Note from the Editors: When a reader named Chasity wrote us an email asking questions about pointing preschoolers to Jesus, we tapped a few ladies to help answer her questions in a series of posts. Please read the introductory post here and look for the rest of the posts in this series in the index at the bottom of this article.
Chasity’s questions were these:
“I recently found your blog and have been greatly encouraged. I have a question regarding the mundane-ness of days at home. I have a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old, and when we have full days at home, we all seem to be bored and I seem to lack vision. What do you ‘do’ with your children during the days?
Sometimes I try to do little crafts or play games, but it seems there must be more to pointing my children to Christ. Would you mind sharing some ideas on how to fruitfully and purposefully fill the day?”
Kendra Fletcher shares her thoughts…
Back when my oldest two children were a three-year-old and a toddling one-year-old, I felt as if we were just killing time. There were plenty of daily markers to pass the hours, but in between meals, baths, and Sesame Street, there was just a whole lot of time. I remember lamenting this to a friend and mother of five who smiled and replied, “Well, do you have any good videos?” It was funny, but not very helpful.
Truth is, we live in a marvelous era that has given us so many things that add to our efficiency, and so age-old homemaking tasks such as laundry just don’t require as much of us as they used to. Diapering can be as easy as tossing the old one and pulling a new one out of a box, delivered to our door by Amazon.com. What our great-grandmothers labored over, we accomplish with relative ease and expedience.
Looking back on those early years, I can see that there were copious opportunities to point my littlest ones to Jesus, but I’m not so sure I did such a good job of it. Certainly I wasn’t parenting them from a place of grace. Now, however, when my oldest of eight children is 19 and my youngest a brain-injured four-year-old who acts more like a three-year-old, time is at a premium and I wonder if there will ever come a day when I can take deep breaths between the obligations of managing a large family.
And now, too, we live our lives as an outpouring of the gospel, in the overflow of God’s love and grace. That’s very different from the early years of our parenting when we laid down the law and reminded our children, “Obey your parents!” ad nauseum. I focused far too often on the behavior of my children and how that made me appear, as a mother, to the people surrounding us. I would point my children to Jesus sometimes, but mostly the law prevailed, separate and more powerful than the grace of the cross.
Now, though, now we move through the day with the Holy Spirit unleashed. I remind my little ones of the five things we require before breakfast (make your bed, get dressed, brush your teeth, tidy your room, pray for your day) and though I might sigh deeply if they forget to do them, my sighs are more of having to repeat myself than over their lack of compliance.
Breakfast allows me a captive audience to engage with a short (really short) devotional, a Psalm, some singing, some memory work. Fun, light, and fast-paced because Cheerios hold their attention only so long. After breakfast we work on cleaning the kitchen together, but I don’t expect a whole lot of that little crowd. They are not my big kids yet, but they are in that season that lays a foundation for habits; when they learn to be faithful in little (vacuum out the cereal drawer) they will then understand what it means to be faithful in a lot (driving to the store and doing the grocery shopping).
We run errands, we watch a show on TV or video, we play outside, we play with older siblings, we make lunch. Within all of those very normal activities our ever-present sin is revealed; selfishness as a toy is grabbed ferociously out of little brother’s hands, ingratitude as someone doesn’t like what’s offered for a snack, impatience as mom has to explain long division again. It is there – right in those tricky moments that make me
dead tired by day’s end – that we can see Jesus, run to His sheltering and ever-forgiving arms, and bask in the glory that is His grace. Right there, as I step between two little brothers 14 months apart and mediate a crisis involving stolen Duplos. Right there is where I say, “Boys, you are both being selfish. Let’s back up. Who was playing with it first? Okay, then, Christian you say to Joe, ‘Brother, when you’re done playing with that, may I play with it?’ And if you’re struggling to do that, Christian, you need to ask Jesus to help you.”
Truth is, we’re all struggling to do the right thing, but living in the gospel has us realizing that we can’t ever do the right thing without the power of the Holy Spirit. His grace, His love, His mercy- that’s what we want to pour out all over our little people.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Kendra Fletcher is the mother of 8 (ages 19 down to 4). While many things could define her life in terms of how she spends her days, she prefers to find her identity in Christ alone, knowing how quickly all the other descriptors can take her focus off the one who has Redeemed her soul. She loves to encourage other moms beginning their homeschool journeys with little ones underfoot. Kendra blogs at Preschoolers and Peace.
Other posts in the Pointing Preschoolers to Jesus series:
Practicing hospitality reminds me of Jesus, Gloria Furman
Deficiency in creativity is not a mother’s greatest problem, Jessica Thompson
Bored and unproductive moms are still loved by God, Kimm Crandall
Cheerful simplicity and intentionality with preschoolers, Trillia Newbell
Remember you are “in Christ” when raising preschoolers, Melanie Yong