Boys jumping for ball

Enjoy Kids NOW. They grow up!

Dear SoSooper (and previously Home Is Fun) readers,

For eight years I (Denise) blogged on Home Is Fun and shared photos and life in a diversity-filled couple with four energetic boys, all born within seven years.

Time has flown. As Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, shares, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

[bctt tweet=”The days are long, but the years are short. @Gretchen Rubin”]

Boy-and-baby
“Fragile? What’s that mean?” Welcome home, tiny tot!
Terrible (and terribly funny) two's.
The terrible (and terribly funny) two’s.
Family-vacation-small-kids
Is this “vacation” or “extra work”?
Boy-guitar
When the guitar is bigger than they are…and nonetheless, the sound still rings out loud and strong! “Do you like my song, Mommy?” “I love you, darling. :-)”
Family-first-ties
First time wearing ties. Mixed responses…like to most novel experiences. Throughout Mom & Dad still put their best face forward.
Boy-electronics
When the generation gap stops being a concept but a daily reality.
"You can do it, darling."
“You can do it, darling.”
Kid_powder_skier
When finally all that practice pays off. After innumerable falls (and try-overs) they assert, “It was hard. And I did it!”
Family-pyramids
When the family encourages seeking adventure together…
Boy-extreme-sports
…and Mom & Dad worry when the children seek their next challenge to overcome.
Graduation
And in a few short years, they fly on their own. It’s what we hoped for them all along. Bye bye baby. HELLO NEW RELATIONSHIP!!!
Brothers hug
There was a time when I was in the energy-management business: expend theirs & conserve mine…
Boys grow up
…now the future’s so bright…they take the shades off for the photo 🙂

May YOU enjoy YOUR children NOW.  Before they grow up.

(And take pictures, no matter how bad a photographer you are. I did!)

Try spending 5 minutes this week simply observing one child without Ă  priori. Just watch him/her.

Better yet.  Admire him/her.  

(Choose to do this for your “problem” child.  It’s transforming 🙂 )

This works for teens as well as for tots. They might engage you and ask you to join in a game. For these five minutes let them know that you are admiring them and will join them in a few moments. You can even invite them to put on the timer!
Parents who have done this exercise marvel at their children. They are indeed beautifully and wonderfully made!

For more family news, we celebrate 25 years of marriage! (Read about the glue that keeps us together.)

 

Cover photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Boys blowing out birthday candles

Happy Birthday Wishes – Million $ Dollar Birthday Chair

One of our favorite Happy Birthday wish is to seat that special person in The Birthday Chair.

High Bang for Buck Happy Birthday Wishes

Boy blowing out birthday candlesThis balloon-decorated chair gets big bang out of little time, energy, and funds…and it does it every year. For less than $1, your precious child feels like $1 Million!

Decorate one chair BIG TIME: at least 6 balloons and as many streamers. The chair goes in the middle of the room where the kids (of all ages) gather for the presents.  At Birthday Cake time, he gets the star seat.  It’s the throne on which he reigns during the Birthday Story Telling.

Make it ultra special by kindly yet firmly reserving it for the birthday child; it’s part of letting him know he is one precious kid.

Happy Birthday Wishes – Telling the Birthday Story

Do you know what happened the day you were born? Loads of people—and surely your child—want to know about theirs.

Regale your precious one with nuggets of news.

“Dad admired you first. Mom could not see past her tummy!”

“When I took you in my arms, I discovered an additional love. It wasn’t sharing the love I had for others; it was MORE.”

“You were almost born in the taxi!”

Easy Peezy Happy Birthday Wishes

– Tie up balloons into bunches of three.

We use extra-long strands of ribbon and curl the edges…à la gift wrap.

Why 3’s? One three-balloon group has LOADS more impact than three singles. Try it; you’ll be convinced too.

By the way, florists recommend displaying flowers in odd numbers (think 13 red roses, but not next to the balloons).

– Use multiple colors, sizes, and shapes of balloons.

(If you’re using long balloons, include two long ones in your bundle of three, and choose your colors intelligently. Word from the embarrassed wizened!)

– Tie the bundles to the chair so that balloons are visible from all angles…think photo opportunity.

– Throw curly-cue party streamers on top of the concoction…even better, get the siblings or your child’s friends to do so. The Birthday Chair will gain in precious-ness.

The kids revel in the Birthday Chair every year. Grandma does too.

Birthday Wishes for adult

Encourage Appropriate Behavior in Kids: Parenting Tips inspired by Snow!

It has been snowing all week.  Every day.  All day.  Every night.

We go to the mountains to have snow, but deeeeep down, here is my real wish:  I awake every morning to optimal ski conditions.  Abracadabra.

Snow fall, ski slope grooming, and snow plowing would have all happened during my sleep 🙂

Do parents have a similar wish for their children’s good behavior?

Mom or Dad ask for a clean room.  Like magic children’s toys are put away, the floor in spotless, the books are neatly stacked on the bookshelves, the bed is made, and the desk is cleared and ready-for-work.  “Aussitôt dit.  Aussitôt fait.”  Say the word, and it’s done.  Just to our liking, no less!

No need for any teaching, training, or follow through!

We moms and dads must have received our parenting tips straight Mary Poppins and Nanny MacFee.  Or maybe our children were born with an innate understanding of what parents consider appropriate behavior…

Ski cabin "Shelter" in snow
“Abri” means shelter

Children skiing and falling in snow

Cars covered in snow

Appropriate Behavior – Down to Earth Parenting Reality

Just as we adults benefit from training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to be able to behave well.

[bctt tweet=”Like adults who get training in our jobs, children benefit from training in order to  perform well. “]

Think about it.  Did our sons and daughters clean their room in the womb?  Did our babes learn proper table manners at the breast?

We parents often teach through discipline.  We tell our kids what is wrong.  “Your room is messy.”  “Elbows off the table, please.”    

How do they find out what is desirable behavior?  Is there a more appropriate and encouraging way than through trial and error?

Would you like your boss to keep on telling you, “NO,” until you get it right?  How motivating is that?!

Snow Inspired Parenting Tips for Teaching Kids

1. Enjoy the magic of NOW

Earth stills when snow falls. 

Sounds are muted.  Senses are chilled.  Worries from the office seem faaaaaarrrrrr away.

These extraordinary apprenticeship years of our kids are precious and last such a short while.   Sooner than later our kids graduate and move out.

What life skills and talents do our children take with them as they go out on their own?  THIS is our parenting vocation.

My mother is celebrating a BIG birthday and we are writing her letters of thanks.  I realized that I have many more memories with her AFTER having left home than while I was a child.

The birthday parties I recall through photos.

Here is what I remember through experience and which lives in my soul:  the ambiance of love, the assurance that she had time for me, and her belief in my potential (especially when I acted out of line).

These qualities are communicated by savoring the present.  The magic of small successes.  Noticing appropriate behavior.  Appreciating hard work.  Encouraging me to persevere.

Aren’t those life skills you wish to pass onto your darlings?

Happy grandma cuddling children

Loving grandmother keeps grandkids coming home

 

Admiring grandmother taking photos

2. Slow down before crashing

I love skiing FAST.

Except when there is no visibility and I wonder if I am about to speedily crash and plant my face into fresh powder.

When it snows, it is time to slow down.  Just a tad.

When your child misbehaves, might it be an invitation to shift into a lower gear? 

  • What is the cause of the inappropriate behavior?
  • Do the children even know exactly what is expected of them?
  • Do they have the capability of carrying out those tasks?
  • What could help them succeed even better?

In manufacturing circles, we refer to a bottleneck: THE operation that slows the entire process down.

No matter how much we improve other aspects of the manufacturing cycle, the process will only improve when we address THAT critical juncture.

Where is the weak point in your child’s ability to carry out your request?  Slowing down helps you observe your sweethearts and identify their appropriate behavior “bottleneck.”

Are they not listening to instructions?

That’s a sure guarantee of misbehavior!  So, the parenting issue to address is getting their attention before giving instructions.

Bend down to their level, make eye contact, smile, and THEN stipulate, “Honey, it is time to clean your room.”

Do the toys not have a home?

Playthings are tumbled into a box.  To reach that one desired game, your child rummages through the entire stack (a.k.a. dumps them all over the floor).  The issue is too many toys or finding a better way to store games.

“Sweetheart, you like a comfy home.  Your toys want to be more comfortable too.  Here are two boxes: toys-at-home and toys-on-vacation.  Do you want to choose which toys go on vacation this week or should I?  YOU can change every weekend!”

Slowing down helps identify your child’s unique bottleneck.

3. Break down the big job into smaller steps.

When it snows, visibility is reduced which renders many skiers less comfortable on the slopes.  That’s when we CONSCIOUSLY rely on ski technique:  bending down further to propel us through the turns in heavy snow, maintaining supple knees to  absorb obstacles we no longer see, keeping our body weight correctly balanced over the skis…

Many of these gestures we do without thinking…until it snows and we once again recall and apply our technique.

In a similar way, when training the kids, why not break down a large task into its many smaller bits.

If our initial instructions (ex. clean your room) seems foggy to the kids, let us help them return to their comfort zone by reviewing the individual steps required for success of the total “project” (and securing appropriate behavior can seem like a PROJECT).

A clean room means

  • Nothing on the floor
  • The bed is made…and nothing is hiding under it
  • Clothes are put in the appropriate drawers
  • Toys and books are placed their assigned home
  • The desk has space to be able to work correctly

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: make bed

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: stack books

Appropriate room cleaning behavior: clear desk

Think of our children’s tasks like a gourmet dish.  There is a recipe to follow.  Step by step.

If it’s good enough for the best chefs in the world, I’ll give it a go in our home too 🙂

4. Specify the criteria for “acceptable behavior” and “very well done.”

After snowfall, some slopes get plowed and others are left virgin.  Different strokes for different folks.

A good skier can master the smooth surfaces even with minimal visibility.  An excellent skier dances through the powder.

“Sweetheart, a cleanish room is when the bed is made and the clothes are off the floor.  A super-dooper-totally-awesomely-amazingly-clean room is when you also put your socks in the sock drawer, your shirts in the shirt drawer….”

5. Celebrate performance

A steaming hot chocolate and warm (greasy) fries taste especially delicious when coming in from difficult ski conditions.

“Darling.  Well done.”

Teen boys and kids warming up from skiing

Upon leaving our mountain chalet, we clean up.  Kids help with the chores.  During one vacation with my sister and her family, our Make-A-Loud-Fuss son resisted doing his job:  to clean the bathroom sink & mirror.

She taught him the secret to super-shiny-bathroom-cleaning (Spray the chrome with window cleaner.  It sparkles!) and off he went.

He made the chrome sparkle.

My sister rounded up the crew of siblings and cousins and they ALL marched to the bathroom to recognize a job well done.

Since that day, Mr.Fuss REQUESTS bathroom cleaning.  He is the recognized family expert on appropriate bathroom cleanliness.  We have delegated to him the responsibility of coaching his brothers on quality control.

That’s a win-win situation!

Children parade to congratulate appropriate behavior
Ready? Set. Go! checking out the spotless bathroom.

Children parade to check out clean bathroom

Proud teen and admiring brother
Our cool dude still takes pride in “clean.”

Helping our Kids Learn Appropriate Behavior

How would you and your family’s life be different if you took a fresh look at a “bad news” situation?

  • What one special thing can you appreciate about this time of life right NOW?
  • What is REALLY happening? Slowing down enables fresh observation.
  • What behavior do you, the parent, desire? What are intermediate steps?
  • How can you help your children differentiate between good and great?
  • How will you encourage REPEATED excellent behavior?
Boy mopping floor doing chores

Build Kids’ Confidence with Chores

Today’s Gift on the Joy. Peace. Love. @ Home advent calendar for parents

1 magnetic Chore Chart for parents & kids together
from Ludocatix  

How to receive this gift?  Take the fun quiz on the Parent Advent Calendar today and you could be the lucky one to win the draw.

“What life skills do you want to transmit to your children?”

This is how we begin our Positive Discipline parenting workshops and invariably parents share a list of traits like these:

  • Responsibility
  • Autonomy
  • Love of excellence
  • Empathy
  • Respect
  • Teamwork
  • ….

Today’s gift helps you transmit these skills to your children AND SIMULTANEOUSLY make life easier for you.  Ludocatix offers you a magnetic chore chart which you and the kids, together, adapt to your home.

PHOTO

Do You Know?

In a survey of 1001 US adults, 82% said they had regular chores growing up but only 23% indicated that they require their children to do them, reports the Wall Street Journal in their article “Why Children Need Chores.”

What happened?

Many parents feel they burden their children with chores and feel guilty.  Or they fear chores could negatively impact their relationship with the kids.  Yet research demonstrates the opposite.

Research indicates that those children who do have a set of chores have higher self-esteem, are more responsible, and are better able to deal with frustration and delay gratification, all of which contribute to greater success in school.

Aren’t those the skills parents desire to pass onto their children?!

Today’s gift, a magnetic chore chart you can create with your children, helps them remember their chores in a fun and colorful way.

10 Ways Children Benefit from Chores

Here are 10 reasons why chores are great for kids…and therefore great for you too.

  1. To help kids feel needed
    How do you define your family?  What helps the kids know that they BELONG.  When a child has a regular chore, the other family members COUNT ON HIM.  He is needed; he has a role to contribute to the well being of all.
  2. To build a love of excellence
    Parents get to encourage quality in work as they observe how well a chore is completed.  They are also able to provide immediate, usable feedback.
    “Honey, is that pink toothpaste I still see on the bathroom sink?  A clean sink is shiny and white.  Show me how you cleaned it last time and we’ll find one thing you can do differently to make the sink glow!”
  3. To not treat parents like the Maid of the Butler
    When parents or house help do all the chores, kids tend to treat those who clean up like…servants whose purpose is to fulfill their desires.  Parents have a higher calling!  When children participate in chores, their respect for parents grows.  They’re not going to treat Mom or Dad like servants, because they do the same thing!
    “Darling, we are a family.  Everyone helps.  It’s what we do.”
  4. To teach responsibility
    The dishwasher gets emptied every day.  The trash gets taken out several times a week.  We vacuum the living room on a regular basis.  Household chores are recurring tasks and children learn to the importance of ongoing maintenance effort.
  5. To manage time
    Chores require a little bit of time.  It takes 5 minutes to set the table.  10 minutes to declutter the front hallway.  10 minutes to vacuum under the dining table.  A regular chore requires a child to integrate these few minutes into their daily schedule.
  6. To improve school grades
    Performance at school is often related to ongoing, regular effort…just like chores.  Mastery of a subject grows little bit with daily practice.   Chores show immediate results and thus reinforce the value of this daily effort.
  7. To build empathy
    We do chores for the benefit of everyone in the family, not just for ourself.  At an early age, chore-doing children get to learn to think of and act for others.
  8. To build hope for the future
    Chores truly become burdensome when they are done alone.  When children see their parents always busy with household tasks and not available to play, they create a sad vision of adulthood: all work, no fun.  Why grow out of child-like behavior if it’s to become a slave to toil?
  9. To become a more attractive partner
    As the mother of four boys, I remind them, “If you want to attract a woman of value, you can’t treat her like a maid.  Treat her like a woman of value!”  And that means doing your share of the chores.
  10. To be appreciated & affirmed
    The result of chores is immediate.  Either the table is set or it is not.  And everyone in the family knows who’s turn it is to prepare the table for dinner this week.
    “Sweetheart, that’s a lovely job folding the napkins this way.  Thank you!”
    “Today we can thank Joe for the clean hallway.  Thanks, darling.  I really appreciate not tripping over backpacks.”

And we have not even mentioned that kids enjoy a cleaner home, they learn motor skills, they test negotiation skills (“Can you do the dishwasher for me today and I’ll vacuum the stairs for you tomorrow?”) and soooo much more.

Chore Charts

How to move from theory to practice?  A chore chart sure helps.  And Ludocatix’s colorful magnetic charts make it easy.

Children and parents work together to decide who does what when.

And as the children grow and their abilities evolve and your family needs change, well, just move the magnets around to update the chart!