The Secret to Surviving Enjoying Housework 0 2

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Heaps of intermingled clean and dirty laundry in every bedroom volcanically erupted by another continental clothing drift. Unclean dishes flowing like lava out of the sink onto counters. Meal remnants littered like ash across the kitchen floor, family room, foyer, playroom, and “fill-in-the-blank”. Toys scattered like stray debris throughout the house. Oh yes, I remember those days. My toes still curl in my shoes when reminiscing. The stay-at-home mom dictionary says this about housework: Mundane, endless, monotonous, drab; a necessary inevitability. “Domestic drudgery conjures up a sense of extraordinary fulfillment,” said no one ever.

Managing chores and keeping up with boundless housework also permeates family life. These ordinary and mundane duties can become prime candidates for neglect stemming from attitudes of laziness, despair, denial and obstinacy. But, we can approach our daily toils with an attitude of loving service and embrace the workload by offering gratitude in response to the wonders and blessings he places in our lives. God encourages us to engage our kids in the process and make the tasks fun while instilling in them a sense of responsibility and pride in accomplishment.

Overwhelmed would be an understatement when describing how I felt many days when raising my three kids as a stay-at-home-mom. The following poem illustrates a day in the life of my child-rearing days.  Seems fitting now with the Christmas season upon us:

“Twas the night before tomorrow and all through the house,
Not a creature was stirring, not even my spouse.
Dirty dishes were stacked in the sink with great care,
In hopes that St. Clean-For-Us soon would appear.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of dirty laundry danced in my head.
And hubby in slumber, and I on the Pinterest app
Had just begun searching for ways to clean everything

When down through the hall there arose such a clatter,
I put down my iPad to see what was the matter
Away to the kid’s room I flew like a flash
But tripped over some toys and fell on my ash

The thought bubble derived from my new fallen heap
Can’t even be written because of the bleepity bleep
Then, suddenly to my wondering eyes did emerge,
my three little children with an inquisitive urge

“Mommy, mommy, we can’t even sleep
because everything smells like dirty old sheep”
With an intuition still lively and emotions still hyper
I knew in a moment it was those dang dirty diapers

Quicker than moves in a slap-jack game
I smiled, and whispered, and called them by name!
“Now Johnny! Now, Kyle! Now, Kahrin!” I said,
“To your rooms you will go! To the top of your beds!”

They spoke not a word, but followed my command
And I made my way over to the stench at hand
As I reflected on diapers and dishes and clutter
My love for my kids caused my heart to flutter”

Aside from using a satirical soliloquy (I know you want to say those two words six-times-fast) to make light of our never-ending duties, perhaps we can view the inevitable chaos resulting from raising a family and maintaining our home with some fresh specs. Rather than drudgery, what if raising a family involves juicing the life out of every hour by loving on and meeting the needs of our children? Although the demands create a breeding ground for chronic exhaustion, the rewards and blessings become the eternal cure.

Still, finding purpose and meaning in the boring and menial can feel almost counterproductive. And then God says this, “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.“[1] Quite a different definition for housework. God. Gotta love him. He always knows how to separate the chaff from the wheat. Last I checked the mighty pile of useless husks outside my door from all of God’s character pillaging still accumulates by the hour. Hallelujah.

After God wormed his way into my whines (but I try to keep him out of my wines), he helped me find peaceful asylum by re-purposing relentless household duties into a life lesson for building a strong work ethic in my kids. (i.e. I used their tiny little hands and feet to help carry the load!) Seriously though, even a three or four-year old has the wherewithal to help with chores. Kids are capable of picking up their rooms, folding clothes, cleaning up their toys, helping with the dishes, clearing the table.

I established a chore chart for my little ones and many times made a game out of completing necessary tasks. We timed ourselves to see how feverishly we could complete a job. Picking up and putting away one toy before starting another activity became a general rule. My kids cleaned their rooms at least once a week (eventually when they were teens I shut the door to avoid seeing the mess) and we created a calendar for days of the week scheduling other housework/chores. This routine gave my kids a sense of purpose and helped build their self-worth. A level of importance and pride in a job well done became bi-products of helping mom. In turn, a spirit of integrity in my babes, one of many Holy Grails in mothering, began to steep.

Just a few simple steps added to our daily routine can transform the mundane from drudgery to delight. Maybe you, too, will benefit from establishing a chore chart for your kids. Or perhaps just the thought of having to take the time to create a chore chart is enough to push your head completely underwater and drown you with yet another item on the to-do list. Despair not sisters. Some other ideas which may better suit your family dynamic include:

  1. Ask your kids when they wake up which mess they want to clean first before starting the day. After some blank stares and crocodile tantrums, you might be surprised at how quick a room can tidy up. Many hands make light work.
  2. Make an announcement about a brand new fun day you will be implementing called “Backwards Day.” Dinner is for breakfast, breakfast is for lunch, and lunch is for dinner.  The kiddos have to wear their clothes backwards and, depending on safety, they can even maneuver around the house in reverse during the day. After they jump up and down with glee ready to start in on the excitement, you can temporarily burst their bubble (a necessary evil) by sharing one other very important rule of backwards day. Toys, clothes, and other messes must be picked up and cleaned first because typically we do those tasks at the end of the day.  Voila! Backward days start with a clean slate. Literally.
  3. In a game of twisted reverse psychology, tell your munchkins that there is only one way you will allow them to help you with folding clothes. You have to lay it on thick with, “I know you guys really, really, really want to fold clothes with me, but I can only allow you to help if you do one very important thing first.” If your kids are anything like mine were in their gullible days you will be staring at wide-eyed and raised-brow mini-me’s twitching in anticipation. Then you proceed to tell them they can help you fold clothes AFTER they allow you to bury them with the same clothes they are going to be folding. The catch? You bury your kids with the clothes as soon as they come out of the dryer all warm and cozy and let them stay underneath until the heat goes away. Worked like a charm for me every time.

But don’t expect perfection. Do you think I attained flawlessness in the area of prioritizing the importance of teaching my children the value of work ethic over exasperation and disdain regarding the mess in my house? Not so. My kids didn’t clean their rooms every week and follow the housework calendar Martha Stewart style like clockwork. No. Way. Every day brought a new challenge to choose God’s way or mine. Often I chose the highway and loaded all the kiddos in the van for some retail therapy at the local Targét. A mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do.

Regardless of how we feel about the daily grind of managing the monotonous in our lives, Christ beckons us to embrace our limited moments on earth-the richness and the barrenness-with a sense of indebtedness and obedient acceptance. He knows our spirits are broken which predisposes us to balk, pout, excuse and complain about all the vanilla along the way.  But we have the Holy Spirit to lighten the load, the fragrance of God’s grace to sweeten the air we breathe, and the Lord’s loving arms to carry us during our daily maneuvering through life.  So, let’s get out of bed, put our face in the sun, and let God’s glory bring a shimmer to the messiness and a Holy aura to our attitude.[2]

Shine on, crazy Mammas –

  

[1] Romans 12:1 (MSG) [2] Isaiah 60:1 (MSG)

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Positive Toddler Parenting 0 2

positive parenting
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Here are a few tips to define success, integrate your parenting goals into your daily activities, and shift your thought process to be more proactive and less reactive:

1. Listen. Listen for understanding. This requires stopping what you are doing and thinking about what your child is saying. In many situations, you are able to stop, get on their level, and look at them. Then tell them, you are listening, and trying to understand what they need or want. Then listen. When your child knows you are listening and care about what they need, you will lessen the chances of temper tantrums.

2. Make an easy plan. Identify ways you can model to your children that value or behavior for each of the most important success factors, while you go about your daily life. Get your children involved in the process. This is your opportunity to be proactive and reinforce positive actions each day.

3. Be Respectful. No matter what, always teach respect by being respectful. Your words and actions are extremely important in interactions with everyone. Treat your child as you want him to treat you and other people. Remember the “Golden Rule.”

4. Set an intention to succeed. Set the image of parenting success clearly in your head and act as if it were already accomplished. Make a commitment to make your success image come true.




5. Review at different stages in your child’s life. Find a way to remind yourself of your intention and your action plan. Review it periodically to make sure it is still relevant to you and appropriate to your children’s’ ages and interests. One of the best ways to ensure that you stay on track with any goal is to find an accountability partner – your spouse, a friend, a coach.

6. Be A Playful Parent. When we play with our children we truly get on their level. Play naturally helps children express and understand their feelings and their environment in safe ways. Play encourages imagination and creative tendencies.

7. Use Humor. Having a sense of humor helps your child become less stressed and feel comfortable in communicating with you.

8. Appreciate your child’s unique personality and talents. Children come into the world with their own personality. While we can guide, support, and influence some aspects of their behavior, who they are at the core is pretty well established in utero! That’s part of what makes them unique and precious, and they should be celebrated.

9. Offer Simple Choices. Give your child a “sense” of control–offer them two choices instead of giving orders. Children will be less apt to fight if they feel like they have some control over their own life. Give them some “control” throughout the day and you will notice a big difference in their level of cooperation.

10. Use Time In. Time in helps your child to see what he or she did wrong, and correct the problem, rather than just punishing.
11. Be Consistent. Even the littlest members of the family can learn the “Family Rules”. Then stick to them. It’s confusing for children when rules are only enforced some of the time. Only set limits you know you can enforce and then be prepared to take a stand.

12. Avoid confrontation by using a “When you do this . . . Then you can do that” approach – Saying yes will always work better than no, when wanting a child to cooperate. Rephrase the situation to start the sentence with a positive. Example: Your child wants a candy bar but it is dinnertime. Don’t risk confrontation by saying using a negative…use a positive alternative! “Yes, after you eat your dinner, I will give you your candy.” Stick to it!

13. Decide what parenting success means to you. Imagine a point in your child’s future (college graduation, wedding, etc.) when you will reflect on the adult your child has become. Set the platform to be proud of the wonderful person they have become, respecting their inherent traits as well as the values they hold and how they treat others and make decisions.

When you consciously and intentionally model the traits and behaviors you wish for your child, your opportunities to foster those values grow exponentially. You may never get a formal performance appraisal for your job as a parent, but it’s nice to know that you’ve done everything you can to help your child be the best person they can be. Now that’s a job well done!

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SING MY SWEET LION; The Story Behind the Book 0 1

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SING MY SWEET LION; The Story Behind the Book

My first born is embarking on turning five…and I’m in denial.

He stands tall past my waist, hugs me hard, and has figured out how to eye roll (I know- painful).

I took his whole preschool graduation hard. Preschool is the best. It’s all fun. The kids are nice. The teachers are comforting. And there’s not much to fear. Kids have yet to learn meanness, exclusion and cruelty. The preschool age is pure innocence, and if I had it my way, I’d confine him in that safe preschool bubble forever.

But I can’t.

Upon Nicholas’ preschool graduation, I went to write him a card, but instead, words poured from my heart.

The first few lines:

School bells are ringing 

 

They’re calling your name 

 

A brand new beginning,

 

new chapter, new game

 

It seems like yesterday 

 

In my tummy you grew

 

And we rocked for months

 

In quiet, me and you

 As I continued writing, my eyes teared. A huge transition was on the horizon… for him, and for me. While my mind had obviously been focused on prepping him for a new school, who was going to prepare me? I can’t help but feel a little lost inside, knowing his and my “baby stage” has come and gone.

I kept writing- documenting his growing up before my eyes; that I’ve savored every first, and that I’m proud of the little boy he is becoming: a cape-wearing, compassionate, creative old soul.

I want to protect you 

 

From germs and from dirt

 

From running bare feet

 

Or ripping your shirt

 

From falling 

 

From hurting

 

From crying

 

And more

 

But the truth is, my dear

 

You’ll find your own roar

My letter took an empowering turn, encouraging him to find his inner-lion. (And as it turns out, he is, in fact, a Leo.)

So roar my lion,

 

Roar loud and roar strong

 

I’m proud of you, lion

 

I’m proud of your song

 

Sing, my sweet lion,

 

That song that is yours 

 

Be kind, my sweet lion 

 

Kindness opens all doors 

 

As I finished this “ode,” I was in sobs. And to punish my emotions even more, I re-read it about 50 times. After some time and tears, I concluded I was not the only crazy sentimental mom out there, so I sought to publish my tribute to him, honoring all our children making transitional milestones of babyhood to youth.

Thanks to the lovely artwork from his preschool teacher, my vision came to life, and so birthed “Sing My Sweet Lion.” My goal- to share this story with you, instilling in children unconditional love and confidence.

When push comes to shove, this whole growing up thing is quite bitter sweet. How I want Nicholas (and all my boys) to stop growing, but I sure love watching them blossom.

I appreciate you welcoming “Sing My Sweet Lion” into your heart, home and reading ritual.

XO,

Nadine

Book:  “Sing My Sweet Lion”

Website: www.singmysweetlion.com

Nadine Bubeck is a TV personality, fashion designer, author, blogger, and Scottsdale-based blessed boy mom. 

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