Featured Slider

Any links to Amazon are affiliate links. '

How to be Kind and be Firm with your Kids

by Carrie Wiley

Today, I'm sharing with you something that has been a struggle in my own heart and life lately and one I am very much still learning as I go: how to be kind and still firm with my kids.

I think it is so natural to get frustrated when our kids disobey, or give us attitude or make bad choices. You know, when it's time to actually parent them. I think it is really easy to give short, clipped instructions and corrections. And I for sure think it's easy to lose your cool. I know I struggle with this. It is something my husband and I talk about frequently and hold each other accountable to.

There is a line though, right? Certain behavior is completely unacceptable and needs to be corrected. But, isn't the same true of us as parents? It IS possible to be kind and firm in our instructions and corrections, even though it is difficult at times.

I have one tip for how to accomplish this and it's actually a tip that works across the board with talking with any human being (including your spouse, wink wink).....

consider the other person.

Being considerate of your child when you are correcting them doesn't mean you let them have their way and it doesn't mean you let them get away with poor choices or bad behavior. It means you consider the best way to communicate it to them. We all know there is a kind way to communicate with your child and the other way(s) that comes out of impatience and frustration. So yes, consideration takes a minute longer and often requires a bit of humility on your part too. But I think the response and results are worth it.

To this day, I remember times my parents corrected me and 90% of the time it was with kindness and with the intent of helping me grow into a responsible adult. I really want my kids to be able to say the same thing about me one day.

Why is this so important? Why does it matter? In our family, we believe discipline is a means of discipleship. Of helping shape their hearts and minds to love God and love His people. It is really difficult to do that if we aren't modeling that behavior for them. So we model kindness when we talk about hard things or things we disagree on. We model repentance when we get it wrong. And we model forgiveness and grace when they get it wrong. 

Consideration shouldn't be such a foreign concept, but in the world we are living in now - this high charged, high-opinionated culture where everyone has a voice on social media and so many hot political topics vying for our attention - we have to be very very intentional to teach, train, and model consideration and kindness for our kids. 

Carrie is wife to Kyle and mom to Laura Kate(9), Shepherd(6), Fischer(5), and Archer(3). She blogs at www.wileyadventures.com. She is a Jesus-loving, routine-following, travel planning mama, finding adventures in everyday life. 

The Best Christmas Treats to Make with Kids

I love Christmas treats. There are several I feel are must-makes every year. This year, I decided to have each child choose a treat to make each Monday evening to go with our family night. This has been fantastic because it has spread the treats out over the month rather than us having them all in one week. We are slowly enjoying them rather than binging on them.

The Best Christmas Treats to Make with Kids | Christmas | #christmastreats

These five treats are easy enough to make with your children. 

Fudge can be hard, but there are easy fudge recipes out there. I love to add different extracts to the fudge to change the flavor. Chocolate, mint, almond...it is all yum. Here is a link to my favorite fudge recipe:

 Simple Fudge

Sugar Cookies
To be perfectly honest, I hate making sugar cookies. HATE! Loathe even.

So naturally Kaitlyn chose sugar cookies for her treat. Ugh! 

I turned to my favorite recipe resource, Our Best Bites. They did not fail me. They had a delicious recipe and amazing tips for making the process easier. Things turned out the best they ever have and I feel like I can face that again with a better attitude in my heart. I think my sugar cookie heart grew a few sizes. Find the Sugar Cookie recipe here. 

Kiss Cookies
My grandmother always made kiss cookies every Christmas, so they are Christmas treat to me. Here is my recipe:
 Kiss Cookies

Gingerbread House
I go super easy on the gingerbread house each year. I simply purchase a Wilton Kit (affiliate link). I get it from the grocery store, Walmart, Amazon...wherever. I am sure to snatch up the first one I come across in life. I try to get ones that have multiple houses or parts (they have a train set). That way the kids can each do their own house or work with one partner instead of trying to have four do it. 

Oh Divinity! It is divine! Here is a simple recipe, but I skip the nuts. If you haven't tried this, you MUST!

The Best Christmas Treats to Make with Kids | Christmas | #christmastreats

Sample Babywise Schedules: The Fourth Month

Your baby's fourth month is her month as she turns three months old. The first month, 0 months old, was the first few weeks of life. The forth month is her month as a three month old. This is your first month stepping out of the newborn months!

Now that you have a three month old, read through my sleep hierarchy for 3-6 month olds. The goals and ideals change a bit with this older age range. Here are some sample Babywise schedules for you to use this month. This post contains affiliate links.

Month Overview
During this fourth month, aim for the following:
  • 12 weeks: 5-8 feedings per each 24 hour period.
  • 12 weeks: Feedings will be 2.5-3.5 hours apart.
  • 12 weeks: Some babies might be ready for feedings to be spaced 4 hours apart. Watch for that this month. 
  • 12 weeks: Your  baby should take 4-8 naps a day.
  • 12 weeks; Naps should be 1.5-2.5 hours long. The exception is your final nap of the day. This might be 30-60 minutes long.
  • 13 Weeks: Might be ready for 5-7 feedings in day.
  • Your baby will likely be sleeping anywhere from 7-10 hours at night. If you drop the dreamfeed, baby might sleep 12 hours at night. 
  • Watch for signs your baby is ready to drop the dreamfeed. Not all babies are, but some will be ready during this month. If you are breastfeeding, consider pumping at a dreamfeed if your baby stops eating at the dreamfeed. This will help keep milk supply up. 
  • Watch for signs your baby is ready to stop being swaddled. Some swaddle beyond this age, but some are ready to stop as a three month old.
  •  Babies in this age range will start to talk to themselves around 5 AM. If left alone, they will typically go back to sleep. This is just something they do developmentally. 
  • There is a significant Wonder Week around 12 weeks old. 
Our Sample Schedules
Here are our schedules we used in this age range.

Week 12:
7:30 AM--eat
8:30 AM--nap
10 or 10:30 AM--eat (I always get her by 10:30)
10:50 or 11:20 AM--nap
1 or 1:30 PM--eat (I always get her by 1:30)
1:50 or 2:20 PM--nap
4:00 PM--eat
4:50 PM--nap6:00 PM--eat
6:45 PM--put in swing (due to witching hour)--sometimes she sleeps, sometimes not
8:00 PM--eat (essentially a dreamfeed--no waketime)
8:30 PM--in bed
10:00 PM--Dreamfeed
On Becoming Babywise
8:00--feed, then bedtime

Week 13:
Our schedule has some differences. Our morning waketime got a little later because of the early morning feedings and we also dropped the cluster feeding:

8:00 AM--eat
8:50 AM--nap
10:30 AM--eat
11:30 AM--nap
1:30 PM--eat
2:30 PM--nap
4:30 PM--eat
5:30 PM--nap
6:30-7:00 PM--eat
7:30-8:00 PM--sleep in swing due to witching hour
10:00 PM--Dreamfeed
5:30-6:00 AM--early morning feeding (she wakes for this, I don't wake her)

8:00--feed, then bedtime

Week 14: 
10:00--nurse then bed (dreamfeed)
At this age, her night feeding was in those early morning hours, usually around 6 AM. I believe she dropped that feeding around 4 months.

6:30 or 7:00--eat then down to bed
Every other night, she ate between 5:30 AM and 6:00 AM. Those days, we started at 8 AM. The other days, she at between 7:00 AM and 7:30 AM. She still slept until about 11:00 AM.

8:00--feed, then bedtime

Week 15:
8:00 AM--eat
8:50 AM--nap
11:00 AM--eat
12:00 PM--nap
2:00 PM--eat (sometimes this was at 1:30 PM)
3:00 PM--nap
4:30 PM--eat
5:40-5:50 PM--nap
6:30 PM--sometimes woke. She is starting to usually take a shorter nap at this time of day. If she woke at 6:30, I got her and held her until starting to feed her at 7:00 PM. If she didn't wake at 6:30, I got her up at 7:00 to eat.
7:00 PM--eat then right back to bed.
7:30 PM--in bed
10:00-10:30 PM--dreamfeed
5:30ish AM--eat from one side

2:00 or 2:30--feed
3:00--nap (one hour after waking)
5:00 or 5:30--feed
6:30--nap (one hour after waking--sometimes she does one hour ten minutes here)
7:30--feed, then bedtime

Week 16:
It is a bit different this week since she is extending nights. I will just say she is waking at seven even though it ranged from 6:45-7:15. 7:00 is a happy medium.
7:00 AM--eat
7:50 AM--nap
10:30 AM--eat
11:30-11:35 AM--nap
1:30 PM--eat
2:35 PM--nap
4:00 or 4:30 PM--eat
5:15-5:45 PM--nap
6:30-6:45 PM--wake up
7:00 PM--eat then straight to bed
10:00 PM--dreamfeed

2:00 or 2:30--feed
3:00--nap (one hour after waking)
5:00 or 5:30--feed
6:30--nap (one hour after waking--sometimes she does one hour ten minutes here)
7:30--feed, then bedtime

Your Sample Schedules:
Here are your schedules you have shared over the years: 

Week 12: 
12 week old girl (but same schedule since 9 weeks or so)
I also work very early, so I have to leave the house by 6:30 am and get home at 5. So I always want to make sure she starts the day with a breastfeeding before getting breastmilk from a bottle all day.
5:30 wake
6-6:15 independent playtime while I get ready for work
6:15 nap
Sample Babywise Schedules | three month old schedules | sample baby schedules | #babywise #babyschedule

8:30 feed
9:00-9:30 play time with daddy and tummy time
9:30 nap
11:00 feed
12:15 nap
2:00 feed
3:15 nap (she has a very hard time with this nap)
4:45 or 5:00 feed
6:00 nap (she has a hard time with this nap sometimes)
8:00 feed
8:30-9:00 bed, depending on cues 
My husband pointed out that I should mention we don't dreamfeed. I tried it, and she actually wouldn't sleep through the night on nights that I did one. It started because I was so tired I skipped the dreamfeed for a couple of nights and she slept through. Then I picked it back up and she woke at 3:30. Perhaps because of gas? Either way, she currently doesn't eat between 8 and 5:30 

Week 13:
Almost 3 months

6am-waking time-feeding
11:30am-feeding-and usually we go out and doesn't fall asleep until his last feeding,stays awake all that time.Very happy and calm,sometimes fussy.(i know he is tired)
8pm-feeding,and goes to bed at 8:30pm,50% of the feedings i wake him up,specially on this one.
2am-feeding,he wakes up for this one. I'm still working on getting him to STTN, the longest interval so far is 6.5 hours but that is about it. and i usually pump before going to sleep(10-11pm) to keep my milk supply.

Almost 3 months 
I wake him up at 9:00 am-breast feed
Go down for nap 10:00 
Breast Feed 12:00 
Go down for Nap 1:00-1:10
Breast Feed 3:30 
Go down for Nap 4:30
Breast feed 6:00 
Go down for Nap 7-730 
Formula bottle 8:00
Goes to sleep 9:00 
Dreamfeed 930-10:00
He sometimes awakes by the 45 minute intruder during 2nd and 3rd nap but if I go in right away and give paci he goes right back to sleep and finishes out nap... he started sttn at 7 weeks!

Week 14: 
3 Months Girl 

7:00am – eat
8:00am – nap
10:00am – eat
11:00am – nap
1:00pm – eat
2:00pm – nap
4:00pm – eat
5:00pm – nap
7:00pm – eat
8:00pm – bed time
10:00pm – dreamfeed
(5/6:00am) – shortened feeding

14 Week Old Boy

We just moved to this schedule about 4 days ago after weeks of battling the 45-minute intruder and thinking he needed less awake time. I finally went with my gut that he was undertired and so allowed more awake time (almost 2 hours sometimes!), dropped the dreamfeed, and moved to a 3.5 hour schedule during the day. It has worked like a charm so far--he sleeps 1.5-1.75 hours each nap, 10-11 hours at night, and is happy and alert during awake times! He also still averages 15-15.5 hours of sleep a day, so it seems like enough. And he is not overly sensitive about the exact amount of wake time. We just watch for yawns, stillness, or sometimes fussiness before putting him down.
7am Wake, nurse both sides. (Sometimes he wakes between 6 and 7 but goes back to sleep or lays quietly.)
Wake time--independent play in gym, some play with mom and dad.
8:45-9am Nap
10:30am Wake, nurse both sides.
Wake time - tummy time, reading, playing in gym, playing with mommy, etc.
12-12:15pm Nap
2pm Wake, nurse both sides
Wake time - playing with mom or dad, reading, more independent play, etc
3:45-4pm Nap
5:15-5:30pm Wake, nurse both sides
Wake time - Bath, playing, errands or a walk, hanging out with us while we eat dinner
7:30pm Nurse both sides
Into pjs, read a book, sing a lullaby, and into bed by 8pm.
No dreamfeed since 13 1/2 weeks. No MOTN feed since 8-9 weeks.
9:30pm Pump right before going to bed. I started doing this when he dropped the dreamfeed, since he's still pretty young and I don't want to compromise my supply. Not sure how long I'll continue.

7 am: wake, nurse
7:50: nap
10:30: wake, nurse
11:30: nap
1:30: wake, nurse
2:30: nap
4:00-4:30ish: wake, nurse
5:00-5:30ish: nap (This is the shortest nap of the day)
6:00-6:15: wake, take a bath
7:00-7:30: bedtime (I nurse right before I put her to bed)
10:30: Dreamfeed (About 4-5 oz of pumped breastmilk)

5:30 - I wake and pump
6am -wake/feed (bottle)
8am - 1st nap
10am- feed
12 - 2nd nap
2pm -feed
4pm -3rd nap
4pm - I pump here too
6pm- Feed
8pm - Bedtime + Feed

He was going so long at night I started to pump twice a day to make sure my supply didn't drop.
I typically can freeze 6oz but it can range up to 12oz. He moved to a 4 hour schedule at 2 months.

3 months

6:30 eat
7:40 nap
9:30 eat
10:50 nap
12:30 eat
2:00 nap
3:30 eat
5:00 nap
5:30-6:00 wake for the evening
7:00 eat
7:30 bedtime

Start time and bedtime are very consistent from day to day, feedings are "on time" about 90% of the time. Waketime and naps are more variable from day to day. Some days she hibernates, other days she seems able to be awake and alert more, so we rely on cues quite a bit for naps. Occasionally chaos ensues and every nap is off! But we are close to the schedule most of the time- I include that info to encourage anyone reading who sees these schedules and wonders what they are doing wrong on off days- I've been there! Bad naps and bad days happen, but they have gotten much less frequent. STTN the full 11 hours most nights, she would occasionally starting around 9 weeks but now she is eating more at each feeding and she has started making it through most of the time. Dreamfeed didn't work for us (we gave it a good effort, but she woke earlier with the dreamfeed than without) and cluster stopped working around 8 weeks.

Combined ages:
10 - 13 week old boy

7:30am - 8am - Feed
wake time usually consists of baby in bouncy chair watching mom have her coffee.
9:30am - Nap
11am - Feed
wake time consists of some sort of exercise for mom, either stroller ride or front carrier hike.
12:30pm - Nap
2pm - Feed
wake time: bath then errands.
3:30pm - Nap
5pm - Feed
Wake time: bouncy chair or playpen time. Mom makes dinner.
7pm - Nap or awake usually put in swing because tends to be fussy at this time.
7:45-8:15pm - Last Feed
Have not done dreamfeeds as we are usually in bed early and up early so found dreamfeeds would actually make me lose some of my sleep.
3-4am - Feed (when baby wakes up) straight back to bed. Still trying to drop this feed.

See also:
 Sample Babywise Schedules for the first year  Sample Babywise Schedules: The first month  Sample Babywise Schedules: The Second Month
 Sample Babywise Schedules The Fourth Month

10 Chores for 4 Year Olds

When my oldest child was four year old, he could vacuum a room well enough that I didn't feel the need to go along behind him and fix it. That is saying something because I can be particular about cleaning, especially vacuuming. He had been trying to vacuum since before he was one and I had let him help me and move to doing it on his own as the years went by.

Chores for a 4 year old | preschooler chores | four year old | chores | #chores

A four year old can do some things around the house that actually contribute and help. A four year old will not have it perfect. He can't do it as well as you can, but for some things, he can do it well enough. He can feel good about contributing to the home and you can start to have some burden of the home spread out, which means more time for the family to spend together. 

Children gain so much from working with their parents. Making chore time a family affair is beneficial to your child. 

As you decide what your four year old can do, always start by building on and adding to what was done in younger years. If you haven't done chores up to this point, or want to know what could have reasonably been expected in younger years, see my post on Toddler Chores and my post on Three Year Old Chores
Chores for a 4 year old | preschooler chores | four year old | chores | #chores
Here are the things you can add to your four year old's list of possible chores. 
  • Brush teeth independently
  • Make own bed (remember, it won't be perfect!)
  • Start to clean room independently
  • Help set the table for meals
  • Clear own plate after a meal
  • Learn to make a sandwhich
  • Help unload the dishwasher (the things he can reach and can't be broken). He can even help with some handwashing of dishes. 
  • Sweep
  • Help clean bathrooms. I start with a task in the bathroom. Even something like "you are in charge of the floorboards in each bathroom" is a great first step. I slowly build on bathrooms over the years until the child can clean the entire bathroom independently.-
  • Vacuum
  • Outside chores. Have your child be involved in weeding, gardening, raking, shoveling, sweeping, etc. of the outside. 
These are things you want to add to your child's life as a four year old. This doesn't mean the day after his fourth birthday (because throwing chores at someone on their birthday is just mean) that you hand him this list of 10 things and expect him to master it. These are 9 tasks. Perhaps you start the first month of year four reviewing the toddler list and be sure he has those all down. Perhaps month two you review the three year old list and make sure those are good. Then in the third month, you work on teaching him to brush his teeth independently and have a goal that by the end of the month, he will be able to do that. The next month, move on to making the bed (or whatever you think is best from the list above).

Always remember you need to teach the skill before your child can even practice. Then your child needs lots of time to practice the skill before he can be good at it. 

If you are nervous about handing over teeth brushing to your child, try a compromise. When my kids first started this job, I would have him/her brush their  own teeth for one tooth brushing session each day and I would do the other(s). That way, I knew the teeth were being brushed very well at least once a day. As time goes on, you can hand over more control. You can also choose to let this be what is done in month 11 of the fourth year, so you child will be practically 5. 

 Chores for toddlers

 Chores for three year olds

Top Christmas Albums to Listen To

I love music in general, but I have a special love for Christmas music. I know it can seem silly to own several albums of songs that are essentially all the same, especially when the music is listened to for a little over a month a year, but I can't get enough!

Top Christmas Albums to Listen To | Christmas | Christmas Music | #Christmas

These are my 17 favorite Christmas albums. If you have a favorite singer or group, there is a good chance he/she/they have a Christmas album you can add to your collection. These 17 are also great additions. They bring the warmth, love, and joy of Christmas. There are varying music styles and decades represented here. I even have some choir and some instrumental. 

Right now, our overall favorite is anything from Pentatonix. We love them in general and especially love their Christmas music. This post contains affiliate links.

Bing Crosbie: 20th Century Masters: The Christmas Collection (Amazon doesn't have this, so here is White Christmas from Bing Crosbie).

Top Christmas Albums to Listen To | Christmas | Christmas Music | #Christmas

Try Amazon Music Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial