Category Archives: Parenting

Packing The Hospital Bag!!

It’s hard to believe that it is week 35 already, but here we are! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I’m starting to get that “I don’t think I can get much bigger” feeling.

Unfortunately, we all know that’s not true.  I can, and probably will, get bigger. Baby Hazel with be making her appearance sooner or later though, and since her big sisters both came in the 37th week, it’s time to get the hospital bag ready to go.

We tend to be light packers, as if packing light will ensure us a short hospital stay.

So what’s in my bag, you ask?

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Bath Towel
  • Flip Flops for the shower
  • Moisturizer
  • A fresh set of contacts
  • Contact solution
  • Eyeglasses/case
  • Hair brush
  • Hair elastics
  • Undies
  • Robe
  • Yoga pants
  • Nursing top
  • Nursing bra
  • Pads
  • Jammies for Baby Hazel
  • Going home outfit and hat for Baby Hazel
  • Camera

What are your Must Haves for a planned hospital stay?

Since one big sister has expressed an interest in coming with us to the hospital to welcome baby to the world, we’ll pack a bag for her too.  We want her to have some comfort items in case things drag on longer than we expect.

Both prior labors and deliveries were 5-ish hours, start to finish, so that’s what we’re praying for this time too.  If only these things could just be predictable!

Alas, they cannot so we’ll be packing a Big-sis bag too.

  • New coloring book
  • New crayons
  • A chapter book
  • ipad and charger
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle
  • Small blanket
  • Cash and change for cafeteria or vending machine purchases

She’ll also have her own support person (Daddy has to stay with me) in case it’s too much for her or she just gets restless and wants to leave.  Have you had your older children in the delivery room, and if so what do you recommend we bring or do for her?

I’m having lots of contractions whenever I’m on my feet, which is often.  I also feel tired, but very motivated, so I may just be pushing myself too hard to get loose ends tied up before baby comes.  Nothing major, mind you, just little trivial matters like, oh, say cleaning the entire house, setting up the crib, organizing baby clothes, shopping for last minute stuff, like a car seat.  No big deal.  I’m sure I can make it all happen as long as she isn’t any earlier than her sisters were.

Hubby has been home with me for the past week, which has been a tremendous help.   I’ve had him running things up and down stairs, as well as getting the girls on the bus in the mornings.  It’s nice to be able to settle down for a cup of tea as soon as the “Get Out The Door Rush” is over.

Between lots of rain, and lots of contractions I’m woefully behind on getting the garden cleaned up and put to bed for fall.  That may be one for the Honey-Do list.

All in all, I have to admit I’m getting pretty antsy over here!

Baby On A Budget: Clothing

Welcome Back for the second installment of my Baby On a Budget Series: Clothing! If you missed the first installment of this series you can find it below.

Baby On A Budget: Gear

When we left off I had most of the gear I need for the new baby. I had spent $46 dollars, and budgeted $200 for a car seat. Since I have a few months to keep looking before the baby arrives, I’m holding out hope that I can find the perfect used car seat, but keeping that $200 budgeted in case I have to purchase one new.  ***Update*** I’ve discovered that a less expensive, but also highly rated car seat actually measures better for my car and costs $100 less brand new!  HOORAY!  Still keeping my eyes open for a good used one, but for now I can budget that extra hund-o somewhere else.

For now I’ve moved onto clothing our sweet little sugar bean.

Everyone knows how hard it is to resist the adorable little pink and blue outfits at the clothing stores. They are so precious. Go ahead and let yourself buy one or two. Get a “going home from the hospital” or “first Christmas” outfit. After that, reign yourself in and think long and hard about what your baby actually needs on a daily basis.

Let me tell you up front, in case you didn’t already know, babies grow FAST! That means good quality and gently worn baby clothes can be had for next to nothing if you’ll only take the time to look.

A winter baby with a stay at home mom (who actually intends to do a lot of staying home) will be perfectly happy in onesies and sleep-and-play outfits.  Let the Grandmas and Aunties have their fun by buying a few cutesy things to dress baby in for outings.

I’ve been thrift-shopping for several warm rompers, some onesies and a few pairs of cozy pajamas in a couple sizes.  It’s so easy to go overboard and buy, buy, buy all those adorable little outfits.  Rest assured though, when you have a baby (especially a girl) bags and boxes of adorable and barely used clothes appear on your doorstep, as if by magic, at regular intervals.   Keep what you can use, and bless another family with the rest.

If some weird twist of fate leaves you bereft in the Magic Clothes Fairy department, don’t despair.  You can still find plenty of great deals.  If there is a lack of good thrift and consignment stores in your area, take a quick look at Craigslist.

A craigslist/baby and kids search of the term “LOT” today yielded me a full page of baby clothing lots ranging in price from $10-$100.  Of course one would have to narrow the list to the appropriate gender, season and size for the baby in question, but the savings are definitely out there to be had, particularly if you start looking long before you’re in need, and take your time.  It’s totally okay to be extra choosy when buying used.

Another great option is yard sales.  Baby clothes are often priced at fifty cents or a quarter at yard sales.   I’ve mentioned before that I don’t frequent yard sales very much, because I don’t live near where they tend to take place.  When there is one in my neck of the woods, I always try to stop by, especially if they’ve advertised baby and kid items.

Here’s the thrift store newborn layette so far:

WP_20140828_009I’ve spent $26.42 on clothes, about half came from my all day thrifting trip a couple weeks back, and the rest came from local thrift stores.  This includes some wipes, and receiving blankets that I plan to turn into newborn sized flats and more wipes. The prefolds and diaper covers you see were part of the original $46 from part one.  I’m keeping my eyes open for  a few more sleep and play outfits since we’re going to be cloth diapering, and I expect to have a few leaks, complete with resulting extra outfit changes, until I figure out which diaper/fold/cover combo works for our (typically skinny) newborns.

Now, because we’ve been thrifty, patient and willing to accept the generosity of our friends and family we are nearly ready to bring our baby home.  Next on the list of things we need to think about for our baby is diapering.  Stop by next week to see how we plan to keep our baby clean and dry without breaking the bank.

Total so far: $72.42.

 

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Sharing at The Homestead Barn Hop, Simple Life Sunday, What You Wish Wednesday, and The Homemaking Link-up.  Links go live throughout the week.

 

Settling Into a Homemaking Routine

With the “Lazy Days of Summer” winding down, and school starting soon, I’ve been making an effort to switch myself from “Summer Break” mode to “Full Time Homemaker” mode.

Although I’ve technically been keeping house since I first moved in with my husband, I’ve never really been a homemaker. I’m the kind of person who has a hard time juggling responsibilities. I’ve always managed, but there is always one thing that will take priority and get my “Best Effort” while everything else gets whatever is left over. When I had an outside job that always got my best effort, and my family and home got nursed along, one laundry load and meal at a time. I was acutely aware that my family was getting the leftovers and I had a lot of guilt over it.

Now that I’m a full time homemaker, I’m making an effort to settle into a routine to help me keep things running smoothly as well as allow plenty of time for loving on my family.

I have time to cook now, so my loved ones shouldn’t have to eat take-out three times a week. We enjoy take-out once in a while, mind you, but I’m making a real effort not to rely on it. I also don’t want to start relying on expensive (and sorry, but kind of gross) school breakfasts and lunches, when I can provide as good or better nutrition for less by taking a few minutes a day to make breakfast and help the kids pack lunches.

Since I’m no longer making a serious financial contribution, I also feel it’s my job to make sure it’s easier for my husband to go out and earn our living. We all fall down sometimes, but my goals are that he is greeted by a reasonably neat, welcoming home after work, that he has a good meal to eat at night, and that he has plenty of clean clothes in the morning. He should not have to worry about the bills AND whether or not he has clean socks.  (I can hear my feminist friends shouting “But you worried about clean socks AND earning a living when you worked!”, which is true.  But if he’d been home while I was working I would have appreciated a home cooked meal and full dresser drawers, so that’s what I’m trying to do for him.  I guess clean socks are my Love Language 😉  )

While my routine is still very much a work-in-progress, here are some resources I’ve been using to help me get things ironed out.

Meal Plans:

I’ve been trying to make a meal plan based loosely on the themed one at Blissful and Domestic.  I use a wipe-off weekly meal planner which I’ve customized with a good old Sharpie.  This week it looks like this:

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I already had my week half planned when I found the theme idea, which is why some of the meals don’t match the theme.  I like the idea of a go-to menu, but thought my family would scoff at the same seven dinners week after week.  I like that this one offers a framework with some flexibility.  I tweaked it to work better for our eating habits, and probably will many more times.  Since I don’t plan lunches, I’ll probably end up using that column for a working grocery list throughout the week.

Chore Charts:
I’ve been using this one from A Bowl Full of Lemons for myself, and even though I don’t always get to everything on the list, it has helped me get a handle on the daily mess.

I also took a few minutes to think about the things I nag the kids about each day and made a chore chart for them. It’s not as pretty and Pinterest-y as some I’ve seen, but it works for us. I divided the chores into three time slots. These are not limited to personal care chores. I think it’s important for kid’s confidence and sense of responsibility to take care of things that benefit the household, not just themselves.

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Their chores are as follows.

Morning:
Feed and water cat, dog, chickens, and rabbits. Chickens and rabbits generally only need topped off and refreshed every few days, but the kids need to check each day.

Afternoon:
Gather Eggs
Tidy Up The Living Room (so Daddy doesn’t have to come home to our mess)
Water Flower Pots (Free Pass on rainy days!)

Evening
Pick up toys from downstairs.
Get dirty clothes into the wash.  (A Bowl Full of Lemons recommends running a complete load first thing, but I prefer to start the day with an open and empty washer and just toss things in as the day rolls along.  I do my regular washes on cold, so I don’t worry about separating stuff.  It all just goes right in and gets washed and dried after the evening chores and kitchen clean up.)
Pick up paper clutter.  (Are my kids the only ones who leave trails of confetti behind them? No matter how beautiful or precious a piece of their artwork was when they made it at 3:00, if it’s on the floor at bedtime, I’m putting it in the trash.  Having Paper Clutter Patrol on the chore chart greatly reduces the frequency that I find masterpieces on the floor at bedtime.)

I’m also toying with the idea of having them take turns being Mom’s Helper after Baby Hazel is here, and doing little things for me throughout the day. I’m not looking for a slave here, just someone to run and fetch a fresh diaper, or grab me a glass of water when I realize I’m dying of thirst just after I get the baby settled and latched to nurse.

So far the kids are responding really well to the chore chart and taking great pride in putting a check mark next to each completed chore.  I LOVE that I don’t have to remind them ten thousand times what they need to do each day.  I simply announce “Morning Chores!” for instance, in as cheerful a voice as I can muster, (it’s morning after all) and they hop to it. It’s changing our lives!

I haven’t quite figured out where and how lawn and garden chores fit in, and I’ll admit that the lawn and garden have suffered for it.  I’ve just been watering, doing only the most demanding weeding, and harvesting when we go out to play.  I haven’t mowed in ages. The grass doesn’t need it so much, but the weeds on the perimeter of the property are getting out of hand.  Lovely isn’t it, how all the hose-dragging I do to water the lawn barely keeps the grass alive, yet the weeds are thriving?  The neighbors probably hate us.

I also have a few bigger projects/goals that I’ll need to find time for soon:

Create a kids closet and organization scheme in the laundry room, so that toys can move into the girls’ bedroom closet.

Clean and rearrange the girls’ room to make room for Baby Hazel.

Set up the crib/baby corner in the girls’ room.

Pre-wash/re-fluff my cloth diaper stash.

As much as I wish I wasn’t sending the girls out to public school this year, I do realize that when they are at school is likely when I’ll be able to devote a big chunk of time to getting all these things done.

Do you have a routine that works for you?  Do you include a time slot in your daily or weekly schedule for big projects or just take time for those as you find it?

If you’ve blogged about your routine feel free to share a link in the comments!

This post may be shared at: The Homestead Barn Hop, The Homemaking Link Up, What You Wish Wednesday, and Simple Life Sunday. Links go live throughout the week.

Baby On A Budget: Gear

Welcome to the first post in my new series, Baby On A Budget. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As many of you know, last fall I left my “serious” job for one that paid a lot less, but allowed me a TON more time with my kiddos. It was great.

Then this spring we discovered that we have another sweet blessing on the way. With the smaller paycheck, it just wouldn’t have made sense to pay for daycare after the baby comes, so I’ve now left that job to be a full-time stay at home mommy, which is WONDERFUL, but not terribly lucrative. While I never was a big spender in the baby department, it’s especially important this round that we keep the baby related expenses to a minimum.

The first thing that many of us start doing when there is a baby on the way is to plan our “Dream Nursery”. I must admit that those designer nurseries in the catalogs are absolutely adorable. But let’s get one thing straight right now. Those perfectly coordinated, brand new, designer and name brand nursery sets are for Mom. The baby doesn’t give a hoot where he sleeps so long as he is loved, fed and cozy. I’d add that he should absolutely be safe as well, but at his age, he doesn’t care much about that. Good thing he has a mommy who can take care of that detail for him.

While there is nothing wrong with spending a lot on your baby if you can and want to, I’d like to demonstrate that it is entirely unnecessary to spend a fortune, and in fact very easy to find everything your bundle of joy needs at a fraction of the cost of just that brand new coordinated designer nursery.

Now then, let’s try to sort out the difference between needs and wants.  First, I think it’s important to recognize that household rhythms, parenting styles, and even babies are different for every family.  So you very well may need something that I would find myself rarely using.  Keeping that in mind, I’m going to run down a list of commonly purchased baby gear and whether it’s worth buying based on the way my family works.  

  • Crib: Most Americans would agree that a crib falls into the Need category.  What many don’t realize is that you may not need it right away. I kept my most recent baby in her bassinet next to my bed, and only used the crib for occasional napping until she was around 5 months old.  Our oldest, on the other hand, slept in her crib (with forays into my bed for night nursing) from day one.
  • Bassinet:  While I did use one for 5 months, I’d put this in the want category, as long as you have a crib or another safe place for your baby to sleep.  It is a very convenient item to have though.
  • Changing table: Nice to have one with a strap once baby learns that she can escape mid-diaper change. Unless you plan to keep it in the living room, you probably won’t use it much.  Not a need.
  • Play pen: Not a need, but can be useful for travel, or if your baby’s room isn’t on the main floor and you want to keep an eye on him while he naps.
  • Stroller: Only a need if you anticipate that you’ll be doing a lot of walking longer distances than you can comfortably carry your baby and the stuff you bring with you when you go.
  • Car Seat: Unless you absolutely never ride in a car this is a need.
  • Baby Swing: Not a need.  But can be a very worth your money if you have a baby who likes to swing.  It can save your sanity and buy you precious moments to get things done.
  • Bouncy Chair:  Not a need.  But again, can buy you moments if your baby likes it.
  • Baby Bath: Not a need.  Your baby will be perfectly happy to be washed in the sink, or in the regular tub with you.
  • Diaper Bag: If you ever leave the house you will need something to carry a few things for the baby.  It doesn’t have to be an actual diaper bag, however.  A backpack, an old overnight bag, or even a grocery bag will work in a pinch.  My mother-in-law actually preferred to toss a couple diapers, wipes and onesies into a grocery bag rather than carry the giant, stuffed to the gills, HEAVY diaper bag I had for my older girls.
  • Diaper genie: Not a need.  Seriously, just take out the trash when it gets stinky.
  • Wipes warmer:  I’ve heard babies like warm wipes, but I’ve successfully raised two through the diaper stage without ever owning one.  Not a need.
  • Baby Monitor:  How big is your house?  I can hear practically everything in our smallish 1915 farm house.  I did however use one with a receiver that I could clip on my belt to go out and do yard work while the baby napped.  It was nice to have, but not a need.
  • High Chair:  My oldest never had one until she was almost a year old.  If it is a Need in your eyes, it can be put off for at least 5 or 6 moths after the baby is born.

This list could go on and on.  Bottom line is that you don’t have to buy or use every gadget that has been invented and marketed to you.  Think about your lifestyle, choose the items you think will be useful to you, and leave the rest on the shelf.

Once you’ve decided what you do want to have, don’t run out to the big box store, or for goodness sake, a baby boutique and get everything brand new.  While it may seem unfair to your precious bundle to make him sleep on a used mattress, or ride in a used stroller, think about what you plan to do with that item after your baby outgrows it.  You’ll probably use it for your next baby.  So used is good enough for your second baby, but not the first? Babies just don’t put much wear and tear on these things.  They can easily last for several babies worth of use.  I’ve actually gotten some nice used items, ran them through both of my kids, and sold them for the same price I paid.  I felt like I won the lottery!

So where do you find it if you aren’t getting it at the baby gear store?

  • Friends and Family:  When you announce that you are expecting, you’ll likely get many offers of hand-me-downs from friends.  If the items are in good, safe working order, and gender neutral, take them!  If you end up with something that works better for you later, you can always ask your friend if she would like her item back, or if she would rather you pass it on.  This is, by far, how I’ve gotten most of my baby gear for all of my babies.  If you don’t have a large family, or are new in town and haven’t made a lot of friends yet, you may have to rely more on the other methods, but can still get most of what you need very inexpensively.
  • Yard Sales:  If you live in a populated area or near a nice neighborhood, yard sales can be a gold mine.  Since I live about a 30 minute drive from our nearest large town, I only go to yard sales if they advertise an item I’ve been looking for, and happen to fall on one of my “town days”.
  • Thrift and consignment stores:  While you’ll have to do some digging, thrift stores can hide many good treasures and usually at great prices.  Consignment stores will have the treasures pre-sorted and on display, but you can expect to pay a little more.
  • Internet Sales sites:  I used to use craigslist.com quite a bit, but lately have found that buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook usually have more of what I’m looking for and usually closer to home.  Take a look at what’s available in your area.  Often when a family is “done” having babies they will sell everything either in a lot or by the piece.  (I put “done” in quotes, because I sold and gave away all my baby gear about a year ago and here I am looking for all that gear again 😉 )  Just to give you an idea of what is available in our area, today I looked at Craigslist and saw a crib with a mattress for $75, a swing for $20, a carseat for $50, and a changing table for $45.  Those were just a few items from the first half of the page.  Often if an item isn’t selling fast enough, the seller will take offers.

I started gathering items for our new baby about two months ago, and so far I’ve spent $46.  All I still need to get in the “Gear” department is a car seat, and maybe I’ll eventually pick up a high chair or booster seat.  I intend to be extra picky about the car seat I buy, for obvious safety reasons, and also because it needs to fit between the two older kids in the back seat of the car I already own.  I’m prepared to spend a little more or possibly buy a new one, which I’ll keep in good shape and resell when I’m “done” with it.  If I have to get the one I’ve had my eye on new, I’ll spend about $200.

Assuming I buy a new car seat, that’ll total about $250 so far.

Let’s have a look at some popular nurseries online.

You can get this one which includes a crib (no mattress), changing table, and a dresser for around $300.

This one, on the other hand will run you closer to $1400. Even if you get the “budget” option you’ve already paid more for just a crib, dresser, and changing table (still no mattress or bedding, or the cute little teddy bear that you know you’ll want to prop up on the dresser top), than I’ve paid for a crib, a crib mattress, a bassinet, a baby bouncer, two strollers, a play pen, a Bumbo seat, a Boppy pillow, a dozen newborn prefolds, 4 newborn diaper covers, and a car seat (assuming I have to buy it new) .  There’s a good chance I’m forgetting something I have already gotten and stashed away for later too.

The baby will also need some clothes before she arrives in December, so I’ll be doing some shopping in the next few months.  I’ll share what I find and how much I spend in Baby On A Budget: Clothes, coming up soon.

Again, if you have a lot of extra money and want to spend a lot on your baby, that is okay. I’d just hate to have new moms and dads out there wringing their hands wondering how to afford everything the baby will “need”. Rest assured, your new baby doesn’t have to cost you a small fortune if you are thoughtful, creative, and patient.

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Sharing at The Homestead Barn Hop,  Raising Homemakers, What You Wish Wednesday and Simple Life Sunday.

My Four Favorite Fixes For Sick Kids

With so many opinions out there as to what one can do when the kids get sick, I’m sure you aren’t hurting for advice.  And since I’m just a Mom, not a Doctor, I wouldn’t be qualified to give advice even if you did want it.  You should contact your healthcare provider for that.  But I’m an over-sharer, so I’m going to tell you how we handle sickness on the Half Acre anyway.

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We’re pretty laid back about sickness here. We’ve had the benefit of a Pediatrician with a soothing voice, and air of calm, who walked me through the first few colds/fevers with our oldest.  As a result I’m now the one with the soothing voice and air of calm.

So here are my four favorite ways to treat sick kids.

1) Do nothing.   I usually don’t treat anything, even fever, unless the kid is miserable to the point of being unable to rest, unable or unwilling to hydrate, or not improving for several days.

2) Snuggle.  Okay, I guess the above really can’t count as doing nothing because I will, and do, leap on any opportunity to snuggle.  I can usually gauge how ill the kid is by her willingness to snuggle.

3) Push fluids.  I usually stick with water, unless there is a reason to suspect dehydration, such as vomiting.  In that case I try to replace electrolytes by offering broth, ginger tea, or sometimes electrolyte replacing drink mixes.  When my oldest was around a year old, she had a miserable flu, and wouldn’t drink anything for me, so I used an oral syringe to carefully and slowly drizzle an ounce of Pedialyte in her cheek pocket once every hour until she would drink willingly. She was MAD!  But she didn’t get dehydrated.

4) On Guard.  With especially nasty bugs I use doTerra’s On Guard protective blend.  I usually use a few drops rubbed on the bottom of the feet.  For a sore throat, I mix it with raw honey and a little water and use as a cough syrup. We grownups have been known to take it in veggie caps, or in our tea.  In my experience it will fix up a sore throat in about a day when sipped in tea.  I’m not making claims here, just sharing my experience.  Also, I don’t sell doTerra, I’m just a really happy customer.  (If you’d like to learn more, visit my friend, Eve here)

Although we’ve been blessed with generally healthy kiddos, I haven’t always treated illness the way I do now.  It’s taken me seven years to cultivate my current attitude regarding what is or isn’t a serious medical issue, and I expect experience will change my views many more times over the course of motherhood.  We do not hesitate to avail ourselves of modern medicine when we feel it’s warranted.  We even keep a few “real” OTC meds around, but thankfully we rarely need to use them.

Obviously, we love our children, and don’t want them to suffer any more than they have to. We also don’t want to deprive them of an opportunity to develop a stronger immune system on their own.  Is this the only way to approach children’s health?  Nope.  It’s just our way.

What do you do when your babies are ailing?

 

 

 

A Discipline Toolbox

At the risk of sounding like I’m tooting my own horn, people often ask me how I get my children to be so well-behaved.  Today I’m going to attempt to answer that question as honestly as possible.  I think I can boil it down to four main points.

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  1. They’re faking it.  They are on their very best behavior, and I’m using my “good mom voice” because you’re watching.  We are a normal family.  We have normal children who occasionally talk back, openly defy us, and fight with one another.  They don’t do these things all the time, but when they do, there is a consequence. Sometimes the consequence comes from Mom and Dad, and sometimes it is a natural consequence of the situation.
  2. Luck.  I have to attribute some of our kids’ good behavior to luck.  We are really laid back, and luckily, our kids seem to be pretty laid-back too, which leads to a mostly calm atmosphere at our house.
  3. We took a parenting class.  That’s right, when our girls were nearly two and nearly four years old, it became clear that we didn’t have all the answers, so we went looking for them.  We attended an all-weekend seminar called Parenting With Love and Logic.(affiliate link)  It was kind of a bummer way to spend an entire weekend, but ultimately it was well worth it.  It changed our lives at the time, as we had a couple of little petunias who were quickly learning how to push every button we had.  Parenting With Love and Logic focuses on lovingly letting our children have the consequences of their poor choices, so that they may learn from their mistakes while their mistakes are small.  We don’t use every single tool we learned in the class, but the ones we used right away have had lasting benefits.  Our favorite by far was the Uh-Oh Song. We used a pack-n-play in the living room instead of her bedroom, but it’s the same idea.  Our 18 month old would sit on my feet and scream any time I was engaged doing anything that didn’t directly involve her.  I’m the first to acknowledge that children need to be held and loved and given attention, but I believe in letting them learn to be independent as well.  It’s simply not realistic for me to physically hold a child all day.  Within three days of implementing the uh-oh song, there were no more “mommy’s washing the dishes” fits.  A close second-favorite is giving choices when things are going well, so that kids get a sense of control over their fate.  It comes in really handy.  For instance, if I get a feeling they are going to resist bedtime on a given night, I’ll stop everything about half an hour before our normal bedtime and ask if they’d like to go to bed now or in half an hour.  They always choose to stay up for another half-hour, which makes them deliriously happy.  It also puts them in bed right on time, which makes me deliriously happy. When they grow up and read this they’ll probably feel betrayed.  But then they’ll use the same tool with their kids-because it works.  
  4. We have a routine.  Routine. Routine. Routine.  I’m a huge fan of giving kids a routine.  Does that mean we’re never out past bedtime, or we turn down invitations in favor of nap time?  No. It does, however, mean that most average days at our house look the same.  Our kids pretty much know what to expect from their day.  It’s comforting to them, and I find it really minimizes moodiness.  When our kids are being really rotten, I can usually trace it back to a deviation from, or change in the routine, such as a late night visiting friends, or starting a new sport.  I mentally give it a couple days to settle out, while letting them have the appropriate consequence for their behavior. When they were babies I used advice from the books On Becoming Baby Wise, (affiliate link) and On Becoming Toddler Wise (affiliate link) to get us started on a routine and a sleep schedule, and I was able to change it to fit our needs as they got older.  I loved the common sense approach and attest that it worked for us.  We’ve  been getting good night’s sleeps around here for years.  (Okay, that’s not true.  I never get a good night’s sleep, it’s just not who I am, but the rest of the family is out cold from 8 pm ’till morning.)

The bottom line is that you don’t have to use every bit of good advice you ever get. Choose a few tools that work well for you, and stick with them consistently.  Good behavior isn’t usually something that will just happen on it’s own.  Don’t be afraid to ruin your kid’s day with a well-placed consequence.  After all, isn’t it really she, that ruined it by making a poor choice?  Don’t be afraid to give the gift of the consequence as often as it is necessary. Don’t be afraid.  You’re the parent.  They are looking at you to try and figure out who it is that they are supposed to be.  Help them figure it out with consistent, loving guidance.

What are your favorite tools?

A Word on Volunteerism and This Week’s To-Do List

If you’ve noticed less of me online it’s because I’ve gone completely mad and volunteered for everything under the sun. 

Moms, sometimes it might be okay to just sign your kid up for an activity and not volunteer to help out, or run the program, or sit on the board.  Maybe they call for volunteers and instead of yes, you say “Oh shoot, wish I could”.  Stick with volunteering for those activities about which you are passionate. 

Honestly it’s not that bad, but when we are eating pbj or hot dogs for dinner, and getting to bed late -again -I am wondering what was wrong with just raising the kids and taking care of the home and garden.  The plus side to all of these activites is that they are in the evening, when my energy levels tend to be highest, unfortunately that is usually when I take care of housework and planning, so those areas are suffering a tiny bit.

This week I need to accomplish some organizing and streamlining so that we can still have a normal life, even though I’ve over-scheduled us.  This is no one’s fault but my own.  I just need to learn to do my mommy work in the morning instead of afternoon/evening, and not take the orders from a six-year-old who comes home waving a flyer and saying “We have to go to a meeting and sign up tonight“!

Here are my goals for the week:

  • Make a meal plan and take full advantage of the slow cooker.  I’ve had varying levels success with making and sticking to a meal plan.  Life is inevitably easier when I stick with it.  This is THE list item which will have the most impact on daily life here. 
  • Clean out the chicken coop and partition the corner that we use for brooding.  It’s almost chickie time!
  • Get my rump out to the garden and get my spinach and brassicas going.
  • File taxes.  Not fun, and I’m not sure it’s even really required by the law,  but we’ll do it because we feel we should.  Also I don’t want to pay a lawyer and back taxes if the above video is wrong.  And seriously, I don’t have time to research this for myself.  But it is food for thought.
  • Bring the recycling to town.  Curbside is available here, but taking it to town is free and I’m headed that way anyway–lots of times. 
  • Drop off some paperwork at the Campfire office. 

What are you up to this week?

This post may be shared at The Homeacre Hop, Raising Homemakers, No Ordinary Blog Hop, and The Homestead Barn Hop. 

 

 

How We Help Our Children Express Gratitude

With Thanksgiving coming soon, many of us are counting our blessings a little more than usual.  That’s wonderful!  I love hearing what folks are thankful for.  A kind husband.  Bedtime for kids.  Enough money.  Wine.  You get the idea.  There are as many things to be thankful for as there are grateful souls in the world. 

At our house we do a couple of things to try to keep the “attitude of gratitude” all year round.  We hope our children will grow up with the positive outlook one gains from the ready recognition of blessings. 

The first thing we do to encourage our children to be thankful is to gently remind them when thanks are in order.  You’ve all done this.  The lady at the bank hands your kid a lollypop. You tilt your head toward your kid. 

“What do we tell the nice lady?”

And then your kid thanks the nice lady. I bet you didn’t even realize you were teaching your child something beyond common courtesy.  But you are!  You’re teaching your child to recognize a blessing. 

The other thing we do is to pray regularly.  When I was growing up our bedtime prayers consisted of the usual rhyme. 

“Now I lay me down to sleep…” 

 That is a great prayer, and littles love it, partly because it rhymes, partly, probably, because it is the same each time, lending another layer of consistency to the night-time routine. 

 At our house we do something a little different though.  I ask the kids to come up with two things they’re thankful for each bedtime.  Sometimes they have to dig deep to come up with any, sometimes they dish out the same ones several nights in a row, and sometimes they shock me with things I would never have thought to be thankful for.  Like Homework.  Really?  

Although a child who is thankful for homework makes me a little worried that there may have been a mix up at the hospital, I’m glad to see both of our children expressing gratitude.  Sometimes they even encourage me without realizing it. 

One such instance was a week or so ago.  We were leaving the house to take the six-year-old to the school bus.  We were on the verge of being late.  We’d searched the house for the coats only to remember at the last minute that they were in the car, the thirty-two degree car.  Then we’d nearly forgotten her lunch box.  All of this on top of the fact that I am not a morning person.  Then the little one was dawdling behind.  I turned to hurry her and saw her kneeling in the dirt, hands folded. 

 “Dear Jesus, Thank you for my love, Thank you for my family.   Amen”. 

Then she was up and running. I wanted to be mad that we were almost late, and that the jeans she’d just put on were already filthy, but seeing her take a moment to give thanks, without my prompting her to, made the rest of my day.  And I was thankful.

What are you thankful for?

Back To The Grind

Today was my first day back at my seasonal fish and wildlife job.  As much fun as the job is, I’m so sad that I’m letting someone else have all the fun of being with my kids all day.  If I could strap them to my back and carry them along with me, it would be the perfect job. 

Each spring I tell myself this is the last year.  The last year I’ll sell my kid’s childhood in exchange for 120  television channels, brand name coffee and  crummy convenience foods.  The last year we only get the benefit of half my earnings because the other half takes care of gas and childcare.  The last year I’ll tread water as a wife and mother, because family will forgive half measures where employers will not. 

This is a huge struggle for me, because I was raised to be independent, and such a huge part of independence is having one’s own money.  Prior to having children I always worked and had relatively well paid jobs.  I grew accustomed to having a lot of extra money.  When I found out we were expecting our first child we were between work seasons and I fully inteded to stay home instead of returning to work.  But when I got the invitation to return to work all I could think about was how much we could use the extra income in our down-payment-for-a home-fund.  I told myself it was just a few months and after we found (and qualified for the loan on) a home I’d quit and stay home to be a frugal mama.  Well, it took three more years to find the home, by that time there was another child, not to mention a bunch of pay increases which make that income all the more gripping.  With each new season I tell myself it’s just until we pay off…whatever.  But there always seems to be another whatever waiting behind the first. 

I don’t know that I have a real point with this post, I guess I’m mostly just venting.  I’m feeling very motivated to find another way to contribute to my families financial well being.  I’m feeing motivated to cut costs so that this can really be the last year of my kids childhood that I miss out on.   I’m not sure how I’ll do it just yet, but I know that there is a will so, there has to be a way right?

Do you work outside your home?  What was your deciding factor?

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