By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Family Focus, Pursuing God | Posted Tuesday, October 30, 2012
As I shared with you last week Tuesday, I want to encourage you to see your situation, your family, and your life from a new angle by introducing you a few different women who have impacted me. Each of their lives remind me of the beauty that can only come out of adversity and their stories encourage my heart to refocus while living and loving more richly.
Saying yes: a dying mother’s perspective
When you say “no” to your child, is it typically:
1) to set a healthy boundary, or
2) out of selfishness?
Some moments are monumental. For me, the question concerning the origin of my parenting denials was one of them. I can remember the exact moment that my mind was first stretched to consider my own parenting selfishness: through the prompting of a dying mother. It was a quiet evening as I relaxed on the couch with my laptop in front of me. I watched the video of a mother of 2 named Rachel who had fought terminal cancer for 4.5 years speak honestly and openly on the meaning of life and why she says, “death is not dying.” During her talk, there are many profound truths that Rachel spoke of that cut to the heart of what we believe and her transparent self reflection affected me deeply.
In particular, I was struck by this statement and how closely it mirrored my own heart. Rachel said,
“I have found that I say “no” an awful lot and when I took an honest look at myself, I realized I that was saying “no” because it was inconvenient to me. I don’t want them to jump on the bed, because that means I will have to tidy it again. I don’t want to give them a snack, because that means I have to get up from checking my email to get it for them. I don’t want to do that craft now, because that will be another mess to clean up. Hear it? Me. Me. Me. And now when I know my days are few, I find myself saying yes a lot more. Yes you can have that cookie. Yes you can jump on the bed. Yes let’s make that craft . . .“
From that moment on, I was changed–not perfect–but changed. Inquiries from my children began filtering though a selfishness scale and I started to ask myself “Is there a solid, logical reason to say no to this request?”
Allowing this question to filter my answers has allowed for barefoot moments on the beach and swallowing snowflakes.
It has invited creative wardrobe expressions and inventive menu options.
In short, it has enriched our moments and helped create unique memories. It has allowed grace to flow in and encouraged my own selfishness to be bridled.
Lest you fear that my home has become a free-for-all haven for every childish whim, let me assure you of the contrary. In our home we strive for healthy boundaries, age-appropriate responsibilities and consistent, loving discipline (again, we are not perfect, but this is our steady, guiding goal).
Nothing helps realign priorities like perspective. The words of Rachel were the exact perspective I needed. Perhaps they will be for you as well. I encourage you to find a quiet hour and watch and be changed as I was, I promise you won’t walk away unchanged.
After you watch, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Where you challenged? In what way?
*Rachel Barkey (shown above) went home to her Lord on July 2, 2009 at 37 years of age. Rachel is survived by her husband Neil and her children Quinn and Kate.
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Family Focus, Pursuing God, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Tuesday, October 23, 2012
I’d like to encourage you to see your situation, your family, and your life from a new angle. In the next few weeks I am going to introduce you to a woman who has impacted me. Each of their lives remind me of the beauty that can only come out of adversity and their stories encourage my heart to refocus while living and loving more richly.
Before I share the lessons I learned from the first woman, I’d like to invite you to meet her and see what lessons her story might speak to your heart. It won’t be a quick lesson. The video is almost an hour long. But I have a feeling it will remain with you for a long time. I’d encourage you to grab a cup of tea, a few tissues and curl up on the couch with your laptop or ipad or find a quiet moment with your computer. Or bookmark it and watch it today during nap time or perhaps tonight after your kids go to bed. I’ll follow up next week Tuesday with the lesson I took away that has left me forever changed.
Meet Rachel: a mother of two who, at the time of this video, had been fighting terminal cancer for about 4.5 years. Listen to her speak honestly and openly on the meaning of life and why she says, “death is not dying.”
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Family Focus, It Worked 4 Me, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Monday, August 20, 2012
When Melody approached the topic of how being a mother has changed her home (it is now a mess) and asked for tips and feedback from other moms in her post titled, “I used to have a clean house“, it started a conversation on our facebook page about what we do in our home to involve our kids in the process of keeping our house enjoyably neat. I would like to share our “system” with you and invite you to offer comments, feedback or questions about what you do (or don’t do) or plan to do with your kids to encourage them to be active participants in the upkeep of your home.
We have a list:
Perhaps some of you will recall the blog post I wrote in January of 2011 called “Let’s organize our day: the evening routine.” In it, I mentioned a list that i would set out for my two oldest children (who were 5 and 7 at the time) outlining what needed to be done in the morning before they went to school.
We have a problem:
This method worked fairly well for my 7 year old son who is systematic in nature and a strong reader. However, over time the intent of the list (to help them manage their own tasks) began to fail and simply became my checklist for nagging: “Hunter, have you brushed your teeth yet?” ”Hunter, please stay focused” ”Hunter, which task are you working on right now?”
We adjusted our plan:
Around that time I listened to an online podcast by The Power of Moms by Richard and Linda Eyre (the authors of The Entitlement Trap) which encouraged parents to shift their focus away from allowances (simply giving kids money) and toward a family system of “choosing, earning and ownership”. One of the ideas presented in the podcast included a weekly responsibility chart which the child fills out and turns in at the end of the week. Each responsibly had a monetary value attached allowing the child the opportunity to earn their own money for the “extra” items that child wished to purchase.
I saw that there was an opportunity to improve upon our current system using the ideas provided by Richard and Linda. I set to work revamping and creating a responsibility chart for our two oldest children. Each list was unique to the child for which is was made and includes both morning and afternoon responsibilities. Although many tasks were the same (they each needed to brush their teeth for instance), some differed based on ability and maturity. We did choose however to make the lists fairly equal in the overal number of tasks as well as the payout provided for completing the tasks. Since the kids have more free time durring the summer, I have tweaked the lists during the non-school months to include an extra “weekly” job each day (such as the one Hunter is doing in the photo below-cleaning the guest bathroom sink and mirror).
Admittedly it can take longer to teach a child how to do a task that is quick for an adult. But I truly believe the importance of not only the task learned but the responsibility gained is worth it. Over time, if that child is encouraged (and not belittled) for the tasks they are learning to master, they will soon be able to do them as well as you. Here is a tip I have found to work well for me: When Hunter completes a job such as washing the mirror I go in the bathroom and look it over with him. I ask, “Hunter, if you were an employer and you just hired someone to wash this mirror for you, would you feel his job is complete or did he miss any areas?” Presenting this question allows him to look at his own work objectively and without feeling like I am pointing out errors (he is critiquing himself).
We have been using our revised list plan for a few months now and overall I am very happy with how it is working. Hunter has now reached a point in which he begins his lists unprompted (most of the time) and knows exactly what is expected of him often without even referencing his list. Ashlyn still needs encouragement to get started but she now is able to read everything on her list on her own (using pictures to represent the tasks in addition to words can help a lot in this area if you have a young child). I have found that using extra motivation often works well too (such as: we can leave for our play date today once your morning responsibilities are completed OR our family movie night will begin once you both have your evening responsibilities finished).
I’d love to hear from you: Do you use a system like this or something totally different for your kids? What about when you were growing up, what did your parents do with you in this area? Do you have any questions or tips?
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Family Focus, It Worked 4 Me, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Back in my teaching days (I used to teach second grade) I stumbled upon a fun picture book called “Fortunately.”
The main character is taken on a wild adventure filled with fortune and misfortune. It goes something like this:
Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party.
Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.
Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane.
Unfortunately, the motor exploded.
Fortunately, there was a parachute in the airplane.
Unfortunately, there was a hole in the parachute.
It’s a cute story, but the deeper lesson is one that I carried with me. What deeper lesson you ask? That there is always something to be thankful for! In many ways this has become a mantra in my home and is something I seek to remind myself and my children of when we become frustrated, sad or disappointed.
Our “fortunately/unfortunately game” is one that we play from time to time when we feel down as a way of helping us to remember to look for the blessings.
-If my glass gallon milk jar just shattered all over my countertop (true story), I might say, “Unfortunately, I just destroyed that glass jar which was super helpful at storing our milk. Fortunately, we are blessed enough to be able to buy another jar and no one got hurt by the glass!”
-If my attempting to potty train 3 year old just happened to pee all over his chair (true story), I might say, “Unfortunately, Quinten just made a huge mess of pee for me to clean up. Fortunately, he didn’t also poop!”
I find that I need to be willing to lead by example with this game. Once my kids hear me being willing to express not only my true disappointment, but my effort to look for the good in the situation, they become more comfortable as I encourage them to do the same in those tender, teachable moments.
Since introducing this game to our kids a few years ago, they have shared their own version of fortunately/unfortunately with me, unprompted, on many occasions. Two years ago when our oldest son (who is now nine) broke his arm, he declared between his sobs, “I’m really glad that in Heaven there is no pain!” Not too long after that he stated, “I am really glad I didn’t break either of my feet!” Later it was, “I’m really glad we came to the doctor, there are so many interesting things here!” and my personal favorite was “Pretty lucky day!” which he said after he got a free pair of comfortable pants from the nurses. More recently Hunter shared his disappointment with the way his video game ended but reminded himself how fortunate it was that he even got to play. It blesses my heart each time I hear my children look for the good while struggling with a disappointment.
What do you think? Is this something that would work in your home?
If you missed it previously, you might also enjoy reading about our “opposite game” that we use from time to time as a fun way to get things done!
By Heather Ledeboer | Category: Activities with Kids, Family Focus, It Worked 4 Me, The Journey of Motherhood | Posted Wednesday, July 18, 2012
If you want your kids to do something, turn it into a game. It’s simple but the best ideas usually are right? Want an easy game idea? Read on.
Its called the “opposite game” and the rules are simple: agree to say the opposite of what you mean.
Me: Ashlyn, I don’t want you to clean up those books you left on the floor there. In fact, I want you to walk away and leave them there for the rest of the day, that would make me VERY happy!
Ashlyn: No mom I won’t clean up the books!
Me: Good, I didn’t think you would.
Ashlyn: (cleaning up the books) I don’t like this game.
Me: Neither do I and I am very sad to see those books off the floor by the way.
Get the idea? The beauty of this came is that not only is it fun, but it requires some brain power (converting everything you say into an opposite is tricky business). If you really want to be a stinker, this is a great time to suggest that you will make ice cream sandwiches for lunch . Ashlyn and Hunter are 6 and 8 and play this game really well. My guess is that 5 year olds could follow it too. Kids younger than that may struggle with the concept, so test it out in a fun way to see if it is something they are ready for before you start spewing promises that may bring on the tears once they realize you were only kidding!
What about you? What is your favorite way to make daily jobs fun?