About the Author

Kristen Strong, author of Back Roads to Belonging and Girl Meets Change, writes as a friend offering meaningful encouragement for each season of life so you can see it with hope instead of worry. She and her US Air Force veteran husband, David, have three children and live in Colorado...

(in)side DaySpring: things we love
& you will too!
Find more at DaySpring.com
(in)side DaySpring:
things we love
& you will too!
Find more at
Recent Posts

Reader Interactions


  1. This is an amazing article, though I agree with parts, I must say that I would give something I do not know what to enter back to this time period. I have 16 and 17 year old boys. Teenage years have not been my favorite, God’s mercy, grace, and strength along with constant talks with Him have been the only thing to save me. I think each age brings something new, bright, delightful, hard, and sometimes just down right exhausting to parents. What I have learned is to grab that Bible buckle up read, memorize, and quote outloud what is needed to make it through just that one second, minute, hour, day, etc……Parenting can only truly be done with God as your master. For all those tired moms out there every stage offers a new adventure God hems us in, has us covered, and meets our needs. This best part He provides us with Christian women who totally get it too…..

    • Ahh yes, I hear your wise, wise words here. In it’s own different way, each parenting stage is difficult but good. So true. Soon I will have two teenagers in this house, and I already feel like I know less about what I’m doing now than when they were babies {weak smile}. But I suppose my point with this article is for us moms of older kids to look into the eyes of that mom with little ones and offer her practical, graceful, encouragement. To meet her where she’s at *today* and give her hope. And you do just that when you remind us God “hems us in, has us covered, and meets our needs.”

      Thank *you* for joining in here ~ you are beautiful and loved.

  2. ah, yes, just what I needed today!!! Thank you!!! I feel the same way — I love these precious little ones, but seriously, I will have much more patience when I have better sleep!!! I pray for God to work through me — I can’t do it on my own, that’s for sure!!! I love your encouragement today! Thank you!

    • Oh yes, when you are in the trenches, sleep is hard to come by, isn’t it? And when you are rested, what a difference it makes. Praying with you and for you, Natasha. May God give you what you need when you need it. Thank you for being in this community, good mama. You are so loved!

  3. {{nodding}}

    My babies are years beyond this point, but yes ma’am, I can still FEEL the exhaustion from that season. The thing is, even if someone HAD given you the very advice you’re extending here (which is spot on, btw), you might not have “heard” it. It’s just so hard to hear when you’re that bone weary! (My youngest was born when my oldest was four, three toddlers). So it’s wonderful for this kind of encouragement to be told over and over and over and over. And then again.

    My FIL (whom I love dearly) said something that INFURIATED me all those years ago–“Maybe God is doing something in YOU through the difficulty you’re having with [one particular kidlet]; when I realized that there was PURPOSE in the frustrating times, it really helped. I simply prayed for the wisdom to see what God was trying to reveal to me through the stresses of motherhood.

    You’re a wonderful cheerleader for Moms, Kristen. Love your encouraging voice xo.

    • Oh, I dearly hoped your herky-loving self would stop by here today! {big grin}. Thank you dear friend ~ I’m only trying to learn from you, the head cheerleader!

      As always, thank you for your encouragement, Robin. It does seem our Father works things out in us while He’s working things out in our kiddos. And like you say, it’s easier to accept the frustrating days when we know they are filled with purpose.

      I love you Robin. You do so much for us women. You are a treasured gift!

  4. Amen! I have two with one on the way. Your grocery store experience must have been me! Seriously…. there are TWO wheels girls just hold yours and be quiet! I am exhausted and struggling to keep it together. I am so grateful for your words this morning at the end of a difficult week.

    • Dear Father in heaven, may you fill in the gaps and give Your girl Karen more than she needs to keep on keepin’ on. Please bless her as she rides the ever-changing tides of parenting, giving her Your grace and love to pass down *especially* on the hard days. Please let her feel your lavish love for her and her babes. In Your Son’s name, Amen.

      We love you Karen. And *you’re* doing a great job, mama!

  5. Thank you passing on some encouraging words! I had to laugh about the “being in the trenches” part. I just told some friends that very thing not long ago. When you have two two-year-olds screaming NO MINE all day you have to believe things will get better. =)

    Just as I was trying to share this post on FB my tot came and turned off my computer. Since I was to tired to get up at 5am for my quiet time I decided to close the bedroom door and spend some much needed time with God (Since Disney Pirates had them all quiet for the moment). Well, what do you know a little man learned to open doors and I didn’t get much more than a plea for help and calmness.

    • Oh sweet Victoria, some days are like that, aren’t they? Lots of quick SOS signals thrown heavenward. 🙂 Praying your day calms and God gives you a moment of rest in the midst of the crazy. You are doing a wonderful job, mama! And thank you for being here with us. ~ we love you!

  6. Thanks for this, Kristen. Thanks for distinguishing healthy guilt from false guilt. I am working through some false guilt as a full-time working mama with a two year old. I see how God is assuring my husband and I that we are walking in His will and I see how God is caring for our little boy, so I just need to let go of that guilt when it creeps up. We’ve also been trying for a second for almost a year, and again, lots of trust and letting go of expectations and guilt is needed in that process too! Your encouragement is refreshing!

    • You’re so welcome Mary ~ I need the distinction for myself more than anyone. And yes my dear, keep following after Him and His plan for you. Praying right now His truth seeps into you heart and soul, dear one. We appreciate you so much.

  7. Ha. I was just wondering (at about 2 am as I was stumbling out of bed to get the one year old Wee Man who is sprouting some new teeth) when it was exactly that I would have a full night of sleep (it’s been over a year …. ). Thanks for the encouragement. These trenches have been feeling deep lately, insurmountable. The walls lined with endless loads of laundry, piles of dirty dishes and a perpetually crumb covered floor. Sweet words today. I wrote about this on my blog recently …. even in the trenches I am working to be grateful for my days of small beginnings.


    Thanks again. Molly

    • Oh how I love that word picture you paint, Molly! It seems that way, doesn’t it? And when you’re plumb tuckered, the walls just feel higher and higher. But your lovely words of finding gratitude in your days of small beginnings is powerful and spot-on ~ truth all mamas of little ones can find rest in. Because really? There is always so much to be thankful for!

      Thank you for sitting in our circle here Molly ~ your presence makes our day. *You’re* doing a beautiful job, mama!

  8. Yup. Hard exhausting years. What is it with older moms and amnesia?

    The way I am making it through the center of the storm is through the spiritual discipline of intentional Sabbath. I get a babysitter (one who adores my kids, we don’t have family around) and take 6 hours a week to decompress, listen to my Savior and get filled up again so I have an abundance of love to pass around again.

    Here’s a prayer for all of us moms of young uns!

    God, holder of all the power in the Universe, we’re tired. Would You fill us with Your love for our little ones today? My love gets worn and ragged. I need Your Holy Spirit infused love and energy to care for the least of these in my midst. Would You show us how and where and when to Sabbath so we can follow Your plan for rest and reconnection with You. We will let You be the King of our need for replenishment knowing that You desire for us to come to You and we will find rest. In the meantime, would You replace the anxiety and guilt with Your love and peace? Thank You that You love to hear the needs of your precious Daughters, in Jesus Name, Amen.

    Love you all and am so thankful for the hard, beautiful, faithful work you are doing!

  9. What important reminders! It is SO good to hear #1. I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve been weary, exhausted, and feeling defeated that an older mom has told me that it just gets harder! Really?! I know the challenges will be different, and I’m not expecting the future to be without its trials, but this season of “Littles” IS a very unique {and exhausting} one! I am thankful for it — and for all of the blessings it holds, but sometimes it’s refreshing to hear from moms on the “other side” who can relate!

    Thankful for your words of encouragement today!

  10. From this Aussie Mumma…. sitting at the computer nearly falling asleep as the house is silent and 4 little ones sleep… and I breathe a sigh of relief after a full day.
    AND then I read this!! Thank you so much.
    I can’t help but feel if only I could go back and start all over again!! In the craziness of it all, it just goes to fast, everyday, and I know I’m going to miss these days.

    When I am really tested I always picture a HUGE BOW around each child – and remember PSALM 127:3. puts things back into perspective! 😉 xx

  11. I think the toddler and baby years are a lot like child birth: Time dims the pain or the exhaustion in this case. My babies are 20, 19 and 14. I yearn for the days where I could cuddle them, hold them on my lap, and Oh, those wet slobbery kisses…No they aren’t the best years, sure they are exhausting, but in my assessment, they were the most rewarding, unconditional love-filled years of my life.

  12. Kristen, your messages always touch my heart, but this one bust open the floodgates. I seriously sprung tears right here onto my iPad (while my preschoolers run around me playing dress-up). And I am supposedly the encourager who devotes her own blog ministry to other moms! So clearly, I still and will always need the encouragement myself. So much of what you said resonates with me, and validates – thank you. The toughest part for me is trying to live up to the myth of Super Mom and failing consistently. The guilt, the exhaustion, the tightly limited hours available for “me” time – whatever that is. It often clouds my joy for the gift of these beautiful children. I go to bed at night with a heart aching over how much I love them and how many ways I failed to show it that day. Thank you for the perspective that the world doesn’t end with our minor mommy mistakes! If I could fly to CO right now and give you a hug, I would do it in a second!

  13. As the mother of two sets of kids I feel like I’m getting a “do-over”. My first two daughters are 17 and 13, then we have a gap of 10 years with no kids and now have a two year old and 5 month old. My advice is :

    -Don’t sweat the small stuff
    -Work less while they’re small, enjoy them MORE.
    -When in the midst of one of those hard stages that all kids go through remember the phrase “this two shall pass”… 🙂
    -Listen to your toddler’s babbling. It’s easy to turn on auto pilot here but their thoughts are so precious at this age and sometimes chock full of a very innocent wisdom that will blow you away.
    -You might get sick of hearing it but as one who speaks from experience take it from me…ENJOY THEM BECAUSE THEY GROW UP SO QUICKLY! It cannot be said enough! -Cherish each phase of their lives. See them for the miracle that they are.
    -Take more pictures and videos than necessary. You will never regret too many pictures, only too few! It’s amazing how little details fade so quickly from our memories as our children grow up. Pics/Videos of our loved ones are invaluable!

  14. As the mother of a four-year old who I waited a very long time for, and who will likely be my only child, I can honestly say that these are the best years of my life (so far), and they’re going by way too fast. That doesn’t mean that every moment is sheer joy, or that it’s easy. I have my bad days, I get frustrated, and I have my fair share of guilt and anxiety about whether I’m doing a good job. But I still can’t imagine it getting better than this. My son is a sweet, loving, enthusiastic, bright, entertaining little boy who still spends a good chunk of time every day snuggling with his mommy. His sweetness far outweighs his less pleasant moments. This is what I dreamed of my whole life, and I have a strong feeling that the time will come (too soon) when I’m pining away for these days.

  15. One of the toughest spots of being a young mom is that I haven’t seen much fruit–good or bad. It’s the input from moms with older kids who can speak into my life and confirm or correct my mountain-molehill moments. It’s essential to have a mom mentor. Peers are good, but sometimes I need someone with a wider perspective. Not blind leading the blind. Thanks for sharing these thoughts with this mom of toddlers and preschoolers.

  16. I’m an older woman now. Thought it would never get here when my kids were 4 1/2, 3, 20 months and a newborn. Now they are 23, 21, 20, 18 and we have a grandson. Busy years for sure. And my heart was “when I’m older I want to help a mom with young children!” My own mom helped me when she could and I knew I wanted to serve someone in this way. And praise God, He is allowing that to happen. Once a week, I help a young mom with 4 little ones. I watch the kids and she does whatever she needs to. She tells me she is blessed but SO AM I!! It gives me great joy knowing this is a help to her. And in our church, a ministry has just begun, similar to MOPS but we call it MOMS…morning out for mothers. We grandmas watch the kiddos and the moms encourage each other, have a devotional, fellowship for a couple of hours. They are going through the book “Loving the Little Years.” Yes, that whole “enjoy them now they grow up so fast” was not at all helpful to me…ugh. I think the 4 points given above were encouraging….that’s what I tell my friend…it WILL get easier….I would like to encourage the older women to consider helping a mom with young children. You will definitely receive a blessing!

  17. Okay….you just made me burst into tears (of relief) at work.

    Luckily, I can just blame my 36-week pregnant belly. 🙂

    I have a 21-month old boy who is….ahem….playing fast and loose with my sanity.

    “Remember, the things that aggravate you about your child today might be the very things when matured that make them great for God’s kingdom tomorrow.”

    I LOVED this post. 🙂 x 1,000,000

  18. I REALLY needed to hear this. When I thought preschool age would be easier than the terrible twos and threes, magically on my daughter’s 4 year birthday this ‘no no no’ attitude went to new degrees. She all of a sudden began just running off for no reason, causing us to fearfully run after her, scared we may suddenly lose sight if she took off down a corridor.
    Someone tell me: when does it get easier???lol 6??

    • Oh yes, that disappearing act makes your heart drop, doesn’t it? Hugs to you, mama.

      Still…it seems as kids get older, parenting doesn’t necessarily get easier. BUT the stuff that’s hard will be different from the stuff that’s hard now, and you’ll be equipped to handle it. 🙂 Keep up the good work, Elizabeth!

  19. Kristen,
    I LOVED your encouraging words! I was a stepmommy to one sweet little boy many years ago. I met him when he was 4 years old, and helped to raise him every other weekend for years. He is now a handsome young man of 29 years old. I feel so badly sometimes because many times when he was just being a “trying” little boy, I would WISH for him to be a few years older. Now that he is, I LONG for the days when I could hold him on my lap and play with him again. I can’t believe I wished those years away. So I pray that those of you who still have little ones will truly enjoy your time with them now. Because it’s SO true – they will grow up fast, and you’ll want them to be little again. Love them and hug them all you can!

  20. I think the toughest part for me is not knowing if my preschooler is being treated well at school especially when she complains she is being bitten/scratched by kids who are new to the school system. I often find myself wondering where to draw the line between protecting my daughter and letting her learn some survival skills …

  21. So enjoyed this post today. We are at the end of preschool with our youngest – and since we kept her an extra year (late summer birthday) the afternoons home are easy to dismiss – especially the last couple months when it really seems she should still be out somewhere else learning and growing. God has been renewing my heart that despite a number of physical needs that have “grounded” me during a time when I think I should be doing more each day (i.e. this while school year), that our youngest still needs me the way her sister did. And letting go of my plans or even hopes for cleaning/organizing something (!) is all worthwhile to parent her well and Biblically. This is a great list, and a good place to start examining my heart for the way I encourage soapy if my friends on the beginning of their journeys of motherhood. In short (though this response is anything but), just be aide I’m older and they ask me the things I used to ask my “further along” friends doesn’t mean I’m out of this phase entirely. Good food to consider as I walk through this transitional time.

  22. Thank you for this beautiful article. My little one is in the midst of the “terrible twos”, and it seems that lately, the days have been harder than ever. After a miscarriage a couple of months ago, there are days that I still wonder if it’s my hormones or if it’s just that we’re having a day where my daughter just flat-out refuses to listen to me. It is so encouraging to hear another mama say that she believes these are the hard years, as I think we’ve all heard that they are the “best” years. I’m not sure what kind of angel children those mamas had, but this is so far not the best years of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my daughter with everything in me…but some days, I just want a break!

  23. “But the days tucked inside those years weren’t all dreamy, sunshiney, and Hollywood-y. Some were just plain long and hard”

    So needed to read this post today! Sometimes I feel guilty for feeling this way! I’m a first time mama to an almost 3 month old. I waited 7 long years for my baby boy, so I kinda feel bad when I don’t love every single minute of it! The lack of sleep and around the clock care is just exhausting!

  24. One of my new Alaska mama friends who is my age has a preschooler and a kindergartener, and not too long ago she was talking about being tired because her kids needed so much of her. I told her, our kids never stop needing us. It may not be physically as much, but they definitely need more of us spiritually and emotionally as they get older. Not more or less, just different.

  25. Oh this is so very deeply comforting. Thank you. I keep asking people: will it ever get easier?? And they usually tell me no, it just gets harder. Which is so not helpful. I am slightly fearful I will never have children out of diapers but painfully aware that with only two I have little to complain about as I have one for each arm but most days it seems like they’ve multiplied like Gremlins that got wet. Thank you! (And I’m a twin… I’m always in awe of mothers of twins, truly.)

    • It’s such a trade, Court. But *yes* ~ the things that are hard now will not be so hard later. Other things will be more so, but by God’s grace we’ll be able to tackle all that comes. And girlfriend, having two kids rather than six is nothing to minimize. Amber Haines said something a while back that stuck with me: No matter how many kids we have, we are at capacity. So true!

      Keep up the good work, mama-extraordinaire!! You are doing a marvelous job. We so love you here…

  26. Whew. This post literally allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief. I have three children that are four and under, and those grocery trips leave me tearful and humbled. Glad to know that it gets better, and thankful for your honesty about how these preschool years truly are not easy. I guilt myself over how I struggle with these younger ages! God’s grace is sufficient!

  27. I have to say, with two boys (3 1/2 and just turned 5), I have seen the worst of myself over and over again, which is humbling, to say the least. They know just what buttons to push, it seems. The bickering, the whining, the constant competition are what get me. Some days I feel like the grumpiest mom on earth. But then comes the unexpected “I love yous” and the full body hugs and the little boys that just want to snuggle, and I realize that I must be doing alright… they love me inspite of it all. Praise the Lord for that. This post was so encouraging to me, right here where I am. Thank you for sharing!

  28. As a mother of four, I can empathize with those preschool mamas. My children are all in double digits now, and I can honestly say there are equally difficult aspects of each stage, with similarities shared between them. Sleepless nights are common with infants and teenagers; running after children occurs often in toddlers/preschoolers as well as during the tween/early teen years (activities). I enjoyed each season; however, for me the most difficult may be the older teen age when they are making the move to independence from the family. Such a struggle for this mama! Blessings to you, Kristen.

  29. What a great post! Today my youngest turns 5 and we begin the “end of an era.” We had our four kids in five years, and I don’t remember much of it. Honestly! But I do remember that every time we went out someone, usually older people, would tell me “Enjoy this time! It passes so quickly.” I had the same “Heck! Enjoy?!” reaction you spoke of. It’s pretty funny to look back.
    Parenting is certainly the most exasperating gig I could ever imagine, but I don’t think my life will ever be of more value than when it is poured out to my kids. I agree that the traits I find most challenging will probably be the ones that mature into something special for God. It is exciting to look forward into the promise of what they will be for God, by His grace.
    I think the hardest part of parenting, preschoolers and all the way up, is second guessing yourself. You make a thousand judgement calls each day, sometimes with very little evidence that you made the right one. It just gets plain old tiring.
    Anyways, every mom who is doing their best to love and care for their kids is a hero!

  30. So many things in this post I could relate to and smile at!

    My favorite, “This is as good as it gets? Well then, I’ll need extra ice cream now.” 🙂

    I had 5 children within 8 years and as I look back on the preschool years, I admit I was too exhausted to appreciate thoses times as much as I could have. They were precious years, but I was so thankful that they didn’t last forever.

    Now my kids are older and the challenges of parenting have changed. I continue to be thankful that this season will also not last forever and love the quote you began your post with:

    “God doesn’t expect (me) to be an instant expert at something (I’ve) never done before. And He promises to make up the difference.”

  31. I really needed to read this today … I am a single mom of 2 (4 & 2) and have been worrying lately that I have not been as good of a mom as I could be. It just seems as if my children fight from the moment they get up til the second they go to bed and it is running me ragged.
    I know God only gives you what you can handle, but it just seems, at times, that one more thing would put me over the top (and my ex-husband seems to enjoy adding to my stress).
    This article was the encouragement that I needed to see that really I am doing all right, and that God really does help with keeping my sanity during these difficult years. I must say, that without my family and my church community, I would not have survived these last (almost) 3 years since my ex-husband and I separated (and divorced). This article just made me take stock of how God really has helped me make it through instead if continuing to feel sorry for myself and thinking about how difficult my life is. I truly am thankful that I have my wonderful children and that I can raise them in the knowledge of God’s love (which would not have happened if my ex and I had still been together I am sure).

    Thank you for putting out this article at such a good time so that it could work in my heart and life when I most needed it.

  32. Wow! did this post ever resonate. Only when I heard the \”these are the best years of your life\” my reaction wasn\’t nearly as optimistic as grabbing more ice cream. Well my children are now 17 and 20 and my 20 year old is raising my 18 month old granddaughter in my home. Not the way I would have planned things but blessed nonetheless. Here is what I have decided about parenting: it may be Gods best plan for humbling the proud. Now don\’t get me wrong, I never did FEEL like I was proud but I sure tried to manage everything on my own and only consulted God for the BIG EMERGENCIES (toddler downed grampa\’s heart medication left out by accident, 7 YO with arm broken in the configuration of letter Z, teenager making ALL the wrong choice–s that sort of thing). Now what is trying to manage everything on your own and barely taking a moment with the Lord cuz I didn\’t make time for it? Well that is pride and oh how He used my children to humble me. If I had one piece of advice for my younger sisters it would be do WHATEVER IT TAKES to spend some alone time with God each day and go to Him in prayer each of those thousand times a day you feel you just aren\’t going to make it to bedtime. That and years 6 to 10 are really tough to beat!

  33. Since my husband is in the Navy we live far away from family and that has been so hard. I have to believe God will redeem this missed time and that my little guy will still have special relationships with his extended family. I do miss them all dearly but it’s wonderful being given good friends at each duty station who seem to fall in and take care of one another. That’s a huge blessing! So in a way I see that as God redeeming already. 🙂 Thanks for these encouraging words tonight, i’m treasuring them!

  34. Thank you for this post…a true treasure to me. One day in October 2010, three children came into our home and I became a mother overnight. At the time, they were 3 1/2, 2 1/2, and almost 7 months old. We have done our best, but I struggle with (foster) mom guilt because it never seems like enough. We couldn’t do attachment parenting in the way we would have liked because they were three of them, so there are moments of disappointment with self. Weadopts airing to adopt them now. Our support system tells me it will get easier…but hearing it in this blog post from a stranger helps me believe they are speaking from a place of truth-not pity. Thanks again!

  35. I have gone through my children, then step-children and now I am working on grandchildren. Here is some of the skinny that I know about children.

    1. Laugh often – an accident is an accident.
    2. The house will still need cleaning when they are off to college – PLAY
    3. If you are a working mother, and I was too, let go of the guilt and go out once in a while with your friends without children.

    I am so impressed with you young mothers! I love you so much!

  36. “Ya know, this grocery shopping thing will get much easier. Hang in there. You’re doing a great job, mama.”

    Tears sprung out when I read this. I didn’t realize how much I needed encouragement until you reached out and told us moms who are trying so hard to do things right with a young child (or children) what a good job we really are doing. Thank you for giving us the (God-inspired!) affirmation we so desperately need.

  37. This is very encouraging and #3 really spoke to me. I love how it was worded “Little bodies sometimes hold big personalities”. I have a two year old who embodies this exact phrase! He is loud, active, funny, sweet and passionate. But his behavior also lives up to the phrase “terrible 2’s” and he is still not adjusting well to his 10 month old baby brother. I also believe that a strong-willed personality will help him greatly in his future but it’s hard to remember that when he’s finger painting with his cereal milk or running out the back door after telling him not to for what feels like the hundredth time. It can be difficult to remember that he’s not just being naughty at times to annoy me but I need to teach and help mold him. And it will get easier! Thanks!

  38. I would just downright break down in tears of gratefulness if an older mama in the grocery store stopped and told me I’m doing a good job.

    What do you do when the kids are spaced so far apart that there is ALWAYS a preschooler? I love my *children* dearly, but I hate this job, and they are so spaced out (4-5 years between them) that I can’t even fully enjoy the older ones because I’m still too busy being exhausted by the little ones. At this rate, if I have just one more, I will still have a preschooler when my firstborn has *graduated*. How does it get easier?

  39. I agree with you! Its not easy for moms but they have to. Now I understand the emotions of my mom way back when she sent me to preschool for the first time.