I have read so many blogs and posts about 30 ways to make being a parent easier. Most I find one or two points to apply in my daily life and the rest i either don’t agree with or just plain ole forget, as soon as I leave the web page. After reading the ideas I tend to dwell on them and some times I even try and figure out what I would add to the list from my own experience. Well I have started making a list. So far in my two years of parenting I have come up with 9 points that make my life easier and I am not sure how original they are or even if they were my own ideas to start out with, but in either case, here they are:
1. Rice. Its a great food. Easy to make, simple, most children like it, fills their little bellies and goes with most meals. Worst part about it is how hard it is to clean up off their clothes, floors, and high chairs. I even found some rice in my daughters belly button and up her nose one time. Here is what I do. I leave it over night. I take of their clothes and leave them in the high chair, I leave the clothe that I wiped them down with in the high chair and I walk about from the mess on the floor. The next morning all the rice is dried and it is just falls off their clothes, sweeps up easily from the floor and wipes up off their high chairs without making me get on my hands and knees.
Now I do realize this does not work in many situations. Visiting the in laws would not make this plan very plausible. Nor would a family meal at a restaurant. But for those days when you barely made it through making dinner with two monkeys hanging off your legs and you fall asleep reading them their bed time stories and the last thing you want to do is clean up the dinner mess. Well, give yourself an excuse and just wait until the morning when everything is always better:)
2. Coffee Shop Treats. I love going for a walk and getting myself a delicious specialty coffee then heading to the park to drink it while my children play. Makes me happy and Makes them happy. The only problem is that it is starting to get harder and hard for my children to not want their own treat. I have brought my own snacks for them and given them that. But sometimes I am not as prepared as I should be. Instead of dealing with a tantrum, or even worse, opting to avoid the coffee shop all together. Here is my plan. Buy your child(ren) a steamed milk with a pump of some flavoring. (I bought the largest size and got 3 cups to split between the three children). Here is the best part. My local coffee shop is right beside our grocery store where they give out free cookies to children at the bakery. So…. Instead of paying for a snack for them at the coffee shop I go straight to the bakery. Most of the time I need something anyways from the grocery store, so I feel justified in collecting the cookie tax. On those gloriously amazing “dutch” days (I can say that because I am a dutch lion) we even fill our bellies with some free samples. With our snacks in hand, we pay for our eggs and we go enjoy the rest of the day at the park.
3. Library Books on Tape. OK, I realize that this one is not new. It is not my own idea, it is not original, it is not even accurate as I don’t think that books come on “tape” anymore. I just do not remember the right words. I am sure you get my point if you are over the age of 20. I take out books on tape or even down load them onto my computer from the libraries web site. This is a great way to clean the house or entertain that child who is not yet ready to give up nap time and needs that quiet time.
4. Water Play/Washing the floor. This one is my favorite. I hate washing my floor. I also hate making dinner with whining children all over me. So I decided it was time to solve both these problems at the same time. I fill pots and pans and bowls with water, measuring cups, spoons, and whisks and I strip my children down and put it all (including children) on the kitchen floor. Sometimes I even add soap to the water. I will lay it all on a old towel sometimes to help contain the mess. I get my cooking done and even set the table before they are bored of the game. Sometimes I will save “special” tools to give them when they start to loose interest and it brings them right back to their water play. At the end. I put their little naked selves into their chairs for dinner and put all the dishes in the sink. I then wipe up the floor with the towel that this amazing water mess was played on. I always have enough water on the floor to wash into every corner of my kitchen floor. It is fast, efficient, and tires them out so they work up a good appetite. You replace bib laundry with a towel since your children are now naked for dinner. In the long run I think this activity is worth it. Especially when you are feeling guilty for using the TV as a baby sitter and they are a little too old to be trapped in a play pen:)
5.Veggie appetizers. Another way to distract those hungry vultures from hovering around the kitchen while you cook is to have a plate of pre-cut veggies that you bring out to fill their bellies. I only allow them to snack on veggies before dinner. I know a lot of people who do this one already but thought I would officially share it with the world. (here is hoping the world reads this blog post) My sons favorite is a big crunchy carrot.
6. Tap Juice. This is MY mom’s trick. She called water “Tap Juice”. It worked wonders. They never had to whisper the words “juice” around us and we do not have to whisper it around our kids.
7.Music Man. I am sure there are other moms who use this term as much as I do. The Popsicle truck is the Music Man. He drives around sharing his beautiful (read: annoying) music for us to enjoy (read: rip my ear drums out).
8. Imaginations. Sometimes my children will not eat. I made a huge meal that took a long time and they wont eat it! I get so frustrated. So I started to use their imaginations against them 🙂 My son loves to play restaurant. He loves to take orders and exchange money for food. When my son pushes his plate away and says “My don’t want that” I put on my best french waiter voice and say “but Sir, I thought that is what your ordered?” Works like a charm. If restaurant play does not work I pretend we are at work on a construction site and it is lunch break. I use my gruffest voice I can come up with and so does he. He loves imaginary play and I use it as much as I can. If we all play along, my husband included, it works best.
9. Rewards. This in our home means another book at bed time or extra long bike ride, or mommy will play in the water table WITH you. It can always mean jelly beans or stickers. We do reward our children for going above and beyond their jobs. They do have a few things that they have to do that do not require them getting rewarded for but if they do more or help each other out or I catch them just being plain ole awesome with their friends or siblings. I reward them. I believe it is the things we do when we think no one is watching that show us truly who we are. So I want to reward the good behavior that I see in my children. We redirect and even punish the “wrong” behavior and highly praise and reward the “honorable” behavior. Most of the time my children are with in eye and ear shot and I can hear their constant conversations and see their actions. My house is designed amazing that way. Best of all they cant always see me. This lets them think they are alone and I get a lot of opportunities to discuss and reward notable conduct. Our goal in our house is to raise children who love people and God.
We want them to serve others with a gracious heart and respect people from all walks of life. This is a hard thing to implement in our day to day lives. Looking beyond the basic needs of our children is focusing on their character and hearts at an early age is something that my family takes seriously.
Finding ways to Clean the Kitchen and making dinner without being hassled too much and finding ways to avoid tantrums is helpful in raising children and making life a little more enjoyable. Please, do not forget that you are raising little humans and not just trying to find ways to survive them. You are raising future teenagers and adults. I get told a lot to enjoy my children while they are still young and cuddly. Because as soon as they get older they want nothing to do with you. I am praying this is not true. I am praying that I have a relationship with my children that grows with them. That I don’t just dwell in the past but that I move on as well. I want to the mom that they need and deserve during all walks of their lives. With Gods help, I am praying that I know when to talk and when to listen. When to discipline and when to have Grace. It starts now. My Heart needs to change and I need to start growing before I end up having to chase them from behind. I am not just their mom. I am a fellow human being. I am a fellow Sinner and in need of the same Grace and Love that they do. For right now I have been given the responsibility, (as well as my husband) to raise them and instruct them and love them. Thank goodness I am not expected to do this alone. Thank goodness I have God, Family, Friends, and in some cases the internet.
God bless your families and your journeys.
p.s please pass on any cheats you use in your daily life. You can never have too many!