cute sweatshirts’, not grungy sweatshirts, but fashionable sweatshirts.
Laura: You wear those a lot.
Emily: You will regularly find me in a cute sweatshirt and jeans. Then another place I like to get my cute sweatshirts from is Nordstrom actually, because they have, I think about two sales a year. If you’re watching those sales, they’ve got some pretty good deals, and it’s free shipping, free returns.
Laura: I do love that.
Emily: Shop from home.
Laura: Yes, I haven’t been to a dressing room in years.
Emily: [laughs] Once a year I may go out shopping somewhere.
Laura: For maternity, I love Old Navy, Gap, Target, and then non-maternity, I’m into Old Navy, Gap, Target, but I added Madewell. I don’t buy them for maternity; they do have maternity, but I love Madewell. I love me some Madewell when I’m not pregnant because I feel that, for spending the amount of money that I do, it’ll last me longer than…
Emily: Go ahead Laura.
Laura: A good maternity place that I found this pregnancy is PinkBlush Maternity. We will link to that, but they have great tops and they’re really cost-effective; they’re economical.
Emily: But, I have been looking there for pants, so listen you guys. This is an all-call, if you know of maternity jeans that do not sag in the bottom after a day, [laughter] and they’re full panel, you email us. [laughter]
Laura: Yes, I’ll take it too please. A baggy butt, not cool.
Emily: Moving onto something much deeper. [laughter] What are you currently doing for your quiet times? How do you choose what you’re going to do, and anything you’d like to recommend or try.
Laura: It’s like a six-part question there. For me right now, doing women’s Bible study, we’re doing From Garden to Glory by Courtney Doctor. It’s a nice, thick booklet, heavy little book there, but it’s very good. It covers a whole overview of the Bible, and it talks about the metanarrative of the Bible, which, if you’ve heard that term, it basically means seeing the whole Bible is one large story. Everything from the Old Testament, all points towards Jesus. It’s a very fun study. It’s something I’ve never formally done. I’ve done this informally, but where she walks you through the entire Bible to see how it’s one, big beautiful story that God put together. So I highly recommend it. I think it’s really, really good. It is a little bit time-intensive, but most things that Emily and I do are. I’m currently reading through the Bible from front to back with no special plan. I’m trying to read it for comprehension and I am looking for certain truths. I read five to ten chapters at a time. Not in a way to check it off the list, but to really comprehend, and take the time to go back and look, and see how all of these things are connecting. I’m reading for comprehension, and I take a little bit of notes and write down what little nugget of truth. I am currently in Ezekiel. I’d like to recommend any John Wilkins study, the Garden to Glory by Courtney Doctor. I know Em you’re doing a really good that I want to try so maybe you should go now.
Emily: That was a good question of, how do you choose what you’re going to do? Like Laura, I really try to follow a lot of what our women ministry in the church is putting out. Probably most churches, either for women, or general, offer some type of Bible study, some type of curriculum. So it’s really easy to have that accountability and jump on board [laughs] with whatever your church is doing. Right now, we’re going through Ephesians by Keri Folmar, and I’ve just loved it. It’s an inductive study and so that is a method all in itself. Maybe Laura and I will jump on Instagram stories this week, and share about some different Bible study methods but I’ve just loved it. It’s the second study our church has done by her, so I would highly recommend it. When I am not doing a Bible study through church, and that’s literally all I do when I am in my study. But when I’m not doing that, I try to have a plan. It varies because if I don’t have a plan, I think it’s super awkward to just wake up in the morning and like, “I don’t know, I’ll just open up my Bible and point to something.”
Laura: That is a recipe for not having a quiet time, [laughter] like two-minute one.
Emily: Or having one and maybe pulling some things that aren’t true, or getting some weird stuff going on. I will often pick a book of the Bible that I’ve been interested in going through, and I’ll do an inductive study on my own. Occasionally, I’ll go through a book that’s not my steady diet, but sometimes, especially if there’s a particular issue I am wanting to think through, I will do that. Laura and I have both done some good Jen Wilkin studies. One of my favorite studies I’ve ever done for seeing Jesus, like Laura was saying, in the metanarrative of scripture was a study by Nancy Guthrie who has a series called Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. She’s got several books in that series. In the book, she explains things, and there’s Bible study. It’s really, really good and I think that was one of the most helpful tools I’ve ever used to understand how Jesus shows up in the Old Testament law and all those good things. [laughs]
Laura: It changes everything when you start seeing Jesus in that Old Testament. It changes everything. Next question is, what temp do we keep our home in the winter months? I have no idea why someone wants to know this but we’re cold. We usually are about 67 during the day, 64 at night. My kids have space heaters in their room, well my daughter does. I remember my mother-in-law would always, when we lived back in Minneapolis, would bring a winter coat and wear it the entire time she was in our home. I would have to put up the heat for her.
Emily: Laura’s husband is a Minnesotan.
Laura: Oh my goodness. If it’s 60 degrees, he’s sweating. [laughter]
Emily: We’re the opposite. I wrote this down, I was like, “This is a little bit embarrassing actually.” [laughter]
Laura: I laughed when I saw Emily’s temperature.
Emily: We keep it at 71 [laughter].
Laura: You know what, I would love to keep it at 71. I am getting more used to my husband’s frugalities/he does like it cold so that’s why.
Emily: When I’m pregnant, I’m pretty picky about temperature. Maybe I’ve just been pregnant so much in the last few years, my husband’s finally just like, “Whatever.” [laughter]
Laura: “Whatever you want babe.” [laughter] Next question is, what are your favorite resources for teaching little kiddos about God? Mention books, and shows, music, etc. We have a million shows on this, we’re not going to go into this, and this is where stories I think really plays in, Instagram stories, where we post a lot of this. We’ll link to these in the show notes but episode 4, 12, 27, 29, 44, 46 and 51. I just went through and figured out which shows we’ve had a talk about this topic. Any of the show notes for those shows/there’s a Resources We Love page on our website. Go there because it is constantly being updated. Any time you want to see what are we currently using, what are we loving right now, head over there and you will find direct links.
Emily: Definitely keep updated on that. Like Laura said, if you haven’t ever headed over there, we really do try to load them with stuff. [laughs]
Laura: We try and make them legitimate; something that you’d want to click to. It’s even stuff we didn’t mention on the show and related things that we’ve been enjoying. Next question, what are you involved in outside of your home, Em?
Emily: [laughs] What am I involved in outside of my home? Not much right now [laughter]. I know we don’t always mention this on every show, but I have four kiddos, my oldest is four and a half, and my youngest is 18 months. None of them are in a pre-school program or in a mother’s day out program or anything so they’re all home all day. We’re in a season right now where there’s not a lot of ability to get them out and do a ton of stuff. So formally, outside of the home, I am involved in Bible study every other Wednesday night. [laughs] I’m on the women’s ministry team at church, that occasionally meets and looks into Bible studies and plans events. But our recent thing, which I’ll get into more, is our youngest kiddo just transitioned into about six therapy appointments a week and so, that has become my new part-time job [laughs]. Even though I am not necessarily doing like, “I work outside the home”, or, “I’ve got this really cool church thing I am involved in right now”, a huge portion of our life is making sure that that child’s needs are being met for their development. That’s become a huge part of my life in the last few months. It’s really new. What about you Laura?
Laura: I am in more things. I only got two kids. I said Em has five earlier because I counted the one in your belly [laughter].
Emily: It’s good to count the one in the belly.
Laura: They’re the easiest they’ll ever be in your belly but they do count. They slow you down in some ways.
Emily: They do slow you down.
Laura: And make you heavy breathe everywhere you go. But I’m really involved in my church and my son, after a little while, he’d be like, “We’re going to church again?” We are there a lot but I’m involved in the women’s Bible study and the women’s Bible Study Leadership Team; I lead a small group in Bible study. Then on Wednesday nights, I am lucky enough to be able to take theology classes at my church, which are awesome so we’re there then. My husband and I teach three and four-year-old Sunday school and we get to be involved with my son’s class, so that is super fun. Then we’re also Growth Group leaders and we host that in our home as well on Mondays. Then of course, Emily and I both have Risen Motherhood. We know is not outside our home necessarily, but it takes up a significant portion of our week, more and more as the podcast continues to grow, which is so fun. But it’s certainly becoming a large hunk of each of our weeks, I would say. I think I’ve talked about this before, but we’ll get into it more as well, but I do a lot of play dates and try to do a lot of hosting. Hospitality is one of a big ministry area for my husband and I. That’s just scattered throughout the week. I have childcare every Wednesday morning, which is phenomenal for three hours and it’s the best part of my week [laughter].
Emily: It’s probably the fastest three hours of your week, every week. [laughter]
Laura: Oh, it’s awesome; and then we just come home and we slam them down for a rest time/nap time, and then we go to theology class. Wednesdays are the best [laughter] part of my week because we’re just clipping through the day. It’s really fun so that’s awesome. Next question. Guys, I don’t know why you want to know this, but a million times, we get asked this question.
Emily: Yes. I’m always really curious about this for other people, so I kind of get it. What are your daily routines? When do you clean, cook, work out, play with your kids, food shop, all those good things?
Laura: Emily and I are going to wave the white flag on the working out. [laughter].
Emily: We don’t work out. [laughter]
Laura: Neither of us work out and our bodies reflect that [laughter]. I know for a lot of people, that’s the tough one to fit in. We’re just going to talk about working out for one second because I feel like this is kind of a thing. Personally, I started working out as I had this strong desire to work out. Well, I had this strong desire for the results of working out. [laughter] I started to do it periodically, but what I started realizing is that when I worked out, I didn’t have quiet times. That it just seemed to replace that time because especially, I like to do those things first thing in the morning and I made a hard decision. It was hard, I’ll be honest, of just saying, “If I can’t juggle these two things, I would rather be spiritually fit than physically fit.” I know that some moms can totally juggle it and totally do it, but for some reason, every time I work out, the other thing falls. I realized what is hindering me from having quiet times, or the reason why I don’t work out, is that I felt like it was interfering with something that was more important to me.
Emily: It’s really hard. Laura and I have talked personally; I don’t think we’ve ever talked on the show too much about this. But any given mom, or any given person only has so much capacity and can only juggle so many kinds of big things in life at one time. Working out consistently is a big thing and it’s great to prioritize that. I trained for one 5K in my life after I had twins.
Laura: That was awesome.
Emily: I felt so good. I totally get why that’s important. But I think everybody for themselves, like Laura said, has to look at their own life and their own schedule and say, “How does this fit in?” I feel like I live a pretty active life, and not necessarily in running but I am on my feet all day. I’m up and down, I am practically jumping to chase my children. [laughter] I look forward to a season of life someday when I can both work out and have a quiet time, and eat, [laughs] and take care of my family. We’ll just say that upfront.
Laura: We’re not saying working out is bad at all; that you’re not having your quiet time. This is literally something Emily and I have had many conversations about. We tend to be kind of similar, and this is that, something else falls when we add working out and so for us, we’ve decided what our priorities are. For some people, working out is like a genuine form of self-care . They’re easily able to fit it in, and if that’s you, that’s awesome and we’re cheering you on. I know you can do even like twenty minutes and all that stuff, and we’ve heard it all. We don’t want to knock on working out at all, but just to let you know where we’re at on that. [laughter]
Emily: An interesting question too is, when do we sit down and play with our kids? [laughs] I was thinking, I rarely actually think I sit down and play [laughter] anything with my kids, in terms of like, “Mommy will run the car down the track with you.” Laura’s probably the same way, but I’m always watching their play. I’m involved in it, at a distance and I’m watching it. I’ll probably help setting up the toy, I am trying to help direct what they’re doing. That was another one I thought we could throw out real quick that I think you and I are pretty similar on.
Laura: I think as you have more kids this gets so much easier because I definitely probably ‘intentionally’ played with my son when I just had one. I had two under two and Emily has four under four. After the first one gets past that age two, I feel like they just start playing together, so there is hope, moms, if you’re in that stage of feeling like you have to entertain. [laughter] There’s certainly times where I feel like I do puzzles with my kids, or, I love the train table. I don’t really imaginary play with my kids. I do a little, but I’ve got about ten minutes of acting like a dragon and then I am done. I’ve just learned that it’s okay. I don’t want to play house the way a three-year-old plays house; it’s very boring. [laughs]. When I play with my kids, I do want to do structured things and so we’ll sit down and we’ll color together, or we’ll do the train table. But there isn’t necessarily like, “I do this every day at 9:00 o’clock.” It’s really just when it fits in or when I sense my kids need it. Sometimes if they’re begging for attention or acting out, I think a lot of the times that means they’re looking for attention. So many times when I am thinking clearly, I will be like, “Okay, you know what, I need to stop whatever I am doing and I need to go over here. We’re going to do this activity,” and I will direct them. I heard once that a parent was talking about how she will sit down and help the kids learn how to play. They’ll be at the train table let’s say, and everybody’s fighting and pulling things. She’ll model the correct behavior, and intervene. If you do that for 20, 30 minutes, spend that time intentionally teaching your kids how to play, not explicitly, but modeling it, and helping to show them, the kids are going to start mirroring you. Oftentimes, they play so much better after you’ve spent that intentional time with them. Just a quick tip. If your kids are all over the place and they’re fighting and pulling at toys or whatever, to sit down and be intentional to play with them because oftentimes, then I can walk away for a significant amount of time and do my stuff, and they will play nicely, generally, together.
Emily: Totally agree. Invest that time. If you’ve got multiple kids playing on the train set, two words: crane arm. You pick up the train, you pick it up like a crane, and you pass the person, and you move on with your life [laughter]
Laura: That is a great tip [laughs]. I was like, “Crane arm? What is a crane arm?” That is hilarious.
Emily: Whenever they’re getting ready to have a huge train accident, I am going, “Crane arm! Crane arm!”
Laura: That is hilarious. I know my kids will just be like, “Oh, it’s a tornado,” and then the whole train table’s just be across the room.
Emily: We should just blast through our routines here really quick.
Laura: I was specifically asked especially with a husband who works long hours, how do I manage that? Maybe someday we’ll do a show on that because it’s a whole world of being a more single-type mom during the day but here’s our schedule. My kids go to bed late, I’ll tell you that already, so that they can see my husband, so they get up late, which means I get up at about 5:00 to 5:30, 5:30 when I am pregnant, I am struggling here. I do my quiet time first thing, and it’s about 30 minutes to an hour and most of that is spent in prayer. I’ve really been working on settling down and getting into my prayer life more. Then I finish, I do emails, answer Risen Motherhood stuff, all of that good stuff. My kids are up at 8:00. Yes, I know that’s late, but I am not going to apologize. [laughter] I used to apologize for how much my kids slept, but you know what, God’s just blessed me. So they wake up at 8:00, maybe 9:00, it’s awesome. We are all dressed, eaten, have a little family quiet time typically, by about 9: 00a.m. and we’re out the door between 9:00 and 9:30. Most of my morning stuff is at 9:30. Sometimes a play date might be at 10:00 but I like a very structured and full day. We are gone to either church, or we sometimes have appointments or a play date; different things in the morning. Then we come home, have lunch, rest, nap time; my son does not nap any more so we have rest time. They’ll give me about two hours with this recent transition to rest time. My son is learning how to stay in his room. Usually he’ll move around the house a little bit because two hours is a long time to be doing one thing so I’m involved with him during that time. But generally, I get about two hours of mommy-ish time. Then in the afternoon, we typically go to the park, if it’s nice, we’ll play in the backyard or we’ll play in the basement. That’s usually like if you’re asking me when my intentional play happens, probably around then, the kids need it more then. Then we cook together as a family, the kids and I. Sometimes when it’s a tough night, that’s TV time. I usually reserve it around them, but at around 4:30. Again, I only have two kids. They’re getting older and can help cook, so we do dinner together. It’s pretty fun, it takes a long time, but it’s something to do together. The kids play on their own after dinner, typically, while I clean the kitchen and vacuum. Sometimes that’s when my cleaning happens, is after dinner. Dad comes home between, I would say, 6:30 very rarely, and 9:00 p.m. My kids will hopefully get an hour with him, is what we strive to do, so they go to bed between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. sometimes 10:00 p.m. That’s why they sleep in later.
We’ve shifted our whole day so that dad gets to see the kids as much as possible. There are definitely days where he does not see them, and I won’t get into all of that. I know you moms, who are with me on this, are feeling for me, and I feel for you. It’s definitely a different family culture and season that we hope to get out of, to be able to have Dad home more but it does make the times with him very, very sweet. When Dad is home, he does bedtime 100%. That’s one great thing. Yes, so I am cleaning the kitchen, doing some clean up, doing some stuff, and then I’m on the couch. That is my break time; my first real break time for the day. Dad does it and he loves it. That’s his special time with the kids. We want to make sure he gets one-on-one time with the kids when he can.
Emily: Jumping into my routine here. Our wake up time depends on the day, it depends on who woke up in the night, and how everybody’s feeling so I’m up anywhere between 5:15 and 7:00 a.m. [laughter]. I know, that’s a huge range but that’s just where we’re at right now. My kids are up by 7:00 a.m.
Laura: They’re like little soldiers. [laughter]. It’s like they sense it’s 7:00 a.m. and they’re all up right away. [laughs]
Emily: Yes, no matter how dark their room is, no matter how much white noise. They have an internal clock [laughter] that goes off. We have tried to make a little rule too, like, “If you are up, you can be in your room quietly but please do not come out until 7:00.” I know I need to get one of those little Okay to Wake clocks.
Laura: Yes, they’re the best.
Emily: They come matching in at 7:00 a.m. ready to eat my arm off. I have all boys [laughter]. Usually breakfast is our most elaborate meal of the day; it’s our most intense meal of the day. We will usually cook a full breakfast and sit down and eat together.
Laura: That’s awesome.
Emily: When I get to dinner, you’ll be less impressed. [laughter]. We eat pancakes, and eggs, and bacon, and toast, and muffins, and the whole nine yards, and that’s a really nice time, and I always really enjoy it. After that, they run off and go play for usually 30 minutes to an hour while I do quiet time. I clean up for breakfast and do a variety of random things. I usually feed our youngest child, so he still requires me to sit, and feed him, and give him liquids since he doesn’t do that on his own fully independently yet. That is a real chunk of my time there at breakfast. Then we build in TV time to our morning every day. It’s just a nice predictable time that everyone can count on. And it’s been nice to play too, because I plan to do administrative things during that time. The kids usually watch a show and I am right there with my computer so I can monitor what’s going on, [laughs] usually doing emails and making appointments and all of those things. Like Laura, by 9 o’clock-ish we are still adjusting to our new routine. We’ve just moved, and our kiddo is in a bunch of therapy now. We usually have some type of therapy, people in and out of our house going somewhere between 9:00 and noon. We’re busy all morning; we have lunch. My three oldest kids do not nap anymore and so they have a rest time where they need to play quietly. I basically am like, “This is mommy-needs-a-break time.” I’ve gotten to a point where they all play together. I’m like, “If you guys can play without fighting, go for it but if you’re going to have an issue, we’re going to be in separate rooms and you can read quietly or whatever.” And they’ve learned pretty quickly how to do that. My youngest naps, and then late afternoon, we try to get out of the house again and do something. If it is anywhere near a nice day, we’re outside running off energy, and hang out with grandpa. My neighbors are now my parents [laughter] and so we see my dad most days of the week. He’s like a grandpa dream-nanny. [laughter] He’s awesome, so he helps out with the boys a lot. I will say dinner is a little bit of a hot mess for us right now. We’ve been in survival mode for a while, I am not even meal planning. At 5:00 o’clock, I’m like, “Okay, what do we have? I’ve got frozen salmon, I can pull the rice cooker out. I’ve got a bag of frozen veggies, I can heat that up. I’ve got a frozen loaf of bread.” [laughter] It all just comes together. We eat with family a lot during the week. I think dinner is something that I am constantly like, “Oh, I’d love to improve on that.” But it’s also something in this season we’ve just chosen to say, “It is what it is.”
Laura: You guys do the big breakfast, and your husband’s home for that and he values that. You’re placing priority too on what your husband wants. My husband is not home, he’s gone at 5:00 or whatever, so I am like, “Granola bars, kids. You want toast, that’s fancy. Toast is fancy."
Emily: Our kids are in bed by 6:45 p.m.
Laura: Hence the 7:00 a.m. wake up. If you push their bedtime back, it’s like...
Emily: Yes, so everybody gets their time somewhere. Ours is at night and my husband and I try to spend several hours together in the evening doing a variety of random stuff. Sometimes just staring.
Laura: That sounds nice [laughter]. What’s the balance of staying home and getting out with your kids and why do you intentionally choose those commitments? How do you find balance? We’re going to generally answer this question. Em and I were just chatting about it. We really think it’s both a heart and a personality issue. She and I have super different personalities, if you haven’t picked up on that throughout the show. We have the same values, we have the same principles in our life, but we play it out really, really differently. I love to get out and about. Emily is in a new season where it’s more required for her son to get out, and for me, it’s definitely more of a choice. I love to have a bit of different things throughout the day. But, for both of us, we’re learning that if you’re going out so much that it’s really hard on your kids, maybe it’s hard on your ability to manage the home, you’re dropping balls in your home with being able to clean or cook or do those types of things, or maybe you’re trying to run away from something. I know this was a big issue for me of trying to run away from boredom or loneliness. Those are heart issues, so then it might be time to scale back. Like most things that we talk about on this show, it’s really about evaluating what are your motivations for getting out? What are your motivations for being in a commitment? That’s even choosing how much time to spend out of the house, plus in the house but then even what you’re engaging in is really important. If you feel like, “Oh, I have the time to be out,” and this is not hurting or hindering anything in the home. But remember that even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, or a part-time work-at-home mom, or somebody who feels like, “Hey, I’ve got this time that’s extra”, your time is still incredibly valuable. The question is, are you just going to Target and Starbucks every day, and spending some money and daydreaming of Target, just to be out and about? That’s okay every once in a while, but is that your consistent pattern? Or are you involving yourself in ministry or trying to grow spiritually? Maybe you’re trying to nurture a dream that you have of starting a business or maybe growing in a specific talent or a hobby. Are you applying yourself with that extra time that you have? Are you applying yourself in a way that is going to move the needle forward in a sense? A big, big, big question is, what is your husband’s support? What does he value? Emily’s husband values spending time on breakfast and my husband loves a great dinner. Even though he warms it up in the microwave, I’ve spent time on dinner because he does value a great dinner to come home to. I manage my days so that I can make dinner and Emily manages her day so that she can make breakfast. Then things like, is he supportive of how much time you’re spending out and about, or how much money you’re spending engaging in these types of things? Make sure that he is on board, and what does he value? If it’s a clean house, or if it the kids looking presentable, whatever it may be, that you are prioritizing that piece of the puzzle. What’s the ROI on your time, essentially, is what you want to know?
Emily: I echo everything Laura said and a lot of those principles apply. We have had a really similar question, which is, how do you balance your kids’ needs, and then being involved in church things? That similar, “Okay, we’re going to have to be out and about for church. They may have to be in childcare, or there may be something we have to do for small group where we have to stay up late.” I wanted to share a quick story, an example of a lesson that I learned about this, and then maybe share a few principles. For about three years, when I was pregnant with my first, all the way through when I had three under three, I was really heavily involved in a Bible study. Not at my church, but a parent church organization Bible Study. The actual hours’ commitment of when I had to be there was just about two and a half to three hours, two mornings a week. On paper, it was like, “This isn’t that big of a commitment,” but, by the time I had gotten to three under three, that also required me to wake up almost an hour earlier in the morning. Getting them all ready to be out the door early in the morning, and feeding them breakfast and all of those things we talked about, took an extra physical toll on me. Getting them there was really difficult, even getting them in the door. It was a huge parking lot and I had three little kids who could barely walk in the door. It was kind of a fiasco. People used to stand at the door and gawk at us walking in. Like, “Here comes Emily with her three kids. Are they going to run out into the parking lot again?” [laughter] Then I had to pick them up, take them home. By that time, they were all starving, they were desperate for a nap, they were crying. Realistically, from probably like 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 or 1:00 p.m., that was the real time it was taking me. Then by 12:30, I was exhausted. I had already expended all of my physical energy, all of my mental energy, all of my emotional energy pouring out in this Bible study. I had almost nothing to give in the afternoon in terms of parenting, or even just things around my house. What I found was, this little Bible study that I committed to, that was wonderful, was actually taking up two full days of my week. I was doing stuff on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I was functionally out of commission for our home, and Thursday and Friday, I arrived again. The story is, I think you have to look at the whole impact sometimes. That’s not to say that it’s not super valuable but when I was pregnant with my fourth, I was like, “Look, is this even wise? [laughs] Can I even live through this with four kids? Is this smart? Is the amount of energy and toll this is taking on our family and our kids and me worth the investment?” That answer is going to be different for everyone, in every season, for every event but some of the questions that I have found myself asking, exactly what Laura said, “Am I able to complete the basic things around the house that I need to get done? Can I look for warning signs in my kids? Am I almost finding that I’m never disciplining them?” We’re always masking their behavior because we’re always gone, so I am not dealing with things. “Are my kids crying at the drop of a hat, and they’re getting upset over things that they’re generally okay over? Am I, as a mom, having really high anxiety levels about this commitment, I’m feeling overwhelmed and drowning? Is my husband asking like, 'I feel like you’ve been gone,' or, 'I feel like your mind has been absent from the family.'" This isn’t something like, “Oh, I just had a hard day. I just had a hard week”, or even, ‘I’ve had a hard month.” This is like an extended season of time where you’re going, “Look, this church commitment or this ministry, this is something I’ve prayed about. This is something I’ve talked to my husband about, and maybe it is something I have to pull out of.” Or maybe like Laura said, you have this margin time and you are not spending it on eternal things. And there is time, and it is going to cost something to invest in ministry, and to invest in church things. Expect a cost, I would say, for sure. Maybe Laura can speak to that.
Laura: Those are really great questions for something that is consistently taking up a ton of time. Something like going to church, or going to a small group every other Tuesday night, I would say those are things that you try to schedule for one night or one morning. I remember, as a new mom especially, I was very nap crazy. I wanted my child to get the best rest that they could. They were very structured and I felt like the sky was going to fall [laughter] if my son didn’t get his nap, or didn’t go to bed at 7:00, or I had to put him down in an unfamiliar place and then bring him home. I would encourage you to remember that your spiritual life is so important, even as a new mom. It’s more important than bedtimes. I can’t decide that for you, and Emily can’t decide that for you, but I would say that there are seasons and times where I think it’s important to not idolize that nap schedule or that morning wait time, or evening wait time, whatever it may be, in order that you can be fed spiritually. Being isolated with your children is not healthy. If you find yourself saying no to all of these commitments, particularly going to church, and being involved in a small group are some of the most important two pieces of the Christian community. You are doing that consistently, and you’re saying, “This season is too hard.” I think that something needs to be checked in your heart there, and to look at, “What am I valuing? Is my child really that messed up because they missed one nap [laughter] or is it something that we can recover from within a 24-hour period and move on?” This is a very short season of your life, but it is not unimportant, spiritually. I think we can say, “Oh, it’s just three months”, or, “It’s just the first year my child’s life that I am not really going to church; I’m not doing these things.” I would advocate to try to sacrifice in a few areas. In Emily’s example, it’s a large hunk. We’re talking about 48 hours here, but trying to be willing to sacrifice and suck it up for the church. [laughter] Sorry, I am always a little bit harsher but yes.
Emily: I think it’s understanding what we’re getting to, is like some of the non-negotiable things that are like, “We’re going to go to church on Sunday.” With my kids, it’s exhausting and that does require sacrifice but that’s not on the table to take out. We’re going to work around that small group and be a part of that. We’ve tried to be creative. For me, being in a Bible study is essential for my spiritual health.
Laura: Yes, I would agree.
Emily: I will find a way to get in a Bible study. Even like this season, I can’t do it during the day, I’ve started to do it at night, leave the house after the kids go to bed. I think you have to figure out for yourself, for your family, what are those things that are like, “These are not on the table to get out of our lives and so we’re going to have to figure out how to train our kids to work around them.” And, “What are the things we’re involved in, maybe from a ministry perspective, maybe from a church perspective, that are wonderful to do but could be things that you could cut out if you needed to?”
Laura: How do you transition from full-time working to stay-at-home mom? I became a stay-at-home mom when I had my first child, so I didn’t transition in the between. I’m not sure how the people who asked this question, if it was like, “Hey I’ve got three kids and now I am coming home.” What I can say is, going from 40 to 50-hour week job to staying home all day was a big shock, and it wasn’t the flowers, and roses, and daisies that I was expecting. I really struggled with my identity. I struggled with knowing where did my attention and my affirmation come from? I remember talking my husband’s ear off, and really struggling when he came home late, and I felt like, “Oh, I need help, I need relief,” and this was just with one kid. I think that I would encourage you, with your expectations, to know that the adjustment might be bumpy. It’s not necessarily going to be amazing, even if this is something you’ve dreamed of and longed for your whole life. I do think that becoming a stay-at-home mom forced me to realize so much more to find my satisfaction, my affirmation, my identity in Christ and my fulfillment, because there aren’t these natural, worked-in affirmations that were provided. My best tips I guess, and I think Emily would echo these, is get involved in different things, like we’re talking about, using these checks and balances that we’ve just provided. Don’t stay home all day or isolate yourself. Even if you’re getting out just a couple times a week, try to meet with people, find community, find hobbies and involve your kids in the stuff that you’re doing. Be intentional with your naptime. I think it can be easy to fritter it away and say, “I deserve to watch TV right now,” and sometimes you do. There’s a genuine rest time that’s allowable but try to be intentional with structuring your day. Emily, any other last advice pieces?
Emily: I am right there with you. What you said about getting comfortable, that is going to be bumpy. Those are the moments. I’ve been through billion transitions in the last four and a half years and I always look back on those transitions and say, “That’s really what God was doing—working in my heart to show me sin areas that I’d been idolizing and things that I’d been putting my hope in, that were no longer there. Also, gear up to be looking to Christ and finding your identity in him. Another question that we get a ton and I think we are going to do a high-level show on this. Disciplining your toddler is the question. How do I discipline my toddler? How do you offer discipline to your toddlers? I will just say that we’re going to get to it. It’s just too big of a thing. It’s a great, over-coffee conversation.
Laura: It’s also very subjective. We don’t exactly know what people always mean with discipline. It’s a very hard question to answer but we’re going to try. We’re going to give you guys a high-level overview, with some biblical concepts, in a full show. We’re going to plead the fifth today, but just know that this is coming, and our encouragement would be to remember that discipline is a requirement. Scripture compels us, as parents to do something to discipline our children, and that it’s important to have a system and be consistent in whatever it is that you do, even if it looks different from your girlfriend, or from child to child. We will get into this. We don’t have time today. We’re nervous to do it because it’s a hot topic. I get the hives when people ask us about this, and it comes probably couple of times a week. [laughs]
Emily: Like Laura said, we want to cover it. We both place a very high value on discipline in our homes. The Bible places a high value on discipline. This is a major role of parents. We don’t want to ignore this, [laughs] but we’re still praying through and we’re going to find a way talk about it. It’s hard too, because we’re both like, “Hey, neither Laura and I have a book that we’re like, hey, this is what we do exactly.”
Laura: We know nothing.
Emily: My husband and I are probably like a conglomeration of four books that we’ve read, plus three older couples we’ve talked to, plus things we’ve read in scripture, plus our personalities. That makes up our discipline system and so it’s very difficult, because there isn't a Christian discipline book that I am like, “I fully endorse that 100%.”
Laura: I’m hesitant too because I’m like my son is almost four but I have no proof in my pudding.
Emily: We may have messed our kids up. [laughs]
Laura: Yes, seriously. I think that’s my biggest hesitation with talking about it. It’s just that I feel like I don’t have the answers and I know it. I know that I’ll mess it up. My kids haven’t turned out to be these amazing, contributing citizens to society, that are super spiritual. I don’t know what they’re going to turn out to be.
Emily: We’ll get there. We’ll do it on some level soon.
Laura: What is your favorite place to go on a date-night, Em?
Emily: We do not go out for dates very often.
Laura: Okay, what’s your favorite date-night in activity? [laughter]
Emily: Date-night in, we watch shows together or watch movies together. That’s probably the highlight of things, these days. We have a little restaurant here in town called The Cafe; it’s the fanciest restaurant [laughter] in our little town. It’s not that little but it’s little compared to where I grew up.
Laura: A middle-sized town.
Emily: Yes, so we’ll go out to dinner occasionally. We actually like to have breakfast dates often, because it’s easier to convince my grandparents to watch our kids from like, “Hey, can you watch them from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.?” and we’ll go out and get breakfast. We’re not on any formal date night, but I know Laura, you and Mike have some awesome dates sometimes?
Laura: My husband can be quite elaborate, but, yes, we love food. We’re wannabe foodies so we do go out. We also love going to movies because it never happens anymore and so it’s really special to get to go to a movie. Those are our two big things; date-night and we cook together. That doesn’t happen that often but we like to cook and we eat on the couch, because we never eat on the couch with kids anymore because you have to have them eat at the table. We eat on the couch, which sounds so silly, but it’s nice for a date. I think the biggest thing with dates is calling it ‘a date’, saying, “We’re going to have a date-night.” Even if it’s at home, we’re going to open a bottle of wine and hang out, and we’re going to call it this so that your husband knows he’s not supposed to be on his phone, and you know you’re not supposed to be answering emails. You’re intentionally taking that time so, that would be my tip. Okay, so love stories. Emily, can you give a super-fast version of your love story? Is that possible?
Emily: I met my husband, Brad—Laura’s brother—remember, in Kansas City. He had just graduated from college and moved there and I am from Kansas City. A mutual friend introduced us. She knew me really well and knew him and knew that we are both Christians, and she was like, “Hey, you guys should meet.” [laughter].
Laura: Based on this.
Emily: I know, which is I’m like well, “That’s a needed thing.” We were just friends for a while and if you know my husband, he’s super intentional, a big decision-maker, would you say Laura?
Laura: He’s intense.
Emily: He takes a long time to make decisions. He contemplated asking me out on a date for months, and I’m just like, “Whatev, we’re friends” [laughter], you know. Eventually, we did start dating each other more intentionally. I just thought the world of him. I have always admired my husband to no end, and have just thought he is incredibly smart, and interesting, and a great man and loved his family. I probably knew pretty quickly. I hoped he would ask me to marry him.
Laura: And how quick was that Emily?
Emily: Maybe within a month or two. I was like, “Hey, if he’s feeling this, I am on board. I really care for this guy.” He did not say “I love you,” until we got engaged.
Laura: But this is my question is, how quick did you get engaged and how quick did you get married? Please give numbers.
Emily: Probably 10 months after we started dating. We did get engaged, and 11 weeks later, we got married. 11 weeks you guys.
Laura: 11 weeks, count them? [laughs]
Emily: Yes, that was my full-time job for 11 weeks, planning my wedding [laughter]
Laura: It’s my full-time job for five months girlfriend [laughter]. It was impressive.
Emily: It was a whirlwind, but, yes, I wouldn’t change a thing. He’s absolutely great for me because of our personalities. We value the exact same things, but our personalities could not be more sanctifying for one another. But it is wonderful. I just absolutely love it.
Laura: They’re a good couple. I’ll tell Brad to listen to minute 55, or whatever we’re on [laughter]. Tune in and get some information, brother. [laughter]
Emily: What about you Laura?
Laura: My love story, not quite as simple as Emily’s. My husband and I met in college and he was a couple of years older than me. We really only dated in town together for about two months, maybe not even that long. Formally, official boyfriend and girlfriend, we certainly played the flirtatious game for quite a while. We met through my brother Brad, Emily’s husband. They were friends, so I was dating the friend of my big brother, which didn’t go over well with Brad at first; it was not cool. But Brad came around and now they have man crushes on another, which is so fun. My husband moved because he graduated a couple of years before me. He moved to Minnesota to start working full-time, so we dated long distance for about two years. I lived in the cities through different internships in the summer time, so we did get summers together. I was graduating in December; I graduated a little early and he proposed for the first time. We were engaged two times. In December right after I graduated, we were only engaged for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t very long when I knew and he knew that it was not the right time. We don’t have time to get into all the reasons, I am sure everyone’s dying with bated breath, but know that it was 100% my fault. [laughter] It was just I needed to deal with quite a few things before I was able to get married. My husband, he was a total saint throughout the whole thing, and he loved me so much you guys; he stuck with me. But ultimately, he called the engagement off, I did not even have the strength to do that but it was the best thing for us. We didn’t talk for quite a few months. We both took time separate, and then I ended up moving to Minnesota to date him. The girl that said I would never move for a guy, moved for a guy. But I needed to figure out what it would be like to really live life with him. About eight or nine months later, we were engaged a second time. From there, we got married about five months later, and it has been bliss ever since, [laughter] and it’s just been wonderful. I would agree with Emily that we are exact opposites. He is much quieter, he is super calm, nothing shakes him or rattles him. He is brave and courageous and wise and he calls me out when I am wrong and, “You shouldn’t have said that”, or, “That sounded a little funny.” Just guides me in a very quiet manner. We’re very different, but I am so thankful, as Emily said, because he just continues to sanctify me. He really did just love me through our dating relationship, which is ultimately, when I knew he was the right guy, which is the way that he handled this bomb that I dropped on him. Praise God that we were able to find a reconciliation and healing and be happily married with, what do you say, 2.5 kids, 3 kids, plus the adoption process so it’s fun.
Emily: This is not to make it sound like we have perfect marriages by any means but one thing Laura and I have come to deeply appreciate is the joy and the goodness of God in the midst of difficult things.
Laura: We don’t have perfect marriages, that’s right [laughter]. Our last two questions, we’re going to do full episodes on these. We are going to do, how did you plan your family? Did you plan as you went? How did you know you were ready to add another child? That’s a conglomeration or bunch of questions we got asked, but basically, family planning. We’re going to do a show on that in the next couple months. Then, how did you transition from one to two or beyond? How do you navigate the new season, and how did it change after six months to one year? That is going to be a second show; it’s transitioning to additional kids. Emily has much more experience than I, [laughter] and we’re both staring at down the pipe of another transition. We’ll try to apply the gospel to both of those pieces, and talk through the heart issues but just know that those are shows that are coming. Because of the sheer number of times we got asked those questions...
Emily: … and the magnitude. [laughs]
Laura: And the meatiness, we’re going to take time to answer those thoroughly and well in a different show. And there were so many questions we didn’t even get to today.
Emily: Maybe on Instagram stories this week when the show comes out, Laura and I will pick a few more softball questions to pop on Instagram stories and talk through some things, like Laura was going to talk about plough and trowel Bible study methods. I know some people maybe asked about our house.
Laura: That’s Emily’s new house.
Emily: Definitely we will try to sprinkle some more in there, in some creative way this week.
Laura: If you have any other questions, always feel free to email us. As we mentioned at the beginning of the show, find us on social media as well. We are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Then of course, we would just love it if you guys could give us a rating and review on iTunes. We’re really grateful to those of you that have taken time to do it. It’s about five minutes long, but we would love it if you would bless us with that, to get the word out about the show to more moms. Lots of moms have reported finding us through the search results on iTunes. Those rankings that you offer us brings us higher up in search results.
Emily: We’ll be back at our normal time, next week! [laughter]
Laura: Yes, this was so long. [laughter] All right, talk to you guys soon.