Give Them Jobs – Worst Parent Ever Series, Guest Post

I’m so delighted my dear friend Kristen Smith allowed me to use one of her funny, but wise, posts on parenting.  She wrote this funny series called Parenting Advice From The Worst Parent Ever, because let’s face it, none of us want someone pretending to have it all together and telling us what to do.  As a mom in the thick of the mayhem, I just loved this series.  Welcome Kristin:

I have said it before that being a parent is tough business. When we were pregnant with Isaac I had no idea what being a mom would really mean. I loved babies and had babysat as a teenager…so it would be a piece of cake loving on your own baby, right?

But sleepless nights and a colicky son that cried for hours at a time, quickly showed me that this thing wasn’t for the faint of heart.

It has been a few years since I have paced the hallways with a crying baby…but as I find myself in the thick of raising two toddlers along with 2 older boys, there is a new sound that has emerged inside my home.

Whining.

Oh the whining! The fighting and hitting is awful too…but I don’t know that much else irritates this mama more than the constant whining and fussing.

Because Elijah and Karlena are so close in age (18 months) it seems to have magnified. There is 7 years between Isaac and Gabriel, and 5 years between Gabriel and Elijah. I just don’t remember it being THIS terrible with them.

And while Elijah and Karlena really do play well together at times, and I know they love each other, they also argue and bicker and fight and cry and fuss and bawl and whine.

The whining was threatening to push me over the edge on the way home from church on Sunday. Oh yes – even then!! I can leave church happy and filled because of worship and a good sermon, and want to scream myself silly after a 15 minute car ride home! :)

Because I am really trying to change my pattern of screaming at them when they are screaming at each other I decided to try something different this time.

I gave them jobs.

Elijah, who just turned 5, is interested in helping. I don’t always give him enough opportunities to be helpful but he loves the praise that comes with being a good helper. So we got home and we got right to work.

I asked him if he wanted to be a bog boy and help mom with some important work. He said yes and we set to task.

It wasn’t anything huge, and honestly I could have done it myself in 1 trip upstairs. It took him 3 trips, but he was very proud of himself for getting the work done. And he didn’t whine once during the entire process.

Once we had finished that task, I had him help me set the table for lunch.

Now the Type A, perfectionist personality in me cringes at a sloppy set table, but again this was a chance for him to learn. So we talked about where to put the fork, and Gabriel helped with the napkins…it wasn’t pretty but the whining had stopped.

Of course I was sure to praise him heavily during this time. Telling him how much I appreciated that he was being such a big helper and what a great job he was doing.

Kids LOVE to hear how awesome they are. Sometimes I forget that really. I get overwhelmed by the whining and fighting and I find myself focusing on everything they are doing wrong, instead of celebrating all they are doing well.

I know it isn’t a perfect plan. Sometimes asking them to help may cause more whining, oh heaven help us if it does!! But it is worth a try and might just give you a few more minutes of peace and sanity in your home!

What kind of jobs have you given your kids to do? Please leave them in the comments below so I can add to my list!

kristinKristin is a wife and a mother, but most importantly I am a daughter of the King. Redeemed by His Grace and so very grateful for it. Through the past 18 years we have walked some hard roads. Many of them difficult by our own doing. But despite our choices and at times lack of faith – God loved us anyways. We have seen and continue to experience the riches of His love.  I blog over at The Riches of His Love and you can find me on Twitter and Facebook @therichesofhislove.

Just Another Weekend

It came time to sit down and write today’s post.  Late Sunday night, I collapsed tired but happy.  I exhausted any amount of insight or profundity last week so today you get my weekend report.

1.  My younger brother came to town. 

My hubby was out-of-town, so my mom and my brother stayed at our house with me and the kids this weekend.  My parents divorced when I was 12 and my brother was 8 which meant it was just us three musketeers for a really long time (I didn’t marry until I was in my 30s and he’s still single).  So it was such fun to have the three of us under one roof again.

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We kind of felt like we were on a mini vacation.  Mom and I wore shorts and not a stitch of makeup.  We ate Mexican food (poor boy lives in Oklahoma where you just can’t get the Tex-Mex he was raised on).  We lived in the pool and met several rescue dogs.

Which takes me to the #2 on my weekend recap.

2.  We adopted a dog.

Yes, we did that.  Don’t tell me we’re crazy.  It’s done.  The kids love animals, no one more than little bit.  She loves all animals big and small and they’ve all been begging for a dog for well over a year.  So we started investigating rescues.  Different groups and different breeds and all this crazy stuff I never did before I had kids and just took whatever rescue mutt needed it.  After all that, we ended up with the very first dog we meet weekend before last.  The kids loved her so much, and kept talking about her even after we met other sweet dogs.

No, I don’t have any pictures because she’s being fixed today and we can pick her up tonight.  She’ll probably be my Wordless Wednesday.  And no, we don’t have a name.  Her shelter name is Sapphire.  That sounds like a stripper to me so I think she needs a new name.  The eldest selected Boots (or Freckles) which completely suit her.  I’m fully on board.  However, the other two want to stick with Sapphire.  Except for the possibility Little Bit has of Dandelion which feels a little complicated to me.  We’ll see.  This may be the only blog post you get out of me this week.

3.  We laughed a lot. 

We just laughed.  And laughed.  And laughed.  We had a play date with a school best friend and the kids laughed so hard I thought they’d fall over.

The kids adore my brother so much that they just laughed at everything he did and followed him around like puppies.  His shoulder will never be the same.  We laughed at all the dogs that visited and the funny things they did.  We laughed about silly names and we laughed when we all tickled each other and we laughed at our funny homework assignment.

I loved all the laughing.

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Hope you all had a weekend full of family and dogs and laughter too.

The Words Series: Part 4, I Love You

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My trio started school on Monday.  I tried not to completely fall apart since this year is only PreK-4 and I know that next year I’ll be a wreck.

As I prepared for all the back to school activities this weekend, including having to pack lunches again, I purchased two special packs of napkins while I was at Target.  I thought it would be fun for the kids to have kid-friendly napkins in their lunch kits when they opened them at school the first week.  Bold red pirate ship napkins for the boys and bright pink Hello Kitty napkins for the little lady.

I woke early on Monday morning to prepare a big first day of school breakfast and pack their lunches.  I sometimes write the kids or Bray notes and wanted to reintroduce the tradition in their lunches.  Since the kids are pre-readers, I marked a big I, then a heart, then a U, and signed my name in black marker that would show up.

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The kids had a wonderful first day, and as I was talking to the baby in the kitchen Monday night he said, “Mommy, I missed you at lunchtime today when I saw your note to me.”  I gave him a big hug and kiss and told him I loved him and we went on with our activities.

I did the same thing with the napkins Tuesday morning when I packed lunches.  After dinner, the baby came into the kitchen and said, “Mommy, the same thing happened today,” and he threw his arms around my neck.  I asked, “You missed me again?”  He nodded yes and then started to cry.  Squeezing my neck in his tiger hold while these precious tears wet my check, we stood wrapped together for a minute.  “I can stop leaving the notes, I hate to make you sad at lunch,” I whispered into his little ear.  “No, no, don’t stop.  I love them,” he replied smiling.

There’s a lot to say about words.  All the right and wrong ways to use them.  But there is nothing more important to say about words than to remind us all to say (or write) I love you.  Bray and I tell the kids every morning and every night.  We tell each other we love each other every day even if we’ve had a big fight.  Our parents tell us they love us whenever we see one another.  Heck, sometimes my friends and I even say it.

Telling someone who you love that you love them is one of the most powerful things you will ever do.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13

By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me. Psalm 42:8

Day Off

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday.

We managed to find an extra day off so that we could stay on at the farm Monday instead of rushing home on the actual day of his celebration.

The celebration was quite formal (wink, wink).  I managed to avoid a shred of make up.  He had dirt and paint streaks on his old work shirt.  The kids presented him with a card involving a singing lizard.  Sunglasses were gifted and a pink and orange cake from Kroger ended the mealtime festivities.

I sat down late to write something profound or witty or at the very least interesting and found myself completely out of words.  In addition to three four year olds trapped inside because of the brutal heat, we had two cousins (one older, one younger) added to the mix.  I got nothing.  So happy Monday friends – hopefully I’ll have recovered tomorrow.

This Was The Best Day Ever!

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It was a slow sort of weekend.

Bray had the baby at the ranch for the weekend and I was hanging out with the eldest and little lady.  Friday work travel left me exhausted, so we had little on the agenda outside a Saturday morning swim play date with the eldest’s best school friend.

This followed another slow sort of weekend filled with boat rides and cook outs at the farm.

I noticed something.

The kids loved the pace as much as I did.

In fact, as Saturday began to draw to an end, and all we had done was swim (an awful lot) and nap and play and treat ourselves to Mexican food for dinner, I received this pronouncement:  This was the best day ever! 

I’ve received those pronouncements more and more as we’ve dialed down for the summer.  Why?  Well, in their words, because we got to swim and play and have our friend over (or go to our friends or see grandfather).  It was the two hours of swimming, or the individually wrapped Starburst, or the half hour of snuggles during a Disney movie, that shot a particular day to the top of their list.

This is one of the things I’m learning from my children.  They can seize the day.  With both hands.  They can live right smack dab in the middle of the moment.  They can rejoice in the simple pleasures. They can love more than anything the downtime they get with their favorite people – mommy, daddy, siblings, or close friends.

When the baby returned last night, he rushed in with his Cars rolling suitcase in hand, eyes sparkling, and said, I brought you sumfing (my heart will break when he starts saying something).  He pulled out a needle and thread, sea shells, and a smooth rock.  He lined them up and said, I thought you’d love them.  I brought some for sister too.  Oh boy did I love them.  I hugged him and expressed my delight and was reminded for the tenth time this weekend about the beauty of simplicity.  The joy of sharing your smallest discoveries.

We lose so much as adults.  The ability to experience wonder.  The skill to see the best in every experience.  Children remind us how to do it.  So I’m continuing to rework my schedule.  To allow for these moments.  And more importantly, to take delight in the small moments of every day.