Teaching Children Responsibility

thebettermomParenting is hard work!   There are so many aspects to it, everything from discipline to helping our children make good food choices to winning their hearts!  We also want to make sure we are teaching our children responsibility.  We are living in a culture where more and more grown children are living at home and can’t seem to be able to move on with their own lives.  God has given us the task of parenting and although we will always be our children’s parents we also want to equip our children for real life living!  They are meant to go out and make lives of their own and we want them to be ready for that!

Chores can really help us in this area.  I hear many moms say, “it is just easier to do it myself” or “it is not worth the complaining I will have to hear”, trust me- I HEAR you!!  It is often not easy but we do our children no favors if we continue down this path because in the long run it will hurt them!

Our children can learn basic clean up rules at a very young age.  I recently had my one year old nephew over and he was helping me pick up the toys.  Actually they usually love doing it at this age so it is the perfect time to start.  Setting that precedent early helps you a great deal when they are older.

I write a lot about helping families connect on a deeper level.  Working as a family is a wonderful way to do this!  You may hear complaints at first but if you make chore time and time you all work as a family consistent they will adjust and great conversations can happen when you are cooking in the kitchen together or cleaning out the garage!  Reward yourselves after the big jobs and go out for ice cream together.  You are teaching your children the value of hard work and they will feel pride in a job well done!

Here some lists to get you started:

Younger children can:

Put Toys Away

Feed and Water the Pets

Wipe Down Table Tops

Dust (they love to use the feather duster)

Water Plants

Set the Table

Throw Trash Away

Sort Laundry (great lesson on learning colors)

As they get older they can do:

Meal Preparation – They can wash off veggies and fruit/ help you stir (If you are there of course), and get ingredients together.

Make their beds

Sweep Floors

Vacuum Floors

Collect Garbage (this really helps me on garbage take out days) 

Rake Leaves or Sweep Walkway

Pick up their Rooms

Help with Care of Baby (like making bottles and getting diapers)

Help Clean up the Yard

By the time our children our teens we want them to be able to:

Do their laundry

Cook some meals

Mow the lawn

Do basic car maintenance (like checking the oil and tires)

This is helping them be ready to go away to college or for when they get their first apartment or home!  They will be grateful they know these tasks and often you will find more mature young people who save money and get good jobs at a younger age because of their knowledge in this area!

Remember when you are teaching your children, it won’t be perfect.

But you know what?

It a better thing to be teaching your children about their future and preparing them for life than to have the perfect made bed or swept kitchen!  You are raising soon to be adults and they need you to prepare them!

Blessings,

Angela, Together with Family

Making Dress Up Time Fun With Your Children

Recently I was asked to take a look at a few classes from an amazing website called Craftsy. I am excited to share those classes with you here over the next year. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I heard of Craftsy. I didn’t expect to find such an extraordinary resource. But it is really an invaluable wealth of information.

Click here to see the class I took with Craftsy and enter to win your very own class!

Children Love Playing Dress-up

Children LOVE playing dress up! But how many of us moms are either unsure of how to make dress up time fun for our child or we feel like we aren’t so good in the creativity department? I can definitely identify with the latter. Children need to use their imaginations. With digital technology options all round, it’s easy to miss the personal face-to-face playtime our children desperately need.  IPads, video games, and T.V. can be tempting defaults for busy (and creatively challenged) parents. If you are feeling like you just don’t know where to start when it comes to creating these fun times with your child, The Costume Box is a fantastic resource to help spark the creativity. Anne Weil shares how to create a Costume Box. She teaches how to put together an adorable princess outfit for your girl with a tutu skirt, crowns, wands and wings. For the boys she instructs on how to put together an outfit for a prince or king including capes, a chest plate, a sword and more. I love how Anne Weil gets you off to a solid start on creating costumes that your child will enjoy for years.

One class participant commented, “I was hesitant to purchase this class but boy am I glad I did… It’s less than 3 minutes in and I’m ready to wake the kids up, dress up and have an adventure! Thank you for your inspiration. I’m really looking forward to the rest of this class and to all the fun adventures my kids will be sure to have. You seem like a totally awesome mom, thanks for sharing with all of us!”

Children Love Playing Dress Up

Craftsy’s, The Costume Box: Dress-Up for Holiday & Everyday is truly a class for every mom!

Like I have said over and over again, one of the best things about taking the class online, besides the valuable information, was the ability to start the class and pause the class whenever I needed to. When the kids were in bed, or when I had a few minutes during the day to spare, I would sit down and watch a bit of the course in the comfort of my own home. It was so convenient! Craftsy is the perfect solution for us busy moms who want to learn, but don’t have time to leave the house and attend a class.

Here is a little more info about Craftsy:

Craftsy offers online crafting classes, taught by world renowned instructors who love the craft as much as you do. Craftsy classes are online, so they are available to you anytime you want for as long as you want, there are no scheduled class times, so you can enjoy them entirely on your own schedule. Each class is taught by an acclaimed instructor and consists of several hours of HD-quality video content… but Craftsy classes are much more than just a video!

While taking a Craftsy class, you can:

Ask your instructor questions, upload photos, and get personalized responses

Participate in discussions with your classmates

Access supporting class materials – including recipes and helpful tips & tricks

Bookmark your favorite moments in the video so that you can easily re-watch them and take notes that you can refer back to anytime

The great thing about Craftsy is that there is a class for everyone! You can learn knitting, photography, cake decorating, sewing, cooking and more!

Today we are giving away The Costume Box: Dress Up for Holiday & Everyday class away to one of you!!!

Click and Enter to win below!!

If you are ready to check out Craftsy —->> enter to win your very own The Costume Box: Dress Up for Holiday & Everyday class by clicking here.

Blessings,

Ruth Schwenk

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Craftsy. The opinions and text are all mine.

How to Love Your Neighbors (yes, the ones next door)

neighbors

A few weeks ago, my husband and I attended a Sunday school class on outreach called “And Who Is My Neighbor?”

I’ll be honest. It was one of those I-want-to-go-but-I’m-scared-of-what-he’ll-say situations. I know of young families who are ministering to the homeless downtown, and packing everyone up to visit the Compassion child in the Dominican, and snapping in car seats for weekly treks to the nursing home.

We are not one of those families.

In this season of my life, I often feel (right or wrong) that my main job is to feed the babies, to keep everyone alive, ensure everyone has clean underwear, and somehow have enough food in the house for three square meals (and snacks. Oh, the snacks!).

I do feel guilty about this apparent selfishness. The needy, and lonely, and homeless folks aren’t going away. And it’s my job (right? everyone’s job?) to help. But it’s a just fact that “organized outreach” is not happening right now in this season of raising little ones.

So, back to the Sunday school class.

I was pleasantly surprised (and relieved – loads and loads of relief) when the teacher identified our “neighbors” as… wait for it…our neighbors. The people actually next door, and across the street, and at the pool.

I don’t mean I felt relief because loving your neighbors is easy. In some ways it can be harder: it can be messier, feel more awkward, and it surely doesn’t end when you hop on a flight back home. It never ends, as long as you live there!

But if you’re a mom of littles, like me, who spends a considerable amount of time in the same square two-yards of shade under the big oak tree in the yard, and it feels like you’re always home, ministry to the neighbors sounds almost…possible.

Because we are home. A lot.

We see whose husband works late. We know which kids are lonely and parent-less. We notice whose trash can has been out for a few days. We have all sorts of good excuses to interact with and get to know our neighbors – lost kittens, and broken garage-doors, and please-do-you-have-an-extra-egg (along with other pressing mom-questions).

In short, we have an ideal opportunity for ministry.

Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take your family to a local shelter or Peruvian orphanage. If you are doing that, I applaud you.

But what I am saying is this: if you are like me, and feel stretched in the season of home-bound baby-raising, homeschooling, or child rearing, there is still ministry for you. And it is important ministry.

Neighbor ministry.

Instead of feeling guilty about the organizations you had to quit or the trips you can’t go on, sit down with a cup of coffee on the front porch, and look around.

The fields are ripe for the harvest.

As I’ve embraced our calling to love our neighbors as a real calling, here are a few things I’ve learned.

  • The first step is always the same boring, awkward step. You have to introduce yourself. Totally obvious, but there’s no sense in wondering what spiritual needs are unmet, if you don’t even know someone’s name. The first step is always – go be friendly, and ask their name.

If you’re like me, there are neighbors right now whom you don’t know. Don’t even know their names! Make that a priority. The next time you’re out, and you see them, just saunter over (shirt with spit-up and all) and say something like: “Look, this is so awkward. I’ve lived here for __ years and I’m just now asking your name! But I’m Jessica, and it’s so nice to meet you! These are my kids…”

  • Be there and smile. That’s all? I know, I know. It sounds so ridiculously, insanely simple. But I promise you – just by being outdoors on a sunny day, by being accessible, by being visible, and throwing a smile in someone’s direction…they will come. Kids first. It’s amazing how kids gravitate to a home with a parent present. And eventually the grown-ups, too. You can’t love your neighbor if you don’t know your neighbor. And you can’t know your neighbor if you’re not home. Being out, and being friendly is an important step!
  • Talk if they want to talk. Maybe this is my North Carolina culture speaking. But there are just some cardinal rules of life I think everyone should abide by. You should always clear your plate, and you should always chat if someone wants to chat. Let it go if that outfit you’re wearing is still, actually, your pajamas. Let it go if you were actually about to run an errand. Let it go if it’s not the greatest time. Just be friendly and chat.
  • Ask them for help. Counter-intuitive, right? We think we need to do the helping if we want to minister to someone. But it’s a crazy fact of human nature: people want to be needed. They feel special, important, and invited when they’re needed. Borrow some sugar. Ask them how their grass is so green. Invite them into your family’s life and needs.
  • Be humble. Don’t assume you know where they stand with their faith. Maybe they don’t go to church…because they looked for years and couldn’t find one. Maybe they don’t talk about God…because they’re very private people. You never know people’s hearts. I’ve often made the arrogant mistake of jumping to conclusions about someone, only to find that I really didn’t know the whole story at all. Don’t waste time formulating assumptions; just befriend them, and see where the Lord takes the relationship.

Real impact is made through real relationships. And real relationships don’t happen when one party is secretly thinking they’re better than the other!

  • Pray for your neighbors. This is one thing I love about my mission-minded husband. Whenever we pray, he remembers to pray for our neighbors. I need to be better about that. We can pray over the things we do know about them, pray that the Lord would bless them, bless their families, and make Himself known to them.
  • Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom, and then act when you feel Him leading. Who knows what He’ll have you do? This spring my son and I made muffins and shared some with the neighbors, and at the last minute I thought, maybe we should put an Easter Bible verse with them? It felt a little weird, but we did it. I think the Lord honors our prayers for wisdom – we just have to listen for his answer.
  • Be ready to sacrifice.  Eventually, all ministry is going to ask you to give something you don’t want to give. It will be uncomfortable. It will hit you where it hurts. For me, it often means releasing my grip on control when parenting one of my children can be really terrifying. Or it might mean sharing your resources…when it’s been a really tough financial time. It might mean watching a child…when you’re so exhausted you can’t think. It might mean opening your home up…when you were hoping for an evening of “family time.” What helps me is to remember all that Jesus gave up for us. And now, He asks us to lay down our lives for our friends.
  • Don’t be ashamed of the truth. I’m sometimes afraid to invite someone to church, or share a Bible verse, or ask them if I can pray for them – because I don’t want to be offensive, and I don’t know if it’s “the right time.”  I don’t know that there is a one-size-fits-all answer for this question, but I do know this: God’s word brings light to darkness, and hope to despair. He is the healer, and we are his hands and feet. May we be as bold as we need to be, kind as we can be, and home when we can be.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you love your real-life, next-door neighbors?

Jessica

“Smartter” Each Day

6 Tips For A Simple and Stress-Free Summer With Your Kids

6 Tips For A Simple and Stress-Free Summer With Your Kids

We are halfway through summer, and maybe you are having the time of your life with your kids…and maybe you’re not. Perhaps you are feeling stir crazy, envious of those who are traveling to exotic places, or wishing your kids were involved in camps and activities that keep them busy. Perhaps you are not as fun as you thought yourself to be, and you’re summer is feeling more stressful than enjoyable. Here are 6 simple things to keep in mind that make a difference at our house…perhaps they will de-stress your summer too!

1. Make a basic schedule. Include reading time, quiet time, game time, etc. Having blocks of time for different activities helps everyone feel more content and involved in the present, without constantly questioning what is next. Check out this amazing list of summertime activities and resources. Also, don’t overlook the importance of free time “doing nothing“…they are more productive than you might think!

2. Kids Can Cook! We love to plan snack menus, what kid will make them, and what time to expect snack breaks. This, again, keeps the littles from asking constantly about food out of boredom. And, it’s fun to take turns making and creating snacks for the family!

3. Read alone, but read together. Quiet reading time is a must, but sometimes, the dynamic of children pairing up to read is a sweet time of bonding and experiencing literature together.

4. Get out of the house once a day. Even if it’s just a walk to the park, make the effort to head out with the kids. Relay races at the park? Water balloons in the yard? Delivering cookies to neighbors? Get creative and get out, even when there’s “nothing to do.”

Plan special dates. Make the library, the pool, Sonic happy hour, and other fun outings a privilege, and not an expectation. We love to plan for treats at the end of the week so that we have something to look forward to when all the other daily routine and home tasks are completed.

5. Learn something new. Why not try to learn a new skill with your children this summer? Why not buy some inexpensive watercolors and learn to paint? Check out Rosetta Stone or other kinds of language acquisition audio and video discs at the library and learn a language! Perhaps you and the kids can create a quilt together? How about leatherwork? beading? whittling? We, moms, tend to think that we must naturally be artistic or crafty to lead our kids in any of these activities, but really, there are so many resources available that all you need is really, desire.

6. Smile and have fun. I wrote recently about, how on vacation, my children looked for my smile more than they looked to the next thing on the itinerary. I’ve been humbled and continually surprised to find that my kids don’t actually care what it is that we do this summer, as long as we all (including MOM) are all having fun doing it together.

And as a bonus:

Learn to love family meetings. Let’s be honest, one of the most stressful aspects of summertime at home with the kids can be the constant fun-turned-arguing that happens every moment of the day with littles. A family is a group of sinful people, young and old, so naturally…being together all day every day without pressing schoolwork means more opportunities for discord and fighting. It’s always so discouraging when I find myself frustrated and NOT enjoying my time with the kids.

Meet together, confess sin, forgive…keep short accounts. Talk together, pray together, spend time on the couch peacemaking. This is also the stuff of summer.

And yet, rather than wasting summer hours avoiding one another, or busying ourselves so much that there is no room for conflict, perhaps we would do well to consider those long hours an opportunity rather than an obligation. The expression “long days short years” applies here…these long days of summer are quickly fleeting. We have fewer opportunities like these with our kids than we realize.

I pray these simple ideas will breathe some new life into the remainder of your summer break, and may we find ourselves enjoying the simple, free, and stress-free pleasures of spending time with our children!

Because of grace,

IMG_6098

 

www.gracelaced.com 

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