Archive for Parenting
The following is a guest post from Sara. Consideration was received for the editing and publishing of this article. I appreciate what she shares in regard to helping our kids learn to save money!
In Proverbs 22:6, the Bible tells us very specifically to: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The Bible wants parents to teach their children the ways of the world – including how to make smart money choices. Teaching children to save and spend wisely is essential to raising healthy kids, as it leads to smarter financial choices when they’re older.
Responsibility Leads to Reward
Children can be earning what they receive. In the adult world, in order to collect money, you have to work hard for it. This reality is sometimes overlooked by parents, who simply want to provide their children with what they need and want. In order to prepare children for the future, make sure they understand they’ll also need to work hard for new items and money.
Set up a weekly allowance for your kids. Designate some chores to your child and let them know they’ll receive their allowance at the end of the week. Much like a job, your child will be required to do well, in order to receive their paycheck on payday.
Make Saving Fun
Children may want to run right to the candy store to spend their money, so it’s your job to remind them that saving their funds will result in more expensive items. The first step in creating a smart saver is to make saving a fun and creative experience. You may want to paint a piggy bank or old jar with your child. They can store their money here and watch as it fills to the top.
When children are saving for something specific, the process becomes a lot more fun. Ask your child what they really want, like a new computer or tablet. These items aren’t cheap and will require that your child saves for a long time. When their jar does become full, take them to purchase the item or to the bank to make a deposit into their account.
The bank is a fun place for children to learn about money. Bank tellers often keep small candies and suckers to give to children, making the trip rewarding. If this is your child’s first visit to the bank, don’t be afraid to ask the teller to introduce themselves and explain what they do. This is also a great time to explain how interest works and how money grows slowly in the bank, so it’s worth it to save for a long time.
The Big Payoff
Shopping is the big payoff, because it’s the time kids finally get to spend some of the cash they’ve been saving. Your child has worked hard, saved enough, and is finally ready to make a purchase. At this point, you can teach good shopping habits. Introduce children to the world of coupons. If it’s a new computer or electronic they want, search for Alienware coupons and other coupon deals at NerdWallet. They’ll begin to see how a single coupon can result in hundreds of dollars in savings.
Finally, when your child has scrimped and saved for an item, they’re more likely to take better care of it. This is your big payoff. You’ve been a really great parent by teaching your kids the value of a dollar. Now they’re being more respectful to their possessions. Plus, they’ll be ready to start saving for something else right away!
My boys, spring of 2010
I started feeling it last December.
I was Christmas shopping online for our four boys. My excitement grew as I continued to come across sites for some of our favorite toys from companies we love. High quality wooden puzzles and games by Melissa and Doug. Books about our beloved Curious George and Corduroy. Super hero costumes. Brightly colored building blocks. These are the toys that make our world go round.
Correction. Made our world go round. Past tense.
Asa and Elias, Christmas 2008
My boys aren’t so much into those kinds of toys any more. On their lists were items like headphones, iTunes gift cards, goalie gloves, and the like. At least our eight year old still wanted Legos. But I started to feel a little bit sad. No more wooden puzzles or superman capes? Well when did that happen?
I promise you from the bottom of my heart that I love this stage of life we’re in – having a houseful of big kids. Raising kids ages 8, 11, 13, and 15 is the rockinest season ever. I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to live with teenagers. Now that all the kids can read, all six of us together can have crazy fun playing board games that don’t include a candy cane lane, a hungry hippo, or (praise the Lord) a chute or a ladder. The joy we experience studying God’s word together and having meaningful prayer time? It’s beautiful. And the volume of food we go through? Well, some might be frightened to actually watch the food disappear from our table as quickly as it does, but as long as I don’t think too hard about the grocery bill, I take great pleasure in seeing my boys inhale triple batches of pancakes and two pounds of strawberries in seven minutes flat.
Malachi, spring 2009
But when I look at their baby pictures? When I see a little plastic plate sporting Winnie the Pooh like the one that used to get flung off our high chair? When I come across a size 2-T outfit that all four of the boys wore as it was passed down the line? I find that I suddenly can’t breathe. How is it that instead of having to take a wet washrag to wipe smeared sweet potatoes off of an unwilling chubby baby face, I’m handing over a razor so that very boy can shave his whiskers?
Justus and I, heading out for a date in May, 2012
I now understand what all the other ladies have been telling me for years about how “the days are long but the years are short so enjoying them while they’re young because they grow up so quickly.” I heard that over and over when my four boys were little. I heard it when I had multiple children in diapers. I heard it when we were potty training (the boy with pee running down his leg). I heard it when the three-year old had his fourteenth melt-down in the church foyer. I heard it when I had one kid hanging on my leg, one running in the opposite direction, one screaming to be nursed, and the other one…wait WHERE was the other one??! (Hiding under the table.) I always wanted to say, “Yeah, yeah. Enjoy them while they’re young. I know. I will. I am. Now shut up and help me put these kids into their car seats so I can get home and put them down for their naps.” (Not really, but yeah. Really.)
I grieve and rejoice at the same time that my boys are all now “big.” My oldest will graduate in two years. He’s the one who made me a mother the very first time. I think it happened sometime around yesterday. But actually, somehow, it was more like a decade and a half ago.
Enjoy them while they’re young? I did. I am. I do. I will.
Every short, long day.
I received this email a few weeks ago:
Hi Laura,I have a 4 year old who is by nature defiant. I say turn right and he says “no, left.” Everything is a battle from putting on the seat belt to especially bedtime routine. I have other children who are obedient and well-mannered so I know it is his temperment. I am a supernanny queen and do 800 millon consequences to his bad behavior. I am very consistent with following through. It is starting to escalate and affecting me in the home. I’ve started to feel like a failure and started feeling apathetic towards the rest of my responsibilities. Where is the joy? I’m wondering if you had any wisdom on guiding a boys heart?
Well, I will never claim to be a parenting expert, but I do have a few years of experience dealing with strong-willed boys. Here’s what I emailed back:
Today, we get to enjoy a blast from the past. Three years ago, I posted about the “Coat Trick” we’ve always used to teach our little bitty kids how to put their coat on by themselves. My little bitty kids are not so little bitty anymore, therefore, they no longer use the coat trick. (Although, I do think it would be funny to see my lanky 5’10″ fourteen year old see if he can still do it.)
First, lay down the coat with the outside part of the coat touching the floor. The neck of the coat should be facing your child. The child puts his arms into the sleeve holes of his coat…
And flips the coat over his head.
He adjusts his sleeves…or you adjust them for him.
Then he wipes his nose with his sleeve. (This step is optional.)
Tada! Coat is on.
Here’s a video, which is a much easier way to see how the Coat Trick works. It takes all of 14 seconds to watch. Please be sure to admire Malachi’s silly face as he prepares to show you the Coat Trick on video. The silly face part of the Coat Trick is also optional. :)
Since I just shared about shopping and budgeting with my kids, and about using DoughMain to help teach your kids about finances, I thought I would answer one reader’s question about discussing major financial decisions with our kids. I hope you’ll share your thoughts on this matter too!
Tracy asked this question after I posted about a big financial decision my husband and I had made recently:
I had a question regarding the big decision you and Matt recently made regarding not purchasing a local property. Did you share the details of your decision or the decision making process with your boys? Just asking because I wonder how much is enough or too much for kids to know about, especially regarding financial decisions. I ask because I am not at that point yet, but I will be someday.
Our boys are now 14, 11, 9 and 6. While I would say that the majority of this particular decision-making discussion took place between just Matt and me, we did share a good part of the conversation with our boys. We felt that it was important that they know what we might be taking on if we did buy that building. Purchasing this commercial property would have effected our lives dramatically. Since our boys are old enough to understand much of what this purchase would mean, it could have been a big blow to them if we’d just worked on it after they were in bed, and then suddenly announced that we’d purchased a building. In addition, we were even encouraging Asa, our oldest, to be an “investor” with us in this since he’s done a good job of earning and saving. Matt talked through that process with him in detail.
In the end, Matt and I made the decision on our own – well, with God’s help, but without our boys help - not to purchase this building. After the decision was made, we then discussed with our boys the reasons for our choice. We felt that it was very important that they understood why we chose not to make this investment and how we came to these conclusions. They needed to hear about our thought process, and even some of the dollar figures so that they could have a clearer picture of how we had arrived at our decision. Our six year old became much more interested in his Legos about five minutes into the discussion, but we kept talking to our older boys until they had no more questions.
I’d love to hear how you handle decision-making in your family, financial or otherwise.
How much is too much (or too little) to share with your kids when making a major family decision?
The following is an article I wrote for our local paper a couple of years ago, but never actually posted here. I’m often asked if I regret not having daughters. Though my life is void of pink hair bows, sweet dresses, paper dolls and braids (all things I dreamed of enjoying with my little girls before God gave me this passel of boys), I can answer truthfully that I do not for a minute doubt that God knew exactly what he was doing when he continued to bless us with boys. My life is full of joy – The Joy of Boys…
When our first baby was born a boy, I was very happy knowing that any other children we would have in the future would be under the protection of an older brother. When our second baby was born a boy, I was glad our oldest son now had a brother to play with. When our third baby was born a boy, I decided that God must have something special in mind for our family. THREE boys?
When I was pregnant with our fourth baby, you can just guess what everyone around me was saying. “Finally going to have a sister for all those boys?” or “I bet you’re sure hoping for a girl this time!”
When our fourth baby was born a boy, they laid him on my chest, and all my husband and I could do was laugh for joy that God had given us yet another son!
Boys are so sweet. Boys love their Mamas like crazy. Boys think their Daddys are the best. Boys….ah boys. Boys bring such joy.
I love how boys play (now that I’m used to it!). Our house is usually noisy, rough and fast – there’s not a lot of tip-toeing or sitting down quietly to color pictures at the table.
Generally…I find that the male greeting (between my boys and all of their friends who come over to play) has little to do with words and a lot to do with grabbing onto and pulling one another down to the floor into an immediate wrestling match.
I’ve learned to look the other way, smile, and shake my head about so many things that I used to fear would turn into a trip to the Emergency Room. Boys play rough – they can’t help it. They make noise. It oozes out of their pores. Rolls of wrapping paper become swords or light sabers. Toast and grilled cheese sandwiches are chewed into the shape of little guns. Math books become drums. Little pink erasers become race cars.
Everything (everything) becomes a competition: who can finish their milk first, who can put their jammies on the fastest, who can get from the kitchen to the living room without touching the floor.
It’s one big, loud, ball game at our house all day long – and I wouldn’t trade it for all tea parties in Boston.
I consider it a huge honor to be the mama of boys. Boys who we pray will grow up and be Godly leaders some day. Boys who we pray will be Godly husbands and daddys some day.
Oh, and some day, when my boys grow up and get married…I’ll have daughters. I’ll take them shopping and we’ll cook and do hair together.
Until then, I’ll just continue to feed mountains of mashed potatoes and huge stacks of pancakes to all these boys while they make all the noises with their armpits that they are so good at making and while they laugh at all the things boys can’t help but think are funny.
Boys who have completely and totally won my heart.
(No, this post is not a hint toward what our boys’ surprise was. Oh my. I simply get a lot of reader questions regarding what to feed baby. That’s it. Our surprise was much less exciting than a baby announcement – I’ll post about it tonight!) :)
Pureed Bananas: Ripe bananas run through my food processor until smooth – great for baby!
Ah, the memories. I used to always make food for my babies, back when my babies were babies. I still make food for my babies, but my oldest baby is 14 now. He prefers steak to pureed veggies. He’d also like to know when I’ll stop calling him my baby. (The answer is never, but I do try to avoid saying it in front of “the guys”. I’m not that uncool.)
Before I talk about making baby food, first I’ll quickly share what I don’t recommend feeding babies (but keep in mind I’m just a mom, not a doctor):
- Any kind of sugar before age one and really, do they need much after that?
- Salt, unless it’s a very pure form of sea salt and then, very little
- Grains, even the baby cereal that’s usually recommended. It fills ‘em up, but their little tummies have a hard time digesting rice, oats and other grains, which can cause digestive issues now or later. I say wait on the grains if you can.
Making baby food is super simple, very inexpensive and takes very little time. One of the easiest foods to make for baby is Pureed Squash. You can read how to make pureed squash here. Making sweet potatoes is just as simple:
To Make Sweet Potatoes: Scrub them, stab them, bake them in a covered dish for about an hour, then peel them and puree them. So easy!
Pureeing green beans or peas are a little trickier as the “skin” kinda hangs around and keeps the food from being smooth. After failed attempts at making pureed green beans and peas, I found it easier to wait a little while before offering these to my babes. They made the perfect “finger food”. Frozen peas, by the way, are yummy and great if Baby is teething!
The one way I found to get green beans and peas into my little guys before they were old enough for “finger food” was to use a Kidco Baby Food Grinder. Man, I loved that thing. Whatever I had cooked or fixed for the rest of us to eat - green beans, peas, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, pears, bananas, peaches, nectarines (do I need to keep listing them?) - I’d stick it in my Kidco Baby Food Grinder and have instant baby food that my boys would eat faster than I could make! The “skin” or any difficult to eat part of the food would be “ground out” and the soft baby food would rise to the top. If you have a baby and you don’t have a Kidco Baby Food Grinder, I really, really recommend getting one!
Also, one of my very smart cousins told me about the BabyCook, which appears to have been invented after my babies needed pureed food, hmph. I’ve seen the BabyCook in action and it’s about as cool as they come. With the BabyCook, you can very quickly steam veggies, reheat food – even defrost food to make a healthy, quick meal for baby. Once the food is steamed, you can use the BabyCook to puree it to any desired consistency. Babies nothin’. I’m thinking I need one of these for me!
I used to always freeze pre-made baby food in ice cube trays, pop them out and re-warm them for a quick meal. It worked pretty well, but I’d love to hear if anyone else has a more efficient method of making baby food ahead of time?!
And, while we’re on the subject of baby food, I wanted to mention what another smart cousin showed me last week. Homemade baby food is great, but sometimes a little convenience on the go is a good thing. Have you seen these cool little Baby Food Pouches from Ella’s Kitchen? (Or here are some other ones I found from HappyBaby). Really, where were these things when my babies were babies?
Share your favorite baby food making, freezing, storing and serving tricks!
You get a big bonus during today’s podcast: the WHOLE family joins in! Yup…I figured instead of me just talking about how we teach our kids scripture and memory verses…I’d let you listen to part of the process! :)
Months ago, I mentioned a little activity we do as a family called “Repeat-Afters” and several of you have asked for more details. “Repeat-Afters” have been a part of our family life since all of our kids were little bitty, as a way to help them learn scripture. We love this family tradition, which takes place usually during lunch or dinner time.
I hope you enjoy this…especially listen for the nice “whistle by Malachi” at the end of our little family session. We almost edited that out, but what fun would that be? :)
Grab some laundry to fold or kick back for a few minutes while you enjoy our new podcast!
Please share some of the things you do as a family to teach scripture to your children!
Ah, one of my favorite subjects. Through the years, we’ve been asked many times what we feel are the best toys for boys. Do we allow our boys to play with guns? As Christians, do we feel like this is okay? What about transformers? Swords? Is all that violence good for them?
These are the questions I address in this latest podcast.
One thing I forgot to mention (probably because I was all wrapped up in talking about how many light sabers we have): LEGOS! I was addressing other questions, so Legos just didn’t come up. But of all the favorite toys we have in our house…we just LOVE our Legos. They are well worth the investment and make wonderful gifts for our boys.
But back to the guns and swords (which of course Legos can easily be built to resemble)…
Share your thoughts! Do you have boys? What do you let them play with?
Did you wonder if I’d ever get around to recording another podcast? I have lots of excuses as for why it’s been weeks and weeks since recording. Maybe I’ll write those down for you in my spare time. ;) But lookie what I got in the meantime! Char, my wonderful friend and talented designer, made me a pretty podcast graphic. I LOVE it!
If you’re new to the Heavenly Homemakers site and would like to check out my previous podcasts, you can find them all here. As always, I encourage you to grab some laundry to fold while you’re listening, hop on the treadmill, or do something else equally productive so that you can multi-task. For the record, I believe that sitting down and putting your feet up to rest and listen is very productive as well. Rest is a good thing.
The purpose of our podcasts is to encourage us all on our journey as Heavenly Homemakers while I answer some of the questions I receive from readers. Today’s question is regarding how to teach our teeny-tiny kids about God. I don’t have any teeny-tinies anymore (says the lady whose oldest son can almost look her directly in the eyes)…but I think it was just yesterday that I did. I share in the podcast some of the ways we talked to our kids about God from the time they were newborns.
I’ve gotta throw out a huge thank you to my husband Matt who does the majority of the work to make these podcasts happen. I record myself…then he spends the time to splice in the music and make everything time out just right…and he is kind enough to edit out a ridiculous number of “ums” and “you knows” that I you know, don’t mean to um…say. You know?
Simply click on the link below to listen. This particular podcast lasts a little over seven minutes.
I mentioned Songs for Saplings in the podcast so I thought I’d post the link here to make it easy for you to find if you’re interested! Also, I mentioned reading Bible books to your little ones. I love all of the Little Golden Books that are Bible related, so I’ve added that link too: Children’s Little Golden Bible Books