Guest Blog: Mothering In The Trenches by Lindsey Smallwood

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Today's post is brought to you by my friend Lindsey Smallwood.  Lindsey has two kids under two, and I've TOTALLY been there and love what she has to say about motherhood.  Check out her other work in her profile below.

“Oh, hang in there, you’re in the trenches.”  

Inevitably I seem to hear this phrase at least once a week when I’m out in public with my sons, ages 2 and 1. Whether it’s following some kind of meltdown after not getting a snack at their desired moment or when they start heading in two different directions toward danger at the playground, there are a lot of sympathetic nods and “I’ve been there” smiles. And while an “in-the-trenches” war analogy seems a little over the top, I will admit that this season is challenging in ways I never expected before motherhood.

If it’s not stopping my toddler from snacking on deer poop at the playground or trying to put away laundry while the baby takes it out again, it’s some other exercise in keeping little people alive and accomplishing small tasks at the same time.  It’s messy and exhausting and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But I have found a few things that make this whole experience a little easier.

1)   Buckets. Buckets. Buckets.  
You guys, it’s buckets for weeks around here. We have baskets for toys and bins for puzzles and boxes for diapers and wipes. The clothes are in baskets - not folded, mind you, but they’re in there. The mail has a basket, the snacks have a basket, even the toilet paper has a basket. Why the basket mania, you ask? Because with two kids under two, nothing stays in the same place very long. I am picking things up all the live long day. And whoever advocated that there be a place for everything and everything in it’s place knew what they were talking about because it feels so good to put things back where they belong. Baskets have the added bonus of hiding what’s inside them so yay – just toss it in and no one knows that there are forty unread magazines under my side table. Just a pretty basket. Or twelve. 

2)   Family dinner is not my number 1 priority.  
An older mom mentor of mine helped walked me through this one. I feel like ever since our first session of pre-marital counseling we’ve been drilled with the idea that having dinner together as a family is the most important thing you can do. And while it is a great time to reconnect with my husband, family dinner with two under two really isn’t a thing. They’re dropping food on the floor and asking for more fruit and spilling their milk. It’s lively and exciting and no conversation happens whatsoever. So lots of nights, I feed the little guys before my husband gets home and then once we get them to bed, we can have an at-home date night, just the two of us. When they’re a little older, we’ll make this a goal again but for now, as long as everyone goes to bed fed, I call it a win.

3)   I have a mom-uniform.  
The year after my first son was born, I just wasn’t sure what to wear. I was used to dressing professionally for work, but dresses and heels seemed like overkill for life with little ones. For awhile, I lived a lot of days in yoga pants. But sometime after the birth of my second son, I discovered what a difference it made in my feelings about myself and my to-do list when I took the time to dress well. For me, that means 3 pairs of well-fitting pants, a handful of tailored tops in bright colors, and simple jewelry I can wear with most outfits. I spend no time thinking about my outfit most mornings, and love knowing that whatever I pick fits and looks good.

4)   My diaper bag is a survival kit.  
Seriously. Find me in case of emergency. I’ve got a change of clothes for everyone, snacks, assorted medications and toiletries, books, games, toys, sunscreen, baby wipes, water bottles, and oh yeah, diapers. I tried really hard in the beginning, I had this cute little diaper bag and I only took a handful of items with me but I’ve surrendered to the giant monster bag that probably would get raised eyes as an airplane carryon and I happily tote around everything we will ever need in it.

5)   There are all kinds of moms in my life.  
This is what’s carrying me through. There’s the grandma in my Bible study who tells me stories of how she did things in her day. There’s the fellow mom of toddlers who I meet at the park to have real talk with. There’s the mom friend from book club who has stories about soccer teams and read-a-thons and is gently preparing me for the seasons to come. There’s the mom of teenagers who makes dinner for us sometimes and cuddles my babies because hers are all lanky and awkward. There’s my mom, who loves my boys even more than I do and is always ready with an encouraging word.  All this mom-love reminds me that these years and this role is so short, always changing and a beautiful gift that I want to savor as long I can.

Even when they’re coloring with my lipstick.

Lindsey Smallwood hopes to leave a legacy of good relationships and bad dance moves. A former pastor and teacher, these days Lindsey works, writes and raises her babies in Boulder, Colorado. Read more by Lindsey at her blog or connect with her on Facebook at or Twitter @lindseysmallw

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