Tag Archives: parent life

Summer Can Be Scary (And I’m Not Sorry)

I’ve spent the last few weeks praying about our summer.

I’m so nervous that my kids will think it’s boring, or lame, or both, or whatever. What do kids even think these days? I don’t mind my kids being bored, really. I think it builds character and creativity for them to just figure something out to entertain themselves. I also LOVE to make them get outside. Go ride a bike, pull some weeds in the garden, blow bubbles, or draw with chalk. I don’t care, but don’t tell me you don’t feel like doing it.

There’s a lot of Pinterest and Instagram pressure to make summer an “epic” experience for your kids. But what I really want to do is lowball it as hard as I can, and make them make their own plans. Sure, they’re 2, 4, and 6, but they can tell me what they want to do! We’ve got chore charts intact, complete with a reward system. I have a ready answer to “I’m bored.”

Otherwise, to tell the truth, I enjoy having fun, too! I WANT to go to the pool, and to the park, and the mountains, which blessedly aren’t that far away. I WANT to see our friends and live music and whatever other events are going on. But we just can’t do everything, and I need to take the pressure off of myself NOW or else I’ll drown in it. The pressure is stifling to those of us who just don’t “do” what everyone else seems to do. I’m spontaneous, which is sometimes a great thing with kids, and sometimes not so much. We never sit around the house for too many hours in a row, but there are times that I get an idea in my head, and it’s just too late to make it work.

The other thing that may save my life is the YMCA. We (re)joined a month ago, and so far, beginning my mornings there with my kids in a safe and fun childcare (with lots of their friends!) has been a big stress reliever. Now, my workout doesn’t depend on the weather or on whether the baby takes a nap at the time he’s supposed to. I can get up, make everyone a nice breakfast, and head to the gym to get the endorphins blasting, and then I feel GREAT about whatever else we get – or don’t get – accomplished.

What is saving you this summer? Letting go of your expectations? Making a weekly plan? Lots of vacation or none at all? Tell me all the things that you do to survive and thrive in summer!

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! The pickin’s are a little slim this week, but let’s just say it’s because I’ve been more “in the moment” and not because I’ve been horrible at writing things down. Okay? Okay. Enjoy the ones I’ve got!

D: I went to da docker (doctor).
Me: Oh really? What did he say?
D: My name. My brown name.
Me: …oh…

EK: I’m really smart. I can do a puzzle in one minute or ten.

J, standing still against the wall: I look just like a picture!

D, having unbuttoned his whole shirt: Mama, my shirt is broken!

Me, post-workout: My butt is so sore!
J: That’s because you’re sitting on my foot!
Me: …….

J, telling me something I absolutely already know and probably told him myself: Mom! Did you know that…. (fill in the rest with a fact everyone knows)?!?!?!

What are your kids saying these days?!

10 Chores That Young Kids Can Do

This piece also appeared on The Grit and Grace Project.

One of the things I’ve tried to establish early in in my parenting is my desire to raise responsible children who contribute to their community (be it their family, classroom, society, etc). In our culture, this can be difficult… they’re busy, they want to watch TV, or they’re used to being told “You’re too young to do that.” But I’ve got 9 things my kids can and should be doing to contribute to the housework load.

1. Help unload the dishwasher. My kids do their plastic dishes, their cups/bottles/all those parts, and all the silverware (not including sharp knives). I just ask whichever of them is around when I need to get it unloaded, and almost always, they’re eager to help.

2. Put away their laundry. This one is a big one. We often watch some TV before bedtime, and I set a timer for 4-5 minutes at a time, and we pause the TV, and everyone puts some clothes away. Sometimes it’s their own clothes into their own dressers. Sometimes it’s towels, or something of mine or Hubby’s that I have them carry to our room for me to put away later. They’re quite good at helping, and they’re learning to keep their drawers organized… or everything won’t fit!

3. Clean up their toys/pick up their rooms. I don’t make them do this all day every day. We frequently have toys left out, even when we go to bed sometimes. But I do ask them to keep things fairly organized (in labeled bins!) and mostly off the floor. If it gets too out of control, we spend a morning or evening cleaning EVERYONE’s room. But I help, not really facilitate. They know what to do.

4. Bring dishes from the table to the sink. I like having them help clear the table. That way, they can’t just get up whenever they feel like it. They tell me they’re full, and I say when they can get up, take their dishes to the sink, get their hands and faces clean, and go play.

5. Gather/Sort/Switch over laundry. I have them bring their dirty laundry to the laundry room, and often to sort it, help me start a load, help me switch it to the dryer (they’re a little short to get in my top-loading washer), and bring it out to be folded.

6. Clean the table/windows/doors. I let them loose with a roll of paper towels and the Method Glass Cleaner. Boom. It’s not as streak-free as when I do it myself, but they learn that their contribution is valuable at any level.

7. Sweep/pick up crumbs. My kids really like to sweep, and I have a handheld broom and dustpan for them to get everything up off the floor. We try to do this once a day (but then again, it depends on the day).

8. Weed, water, and harvest in the garden. They love this one, simply because they love being outside. We’re teaching them to recognize weeds, and the right way to pull them up (getting the WHOLE weed). They’re also learning when our vegetables are ready to pick – or to eat right off the plant, in the case of several tomatoes and cucumbers!

9. Pack lunch. This one I’m going to start soon. Once I’ve given a good idea of what a healthy lunch looks like, I’m going to have things semi-prepared for my kindergartener to grab a few things to put in her lunch box each morning. I’ll choose a bit, and let her choose her snack and a few add-ins. That way, she’s more excited about eating it because she picked it.

10. Help make the bed. I haven’t set a good precedent about this one, but I often find myself having them help, even if it isn’t first thing in the morning. Having lots of decorative pillows can make the job cumbersome, but pulling up sheets and blankets and putting the animals on TOP of the blankets is pretty darn easy. As is helping Mom or Dad strip the bed and change the sheets! My kids like the putting-on of the pillow cases the best!

What are some things your kids to around the house? Are there other chores I should start my kids on early?

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! I hope you enjoy these funnies each week… share them with a friend!!

J: I want to go to Yew Nork City!
EK: New York City.
J: That’s what I said!

EK, after spending a day with my college friends: Mom, this was the best girls day EVER!

J, when he bumped his head: My brain hurts.

D: Good morning! Can I haf pizza?

J talking about his brother splashing in the bath: …and the water was like a rough, unforgiving sea.
Me: 😳

D: I need a coin dong. (Corn dog.)

Misnomers…
D eating mangoes: I love dees peaches!

What are your kids saying these days?! I can’t wait to hear!!

Married with Kids – It’s OK Not to Like Your Spouse Sometimes.

This piece originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

This is what being married with kids looks like – sometimes you don’t like each other and that’s okay.

Sometimes, I think back to the first couple of years after my husband and I got married. It was so… easy. We didn’t fight like many newlyweds might, over who should take care of dinner or why there were clothes left on the floor next to the hamper. However, when we started having kids, we realized the times of things being quite that simple were over.

For starters, we were exhausted. Correction: we are exhausted. There hasn’t been a day (that wasn’t some sort of child-free vacation) that has gone by since 2012 that both of us have felt “well-rested”. Either one of us gets the rest, or neither of us do. Which, as you can imagine, leads to some stress in our household, and our relationship.

But what we’ve figured out (and learned from wise friends) is this: even though some days you don’t like each other, it’s important to still love each other, and furthermore, to show it.

You have to prioritize your marriage, even though in a lot (let’s be honest, most) situations, you’ve got to put your kid – or all your kids – first. Their needs seem more pressing (butt-wiping, feeding them, keeping them from falling off ledges, you know the drill) and so you neglect the other relationship in the household while you’re meeting the more immediate needs – or simply, the ones that are shouting at you more loudly.

You see, there are more than a few reasons to take care of your marriage, even when it means putting aside the other stuff for a little while at a time.

One of the most, if not THE MOST  important reason to show the love, spread the love, and take care of your marriage even after you have kids is because those kids are always watching.

You’re setting the number one example of a marriage in their eyes, and you want it to be a positive and healthy one, right? Set an example for them of the importance of marriage, the teamwork it requires, and the love that it stems from. Show them a healthy relationship so they know what it looks like. Even have healthy disagreements in front of them sometimes; they need to know about that, too. They don’t need to see only the “good stuff” or they’ll have unrealistic expectations. Healthy dialogue, PDA (yes, affection is important to show!) and the importance of spending time alone together are important things for your kids to know about!

Among the myriad of other reasons to nourish your relationship with your spouse, I think the next biggest reason is this: one day, your kids will be grown and live in their own homes, and it’ll be just you and your spouse. Again. Alone.

Don’t wait until then to try to fall deeper in love with your spouse.

Don’t wait until there’s not the glue of parenting young children binding you.

Don’t wait until your lives have been growing apart for years to really cherish your relationship with your spouse.

I won’t say that won’t work – but I will say I bet that it’s harder that way. Communicate with your spouse, about big stuff and small stuff. Practice honesty – even when it hurts.

Say “I’m sorry.” and “I forgive you.” Do the easier things too, like dating your spouse! Have date nights or early breakfast together. Chat on the phone when you’re in the car. Send sweet text message to each other during the day.

Take a weekend away somewhere from time to time if it’s possible for you. Those things aren’t reserved for “dating” relationships unless you let that happen. “Dating” your spouse is a way to rekindle, reconnect, and intertwine your lives again when you feel like you haven’t been so “together” recently.

Make time in your schedule and room in your heart for your spouse. Even when you’re exhausted, feeling frumpy, and thinking it’s the last thing you want to do. Chances are, you’ll be so glad you did. Make sure to kiss, to chat, to hold hands, and to have sex! Those things are important… Don’t let them wait until the kids are gone.

Things Toddlers Say

Heyyyyyyy Tuesday! I hope you like Octonauts as much as my kids do! J told me all about a hurricane recently with pretty accurate information. When I asked where he’d learned it, he told me Octonauts. I suppose there are worse shows.

J with a knowledge bomb: Mom, every tree in the world looks like an alien’s hand.

EK: You know where the Olympics are happening?! The other side of the world!
J: You bamember (remember) when we went to the other side of the world, and we saw China, we saw China, we saw China?
EK: That’s not the whole other side of the world. There’s other cities.
(We’ve never been to China, or the other side of the world.)

EK: Spring is the best year of my life!

D had been whining all day…
Me: Are you a big grump today?
D: No… I’m a baby.

EK: I know an old lady who swallowed… a whole train at one time.
Me: Hmm. That’s not how the rhyme goes!
J: Say more of what that lady swallowed!

J: Did you know that every person in the world in Octonauts has seen a sticky lippet?
Me: Um, yeah…
J: And remember Quasi and the mud skippers?!
Me: I don’t watch Octonauts quite as much as you do…

J, to his friend Emma: Did you know there’s a creature that changes shape?! And it’s called… (pause for effect) the blob?!
E: The blob?!?! (Disbelieving face)

D: Can I watch da movies?
Me: Sure! I like movies.
D: I want to watch da Wall-(pause)-E.

EK: Perhaps spring isn’t coming this week.

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! I hope wherever you are, it’s not quite as cold as it is here… but I guess the groundhog did sentence us with six more weeks of winter, so who are we to be surprised? Here are your weekly funnies!

In the car, behind a garbage truck…
J: What’s that on the back of that truck?
Hubby: A trash compactor.
J: I wish our car had a trash compactor.

D: I wan’ bananassss!
Me: Okay. *peels banana and hands it to him*
*two minutes pass, no bites taken*
Me: *takes a bite*
D: You stealing my bananassss?!

D to my friend: Come on! Mobies and abocados!
Friend: You taking me on a date?!

J, arriving at the park as the rain starts: Uuugghhh. I told you it wasn’t a good day to go to the park.

J: I’ll just take one more bite.
Me: If you want dessert, you need to take about ten more bites.
J: How about 138?!
Me: Sounds perfect!

D’s new misnomers…
Heart=heark
Secret=seekit
Pink=pank

J, talking to a sick EK: Miss Emilie said at chapel dis morning dat God will heal the sickness away!
EK: Did you hear what he told me?!