Doing the best she can to raise happy, healthy children

Category Archives: Lessons

Hi. My name is Ruthie and I’m an exhausted mom trying my best to be everything to everyone. I am the mommie to two wonderful little ones who are active in sports and dance. I am the homework boss, snack regulator, grocery shopper, and home referee. I am classroom volunteer, fieldtrip driver, school board member, and cheerleader. I am the housekeeper and home chef. I could go on, but I’m sure you get it. I’m certain you feel my pain. You are in similar shoes.

We are moms. We are wives. We are employees. We wear many hats. And do many thankless jobs. We are the ones who everyone goes to to get things done.

So, what happens when we need a break?

This is exactly where I was last weekend. I needed a break. From Friday until Sunday, I had 2 dance practices, 2 soccer games, 1 dance picture session, and 1 school auction. Plus, I needed to move into my new office space. I felt pressured to attend all of these functions. with a smile on my face. You see, all of these activities needed me or at the bare minimum wanted me. But I felt EXHAUSTED thinking about the weekend. I needed a break. After working 40+ hours a week, I still had a crazy busy weekend to get through.

I silently rejoiced when it was too cold and snowy for soccer. It was one thing off my list. I opted out of attending the school auction. And you know, it was OK. The world didn’t end. Yes, some may have been disappointed. My kids for the cancelled soccer game and probably some people from the school since I typically attend the auction. And you know I and my kids had one of the best weekends we’ve had in a long time. We hung out and watched TV. The kids helped me move into my office without me feeling impatient and rushed. The kids played video games.

I gave myself a pass. You can too. You can take a deep breath and opt out of things. You don’t have to be everything to everyone. You can pick and choose what you want to volunteer for. And, quite frankly what events you want to attend. ITS OK. Give yourself permission. Because, when you slow down you win. Your kids win. Your family wins. And, that’s more important than anything else in this world.

Trying to be everything to everyone is a curse. Its not realistic. It won’t make you happy. Volunteer and do things you want but also give yourself a break. Accept being able to take a break and just enjoy life with your family. Sleep in. Break that curse.

(This post was shared HERE where you can find blog posts from other encouraging posts.)

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You ever have one of those moments when your kid says something that just hits home with you? I had that moment this weekend. We were in the car going from one activity to the next when the conversation started. I love talking with my kids in the car. None of us are going anywhere. We’re all stuck in a small space which encourages all sorts of conversations. I’ve seriously had some of the BEST conversations with my kids in the car.

But back to the specific conversation this weekend.

Darling Daughter: I’m so glad you and Daddy are friends and like each other.

Me: Of we course we’re friends!

Darling Daughter: Yeah. I’m also glad you’re friends with Little Ducky’s mommie and daddy. (Little duckie is a baby who goes to our church. She was dressed as a duck last Halloween and hence forth is called Little Duckie by my kids).

I’m so glad you and Daddy are friends and like each other.

Wow. That hit home. My little 8 year-old notices a lot. I’ve always known without a doubt she and her brother know they are loved by their parents and each other. I’d always said kids pick-up on things even when parents are trying to hide it. I’d say that, because I’d learned that in school. I’d say that because I knew kids often, without thinking, share how their parents fight or when money is tight. But for some reason when it came out of her mouth, it really hit home.

I’m so glad you and Daddy are friends and like each other.

Such simple words made a huge impact on me. Yes, my husband and I love each other. Our marriage isn’t perfect. He annoys me sometimes, I annoy him sometimes. I can HONESTLY say we don’t really fight. We bicker every once in a while. But that’s not common at all. We have this MUTUAL respect for each other. We try very hard to talk things out before they become a BIG issue. I pray everyday that we can continue to do this. That we can WORK together to continue to build a wonderful marriage.

We’re not PERFECT. At all. But we sure do work hard at this thing called marriage. We don’t put on a face for the kids. We are real. We work hard to do family things together. My husband and I laugh together, tease each other, and work through things. All in front of our kids. They see us having a good time and problem solving together.

I never realized those little things, impressed on her. But she noticed.

Mommie and Daddy are friends. They like each other. 

What are your kids noticing from you? What do they think of your relationship with your spouse?


Last night our school had a fundraiser at a local restaurant. I took my daughter and we met one of her friends and her mom. The place was busy and noisy. The girls were giggly, loud, and squirmy. The service was slow as expected due to a great turn out for the fundraiser. Despite having to reel the girls in a few times, we all had a good time. Then it came time to leave. My daughter knows we don’t go running out of a store and towards the parking lot. I’ve reinforced her the need to stay close to me. However, last night all the excitement had gotten to her and I was a little worn out and tired from the day. She and her friend took off running out of the door and toward the parking lot. I yelled gently at my daughter and she kept running. So, I yelled firmly using her whole name. I rushed to her because she was running to far for my comfort zone. I immediately scolded her for her behavior.

Her punishment was to get into the car while I and her friend’s mom finished our conversation. We were trying to plan a time that we could get together next with the girls. After I finished the conversation and helped my daughter find her missing doll, I reconfirmed to her that I loved her very much but her behavior was inappropriate. I told her that her actions were not safe and even if we were having fun we had to be safe and listen.

And then the tears came. Huge crocodile tears were pouring down her cheeks. She was upset and sad that she’d disappointed me. She was embarrassed she’d gotten in trouble in front of her friend. She felt very, very bad for be disobedient (her words). And then my heart broke. Even this morning she said to me she was so sorry for last night.I reassured her we all make mistakes and that I loved her so much.

She is my sensitive one. She is the one who likes to push the limits a bit. I knew she was sensitive but I still scolded her harshly. I felt horrible. I wanted the lesson to be taught, but was I too hard? Had I let the situation with her behavior go to far all night that I was at my frustration point? How can I keep that from happening again. I felt like the worst mom ever.

I’m certain I’m not the only one that’s been there. Said something to their child either a little to harsh, handled things poorly or reacted without thinking. We all make mistakes. Despite wanting to tear myself up over this, I will not. I will take it as a learning lesson. I will have a better in plan in place before we do our next friend’s outing.

In fact, I already know what I will do before next time. 1) I will tell her ahead of time of the expected behavior 2) I will tell her she will hold my hand when leaving the store/restaurant/etc as we normally do.

I know I’ll stumble as I continue down this parenting path. New things and situations will come up. I will make more mistakes but I will learn from them. I find ways to move forward and to do things better the next time.

How have handled a parenting mistake or when you’ve over reacted? I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

Proverbs 9:9 Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. 

 


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My oldest is in kindergarten. I believe I’ve said it before, Kindergarten has been a BIG adjustment for all of us. One of these adjustments has been my daughter’s need for independence and decision-making. At first, as I write this, I think of course a parent would embrace this. However, her attempts at independence has been less than desirable.

The pull for independence continues throughout childhood. It starts with those first few precious steps, continues into toddlerhood and goes on to adulthood. Often times lack of maturity has children pulling for independence in challenging ways. For example, I’ll listen to you but will choose when I will follow through with your request. This causes some extra chaos and reminders from mom as the little one wants desperately to be in control of her decisions.

The example above is what we’re dealing with right now. She knows what she’s suppose to do, she just isn’t ready to do it. This has manifested itself with extreme slowness getting ready to go to school or at school picking up her toys only after playing for a few more minutes.

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Independence will be very important life skill for her to learn and master. She must learn to think independently to not be pressured into unsafe situations. She must learn to assert her independence appropriately in her future career. It is my job to help develop her growth. My responses to her independence will either help or hinder that growth.

I say, embrace this independent streak and don’t be in too big of a hurry to squash it in hopes of a compliant child. Don’t get me wrong, discipline should follow when she’s being defiant. However, be kind. Give your child choices when she can have them. Let her make some decisions for herself. Be upfront. In our case, getting out the door and to school on time is not negotiable. So, I put consequences in place for her not listening and getting dressed on time. However, I don’t really care what shoes she wears. So, she can pick out her shoes every morning. And if she gets ready timely, she has an extra reward of watching some television before we leave. I expect her to listen to her teacher at school and come home with a good daily report. I do let her have some time in the evening where she decides what she will do.

Embrace the independence, set realistic expectations, and appropriate discipline and your house will be a happier one!

Do you have a child going through an independent growth? Please share your stories! I’d love to hear how you handle them.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And even when he is old and he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 ASV


Our vacation didn’t start out smooth. In fact, if I were a superstitious person, I would think that this vacation wasn’t exactly meant to be. However, I’m not and since arriving at our destination we’ve been having a good time. Here’s a few of the rocky starts to this vacation.

1) Forgot the wedding clothes (which the purpose of the vacation)

2) New Portable DVD player stopped working before we left our driveway

3) Toddler vomited on me in the Walmart parking lot

4) The only girls bathroom not being cleaned at Walmart was in the BACK of the store

5) A potty-training toddler can pee so much he can overload a pull-up and wet his pants 4 times even with stopping every 2 hours to potty
This bumpy start to our vacation taught me a few things:

1) Our kids CAN travel without a DVD player.

2) Always have a handy bag of “extra clothes”.

3) Flexibility is so very important.

4) A toddler covered in vomit will still elicit an “He’s so cute”, Roll with it!

5) Being silly in the car is still the best entertainment for the family, with I Spy being a close second.

Here are a few quick pictures of our first day, the more fun pictures. The non-vomit pictures.

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This term seems to be coined sometime in the last 10-15 years. I’m sure we’ve all ran into one at some point in our life. You know the girl who has nothing nice to say to anyone, not even her closest friends. She is over critical of everyone to often cover up her own insecurities. Strangely, it seems, she’s often the popular girl who all school-age girls want to be. As adults, these same girls exist but have a lot less power. Women are stronger emotionally and less likely to base their self-worth on a mean girl’s opinion of them.

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My daughter takes dance. We luckily found a dance studio that is more modest than most. There’s no mid-sections showing on the little ones and the little girls’ routines are very much age appropriate. Once a week we rush after daycare to get her to dance on time. She loves the dance class and teacher. She’s always been shy but I’m now seeing her become more outgoing. She now likes to sit with her “dance friends’ when before she’d sit on my lap just watching them.

Last week they were all sitting together looking through the dance books. My daughter was sitting next to two other girls and looking over their shoulders. Now, these other two go to the same daycare together so they are quite familiar with each other. Girl A is the obvious leader of the two. Girl B pretty much follows her around and copies what girl A is doing. Girl A is very, well, bossy.

While looking through the books Girl A and B were commenting on the outfits and which ones they liked. Girl A pointed to one and said, “Eww….I don’t like this one”. Girl B looked over and said something I didn’t hear. The Girl A continued on to say it was because it was a boy’s outfit and it was ugly. My daughter looked puzzled and looked up at me. She didn’t say anything. They turned the page and Girl A pointed at another girl and said, “That’s ugly, I don’t like her face.”

My daughter’s eyes were huge and she looked at me and said, “That’s not nice!” I responded with, “No it’s not nice and we don’t say things like that.” Girl A’s mom and B’s dad were several feet away not paying any attention to the girls. Girl A was never reprimanded for making such a mean and hurtful comment.

When we drove home following dance, I reinforced to my daughter this type of behavior is inappropriate. Most importantly I praised her for being able to recognize it. I told her how proud I was that she was always so nice to everyone.

Now reflecting on this, my heart hurts a bit. This girl was only 5 years-old. She’s already showing the signs of being a mean girl. That is so very sad. Further more, it’s sad because her mom was so involved in a conversation she missed the opportunity to redirect her daughter’s comment. She missed a teaching opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with her mom having a conversation with someone. I just think its sad that there was a missed opportunity. I’m certain I’ve missed opportunities too. It happens, but sad none the less.

I am truly proud of my little girl. I often see her being a truly nice girl. Daycare tells me frequently they just love her sweetness and how she’s nice to everyone. This little girl of mine doesn’t have a true mean bone in her body. She’s never been one to purposely hurt someone; physically or emotionally. She’s pretty awesome!

Some of this is personality. Some of it is how we raise her. I can’t take all the credit but I’ve done things to help promote this behavior. By no means am I perfect. These are just a few things we do. They are not in any sort of order.

1. Nip it in the backside: We don’t let any mean behavior go. Its addressed immediately. It doesn’t matter if it’s directed toward a friend, a sibling, or me. My kids know without a doubt that inappropriate behavior is addressed.

2. Praise the good: As in the story above, when I see my kids doing good, I tell them. I let them know I’m proud of them when they are doing the right thing.

3. Provide a moral compass: I help direct them to God’s word and what he says about behavior. We’ve worked on memory verses. Two of my favorite are: Children obey your parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1)  and Be kind to one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

4. Model good behavior: This is essential for anything to stick. We make an effort to demonstrate the expected behavior. My husband and I say please and thank-you. We avoid certain words from our language and are always respectful.

5. Monitor what is watched: What we watch and hear influences behavior significantly. It speaks to children and helps guide their thinking. Consider the message before sitting the kids in front of the television. Watch everything before the kids or at least with them.  


So we have these shoes.

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There’s nothing wrong with them. They are hand-me-downs. My daughter won’t wear them because they’re boys. My son won’t wear them because, well, I don’t know why. I think because his sister won’t.

He had to wear them last week because he urinated in his other shoes. We’re potty training. It was right before leaving for daycare. There was no time to clean and dry them. So, he was forced. Yes, forced, to wear them. He was quite unhappy about it. I told him he couldn’t go outside and to daycare without shoes on his feet. Later that day I spoke with his daycare provider and asked if he’d complained about his shoes.

That’s when I learned how much he disliked those silly, brown shoes. They’d come inside from playing and my Little Guy was walking around without any shoes on. The teacher asked him where they were. He told her he’d thrown them away. And, sure enough, he had. She took them out of the garbage, cleaned them off and put them back on his feet.

Yes, he dislikes those shoes so much he threw them away. Simple as that. He waited until he’d gone outside in the afternoon to play. Then, once the usefulness of the shoes was over, he ditched them.

This got me thinking. Thinking about things in my life that may have reached beyond its usefulness. I should be like my kiddo and toss those things. Yet, I hold on to them. We’ve been slowly cleaning out our house. We’ve been sorting and either tossing items or sending them to Goodwill and consignments. We have a long ways to go before our house will be completely de-cluttered.

I think about taking this a step further. What can I throw-out that I no longer need to do? What’s eating up my time? What activities are still in my life that’s outlived its usefulness? What negative emotions or thoughts are sitting there and need to be recycled? Are there things I could stop doing or throw away? How about you? Do you have “shoes” you can throw away?