Faith Spilling Over… Into Everyday Life

How to Not “Just Survive” Parenthood


Fresh Starts and New Mercies 5

Welcome to Fresh Starts and New Mercies! We have a line-up of beautiful women posting on Tuesdays and Fridays to offer inspiration and practical ideas for starting a new year.

Because God has a fresh start in grace for each of us.

Enter your e-mail in the box at the top right hand of this page to make sure you receive each encouraging post.

Today’s guest is Abby McDonald with encouragement for those parenting days when you’re just praying to survive ’til bedtime.

Image Abby


Abby McDonald is a southern girl, currently living on the mountain side of Maryland, who fell in love with writing at a young age. For most of her life, she never shared her writing with anyone. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

“I’m telling Mama!”

My six-year-old’s words flood the kitchen as I stand over the stove, preparing dinner. My face is hot, but it isn’t from the three burners. Tiny feet quickly enter the room, and I leave the food, hoping not to blacken the meal.

When I re-enter the room, I glance at the clock. 5:15. Fifteen more minutes until Daddy will be home. I can survive fifteen minutes, right?

The peace I created in the next room quickly dissolves into a hitting match, then a race around the house.

As I stand with my blood boiling at a higher temperature than the pasta, one prayer repeats itself in my head over and over: Just let me survive until bedtime. My favorite show is on, and I want nothing more than to sit on the sofa with a bag of potato chips, thinking about absolutely nothing.

I am beyond frustrated. I’m eyes-popping-out-of-my-head exhausted. But I’m also keenly aware of a message God speaks into my heart. This “just get me through this” attitude is repeating itself, and simply hoping to survive through the difficult times doesn’t allow me to learn.

When our prayer is only to get through the tough moments of parenting, we miss what God is trying to teach us.

Abby McDonald Graphic

 When we ask, he promises to give us the wisdom we lack.

 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 NIV

 Raising children, even our best intentions can quickly dissolve into things we wish we’d said or done. This job is on-your-knees hard, and we stumble. Here are a few lessons I learned that help me parent intentionally:

1. Recognize the season you are in.

My youngest will not be potty-training forever, although sometimes it feels like he might. When I look at the bigger picture and realize this is only one phase, it helps me keep my sanity.

2. Play with your kids.

Fred Rogers once said, “Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” This will look different depending on their age. With little ones, it is like real life without consequences. And nothing makes them happier.

3. Pray for yourself and your kids often.

Prayer has become an almost continual conversation for me. Without it, I cannot be the kind of mother I desire to be. I also know there is a continual battle waging for my kids, so I pray for my family’s protection, salvation, and walk with God.

4. Ask for forgiveness.

There have been many times when I’ve fallen short as a mom. I’ve lost my patience, yelled, or forgotten a promise made. When I do so, I ask for forgiveness. Our kids need to know that it’s okay to make mistakes. Trying again is always a better response than refusing to admit you’re wrong.

I don’t want to simply survive motherhood. I want to be present and intentional. Practicing each of these things helps me do that.

No matter where you are in this parenting journey, remember you are not alone. Give yourself grace along the way and remember His promises.

He is always there. Just a prayer away.

*Linking up with Kelly BalarieHolly Barrett, Meredith Bernard, and Holley Gerth to encourage and be encouraged. Come join us.


Author: betsydecruz

I want to enjoy the everyday life God is giving me as best I can, even when the road gets bumpy. I love having fun with my teenagers, learning almost anything, and drinking dark roast coffee with my friends.

39 thoughts on “How to Not “Just Survive” Parenthood

  1. What great reminders this morning. Motherhood can be so tough, especially when they’re little – but I don’t want to miss out either! They’ll be grown and I know I’ll miss the moments when they want me and need me, even though those moments can be so trying and exhausting now.

    • It’s tough when they’re little, and maybe tougher–different!– when they’re big! It’s funny, I could relate so well to this post and mine are teens!) Of course lots of things about teens are easier than toddlers…. Blessings, Kathryn!

    • Yes, I think it’s easier to look back and appreciate those tough moments than it is when we’re in them. I’m grateful for God’s patience and my kids’! Thanks for visiting today, Kathryn!

  2. Pingback: Motherhood: I Want to Thrive, Not Just Survive | Fearfully Made Mom

  3. So nice to see you over here Abby. Good reminders to ask God to help us thrive not just survive, but flourish.:)

    • Thanks so much, Katie! Potty training is about to do me in, but I keep telling myself it’s just a season. It can’t last forever, right? 😉

  4. Oh, I remember these days! And God offers so much more than survival – he overs real joy and life full. This is beautiful, Abby. You brought me in your moments and stretched me to see beyond my own. I love this parting thought: “I don’t want to simply survive motherhood. I want to be present and intentional.” Yes, and yes. Thank you.

    • Your words encourage me so much, Karen. Yes, there are certainly moments when I just stop and give God thanks but his abundant blessings that come through this little ones. He is good all the time.

  5. Great advice and perspective for the long days! Am really enjoying this series, thanks!

  6. I definitely understand those “How long is it till bedtime?” survival moments. Thanks for these great ideas on how to take a different attitude toward what is happening in the moment and long-term.

  7. Hi Abby I so understand where you are coming from. I agree – God wants us to thrive as people and not just survive. I’m learning everyday how to be more intentional. One of the things I have discovered is that when I do the things I like to do with the kids it helps make parenting wild and fun. I love the zoo, feeding ducks, art, reading children’s books, cooking, and creating play stations or sensory boxes. All these things are child focused and I like to do them too. Its hard when I just want to do grown up things and be me by myself. But you hit the nail on right on when you mentioned that there is a season for everything. Its challenging embracing the moment. God reminds me often that Motherhood is a ministry. What we do matters. Thanks for your honest post Abby.

  8. When ours were little, I was definitely eager to “get through” the tough moments, Abby. You are so wise, my dear, to be hitting this head-on now. God has more in store vs. simply existing as we “get through.” Thanks for sharing, and thanks, Betsy, for hosting Abby today. I’m joining you today via #raralinkup. 🙂

    • Oh yes, he has so much more in store. Sometimes we’re just too blind to see it at first. I’m grateful for this patience! Thanks for visiting, Kristi.

  9. Go Abby! I need this. You and I are SO alike! I just want to hide from some of the squabbles sometimes. At the same time, we want to be open to the teachings of the Lord. He is doing a lot of teaching to me on patience. Ouch! That word hurts. Awesome post (as always)! What is that fave show, BTW?

  10. Wise words. Yes, I remember the days I wanted to be left alone just long enough to sit on the couch and indulge in a piece of chocolate cake. This is a season. Now, I can eat chocolate cake on the couch anytime I want. It is true what they say, “This too will pass.”

    • Christy, your comment made me smile. Thank you, friend. We had a weekend to ourselves right after I wrote this post (the grandparents watched the kids) and it was so nice but the house felt so empty. It was much needed rest, though. 😉

  11. We only had one child so I didn’t have those squabbles but I can remember them from my childhood. I know my mom just wanted to “jerk a knot in our tails” as we say in Louisiana 🙂 Thanks for your transparency. Beautiful.

  12. Abby,
    With “children” who are now 26 and 22…you are right to keep in perspective that this is a season – and a short one at that even though there are days when it seems like forever. During the “bewitching hour” – the time right before dinner, I remember praying myself through. This was a time of day when I actually did pray continuously so that I wouldn’t lose my mind. I still adhere to the prayer that I prayed over my children as they dozed off to sleep in bed…Lord, I did my best. Please fill in the cracks where I fell short today. And then I would leave the day in His hands. Praying for you through this busy season of parenthood.
    Bev xx

  13. Such great tips, Abby! Every one is a treasure. With my theme this year of “focus,” #1 speaks loudly to me. The right perspective helps us get through just about anything. Blessings to you, sweet friend!

    • I love that word and where you’ve gone with it so far, Sabra. My word “see” has given me similar perspective. Always love hearing from you!

  14. Abby this is an awesome and encouraging post! You are so right in your pointers of lessons that you have learned through it all. Thanks for your wisdom and writing!

    • Thank you for reading and for your kind words, Ruth! Perspective is so important. Sometimes it’s hard to keep it when things get rough, but I’m learning, slowly… 😉

  15. Abby- I say this every time. But your posts just SPEAK TO ME. You have an amazing way of putting me right in the moment. I had to laugh at the end, because I was nodding my head specifically at your face getting hot. I can identify with that mom-frustration and impatience. Sigh. I so want to be a peaceful, patient, easy-going mom. 🙂 But regardless of my emotion-at-the-moment, I want all my mothering to be Jesus-driven. Thats so hard at times. A lot of times.

    • Oh Amy, you encourage me so much. We moms are in this together. I want to be Jesus driven too. I read a great post over at Suzie Eller’s space today about temptation. You should definitely read it when you have time. If you are like me, you will be saying, “Wow!” Love you, friend. xoxo

    • I could identify with the face getting hot and the blood boiling hotter than the pasta too. Laughed at MYSELF! What was really funny to me is that my kids are teens now, yet I could still so relate to the frustration. I’ll have to check out the Suzie Eller post too. 🙂

  16. Good stuff, Abby. In fact, instead of posting my comment immediately, I walked away and went to squish next to my 16-year-old son for a few minutes. It wasn’t long — but treasuring the moments. Blessings to you!

  17. I need this reminder every 5 minutes or so. My girls can be so great some afternoons, and others they are fighting constantly. I hate to think of the times I want to just get through those hard days. 😦 I miss so much with that mentality.

    • Sarah, don’t be too hard on yourself. We all do it. I just want to see what God is trying to teach me and reflect his love in my own human, imperfect way. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

  18. These words could come from my own mouth and this scene from my own house. Any. Given. Day. Thank you so much for spurring me on today to keep going…and remember what’s important. “I don’t want to simply survive motherhood. I want to be present and intentional.” That is EXACTLY what I want to do, Abby, and I needed the reminder. Thank you for keeping it real, as always, and really keeping me grounded. Love you!

    • I actually struggled with what I was going to write about in this post, and then, all of a sudden it just came to me. Thank YOU, Meredith, for always being an encourager. Love you too, friend.

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