Tips for Being a More Relaxed Parent by Sophie Hudson

You know those moms who look calm and cool and collected at every stage of their parenting journey? The ones who post pictures on Facebook five minutes after they give birth and look like they just sat down to rest for a second after a refreshing workout?


Well, I am pretty much the opposite of those people.


Because if my own new baby pictures are any indication, my personal post-partum goal must have been to establish a new precedent for record levels of swelling.


Mama here was a little puffy. That’s all I’m saying.

While the swelling eventually subsided (unless you factor in the fact that I’ve been carrying around approximately 20 pounds of baby weight for the last nine years), it took me awhile to find my groove as mama. I was surprised by how the smallest things could just stress me out: how much our little guy was or wasn’t eating, how well he was sleeping, whether or not he was crawling, how many words he was saying, etc. Every milestone seemed to bring a fresh wave of panic right along with it, and as I look back on what was undoubtedly one of the sweetest times of my whole life, it makes me a little sad that I wasted so much energy on worry.

I’m certainly no expert on parenting – I have learned that lesson the hard way – but I do think that I have the benefit of perspective in terms of knowing that life with a little one could have been a good bit easier if I had just dialed down the obsess-o-meter a little bit.

Here are three things I wish I’d been more relaxed about. 

1. Sleeping habits – Before Alex was born, I told anyone who would listen that our first order of business was going to be establishing a sleep schedule. Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad that we had structure – but I drove myself crazy trying to stick to that schedule. I’d lose my mind if I thought something was going to interfere with it, and during the times when he wouldn’t nap or he woke up four times in the night, I was tense as could be. In retrospect I wish I’d been a smidge more flexible about the schedule – and really soaked up the sweetness of our time together. 

2. Potty training – One time when I was pulling out my hair over potty training, a friend of mine told me that more than likely my child was not going to go to kindergarten in a diaper. She was exactly right. I acted like I was trying to reinvent the wheel, but history shows us that potty training is a habit that most of us eventually figure out.

3. Play date activities – When our son first started having friends over, I always felt like I needed to have “something” for them to do. I bought canvases, rounded up paints, filled up baby pools, pulled out HotWheels – anything to keep them entertained. When he was around four or five, though, I realized that they just wanted to play. Their activities might not have made a lick of sense to me, but they were having a blast, and I didn’t have to play camp counselor to make that happen. There’s no need for a sixteen-step craft station. Just let ‘em play. They figure it out.

What about you? What are some ways that you wish you’d been more relaxed when your kids are little? Or if your kids are still in the toddler or preschool phase, what are some things you’ve learned along the way?


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Heroes on the Home Front by Rhonda Hensley

Each year thousands of men and women deploy leaving their spouse and children behind.  Just as those men and women are to be referenced as heroes so are those who battle the struggles of taking care of the home front.

A Call to Duty

Daniel has served in the U.S. Army for over eleven years. He is proud of the opportunity to serve our country. He believes that it his duty not only to protect our country but to provide freedom for his own family. His wife Jennifer and their three children are proud of Daniel’s service to our country but it is not without a cost to the family. Jennifer states, “the most challenging part of the military life is the time our service members have to spend away from us while on a mission or deployment.”

Aiming High

Being a military family for over ten years, the Hall family has adjusted to having dad away most of the time. Chad is a member of the U.S. Air Force and his service requires him to be away on an average of 200 days out of the year. Andrea and her two children have learned to aim high on the independence scale and lower the expectation of having dad around. Andrea states, good friends that become like your extended family help the most during the absence of your military spouse.”

Always Faithful

It didn’t take long for Shaina to gain an understanding of the commitment and dedication it takes for military families to remain faithful. Shortly, after she and her Marine husband, Chad wed, she was sending him off for duty. He witnessed the birth of their daughter via Skype. Shaina expresses that the most challenging part of being a military wife is feeling like a single parent and not knowing if your loved one will return home safely.

Galatians 6:2 states, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” One of the greatest ways we can lighten the burdens of our military is by caring for the heroes they leave on the home front.


Rhonda Hensley  is a writer, speaker, Bible teacher and avid photographer which all provide ample opportunity to share her life experiences as a pastor’s wife, mother and grandmother.

Pregnant Surprises by Jessie Weaver

source: PLateauus

I’m writing this six weeks before my March 21 due date, but as you read it, we may or may not have welcome our third child, Joshua, into the world.

This pregnancy was a surprise for us, and everything after that plus sign appeared has been surprising as well. My strange, on-and-off sickness made itself known until 22 weeks. I went into our “big” ultrasound 100% convinced we had a baby Katie in there … oops. At 31 weeks, my hip and back started acting up to the point of putting me on modified bedrest (with a preschooler and a toddler and no local family). And at 34 weeks, I’ve started feeling the end-of-pregnancy sick already, making it difficult to eat anything.

While none of my pregnancies have been peaches and sunshine, this one has been especially tumultuous for me.

I can’t say I enjoy pregnancy, although I am grateful to have healthy ones with healthy babies thus far.

It’s easy for me to float away spiritually when I feel bodily miserable, too. I “reward” my pain with too much television and novel-reading, ignoring the Bible on my bedside table. My back makes it difficult for me to sit through a whole church service, so my soul has been without many sermons.

Yet, is there a better time to really cling to the Word and what He has to say about parenting and children?

Do you have any advice for pregnant mommies who struggle like I do? How do you stay focused on God while your body is a constant reminder of earthly pains and issues?

Jessie Weaver is the resident ParentLife blogger. She is a freelance writer who lives in Chattanooga with her husband and two kids (2 and 4) plus one on the way!

Not Easy but Good by Ellen Stumbo

My daughter has Down syndrome, and dealing with her diagnosis was difficult. I pictured a life defined by limitations, rather than possibilities. After a while, I began to see the blessing that I had in my daughter, and I came to realize she was the baby I always wanted, I just never knew it before.

If I could go back in time, this is what I would tell myself:


  • Dealing with her diagnosis will be one of the hardest parts of the journey. The rest is simply everyday life.
  • Grieving comes in waves. New stages might require for you to grieve all over again. It’s okay. It does not mean you don’t love your child or that you have not accepted her diagnosis. It is normal to feel this way.
  • Reaching milestones will be an accomplishment of extravagant joy and celebration.
  • She will be a child first. Her disability will only be a part of who she is, not what defines her.
  • You will love her with a fierceness that will surprise you and fuel you every day.
  • Your heart will expand a 1000 times over.
  • She will bring you incomparable JOY.
  • You will come to realize how much you needed her.
  • Thanks to her, your priorities will change as you understand what really matters in life.
  • It will not always be easy, but it will be good!
  • You can do it, and you will be better than okay.

My daughter has collaborated with God to work in my selfish heart. A heart that many times is so lost in this world that it forgets that the standards I live for are not the ones set by people, but those set by God. It has turned out Down syndrome was not a limitation, but a gift that has expanded my heart.

October is Down syndrome awareness month. As I look at my daughter, I recognize I have much to celebrate and be thankful for.

Ellen Stumbo is a writer and speaker. She is the mother of three daughters: Ellie; Nichole, who has Down syndrome; and Nina, who was adopted and also has special needs. She is wife to Andy, a pastor.

Pregnant Parenting by Jessie Weaver

Being pregnant is not my talent.

I am a great newborn mother. I nurse with ease, love to snuggle, and deal relatively well with little sleep. I know many parents don’t care for the infancy stage, but I LOVE it. I am always happy to just hold a baby.

But pregnancy does not agree with me. I haven’t had scary pregnancies, or bedrest, or premature births. I just spend nine months sick, exhausted, in some sort of back pain, with severe acid reflux. I like baby kicks … but that’s about it.

So now, in my third pregnancy, I am trying to find ways to be a decent mother while getting through another 9-month period of The Grumps. Here’s a few things I’ve come up with.

Let It Slide

My main job is to take care of my kids and make sure they are eating, sleeping, and breathing, right? If I have to turn to Chef Boyardee instead of cooking from scratch, it’s OK. A little extra TV won’t kill them. Making sure they – and I – get some fresh air is a good goal for the day.

Housework is not my priority, and I will do what I can when I can.


I’m spending extra time cuddling the little ones. Today my almost-4-year-old daughter and I gave up naptime to watch a movie and snuggle. She was thrilled with the one-on-one time, and I got to lay on the couch and still be an awesome mommy.


One thing I can do quite efficiently while hardly moving is read my kids piles of books. We read, talk about pictures and stories, and make up new stories. They are really into coloring, so any related coloring activities are good, too!


Your turn: What’s your secret for when you are too tired/sick/pregnant to parent as you normally would?

Jessie Weaver is the resident ParentLife blogger. She is a freelance writer who lives in Chattanooga with her husband and two kids (1 and 3) plus one on the way!

Optional Paid Jobs for Happy Workers by Amber Peacock

Amber Peacock wrote the article “Solving the Allowance Dilemma” in our October issue. You’ll have to pick up a print issue to see what she said there; but here, she writes about getting kids to do her household chores!

When I'm cleaning windows...
source: horrigans

I’ve got a secret. I rarely do the dishes, never vacuum, and have not cleaned the upstairs bathroom in years. My children do it—willingly and without being asked!

It started with a simple chart, “Optional Paid Jobs for Happy Workers.” I wanted to instill a healthy work ethic, encourage responsibility, and teach my children how to earn and manage money. I also wanted more help around the house. I made a list of specific household chores that I had been doing, but that I would be willing to pay the children to do. Signing up for a paid job was entirely optional, so I made sure not to list chores that I expected the children to do on their own, such as picking up their toys and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper.

Tips for Success

  1. Start small with jobs you know your children can handle.
  2. Invest time in on-the-job training. It’s amazing what kids can accomplish with specific instruction.
  3. Stay positive. These jobs are optional, so there’s no need to nag. Children will buy into the system when they need money for something important to them.
  4. Start fresh each week. Pay weekly and let your children choose new jobs for the week ahead.
  5. Talk about money management strategies with your child—giving, saving, and planned spending.

Do your kids help with chores around the house? Paid or unpaid?

Amber Peacock, M.S., M.Ed, developed an “Optional Paid Jobs for Happy Workers” chart as an experiment five years ago when her children were 5, 8, and 10. She’s tweaked the job list and pay scale over time, but the system is the same. Her kids love getting to choose their own chores and having control over how much money they earn each week. She loves having help around the house, but says the best part is that her children never ask for money. They’ve learned how to earn and manage their own.

Growth Spurts: On the Way

source: summerbl4ck

In our October 2012 issue, you can learn about childbirth class and not smoking on our Growth Spurts: On the Way page. Here are a few more pointers we couldn’t squeeze in the magazine.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes shows up as a complication for some mothers during pregnancy. Your doctor will test you between weeks 24 and 28. Typically, you can control gestational diabetes with a healthy lifestyle.

  • Eat healthy foods. If you test positive for gestational diabetes, your health care team can help create healthy meal plans for the duration of your pregnancy.
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise helps keep blood sugar under control. Consult with your doctor about how often to exercise and what types of exercise are appropriate for you.
  • Monitor blood sugar. Your blood sugar levels can change quickly. Check with your doctor about how often to check your blood sugar.
  • Take insulin. Sometimes pregnant women with gestational diabetes need to take insulin. Take insulin only as directed by your doctor.
  • Get tested after pregnancy. Get tested for diabetes again 6 to 12 weeks after delivery and then every 1 to 3 years. Typically, gestational diabetes goes away after delivery. However, 50 percent of women with gestational diabetes develop Type 2 diabetes later in life. Consult with your doctor about being retested and continue maintaining a healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercising.

DOCTOR Appointments

Mom, be prepared to attend several doctor’s appointments. The first visits will be scattered apart with a preliminary ultrasound to confirm the baby’s heartbeat. The appointments will become more frequent the closer you get to your due date.


Are you pregnant? If so, how far along? I (Jessie) am almost 16 weeks with my third baby. I’ve found lemon-lime glucose drink is the trick to having the gestational diabetes test without gagging!

A Trusting Mother by Nancy Cornwell


As a mother, my job is to take care of the possible and trust God with the impossible. ~ Ruth Bell Graham



nancycornwell.jpgWow! How true is that statement? There are so many things we do each day as parents. We make sure to feed and bathe our children. We provide them with shelter and love. We help them with their homework and encourage them when they are having a bad day. We clean the house, do the dishes and the laundry, take care of the pets, pay the bills, get the oil changed in the car, and the list goes on and on.

I don’t know about you, but my list also includes worrying about things I can’t control. As a mom, I think that usually comes with the territory. My youngest daughter, Emmalyn, will soon be 5 months old. The day after she was born, testing showed that she has profound hearing loss. There were so many times in those first weeks when we were following through with more testing to confirm her diagnosis that I wondered what could have caused it and what we could do to fix it.

As her diagnosis was confirmed, my husband and I came to realize that while this isn’t something we would choose for our daughter, her hearing loss is not life threatening. There are treatment options available for her. Now, at almost 5 months of age, she is already wearing hearing aids and is in therapy. Doctors tell us that she should progress at a normal rate of development because her hearing loss was found at such an early age.

We are blessed. And more than that, we realize that God knew everything about our sweet Emmalyn long before we did. We are learning to give our fears and worry up to Him.

Our oldest daughter, Lilliana, is 4 years old. For the first time this week, she asked me, “Mom, why can’t Emmalyn hear?” and I told her, “That’s the way God made Emmalyn.” Her response? “Mom, I’m going to pray and ask Jesus to let Emmalyn hear.” Her faith blows me away. As parents we need to remember that our God can do anything He wants to do. We need to trust Him and let Him take care of those things we think are impossible.



Nancy Cornwell is the content editor of ParentLife. 


Blessing Teas for Your Daughters

Are you ever a bit envious of our friends from other cultures who faithfully honor their children turning into young adults on their 13th birthdays? As Christians, we may not hold Bar or Bat Mitzvahs or Quinceaneras, but we can certainly recapture the spirit of this unique age by commemorating this milestone with a Christ-centered celebration. While many American families are throwing slumber parties for their 13-year-olds, one woman in California decided to throw a “Blessing Tea” for her daughter—and the trend is taking off among Christians. 

Inspired Design Pt-1.1pdf 24.jpgRoxanne Packham, President of InspiredDesign Ministries, had the idea several years ago to put on a “Blessing Tea” for her then 13-year-old daughter. The concept is taken from the Jewish tradition of celebrating this momentous year of “becoming a woman” with a huge party, centered on the Jewish Scriptures.

Roxanne invited several of the most influential Christian women in Hannah’s life (mentors) to join them for a tea to honor her daughter. While she used her love for table decorating to create a beautiful environment, the real beauty lay in the hearts of the women who came to “bless” Hannah.  

Each special mentor woman shared a note/letter to Hannah. The notes included encouraging words, favorite memories, prophetic insights, special scriptures, and wise teaching/advice for the teenage years. 

The concept of a Blessing Tea began to take off in homes of people who had heard of Roxanne’s experience.  One woman, Camille, a long time friend of Roxanne’s, loved the idea so much she has now done it with two of her teenage daughters.  She added an additional layer of giving each of the mentors their own blessing and Scripture as a way to honor the women who have helped to guide and shape her daughters spiritually.  

According to Roxanne, “Especially because I only have one daughter, I wanted to make the most of every moment of her life.  I was inspired to use my gift for creating a beautiful table and practicing hospitality with my love for my daughter.  My biggest desire was to create an environment where very dear Christian women could pour into my daughter blessings and encouragement to carry her through the next phase in her life.  Often, a mother’s impact alone only goes so far!“

Roxanne’s book Inspired Design has a chapter about this Blessing Tea and serves as inspiration for other mothers looking to recapture the age old tradition of “coming of age” for young women. Proceeds of her book sales all go to fund the Heart of Hope Ministries International who provide love and resources to orphans in Romania.

Would you consider having a Blessing Tea or other event to commemorate your daughter’s entrance to her teenage years?

The Sweetest Gift by Becky Suggs

Becky's Journal

33 weeks

If there is one thing I love, it has to be baby showers. I enjoy picking out little outfits, blankets, and accessories for babies on the way.  I also love the excitement a baby shower brings for the new mom – and for all those attending who can “ooh” and “aah” over each gift. 

I have been very fortunate to have a few showers during my pregnancy. God has been so gracious to provide for our little one through our friends and family.  To say I am blessed is an understatement.  Though I am grateful for each and every gift, there has been one present that stands out from the rest.

Teacher's Baby Shower

At a family shower, I was given a simple white box from my aunt. Inside this box were 21 candles, each wrapped in a piece of paper with a ribbon tied around it. Of the 21 candles, one was silver and the rest were varying shades of pink. Included in this box was also a note from my aunt that read,

“This box contains 21 candles, each attached with a specific prayer for your precious little girl.  Each year, when you put candles on her birthday cake, read the prayer from the prayer candle and place the candle on her cake. The candles are in no particular order. I believe God will know the prayer that needs to be heard for that year and will guide its placement. P.S. The silver one is for her 1st birthday.”

I can’t tell you what the prayer cards say for each year, mainly because I haven’t read them yet.  This has to be one of the most heartfelt gifts I have received – and one that is a testament to the faith of our family.

I’m not sure where my aunt got this idea from, but I can say I will look forward to opening each one with anticipation as a new year rolls around for our little girl.

What was your favorite baby shower gift?

greatest picture.jpg


Becky Suggs and her husband, Robert, live in the mountains of Glorieta, New Mexico, with their pug, Sadie. They are expecting their first child in April. In her spare time, you can find Becky reading, enjoying the great outdoors, filling in squares to the latest crossword puzzle, and spending time with family. She has a passion for both kids and camping ministries.