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"Pinball Parenting" Blog & Podcast Episode 89

Pinball Parenting is… being pinged from one issue to the next where the issues may be vastly different from one another, usually unexpected, and often require some type of Houdini-level expertise. What's a mom to do?!

Now we mamas are always multi-tasking moms – throwing in a load of laundry in the washer before heading out to take a kid to soccer practice and planning to have a character development talk with them along the drive while the toddler is snacking on a banana in the back seat. That’s being a multi-tasking mom. Multi-tasking is when we’re accomplishing many things at once.

Pinball Parenting is when we’re being thrown into the unexpected bullring over here with this issue and then immediately we’re tossed into a game of Wipeout over there with another issue.

Pinball Parenting is all the UNEXPECTED CURVE BALLS that require A LOT from a mama.

It is in these Pinball moments that we have to choose either to gloss over the issue and just get by, or stop what we’re doing and dive in to the moment, fully engaged with our heart and mind as well.

I know this sounds really hard to do, but I want to encourage you to be reluctant to head into robotic, auto-pilot mode. I know there will be times when you can’t fully engage your mind and heart in the situation because you are physically or emotionally exhausted.

There are going to be plenty of times in Pinball parenting where we have no choice, but to only take care of the unexpected situation minimally and move on and we shouldn’t feel guilty about in those moments.

14 yrs ago I was a young mom of three – a six month old, 2 yr old & a 3.5 yr old. Rich worked nights at that time, so I had been on parenting duty all night alone and had been up a few times in the night with one or two of them. In the early morning I woke to three crying kids. I get up and find that two oldest in the bathroom. The 3.5 yr old had tried to change the dirty diaper of the 2 yr old. I glanced in at the baby in the crib. He had pulled himself up to a standing position, holding on to the side and didn’t know how to sit back down. His face was plastered with the results of a runny nose, and I was seeing the first signs of Chicken Pox that his sisters had just gotten over a week or so before. Boy that’s a morning I don’t care to relive ever again. It was definitely a “let’s just get through this day alive” kind of moment. I get it. Those days are going to happen for all of us, many times over.

But what I hope to encourage you to do today, is to become more intentional with the unexpected, complex times, and embrace those curve balls head on WHEN YOU CAN.

Don’t be satisfied to just tolerate the moment, survive the moment, and go on autopilot, but rather OWN THAT MOMENT as a great TRAINING OPPORUNITY whenever possible. When mine were that young, most of the training opportunities were for ME,

*impacting my character,

*impacting my trust in the Lord, and

*my learning to cry out to Him and lean in to Him in those impossible trials.

In many Pinball parenting days, we can do more than we think we can, as far as embracing the moment for growth, in either ourselves or growth in our kids.

I remember this one June day four years ago. I was dealing with a sick child, got her situated on the couch about the time my middle schooler who had just returned from camp was experiencing all of these extreme emotions from having to depart from her newly acquired camp friends. Oh the joys of middle school emotions. About the time I had pulled her out of her pit of despair, my soon-to-be freshmen in college son needed help picking out his first semester of classes. I can remember sitting all sprawled out on the floor changing a grandbaby's diaper while playing college class counselor and thinking, “Man, motherhood is so diverse.” It’s tough to be mentally engaged over here on this issue then quickly adjust to being emotionally engaged over here on this other issue.

It’s easy to get mama whiplash from being jolted from one big issue to the next.

What we want to do as much as possible, is identify the difference between mere TASKS and meaningful TRAINING moments, and DELVE IN to the training moments.

When bigger issues come up, skip the grocery run, leave the messy kitchen, and focus in on the unexpected TRAINING OPPORTUNITY that just arose. Look for the heart issue among all the issues in a given momlife moment. Supper can wait for a bit while you take a few minutes for the for the heart develop opportunity of this valuable moment.

In today's podcast, episode 90, PINBALL PARENTING, you be listening to some of the TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES I chose to take in the array of Pinball Parenting curveballs in my day. I’ve got four scenarios: Sibling Squabbles, Math Habits, Sleep Issues, Consequences, and I also share a BIG way I messed up this week and what I had to do about it.

Pinball Parenting, these are the heart issues, the training issues, relationship issues that we weren’t expecting today, but they are the important things of the day.

These unplanned parenting moments are the SHAPING OPPORTUNITIES for our kids.

It requires a lot of us mamas to switch from comforter to teacher to disciplinarian to college counselor, but in these times of training, we are shaping hearts, transforming relationships, and impacting the future of our kids. It is worth it.

You might need a helmet and some safety gear while you’re in that game of pinball, but mama, hang in there and know there is purpose in your pinball parenting day.

If you want more help from me, Val Harrison, the Practically Speaking MOM, head over to my website While there, be sure to subscribe to my Monday email list to receive a Monday email from me containing my podcast, blog post, and occasional newsletters or coupons.

WHAT'S COMING NEXT WEEK: Join me here next week as I’m joined in the studio by my husband Rich for episode 90, “Ways to Prioritize Marriage, even for moms in complicated marriage situations, hosted by Rich & Val." No matter the status of your marriage, you want to learn the ingredients for making marriage a priority, so you can be a good marriage mentor for your kids as you shape their paradigm of marriage. Be watching for Episode 90!

Oh! And join in the conversation today in my Facebook group Intentional Mom, Strong Family.

See you next week!



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