A Shout Out to All the Mamas

 

Hang in there, you’ve got this!  I am sure you have heard that before.  Seriously, I want to encourage you to be your best.  When you are exhausted and you feel like you can’t take one more step; pause, breathe and have confidence in yourself.  I know- easier said than done.  If I hadn’t been there before I would agree.  I have been to the end of my rope and thought, no more!  The 2 year old tantrums, the emotional 5 year old, the teenager with, well you fill in the blank here, the husband that wants something that you don’t think you have the energy for.  The time is precious with our family.  Does parenting get easier?  Well on some things, yes; but other things become more difficult.  So maybe you need to take 10 minutes to yourself, or let the house be a mess for tonight so you can get some extra rest.  We are all Super-Moms in our heads.  To be honest some days my cape looks great at the end of the day and other days I only have a thread hanging on.  When mustering up strength when it seems as though it’s not even worth it;  I can tell you it is, give it every last bit you have.  We need to show our kids we are stronger than they are and that we can muster up the strength when things look impossible. What I mean by this is we always have to show them we will win every battle that they come at us with.  This does not mean we can’t take a break and get our sanity/energy rebooted.  This means we are warriors and will always fight for what is right, this includes teaching our kids 100% of the time that they have rules, manners, and we are in charge.  

So again-hang in there, I know you can get through today and tomorrow you will wake up with more energy and power to accomplish another day.  

Stay Strong!

Heather

Kids Always Need Parents

 

 

Today I want to debunk the lies about kids not needing you. For example, you are told that you should go to work when the kids are babies or when they become teenagers or in high school, because they don’t need you as much at that age.  If you are a working mom listen to me carefully; I am not putting you down or telling you to stop.  To all moms who are working outside the home, working at home, stay at home moms; my advice is for all of you!

No matter the age our children they always need, direction or guidance, love, hugs, reassurance, a solid foundation.  These things are what helps make strong, independent, self confident children/adults.  

Let’s start at infancy,  the basic foundations start here.  Take time everyday to comfort, love, talk, sing, or read to your baby.  As they move to toddlerhood, they need direction, discipline, love, cuddles, reassurance.  Play with your toddler let them know you are there.  If you start disciplining and giving time at this young age; things will go much smoother down the road.  School age kids are given more responsibility and they need to know you believe in them and have time for them.  See my key word here, TIME.  So matter what your schedule is your first priority is your children!  

As the kids become teenagers they will need you to be their venting board, some advice, as they are trying to figure out who they are and what they believe.  The hardest years for kids in my opinion.  Be there to hear all about their day, good or bad, or maybe friend issues.  My advice here is to listen and ask if they want your opinion about the situation.  Sometimes they just need to talk about it, then they are fine.  Do not just let your teenager storm off to their room or say they don’t want to talk about something.  I always give my teenagers a few minutes in their room, then I go sit on their bed and have them tell me what feelings they are having; this can be happy, mad, and sad all at the same time.  This is completely normal for kids.  This is the age you can really develop mutual respect to start a friendship with your child.      

On to high school.  Yes the kids are becoming more independent and the schools encourage total responsibility and independence.  These are fantastic things; with the exception we are still the parents and responsible until they are 18 years old.  We are in charge of getting them to school on time, feeding them, making sure they are healthy, calling in absences, making sure their homework is done, and their grades are up to par. So yes our kids and the school still need us.  High schoolers are still vulnerable, still figuring out what they believe, hopefully this is getting much stronger but remember they need guidance since they are typically 13-18 years old.  This is a great time for figuring out who they are and what they want to do in the future.  These kids have a lot of pressure on them.  If they want to do sports, sing in the choir, take art, encourage them.  You are their #1 cheerleader.  They need to know that you have their backs and believe in them.  This is a very important time to have time for them.  Make sure you have time to hug, listen and advise them.  

So at any age do not be afraid to hug, kiss and love on your child.  Kids will follow your example.  The more you invest in your kids the more you will get out of it as they grow.  I truly believe your children will thrive if you build into them.

Follow your heart, not society!

-Heather

#Zfammama #hopealways #Vlogger #Blogger #livelifetogether

Beauty Starts Within

Psalm 45:11 says: Let the King be enthralled by your beauty, for he is your Lord.

To be honest, I have battled body image issues at different times/stages of my life.  That being said, I wish we could all look in the mirror and see ourselves as God sees us: perfect, beautiful, His, worthy.  Unfortunately, our tendency is to seek the world to help us look a certain way.  The truth is we are all built differently; uniquely.  Tall, short, thin, chunky, small, larger, the list goes on to every body part.  The most important thing is to be healthy; eat well, exercise, smile, laugh, have friends, seek God.

So let’s talk realistically.  First off, you have to be content with your body even if your not completely happy with it at the moment.  Look at what you want to change, is it a realist change?  If it is a solid body part like, your nose, ears, toes, lips, eyes, etc you need to stop!  These are how you were made. The things I am talking about are things like muscles and fat.  These things can be changed.  The food we eat and the exercise we do can change these.  While you are working on changing yourself, keep your eyes on Christ.  I know looking in the mirror can be hard at times.  From my experience, I have made myself stand in front of a mirror naked and accept what I look like right now, not what my goals are.  I encourage you to do the same, stand there for as long as it takes to find some contentment.  It’s also important to remember your body didn’t change overnight or in a short period of time.  Give it time to change again, slow and steady will yield the best results. I do not believe in dieting, I do believe in changing your diet.  

I am in a season of change right now.  For 2 months I have changed some eating habits and  worked out 4-5 times a week.  My clothes are starting to fit oddly, and I don’t see big number change on my scale.  I start to feel discouraged, but I know there is small change happening that will last.  Please know I don’t believe everyone should be a certain size, I believe you need to figure out what is healthiest for you, weight, exercise, food etc. It’s about you and your body.       

Keep moving forward, and do what works best for you.  I pray you can look in the mirror everyday and smile at what you see!  

Zfam mama

Hello Everyone!

Thank you to all who are following me on Zfammama.com!  I’m excited to announce that I am now on Facebook and YouTube as Zfam Mama. So be sure and like and subscribe so you don’t miss anything!  I want to share a few things I will be blogging/vlogging about.  I want you to know that I am only sharing my knowledge and giving advice.  I never intend to hurt anyone’s feelings and don’t ever want you to feel as though you are not good enough.  Please know I am kind hearted and putting myself out there in a place I can be criticized- and that is scary for me.  We are all doing this life together and I hope I can be a virtual friend who is encouraging and helpful. Let’s live this life with joy and see all the blessings God has set up for us!

Here are just a few things I will be sharing my experience on:

Marriage:

How to stay in a honeymoon stage for your whole life

Arguments

Time for each other

Kids:

Discipline

Vitamins/probiotics

Lying

Cooking ideas:

Breakfast

Dinner

Have a blessed day and keep smiling!

 

-Heather

#Zfammama #hopealways #Vlogger #Blogger #livelifetogether

Taking away a binky or blanket (security is more important)

Another great question; “When do I take my child’s pacifier or special blanket away?”  The answer is, never.  I know you probably think I am crazy, but hear me out.  There is a time for pacifiers and blankies. You set the boundries for when they can have them. I always carried a pacifier and my kids special blanket in my diaper bag or purse.  I believe in letting them have it to go to sleep or to calm down.  I do not agree with  a child walking around with a pacifier.  Also, I can’t stand when a child talks through a pacifier.  I think it is very important for children to talk and respond appropriately and respectfully at a young age.  Now let’s talk about the proper times for these things. It’s appropriate when: going to bed at night, taking a nap, car rides, movies, when they just need to relax.  Whether we are dealing with a pacifier or thumb, you can take either out of their mouth.  By doing this, especially with their thumb; be in tune to why they are sucking it.  If they seem nervous give them reassurance and if it is just habitual, redirect them to play, color or something else.  We need to make sure our children have a solid foundation of security at a very young age.  Holding them when they cry, talking to them, give them reassurance in all situations.  I truly believe you can never spoil a child with love and security.  Most children naturally outgrow bottles, pacifiers, blankies, etc.  The main idea is to give your child security that will last.  As your child gets older they will have different interests and wants.  They will go from holding their blanket to playing with trains, or dolls.  I am not a fan of pacifier fairies as I worry that kids will have a worry of what other things will have to be given away next.  If you want to speed the process up; as your child gets to an age you want them to stop using the pacifier or other item; have the item stay in the bed when they awake in the morning or have a special place the item stays until you want them to have it.  Just remember to be empathetic when you are taking anything special away from your child.  One last thing; always do what works for you and your child, not for everyone else!

New School Year

Today my son started his 6th grade year. Last week my oldest son started his sophomore year of high school and my daughter started her 3rd grade year of homeschool.  What I want to talk about today is attitude.  I personally love summer and having my kids with me 24/7.  I am the parent crying when they go back to school.  That being said, I always have a positive outlook on the new school year.  While my kids are in Kindergarten-6th grade I write a little note to their teacher and give them a starbucks gift card.  The reason I do this is to let the teacher know she is appreciated and I care that she is spending 6 hours a day with my child.  I feel it is very important to be on the same team with your child’s teacher.  Education is very important to all of us as we want our children to succeed and follow their dreams.  I believe if we have a good attitude about school, homework, teachers, and other kids our children will also have this attitude and be able to cope better.  Let me hit on these for a minute.  

School-  I don’t like getting up early but I do it with a smile and focus on something good about each day, maybe it is a Tuesday and I say “Happy Tuesday I am looking forward to hearing what you learn about today.” or “Let’s take a walk after school today”.

Homework- the controversial one; I have an attitude of buckle down and get it done, this way there is time to play everyday after school. Also, sometimes it’s good to change the homework spot for the day; in the winter time I will start a fire in the fireplace and we will sit in the family room to do homework.  When the weather is good we will go sit outside to do homework.                                                                                                                 

Teachers- connect with your child’s teacher; you have your child in common so this is an easy one to work on.  

Other kids- we all raise our children differently so rules vary by family.  Bullying is such a hot topic these days and I think the main problem is that we are teaching our kids to fight back, instead of defending themselves and having empathy.  When we teach our kids to look at others lives and try to understand what they are going through our kids can deal with conflict and mean words a lot easier.  

I’m not saying there won’t be bad or emotional days, we just need to have an attitude of gratitude whenever possible.  Being a parent never stops and we shape our kids throughout life.  I know I would rather have my child smiling and looking forward to the next day rather than dreading tomorrow.

Discipline

My Discipline

I believe you need to start discipline as soon as possible.  When you are nursing and the baby bites, give a louder “ouch” so the baby understands there are consequences. Then when our darling toddlers start knocking things over or touching things they shouldn’t, we need to tell them no, not move the object.  By telling them no and keeping the object there, we teach them the world does not revolve around them.  To stay on this point; if you are going to take your child outside your home they need to know what they can and can’t touch.  When you go to a friends house, store, restaurant, etc. they know “no” and this makes your life a lot easier.  So there are different ways of discipline, I personally don’t believe in only one.  I do believe what the Bible says in Proverbs13:24 NIV= Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.

I have a few different ideas on discipline.  I can tell you that no 1 thing works every time and for every child.  You know your child, try different ways of disciplining and figure out what works best for you.  Remember the punishment needs to fit the crime.

Spanking: I use this when a child needs a quick reminder to open those ears.  I have used a wooden spoon or my hand.  This is not abuse, it is a spanking- not multiple hits.  1-2 swats on the rear end is all it should be, accompanied with redirection; that is what I am talking about here.  If my child touches “a pretty”, I spank their hand and tell them no.  Again, this needs to have some redirection or moving the child away from the area (if it’s logical).  By redirecting I mean have a toy, coloring book, blankie, pacifier available for your child.

Thumping their lips:  I use this when a child spits, backtalks, says a bad word on purpose, disrespects, screams or yells.

Hot Tabasco or dry mustard: I use a drop or 2.  I use this for biting or lying.  I cannot stand lying, I teach my kids very young that telling the truth no matter what is so important.  With biting, you can also bite back.

Hold therapy: this is for your out of control child where a spanking won’t shock them out of the behavior.  If leaving the child to throw a temper tantrum will hurt him or someone else; I pick the child up and hold their body close to mine making sure they can’t move, I hold them until I can talk to them and feel their body relax and they can respond with a desire to change their behavior.  If they are too big to hold, get on top of them similar to a wrestling position and keep them still until they relax.  My son was tongue tied for 3 years and we didn’t know it.  He would throw fits and fling himself around on the ground.  I would hold him and cry with him until he would relax so we could talk.

Time-outs: the child needs to understand what no means before you start time-outs.  They should be told why they are being put in time-out and not talked to until they are have remorse for what they have done.  You do not need a time-out chair or certain spot for this; I have put my kids in time out at the grocery store and literally stood in the aisle while they thought about what they had done; these tend to be quicker because they tend to be more embarrassed out in public.  For timing: a good way to start is by their age=how long they sit in time out.  Now I have a child that sat for 30 minutes at the age of 2 because he didn’t want to tell me what he did wrong.  Finally at the end of 30 minutes he told me why he was in time out.  You know your child; do what works for you, not what others say.

Taking things away/extra chores:  so this can start around 12-18 months depending on the child.  You may have a child that no other disciple seems to work, but taking that special toy away does.  (Do not take a blanket or something they find comfort and/or security in away, that can be traumatizing).  The length that toy is taken can depend on the child’s age and why it was taken away.  For a 1-3 year old 20-minutes to a few hours; while a 4+ year old it can be overnight or longer.  So when we are dealing with an older child who has a bad attitude, disrespects, or is mean in some way-  I start to give them jobs as discipline.  These are not their regular chores.  They might have to make a sibling’s bed, pick up toys that aren’t theirs.  Serve someone all day by getting them food, drinks etc.

Following and During any discipline I always tell my child I did not like their actions, but I love them.  Their actions are not them, so remember to separate their choices from who they are.  “You are acting like a brat”; NOT “You are a brat”.  You can always say, “I don’t like how you were acting, I always love you and I know you can make better choices”.  

Parenting can be hard work.  The earlier you start the easier it will be.  I can tell you it’s worth it.  Your children will represent your family and how they are raised.

Vacation Time

Summer is almost here for my family.  This year my husband has a sabbatical, so he will be off the same time our kids are.  For us this will be a very relaxed, non-alarm summer (except for church of course).  We have some fun trips planned, that are different from our normal summers.

Most of our summers look the same.  Some things wait until daddy gets off work so we can make memories as a family.  We love to paddleboard, camp, go on bike rides, have family room sleep-overs (this is the whole family) and more.  Every summer we make a Zfam adventure list and a Reading Challenge chart.  (These are on a poster board and hung on our back door).  Our adventures are determined by the whole family, some don’t make the list as they are too expensive or unrealistic. The above mentioned things are on the list along with reading, swimming, s’mores, and playing games.  If you decide to do a list tailor it to your family.

  So of course with the reading challenge I have a reward system.  I decide how many books I want my kids to read over the summer.  Each book has to be pre approved for how much it’s worth.  I have some very avid readers in my family, so a 5th grade level book for my child who reads at a 9th grade level is worth a ¼ of a sticker; none of the books are worth more than 1 sticker.  The chart has each child’s name on it with 4 sections: 2 books-4 books-6 books-8 books.  Below each section is a prize like ice cream or going out to dinner(this is our final prize).  So the other stipulation is, no reward is given until all 5 kids reach each goal. (They can continue reading more books and adding it to their chart towards the next  goal).  My children are very encouraging to each other with this challenge.   I like this challenge since it gives me a chance to get some reading in during our time off.   

  I believe in making life an adventure.  This is a year round thing. We go for walks,  sing, and play I spy.  When we go for a car ride that is more than 20 minutes, I act like it is a long way away so everyone needs some water and a little snack.  During time off around holidays we always sleep in the family room a few times, play games, and act like the clock doesn’t matter.  We have fairly strict bedtimes during school, but in summer midnight is always an option=).  Of course you need to take about a week before school starts again to re-train the kids that bedtime is important.  No matter what you do, have fun and remember the little things can leave lasting impressions and great memories.  

Parent to Friend

Balance, that is the main goal here.  Some of us grew up in the generation of the authoritarian or permissive parents.  I believe the best type of parenting is authoritative.  We need to teach our children to respect us and to know we are in charge, always.  Teaching starts very young; by 6 months old you should start telling them no, while still showing them security and love.  Always stay strong when disciplining, even with those sweet eyes looking at you.  Sometime we lose our cool and threaten to throw things in the garbage or other extreme measures;  we can change it by saying “I was frustrated and I am changing the punishment to _____”.  Typically the toys and things our kids have, we bought with our money, so take things away, don’t waste your money.  

So how do we go from parent to friend? What is the right age to do this?  Now is when you start.  When our kids are little, we play with them; this teaches friendship.  When they get older we talk to them about issues in their lives and help and teach them how to deal with conflict. Stop here! {By the time they are in junior high, they want to share with you and don’t always want to you “fix” or advise them on what to do.  They want you to listen and know you are there for them if they want help}.  You still need to ask questions and ask if they want your advice on certain situations.  If it is something big,  please step in and help your child!  We always need to be an active part of our kids lives no matter their age.  By the time our kids are going into high school the groundwork should be laid to start moving from parent to friend.  What I mean by this is your child should have the tools to make their own decisions and know their basic beliefs.  This is not a time to go hands off, you need to be an active part of their life.  You don’t go hands off till they are out of your house; we know there is always room for growth and maturity.  Continue to ask them about their day, their friends, how they are handling and feel about everything.  {This should start when they start school}.  Continue to guide them on religion, drugs, sex, life choices.  It is important at all ages for our children to know actions produce consequences.  So back to friendship; our children need to show respect for our authority and as they mature a natural friendship can occur.  We have to let them make mistakes and suffer the consequences, whether it is from us, a teacher, or another adult in their life.  Better to start disciplining when they are little, than to have the cops do it when they are teenagers.  By setting the foundation while they are young; you will be able to have a lifelong friendship with mutual respect.

*Trust is earned. Love is given.* 

Working or Staying at Home Mom

So I have been a full time stay at home mom for 18 years.  When I married my husband I was finishing college, and working as a nanny.  To give a little background, my parents felt college was a necessity so I could have a “fall back” plan since I have always wanted to be a stay at home mom.  My husband and I had many conversations about being a stay at home mom but he never asked me what I wanted before kids.  He thought I really enjoyed being a nanny so we didn’t change things when our first daughter was born.  I had a nanny job that paid well and I was able to take our first daughter to work with me.  2 ½ years later when our second daughter was born I asked for an extra day off and the family fired me, (our daughter was 5 days old).  From that day on I have been a stay at home mama.    

By us living on one income we have to live on a budget and sometimes money is extremely tight.  Right now my husband is working on getting a second job to help pay off debt and buy a home.  He is insistent that I not get a job; as I already have a full time job being a mom, raising our kids and he doesn’t want that to change.  He also believes it is his responsibility to provide for the family.  

Let me be clear, I am not putting anyone down for their life choices.  Just remember these are your choices and you have to own them.  With every decision comes some sacrifice. By working outside the home, you sacrifice things like time with your kids, getting things done around the house, the ability to home school.  On the other hand, being a stay at home; you don’t have the extra income to go out to dinners, go on big vacations, have “me” time.  So we all need to weigh our choices, and decide what sacrifices we are willing to make.  We need to accept the decisions each person makes.  It is not our job to tell others what to do or expect people to pick up where we lack.  Nobody should be responsible to supplement income for the stay at home, just as nobody should be responsible to pick up the pieces for the working mom.  We are all moms and we all have our families to take care of, there is no need to try to one up or put another down.  Don’t be a “mom-bully”, show respect and love to one another.

Stay strong and be blessed!