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  Your phone is out of date, and you’re still in a contract for two more years.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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8 Fun (and Inexpensive) Things to Do With Your Kids This Summer

I’ve been thinking about what to put in this blog for a few weeks now.  Summertime rolls around and as parents we want to pack in the most memorable fun-filled summer vacation EVER!  So I went on Pinterest to gather some ideas and I was somewhat frustrated and irritated.  There were lists and lists of 100+ Things to Do With Your Kids This Summer!!!

Please.  I don’t need  a list to tell me to get out the play dough.  (In fact, any mom in their right mind probably hates play dough. Or maybe that’s just my OCD that hates those dried up pieces of play dough that seem to collect into the corners of the kitchen until you get out your vacuum hose and manage to suck them all up.)

But I digress.  I want to create a really fun summer for my kids.  Not just things to do around the house everyday.  Being a working mom, that can sometimes be a challenge, so I just need to make sure that your days off are very intentional.  Do what works for you, but just do it.

This lists actually consists of things that our family does each summer.  (And not to brag, but we do them really well.)  The most important thing to remember is to have fun!  I hope you enjoy your summers as much as we do!

  1. SUMMER READING PROGRAMS.  Each and every library around the country has a summer reading program.  And it’s a safe bet to say that most of these programs have some incentives if your kiddos complete their goals!  Even my teenagers, who usually finish their goals in the first week, love the summer reading program.  And what’s great is when they complete one goal, they can work toward a second goal and more prizes. Check out your local library to find more information.  Cost: Free
  2. GO ON A DAY DRIVE AND HAVE A PICNIC.  This is another one of our favorites, because we love hopping in the car for adventures.  And kids love picnics.   You can find most picnic supplies fairly inexpensively at garage sales or thrift stores or search your garage.  All you really need is a table cloth or picnic blanket and a cooler.  Throw in some fun food (I try to pack things we wouldn’t normally eat at home like Uncrustables and potato chips) and a first aid kit, fill up your gas tank, and you’re good to go! Cost: About $50 (gas, food, etc.)
  3. DOLLAR STORE VISIT.  Seriously!  My kids, even my teenagers, LOVE going to the dollar store.  Give them each a couple of bucks, which I can usually find in the couch cushions or seats of my car, and let them have fun!  I love watching them figure out how they’re going to spend their money.  But my caveat is, whatever they purchase, they have to use once we get home. Cost: $1-$20 (Depending on how many kids you have and how much you give them.)
  4. DOLLAR MOVIES. Every summer, Regal Cinemas holds their Summer Movie Express two days per week at 10:00 am. Kids can choose from two movies each week.  The kids even get a passport that gets stamped every time they to to a movie. The nice part is, it’s early enough that you don’t need to spend money on popcorn or candy. Cost: $1/ticket
  5. VACATION BIBLE CAMP.  This is a big one for us since my husband is a Children’s Pastor and VBC is his Super Bowl. Most churches around the country offer a school or camp, that usually lasts a week, and some are even free!  A week of fun activities, friends, and more–and less expensive than hiring a babysitter each day!  Check your local churches for more details, but if you’re in the Seattle area, click here to find out how you can be involved in our church’s Doctor Who themed adventure! Cost: $0 – $50
  6. GO TO THE BEACH.  Again, this one is free and fun!  We try to get to our local beach before noon because I like a non-sandy place to stake our claim.  The kids love being able to come and go as they please and who doesn’t enjoy a relaxing day in the sun? Make sure to pack a high SPF sunscreen, lots of water, and baby powder to get the sand out of their toes easily.  Cost: $0 – $20
  7. SET UP A POOL.  When our kids were younger, every summer we purchased an inflatable pool.  They’re usually inexpensive if you get theme early enough so we didn’t feel bad throwing them away at the end of the summer. Last year we purchased an inflatable water slide and pool for them and we have easily gotten our money’s worth.  Obviously we won’t throw this one away until it’s full of holes, but this is another activity that doesn’t cost a lot of money and is so much fun for them.  Yes, it is work to set it up and take it down, but it’s so much fun!  And the memories that your kids will make will far outweighs the inconvenience of an end-of-the-day-deflate-session. We sometimes throw in some bubble bath or water toys to add to the fun, which again, you can get at the dollar store. Cost: $20-$100
  8. SET GOALS AND GUIDELINES FOR LAZY DAYS.  Since there are days when my kiddos are home  without me, I like to set schedules for them.  And they are scheduled down to the minute. Believe it or not, kids thrive on routine, so even though it is summer, there are things that are expected of them.  They have chores.  They still eat healthy and exercise. And they get rewarded when their daily goals are met!  It’s amazing how much mileage you can get out of them by putting an Otter Pop or pool time at the end of the morning. If you want my specific schedule for my kids, please leave comment and I will send it to you!  Cost: $0

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!

There are Enough Hours in the Day.

How many times have you heard or even thought, “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” I have. Usually daily. And I’m sure most of us like to think, “Yeah, but I really do have more to do than most moms.” There goes my hand up in the air.  I don’t know what makes us think that our lives are busier than the person across the street or next to us in line at Costco. Let’s face it, as moms, or dads, we all have busy going on.

imagesSo, how do you make enough time for your kids, spouse, pets, house, work, self, etc?  Honestly, I don’t know. But I want to give you the 5 top ways that have helped me stay organized and able to tackle the chaos that comes at me daily. If I can do these, you can, too.

1. PREPARE.  I am a note taker and list maker. Sometimes to a fault. I have lists for everything from meal planning to grocery shopping, from workout plans to vacation preparation. Preparing and planning helps me stay on top of my game and helps me feel like I have some sort of control in a sometimes chaotic environment. So, what’s the best kind of list? Whatever it is that helps YOU feel like you’re in control. Personally, I like the old-fashioned clipboard, paper, and pencil method. But you can use anything. Use your notes tab on your smart phone. There are now even apps you can download to help with whatever planning you need. But use whatever best works for you. I’ll have more on menu planning, shopping, and saving money on next week’s blog.

2. STICK TO A ROUTINE.  This one is not easy for me. As much as I love routine, I thrive on spontaneity. So often I want to ditch all my housework, keep the kids home from school, jump in the Montague van and just drive to somewhere remote for a milkshake. Obviously, this isn’t daily reality, so keeping to a routine helps me feel like I have control. So, when a day does come and no one has to work or go to school, we can do something fun and spontaneous. We live by the rule “Work Hard, but Play Harder.” Keep your routines tight so that you can have even more fun on those days off.

3. EXERCISE. You had to know that was coming. Why is exercise so important? Well, for one, it keeps our bodies healthy and when we have healthy bodies, we have healthy minds, homes, and kids. Exercise also, believe it or not, gives you more energy. All it takes is an extra 30 minutes out of your day. I know 30 minutes feels like an eternity when we already have such full days. But think of it this way. You could get up just 30 minutes earlier or go to bed 30 minutes later. If you’re not exercising, you’re probably tossing and turning in bed at least that amount of time. Exercise helps you stay more rested at night and focused during the day. So, you’re not actually losing 30 minutes of sleep, but gaining 30 minutes of activity. Exercise is also where you can blow ofF steam or stress and pull yourself together when you may feel like things are falling apart.

4. MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF . Please hear me when I say how important this is. You are giving most or all of yourself to your family. But who’s giving to you? Sometimes you just need to spend an afternoon at the movies or take yourself out to lunch. Maybe you like a warm bath, a book, and a glass of wine. Sometimes a massage hits the spot. One of my favorite things is just to sit on my back patio, listen to music, and scroll through Pinterest. Whatever you enjoy doing, treat yourself weekly. It will recharge your batteries and help you realize that you are more than your kids’ mommy or daddy, more than a house cleaner, more than a paycheck.

5. SLEEP. Yes! You need to sleep! Most doctors will recommend at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Sometimes you can get by on 6 or 7, but don’t make it a habit. Set your body clocks and get in the routine of getting a full 8 hours of sleep per night. Again, this will help you get to your full potential during the day. If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, then try to power nap during the day. I’ve trained myself to shut my brain off for about 20 minutes during the day if I need a little boost of energy.

I also want to add that I have an amazing support system in my husband and kids. I certainly couldn’t do anything without them. If you don’t have a support system at home, then find one somewhere either a moms or dads group, church group, best friend, or counselor. Parenting is hard, but you also want it to be fun.

Over the next 5 weeks, I’m going to break down each topic even further, so watch out next week for what my prepping and planning looks like!  And thanks for reading!   – RM