Sally Clarkson, famous author and speaker, asked an audience of over 200 women of which I was a part, if we had ever defined the purpose of our home.
Since that conference three years ago, I have thought about it a lot. I am finally ready to answer that seemingly simple, and yet extremely profound question.
I want my home to be a safe haven. A non-judgement zone. A place where emotions are accepted as real and worth examining. An abode where the furnishings are comfortable and beautiful yet not important enough to dictate behavior. And, most importantly, where Jesus reigns in all that is said and done, and love and forgiveness go hand in hand and flow with grace and mercy.
I now have boundaries, direction, and a purpose when I make decisions concerning my home and interacting with my husband, children, and grandchildren and guests in my home.
Thanks Sally Clarkson. What a difference a simple question can make.
It’s often not easy dealing with a newborn. Add a toddler to the scenario and the frustrations and difficulties can be multiplied exponentially.
Here are 7 tips that helped me after the birth of each of my children.
When I was nursing, or feeding the baby, I declared it to be reading time. Those were the only times a day that I read out loud to my toddlers. Each week we would go to the library and they selected books that were only read to them when I was feeding the baby. That way snuggling with the baby was actually adding special time for them.
I would keep a special basket of toys that I only carried out from it’s secret place while I was nursing. The only time they could play with those toys was when I was busy with the baby.
Sometimes, when I was ready to nurse the baby, I would just ask them to climb up next to me on the sofa, and the toddler and I would have special talks. We would talk about what they were hoping to do that day, and we would tell funny stories. Often I would make up stories or tell them about their birth or funny things about me or their daddy. It became a very special time for us.
As much as possible, I would spend the first 10 to 15 minutes of each morning with the toddler. I would spend 5 to 10 minutes at a time after that throughout the morning as often as I could just with the toddler. It seemed if I did that, the afternoons and evenings went very well.
I learned to affirm the toddler often throughout the day. I would say things like, “You are such a good big brother.” Or, ” I am so thrilled with the way that you talk to and treat your baby sister.” By affirming them with words like that,it helped them understand what brought me pleasure, and how to treat the new baby.
I would try to make a play date for the toddler with a relative, or even daddy, for just an hour or two a week for the first month or so, and let it be known that only the big brother or big sister could have that special time. I would explain to them that the baby was just too little to have that special time away from home.
Throughout the day I would be very intentional to explain to them that because they were the big brother, or big sister, they could sit at the table with mommy, or they could help mommy, or they could play outside, or any other special advantage they had because they were older than the baby. I wanted to differentiate and accentuate the privileges that they had because they were bigger and older.
I would love to read your tips. What did you find helpful when you had a newborn and a toddler?
When I was raising my children, I thought that once November and December rolled around, I would miraculously have time to prepare a pinterest-perfect Christmas.
I would make matching Christmas stockings to hang on the beautifully decorated mantle, make 24 dozen assorted Christmas cookies, and purchase and wrap the perfect presents for each family member and friend.
What was I going to cut out to gain the extra time needed to accomplish my lofty goals?
Would I stop doing the laundry? Or, feeding my family? Or cleaning the house?
After the first three or four children, I decided I better use the slowest month of my year, July, to prepare for Christmas.
My husband and I are pretty selective about the gifts that we purchase for our children . . . especially for Christmas! Because we set some boundaries about what we buy and why, it takes some of the stress out of the busy, and often crazy, holiday season.
We want the gifts to be well made and able to be enjoyed for several years, (or longer). We also want them to stimulate the children intellectually and help them use their imagination.
Here are some of our favorites:
Ages 2-4: Duplos – A Corolle baby doll for each of my daughters – Giant floor puzzles -Metal tractors and other farm equipment – wooden blocks
Ages 4-6: -Games like Candy Land, Monopoly Jr., Chutes and Ladders, Chess -Card Games-Uno, Go-Fish, Old Maid -Fisher Price furnished doll house -Lego castle set, (and other assorted sets) -Playmobile sets, (especially the Nativity set) -A wooden marble roller
Ages 6-8: – Twinn dolls for each of my daughters,(one of the best gifts we’ve ever given them) -Games like Rush Hour and other games that require analytical thinking
Ages 8-10: Bicycles, snowboards, a ping-pong table,( A GREAT GIFT for a family), a basketball backboard and net, volleyball and badminton nets and equipment -Card games like Rook and Dutch Blitz -Games like Apples to Apples and Scategories, tools
Age 10-12: Tools, hunting equipment, personal items for the girl’s bedroom like bedding, lamps, and decorations -A unicycle, a pogo stick, a trampoline
I had a tremendous amount of feedback when I talked about motivating children several months ago on Periscope. I also wrote about it in my new book, There’s an Easier Way, in the chapter on Disciplining with Grace.
Over the years, I have found that affirming and expressing appreciation to our children is the easiest and most effective way to change their behavior.
The words that we use to affirm our children must be specific and based on their character.
For example, if a woman in your church tells you that you are the best mom in the entire church, it wouldn’t have the same significance as if she said something more specific such as, “I appreciate the grace and love that you show the women in this church through the women’s ministry.”
We can encourage our children the same way. I keep a list of 44 godly character traits on post-it notes inside my kitchen cabinet to refer to, so I can quickly come up with words of affirmation without much thinking.
Here are some examples:
“Thank you Nancy for taking care of Diesel (the puppy). You were kind and showed compassion.”
“Becky, thank you for being helpful and cleaning up the toys without being asked. That makes mommy so happy because we’ll know just where to find them when we want to play with them again.”
“Tony, thank you for playing with your baby brother while I was busy. That was very considerate of you, and was a huge help for me.”
“Cindy, thank you for bringing me your coat when I asked. It shows that you respect and honor me.”
“Brad, I felt so happy when I saw that you made your bed this morning. Thank you for being diligent and remembering our rules by completing your chores.”
I started using words of affirmation when the children were just babies. Even at 12 months old I could see how much they loved to please me. Affirming even young children helps them want to repeat the desired behavior.
And, if you are just always tired, and wish you had energy, don’t keep waiting until the children are older. Try Plexus! It’s all natural, and helps you to sleep better, stabilizes blood sugar, reduces sugar cravings, increases your energy level, AND helps with mood swings. A side effect is weight loss, IF you have weight to lose 🙂 It’s one of the best things that I did last year. I haven’t had this much energy or felt this good since before I was married. (I like to say that the only thing it doesn’t do is to help your babies sleep better 🙂 )
It’s also a wonderful way for a SAHM to help with the family budget. Plexus is a wonderful company. Message me for more info!
We live in a culture that defines quality of life as proportionate to the ease of that life. The problem for moms of young children, however, is that because their lives are so busy, and filled with so many interruptions, surprises, and sleep deprivation, they would not be categorized as having an easy life. Therefore, they keep waiting for their lives to become easier so that they can experience joy.
I have found that if we don’t choose to walk in joy when it’s NOT easy, we won’t have joy when it IS easy. Here is a scope about it.