Ready to laugh about motherhood and be encouraged? Tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out in the baby and toddler season? Need some fresh vision and perspective so you can enjoy—not just endure—your young children?
Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years offers moms-to-be and moms of young children short, real-life parenting stories that encourage and inspire. Leah Spina, mother of three children ages five and under, and former journalist, unleashes humor and perspective for tired moms who are parenting the “little” years. From the excitement of the positive pregnancy test to morning sickness and the banes of pregnancy, to childbirth, babies, toddlers and new parent struggles, the stories will make you laugh and see beauty in the chaos. Each story also includes thought-provoking takeaways to help busy moms gain a fresh outlook.
Strangers remind us that our children will be small only for a short time and to enjoy each moment. But then we return to the wild reality of parenting young children! All-night crying sessions. Never-ending laundry. Every-three-hour feeding schedules. Diaper explosions and projectile spit-up. Teething. Potty training. Yes, we enjoy our children, but we’d also like to enjoy a shower that lasts more than two minutes, or a meal that isn’t lukewarm (if we’re lucky). The truth is, pregnancy and parenting young children can be hard at times. But it can also be one of the best chapters of our lives, if we can learn to laugh and change our mindset.
Young children are one of life’s greatest gifts. Each page of this easy read will help you truly enjoy the “little” years!
My 10 Favorite Baby and Toddler Messes
Babies and toddlers can mess up a house faster than a hiccup. Each day it looks like a primary-colored plastic hurricane blasted my house. But instead of resenting the chaos, try viewing the messes as reminders of how wonderful it is to be with little people each day! Here are some of my favorite messes:
1. The little food and dirt smudges on the shoulder of my shirt at the end of the day. Aw, those little chubby hands grasping their mama as she holds the baby. I love that I was either too busy or didn’t care when I chose to pick up that little angel. These are the happiest days of my life!
2. Books splattered all over the couch and floor. There is nothing I love more than picture books and board books sprinkled everywhere. It means I stopped my day to sit down with my two little darlings and we shared stories, laughter and fun. I think of my toddler “reading” the books to himself after we finish in his high voice and jumbled grammar. I think of my baby holding a book like the statue of liberty over her head babbling so I will read to her.
3. Broken sand toys AND regular toys all over the backyard. I don’t see a mess. I see the beautiful aftermath of long days full of imagination and slow child’s play. Here’s where baby Esther showed me seven different toys she found – since she can’t talk, she shows. There’s where Batman had it out with the Transformers in the sandbox for an hour.
4. Toys all in the bathtub. Sometimes it is hard for me to relax after a day of parenting a baby and a toddler because I am so wound up. So sometimes I opt for a bath post children-bedtime. Before I draw the water, I always clean out at least 10 small monster trucks, a couple of ducks and a few miscellaneous toys. As I pull them out, I smile thinking of the happy hours we spend together in this bathroom – me sitting on the grey chair watching my babies splash and play in the bubbles. Samson rolling his beloved tracks around and around the rim of the bathtub and baby Esther sucking a white washcloth. Yes, they take their baths in my bathtub instead of theirs but I would have it no other way!
5. Toys at the bottom of the shower. When my husband or I decide to take a daytime shower, one of the children begs to join us – Samson incessantly pleads and wordless baby Esther keeps pulling at her clothes and diaper to show us. When I take a shower by myself, I always smile as I scoop the toys to the side with my foot. I think of the little gleaming wet bodies and the fun hooded-towel aftermath. I think of how the kids love to apply too much lotion because it is too much fun to use a pump dispenser. And how my toddler and I laugh our heads off when the baby smashes lotion in her hair. Every. Single. Time.
6. My messy closet. I have a big closet and my children love to both play in it or just be RIGHT by me when I dress. At the end of the day, I stop to review with a happy sigh the six unmatched shoes baby Esther tried to wear, the three dresses on the floor because Samson likes to hide behind the hanging clothes cave, the socks from a sock war scattered everywhere, etc. What a boring closet I will have some day – I love these messes!
7. Back porch mess. Our back porch is small and messy. We have some chairs and a table but they are always covered by fun memories. There’s the new special kinetic sand on the table with a few sand toys, tiny swim suits and towels drying on the chairs, a bug “jail” that Esther likes to hang around her neck, a dirty diaper because I let the kids play in the hose, popsicle wrappers from hot summer afternoon and a pile of shoes because we like to take our shoes off to *wee-LAX*, as Samson says.
8. Car mess. We eat snacks in the car, we drink in the car, we play in the car. When I take my car to the car wash, I feel I should shove armfuls of $5 bills in the tip box. I shudder to think what they find. Who knows what kind of food has baked under the seats? All I know is they return a beautifully clean car with 17 missing toys stacked neatly on the seat between the two car seats. But what a lovely mess! When I look back I see Esther’s favorite little lovie blanket and I think of her sucking her thumb with it, smiling at me. I cannot see her smile because it’s hidden by the blanket but I see her eyes looking into mine and I know she’s smiling. I see the plastic boy toys everywhere and think of Samson’s creative play with an occasional sacrifice toy to the whining baby. Who wants a clean car?
9. Toys all over the house. Keeping a house clean with children is like shoveling snow when it’s snowing. Last night I stepped on three different toys on my bedroom floor in the dark on the way to bed. I smiled at each painful step. I love that my little children want to be with me all the time. They are my constant shadows throughout the day and leave a toy trail from our adventures. Downstairs I see two tiny pairs of shoes next to David’s flip flops – they represent the Three Happiest Things in my life! Don’t get mad at the mess – use it to remind you of how grateful you are for the gift of family!
10. Kitchen mess. My kitchen is almost always messy. There are primary-colored sippy cups strewn all over the counters, floor and table. Spills on the floor from little eaters. But when I stumble downstairs in the morning and see three toys on the kitchen floor, I make myself stop and savor that sight. My children and I spend many hours together in the kitchen. They are my little cook assistants (hurrah for the mess, mama! You included them even though it made a mess and took twice as long!), my little tasters (that’s why you have toys to pass the time between tastings!) and my fellow dining patrons (look at the three messy place mats and dominated high chair – how boring if it were clean and set for one!) And possibly my favorite: the smudges all over the windows from little dirty hands looking outside and trying to push open the door. I almost don’t want to clean them.
Try to view the messes around you as beautiful flowers of love, happiness and family. Our young children will grow up before we know it and our house will someday be clean and lonely. Let’s revel in the chaos, smile at the craziness and kiss our tiny mess-makers a little more.
I loved reading Stop and Smell Your Children. Every single story Leah Spina has about her children is a beautiful story. I have 3 small children and even though I try to enjoy all the time I spend with them sometimes I need a little reminder and hearing stories from other mother's helps. I felt like Leah Spina was here having a cup of coffee just telling me these stories about her children. I loved it.
I think parents would appreciate a book like Stop and Smell Your Children because it helps remind us that we should enjoy all the little moments in our children's lives. I give this book 5 stars!
Leah Spina is a former journalist of a national newsweekly magazine and also worked as a childbirth coordinator at a large adoption agency. She has her B.S in Business Administration from Thomas Edison State College. She has two adorable children – Samson and Esther – and resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband, David. When she’s not changing diapers, she enjoys singing Broadway, sun tanning on Italian beaches and riding horses.
Win 1 of 10 copies of Stop and Smell Your Children (open to USA & Canada)
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