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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Divide and Conquer

You'd think that the more kids you have, the easier it gets.  Well, that tends to be true with the exception of baby number three.  The first baby does change your life forever but one baby is pretty portable.  You can take her just about anywhere and fit her into most of your plans.  With two, you've gotten the hang of how to take care of a baby and your life doesn't change drastically.  Enter baby number three.  All of a sudden, you're outnumbered...two adults and three children!  If you have your children close together (as I did), you could be trying to juggle three kids under the age of four.  This takes some creativity and daring if you ever want to leave your house.  I had a double stroller but that was cumbersome.  What I really liked was a baby front carrier and then later a baby backpack.  With an extra hand free again, I could navigate stores and other public places without going crazy. What made me think of this?  Last week I watched three of my grandchildren in a church lobby while their parents were in a meeting.  The oldest is not yet four, the next is two and the baby is two months old.  The baby started crying and the older two immediately decided that "divide and conquer" was the way to have a good time.  They looked at each other and took off in opposite directions, squealing at the top of their lungs.  And the baby cried.  And I was trying to keep them quiet because we were at a church.  Memories came rushing back as I tried to gather two kids (who went limp when I took their hand) and calm the crying baby.  I felt immediate sympathy and admiration for my son and daughter-in-law.  But, things do get better.   It isn't long before the kids grow into their new roles and you find ways to cope....just in time for baby number four!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

I don't think so...

Today I read a plaque on Pinterest which said, "Good moms have sticky floors, messy kitchens, laundry piles, dirty ovens, and happy kids."   Hmmmm...I do believe I disagree with the sentiment.  In fact, the idea that dirty homes produce happy kids sounds absolutely absurd!  I don't think it's an either/or decision.  It's possible to have both a clean house and happy kids. Don't obsess but don't be lazy either!

Monday, February 27, 2012


Just as naptime is vital for your sanity, an early bedtime for your kids is in the best interests of your marriage.  We had a bedtime of 7 pm for preschoolers and younger, 8 pm for elementary age children and 9 pm for older school kids.  As with naptime, demanding that the kids go right to sleep isn't the goal's giving Mom and Dad time to spend time together.  Our kids often spent an hour or so reading quietly in their beds before falling asleep, although there are other things kids can quietly do (that doesn't get them into trouble!).  They don't need to be constantly entertained by Mommy and Daddy.  I know there are work schedules where this wouldn't work, but it worked in our situation.  We had time to have dinner together as a family, read scriptures together, and still have an hour or more to play with them, or help with homework, or watch a movie, and get them settled for the night.  Then the rest of the night was ours.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Home Sweet Home

You may have noticed a few recent posts on the home environment.  That's because our homes provide the foundation for a peaceful, happy family.  If there is chaos all around, it's easy to become stressed and feel out of control.  Also, our homes reflect who we are and what we represent.  Do we care enough about our family to provide a neat and safe place to live?  Are we too busy to take care of the basic needs of our family?  Try a little experiment.  Before you go to bed, take ten minutes and pick up the clutter in the living room and clean the kitchen.  How do you feel the next morning?  Do you feel like you're already behind or do you feel caught up and ready to tackle the day?  Often it just takes a few minutes to tidy and straighten a room.  And those few minutes make a huge difference!  If we want our homes to be a refuge from the stresses of the world, we need to make a conscious effort to make that happen.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Safety Time!

Another post about home environment...this time about safety!  I don't think anyone would intentionally provide an unsafe environment for their children but it's amazing how resourceful, curious, and innocent kids can be.  Here are some examples - Four year old son removed the safety cover over the electrical outlet and  put screwdriver in. (He never did that again!)  Nine year old daughter fell out of bunkbed and broke nose.  (Sissy bar installed the next day!)  Six month old son got tangled in mini-blind cord while in crib. (moved crib immediately and never let mini-blind cords hang down again)  Granddaughter climbed out of second story window. (Family moved furniture and installed lock on window.)  These are just the first things that came into my mind too.  Most kids don't get through childhood without at least a few stitches or broken bones or other relatively minor injuries.  We can't protect our kids from everything but we should be responsible and look around our home and see if there's anything that we can do to avoid unnecessary accidents.  However, I don't think anything could have prevented my four year old daughter from her broken leg experience.  She had been watching the Olympics on TV and really wanted to do a triple-axel, like the figure skaters.  She tried it by wildly jumping off her bed, landing on a shoe on the floor, and breaking her leg.  No matter how hard we try, some things just happen...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Practical Place

Someone who I greatly respect told me several years ago that I should make my home a practical place. These were wise words, which I remembered often as I outfitted our home.  If you consider that the most important people who enter your home are your husband and children, it makes sense to make that place as well designed, as comfortable and as welcoming as possible.  I had a friend who redecorated her home and she chose white carpeting and white furniture for her new living space.  She had two rambunctious little girls, a dog, and a cat and it wasn't a week before that carpet was showing dirt and other stains.  She spent far more time worrying about that carpet and furniture and getting mad at her daughters than enjoying the results of her hard work and money.  Another friend liked to display fragile glass figurines and was constantly worried that her kids were going to knock something over.  Why not design your home for the stage in life where your family currently is at?  The white carpeting and fragile knick knacks can wait.  You can still have an attractive home that reflects what is most important in your life...namely, your family.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Because we're all human, we're going to make mistakes.  Parenting is a learning experience not only for our children but for ourselves as well.  Almost every day we are faced with decisions and sometimes, we realize that we might have done things differently.  That's perfectly ok.  In fact, the important thing is not necessarily making a mistake but recognizing it and learning from it and doing it differently the next time (and believe me, there WILL be a next time!)  It's ok to admit you made a mistake and it's ok to say I'm sorry to your kids and or husband.  Try the best you can with the resources and information you have and learn as you go along.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Simplify, simplify

Thoreau once said, "Our life is frittered away by detail.  Simplify, Simplify."  Truer words were never spoken, especially in the context of being a mom.  Sometimes I think we make things harder on ourselves by complicating our lives unnecessarily.  Our goal is to raise our children in a happy, healthy, safe environment.  Can we simplify our home to make it more in keeping with those goals?  Can we simplify our routines?  Can we simplify our outside commitments?  How about our children's commitments?  Or how about something as basic as the food we prepare?  Pick an area where you feel most overwhelmed.  What can you do about it?  How can you make it easier?

Let's take a common problem - children's toys scattered everywhere. Is there a home for the toys?  Is it easily accessible to your child?  Are there too many toys for the space you have?  Are all the toys in good shape and regularly played with?  First I would go through the toys and get rid of those that are broken or missing pieces or no longer played with.  Then I would pack up a portion of the remaining toys to be brought out at a later time.  I'd probably put aside those toys that my child seems to have lost interest in first.  Rotating toys makes old toys seem new again.   That exercise doesn't take much time and already you can see a difference.   Simplify, simplify...

Thursday, February 16, 2012

United we stand, divided we fall

Even though you might have strong opinions which differ from your husband, when it comes to raising children, it's best to present a united front.  Of course, you each have different upbringings and experiences but now that you are parents, it's time to come up with a game plan that you both agree upon.  Save the "heated disagreements" for private.  Let your children see that you support each other and stand by what is said.  How can kids learn how to behave when their parents don't even know what they want for them?  You might have to revise the game plan occasionally as circumstances and needs change, but do it together, and in private.  It can be helpful to have a weekly discussion to address what is working and what isn't.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day.  At our house we had a saying, "We show our love by the way we act."  Making heart shaped sugar cookies and heart shaped pink pancakes is a fun and treasured tradition but it's not the cookies or pancakes that are important, it's the time spent making them with the kids and for the kids that makes the memory.  We can say "I love you" but we need to show that love every day, not just one day of the year.  How do you show your love for your family?

Monday, February 13, 2012

You can't reason with a preschooler

I don't know how many times I've been in a store when I've heard a frazzled mother try to reason with an out-of-control 3 year old.  It just isn't going to work, lady.  Children aren't miniature adults.  They go through fairly predictable stages of growth and development from the time they are newborn and far into adulthood.  The ability to reason doesn't happen until the child is somewhere around the age of 8.  Until then, short, sweet statements of what you expect from your preschooler work better than long drawn out lectures.  Also, it's better to be specific rather than vague.  Example...say "Don't hit your brother!", not "Stop that!"  Neither should you ask why.  Most likely, the only real reason why is because he or she felt like it at the moment.  Kids are impulsive.  Be clear.  Be firm.  Be specific.  Be consistent.  And don't issue threats you aren't willing to carry out.  Your child will get the message...eventually.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Today's entry is short and sweet.  Never say anything that you would be embarrassed to hear your little darling say to anyone, anywhere.  Kids have amazing recall!

Friday, February 10, 2012


We lived in Philadelphia for a year and during that time we experienced our first hurricane.  The wind howled, the rain poured down, the power went out.  It was pretty intense.  Our kids were young at the time (ages 8 to newborn)  and were justifiably frightened.  I knew that I couldn't show any fear or it would have made things worse.  If I had gotten upset, the kids would have gotten more upset and the crisis would have been more difficult to deal with.  So we came up with the word "adventure" to describe the situation.  It actually worked!  They were calmer and so was I.  We got through that adventure and others since that time.   Hurricanes, thunder and lightning, earthquakes, power outages, moves, trips to the emergency room...all these and more were adventures.  The kids still  talk about the "adventures" they had and I smile.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


People like to know what to expect and your children are no exception.  Routines provide that sense of stability and security.  Planning appointments and other activities is also easier when you know what is going on at any particular time or day.  I'm not talking about rigidity and regiments.  I'm talking about a basic framework for each day that everyone knows about and can depend on.  There needs to be room for flexibility or unexpected changes in the daily schedule but most things should stay the pretty much the same.  The time to get up in the morning, the time to go to bed and of course, naptime, should remain fairly constant, as should mealtimes. Plan a schedule that works for you and your family and try to stick with it long enough for it to become a habit.  See if it helps your day run smoother.  Kids will probably still test your limits occasionally and see what they can get away with but that's just what kids do!

Friday, February 3, 2012


Let's face it.  Motherhood can be exhausting.  It can be demanding.  It can be frustrating.  Where does a mom find time for herself?  I think I learned the secret many years ago when my children were still small. The answer is NAPTIME!  You may think that that isn't anything unique.  All babies have naptimes.  Let me explain...

What I did was have naptime every day from 1-3 pm.  For babies, this meant sleeping.  For toddlers and pre-schoolers this meant a quiet time in their rooms.  Even for older kids, 1 to 3 pm was a quiet time for all.   By scheduling this, all the kids knew that during that time, they were expected to either read quietly in their rooms, sleep, or do something else that didn't require my attention.  While they were busy "napping", I would use that time for myself.  If I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before, I'd nap too.   If I had a project I was working on, I could do it without interruption.  I could do whatever I wanted to do.  It was amazing how much I accomplished.  Having that break in the middle of the day made it possible to handle the stresses of the afternoon and evening better. And, the kids were well-rested too.  (well, usually)

If there was anything that helped me keep my sanity, it was definitely naptime!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Yesterday a friend asked how to have strength.  I have some thoughts about it.
1. Strength is knowing that everything that happens, happens for a reason.
2. Strength is knowing that challenges are temporary.
3. Strength is knowing that growth comes through adversity.
4. Strength is having patience.
5. Strength is knowing that things will get better.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Take time for you

Taking care of yourself is usually not on the top of your priority list but it's something that will help you feel better about yourself and will help you be a better mother too.  Think of it...when you have taken the time to dress nicely and you look good, you feel good!  That rubs off on the rest of the family.  It doesn't take much time to change out of the comfy sweats or bathrobe and put on a clean shirt and jeans.  Even if you're tired, it's worth the effort.  We need to remember that motherhood is our job, our career, our profession.  We can look and act like we are proud of who we are and what we chose to do.  Of course, there are other factors like exercise and healthy eating that influence how we feel and look but it's amazing how something as small as the clothes we choose to wear can make a difference in how we start the day.