#26. Sing lullabies. It only takes a few minutes per kid. I love watching the calm wash over them as the song progresses. I had a paper due for my Masters program tonight and sent them off to bed in a hurry. I could hear them jumping around and being a little crazy. I was about to “demand” a little more peace, but they came up and asked me to tuck them in and sing to them. It’s hard to balance time as a single mom, but somehow moments like these make time stand still. If you ever need a lullaby-let me know. I’ll sing you one. They are magical.
#25. Tell your kids they are great. My oldest son was only two years old when he was assigned to help mommy sweep the front porch. He managed the broom pretty well so i let him finish while I cleaned a window. When I turned around and saw him sweep the step and onto the walkway I said, “Buddy, you are going the extra mile..what a hard worker!” He smiled so big and to this day goes the extra mile.
#24. Have a bedtime routine. We read a scripture and pray together and then say our family cheer. I then say last one to bed gets a…and they say “kick in the head” and go running. Now of course I say kiss on the head but they still run away. If they wont stay in bed, I turn on the hot lava activator that turns the carpet into Hot Lava until morning. (they must have good imaginations cause it totally works)
#23. Offer to pay them 300 dollars if they make it through high-school without kissing anyone. Yes, I have made this deal. I have even shown them how many twenty’s that is. Not that all (yes I remember them all) of those kisses over the years meant nothing to me, but I want my children to feel like a kiss has value to them. Memories of first kisses are so special. First kisses with almost every guy in Jr. High…special too but…um…er…virtue, eh?
#22. Don’t tell them they have to say sorry, tell them they will feel better inside if they say sorry.
#21. a note on punishment. It is an opportunity to learn a lesson. In fact when my boys are playing with toy guns, I always say are you shooting bears? if they say “nope bad guys” I tell them to shoot them in the foot so they can go to jail and repent ( I may be raising probation officers). Standing in the corner only teaches them you will make their life suck for 5 min. if they get caught being bad. If they need a cool down the corner can be a good place to wait for mom to think of a way to advise you on how you can improve your behavior. Explain how their reaction was wrong, and where they can go to find a solution, I have sent them to a book I like, often scripture, with a pen and paper to write down a better way to act next time. Then they can go tell their little brother what they will do next time he makes fun of having a crush on a vampire.
#20. If you are making the switch to whole wheat bread tell them its chocolate bread. I hope I won’t go to hell for saying that ;D
#19. Get up and dance during the credits of movies. If your kids see you enjoying a little self expression thats great for them, but the best part of this is realizing just how inheritable awesome breakdancing moves are.
#18. School, Media, Me, we all tell kids that smoking is a dangerous habit. The first time my child pointed at a person smoking and said “ew mommy look that person is wrecking their body” I was mortified…and then explained… that person probably knows that already, but though picking up a cigarette is easy to do, smoking is hard to quit. Maybe you can say a prayer in your heart that they will be able to stop. But we will not ever point at people or say unkind things. I said all that right in front of the person. I hope it made the moment less hard on them. I felt so bad!
#17. I wanted my kids to always feel like they could ask me for a snuggle..so I called it “re charging your battery” and even though a 12 year old may not feel like saying mom can you cuddle me, I need it,- he is fine about saying, mom I need to recharge my battery and thats my cue to give him his snuggle till the worlds a better place.
#16. Don’t potty train too early. It will make you both really pissy. Kids are ready close to age 3. when they are dry all night, can talk well, and know how to push pause on the DVD player.
#15. Go out on Friday nights. Pick up a pizza and a movie on the way home from work and spend and hour or two hanging out and talking, then let them bring all their blankets down and put in the movie. This will give you time to get ready without chaos…but the main point is demonstrating that grown ups go on dates and spend time together. Even though sometimes I don’t have a date, I still go out for a bit to keep place for dating in a future relationship.
#14. Let them see you pray hard, and work hard. I quote Charles Ingles from little house on the prairie who said, “there is always a job for someone willing to work hard”. I more often quote Jesus, who said “Pray in your families…and whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you” .( http://scriptures.lds.org/en/3_ne/18)
#13. Oh no, this toy is in time out. This is my one of my favorite parenting tools for conflict management. If an argument emerges over a tangible item, I walk up, ask for the toy, and then explain;
1.The toy is in time out.
2.You may ask for it in a little while when you are ready to share.
3.Then once you have placed the toy out of reach, walk away/return to what you were doing.
Outcome? The argument ends. The children decidedly both forget about the toy and move on to a different less threatening item worth sharing, or they come back and say they are ready to share. They are ready for the acceptance of responsibility because they are aware of the consequence. The result is a cute little coalition of willing to share toddlers.
#12. Hold Interviews at least once a month. I have a binder for each of my kids on my desk. On, Sundays, I call them in one by one to discuss what’s new in their lives. I listen. They have journals and bring them in and share with me cool things they have been thinking about. This also gives them the opportunity to share worries, that may have not been resolved in the busy on the go conversations. We review a goal they made last time, write down new skills they have learned, and set a new goal for the next week. This is a tool that I hope will help me know my kids and let them know I am interested in what great people they are becoming.
#11. Tell them the room has to be clean for the television to work properly… ;D
#10. Let them help make big decisions. I knew going back to school would be tough on me and on them. I sat down with them one night and I told them about my new responsibility to not only nurture them, but to provide for them. I explained the opportunity for a degree, that would help me provide well and the move that would be involved. I told them I had prayed and received spiritual confirmation of this decision, but that their opportunity to share their questions, concerns was important to me. I also explained that they could have that same spiritual comfort and witness and that would help us have less wondering and murmuring on the cross country return to the school I had begun my degree at. We had once read a story about a family that was split in a decision about leaving and how it had been frustrating all the way because they were not united and we talked about that.
I will never forget kneeling in a circle with my little family, and praying for them to feel that this choice was good for us. At the end of the prayer each of them had thumbs pointed up in agreement that we would go. In the last two years, as I have completed this insurmountable task…they have been supportive, kind and encouraging… and the best college roommates I have ever had. Parents should be good leaders. I want my children to understand that power in Leadership comes by making good decisions and Unity comes from communicating, resolving concerns, and offering them a place in that good decision.
#9. Don’t settle for lame endings to stories. Our story about the three bears, ends with goldilocks running home, and after crying alone goes and tells her mom what she did. Her mom says, ” I know just what we can do to help you feel better. Mom and Goldilocks make some fresh, just right porridge, and daddy gets his tool box (since he is so good at fixing little broken chairs). They walk through the woods,and knock on the door. Papa bears says, “Someone’s knocking at my door!” and when he opens it – Goldilocks says, “I’m sorry” and they make things right. And that is our good ending to the story of Goldilocks. Why do we teach if we don’t intend for them to learn?
#8. Teach them about their relatives, all of them. Tell them all you know and point out great things they have in common with them. Quote their great sayings, “well, like my grandmother once said, “all you can do is love people” or “do you know there are people out there on this lonely night praying for you?” An important part of this for me, as a single parent, is to notice and recognize a good quality they have in common with their father- by so doing, I hope they will associate with the good in him. (hard but worth it)
#7. The dinner table is not a place for complaint or lecture. It is a place for storytelling, sharing of fun memories, and laughter. A turning point was when I was first single-the thought of taking my kidos to their favorite mexican restaurant, oh would I dare to?-but I wanted to, so I turned off the car and said, keep your seat-belts on for a min. I told them, “taking all of you into a restaurant would be tough with so many little ones, but when you guys grow up I would really love to go out for dinner and visit. So, maybe we could just hit fast forward and act like we are all grown ups going out for dinner together and then we will be fine.” They said sure, they were so funny, using good manners, and talking to me so grown up like…the waitress gave me the weirdest look when she brought the meal, and my 4 year old said, “Mom, remember that time when I was little and we read that book?” (worth it)
#6. Roast mini marshmallows on toothpicks over a candle and teach them some fun campfire stories. Okay, I am a wimp. Taking my kids out in the woods without a manly man to protect us from creepers or bears is just not on my list of things to do. So, we did this one night and even broke up graham crackers and little Hershey bars and made mini s’mores.
#5. My oldest, was born blind. It has been a unique experience to help each of my younger children realize this about her. Her eyes look fine, but her optic nerves did not develop properly. It was a great turning point to share my perspective with them that her spirit is not blind. I believe that each of us was created spiritually whole, and though we have physical infirmity in mortality, we will be blessed with perfect physical bodies by God in the end. This brings us a lot of peace and restored some equality that seemed to be missing.
#4. Use a pizza cutter to quickly cut up pancakes and waffles. ;D
#3. Don’t encourage tattle telling…but teach them how to “report” in an effective and accurate manor. We report things that harm ourselves or others to a grown up quickly. “mom, I have something to report to you, ” Is a phrase with implied consideration and power. They know I will quickly follow up with a request for a possible solution. Pointing out good models for this behavior helps them recognize it as a good way to manage conflict and address the situation at hand, before it becomes something that needs to be reported.
#2. It’s important to use clean and respectful language…it helps us be effective communicators…however after watching a movie where the boy being chased by an alien says an awful swear word…I have determined that this is the only exception. So I told them no swearing unless an alien is chasing you- then you can say whatever you want.
#1. And I might as well share my TOP SECRET most awesome tool ever. I call it, Grocery store bliss. It is achievable. I have 5 kids and we can all go to Walmart or the grocery store, or for that matter anywhere (most recently Disneyland with just me and them driving all the way there and back without any unmanageable conflict) I have so much confidence in this tool, that I would walk into any store any day of the week knowing they would not ask for a single thing, pick up items that other people drop, smile at people, and say hello and respectfully move out of the way of any older people. Here’s the deal;
We were on our way into the store, and I was 9 months pregnant. We needed milk and eggs, and to be home in half an hour. I don’t mind rewarding good behavior but I knew I didn’t have patience enough to deal with misbehavior.
I looked at them and said. “ Today is different. You can show me something you think is cool, but you cannot ask for anything extra today. If you get three compliments from people we don’t know I will stop for ice cream on the way home.”
They were awesome, and you know what? People love to say nice things about awesome kids behaving well in public. I’ll admit that seeing a four year old pick up a dropped can of refried beans for a teenager with a Mohawk doesn’t happen every day in this world, but punks are pretty willing to tell me my kids are “so right on”. (and that counts as a compliment).
Miracles do happen. Set some ground rules for your contented parenting experience (and make the world a better place for everyone else!)