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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

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.

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.* 

Tough Love

 

  Let’s talk about tough love. So to begin, when a baby is born our job is to teach them unconditional love. When a baby cries, we comfort, when it’s hungry, we feed it, when it’s scared, we reassure them. As the baby moves to toddlerhood we set major boundaries. We want to keep our babies safe, so we are their eyes and ears. As they grow they have more boundaries and they are more aware of their surroundings, so by the time they are teenagers they have instincts on what is safe and unsafe (for the most part).

 Trust is earned, love is given.

  Tough love should not be turning our backs on our kids. When our teenagers are starting to rebel, they want to see who cares. Chase after your kids always. Grab and hug them when they are sad, angry, or quiet. We have to let our kids know we will always be there for them. Some kids verbally lash out, others like to run to their rooms, while others will just stay quiet and be unresponsive. In all these situations we have to break down the walls and get through their thick little (adorable) heads. For the verbal kids I allow them to speak their feelings and/or opinions and I stop them if they are disrespectful. The runners, I follow, I hug them, sit with them and work through their feelings. The hardest one for me is the unresponsive, I hug my child and then give them options to label their feelings. I ask if they are mad, angry, frustrated? I also tell them I am not moving from here until you tell me what is going on.  Letting your child know you are there no matter what, will change your relationship.

  The idea that a parent would turn their back on a child is awful. Every child has something that is important to them. Start by taking things away and having them earn it back. You set the tone for respect at a very early age. Follow through! If you give a consequence and want to change it (say you said something out of anger, “ I will throw away your dvd if you don’t clean your room”). Change it and let them know that you’re in charge, no matter what your decision. You probably bought that dvd anyways. Explain why you’re making your decisions too, because that will help them understand why you do things you do, and later help them talk to you about what they’re going through. Hugging your teenager might be awkward at first if you haven’t been hugging them all along. I can tell you there have been many studies done regarding touch, people thrive by being hugged and touched. You are the parent and you will always be the parent. Remember what you do will impact generations to come.

Dealing with the Death of a Grandparent

400682_467210426689596_1441140039_nSo my mom passed away suddenly in February of 2015.  She was a very healthy woman with lots of energy.  She got pneumonia that turned septic and was gone in a day.  I have 5 children, ages 8-21 years old.  I know everyone handles grief differently.  I just want to share a few things I have learned, and give a few tips that may be helpful.

*I was in shock and mourning the loss of my mom; I wanted my kids with me 24/7.  So I kept them out of school until after the funeral.

My 2 oldest girls cried and shared what they were feeling.  They continue to talk, cry and laugh with me and each other.  We talk about memories, what we would miss in the future, and how to handle what people say to you during this time.  We rejoice knowing she is in Heaven.  My 8 year old will start crying and feel sad at all different times.  She is homeschooled, so some of her memories were with Grammie helping her with school work; which meant school work was an automatic reminder that her Grammie was gone. She is very open to talk and share what she is thinking and feeling.  I always acknowledge that this is a hard situation but we have to keep going; this is what Grammie would want and she wouldn’t want us to stop living or be sad all the time.

After the initial shock hit my boys, they cried, then they closed down.  They tried not to cry, acted like they didn’t care and then later came some other issues.

I started by letting my kids teachers know what had happened.  I believe in informing teachers  what is going on at home so they can help while they have my child for 6 hours a day.  If teachers are informed they can have a much better understanding of your child’s behavior.  For instance, my 10 year old started sucking his thumb again, something he hadn’t done since he was 4.  His teacher informed me he was doing at school and was able to help him while he was there. I reminded him to keep his hands out of his mouth while he was at school; although I allowed him to suck his thumb while he was at home.  This was the way he was comforting himself while he was  grieving.  I have to say there are still times he sucks his thumb and I know it helps him to feel better.  He also started having a hard time going to sleep at night.  I started using essential oils nightly on his pillow along with some Bach music playing until he falls asleep.  My 15 year old suddenly had a short fuse and no patience at school stating, “They shouldn’t mess with me, especially right now”.  He just expected everyone to know what he was going through.  He had so many different feelings and wasn’t sure what to say or share.  He is a strong, masculine boy who believed men need to be strong and hold it together no matter what.  Seeing his dad, uncle and Grampa cry helped him to see that crying was ok.  He believed there were tiers in grief and that he was on the bottom.  I let him know we all lost the same person, yes our relationships were different but he had a right to all his grief and sadness.  We have had a lot of short and long talks about feelings of grief. He is sharing a lot more with me, but this has been a long process and by no means do I believe all is well just yet.  My goal is to keep him sharing and healing.

I continue to talk to my kids and try to pull memories from them and ask how they are truly feeling at that moment.  I specifically ask “How are you feeling about Grammie’s death?”  This helps me teach the kids about emotional health and that their feelings are right for them to feel.  Sometimes my kids feel like they don’t have many memories with Grammie; I just talk about a few things to remind them and bring their memories back.

We will all have to deal with death at some point.  Remember  as long as someone has accepted Christ, they go to Heaven and we will see them again.

*Keep looking up to God and keep the faith.

Journaling for Kids

Journal

I like to journal about what is going on in my life and my prayers.  I start my kids young in this process.  I give them a journal and tell them to write anything they feel.  I do let them know  I will be reading it.  This may seem like a break in trust and their personal privacy; but I can tell you it  opens the door to more communication, since they can write things that are hard for them to say face to face.  When I was in charge of a music program at my kids school (a volunteer position); I was on the phone an excessive amount (every afternoon for 2-3 hours).  My daughter was in 7th grade and journaled how she didn’t like me on the phone so much and wished she could talk to me more.  I read her journal and then sat down with her to talk about it.   At first she was nervous that I would be mad at her; but I let her know she had a right to her opinions and feelings.  I changed when and how long I would talk to people on the phone.  Another recent time was my son’s journal, it was a message to God about how he missed Grammie; this is my child who is quiet so I took that opportunity to pull more feelings out of him.  I have read about friends, family, and life happenings in my kids journals.  The journals are raw and full of a lot of emotions.   I feel it has helped me to be more open to see things from their perspective. The key to kids journaling is for them to express their feelings and thoughts without judgment.  My advice to you is be opened minded and unoffended as you read your kid’s journals.

*When the kids are little I tell them to draw pictures of how they are feeling

*My daughter enjoys scrapbooking composition notebooks to use for her journals.

Technology, the Big Debate

Tech for kids

So what is the right age for a tablet, computer, phone, maybe email, or social media? Well I believe this varies by parents. Once you introduce your kids to something new you need to be on top of it and in full communication with them about that item. Think about T.V. You don’t give your child a channel changer and leave them alone for hours to “explore”. I know all the things I listed above can be scary; being a parent is scary. You choose what your child gets and when. As well as how much time they get with each device. Remember all of these are privileges, not necessities. Always remember; you know what your child is ready for at what age. We have rules in our family of no cell phones till the end of 6th grade, and no social media accounts until Jr. High. They can only have family as friends/followers to start with until High School. Now let me share how we do social media. First of all, we know all user names and passwords. Second, we must pre approve friends before friend/follower request are sent or accepted. This continues until they graduate high school. You may ask “Well what about secret accounts?” Easy. We go on our kid’s phones, computers, social media pages- from their computers of course. They know if anything is questionable, their computer, phone, etc. is ours to take. Even if they received it as a gift. They live in our home, therefore, our rules. Let me tell you, it takes work to have all these electronics. We have 5 kids and that means we can’t be relaxed about it. We are constantly checking phones, computers, tablets, social media, etc. With everything we allow them to have, we have to check up on those things. We have well behaved children, but I make sure they are on the right track every day. So a few tips on all these electronics.

1. Make sure you have an open, honest relationship before giving them any of these gadgets.

2. Never allow computers/ tablets/phones in the bedroom especially with a closed door.

3. We plug in all phones in our family room area every night, no phones in the bedroom.

4. No phones at the dinner table.

5. Make sure to limit all electronics to your contentment.

6. Remember you are the parent; it is your job to teach your sweet babies about responsibility.

7. I use the line from Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

1 Timothy 3:4

He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect.

Teenagers and preteens

As my teenager stormed off to her bedroom I had a choice to make.  1. I could chalk it up to “normal” teenager behavior, or 2. I could compose myself and follow her.  Well I personally don’t enjoy the “normal” teenager attitude so I followed her to her bedroom, took a seat on her bed and asked her what she was feeling, the reply I got was “I don’t know”.  Well that is not an answer to me so I told her I would sit with her until she could tell me what she was feeling; mad, sad, angry, hurt.  I know this takes work as a parent, the thing is if we as parents can help our children express their feelings; we open up communication in the small things and that makes it easier for them to talk about the big things with us.  I use this system with each one of my kids, letting them know their feelings are real and o.k. to feel and talk about.  I believe if we connect emotionally with our kids we will have stronger relationships with them.