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Recently we (my friends and I) were out with our children and it just got me thinking about several things.  So, I thought I’d share my happy thoughts with you!1) Sometimes, just say yes.
The other day I was at the mall’s indoor playground with Bekah. Daniel was asleep in his stroller so I didn’t have to watch him too closely. Every now and then she’d run out of the play area, laughing. She only wanted me to chase her, a game; she didn’t really want to run away. At first I tried to tell her to stay in the play area but I was laughing too hard to say it with a straight face and mean it (the mall wasn’t busy). I decided instead to just give up and let her do it. Most of the time she was laughing so hard that her “running away” was a very slow crawl, anyway. We had FUN together!

2) Take a break to just play
Sometimes we go to the mall or to story time even though I really have chores to do. Sometimes Bekah asks me to read a story (or 4) while we’re supposed to be getting dressed and doing our morning routine. But, you know, we’re all a lot happier if we just take 10 minutes (or 3 hours…:) ) out of our day to do something fun!

3) Give them a chance to be good
When I remember, I tell Bekah before we ever leave the house what’s expected of her that day. i.e. “No running or screaming, stay with mommy,” etc. Once I told her it was time to leave the play area and I explained she needed to sit in her stroller and not cry or scream, and if she did we would come back another day. And you know what? When we talk calmly about what’s expected ahead of time, she does it! Despite not wanting to stop playing, she left quietly and calmly. And she’s barely 2!

4) Laugh instead of cry
Sometimes children get into things…okay, well, they do that a lot. Especially at my house, where “no” is a challenge. But sometimes they really don’t know it’s wrong. If you’ve never told them it’s wrong, how can they know? No matter how big a mess they’ve created, just laugh and help clean up. It’s like the time Bekah found the chili powder, which I had left sitting next to my Crockpot, and she took it into the play room, opened it, and started shaking it on the rug. No one had told her not to! (And I probably shouldn’t have left it where she could reach it, even if she did have to climb up or stand on tippy toes.) Or if the child is tired and screeching while you dress her for bed…just laugh! “You must be sooooo tired to scream that way! Oh no! We better get you to bed fast!” It’s so much better than crying…or screaming yourself!

5) Extend grace
It’s kind of like the previous idea. Sometimes kids are just having a bad day. You don’t have to punish them every time. A quiet word of correction (if necessary) and a hug and a “free pass” are sometimes needed. We all say and do things that we know we shouldn’t sometimes, but what we really need is someone to give us a hug and say “It’s going to be okay.” So why do we say to our kids, “I know you’re tired/hungry/having a bad day, but that’s NO excuse….” (Obviously this doesn’t apply to very serious issues like biting, running in traffic, etc.) Extend grace instead!

6) When torn, cherish and be proud
There are times that Bekah learns to do something new, that is totally shocking to me, and I am torn between anger (how could she do that?!) and pride (wow, she’s grown up to think of that!). Go with pride. As above, a kid doesn’t know something is wrong unless they’ve been told. So just be proud! “You’re so grown up, how did you think of that? Now, help me clean up…we really shouldn’t do that.”

This all goes along with living for joy. :)

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This is the writings of:

Kate is wife to Ben and mommy to Bekah (6.5), Daniel (5), Jacob (3), and Nathan (1.5). She is passionate about God, health, and food. She has written 7 cookbooks and a popular book entitled A Practical Guide to Children's Health. She also recently released Healing With God's Earthly Gifts: Natural and Herbal Remedies, which teaches people to use natural remedies to keep their families healthy. When she's not blogging, she's in the kitchen, sewing, or homeschooling her children.

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5 Comments

  1. I love your thoughts in this post. My favorites are "Take a break to just play" and "Extend grace." Sometimes these things are so hard to do, with how much, we as mothers, have to do each day. But they are so important. Thank you for saying it so eloquently.

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  2. Great post. I especially agree with #2. I try to put aside the cleaning and organizing when my kiddo needs to play. After all, those moments won’t last forever.

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  3. Extend grace. Definitely! I expect it from my children and certainly need to return the favor!

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  4. I really enjoyed reading about another parent that seems to feel the same way that I do. My kids grew up so fast (now 17 and 14). I never look back and regret not folding clothes, but I do regret any time that I missed with them. We started homeschooling during elementary but I wish we had done it from the start. It is the best.

    I also wanted to add this: tell your kids how much you enjoy and appreciate their unique qualities. So much of parenting is setting boundaries that it can get to the point that everything you say is negative unless you work really hard to remember to tell them positive things. I didn’t get a lot of that when I was a kid. I knew my Mom loved me, but I don’t feel like she appreciated my humor, intelligence, self discipline or strength of character.

    I really love the tip about "laugh instead of cry". My house has always been a house full of good humor and sassy wit and learning to laugh at ourselves. I think it makes a huge difference to a person’s outlook. My children’s friends always say how much they love being with us here. I think it is because we all genuinely like each other and enjoy our time together. I always cringe when I hear a parent snapping at a child or slapping their hand for touching something in a store. I never punished my children for being curious or acting like a child, but like you, just told them how I expected them to act. I think parenting is all about teaching your children to have self discipline and to learn to care for themselves and become happy adults – whatever path they choose for themselves. Too many people get it mixed up and start to think that their job as a parent is to "mold" the children into the desired shape or to make the kids "mind". I don’t want my kids doing things "because I said so" but because it is the right thing for them to do. Great post.

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  5. Love these thoughts! They are so true. I work at home and so I find myself working a lot with the kids around. One rule we made early on was that if they want me to read to them or give them a hug, then I will take a break from what I'm doing, no matter what and read to them. They love it because they know they can always get my attention.

    As for talking about what to expect, that really does work! My oldest can throw a tantrum like you would NOT believe, but when he knows what to expect, he's fine anywhere, in a restaurant, at the market, etc.

    Reply

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