Friday, June 29, 2012

McKenna Summary: 3 years and 3 months

McKenna Fishing

So.....Apparently I forgot to do a post last month for her 3 year two month. Oops.

EATING
All is well.

PLAYING
Play is good. Last time I wrote, I shared that McKenna wouldn't play alone if Brayden or Kaitlyn were home. She will now. I didn't do anything special. My guess is she has gotten used to them being home all of the time and isn't worried about them leaving or something.

SLEEPING
Sleeping is going well. A new development for her is she is now sharing a room with Kaitlyn. See Room Sharing Log for more.

SICKNESS
We had some sickness in the last couple of months. The first was Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease. It hit her pretty well. She had no fever, but she had the blisters in her mouth, on her hands, on her bottom, and on her feet. She complained of a sore mouth when eating, but it didn't stop her from eating. 

During this sickness, she also got an ear infection. This was made obvious by her oozing ear since she has tubes in her ears. 

During the sickness, we completely quarantined ourselves in the house to prevent getting people sick. It worked--even our neighbors did not get sick from us. I about went crazy, but at least we didn't get anyone sick.

SWIMMING LESSONS
Swimming lessons were improving as I shared last time, then just before she got sick, she had a lesson where she just cried and cried the whole time. Her teacher suggested we drop her off and then go up to the bleachers where she couldn't see us during her lesson. Her teacher thought she was being stubborn because she could see us. My husband worried about that, but I felt good about it so we decided to try it for the next lesson and evaluate from there.

It was about two weeks before we could go again due to our HFM Disease running through the children. When we got there, I took her to her teacher, then we all went upstairs. She spent the first few minutes doing what her teacher asked, but crying and looking around for us. After 5 minutes or so, she stopped crying and just did her lesson.

The next lesson, we did the same thing. When we got there, she was upset and told me she didn't want to put her head under the water and I talked to her about why ("because I don't want to") and told her she knows how--her teacher said she does everything correctly when she is in the water. Then her teacher took her and I left. She was instantly fine and was not only not crying, but she was laughing her head off and having a good time. When her lesson was over, she decided it would be fun to jump into the pool over and over again for about 40 minutes--with her head going under the water. So not only has our new strategy helped her focus on the lesson, it has helped her get over her mental block against head in water. 

McKenna seems to be quite athletic and she is also typically fearless, so I think from this point she will likely move forward rather quickly.

DEATH OF PET
Our dog died from cancer this last month. McKenna took it rather hard. For more on this, see Dealing With the Death of a Pet.

OUR SCHEDULE

7:15-7:30--Wake up and eat breakfast. She then can play with siblings. Right now, I like them to play outsisde after breakfast so they get some outside play in before it gets too hot.
9:00--Get ready and chores
10:00--Learning Poster and read stories
10:30--Independent Play
11:30--Free play with siblings
12:00--Lunch
1:00--Learning activity and free play with sibling if time
2:00--Nap
4:00 or 4:30--Get up--TV Time 
5:30--Dinner
6:00--Family Activities
7:30--Get ready for bed
8:00--Bedtime 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Selfishness and Rebellion Are Not Outgrown

image source
In Shepherding a Child's Heart, Tedd Tripp states: "Selfishness is not outgrown. Rebellion against authority is not outgrown" (page 23). I really liked these statements when I read this book. I agree with it.

I don't think many of us reading this post are the type to think that they can ignore behavior and some day the child with "outgrow" it. I often get questions in person from people of "At what age will my child stop doing XYZ?" This is always in reference to some discipline issue. My response is always the same. I tell people the child will stop doing it when the parent requires the child to stop.

Of course certain things are within reason and natural tenancies of age groups. Toddlers are very self-oriented and require the developmental milestone of growing to think of others (typically starting around age three). Once the child is capable, however, of learning to think of others and develop sympathy and empathy, these desirable qualities will not be developed without effort. 

People don't "grow out" of undesirable qualities. They are either taught to live another way, with much effort and practice put into doing so, or they learn "the hard way" through "life's" lessons. A lot of heartache can be saved if we help our children to learn virtues through means other than hard trials in life. Doing so will not eradicate trials from life--trials happen even to the best of people. We all know that. Doing so will simply allow for further growth because the trials will be improving and building on the sympathy, rather than simply teaching it. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Poll Results: DO ANY OF YOUR CHILDREN SHARE A ROOM?

Yes! By choice
  4 (14%)
 
Yes! By need
  9 (32%)
 
No
  15 (53%)
 

Votes so far: 28 

RELATED POSTS/BLOG LABELS:


Reminder: You can leave comments on poll results posts if you would like to add to the poll after it has closed. This would be helpful for those who have more than one child, those whose children have reached certain ages after a poll closed, and those who didn't visit the blog while that poll was open. To find closed polls, click on the poll results link above

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Room Sharing Log

image source
June 1, we started having Kaitlyn and McKenna share a room. It has been three weeks. Overall, things have gone very smoothly and I am happy with where things are. I though I would share what we did and have done, and how the process has gone.

Preparation
Preparing for any major milestone event helps make the process smoother. I have learned this from potty training, transitioning to a big kid bed, starting a new activity, etc. I figured this would be no different.

First, I asked around for advice. I asked here on the blog and got a whole lot of great advice from you readers. Thank you! I went through your comments with a piece of paper and pen in hand and wrote down the advice. My husband and I then went through it and talked out our game plan and what our rules would be.

An important step we took was to verbally prepare our girls. We actually started talking about it last February or so, and they have been counting down the days to this event. They were so excited. We would talk about the need to respect each other's sleep and that you need to obey.

A great piece of advice a reader gave that I fully agreed with (hence our timing) was to make this big transition when everyone can lose sleep. Do not do it during the school year or right before some huge event that you want the children well-rested for. Know that sleep will be lost. If we had tried to do this when Kaitlyn needed her sleep for something (McKenna is young enough she doesn't have any events going on in life, but Kaitlyn will be starting Kindergarten this fall), it would have stressed me to the max. This way I was only stressed to the upper third :).

To help get the girls excited, I redecorated certain elements in Kaitlyn's room (we moved McKenna in with Kaitlyn) and had them involved in it. Kaitlyn had some things with her name on it that we made work for both (turned KAITLYN blocks into SISTERS for example). I spent two days before our first night moving McKenna into Kaitlyn's room. I moved her clothes and toys over. The girls were excited to see things getting set up.

First Week
The first few nights were THE WORST of the process.

We got the girls ready for bed and then went over the sleeping rules with them. We had only three rules:
  1. Once lights are out, you must whisper
  2. Never wake a sleeping sister
  3. Stay in your bed
That is what we started with. 

The first night, we got them down too late. They were at my parents for the day, then we were explaining rules to them and they were excited about the new room set up. We decided to shoot for the best case scenario in putting the girls down. A friend (holla Harmony!) had recommended I just put them down at the same time and let them get used to each other. While on vacation, we have always staggered, but sometimes the one you put down first takes a long time to fall asleep and the second one gets down way too late. We agreed that ideally, they would be able to go to sleep at the same time, especially with a baby coming. We didn't want to be worrying about when to put down child number two while worrying about a new baby. The girls talked (but whispered so they followed the rule) for an hour after they were in bed. Then Kaitlyn woke at 6:40 (I was watching in the video monitor). McKenna soon followed. 

They stayed in bed until the light turned green (Kaitlyn has a clock that turns green when she can get out of bed), so that was good. They were both quite emotional that morning--especially McKenna who rarely woke before 8 AM. They were both put down for a nap by 12:30 that day.

With the right perspective, I think it was a good first night. They obeyed the rules. The sleep wasn't perfect. I expected that--that is why we are started 2.5 months before the baby is due. But it is still hard for me to see sleep lost. Also, when you are on the front end of anything, it is hard because you don't know when it will get better. If I knew three nights would be hard and then things would be pretty perfect, I wouldn't have worried so much, but I was worried. I worried if they would ever get it--what were we going to do if the girls stayed up late and woke up early every night?!?!? That would not work once school started. My husband was calm and just reminded me to be patient over and over. One of you needs to decide to be the calm and rational one--that is a must :).


I also had the great advice of many of you who said to give it time, and my friend Raegan even commented to give it two months. I kept that advice in mind while my logical self tried to tell my irrational self to chill out.

The second night, there was improvement. We made sure the girls were asleep early (more advice from a reader!) so that they could visit before falling asleep and still fall asleep at a good time. The both woke around 6:45 or so the next morning.

The third nightI gave Kaitlyn a new rule and she followed it perfectly. Her rule was to ignore McKenna. No matter what McKenna said or did, I told her to just lay there, close her eyes, and try to go to sleep. We changed our "whisper" rule to "no talking"--that is the rule for now. As they get used to sleeping together, we will allow for some visiting before falling asleep, but McKenna is a party girl. She likes to have fun, so if she gets to talk with Kaitlyn, she will. 

I was very happy with the progress this night. Kaitlyn fell asleep before McKenna for the first time that night. McKenna is kind of noisy as she falls asleep (or was up to this point). She had this routine where she needed to sing loudly for a bit before she fell asleep. I was been worried about that leading up to room sharing. That night, Kaitlyn fell asleep and stayed asleep through the singing. Before that, she didn't fall asleep until McKenna did first. That was a huge weight off my shoulders--I knew Kaitlyn could fall asleep even if McKenna was noisy and that meant there was hope this would all work.

I determined McKenna was having a hard time with the light from the sun. The sun goes down so late here this tine of year. It is light until about 10 pm. McKenna's old room is super dark. When we moved into this house, I knew it was the perfect room for her because even as a newborn, she did not nap well if there was light in the room (my other kids napped with blinds open). Kaitlyn's room is quite bright--one of the brightest in the house, which is perfect for her because she sleeps great with light. She kept falling asleep at 9:30 when the light got to be less outside.

The fourth nightfalling asleep went well. The girls got to bed late because Brayden's baseball game went until 8:30--which is 30 minutes later than we had been putting them down and we still had to come home and get ready for bed. Kaitlyn was asleep within five minutes. McKenna was very quiet until she was trying to figure out if Kaitlyn was asleep or not and was first whispering her name and then escalated to yelling it. Kaitlyn kept sleeping. My husband went in and told McKenna she was breaking two rules ("I am?!?!?"--she has those things memorized better than I do but obviously needed some application training). She then went right to sleep. Great success! I was happy to know Kaitlyn would sleep through McKenna yelling her name. This was another relief for me.

The next morning was not so great. McKenna visited me in my bed, woke me from some crazy dream, and asked where Daddy was at 6:15 AM. I asked what she was doing and she said she needed to go potty. I told her to sit on the potty (which she did and produced nothing). Kaitlyn was going potty. I was going to tuck McKenna in bed, and I was busy telling Kaitlyn to go back to sleep because it was still night when I realized that wouldn't happen with them together. Just like the sun is up late, it is up early. It gets light in the 5 am hour so by 6:15 it is shiny and bright outside. 

We had left McKenna's bed set up in the other room just in case I needed to enforce some rules. I knew being separated would be a problem for McKenna. So I put McKenna in her old bed and told them both to go to sleep. McKenna was very upset and I told her she is supposed to stay in bed. She fell asleep and slept until 8:30. I knew I had a great power to hold over her if needed, and I knew that she would remember this separation and try to avoid it from happening again. But I was still not sold on the room sharing and that it would work out long-term. I spent time thinking about other options.

The fifth night the girls were perfect that night and the next morning! They both fell asleep quickly. McKenna didn't need any rule reminding once she was in bed. They woke just before 7, saw the light wasn't green, and tried to go back to sleep. They never did (light turns green at 7:15), but they tried and that is all I ask. So I was very happy and thought maybe it would work after all.

The sixth night, the girls fell asleep quickly and they slept past the light turning green the next morning. Victory!

Days Since
Things have really only improved since.

One thing that helped McKenna a lot is that I made black-out curtains. Kaitlyn wanted a light pink front and a hot pink lining, so one day I was choosing which hot pink would help with the sun best. As I was doing it, Brayden was giving his input (he has an opinion about home decorating). He told me I needed to use black fabric if I wanted to block the sun. I agreed but wanted it to be colors that matched the room. He then said, "Why don't you just put the black between the two pinks?" Genius! And I did. And the curtains are awesome. The sun is not a factor in anyone waking up nor not falling asleep at night.

Another big help was the placement of white noise. Most everyone with room sharing children seems to stress the importance of having white noise in the room. We had that. Once I moved it between the girls, though, morning sleep improved. 

We told McKenna to sneak out if she woke up before Kaitlyn, and she did, but it always woke Kaitlyn up. One mornnig, Kaitlyn was awake and saw how McKenna sneaked, and we realized why. McKenna's idea of "sneak" is not what the standard connotation of sneak is. She crouched as low as she could put her hands up, and basically stomped out of the room. We all got a good laugh out of that. 

All in all, things have been good. They are learning to sleep through each other's noises. I am learning how to accommodate two different people who like different sleep environments. Most nights we have zero issues. I now feel confident room sharing will work out great. The girls love sharing a room. An interesting thing is that McKenna falls asleep much faster because she has stopped singing to herself before falling asleep. She lays quiet and still to allow Kaitlyn to sleep, so she just falls asleep. Who would have thought sleep could even improve with room sharing?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Controlling Environment for Children

image source
In April,  I talked about Controlling Environment for Toddlers. Last month, I talked about  Controlling Environment for Preschoolers. I had requests to continue this forward for older children, so now I will talk about controlling your environment for children ages 5-7.  Even if you do not have a toddler, it would be a good idea to read the toddler post first to get an idea of where I am building from for the toddler years. I would recommend the same for the Preschool post. It would also be a good idea to read through  Fine Balance of Protecting Children.

I think this age range has the most variables associated with it of all of the age ranges we have discussed so far. With toddlers, I feel pretty comfortable giving a blanket rule to my children and knowing that a toddler can only handle X amount of outside influence. The same goes for the preschool age.


As children get older, however, rules need to be more personalized from child to child. What your 6 year old can and can't handle will depend on so many factors. One will be what did you teach and enforce while the child was younger. Another will be how much freedom has the child had up to this point. Another will be the child's individual disposition and personality. Another is your community and your child's friends. Another is your child's exact age; what I allow for my five year old is very different than what I allow for my seven year old.


On Becoming Childwise has two great chapters to really help you think through what is best for your individual child so far as adding freedoms go. These are chapters nine and ten.


Here are some basic guidelines to think about as you allow freedoms in this age.


First, Childwise points out that you don't want to force your child to grow up faster than she needs (page 149). Leave time for the child to be a child. When you put your child in positions of freedoms she is not yet able to handle, it sets her up for needing lots of correction and for much frustration on the part of the parent. 


On the flip side, you don't want to stifle your child's natural progression and growth. You don't want to overprotect your child. Your child can do hard things and children often rise to the occasion--so long as the  occasion is age-appropriate. You want to allow for this growth into new responsibilities. 


This brings us to the discussion on parenting in the funnel. I often see talk surrounding the funnel only focusing on allowing too many freedoms--many don't consider the need to also ensure you allow enough freedoms. Both extremes will create frustration in both you and your child. For our toddlers and preschoolers, I think we often allow more freedoms than the child is able, but I think as the child gets older--into this 5-7 range--we tend to not allow enough freedoms, at least with our oldest child. Figuring out the right freedoms for your individual child is always a fine balancing act. It takes as much effort as finding that perfect waketime length in the baby days. You need to be observant and tweak things as necessary.


Chapter ten in Childwise is all about the process of transferring ownership of behavior to your child. This is the process you are in at this point. You are figuring out what needs to be your child's responsibility and what you still need to have primary control over. Who is in charge of remembering to bring the library book back to school? Who is in charge of remembering to put the shoes away? Who is in charge of the dishes after the child is done eating from them? These types of things show you how much responsibility your child can and cannot handle. 


You want to transfer responsibility over to your child. This is a time as discussed in Parenting With Love and Logic that you allow your child to learn responsibility by allowing mistakes while the stakes are low. 


Noticing responsibility toward simple tactile things at home can help you gauge what your child can handle with friends when you aren't around. When your child visits a friend's house, will she be responsible enough to respect your rules when you are not there to remind her of them? Stay in tune with your child's behavior when she comes home from friends--this will give you huge clues into what she can and cannot handle. You will notice which friends are better influences and also how long your child can handle being away from home at one time. At this age, you still want you to be the primary influence in your child's life, not friends. 


Now here are some things I have noticed in Brayden as he has gained more freedom and more responsibility. One is that when you truly hand over that responsibility to the child, he steps up to accept it. I noticed this strongly at the beginning of first grade. The teachers expected the children to be responsible for themselves. They expected them to be self-directed, remember their own responsibilities without being reminded, to stay on task, to take care of their own work, and be in charge of their homework and things like library books. The teachers never accepted an excuse of "my mom didn't...."--they were reminded it was their responsibility, not mom's. I was completely amazed to see how quickly these students stepped up to meet all of these expectations. 


I have noticed that Brayden likes responsibility. He likes to have the task of making his own sandwich, for example. He likes to be of real help in doing chores around the house. He likes to feel like he is contributing to the household.


I have noticed he cannot handle being away from home too much in one day. During the school year, he could not go to school for the day and then spend much time playing with neighbors before he became "wise in his own eyes." I have conversely noticed that he does benefit from some peer interaction during the summer months. When he spends all of his time at home, it is just as detrimental to his behavior as being away from home too much. He needs some freedom, but not too much. 


As you parent a child in this range, always evaluate yourself to make sure you are giving this little child of yours enough exposure outside of your little greenhouse of wall-of-water while not giving too much. It is a fine balance, but with observation, you will come to know the right actions for your child.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fresh Baby 6 Piece Dinner Set {Giveaway!}


I really love all of the products we have tried from Fresh Baby. This new set is no different. The 6-piece set includes:
  • 4-Section Kids MyPlate
  • 4 ounce Cup
  • 2-sided placemat
  • Cutlery Set (spoon, fork and knife)
The plate  matches the USDA’s My Plate initiative. This is great for parents who worry about how much of each serving they should be giving their child. Fresh Baby has created this fabulous Portion Tip Sheet that is free to download from their site. This is great info for you.

The cup is weighted, which means it is harder for little ones to spill. My husband and I LOVE this cup for McKenna. Most non-glass cups are very light, so we use glass for our children. We don't feel like McKenna is careful enough for glass yet, especially with our new granite counter tops, so we have been doing plastic for her. This cup is the best of both worlds.

The cutlery is as functional as the cutlery we use--just proportioned correctly for young children. It seems most forks we have don't actually work and cause children endless frustration as they try to eat like mom and dad. 

Today, Fresh Baby is giving away a 6 piece dinner set to a lucky winner! 

And if you don't win (or if you do), you can use the following code to earn 20% off your entire purchase at FreshBaby.com

Babywise412
Expires: 07/15/12

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Entry Rules
  • You must leave a comment in order to have an entry.
  • You must leave a separate comment for each entry. This is not so I can get lots of comments--it is because it makes it a million times easier to choose a winner. It takes less time, and less time is good. Plus, it makes sure I don't miss an entry.
  • You don't have to do all seven entries...for example, if you just want to follow this blog, you can just do entry one.
  • One entry per comment.
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  • You must fulfill the rules of each entry for each entry to count. If I see the entry is not valid (did not meet entry requirements), I will disqualify your entry. Trust me, I check.
  • Entries will be accepted until I choose the winner sometime July 6 or 7--we will see when the day comes what I do.
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  • If you would like, you can add your email address to your entry. If you are the winner, I will email you to let you know. You do not need to add your email address in order to win. I understand not everyone wants to share their email addresses with the world. I will announce the winner on the blog, so you can check the blog Saturday to find out if you won.
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1000 Places To Go Before You Die WINNERS

Here are the winners of the 1000 Places To Go Before You Die book!

Kaylie 


and


Please email me with your mailing address at valplowman@gmail.com. You have one week or another winner will be chosen. Congrats!

We will have another giveaway later today!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sustained Silent Reading (SSR)

image by Candid Memories
You know that I love the book  The Read-Aloud Handbook  by Jim Trelease. Seriously one of my favorite books ever. My favorite, number one tidbit of information in the book is on Sustained Silent Reading (SSR).

SSR is reading silently to yourself for pleasure. You read what you enjoy. Magazine, newspaper, scriptures, novels, parenting books...whatever it is you enjoy, you read it. The idea is that reading for fun gets you reading, and reading a lot makes you a better reader. "Reading is a skill--and the more you use it, the better you get at it. Conversely, the less you use it, then more difficult it is" (page 84). 

Why Do SSR?
  • "SSR allows a person to read long enough and far enough that the act of reading becomes automatic" (page 85)
  • SSR is meant to be informal with no quizes and no grading. This teaches children that reading can be for pleasure. I have always been a big reader. The time in my life where the amount of time I spent reading dropped significantly was in seventh grade when reading became less about enjoying reading and more about the grading associated with reading.
  • In young readers, the use of SSR shows improvement in both attitude toward reading and skills for reading.
  • It increases vocabulary. "...printed material introduces three to six times more rare words than conversation does" (page 86).
How To Do SSR
Here are some rules to go by in the home:
  1. Start with SSR being 10-15 minutes long at first. You can add time as you see your child is ready for it (and often the child asks for it to be longer).
  2. The child chooses what to read.
  3. Have a variety of available material. Newspapers, magazines, novels, picture books...any type of reading that is approved by you is okay. To keep material fresh and interesting, take advantage of your library. You can also subscribe to the newspaper and one or two magazines that would interest your child (my kids love National Geographic for Kids). Research shows that "the more kinds of reading material in a home the higher the child's reading scores in school" (page 90), so don't feel like if your child chooses to read the paper it is worthless time spent reading.
  4. Choose a time of day you can be consistent with. 
  5. You do SSR, too. This is very important--the child will benefit greatly from seeing you read.
  6. No changing your material once SSR has started.
  7. No talking during SSR.
  8. No reports required. This is for fun.
Our Experience
Since this is my favorite aspect I have taken from this book, you know we have implemented it. We started it a little over a year ago. It went very smoothly. The children love it. This summer has been especially rewarding to me. Brayden can now read well, so SSR is more than just looking through books for him. In one week, he read five chapter books completely on his own. I think that is great! When the children cannot read yet, they still love SSR. They look through books and magazines. 

We do it in the afternoon and for 20-30 minutes. We all sit in the same room, but in our own space. One person per couch/chair/beanbag. I like it in the afternoon in the summer because it is a great physical and mental break from the activity of the day. The children come in from the heat, sit in the cool house, and just relax for half an hour. We follow the rules as I listed above.

I love SSR for me, too. It is hard to sit and read daily as a mom--especially while your kids are awake. This is time they do not interrupt me while I am reading. 

SSR is a great tool for avoiding "summer setback." Summer setback is when the child either does not make progress academically, or more commonly, loses progress academically through the summer. At the end of the school year, I asked both Brayden's first grade teacher and Kaitlyn's Preschool teacher what I should do with the child to help prepare them best for next year's school year. The answer from both teachers was "read." Reading is the number one tool to keeping skills up for school. Read to your child, and as your child is able, have your child read. For more on avoiding summer setback, see these three posts I have written on the Children's Learning Activities blog:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Good Sacrifice vs. Foolish Sacrifice


I think as women, we can easily get caught up in thinking we need to make every moment amazing and will work ourselves into the ground in order to do so. I have often said the addition of blogs to our life has increased that need within us tenfold. You see something great on a blog and want to do it/make it too.

Pinterest has only magnified this even more--instead of having to find it on various blogs, you go to one location to find every good idea on the internet and suddenly feel very busy and inadequate all at the same moment. We suddenly feel like we need to spend a few weeks making the perfect decorations, cake, food, and outfit for our three year old's birthday party while putting together the perfect outfit for ourselves daily, making picture-worthy meals, doing cute and creative hair-dos, creating mind-blowing learning activities daily, having each day ride out picture perfect to fulfill our current bucket list. We also better use all of those amazing cleaning tips, we probably should work on starting at least an herb garden, homemade gifts are the only way to go, our house likely needs to be repainted because it is looking quite out-dated after seeing all of those pictures on Pinterest, and there are too many amazing exercise tips out there to have any reason not to be in perfect shape. Oh, and we had better take amazing pictures of it all along the way.

The audience of this blog is parents, so as parents, how do we do all of these things while still managing to attend to the often mundane, routine daily activities. "Little" things like taking care of our children. While I love the era I live in, I think back to my childhood. My mom spent her days being a mom. Simply. Women were blissfully ignorant of every other computer-savvy woman's talents in the world. 

And so we have all of these things we want to accomplish, and of course, as any logical thinking can conclude, we do not have the time to do it all. We just don't. At certain points in life, we might not have time to do really any of it. So we have to sacrifice things in order to get there--to get any of it. What do we sacrifice?

Life requires sacrifice. I was recently reading this talk by Dieter F. Uctdorf that I love to read and this time, the sacrifice section really stuck out to me. He said, " An acceptable sacrifice is when we give up something good for something of far greater worth."  There are many times in life we can and should sacrifice for things. Those are wise sacrifices. Other times, we sacrifice things unwisely. I love these examples:
Giving up a little sleep to help a child who is having a nightmare is a good sacrifice. We all know this. Staying up all night, jeopardizing our own health, to make the perfect accessory for a daughter’s Sunday outfit may not be such a good sacrifice.
I have done both of these things. Well, I haven't stayed up all night for the accessory, but I have stayed up much later than is wise to finish an Easter dress.

There isn't some laundry list of things that are good sacrifices and things that are unwise sacrifices. " Every person and situation is different, and a good sacrifice in one instance might be a foolish sacrifice in another." What is wise for you may not be wise for me. What is wise for you today might not be wise for you in six months. A huge trick is to figure out what is the wise move at the moment.
How can we tell the difference for our own situation? We can ask ourselves, “Am I committing my time and energies to the things that matter most?” There are so many good things to do, but we can’t do all of them.
There are times in my life I am able to do more than others. When I am pregnant or have a baby under one, I do much, much less than I do otherwise. Each year, I typically make our family's Halloween costumes. We do one theme and I make each costume. When McKenna was a baby, I decided it would be wise to not make them. I made Kaitlyn's costume that year and bought every other costume. Since then, I typically buy one-two costumes, or at least portions, to cut back on the time requirement. This year, I will have a newborn and will be once again buying. I think for me, the time required to make the costumes would be an unwise sacrifice with a baby in the family.

Remember the key is to sacrifice when you sacrifice something good for something better. Do not sacrifice the better for the good.

I don't intend to put down Pinterest--I enjoy Pinterest. I found myself feeling like my to-do list was very long with all of the amazing things I was finding on Pinterest to do, and it was stressful for me. I have changed my mind-set with Pinterest now. I look at all of the fun ideas and pin things I like. I do not pin with the intent of "I will do this for sure!" Just a "maybe someday if I get the time, I will do this." I have created a board I named "up next" and have pinned a few things I would like to work on when the time seems right. This takes my ideas down to a handful instead of hundreds. This is just one way I work to control my time-management--my sacrifice management--in my life. 

You don't need to do it all. You can't possibly, but you don't need to. Keep a constant habit of prioritizing your activities and you will hopefully be able to make appropriate sacrifices for your moment in time. Sometimes, the smartest and most mature move you can make is to decide not to do something.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dealing With the Death of a Pet


If you read my post 7 Things Having Pets Taught Me About Parenting, you know that I love my pets and find so much value in having pets. Pets provide many fond memories and many teaching opportunities. Owning a pet, however, is not all sunshine and roses--especially when you come to that day when a pet dies.

I have had countless pets in my day. I have loved and nurtured many animals who have since gone to their graves. Really, this reality is a great learning opportunity for children. My sister and I were talking about this recently and how having pets prepared us for dealing with the reality of death in our family relationships. We learned how to cope.

This does not make the death of a pet easy, happy, nor fun. I find it especially hard as a parent--you want to do and say all of the right things. Since having children, we have now had two major pet deaths. We lost three gold fish over the years, but those are easier to manage (but a great stepping stone pet for children). We have lost two dogs.

Our first was a year and a half ago. We lost a dog to breast cancer. She a bit was over twenty years old (yes indeed--about 22--I got her in elementary school). She had even had breast cancer for several years. After removing the cancer, she just kept right going. 

Our other pet lost was last month. She was also a dog, and we also lost her to cancer (sad right? How often does a dog die from cancer and we get two???). This was bone cancer. She was only 6 and so it came as a huge shock to us.

This one was harder to deal with. She was young and it was very unexpected. It also came on very suddenly--bone cancer is very aggressive. When we found out, the vet told us she would last at most 3-6 months and only if we amputated her leg. After thought and prayer, we decided against the leg amputation. We spent about 45 dollars a week on medication to make her comfortable and watched for signs she was ready to go.

It was nice to have the time to prepare the children. Brayden, 7, and Kaitlyn, 5, understood what we meant when we told them our dog would not last much longer and that she would soon die. McKenna, 3, did not understand at all. 

When the day came that we knew it was time, we decided against telling the children we were euthenizing her. We didn't want them to know a doctor was able to take life like that. My husband scheduled the appointment during school/afternoon nap time. I had Kaitlyn go to independent play strategically. 

That evening, we buried her in our yard. We were fortunate to be able to have the burial. It really brought closure to the two older children and my husband and I. At her graveside, we all went around and shared our favorite things about our dog, and then said a prayer. For McKenna, the burial helped her realize our dog was actually gone, though she didn't understand how or why.

There were many sweet moments in association with this experience. I was crying and Kaitlyn asked me why I was sad. I told her I was sad our dog had died. She told me I didn't need to be sad; our dog was in Heaven playing fetch with Jesus. She was also excited that our dog would no longer be in pain and that she would get to play with our other dog and our lost brother. Her faith was so sweet. She then drew me a picture of our dog in Heaven chasing 20 cats.

There have been hard moments, as well. McKenna did not understand what happened and still doesn't seem to grasp it--either that or she refuses to accept it. During the burial, she asked what we were doing to her "snoozing dog." She then would come to me crying for weeks telling me she wanted her dog back. Last week, Brayden and Kaitlyn talked about getting a new dog and McKenna informed them that we already have a dog. While Brayden and Kaitlyn were able to prepare for our dogs passing, McKenna was not. She is better with time.

I remember several key deaths of certain pets in my lifetime. You have a certain bond with some pets, and when you lose those pets, it is a hard thing that stays with you forever. But through these events, I have learned to rely on my faith for comfort through the process. 

Have you lost pets in your family life? What have you found to be helpful for your children in the grieving process?

Monday, June 18, 2012

How to Teach Respect for Personal Property


We have recently been talking about teaching virtues to children. We talked about what character training is and how to teach it to different types of children and we talked about how abstract these virtue ideas are to children and how important our own example is. On Becoming Childwise talks about some areas you can focus on to make these virtues more concrete for the child and able to apply it to their lives. The first area is respect for property (pages 92-97).

Part of respecting property is recognizing that other people count. You won't respect the property of others if you don't care about others. Teaching to respect the property of others is not a new notion. "Thou shall not steal." This commandment was taken a step further in the admonition that we should not covet. 

I am not sure what things were like exactly when I was a child. What I remember is that it seems like children for the most part had respect for the property of other people. It might be that I remember this because it is such a huge thing to my mom. I think if there is any one overarching virtue my mother stressed in teaching us was respect for other people. This meant respect for people, their things, their age, their sleep...we were trained to think of other people. I know as a child, I never would have dared disrespect a person or their property. 

I am not sure how things are overall today. My observation is that there is not such a strong sense of respect for others and their property as there was 30 years ago. I do see many respectful children, but I think the overall sense of entitlement that has crept into our culture over time has spilled into the ability of some to respect the property of others. Some think they have as much right to what someone else owns merely because they breath the same air. I see this from children demanding things from me on up to adults who demand things from the world (how many newly weds think their house should be as new, updated, and large as the homes their parents' currently occupy?)

Understand that teaching children to respect the property of others is tied to respecting others and is also tied to "thou shalt not steal" and "thou shalt not covet." Those are three great reasons to take teaching respect for property seriously. There is the "why" you are doing this.

Now for how.

Teach at Home
Like any training, it starts in your home. You teach your children to respect the property of you, your spouse, and siblings. Remember way back to Babywise II when it talks about not allowing the child to play with the remote control at home? Does that seem silly to you? The idea behind it is to train the child to have respect for property that is not his. When I read that in Babywise, I purposely put some things in Brayden's daily path that were off-limits to him. I taught him not to touch those things. The concept here is to house-proof your child, not child-proof your house (see Child-Proofing vs. House-Proofing and Baby-Proofing for more).

When your child is able to respect property at home, he will then have the skills needed to do the same at the home of a neighbor or of grandma. He will resist the urge to run into the neighbor's garage or backyard and go through his things. He will realize he is not entitled to touch, play with, or have whatever he sees that strikes his interest. 

Stress the Person
Focus on the fact that we are respecting the property of others out of love and respect for others. We aren't showing value in the things themselves, but in the person who owns the things. This helps the child respect property no matter how valuable it seems to the child. You respect the property no matter how valuable or invaluable you deem it to be--you do so because you value the owner. A great example in the book is lawn condition. Whether the lawn is perfectly manicured or overgrown with weeds, you don't throw your litter on the lawn. The condition of the lawn is unimportant to what respect you show for the property.

Teach to Work
I think this idea is widely accepted: when people understand the value of a dollar, they have more appreciation for items that dollar purchases. Adults and children alike, when we do not have to work for our things, we have less appreciation for those things and more self-entitlement to what we see around us.

It is valuable to allow your child to work for something he wants. Does he want a new Lego set? You could tell him to wait for Christmas or his birthday. You could even buy it for him. A valuable teaching moment is to have him work to earn the money for that set. This teaches the child the value of the object, and children are smart enough to correlate that to other things. Brayden is always earning money toward some Lego set. He also looks through the grocery store ads to tell me what is on sale because he realizes that getting something on sale is a great money-saving tool. 

Conclusion
The training for teaching your child to respect the property of others will ideally start even as babies as you teach your child limits. As your child reaches three years old, you start to teach the "why" behind it all while keeping the same standards. 

Teaching your children to respect the property of others is a great, concrete way to teach moral character. People who respect other people and their property are such a blessing in society!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Preparing for Baby: Establish Independence in Children

 image source
Taking care of a newborn and one or more other children is naturally much harder than just the newborn or just the other child(ren). A simple way to make life with a newborn easier on yourself is to take the opportunity during pregnancy to bring your child to independence on all age-appropriate activities.

Think about getting ready in the morning. You have yourself, your baby, and your other child(ren). If there is anything the other child(ren) can do independently, it will make your task-list shorter. Perhaps your three year old can learn to take her shirt off on her own. Perhaps your two year old can learn to put her own clothes on. Your seven year old might be ready for choosing his own clothes for the day. Your five year old can be expected to put her pajamas either away or in the hamper. Teach your children to do the things appropriate for their ages, and then have the expectation they will do so. 

Pregnancy, I think, is the best time to bring your children up to speed on these skills. Once the baby is here, your time will be far more limited than it is while pregnant. Trying to get out of the house by 9 AM and needing to get everyone ready, packed, and fed is not the ideal time to have the patience for your young child to put her shoes on by herself or buckle herself into her carseat. 

The more things your child can do independently, the more multi-tasking can happen. You can set clothes out for the older child and have her get dressed while you change the baby's clothes. To get to this independence, follow these steps:
  1. Think through the things your child could possibly do at his/her age. For guidance on this, see this post: Creating a Parenting Plan. You can also follow your child's lead. Children are good at asking to do things. Another thing to do is to think through your daily routine and think of what your child could be doing that he isn't now doing. 
  2. Train and teach your child to do the desired task. Expect it to take at least weeks to get right. This will require patience and time. Be sure to start a task with enough time for your child to do it herself. If you struggle doing this in the heat of the moment, set aside time for training in non-conflict, so practice putting shoes on when you aren't going anywhere.
  3. Allow your child to make mistakes along the way. Have patience through the process.
Following these steps is a great thing to do routinely--we want our children gaining independent skills as they get older. It is especially beneficial to focus on while pregnant so that when the baby comes, everyone can do their best to be independent as age appropriate.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Obedience Is Just the Beginning

Source: Sheknows.com
By Maureen Monfore, www.childwisechat.com

In previous guest posts on Valerie’s blog, I have discussed first-time obedience at length. Whether you’re dealing with a two-year-old who has learned the power of the word “no” or a four-year-old who torments his baby sister, first-time obedience training is hugely important.

When you are in the throes of first-time obedience training, you are teaching your child to simply act like a civilized being. First-time obedience can do everything from keep your child from dumping a jar of flour on his head to running out into a busy street. The crux of obedience is teaching the child to obey your word, no matter what behavior or attitude issues you are dealing with.

But once you’ve achieved a high level of obedience from your child, it’s important to think beyond obedience. First-time obedience is just the beginning. We cannot rest on our laurels as soon as our children have learned to obey our word. In fact, after your child has demonstrated obedience, your real work as a parent can begin.

Once your child has learned to obey your word, you can work on training the child’s heart. There are many moral lessons that parents are responsible for teaching their children. But before obedience has been achieved, children aren’t always ready to receive these lessons.

In addition to obedience, an important prerequisite for heart training is a strong relationship between you and your child. As your child demonstrates obedience and as that obedience gives you the opportunity to teach him in right behaviors, you will come to a place where your relationship with your child takes a priority over obedience training. With obedience and training by authority behind you, you are able to use the strength of your relationship and the power of your influence to lead the child.

“Perhaps the greatest transition you will experience is that of learning to use less of your authority and more of your influence to motivate your children as they grow older and become more responsible. Here is a basic truism to consider. When a child is young, lead by the power of your authority. When he or she is a preteen and teen, lead by the strength of your relational influence,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 93). 

Ultimately, what motivates your child will change.

“It all comes down to this simple principle. External motivations that once governed the child’s life are replaced by internal beliefs that rule from the heart. Moral maturity emancipates the child, allowing him to direct his own behavior in harmony with family values,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 95).

Use this as your motivation in training your child in first-time obedience. Understand that obedience and submission to your authority are the first steps toward moral maturity. Once your child reaches moral maturity, he will independently follow the values that you have instilled in him and lead a life in accordance with your heart training.

Maureen Monfore is a mother of two young boys, a freelance writer, and the author of ChildwiseChat.com and the eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time ObedienceA loyal follower of the teachings of Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, she is passionate about teaching children to obey to pave the way for fun, love, learning, and essential moral development.

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