Avoiding devices completely is impossible and impractical despite how much we wish we might. The world is not suddenly going to spin backward, so it would be a disservice not to adapt to the times. I know a lot has changed and it is natural to wish for it all to just slow down. Good luck with that!
Our children are going to learn their boundaries from someone, let it be from us and not their peers who are creating multiple social media accounts to lead duplicitous lives. This age of social media is already bringing some scary things to the surface. The temptation of comparison just took hold in a whole new way. Privacy is nearly nonexistent. Cyber-stalking is real and knowing how to protect yourselves and those you love can seem a bit overwhelming!
How are we to keep our children safe as the new technology intrudes into our lives bringing unknown consequences? I can attest to only the short-term side effects because scarily, my own children are the guinea pigs for the long-term ones. I encourage you to pace your kids. Heck, pace yourself! A device without safeguards and boundaries isn't safe for anyone.
So, here are a few steps I have taken to keep my us safe. I will be writing primarily from the Apple perspective, sorry Android users.
#1 Go slow; give out devices when you are ready.
Missing out, and knowing what you are actually are missing out on, are completely different things. Just because all their friends have them doesn't mean they are ready to have one. Be sure you, as the parent, are ready for setting parameters. Boundaries only work if you stick by them and it is harder to set them after the fact. The moment you cave to your own limits you have lost ground which will only be regained painfully. Devices have an addictive quality and if you don't believe that, see how long you can go without subconsciously reaching to check your own phone!
We have a sharing policy in our house. All the devices are mommy and daddy's because we pay for them. Period. End of story! Using them is a privilege, not a right. The kids are allowed to use them as long as whatever requirements we have set are met. Requirements can be anything and everything - you are the parent - chores, attitudes, respect, and consideration. Sky's the limit!
Each house will be different depending on the age of the child and the parents' views. In our house, chores need to be done, schoolwork completed, and some time of physical activity performed before devices can be utilized. Road-trips and summer vacation we allow more leniency, but I try not to let boredom dictate usage.
We have already established the rule that social media platforms will not be happening until double digits, a history of trust and maturity in peer choices is established. This leads me to the next safeguard...
#2 Be the keeper of the passwords.
Start strong! All passwords should be known by mom and dad or the device is lost or restricted...more on how to restrict later. When I upgraded, my old cellphone programmed with my iTunes account was loaded with educational games for our kids. Anything that is downloaded to that device is also automatically downloaded to my own new one. I love this and see it as a great safeguard. I can easily delete the app without affecting the other. My kids have to come to me to input my iTunes password first. If a child learns the password (they are smart!) and wishes to bypass the asking step, I will be alerted and obviously, consequences will occur. I set up emails for my children and have full access to their accounts because mine is the emergency backup. That means any notifications of activity or password changes are sent to me.
Until they turn 18 or pay for their own phones, there will be set and discussed ground rules.
#3 Set device and app restrictions.
Under General, there is an awesome Restrictions menu. Thank you, Apple! There is even a separate restrictions pass-code (not the same as the unlock code!) on Apple devices which I highly recommend for safety. Do not give this to your child. If they are older and you trust them with their own iTunes account, great! BUT please turn off the explicit content at the very least. (sidebar: If you battle pornography, have someone you trust restrict your own device!) You don't want to deal with therapy issues when you can avoid that. Set your kids up for success! Children will test their limits and peers will be sure to enlighten them to all the wonderful and not so wonderful capabilities of their new device.
Location tracking is another beautiful thing to turn off under privacy. Switching apps to location tracking only to While In Use or Never will safeguard against cyber-stalking. Turning off all unnecessary app notification is a must for adults as well as kids. The device is a time suck, so limits its pull!
Ratings on movies, books, apps, and podcasts are adjustable under restrictions as well just to name a few. Take the time to learn the device and set the proper maturity settings. They are always adding new features which a quick internet search can help you utilize. Restriction of in-app purchases is a good place to start.
My kids are under ten, so I have restricted Safari, Siri, YouTube and all location tracking from applications on the iPads and iPhones. I downloaded OurPact which allows me to disable all apps on a certain time schedule. Facetime is linked to my device as well, so I am alerted to any incoming video calls for the present time. For a small fee you can add multiple devices and get access to more specific restricting capabilities, but I have only the free version. I find it very helpful - go to bed kid! There are many devices and apps to help do this too. The Google search engine has a safe-search mode and so does YouTube which I have enabled on all our computers in the home.
#4 Set personal restrictions.
Start off slow and let them earn more opportunity rather than having to take it away. Trust is earned and kids test their limits. Be aware of back doors (getting to things via another app - example - YouTube via Pinterest) and other addictive behaviors. Be sensitive to their posture and habits. You want to be aware if a child is changing apps when you walk into the room. A quick confiscation and double tape of the home button can reveal all open apps. I also ask that charging stations be in the main section of the house. Closed door and devices are a no go. Dinner tables should be sacred and bedtime reasonable. Bedtime means devices are dark.
#5 Ask for help.
In this day and age, we parents have a much wider village. Cousin Cody, across the country, can keep tabs on what your kids are up to and into. When social media has finally been earned, have friends and family accept your child's friend request. Hyper-vigilance can raise anxiety, so we need to have some established trust before our kids enter the world of social media. In this case, use your village to your advantage. Family and friends can help safeguard your child by commenting on their accounts or alerting you to dangerous posts. Sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes a bad. Have honest talks about the dangers of social media with your kids and encourage them to look out for their friends too. It isn't tattling when someone is getting hurt or could get hurt; it is called being a good friend. Have honest talks with your village about their sensitivity. You don't need to know every emoji your child has used, but have them monitor for signs depression or danger.
We can only protect our kids from so much. Hopefully this helps reduce a little anxiety. I am always searching for better apps and safeguards for this constantly growing and changing industry. Leave some tips for me!
Here we are again at the beginning of another school year. I am excited; I love starting things! Fresh notebooks, colorful pens, and the routine of structured learning are needed. Summer was wonderful, but we need some focus back into our days. This year will have a new challenge. We will be covering pre-k through 5th-grade topics - so ABC's through Algebraic thinking. Easy-peasy(also the curriculum base we use) - No pressure!
I am a hot-beverage drinker. There are seasons where it is creamy coffee (yum), black coffee (to prove I am not addicted to unhealthy creamers) or tea (to prove I'm not addicted to caffeine). Then the cycle repeats itself. It is mostly ritualistic, something warm to drink during my process of waking up.
In this wonderful season, while I pry my eyelids open around 7:30, my kids fend for themselves. The older two assist the younger one with his breakfast needs if I'm not up tending to my French press yet. Our go-to breakfasts consist of toast, waffles, bagels, cereal, a piece of fruit or frozen pancakes thawed in the toaster. In the summer they were allowed cartoons or games for a bit, but during the school year, there must be Bible before any devices and devices must be earned as well as utilized for educational purposes first.
Our schooling doesn't usually start until 10 am unless we have some activity planned. From wake up until 10 it is prep time aka chores and self-grooming. After chores, we may go for a walk/bike ride around the neighborhood first.
We use the online curriculum of Easy Peasy or allinonehomeschool.com. This will be my fourth year using her outline (kindergarten and first grade we did scholastic books and more games). I love how I can add or drop things easily. If we have already read a book, we substitute a different one. I can't imagine trying to homeschool without Google. There are so many resources, that it is more about restricting resources to prevent overwhelm.
My youngest is an active little boy, so learning to recognize letters includes beanbags and Nerf guns. A lot of movement is needed. It will be a LeapFrog kind of year for him. We use random printables and crafts to cement learning the alphabet as his interest holds. Naiah might also run off and play super-hero in full costume in between activities while I answer questions about his sisters' assignments.
My hands-on-learner is always asking for crafts. Joining her sister for History and Science will give her plenty of hands-on lapbook assignments. She joins in on some of brother's crafts because she loves them that much! Having siblings work together for various subjects will also free mommy to work with the other unless my input isn't needed. Kei's favorite subject is math, so we also love xtramath.org for tracking her progress. (xtramath is also free!)
I am a huge proponent of independent learning. I try and wait to interject my suggestions until they seem needed. Its okay to let your child puzzle things out; it makes their brains stretch. I love the idea of strewing resources around so they learn without even realizing it. Seeing my kids work through their checklist on their own gives me confidence that they will be self-disciplined to meet accomplishments out in the real world.
My oldest, Dassa, is a grade ahead because of her problem-solving mind. She is an overachiever and makes me look good. Temperamentally, she is very much like me, however, so we are working hard on our communication. Mommy is still learning too! ;) I am learning where my boundaries should be in this new season of three students.
The two girls are signed up for an acrobatics dance class; we are all excited about this new element being added to the routine of our week. Baby boy will get some one-on-one dates with mommy and daddy during their hour of activity, so win-win for everyone!
Last year our schooling went 2+ hours a day, but with the addition of a third student it sometimes pushes to 3ish. We get the essentials done and then break at noon to eat some lunch.
At lunch, we go over our verse of the week (a lot of these are to song!), do calendar time (for the little guy mostly), and practice our languages (Russian, German, Spanish and Sign Language). We are learning a smattering of things just to round us out.
After lunch we finish what we didn't, read a book, play a game or call some friends.
Because our curriculum is primarily based online, we invested in chrome books this year with the touchable screens. We have a bit that is offline as well, including printouts, experiments, lapbooks, board games and reading. The little guy utilizes starfall.com, abcya.com and RosiMosi learning games. He also hops on shapes, letters and numbers, shoots them or tosses them into baskets.
My husband made us a long desk for our living room. This desk allows us all to work in the main area together, holds our printer and provides separate spaces for student projects. It is important to me that I model lifelong learning to my children. I am an author in the midst of several projects, so I am constantly reading, writing or researching too. Homeschooling just means I am keeping my own skills fresh as I assist in their learning process. It is a lot of hands-on in the beginning but it quickly flourishes into self-motivation and owning their responsibility.
Each student is unique. I have three lefties, but that is where the comparison stops. I seem to have an auditory learner, a kinetic learner, and a visual learner. The youngest is still hard to pin down completely; mostly he is just a bundle of indecisive energy.
We focus on attitude and progress over perfectionism. We stress problem-solving and independent thinking. Each year we pray for God's guidance and tweak things to fit the new dynamics. Knowing that we aren't restricted by a set schedule or expensive curriculum allows us all the freedom to adapt and grow. This was key mostly for mommy's personality. I crave change! We do have lists of responsibilities to keep us on task, but if life interrupts, great!
Our mornings are for learning and our afternoons offer opportunities for boredom which leads to creativity and invention. Sometimes we flip-flop this, depending on the time of the year, to enjoy the park with our friends because afternoons in Florida can get too hot! We bring down the Legos (I keep them up for my sanity) or bring out the board games. We also allow some device times when it has been earned; a house doesn't run itself.
Everyone pitches in around here, so pet care, laundry, dishes, cleaning and even some cooking is shared. Our library and park visits are regular. Dad is self-employed so this allows us a lot of flexibility for him to be included in field trips or family days. This also means, we occasionally work nontraditional school hours on Saturday if need be. We work with a flexible routine rather than a strict schedule.
So our typical home-school day, in a nutshell, is learning for a 3ish hour chunk around our other life activities. If Dad gets off early, we play with him and double up the next day. If daily rain showers hinder our play, you might find us in our bathing suits in the backyard anyway.
I love to hear how other's shape their learning environment. Leave a comment on what works in your season at your house!
Summer is ideally a time to relax and try fun things; I think we accomplished that! We had a lot of firsts this summer and a lot of fun! We started off with several trips to an indoor trampoline place with friends to celebrate the end of our homeschool year.
Then, the summer got a lot cooler when Aunt Carolyn and Uncle John brought over a pool for us. Thank you!! The perfect depth for Naiah to start learning to swim and mommy not to worry about drowning, as much. (Yes, I know they can drown in a couple inches of water, so don't email me warnings - I am still vigilant!)
We celebrated some birthdays with family at Chuck E Cheese. Thanks Nini! My kids had never been before and were totally awed by the games and tickets. It felt like a childhood right of passage moment. ;)
1st Summer Camps
Beanie spent a week learning how to pick hooves, wash and brush horses, and ride. She got to try bareback, Western style and English style. She found out posting is harder than it looks. She hopes to continue helping out at the local barn, because she really loves horses despite the hot, sweaty work involved.
Keikei spent a week dancing away. If you know her, you know this is pretty normal for her; the girl never stops moving or talking. She is my bold one. She loved ballet, jazz, lyrical, and yoga. The Under the Sea theme was right up her mermaid-loving alley. I can definitely see more dancing in her future.
We also planned play-dates to water parks with cousins, took advantage of the free kids bowling program with friends, went to the local library events and Daddy even joined us for some free kid movies at the Cobb theater. Summer wouldn't be complete with a lot of ice cream or Italian-ice trips to stay cool.
We had many lazy days too where the kids whined for things to do and I said, Go read a book! Raising extroverts is not always easy for this introvert! I know being bored is important for creativity to flourish, so I occasionally had to restrict media for fear of their brain development. 🤪 I am secretly relieved that homeschool starts again soon because we need the structure. Soak up the fortnight while you can kids, because the countdown has begun. *evil laugh
What did you do this summer? We hope you got to try some fun new things too!
You ever stare at yourself in the mirror and wonder, what the hell happened? I wish I could pin it to something specific. One moment you are cruising along and doing well and then KAHBLAMMY!
I get that this parenting journey isn't easy or perfect. I get that life throws curve balls. But to go from one extreme to another, for seemingly no reason at all, that is when the logical part of my brain throws a fit. LITERALLY! I like to know the why!
I readily admit there are certain times of the month that hormones mess with me. Lack of sleep or sickness can easily throw me off kilter, but all that is understandable. I didn't realize that I was looking for someone or something to blame for my lack of self-control. I am an adult and I should be able to act like one, but... there are some days I don't! There are some days that I just suck and feel like giving up.
Normally, I can feel it building, but not always. I've tried counting to ten, retreating, meditating, or phoning a friend! Cheerfully, I can say, this has worked some of the time. As a parent, it's hard to get the you-time when you need it. Methods for chilling out and restoring balance are wonderful. Exhaustion makes it hard to use them, however. Mental exhaustion is just as real as physical. It sneaks up on you!
You see, when you are a mom, there are a lot of variables to your day. A lot of people are depending on you for countless reasons. The nurturing mentality oozes out even when it's to our detriment. The amount of responsibilities, worries, details, tasks, and demands that are placed on us or that we willingly take on are incredible. We don't even realize all that we are balancing. Even our subconscious is overworked.
Every year I hear about women doing more and more incredible things! We throw around slogans about Super Mom and talk about how we want our daughters to be able to do anything and everything they want to. We have seminars about empowerment and vision. Don't get me wrong; I am all for equal rights! But just because we can do something doesn't mean we should, right? And definitely not all at once! I need to be okay with my workload and not try to mimic all the Pinterest moms I admire.
I am still learning that I have a lot to learn: about myself, about priorities, seasons, and saying no. Too much of a good thing, striving until exhausted, people-pleasing, volunteering for one more thing - these are things you learn to stop most often by failing. I've had pretty great examples, but they weren't perfect! So, I am here to admit it. Aloud and unproud - no excuses -I lost it! Ugh!
The day before was amazing. I made pancakes with my kids, remembered to kiss and appreciate my husband, cleaned the house, homeschooled the children, and it was all Instagram worthy! And then today happened...
I wish I could blame it on the kids, my spouse, or even hormones, but nothing was different from the day before. My kids were fairly well behaved. It wasn't rainy and miserable. My husband said he loved me and told me he didn't have that long of a work day, so he would make supper. Yes, I married a good one! Then KAHBLAMMY - I was short tempered with the kids! I could see the bewilderment in their eyes. Maybe I felt overwhelmed by the little mess that had accumulated in the one day since we had thoroughly cleaned it, but really there is not excusing my behavior even if I couldn't pin down why. I was angry! I slammed a door and dissolved into tears, feeling like a total failure.
Talk about a roller-coaster, a great day followed by a suckfest! I justify my actions a lot by my circumstances. Did I get enough sleep? Did my spouse show me any appreciation or love for that basket of laundry I folded and put away! Were my kids kind and obedient? Was the weather too hot, cold or rainy? I didn't get my needed ____ (sleep, caffeine, chocolate, wine, etc.)! The list of excuses goes on and on. The fact was - I blew it! So what now? Hand in my kids? Delete my social media accounts because I am a not a supermom with endless patience for baking, crafts, sewing, and board games? Waaaaahhh! (Can you hear my pity party?)
If you are feeling like a bad mom, you are not alone! I had myself a good cry, thanked God for yet another do-over and went to hug my kids. Maybe you've had a day or 50 like mine? I've had more than I want to number. From one wanna-be-supermom to another, God offers endless redos. We haven't scarred our kids in some way God didn't foresee. It's okay for our kids to see that we get overwhelmed. It's probably the biggest and best lesson we can teach. Moms need to apologize too! Our good days and bad ones will shape our kids, but the potter is still on his throne. He is able to turn our lumpy attempts into useful vessels. Listen hard and you will hear him whisper:
I've got this; I'm good at fixing things. Back off the ledge and we'll start afresh together.
So, we debated long and hard over getting a pet. We made a lot of Pro and Cons lists, did some research and at last decided to rescue a pet from the local shelter. I will admit I am NOT a big animal person, mostly because my three children make enough messes for me to clean up. Plus, I am realistic with the fact that the responsibility often falls to me. Thankfully as the kids get older it is mostly me reminding them to take care of their pet. ;)
I had several pets as a child, but never had one for more than a few years at a time due to moving or short lifespan; Hamsters don't live long. Our dog we ended up giving to a farmer when we moved who had big open fields and truck she could ride around in. Our cat was an outdoor cat that wandered the 14 acres. One day it just didn't come around for food. No doubt a sweet old woman fed him better food than we did. At least that is what I like to think rather than any negative alternative.
Now that I have a family of my own and we live in the south where it is too hot for animals to live primarily outdoors, I knew we would be more impacted by having a pet sharing our square footage. We contemplated a bird, but I thought the bird's squawking on top of the children's squawking might push me over the edge. Snakes and lizards give me the creeps, so I put my foot down on those. Fish and cleaning aquariums seemed too much work for too little return. We all agreed we primarily wanted a fur ball to cuddle. My kids are sensitive, so a hamster with a short lifespan seemed impractical. We visited with several types of dogs, but due to our middle child having some kind of phobia of even the tiniest dog, we decided to just let the idea go for a while. A cat never really crossed my mind since I thought my dad was allergic and didn't want to choose an animal over time with grandparents. Then we found out he had somehow outgrown that allergy and the search recommenced.
The cat chose us by putting up his paw on the glass and being so chill when we handled him. We looked at another that wouldn't retract the claws for even a moment and knew she wouldn't survive our three young children. The cat we chose, or who chose us like I said, ended up being the perfect fit for our family. He puts up with a lot, but is very clever in finding spots to escape the toddler when needed.
We named him Clue because he was so curious about everything. He has turned into a big cat (not fat just long) that loves to roll on his back like a dog to get his belly rubbed. The hair started to be an issue this summer when the weather turned hot, but we have found a few things that have really helped him fit seamlessly into our family with little fuss.
We had such a fun year studying Zoology. Below you can get a glimpse of the Live Butterfly Project we did to celebrate the end of our official school year and welcome summer. (Thanks, Insect Lore!) We are now ready for some sunny beach days and lazy afternoons reading books in our hammocks.
Our school year consisted of making great use of our Family Zoo Pass (Thanks, Nini!) to the Sanford Zoo in Central Florida. We all enjoyed being able to meet up with family and friends countless times throughout the year to enjoy the splash pad, train, and carousel in addition to the animals. It was so nice to not rush and be able to take the time to observe so many different animals, knowing we didn't have to see it all in a day! The petting zoo was a favorite spot. Feeding the Giraffes was a special treat, but hearing the macaws screech my daughter's name was pretty neat too. One of my girls wants to be a vet, so this year of zoology has allowed her to really explore her interest.
I chose to be homeschooled, and really thrived under independent study. Facilitating my kids' curiosity, allows me to learn so much more by viewing it all through their eyes. They each learn differently and their unique observations make life and learning more interesting. Next year, we will be adding the little brother in on our studies, so our homeschool/family will be going through a slight metamorphosis of our own by adding a third student. We look forward to relaxed Summer learning.
Share with us your favorite hands-on learning activities!
Our education is never done!
I wish I could say that I was one of those moms who prayed constantly for their children, or at least nightly. I like to think that I at least pray regularly. Sometimes I feel my prayers for them have become rote and repetitive. You have all kinds of plans and ideals with the first child, but somehow after the third things start to slip. After a long day, I'll admit, I tuck them into bed and then go fall in mine often without more than a "Night Lord."
Years ago, I found a sheet listing ways to pray specifically for your children which even included scripture to back up each point. I have held onto this for years, but rarely got past the first few sections. It was too wordy and it seemed I was always interrupted. Good intentions are all well and good, but carrying around a nice but essentially useless (for me) paper had to come to an end.
Above, I have recreated the heart of it combined and shortened into prayer topics. I have successfully been able to pray my way through this one. Yay! I am a busy mom so it probably will still not happen daily, but God knows my heart and He will grow my prayer warrior skills yet. I have this on the front of my homeschooling binder in hopes of furthering my skills. I will also put the plain pdf below if it would be of use to anyone else.
Motherhood, we know, is a season of long and short.
Long days and short years.
I am a mother of three; seven, five and a two-year-old. I see videos of my firstborn as an infant and honestly wonder where the time has gone. Almost in the same moment, I am tracking down the toddler's next mess and wishing for the day when the accidents are no longer so frequent. The two extreme emotions of motherhood - trying to hold onto them and keep them little or hurry them up to independence. Who can decide when they can change in an instant!
Now, knowing there will be no more babies thanks to the hubby taking one for the team, I am finally attempting to find my pre-baby self. This season is very demanding and yes, rewarding. I know many wish back the days of when their kids were young and I am sure I will have that fleeting thought as well someday. But my hope, is to remind myself, as well as anyone reading, to not wish time forward or backward but be in the moment as best as you can.
The overwhelming amount of home videos and photos available now can trap you in a place of nostalgia. Looking back on baby photos or other childhood memories either of yours or your children easily bring tears or laughter. I think the occasional trip down memory lane can be healthy, but too much looking back can steal the joy of the moment.
Same way too much dreaming of the future can rob you of the joy of today.
Daily, I am trying to find the right balance of devotions, chocolate, coffee, wine, exercise and creativeness that allows me to keep some shadow of sanity and self in this busy season. I understand that by focusing on the long list of things that wear me out... sleepless nights, crying toddlers, whining, tantrums. I am wishing away this season. When I have this kind of mantra I find myself worn out, bitter about what independence I have lost, and whiny just like them! If I start wishing for an empty nest so I can't travel and do what I want I lose focus on the importance of this season and forget that the next is not even guaranteed. Wish I could say I don't think that way anymore, but that would be a lie.
I am learning to take better care of myself, make wiser decisions and embrace imperfection. I know my body and how many hours of sleep I need. So taking that "me time" at the expense of quality sleep is no longer a wise decision three children into this decade. I have learned to allow the house to be messy and unorganized for certain times and degrees that allow me to keep my sanity. Turn a blind eye for a time, if you will. My children are brought in to help straighten the main areas before dad gets home so he can enter a peaceful place and so mom is not doing all the cleaning up by herself after they are in bed. They also are required to have a clean room for certain privileges to be honored or granted. I have cut back on obligations that split my time.
I have also retained with a desperate grasp a night out each week, either with my husband or with girlfriends. If I am lucky I get both! It is hard to keep other obligations from pushing that off the calendar. It is a struggle to leave the husband, my best friend, behind since those days of when it was just the two of us float nostalgically in my mind. It helps to have girlfriends that will remind you that getting out is not a luxury but a necessity when you have a weak moment! I prefer doing new things and so I look for seminars, painting classes, or hiking a new trail with friends rather than the spa or shopping like some women, but you have to find your personal recharge.
I believe life, faith, love and so much more all have a semblance of dynamic tension, so I am very skeptical of anyone who appears to have it all together. Sure we might all have a day or two where we feel like we nailed this parenting thing, but I have yet to meet anyone who has it all together on a regular basis. I know I am a work in progress and God is using my children to teach me great lessons!
So, I would love to hear how other you find your recharge so you can continue to live and thrive in this moment. Let's be real with one another on this journey of motherhood!
They say that timing is everything. Push too early and you 'have to wait even longer'. Too late and you 'miss the window'. Teaching a new skill is tricky. If you allow your child to develop at their own pace you worry that they will never graduate and leave home. If you push them you worry about turning them into narcissistic, type-A, perfectionist overachievers with a God complex. Which one of those is worse I will leave you to decide. Oh, and who are they?!?
Now, what if there was a way we can find that happy medium. I think that is the only way people who have children can survive - hoping to find the balance/ the line between too much and too little. Will you always find it? No, but you keep on trying.
This week I was encouraging my daughter to stick her face in the water. I had been really frustrated with the regression she had made from the previous summer where she was diving under the water in the kiddie pool to this summer not liking any water on her face. We live in Florida and summers here are either inside with AC or by a body of water by necessity. So I am sure you can understand my frustration as she fearfully repeated, "I can't." I started to insist and suggest things and inside my head, I started wondering, "Have I been too soft on her? Or should I be harder?" I didn't want her to regress further because I was being a harsh parent who demands their kids try to do things. But I don't want pansy-kids who are afraid of everything either! Where is the line of how hard to push?"
Back when our grandparents had children there was less information and advice coming at them. So as a parent then, you were trusting doctors advice or relying on generational example for your 'parenting style'. You either did the same or the exact opposite depending on what home life you had as a child. For most, it was probably that twilight zone of a little of this and definitely not that! So, I start to research how to teach a reluctant child to swim. I love to research! I admit I was confused because her sister is a fish and was swimming early.
Now, in our generation, we have an overwhelming, limitless amount of information from Grandma, the neighbor, strangers in line, the pediatrician, the internet, countless books and I am sure you can rely on opinions from your dearest friend who is a little too comfortable sharing sometimes. From diaper brands, potty training, timeouts, grounding, spanking, sports, education, yelling, silent treatment to cell phones, driving and dating; everyone has a theory on the best way to do it or not do it.
I am happy to report that my daughter took my few suggestions and then pretty much convinced herself with a little nudging and encouragement from those gathered poolside to push herself further. By the end of our time at the pool, she was jumping in the deep end with her swimmies! I didn't push too hard this time and she was all smiles and even took off her swimmies for a bit to try swimming without mommy holding her belly in the shallow end.
I think we can all agree that we all want what's best for our child. I think we can all agree we don't have it all together all the time. I think there are glimpses that something we have said or done to or for our child has worked and in our eagerness and excitement we overshare or advise friends that they should do or try such and such. I think it is important in these moments to remember grace even when you disagree or don't want the implied advice given through 'this little story' of when their kid did such and such. Finding the way to share without pressure or implying judgment is difficult so props to them for trying. Again - GRACE - Use it!
There are methods and theories out the wazoo! Why? I think we all have heard by now that there are different strokes for different folks. Your right way of doing something may be absolutely wrong for me. Even if our children were identical, you and I, aren't. You may be able to have the patience for teaching your child math for instance and it is just better for all involved that I get a tutor for my child. Or maybe I could say the exact same thing as you but your child receives it way better than mine does. A three-day potty training method might have worked for your son, but my son, who is yes older than yours, isn't buying into it. You may think my methods of watching my children are way overprotective but maybe I think you are way too lax. You may think I am too soft and am creating 'the problem' in the first place. I may think you are pushing your kid too hard to be a world changer and the pressure is unfair. Again - Grace!
My goal, in this whole parenting thing, is to do as little damage to my children as possible. I have, yes, accepted the fact that I will damage my children (definitely to the oldest trial child) to some degree and probably down to the youngest child (most likely spoiled baby). I think the important thing to remember is that no matter how confident we seem about our method or choice there is always some little part of us that wonders if what worked with the first child will work for the others. So, if we can stay open to hearing others' ideas (yes with a grain of salt) and remain teachable and humble we will be way better examples to our children of how to put up with 'difficult people' or 'judgemental' people.
At the end of the day, it comes down to trusting that we are only in charge of doing our best and encouraging our kids to do the same in the best way we know how.
And the rest....
NOT MY CIRCUS NOT MY MONKEYS
The line between too much and too little is lost in the haze,
These are the guys I will keep teaching to the best of my ability and trust that the Lord will use my successes and my mistakes to shape them into the people He wants them to be. May I have the grace to make it through rougher stuff than swim lessons. ;)
G R A C E 4 U & 4 ME
Okay, to be real... Tuesday are my "Mondays". My peppiness from the weekend recharge is normally winding down and knowing that my husband won't be home until late steals a bit of my joy. There is nothing like knowing you will have help at the end of a long day of endless questions and requests!
I have three kids under six and I so wish more than one took naps! My youngest is one-and-a-half and starting to balk at naps, so my reprieve from hyper-vigilance is fleeting. He is all boy, climbing everything, finding trouble and making messes! I work from home and this has gotten increasingly harder over the last few years due to multiple factors - more children, husband working more, starting homeschool and of course less nap time. Any type of quiet time is hard in our house since we always seem to be in the main room together. Plus, I turn around and see that my toddler took out every possible toy from his room and brought it to the living room while I was dealing with his sister. Peace on Tuesdays is needed!
Mondays I try to attack the housework so Tuesdays I can be more available for my work, but my energy has been lagging lately. I am grateful that God gave me the phrase "Smarter not Harder" last January and I really was diligent in creating space in my workload by training others. If I had not done that, I would be drowning now for sure. This year He has given me the word "Peace" and my mission is to simplify in as many areas as I can, so peace reigns in our home.
When we first moved in ...9 years ago... we painted soothing colors of blues and greens, so I know peaceful decor isn't really what God is getting at, despite the fact that it could use a new coat to freshen things up. I believe He is wanting me to find more peace at home by really being able to enjoy it without my constant mental checklist distracting me. So, I have been utilizing tools to remove the mental checklist into an actual one with prompts so I can just tackle the next thing without taking additional time analyzing what should be next or trying to remember when the last time I changed the filter on the AC unit. (I use my phone's reminders list which allows me to choose repeating tasks with biweekly/weekly/monthly prompts and this has helped immensely.)
I am a type-A wanting to be closer to a type-B. I want the balance of productivity with the enjoyment of beauty.
And here is the big point - when there isn't a prompt, I want to be in the moment with my children. I want to relish their childhood because I know how quickly you blink and that sweet baby becomes an opinionated child. I am not ready to blink and hand over my car keys to a teenager, so I am trying to be in the moment more which can be exhausting. It is a lot of repetition! I enjoy my children one-on-one, but when they all start clamoring I feel like my sanity is hanging by a thread. Raising kids is hard and being able to put the world on pause and enjoy a moment is a win! So, on these tedious Tuesdays, to restore peace we:
What do you do to salvage a day?- or make it through a long one?
I can always use more ideas -Please and thank you!!!
My Current Mantra
Walk humbly with God and do the work at your hands....