April 03, 2012

Reality Discipline

ImageDr. Kevin Leman is one of my favorite parenting experts.  I love to hear him when he comes on Focus on the Family.  His parenting advice is excellent and funny too.

One of his teachings is called Reality Discipline (he talks about it in his book, Making children mind without losing yours.)  Reality discipline is based on letting your child suffer the natural consequences of their negative behaviors.  For instance, your child doesn't do their homework, you let them go to school without it.  Or, your child does not want to eat the dinner you cooked, you let them go to bed hungry.

Now, while I know Reality Discipline is not the answer to all of my parenting challenges, it is a great tool to have in my arsenal.  To be quite honest, I have been patiently waiting to use it ever since I heard Dr. Leman talk about it.  And last week, the opportunity arose.

It was about 5pm on Tuesday and our playroom was moderately messy.  I pulled the boys in and told them we were going to do a quick clean up (it was seriously a 20 minute job if we all worked together).  30 minutes later, I was the only one who had cleaned up a thing.  My boys were playing with toys, fighting, laying on the floor and doing everything but cleaning up.  I fussed, I threatened, I may or may not have raised my voice.  I was more than mad.  But for some reason, I decided to get creative.  First, I sent them to time out where they had to silently sit and watch me clean up.  I took the liberty to trash and/or give away any items I wanted. 

Then, while I was cleaning, I got an idea.  I decided that the playroom would be closed for a few days since they had chosen not to clean it.  I made sure that their DS' were in there too.  I hung this sign on the door to remind them not to go in there.

The next day, Graham told our babysitter the story.  He said, "...and she didn't spank us, it was worse.  She closed the playroom."  When I heard this, I was so happy.  But today, I was proud, because the boys cleaned up with out very much headache remembering (hopefully) what their mother was capable of doing.

March 27, 2012

The Great Silly Band Challenge

Photo-5My husband recently went on a long trip.  I knew he was going to be gone for 7 days and I needed a plan for parenting so that I didn't lose my mind (and my voice) fussing at my children left and right every 5 minutes (thank you for allowing me to be honest).

So I came up with The Great Silly Band Challenge.  Here's how it works.  Each day Elijah and Graham get 6 silly bands (I started off with 8 and bumped it down because 8 was too many).  At any point in the day, I could take a silly band for any of the following infractions: arguing, complaining, whining, fighting, disobeying, tattling and being unkind.  At the end of the day, they could redeem their remaining bands for either 10 cents or 2 extra minutes of video game time (for the following day).  If they lose all of their silly bands in one day, they get a spanking.  Earning a silly band back is virtually impossible, and if they ask if they can earn one back, the answer is automatically no.

The system has really worked well.  It especially helped me to stop arguing with my little lawyer, Elijah.  It also really cut down on the fighting between the two boys.

We have been doing The Great Silly Band Challenge for about 10 days.  I plan to suspend the challenge for a few days until my husband's next trip so that it does not lose it's effectiveness. We will probably put it on hold for a while after that (no need to run a good thing into the ground).  I will pull it back out as needed.   Maybe this summer I could come up with a creative way to let them earn the silly bands rather than just start off with them. 


October 06, 2011

Attention all moms and future moms (and a giveaway)

When I think back over my childhood, all I ever wanted to grow up to be was a mother.  When I was pregnant our first child, I thought all my dreams were coming true.  And then I had Elijah.

I did not suffer post-partum depression.  I did not have the baby blues.  But I was devastated because raising Elijah was NOTHING like what I thought it would be like.

Six years and 3 kids later, I am no longer devastated.  I have experienced many of the things I dreamed about.  I love singing to my kids and reading them books and tucking them in at night.  But I will admit, the day to day, ins and outs of motherhood are nothing like I'd imagined.  And I often wonder how my kids are going to turn out.

One of my goals as a mom is to learn from others' mistakes as much as possible. I love to get around friends who's kids are 5-10 years older than mine and ask them questions.  Especially other pastors' wives.  I want to know what they did right and what they would differently.

One of the moms in ministry that I most admire is my friend Kerri Weems.  Kerri has systems for her systems.  She is a chart guru.  I am sure she is not perfect, but when it comes to managing her household (while being the pastor's wife of one of the largest churches in America) Kerri is on top of it.  She has helped me understand that providing an easy, stress free meal of crock pot beef stew is more important than me spending half my afternoon preparing a gourmet meal of filet mignon and twice baked potatoes if I am going to yelling at my kids to leave me alone and I am flustered when my husband gets home.

In her book, CLUELESS: 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Motherhood... Before I Became a Mom, she shares 10 myths about motherhood.  The first chapter opens with a hilarious personal story.  This book will really encourage you in your adventures in motherhood.

The book is only available in electronically through kindle, nook and ebooks.  I love having her book on my iPhone (just download the kindle app).  I can read it in the car line, the doctor's office and in bed at night.

So today I am going to give away 5 kindle copies of the book.  Just leave a comment before tomorrow evening and I will randomly select 5 winners.  And the good news is we are all winners because the book only costs a little more than a Starbucks drink.

September 20, 2011

Parenting with gentleness

I have been having a difficult time with one of my children lately.  We just seem to be butting heads in every direction.  Last Saturday, I was taking a minute to read a few of the blogs in my Google reader.  I am really backed up (as I write this I have over 80 unread items).  And just like God does, He lead me to a post by Jen.  She posted these three verse in reference to parenting...

She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26

The heart of the righteous studies how to answer. Proverbs 15:28

If someone is caught in a sin, you who are wise should restore him gently. Galatians 6:1

And the Lord really spoke to me.  I cannot always control or change my children's behavior.  But I can control my response to them.  Emotionally lashing out at them is not effective.  Often my response is just a more socially acceptable adult version of their childish behavior.

I am certainly not preaching from a place of perfection here.  But my heart's desire is to wisely instruct and direct my children.  A change in their behavior may very well begin with a change in my behavior.  So I started out by trying to commit these scripture verses to memory and I have asked God to work in me and then use me to direct my kids.

August 03, 2011

I have already answered you

If you are around me and my kids for any length of time, you will no doubt hear me say, "I have already answered you," to one of my boys.

You see, we are having a really hard time putting Philippians 2:14, "Do everything without complaining or arguing," into practice. That is not just a kid struggle, you know?  I say this verse to them so much, but on a more practical level, I have decided that I need to make a conscious effort not to argue with them.  Here are a few things I am learning and trying to implement...

When I argue with my children, I am teaching them that it is ok to negotiate with mommy, and maybe she will change her mind if they keep asking/whining.  In a perfect situation, here is what I say, "I have already answered you, what did I say?"  Then I make him repeat my answer.  I tell them if they ask me again, there will be a consequence.  Then if they ask again, or whine about it, I follow through with the consequence (again, this in a perfect situation, I often drop the ball at many points during this plan of attack).

If necessary, I try to answer why in my reply.  For instance, if asked, "Mommy, can I play my DS?" I might reply, "No because you already played some this morning and we are fixing to eat dinner."  When, not if, they ask, "WHY??"  I reply, "I already told you why, think back to what I said."  Then I make them tell me why they cannot play the DS.

This is an ongoing learning situation in our house for everyone.  I have to keep reminding myself that I am the adult.  If I want peace, I have to maintain it.  I set the tone with my attitude for the whole family.

I would love to hear any thoughts or strategies you have on this. 

May 12, 2011

You asked... a blast from my past

Screen shot 2011-05-11 at 11.50.00 AMI've been wondering, its good that you've blogged about your experiences as a wife and mother but I'm curious, what were you like before Pr SF? When you were teenager or younger and single? :)How was your life back then? What were your dreams, passion and etc?

Yes, this is a picture of me catching a fish at about age 9.  I grew up in South Florida and my parents loved to take us fishing and camping.  I wasn't always thrilled to go on such adventures.  I have always been more of the indoor type.  But I am so thankful for the wonderful experiences my parents gave me as a child. 

We not only fished and camped in South Florida but all over the US.  In fact, my parents took us to 49 of the the United States.  Pretty impressive, I think.

My favorite thing about this picture are the rings you can see on my fingers.  I always have loved jewelry.  I hardly ever leave home without it and apparently I have always been that way.

My parents did a great job raising me.  As a child, I dreamed of being getting married and becoming a mother.  During my teenage years, my parents taught me (among many things) to always let the boys come to me, never to chase after them. 

I remember my dad saying that I would make the two most important decisions of my life in my early 20s: Who I would spend the rest of my life with, and what I would to do every day from 9-5 for the rest of my life.  No pressure, huh?  They helped me to see that I needed to get myself in the right position to make those decisions well.  I needed to choose the right friends and go to the right school.

Somehow they were able to guide me in the right direction while making me think I was making my own decisions.  Now that was some good parenting. 

PS.  Today is my Mom's birthday.  Happy Birthday Mom, I love you.





May 03, 2011

Mom, I have a question...

As a mother of pre-schoolers I am constantly answering questions.  Of course short answers like, "Yes, No, I don't know, Just because, and That's just why" don't seem to get the job done these days.  Often we have full on conversations about some of the most bizarre things.  Like...

"Mom, why can't I drive my Power Wheel to school?" We had to have a full conversation about how that car is a toy and my car is real.  How do you explain speed?

Or "Don't you think an octopus would be a good drummer?  Why?  But how could he play them?"

Or "If Batman was fighting Riddler and Robin was fighting Joker, who do you think would win?  Why?  what about if they were fighting Penguin together?  Why?"  We have LOTS of conversations about super heroes.

We are constantly having conversations about birthdays.  "Who's birthday came first?  Why am I the only one who is 3?  Is Abbey zero?  How long til my birthday?"

There are lots of spiritual questions too...

Like about the Devil.  "Who made him?  Was he a bad guy tricking God into thinking he was a good guy?  Can I put fire on the Devil?  Can God kill the Devil?"

Or about the Trinity.  "How can God and Jesus be the same if they are different?"  To this I told them to ask their dad.  I didn't dare bring up the Holy Spirit.

Or the other day Graham asked me "if God was Jesus' daddy then who was his mommy?"

Honestly I defer a lot of the spiritual questions to their dad.  They seem to be ok with it when I reply, "I don't know, ask your dad."  A girl's gotta share the love.

So in honor of mother's day, I would like to thank my mom for answering all my questions.  And I would love to hear from you.  What is the hardest question a kid has ever asked you?

March 31, 2011

Thanks Dad

While driving the other day, I was listening to the Focus on the Family broadcast.  Josh McDowell was talking about raising your kids to believe the truth of Christianity for themselves.  He said that it is very difficult to have a relationship with your heavenly Father if you didn't have a relationship with your earthly father. 

I suddenly became very thankful for my dad.  He isn't perfect.  But he loves God and he loves me.  And he and my mom raised me to become a confident, God-fearing wife and mother.

My dad turned 60 years old this month.  And to honor him, I want to share one of my favorite memories of him...

Throughout my childhood, from as far back as I can remember all the way through college, my dad would occasionally look at me and say some variation of this,

"If I was a 9 year old boy in your class, I would hope that the teacher would assign me to sit next to you." 

I am thankful for a dad who always made a point to make me feel special.  I know that so many people do not get to experience that as a child. 

March 24, 2011

Big Brothers

There are a few phrases that have been added to my repertoire that I seem to say 100 times a day now that Abbey Faith is here...

    Go wash your hands, with soap
    Please get out of her face
    Don't touch the swing
    She doesn't need to be checked on

They are both constantly checking to see if her eyes are open.  But they mean well.  I am trying establish some general guidelines for living life with a newborn baby rather than constantly fussing at them.  We are working on it.

Here's a few pictures of the big brothers and one of sweet Abbey at the end...




Boys and abbey


January 25, 2011

My Christmas Mistake





Every year I buy the boys matching Christmas pjs.  Usually I purchase them on clearance after Christmas for the following year.  Last year after Christmas I got greedy.  I kept waiting for the pjs to go more than 50% off and ended up not getting any.

So this year I had to pay full price for pjs.  Ouch.  We picked out these cute little long john style pjs from Old Navy.  The boys wore them to bed on Christmas Eve. 

On Christmas morning we realized the pjs had a huge flaw.  The boys could not unbutton them on their own to use the bathroom.  In the middle of our present opening, both of them came to me in a panic to help them unbutton :).  The rest of my Christmas pictures, they are in their underwear.  Nice.

Pictured above are the only decent pictures I got with them in their pjs.  Of course they won't wear them now either.  I don't blame them.  No one wants to feel trapped.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.  This year I purchased at 50% off and I of course, bought 3 pairs (one of them is red, one is blue and one is pink :)).

Oh and I cannot finish without saying how amazing my in-laws are.  They go out of their way every year to make Christmas extra special for our boys and it means the world to me.  I am so thankful for them!