3 (More) Things Every Kid Needs

As I’ve mentioned before, there are 3 Things Every Kid Needs.

A Job to Do. Something to Celebrate.  To Say Thanks.

But there are three more things every kid needs, too.  These three other things can help make the difference in how your kids turn out.  Remember, parenting isn’t just about what happens today, in the now, but parenting about what you want your kids to become, in the future.  This is parenting with the end in mind.

Those three other things?  Here they are:

Kids Need Other Adults Who Can Speak Into Their Lives.  While you might be the biggest influence on your child’s life, you aren’t (and can’t be) the only one.  Smart parents will help choose who those people are, instead of leaving it just to chance, or to your kids (who will choose celebrities, movie stars, singers, and the like).

Find some great adults who can speak into your kids lives about the stuff you can’t or aren’t able to.  These people can be coaches or directors, church leaders or mentors.  They can be the mechanic who works on your car, or the neighbor who has that amazing yard.  Find quality, well-respected, mature, good people, and help your kids connect to them.  Church, school, neighborhood, sports field, neighborhood theatre.  They can be found everywhere.  They can encourage and cheer on your kids in ways that you never can.  Your kids will have other influences–why not be intentional about who those influences are?

Kids Need Experiences More Than Things.  We place a high value on things in our culture.  Having what is new, owning what is now–it’s very important.  Trouble is, things don’t last.  That great new TV you just bought has already been made obsolete.  Your phone is out of date, and you’re still in a contract for two more years.  And don’t even talk about that computer.  Sure, you will probably hold on to your house for a long time, but the furniture in it–it’s already dated, right?

It’s not new to hear that memories are the only things you can hold on to, but it’s true.  If you have a house full of all the newest and nicest things, but never spend your money creating memories, you’re teaching your kids the wrong thing.  Possessions come and go, but memories last forever.  The National Parks I visited with my family growing up?  The road trips I’ve taken my kids on?  Those are shared experiences that we will never forget.  I don’t even remember the color of the last two couches I had.  Things are great, but they don’t last.  Doing things with your kids and creating memories together?  That lasts forever.

Kids Need Grace.  Your children hear all the time about how they’ve messed up, how they don’t measure up, where they have gone wrong.  As parents, it is our job to correct and train our children to make wise choices as they grow up.  But when they don’t, what is the response?  Parents, disappointed in their own failures, often maximize or blow out of proportion a child’s failure.  I know–the response I’ve given to my youngest son over his lack of appetite when my wife has made an amazing dinner far outweighs the actual circumstance.

But what do I want most when I screw up?  I want grace.  And yet, I can’t show grace to a kid who thinks anything with green in it is poison?  You get it–if we want to have grace-filled children, who are quick to forgive, slow to anger, and generally awesome, we need to be grace-filled parents.  When your kids gets a less than perfect report card, it’s fine to have consequences–but measure them with grace.  When your child spills that glass of wine all over the carpet, remember the grace you received for a much greater slight.  When kids see grace lived out, they will live out grace as well.

 

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ME Time

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 18 years of marriage, parenting, working, etc., it’s how much I value my personal time.  When you don’t make time for yourself, you quickly lose yourself.  I know from experience.  Is carving out an hour or two a week easy?  Not always.  But is it necessary?  Yes!  There’s a reason so many SAHMs get jealous of their husband’s lunches out, meetings, and even time alone in the car.  Sometimes a mom’s (or SAHD’s) time spent in the car is listening to the Disney Junior Soundtrack.

The reason I decided to go back to work 5 years ago, was because I needed some alone time.  I know that seems like a strange reason to work outside of the home, but with 4 kids, a desire to find out who I am, and desperate love of adventure, this seemed like the most logical decision for me and my family.  I needed to be away from my family, just for a few hours a week.  Without the distractions of a sink full of dishes or kids tugging on my clothes, I could figure out what I really wanted and who I was created to be.  So many people lose sight of this went they get caught up in their work or families or even in themselves.  In the last 5 years, I’ve come up with 3 ways to help you reclaim your ME time.

  1. Schedule your ME time.  I talked a couple of weeks ago about how important keeping to a schedule is.  Put some ME time into that schedule.  Seriously.  Even if you have to schedule in a mall sesh and hire a babysitter. Do it and stick to it. This should be as important as your work schedule, grocery shopping, or doctor appointments. Make your schedule and stick to it.
  2. Find something you love and do it often. I have several loves. I love to work out.  I don’t compromise my workouts.  I love to spend time outside.  If I have a free hour during the day and it’s nice out, I spend it outside on my patio. I love pedicures. I try to save $20 out of my budget each month (only $5/week, so it’s a no-brainer) for pedicures.  But you better believe that it gets scheduled!  What do you love?  Even if you have to start small, figure it out, do it, and do it often.
  3. Give back to someone else.  Ok, you’ve found yourself, you take care of yourself, now it’s your turn to help someone else. If you have friends or family members that are struggling to figure out what they need, offer to help.  If you can watch your sister’s kids so she can take herself out to to a movie, do it.  If you see that your best friend is too busy at work, invite her over for dinner. Once you figure out what you love and you make it a priority, help someone else find their time and passion, too.

 

5 Easy Ways to Turn Habits Into Routines

In Part 2 of Making the Most of Your Time, we’re talking about the importance of routines.  I’m not naturally self-driven.  I’m a procrastinater.  I’d rather do all my housework in one day then spread it out over a series of days.  The consequence of doing that, though, is that I could end up never getting a true day off.  As a working mom with 4 kids, 3 pets, and one husband, I need consistent habits that keep our family running.  I need routine.  And my days off actually need to be days off.

Here are the 5 daily habits–routines–that keep our family organized, keep me motivated, and ensure I have time to relax.

1.  Make the bed. The first thing I do after the kids get off to school in the morning and before I get ready for the day is make my bed.  It’s such a simple chore, but it sets the tone for the day.  By making your bed, you’ve started a daily decluttering process.  In fact studies show that when you make your bed in the morning you make better decisions during the day. Making your bed is such a small task, but it’s a task that has been completed and by the end of the day, you will have completed even more small tasks that lead to bigger tasks.

2.  Do small, daily household chores. I work nearly every day, so the hardest thing for me to do is keep my house clean, but I do it. And I don’t spend a lot of time doing it.  I do have one day a week, typically Saturday mornings, where I spend a little more time deep cleaning. But for the most part, all of my cleaning can be done in about 30 minutes.  It just has to be done the right way. If you don’t know how to get started, I would highly recommend Flylady. She has great tips on where to begin, what to accomplish, and the tools you need. I have adapted her style over the years to meet my needs.  But what’s most important is that you start somewhere and keep that house clean.

3.  Exercise. I’ve realized over the years that exercise isn’t just good for the body, but it’s good for the mind.  Exercise helps you with stress, gives you more energy, and when you feel good inside, you feel good outside.  Sometimes finding time for exercise can be tricky, but if you start small, over time, you will build a habit that will make exercise a priority.  I used to exercise to look good.  I now realize that exercise helps me have better days.  5 years ago I was only exercising one day per week. Now I try to exercise every day of the week.  The trick is to use a variety of workouts that you enjoy.  I do something different depending on what day of the week it is.  By doing this you won’t get bored.  The bonus is that your body also won’t get bored and you’ll see more health benefits. Find the time, then make the time. Start small. And when you’re ready add a day or two in and in no time you will have turned exercise into a routine.

4.  Reboot your kitchen before bed. Why is this so important?  Because more than likely, this is the first room you will visit in the morning.  You’ll wake up and get your coffee or energy drinks, make breakfast or lunches for the kiddos. The kitchen is the first room you see in the morning and when you enter a clean kitchen, chances are you will want to keep it clean, which will set the tone for the rest of your house that day. I have found this to be one of the easiest and most beneficial habits that is now routine for me.

5. Wash your face before bed. Believe it or not, I used to never wash my face before bed because I was always too tired.  Now I make it part of my coming home from work routine.  I work in retail and sometimes don’t get home until close to 11:00 pm so you can understand why I sometimes want to just throw on pjs and climb into my nicely made bed.  About 2 years ago, I started washing my face when I put on my pajamas, before I binge watch TV, before I get too tired. By washing your face you are not only washing off makeup, but environmental toxins that have landed on your face throughout the day.  Plus your skin naturally repairs itself at night.  If you haven’t given it a fresh palette, it won’t be able to properly heal from he day.  Find a way to make face washing part of your bedtime habits and before you know it, it will be routine.

What routines work for you and your family?  Let us know!  We’d love to hear from you!

Balancing Kids

We have two big milestones in our family this week.  Today, our oldest daughter, Audrey, turns 17.  Tomorrow our youngest son, August, goes in for surgery.  Trying to make sure they both get all the attention they deserve or need has proven to be challenging.  So, how do you make it all work?  I don’t have a good answer.  But I can tell you what I have done to make sure they feel like they are mom and dad’s #1 priority when they need it most.

Most importantly, I want my kids to know that they are loved.  Not just on their special day, but every day. When I kiss them as they walk out the door for school or when I tuck them in at night, they know that their mommy thinks they are the center of her world.  By doing that, you are solidifying the fact that even though they may not get 100% of your attention on their special day, you still love them.  I want my kids to know, without a doubt in their minds, how much they truly mean to me.

balancingkidsI like to set aside some time in my day and week to create special moments and memories. Today, on Audrey’s birthday, we had a whole slew of events planned. We start planning her birthday in March because Audrey LOVES her birthday.  But with August’s surgery tomorrow, she’s not going to get an entire day from us like she normally would.  We have a bit of prepping to do for Gus’ surgery. But by creating extra special moments today, we will have created memories for her.  And that’s more important than an entire day spent doing nothing.

I love to let them help with the planning or prepping of their big day.  I ask them what is important to them.  I let them choose dinner on their day.  Take them shopping for what they think will make their day special.  Like I said before, Audrey starts thinking about her birthday as soon as New Year’s has come and gone. August was excited when we he got to choose a toy to play with after his surgery.  By including them in the preparations, you are helping them realize that this is their day and that their opinion matters.

By helping your kiddos know that they are your center of your attention on their one big day you will have created those moments and memories that they, and you, will cherish forever.  Balancing kids is tough work.  But by letting your kids help with the balancing and prioritizing, you will find it’s more fun than challenging. You may not get it right all the time, but that’s OK.  We all have wins and losses.  I’m not even sure how today or tomorrow  will go, but I’m hopeful that I’ve done just enough to make two of my kiddos feel special. But I will be adding in a few extra hugs, kisses, and “I LOVE YOU’s” for good measure!