Thursday, April 28, 2016

Why Teach Virtue?


Virtue almost seems a little antiquated. Maybe a lot antiquated. I mean, some of you might not really know how to define virtue. And if you can't even define something, how important can it be to focus on that with your child?

Vitally important.

Virtue is vitally important. Even if you don't know what virtue means.

I am willing to bet you really know what virtue is and that you even subscribe to the idea of teaching virtue to your children. Virtue is moral excellence. Virtue is strength. Virtue basically is every good moral quality in a person. Kindness, charity, honesty, diligence, patience, forgiveness, obedience, respectfulness...these are all virtues.

There is an old proverb you have probably both heard and quoted many times. "Patience is a virtue."

This is just one of the seven heavenly virtues: Humility, kindness, abstinence, chastity, patience, liberality, and diligence. These are to contradict the seven deadly sins. 

So why focus on virtue?

A focus on virtue is a focus on prevention. When we focus on virtue, we focus on preventing our children from future pitfalls. 

We must be proactive in our modern world. There was the day, probably even childhood for many of us, when a parent could wait on teaching certain things. There was a day we could let children roam and have a grand time and all would turn out well. We could let their minds follow the innocent path of childhood and the path would be smooth and lead to a nice soft landing.

Those days are no longer reality. Today we need to be proactive. Today we need to teach children about common pitfalls at ridiculously young ages. Experts are suggesting teaching about pornography after the age of 6 is simply too late. Too late! That is not the world I grew up in. 

Virtues protect against a myriad of problems. Let's stay on the pornography topic. A child who is taught empathy, respect for others, and love for others is not going to be attracted to pornography. When "the world" tells this child that pornography is natural, the child will question that because it will be in direct contrast to what the parents have taught in the home. 

Or how about the obstacle of self-worth. How many women and girls really like their bodies? How many are happy with what the see when they look in the mirror? What might happen if we focused on virtues of humility and liberality (combating pride and greed)? What if the virtues of loving others and shunning idols were so strongly embedded into a woman that she was able to ignore the onslaught of "you aren't good enough" and tap in to the strength of her virtues and be happy with who she is?

A virtue is nurtured in the home. We might see good examples of virtues around us in the world. Those might inspire us to be better people. We might have rules reinforced that require us to act on certain virtues. Children will surely have rules at school, church, or dance class that certainly require the actions of virtues. But the nourishment of the virtues isn't done while our children are out and about. We must nurture these in our home. We must explain why these virtues are important. 

Acting on virtue will often mean you stand alone. Your child, if living the virtues taught at home, will most likely find him or herself standing alone as the virtue is followed or defended. Our children will need courage to do this. Our children will need confidence to be able to display the virtue to the world and not just shrink into the wallpaper. 

Teaching virtue is about teaching your child to stand for what is right throughout their lives, even if it means standing alone. 

For more on virtue on this blog, see:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Poll Discussion: Age Gap Between Children


No matter how much you research it, you will never find the perfect, one right answer. The reason? There are too many variables and too many life experiences to draw from. What worked well for one family may have been hard for another. Every age spacing has its perks and its difficulties. 

Despite that, we humans want to know. We want to ask around and be told what is best. I maintain there isn't a best, but I do think it can be wise to gather experiences from other so you can see what seems to fit you best. 

Please take a moment to fill this poll out on the topic of age spacing. Share your experience with honesty and realism. It is very helpful for me when compiling answers if you at least number the answers you give. You can also copy the questions and answer them. If the question does not apply to you, simply put "N/A."

1. What is the age spacing between your children? (if you have more than two children, you can list the various age gaps).

2. What are the perks, or pros,  of each age gap? (if you listed more than one, please list the perks with the age gap listed. For example, "18 month gap: Perks are...")

3. What are the drawbacks, or cons, of each age gap? (if you listed more than one, please list the perks with the age gap listed. For example, "24 month gap: Cons are...")

4. Knowing what you know now, what do you imagine the perfect age gap might be (if you were able to have it just how you wanted)?

5. Any comments you want to share?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Kaitlyn Preteen Summary: 9 Years Old


This is a summary for Kaitlyn from 8.75-9 years old.

EATING 
Eating is good. She continually improves her willingness to eat foods she doesn't particularly like. I am proud of her for working on that.

SLEEPING
Sleeping is great. I have a feeling she will be the type of teenager to want to sleep in. 

EXTRA CURRICULAR
During this time period, Kaitlyn played basketball. She had a couple of months off of soccer practice, but started up the last month of this period. She continued with the piano and dance, with some swim lessons here and there. She has passed off all skills, but she does lessons still to maintain her skills. We are there anyway so she might as well take some time to stay up on the skills. 

The big thing of this time period was the musical. Kaitlyn played Pinocchio in our school musical. She was fantastic! She really enjoys acting and naturally comes alive on stage. She has always loved to perform.

Ready for a dance revue (in the locker room)


SCHOOL
School continues to go well. Kaitlyn recently declared to me that she hates math. This was a surprise to me because she is for sure one of the top students in her grade in math. I am not sure why she would hate something she is good at. It makes me sad, too, because of the stereotype that girls aren't math people. I don't want her to give up on math and slowly decline in her math abilities. I am still mulling over how to respond to this other than "Really? That surprises me!" I understand it because honestly math was my least favorite subject in school and I was pretty good at it. In elementary I did well, and in Jr. High and High School I was always in the second highest level. But I hated it. I finished all of my college math as a junior in high school so I wouldn't have to take math in college. I haven't shared any of that with her, though. I am not sure if I should. I am also not sure if I should even care that she hates it! 

BOOKS
Kaitlyn recently read the book Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards. Our neighbor brought it over because it was her favorite book as a little girl and she has no daughters, only sons, so she wanted to share it and she knew Kaitlyn is a reader. Kaitlyn loved it! She has also recently enjoyed Sarah Plain and Tall and The Classroom at the End of the Hall.  She starts and finishes books faster than I am even aware of them.

SCHEDULE
School schedule:

7:00 AM--Wake up. Eat breakfast and get ready. Practice piano. Do morning chores. Read scriptures. 
Go to school.
4:00 PM--Home from school. Homework. Free play
5:30 PM--Dinner. Then family time.
7:00 PM--Start getting ready for bed.
8:30 PM--Bedtime.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Managing Disruptions to the Routine


We clearly had no concept of the importance of consistency. We didn't understand the benefits and the positive impact a little consistency could have in life. Brayden's first summer was spent here, there, and everywhere. The only thing consistent was that there was no consistency. As our girls came along, we were very careful about consistency. We had learned what inconsistency did and seen what could happen when there was consistency for a baby. 


Summer is coming, and with summer comes disruptions. So when the time comes to have those disruptions, how do you manage them? This was my latest "managing" question on Facebook. Here is what you had to say:

Stay Close to Home
Christina said: This will be a new experience in a way for me because I will have a four-year-old and a newborn this summer (he's due May 12). We will most likely do a stay-cation this summer, but I am planning to bring my new baby boy with us outside whenever possible so that my daughter can play in a swimming pool or sandbox and get as much sunshine and outside time as she can. I'm also hoping to take both of them to the park for short visits here and there (we don't live very far). Everything will be timed around nap time once our schedule is set. If there is one thing I wish I'd done a bit differently with my daughter, it would have been to get outside with her even more. Evening and morning walks will be a must with our routine! 
smile emoticon

Have Flexible Plans in Place
Alyssa said: We will plan one outing a day (usually the morning) and a walk or park trip in the afternoon. I like having days set aside for various outings (Thursday's are library days, Friday's are the pool, etc). I have a list of events locally and we rotate enjoying them. It's a different routine than our school schedule, but we still get out in the day, come home for lunch and room time, sibling play/movie time, and then enjoy outdoors. I also have a back log of crafts and experiments we can enjoy at home whenever we are getting bored. When we travel we usually follow a similar pattern because the kids need some down time midday and it seems to work out pretty well. This will be our first summer with my oldest two not needing naps, but new baby is coming, so that should shake things up. Hoping this one will take good naps in the ergo!

Disrupt Wisely
Shseena said: Mine is to try and have a more specific time to get out..a time where i know its ok to sacrifice a nap..like around3pm i know its okay if my 5 month old takes that nap while out because is always short anyway

Plan Around Schedule
Kristen said: I usually just fit in our fun around our normal everyday schedule! For instance when my daughters were young and still napped, I usually didn't plan anything unless we could do it first thing in the morning to be back by nap or later in the afternoon after nap and be back by dinner. I'm a real stickler for sticking to a schedule and routine with little ones! Now that the kids are older it doesn't matter as much because they don't require naps or have any other things they have to do. But now we have a baby in the house so we're back to scheduling our lives around nap time and bedtime, lol! It'll be interesting to see if we can get much of anything done this summer!!!!

Do Not Stress
Erica said: I live abroad and go home to the USA for summer, which means a super long flight and crazy jet lag! In my experience, the key is to get the kids back on schedule as quickly as possible, understanding that there will be a transition time of a few days. It's hard for me but I have to force myself to be more flexible. You just have to relax about it as much as possible--things do back to to normal once you are back home, I promise!

Adjust for Personalities
Katie said: Disruptions come in all shapes and sizes. When we take a long family vacation, we don't do a ton to minimize disruptions. It is a special and different time and requires adaptability on all parts, and there is usually a lot less sleep involved for everyone. We get back to normal in a strict way when we get home.

But the rest of the time, I work hard to add activities to our lives without disrupting routines (mostly sleep routines), especially for younger kids. I watch each kid to see how they are doing with disruptions and when they need a break. Their personalities determine a lot of what each can handle. As they get older, it's easier - mornings can be really fun and different every day and they do well with this. Special evenings can occur more often although I watch carefully to see if this is creating more fun or more overall chaos. And we try to use the summer to work on their coping/adaptability skills on how they can let me know appropriately when they're overwhelmed, or what to do when they need some down time.

For more information from me, see these posts:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Choosing the Right Allowance System for Your Family

I was more than a little concerned when my father-in-law sat my new husband and me down for a lesson on finances shortly after we got married. I had the same type of talk from my own parents many, many years before. I had also been managing my own money since that time. The idea of having the talk as an adult in my 20s gave cause for concern over what our financial life might be like. Luckily my husband has been a quick study :)

Like most things in the world of parenting, allowance is something that can be polarizing. There is a wide spectrum of what people's thoughts and policies are on allowance. "I give an allowance so my child will learn how to manage money" proclaim some. "I am not paying my child for doing things he should be doing anyway!" proclaim others.

There are a whole lot of ways to approach money with your children. I think of allowance a lot like I think of potty training--this really isn't a moral issue. There are many options. There isn't one right way that would work for all families. You might even do many different methods over the years. You might like one method for one child and another method for another child. 

No matter what your approach is to money with your children, make sure the method leads you to one goal: 

Teach your child about money.

In my mind, the point of an allowance is for your child to learn about money. 
  • Your child needs some concept of the worth of money. How long does it take to save up for something? How much do things cost? How much time and/or work took to save up that money? Is the item worth the money it would take to get it? Once your child has the item, your child will better appreciate the item and take better care of it. 
  • Your child needs experience in managing needs vs. wants.
  • Your child needs to understand what happens when your money reaches 0. That means no bailouts. 
  • Your child needs to learn to pay tithing (if that is something you do). You can't gain a testimony of tithing without actually paying it. Your child can also learn to be generous with his/her money. 
Even if you are in the no allowance camp, you need to be sure your child learns how to handle money, which means you need to make sure your child has money to manage in life. I believe teaching children money management is a fundamental job as a parent. 

Choosing a System
Here are some common systems people use for allowance with their children. Every one of these methods I will describe will have proponents and opponents. Each side will have compelling arguments. You have to choose what you think is best for your family right now. Always remember you can change things as needed. Choosing a method isn't a lifetime commitment. 

1-When You Do Chores, You Will Get an Allowance
Some parents pay their children so much money for doing chores. They might pay per chore or they might pay a base rate if chores get done. The pro here is that your child has reason to do chores, which should lead to less reminding from you. The con here is that children will potentially either choose no allowance to avoid a chore or or they will expect to get paid for everything they do. Opponents also point out children should help around the house simply because they are part of the family and should be contributing to the function of it.

2-You Get An Allowance No Matter What
Some people pay their children so much money per week or month with no dependency upon the chores done in the home. Proponents of this idea state that teaching children about money is a fundamental job of parenthood. Because  you are teaching about money, the money shouldn't be tied to anything else. The opponents of this idea point out that children can become entitled and think they "deserve" the money even though nothing was done to earn it. While you are teaching about handling money, you aren't teaching what it means to earn money.

3-You Get an Allowance No Matter What, But I Will Charge You if I Do Your Chores
This is probably my favorite method. I first read about this in Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours by Kevin Leman. I love it because it is a way to achieve all goals of teaching children to work and to manage money. You don't have to pay your child for the chores they do. They want a child to do chores just because they are a member of the family. I totally agree with that. Other people like to pay for chores because it gives children incentive to get chores done. 

Leman's idea is perfect because if your child doesn't do his or her chores, he has to pay the person who did do the chores. So the child still gets the money, but the money goes bye-bye if chores don't get done. It is very real-world.

As a parent, I have seen this isn't a flawless system, however. Kaitlyn really dislikes chores. She was perfectly content to pay her siblings to do her chores for her. She didn't mind having no money if it meant no chores. I believe a job of mine as a mother is to teach my children how to work, so I put a stop to her business venture. That idea works in the real world, but she wasn't actually earning the money in the first place, so I wasn't going to allow her to use her unearned money to get out of chores. 

For more on this method, see Making Children Mind...Chores and Allowance.

4-I Do Not Give An Allowance. You Have Basic Chores. You Can Earn Money With Extra Chores
This is the method we are currently using at our house. It is really where we just naturally fell as a family. Our kids have basic chores they are in charge of. If they want to earn money, I have other chores they can do to earn some. I use deep cleaning jobs for this--things like cleaning baseboards, cleaning blinds, washing walls and doors...things that don't need to be done weekly. 

Some people don't like the idea of paying for extra chores because they say kids will only choose the chores they like. They say this isn't realistic to life. They want their children to do extra chores without money and without having a voice in which they do. Proponents of this method like that you can have your normal chores, you don't have to mess with allowance, and your child still has the opportunity to earn money. Money has to be earned and is not given to them, which is more like real life. 

5-You Are Only Two So You Do Not Get Any Money 
I don't know if anyone would argue this one. The point here is that there is an age to start allowance and teaching about money. The "right" age can be debated. I would say no later than 5 or 6. Age 4 is probably the earliest you need to do it, but if you have a 3 year old who wants to be like the older siblings, it isn't going to hurt things. 


We have really done all four of these methods at different times except for number one. I loved method three for helping getting the kids interested in money. We gave a dollar a week per child. Not a lot. They could still do extra work to earn money. That way they had a cash flow and could use that money to buy things they wanted. It gave them incentive to do chores so they could keep their money (except for Kaitlyn...). It helped them to have money to learn to manage. 

Concepts to Teach
Like I said, we are talking about allowance so we can fulfill a responsibility as a parent to teach our children about money. No matter which system you choose, you want to be sure you are teaching basic money skills. What should we be teaching?
  1. Require your child to save some money. Do not allow your child to just spend 100% of the money earned. That might sound harsh--no one is telling you how much to save! But you aren't a child. No one is telling you to wear a jacket or to wash your hands after you use the bathroom, either. Remember, this money is for you to teach your child. Your child doesn't get adult privileges as a child. Many people do a "give, save, spend" idea. We have piggy banks that have "save, invest, spend, and donate." 10% goes in save, 10% in invest, 10% in donate, and 70% in spend. 
  2. Require your child to donate some money. Learning to be charitable is a valuable life lesson both for the individual and for our society.
  3. Allow your child to make dumb money decisions. But still advise your child. Let your child know the potential problems you see with the money decision (toy is poor quality? toy is not something your child will like long-term? toy cost more money than it is somewhere else?). Advise, but allow your child to make the decision (so long as the item falls in line morally with your family standards). Your child will make the dumb decision and will remember that lesson in the future.
  4. Leave your child wanting for things. If your child gets everything he ever wants, he doesn't have much incentive to practice using this money he is getting. 
  5. Do not pay your child too much. You want your child to have to work for the item he wants. It can't all come to him from a few chores. He needs to learn to save for something. He needs to learn to wait for something. Brayden once spent two years saving for one item (it was a very bit ticket item). 
  6. Help your child set goals. Having goals is what helps you learn to manage your money. Help your child think of what he or she wants to save for. Talk about how long that goal might take. Brayden knew his goal would take years when he took it on. Not all children (okay, very few) will have that much patience. He is my only child thus far to have that kind of financial patience. Having a goal will help your child to not just spend 100% of the spending money every time it gets above one dollar. 
As you are choosing your method, keep in mind this is a means to an end. The end goal is to teach your child all about money over the years so your child can leave the home ready to responsibly manage his or her own finances. We are raising future adults.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Foundation for Financial Security


It seems so easy on paper. You knew that when the day came, you were going to rock at the money side of life. The answer is really quite simple and there was no doubt you would be able to pull that off. But real life is never as easy as it seems on paper. Financial security is no different. 

When real life kicks in and we become distracted by our many grown-up responsibilities, we can very quickly forget the simple and basic foundation for financial security. How quickly we can ignore the basics and let ourselves chase our immediate wants and ignore long-term needs. Sometimes we do this consciously and sometime we do it without even realizing it.

What is the foundation of financial security? What is this magic formula? 

Spend less than you earn. 

That's it. It is that easy. That easy on paper. It is one of those "Duh!" things in life. If you want to be financial secure, you have to spend less than you make. You cannot have financial security without that foundational principle. I know, it seems pretty obvious, right?

Did you know the average American household in 2015 had over $15,000 in credit card debt? 39% of the country has credit card debt--just credit card. That doesn't bring into account student loans, car loans, and other types of debt. Does that seem like we are fulling grasping this basic "spend less than you earn" idea? 

Here is the battle we face to keep our spend less than you earn thing going on: life style. You have a standard of living. This is how you want to be able to live your life. This is what you want to attain. This isn't a bad thing--it can motivate us to reach for more. 

The problem is this thing called reality. In the financial world, it is called level of living. The level of living is what you actually are living. When we push our level of living beyond what we can financially afford in pursuit of standard of living, we go into debt. 

We have to cut out what we don't need until we are at a place where we can cover all necessary expenses and still have money to put toward savings. Here are some basic habits to establish to help you build that foundation on bedrock:

Set Goals
You need short-term and long-term goals so you know what you really want to spend your money on. When we went to Southern California on a long vacation as a family last year, we paid cash for the whole thing. It wasn't cheap. We were there for 10 days and we are a family of 6 people. We saved for a couple of years for that trip. When we were at the store and the kids asked for something, we would ask if they would rather spend money on that or a California trip. We would ask ourselves the same thing. Things add up over time. Goals help you really spend your money on things of most
importance and highest priority.

Remove Selfishness and Fear
It might sound harsh, but spending money you don't have or don't need to spend is being selfish. Sometimes we can act like little toddlers in thinking about cutting things out of our lives. You might find yourself needing to cut that Dish subscription. You don't want to live without your TV! You need to find another way to save the money or you need to cut it until you can afford it. 

Understand Want vs. Need
REAL needs. Very little in life is a real NEED. But it is understandable to want a higher level of living than a tent, firepit, and a bucket. That is why having goals can be so helpful. What goals do you want to achieve and what level of living are you willing to be at in order to reach that goal. Maybe you are willing to reach that goal a year later than you would other wise in order to keep around X, Y, and Z items in your life. 

Don't Spend on Credit
You must accept reality as it is now. Businesses want us to buy NOW, not later. We can find ourselves justifying buying things on credit because we will be able to enjoy it longer. We will have more family time with it. We can buy it now, use it for 3 years sooner, and just pay it off little by little. It is the same as if we were saving little by little for three years, right?!?

The trouble is that life happens. Expenses that are unexpected come up. The car breaks down. We need a new dishwasher. Our children grow faster than we can keep clothes on them. When that money is being saved toward something, we can use it that month to pay for the unexpected. When the money is already owed somewhere else, we incur more debt. 

Save the money first. Then pay for it. 

This helps you to really want the item before you pay for it. It helps you to weigh it versus those random things you just came across at Target. 

Face Reality
You need to know how much money you make. You need to know how much of that money is already going to your fixed expenses like mortgage/rent, electricity, water, utilities...you need to know what you typically spend a month on groceries, gas, non-food items, clothing, home repair...you need to know what you are paying into activities for the kids...Figure these things out. Then figure out how much extra you have floating around. I am guessing it will be less than you imagined. 

Then when you are thinking about spending money on something, think if you want that little bit of extra money you have floating around going toward that or somewhere else.

If your fixed expenses seem high, see what you can do to manage those expenses. What can you cut? Is there a way to reduce utility bills?

Understand Your Level of Living
Know and understand what your level of living is right now. Too many people my age and younger are wanting to move out of their parent's home and maintain the standard of living they had while living with mom and dad. That would be nice, but mom and dad spent a lifetime together to build up that standard. They didn't buy it all in one year. They didn't earn the income all at once. They had to work to build that all up. 

Have Basic Savings
Have a basic savings set up so you can meet emergencies. Different financial advisers suggest different types of savings. Shoot for at least 3 months of your fixed expenses saved up. You can definitely do more. It takes some time. Do it. 

Conclusion
Financial security is well worth the effort it takes to attain. Happiness is not found in accruing stuff, especially when you can't afford it in the first place. It is found in managing your finances in a sound way. Happiness is not fulfilling your every whim and desire. You will find more satisfaction in the purchases you do make when you do it in a financially responsible way. Give it a try.

Related Posts:

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

McKenna Child Summary: 7 Years Old

This is a summary for McKenna from 6.75 years old to 7 years old. 

BUDDING LAWYER
The major theme of the last month has definitely been McKenna's apparent desire to be a trial lawyer. A good one. She argues with everything. She argues with things that are completely illogical to argue about. Things that are proven facts.

I swear, if I said the sky was blue, she would argue it. And I know it could be argued technically, but she doesn't know that. 

It is kind of like she got her Kindertude as a first grader instead of a kindergartner. I don't want to squash her free thinking and I like that she has confidence in herself. But you can't argue with your
Climbing the rope like it
is easy.
parents about every instruction ever given. Nope. 

EATING
Eating is normal. The end of this period she became ravenous. I am guessing growth spurt is happening. 

SLEEPING
Sleeping is good other than I really think she needs more sleep than she is getting. She has always been a high sleep needs person. The trouble with her sleep is that she shares with an older sibling. If that older sibling goes to bed later than McKenna, McKenna will make sure she stays awake until Kaitlyn is in there. She would probably prop her eyes open with toothpicks if necessary (and if they were available in her bed). 

She really should be sharing with a younger sibling (aka Brinley). But those two girls are my party girls and I don't think it would result in more sleep in reality. In theory, yes. Reality, nope. Who knows? Brinley does follow rules in a literal way and McKenna is used to sharing. But I would not change it up during the school year. So that is a thought to entertain for a bit. 

PLAYING
Playing is good. She loves to be very physical and active. 

SCHOOL
School is going well. McKenna has a cute little friend who has had a few surgeries this year. She just got to be friends with this girl this year. McKenna and the girl are opposites in many ways personality-wise, but they have become great friends. McKenna definitely feels a sense of protectiveness over this girl. McKenna will often volunteer to stay inside and do recess with this friend inside instead of going out, which really is a big deal for her because she loves being active so much. I love her sweet heart. She has her difficult lawyer moments, but her heart is always kind and she is always willing to sacrifice to help others be happy. And I don't think she even looks at it like a sacrifice in the least, which makes it even better. 

A common thing I hear about McKenna at school is that she always lets everyone play. She won't let people be left out. She and Brayden are similar in this way; they are not afraid to stand up for what they feel is right. They won't sit by and watch rules be broken. If you break a rule in their presence, they will be sure to inform you about it. 


EXTRA CURRICULARS
McKenna played basketball for her first time during this time period. McKenna is very tall for her age and very muscular. She is naturally quite athletic. But she isn't very aggressive at this point. She is all about the fun and doesn't even have a clue who is winning the game. 

She started basketball off slow. By the end, however, she was scoring and had improved a whole lot. 

McKenna still did piano during this time. She loves to play. She is one who will just sit and play often and throughout the day. 

We did some swimming lessons, but we didn't do it a whole lot during this time period. They were hit and miss.

She still takes her gymnastics and cheer classes. 

She also did the musical. She loved that. Not all young children love to practice much--we have kids who come only once a week and feel like they are being tortured. But some, like McKenna, come twice a week and soak it all up. 



SICKNESS
McKenna had this strange thing happen. She complained of not feeling well. She had a low temperature. The fever would come, then go, then come, then go. She was the third child to get a fever in a short time, and the others were over it in a matter of a day or two. My husband had the fever first and had it just for a day. 

But McKenna's wouldn't leave. It would jump up and down all day (with no medication). It would go from 99 up to 104 and everywhere in between. After 5 days, I finally decided to take her to the doctor.

I didn't take her sooner because quite frankly I learned as a new mom that nurses don't like to book appointments for your child to see a doctor with a fever unless it has been at least three days. So I waited three days, day four was the doctor's day out of the office, then we went on day five. 

He suspected influenza. Her ears were good, throat was good...he tested her for the flu but said there is nothing you can do at that point--you have to treat in the first couple of days (which makes me think, we shouldn't get pushback for trying to make appointments sooner than day 3 of a fever--we being moms). 

The test came back negative anyway.

The next day she was good. I kept her home from school since she hadn't been fever free for 24 hours yet. 

The next day she was still good. She played and played all day. Then in the late afternoon, she randomly and without warning puked (luckily it was all outside and easy to clean up). 

The fever came back that evening.

The next day she stayed home from church.

Monday, she still had a fever. We were going on day 8 or 9 at this point. She had missed a full week of school already. I took her to the doctor again.

This time we did more tests. He started with a urine test for a bladder infection. Negative. Next was a chest x-ray.

That was it! Pneumonia! She wasn't even coughing! I wasn't aware that you can have pneumonia and not be hacking. When I had it, I coughed so often I rarely got to breathe. But she was super lethargic and tired. 

The doctor wanted her on antibiotics for 24 hours and fever free for 24 hours before going back to school, but said she might not be ready even then. McKenna's teacher was fabulous and offered to face time with her for key parts of the day (phonics, reading, and math). 

The cough started later that day.

She started feeling better very quickly. She qualified for school Wednesday, but she was still exhausted. I understood because it took me 6 weeks after I was fully better to have my energy post-pneumonia. She also was coughing more and needed constant water and candy to suck on to not cough. Not great for school. So we did homeschool for a week. We would facetime in, then work on stuff, then facetime in, then work on stuff...we needed to practice for the first grade play coming up and we had her self-starts and spelling worksheets...it was an all day event. Brinley had to spend a lot of time being totally quiet because of facetime going on.

McKenna was not ready to go back Thursday. She was still sleeping a lot. She also started eating a ton. She hadn't eaten much for two weeks (she lost a few pounds, which is a lot on a child! She was noticeably much thinner). She basically ate every minute she wasn't sleeping. So I figured it was best for her to be home so she could just eat and eat.

Fridays are short days for us, so we decided to send her back for a short day. I told her she could come home early if she needed to. Fridays are also her test days so it was good for her to go and get her tests all taken. She lasted through the day and never looked back! 

McKenna was a witch in her first grade play


FAVORITE BOOKS
McKenna has gotten into Ella Enchanted this last bit. She also had fun with the Rainbow Fairy books. 

SCHEDULE
Here is our typical schedule on a school day.

7:00 AM--wake up. Eat breakfast. Get ready. Do morning chores. Read scriptures. Practice piano.
9:00 AM--school starts
4:00 PM--home from school. Homework. Then free play.
5:30 PM--Dinner. Then time with family.
7:00 PM Start getting ready for bed.
8:00 PM--in bed 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Dropping Naps: A Quick Guide

Sometimes you just want information quickly. Sometimes you basically know what you are doing (like when it isn't your first child) and you just need a refresher. Sometimes you have no clue what you are doing (like when it IS your first child) and you just want a basic idea of what the road ahead will look like for you.

It is for both of these scenarios that I made this quick guide. I hope this will help you in your parenting life. I hope it makes things just a little bit easier. 

I know some people really like hard copies of things. I made a printable version and uploaded it to my Drive account. You can get your free copy here.

I have also added it to my eBook, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom Book of Logs. When you purchase these (for only one dollar!), this sheet will be included. If you have already purchased, you can download for free at the link above. 

If you want further details on any nap dropping, see these posts:



If you still have questions, please ask! When I get the same questions over and over, I know I have a gap in my information and I work to fix it. So ask away!

Friday, April 15, 2016

How to childproof your electrical outlets and devices {Guest Post}


Having a baby brings so much joy and light into your life. As infants, all they want is to snuggle into your loving arms. However, these children will learn to crawl, walk, run and climb – making it more difficult to keep them safe. Childproofing your electrical outlets and devices will help ease your mind knowing your child is safe from these electrical disasters.

For some reason, babies are drawn to outlets like a magnet. They will try sticking their fingers, toys and pretty much anything they can get their hands on into these hazardous outlets. Thankfully, there are some great products out there that can prevent your child from hurting themselves.

Outlet Caps – Individual outlet caps can be a quick fix. These little caps are the most affordable solution to the outlet problem. All you have to do is simply place the outlet caps, into the outlet. Your child will have a difficult time trying to remove these little buggers from the wall. When you need to use the outlet, remember to keep the outlet cap out of reach from your child.

Outlet Cover – Similar to the outlet cap, an electrical outlet cover can be purchased to prevent your child from getting hurt. An electrical outlet cover replaces your regular outlet and is safely attached with a screw. The spring activated cover prevents your child from having any access to the outlet. To plug in an appliance, place prongs into slots, slide and push.

Adapter plug cover – Does your child like making the lights in your home go on and off by plugging and unplugging the cord to your lamp? Babies may seem a little mischievous at times but they really are only curious. You can prevent your child from unplugging devices by using an adapter plug cover. Merely feed the cord through the cover, plug the cord in and attach the cover to the wall. No more dark rooms in your house!

Plug Locks – To keep your child from plugging in devices and potentially injuring themselves, plug locks can be an easy fix. A plug lock is used by plugging the device into the lock and removing the key. The plug lock can only be removed with a key.

Power Strip Cover – You might be wondering what to do about your power strip that has all your important devices plugged into it. Don’t you worry – there is a device for that as well. A power strip cover will do the same as an adapter plug cover – all of your devices will remain plugged in and your baby will be safe.

Long cord solution – Long cords can be very dangerous and a disaster waiting to happen. Keep your child safe from tripping on these long cords and shorten them. There are devices that can be purchased for this, or you can coil up the excess cord and place a zip tie around it.  

Don’t forget to inspect your outlets for discoloration and burns, this could mean there is faulty wiring near the switch and is dangerous. If you suspect there is something wrong with your wiring, seek professional assistance immediately.

As an expectant mother you are busy buying clothes, dippers, a stroller and many other baby necessities to prepare for your little one. Even new mothers are wrapped up with their new bundle of joy and coping with the work that goes with it. Although you might not want to think about it, your baby will leave your arms someday. Take the precautions and be confident knowing your child will be safe from electrical dangers.


Presented by Gillece Services of Pittsburgh! For more helpful home advice, you can visit them at Gillece.com.

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Thursday, April 14, 2016

Managing Multiple Schedules {Guest Post}



by Shea Moses

It is overwhelming to welcome a new baby into the family system. Tackling just one child's schedule needs can be a daunting thing to navigate as a new mom. Each time a subsequent child is brought into the family the weaving and workings of new schedule will lend a learning curve, but it can be done!

As a mom of 4 children, who all have different sleep needs, I have worked through making sense of our day several times over. For sanity's sake, I need some order to what the day will hold. It has taken a lot of trial and error, but we have an ebb and flow to our day and everyone's needs *mostly* get met each day.


Wake time and Bed time
I aim for everyone's day to begin and end at the same time. I feel like if I do this, everyone will hungry at the same time each day, and usually they will ready for sleep at the same time each day. To follow suit with my favorite Babywise philosophy, begin as you mean to go. If when they begin school you want them waking at 7 am and going to bed at 7 pm, begin working towards those times as a goal in infancy. If you want them all to go to bed at the same eventually, take the steps necessary by adjusting feeding times to make that happen. Write out an ideal schedule beginning with a consistent wake up time and end it with a consistent bedtime.


Recognize your non-negotiables
Are there places you have to be a certain time, each day, that you do not have control of? My oldest daughter goes to first grade at public school. I was shocked when they did not consult with me about what time school would begin and end each day (insert sarcasm here). They are tardy if not in the doors by 7:50 am and I have to pick her up between 2:50-3 pm everyday (yes, there is a bus system - but I just enjoy going to get her). For five days each week we are in the car at these times, so I knew we needed to plan accordingly around those times. On Sundays, we attend church. I know that I am going to have to plan around Sunday School hour and Worship hour. These are non-negotiables. I have no control over the times, but I have to contend with them.

I also have set a non-negotiable for my own home. That is, no matter what else is going on during the day, we carve our 2.5 hours after lunch for nap and rest time. The majority of the children in my home still need this time to nap or to rest (7 year old is at school most days, but on weekends she rests during this time with a book or quiet activity. She joins the 5.5 year old who does the same. The 3 year old and the almost 2 year old still nap heartily at this time).

When I had a newborn/infant I kept the first nap of the day just as sacred, as I am big believer for babies that age, that first nap sets the sleeping tone for the day. If it is off, its likely the rest of the day will be off. I would also adjust feeding schedules and napping schedules to make sure that the baby would need a nap in the middle of the day while the older kids would either nap or rest.

Who is the most flexible?
When something "extra" comes up, or there needs to be a temporary change in the usual routine of things, let the child who seems to be the most flexible wing it for a day. Usually, they can bounce right back into the normal routine without a blink. Also, take advantage of those times where a child grows out of a nap and simply because of time, becomes more capable to handle a little more time awake. In my home, the oldest always seem to be my "most flexible". This may not be true for each family - some children just by personality may be more flexible than others, so that should be taken into consideration also!

Sample Routines for Multiple Children 

Here is what a typical day looks like for our family. We have 4 daughters, ages 7, 5, 3.5, and 22 months.

6:30: wake and eat breakfast
7:00 brush teeth, get dressed and ready for the day.
7:40: leave to take oldest daughter to school.
8:00 3 girls have sister time while I clean up from breakfast and do a few quick chores
9:00: On Monday and Wednesday I take the 5 year old and the 3.5 year to a pre-school
9:30 I go to the gym, they have childcare
11:00 back at home, will work through a learning book with the 5 and 3.5 year old 22 month old colors or plays with a book at the table with us. (Or sometimes we have her do independent play time during this time of day)
11:45 more sister time while I prep lunch
12:00 eating lunch
12:30 nap time for the 22 month old
1:00 rest time for the 5 year old, nap time for the 3.5 year old (I try to tackle a chore here)
*I have a sitter come to my house while I do pick up to sit with the nappers/resters*
2:25 Go pick up middle sisters from pre school on monday/wednesday
2:50 Pick up the biggest sister from school
3:00 outside time for the 3 oldest girls. 22 month old usually still asleep
4:00 work on spelling and reading with oldest daughter
5:00 getting ready
6:00 eating/finishing eating
6:45 baths an showers
7:15/30 bedtime


It is not this regimented every single day, but this is generally what we try for. Obviously things come up - like class field trips or doctors appointments that will throw things off, and on those days we go with what we have. There are days where working in our workbooks isn't going well and we are melting down - so we move on to something different. If illness has struck our home, we throw most everything out the window.  Every member in our family knows/understands that sometimes we have sacrifice our schedules/activities for another. I feel like in the end, it all ends up balancing out. It is a busy life, but the basic structure really keeps us afloat and basically all in good moods!

 Sample Schedule for an infant and toddler in the home

When we welcomed our 2nd daughter, our oldest was 3 days shy of her 2nd birthday. It took me 6 months to find that rhythm, so I wish I had looked harder to find a good sample schedule for a toddler and a young infant. I thought I would share what ended up working for us during that stage!

7:00 desired wake time for both toddler and infant. Nurse infant, then feed toddler
8:00 infant 1st nap, toddler has alone time with mom
9:00 independent play for toddler/mom does a quick chore, gets in a quick at home workout maybe
10:00 wake and nurse infant, toddler plays in the same room or maybe has a snack. Maybe a host a playdate at your home while the little one sleeps.
11:00 infant down for nap 2. Have a more structured activity for toddler (puzzle, blocks, read some books)
12: lunch for toddler and mom
12:45 wake and nurse infant
1:00 toddler down for a nap
1:45/2 infant down for nap
3:30 toddler and infant up, nurse infant
4:00 outside time/screen time for toddler
5:00 infant down for catnap/ getting dinner ready
5:45 infant up, nurse. Family eats dinner
6:30 bath time
7:00/15 nurse infant, bedtime
10:00 pm - possible dreamfeed for infant

*may be a MOTN feed here, depending on what the infant is doing/taking at the time*

Sometimes you will need to run errands, and that would normally take place for us during the infants awake time after their first nap of the day. If not then, I would try to sneak out after hubby got home and try to go by myself. Also, I usually start my kiddos in a MDO/Pre-school program for 2 days a week when they turn 2. So that frees up the schedule a little bit as well. Many days during the season of life when the little one is taking so many naps, I enlist the help of babysitters coming to sit at the house with a sleeping baby so that I can get a few things done.


You can read my post today, Discipline 101, over on Giving it Grace.

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