Posts

6 Life-Lessons My Mom Taught Me the Hard Way

Tracking Pixel

I received compensation from Hefty® to create this post written by Julie Bigboy at Mom Rewritten. All experiences and opinions expressed in this post are my own and not those of Hefty®.

This Mother’s Day I’m reflecting on my mom and the life lessons she taught me that challenged me to stay strong. Whether it is creative ventures, trying something new or even doing housework together, moms everywhere are supporting their kids in whatever they do! Keep reading for the hard life-lessons my mom gave me that have shaped me into the strong mom I am for my kids.

1. Be Yourself

I was a creative child, constantly drawing, singing, and daydreaming. And the creativity simply oozed out into how I dressed and presented myself to the world. Even if that meant paisley pants and a plaid shirt (hey, it was the 70s!) Moms only rule? No mixing and matching of plaids, even if the colors were the same. Other than that, if it fit, it was fair game!

I can remember layering two skirts on top of each other, rocking three ponytails on my head and wearing a floor-grazing skirt that was made from an old quilt. I was sooo confident in my young self and I have Mom to thank for that!

It never crossed my mind that anyone would think I was strange or weird for dressing so interesting – Mom felt that it was important for me to have a strong self-esteem. She also knew I’d eventually figure it out myself that maybe I’d look better without peacock blue eye shadow from lid to eyebrow!

2. It’s an Adventure

I was just barely 14 and my brother only 12 when my mom allowed us to take the bus to the mall. It was our first time navigating public transportation and apparently we did a lousy job of it, because we didn’t get to the mall! As soon as we realized we were miles in the opposite direction, we hopped off and found a pay phone. We were in tears, scared and worried about being in the completely wrong place. My mom laughed and reassured us we’d be fine. She told us to get on the next bus back and said something I’d never forget, “As long as nobody gets hurt, it’s an adventure!”

Going on adventures to places I’ve never been is one of my favorite things as an adult and I’m so grateful Mom taught me that getting lost was part of the fun.

3. Try New Things (And Don’t Whine About It)

I was the worst picky eater as a kid. I would refuse foods and to make it worse, I’d whine about it when my mom would ask me to just TRY it. I actually told my kids this story the other day at the dinner table (pointedly towards my own picky eater!) and they thought it was hilarious. One morning when I was about 12 my mom had made me a protein breakfast shake with malted milk. Malted milk has never been palatable to me (even now) and I refused to even take a sip. Looking back, I know I was a complete brat and deserved what was coming to me, but wow was I mad. My mom, in a fit of frustration, told me, “Eat it or wear it” and dumped the shake on the top of my head!

Two things learned that day; 1. Moms do have a breaking point. 2. What would it kill me to take at least a little taste? I can proudly tell you now that my picky eating days are over and I eat so much more now (but malted milk still isn’t a favorite!) Thank goodness my kids are better eaters than I ever was!

4. Shifting Focus

As the busy mom of four, I often find myself saying and doing things that I regret. It’s a trait that many moms share, I know, internalizing more about the things that we’re doing wrong rather than all the things we do RIGHT! That’s something my mom has pushed me towards – a focus on my strengths instead of my weaknesses. It’s not about perfect, or even just being “good enough”. It’s being the best mom for my kids, being an advocate, a leader and a teacher. About being a good example through my words and actions. That means sometimes the dishes get done. And sometimes they don’t. But I try not to beat myself up about it either.

5. The Job’s a Game

Oh, how many weekends I spent cleaning my messy room! I’m an organized spirit at heart but sometimes my creative side gets the best of me and clutter ensues. Mom taught me to tidy up before I tackle a project and to put things away as I use them to minimize the mess. When we did family chores around the house, Mom always played loud Sousa marching music! This kept things lively and made me move and dance around the house. Even today, I play music as a motivator when housekeeping with my kids. My mom can’t even believe how tidy my house is now when she comes to visit.

This Mother’s Day, Hefty® is helping to celebrate strong moms by teaming up with John Cena and his mom Carol Cena.

Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags help me and other strong moms tackle messes on a daily basis. With kids from toddlers to teens, I know messes! And when I use Hefty®, I know the mess will stay where it belongs. Triple Action Technology resists tears, punctures and leaks and there’s a break resistant grip drawstring to prevent the bag from falling inside the can (I hate when that happens!) Plus, Hefty® Ultra Strong™ trash bags offer that strength at a low price.

6. Share Your Stories

My mom’s childhood was a mix of hardship and joy. Music and singing got her through many of the difficult times. My mom is also an ultimate storyteller. I’m certain that a vivid imagination helped her stay strong when things were rough. The tales and life-lessons of her own childhood were my nightly bedtime stories. I’m blessed to have this library of memories brought to life in her re-telling. Mom had a way of taking something that was challenging for me at the time and telling a story about it that helped me to work it out. I’m sure that’s why I became a writer myself. Mom passed her love of stories to me and now I’m thankful to be able to share them with you.

This Mother’s Day, what stories do you have to share with your children? I urge you to tell your childhood stories with your kids and see what life-lessons you can teach them from what you’ve learned over the years.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hefty®.

Our moms are always teaching us things, whether we want to learn them or not! Hefty® Partner Here are some life lessons my mom taught me. #MothersDay #LifeLessons

Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters (I Used to Be One!)

I place the plate of food in front of my toddler daughter and she recoils in horror. The arms pulled back, the face twisted in disgust. It’s a look I know well. I admit that I was not a healthy or adventurous eater as a child. In fact, I was extremely picky! I dreaded eating at a friend’s house because of my food aversions. I had my picky food list in mind and hoped that the meal being served didn’t have something that I’d have to pick out, avoid or gag on! Only in my twenties did I start trying new foods. And it’s because I used to be so particular with eating that I’ve been able to come up with ideas for feeding picky eaters.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

Tips for Feeding Picky Eaters

When my eldest son was born, I knew that I wanted him to develop good eating habits from the start. Today he’s an adventurous eater who loves to try new foods. When I married my husband, I gained a stepdaughter through marriage. She was a very particular eater who (with Autism) has some serious texture sensitivity. She now easily eats everything placed in front of her without any complaints! Keep reading for my tested tips for feeding picky eaters.

Picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater on how to encourage your kids to try new foods. With these practical tips for feeding picky eaters you can take the focus off them and encourage healthy habits.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Start Young

When your babies first start eating solids, offer a wide variety of flavors and textures. It’s tempting to want to keep with the smooth and sweet foods but it’s important that babies learn (once the doctor gives the go-ahead) about savory flavors and to get accustomed to textures. I started by adding herbs and spices to baby food puree to add a dash of flavor. I discovered that a tiny bit of cinnamon with the baby cereal, thyme in the chicken puree and curry in the butternut squash.

2. “You Don’t Have to Like it, but You Still Have to Eat it”

Enlist a family motto like this one, which knocks off the “I don’t like this” excuses. When I first married my husband, his daughter was 5 and had a very small meal repertoire. We knew that needed to change but he’d gotten accustomed to serving her the same foods. It was easier to give in than deal with a possible dinnertime meltdown. Upon giving her a plate of food and hearing, “I don’t like meatloaf”, I replied, “You don’t have to like it, but you still have to eat it”. Saying it flatly and without emotion, drama or any kind of pressure from me seemed to do the trick. She tried it and now meatloaf is one of her favorite meals!

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

3. Make the Meal Less About the Eating

Growing up, I was sooo stubborn about trying new foods. And that’s because during every dinner, the spotlight was on me to verify that I was eating what was served. My parents would make a big embarrassing fuss if I tried something new. So I stopped trying new things, just to be more in control.

We decided with our kids to take the focus off the eating and make mealtimes more enjoyable. We don’t obsess over every bite that our kids take. There is no big fanfare. It’s just food and meal time is not the place to pressure your kids. Push them and they’re sure to push back!

4. Keep Offering

So, they didn’t like it the first time you served it. That’s okay, keep offering. It may take quite a few times of seeing a food on their plate before children will try it, let alone like it.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

My son requested sushi for his birthday dinner.

5. Limit Portion Sizes

How can you get picky eaters to try new foods? Don’t pile their plates! When serving a new food, all we ask is that our children try one or two bites and that’s all. Start with a very small portion on your child’s plate. When they finish it, offer seconds. There are certain foods that my daughter doesn’t enjoy, like black beans. We will literally give her three beans and ask that she finish them. Once she is done, she can request more or she can be finished, there is no pressure.

Consider a Compartment Divided Plate so that foods aren’t “touching” and portion control is easier.

6. Respect Their Lack of Appetite

How do I get my picky toddler to eat?! And why is my kid always telling me he’s not hungry? Kids truly do have small stomachs. Also their appetites peak and wane depending upon growth spurts. Repeat after yourself, “It’s just one meal”. They’ll eat when they get hungry. Kids should continue to sit at the table with you during meals. I let my kids know that THIS is meal time and that if they tell me they’re hungry in 30 minutes that what we’re eating at the moment is what they will be served!

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

7. Keep An Open Mind

You’ve just prepared a new dish and you’re already thinking, “There is no way my kid is going to eat this.” Get that thought out of your head right now, because your picky eater might just surprise you. Go into each new experience with an open mind. Simply serve what you’ve made without a big production and ignore the “I don’t like this, even though I’ve never had it” commentary.

Last year I offered my kids white canellini beans. We’ve eaten a lot of beans (pinto, black, refried, kidney) over the years but I’d never served white beans. My preschooler asked me what they were and then tried one (up to that point, he wouldn’t even TRY the beans we’d offered). He shrugged after eating the white bean and said, “I guess I like beans”. And he’s eaten every bean since!

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

8. Water is the Beverage Option

Though I do offer a small glass of milk with breakfast and dinner, for the rest of the day water is the only beverage option. Juice or caffeine-free soda is limited to special occasions, like at a party. I prefer that my kids get their calories from healthy, nutritious foods and not get filled up on beverages.

9.  Serve Well-Balanced Snacks

Nothing like that just-before-dinner snack to “ruin” their appetite for the main course! Limit snack time to twice a day and under 100 calories. Snacks should be well-balanced and include a little fat (like nuts), protein (like a lean piece of meat) and a carbohydrate (like a half of a piece of fruit). Make it easy for your kids by keeping fruit on the counter and prepped veggies in the fridge, where they are easy to grab on the go. We like edamame that kids can pop out of the pods (they are healthy and they take a bit of time to consume).

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

10. Keep the Choices Fresh

It’s easy to get stuck on serving the same fruits and vegetables. But it’s important to keep things fresh and continue to offer new flavors. My kids have just developed a love of yellow and green squash, which we lightly steam. It’s also essential that you keep mostly fresh foods in the kitchen and to eliminate most bagged or processed items that are heavy on sodium and saturated fat.

We recently tried Dinnerly, which gave us some new ideas for veggies and recipes.

11. Offer Sauces and Dips (or Not!)

My toddler won’t eat meat unless it’s smothered in ketchup. Totally fine by me, at least she’s eating it! What are the foods that your kids might enjoy more if they had a sauce or dip as an accompaniment? And then there are some kids, like my kindergartner who does’t like sauces at all! If it’s easy enough to leave off the sauce on a dish, try letting family members add it themselves so the picky eater can have it “plain”.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

12. Remove White Foods

White foods are often the diet staples of a picky eater! Sub in colorful and more flavorful foods and skip the bland white foods. Avoid white bread and switch to a smooth tasting wheat. Once your child’s taste buds have gotten used to that, you can move to a nutty whole grain instead. Instead of white potatoes, try steamed sweet potato chunks. Use whole wheat pasta instead of pasta made with white flour. Switch out white rice for brown rice. Don’t think that eating healthier foods is more costly – see my ideas on how to save money on groceries.

13. Be a Good Role Model

Kids will totally notice if you are serving them lima beans and you don’t have any on your plate! Make sure you practice what you preach and that they see you eating healthfully as well. Are you ready to start your own healthy eating plan? Check out my review of Personal Trainer Food.

14. Make Meals Distraction Free

While you don’t want the focus on your picky eater during meal times, it shouldn’t be focused on the TV or device either. Make meal times enjoyable with light conversation by turning off the television, phone and devices. Click through to read about healthy breakfast ideas for kids.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.

15. Dessert Isn’t the Reward

I know we’ve all been guilty of encouraging dinner eating by the promise of a sweet treat at the completion of the meal. But that definitely gives kids the message that dessert is more important by making it a reward. In our home, dessert isn’t an every day occurrence. And it’s definitely not always a sugary treat. Consider fruits like strawberries with whipped cream or frozen grapes (cut in half before serving).

16. Don’t Let Them Frazzle You

When my husband and I were first encouraging our daughter to try new things, it was imperative that we not lose our cool with her. A large part of being a picky eater is the control that it brings (speaking as a former picky eater herself!) When parents act like food is no big deal, it frees the child to relax and open up to trying new things just a little bit more.

Offer foods without pressure or bribery. If there is a complete meltdown at the mere suggestion of taking one bite, remove the plate and calmly tell the child to leave the table. Do not offer to prepare a different meal. Kids will either choose be stubborn and go without or they’ll begrudgingly eat what is offered. Just keep your cool and pretend it doesn’t bother you one way or another to get the control issue out of the way.

Dealing with a picky eater at home? These are the tips from a former picky eater with your practical tips for feeding picky eaters.


The Great Kindness Challenge – Incorporating It Everyday

At the end of the year my family and I were recovering from a messy stomach flu. Messy as in projectile “stuff” from both ends for four out of six family members over the course of five days.

This stomach flu is not to be confused with THE FLU. You know, the one that has a death toll on the local news. The urgent care nurse set us straight when we brought our son in. With a lack of fever, his illness couldn’t technically be classified as THE FLU. After three Otter Pops (blue vomit, green vomit, yellow vomit), he whispered to the nurse, “No more popsicles”. Thankfully an anti-nausea tablet halted the vomiting and a four hour nap the following day had him feeling better.

My son was the last to get hit with the bug. Earlier in the week, we’d already been to urgent care with our toddler daughter (Otter Pops & an anti-nausea tablet did the trick for her too). Both my husband and I had gone through the ick and now, our 6 year old guy was getting hit hard. We’d debated going to the urgent care, but he’d been sick all day and wasn’t keeping down any liquids. We got grandma to stay with the other kids and put him in the car with a trash can, just in case (yes, he needed it).

My husband and I were worried. We were still recovering ourselves and feeling edgy. It was late in the evening, when we usually had the kids in bed and we were headed to sleep soon ourselves. Our minds were distracted with our son in the backseat, holding on to his trash can and saying his tummy felt okay right now. So when the car in front of us tapped his brakes after turning a corner, we were startled.

“What’s wrong with his car?”, I said aloud. “Who brakes like that after a turn?”

My husband shrugged. We went down several blocks behind the car until we both came to a red light. As my husband slowed to get behind, we saw someone open the driver side door and turn to face us. My husband immediately stopped our van about 20 feet back.

The man took a few steps towards our car and then stood for a moment, his body lit in our headlights and then he screamed, “TURN OFF YOUR HIGH BEAMS! YOU’RE BLINDING ME!” Then he turned swiftly, got back in his car and drove away through the green light.

Oh.

My husband fumbled with the knobs and gears on the dash. He’d only driven our van a few times after dark and didn’t realize that the high beams had been bumped on. I was able to help him turn them off and we were on our way.

My husband was surprisingly calm. The shock of what had happened soaked in and he said, “I thought that guy was going to come to the window and punch me in the face!”

I was decidedly more livid. I could feel the anger of that man’s delivery bubbling to the surface.

“Why did he have to get so MAD?! Couldn’t he have handled that in a different way? Seriously, all he had to do was say, “Your high beams are on, buddy”, he didn’t have to scream like that”.

I was riled up. For weeks the memory of that man and his aggression for what was purely a distracted mistake bothered me.

The Kindness Challenge

My kids are all celebrating “Kindness Week” at their schools this week. Similar in tone to “Red Ribbon Week” there are organized activities, like “Crazy Sock Day”. The kids are working on classroom projects that revolve around kindness. There are assemblies and contests that focus on being kind. My kindergartener has a checklist of kind things he needs to accomplish this week including smiling at others and helping at home. I did notice that without prompting he cleared his dinner dishes and was helpful with his little sister.

The event is THE GREAT KINDNESS CHALLENGE.  I love the idea of incorporating more kindness. Naturally I encourage my kids to be more kind with each other, but spreading that ripple of kindness to others outside of the circle is more important. I like how the challenge gets kids to think of others in a positive way. Less of “what do I get out of it” and more of a “how can I help” attitude.

How can you adopt the kindness challenge to make big changes in your life everyday? Find out how to incorporate kindness into your life each day.

Another Test of Kindness

Yesterday morning I was driving my kids to their respective schools in the family minivan. It was just after 7 am and I stopped at a 4-way stop along with another vehicle. We’d both reached the stop at the same time and paused. I was turning right, so I turned around the corner and was met by a blaring horn.

I glanced back in my mirror at the owner of the horn, the man in the other vehicle. He’d just started moving straight through the intersection and was apparently peeved that I’d moved through the intersection first. He was gesturing and yelling (thank goodness we couldn’t hear what he was saying!)

I hadn’t cut him off. He was still 2 yards back from me. We’d both gotten to the intersection at the same time. Why was he so angry that I’d turned before him?

He was still posturing when we reached the next stop sign. I looked at his face in the side mirror, still hollering at me. I mouthed, “It’s not a big deal”. To which I was greeted with an inappropriate hand gesture when I turned the corner and he flew straight through the intersection.

My teenage son, in the front seat was witness to it all and I vented.

“What in the world is he freaking out about?! Seriously. It’s not like I cut him off, we both got to the intersection at the same time”. My son laughed and nodded. It was all stupid, that was obvious. A grown man having a temper tantrum because a woman in a mini-van with 4 kids went ahead of him.

Putting Kindness Into Play

It’s easy to be kind to someone when they are being kind to you. So easy to smile at someone when they hold open the door. Easy to say, “Thank you” when someone offers you a treat. Easy to compliment someone when they are clean and nicely dressed.

What’s hard is putting out kindness when it may never be reciprocated. Hard to be kind when someone flips you off in front of your children, though you’ve done nothing wrong. Hard to offer forgiveness when someone screams at you for an unknowing mistake. Hard to give a compliment when the person on the receiving end might say something mean back to you.

I realized that during both of the recent interactions my kids were present and watching. My reaction to those types of encounters are obviously shaping the children I’m raising. I needed to show them how we can deal with people in kindness. Yes, even people who are mean. Yes, even people who are inappropriate. Yes, even when you did nothing wrong and they’re mad about it. And yes, even when you just want to be mean and angry back. That’s the most important time to be kind.

Trying to get the kids to do housework? Here are the tips I use with my four kids.

Making a Choice to Be Kind

I could have had some choice words for these guys in their vehicles. I could have flipped them off too. I could have jumped out of my car to confront them, screamed back, freaked out. But instead I put kindness into play.

I said, aloud so my kids could hear, “He must be having a really bad day already! Maybe something is bothering him and he’s taking it out on us. All we can do is pray for him”.

I was able to take the strange, tainted experience and paint over it with empathy and kindness. I can’t say that I do that in every situation but it’s definitely my goal. I’d like to take the kindness challenge and make it more of who I am on a daily basis. Allowing myself to get swooped up in someone else’s anger only makes me angry. And I can honestly say I don’t need more anger in my life.

National Random Acts of Kindness Day

I had no idea there was such a thing, but National Random Acts of Kindness Day is observed on February 17th. The day is celebrated by individuals, groups and organizations nationwide to encourage acts of kindness.

So what random acts of kindness could you do each and every day to improve not only the life of another, but your own?

 

 

7 Tips for Teaching Gratitude and Thankfulness During the Holidays

What better time to discuss thankfulness and gratitude than during the holidays? With four young ones to raise, I’m constantly worried that I’m raising unappreciative brats! Not that my kids aren’t well-behaved and courteous in public, because they are. But at home, it’s another story. There is a streak of entitlement running rampant and I want to nip that in the bud!

Thankfulness During the Holidays

My mom’s group at church recently discussed how to raise grateful children and it got my wheels turning. Am I doing enough with my four kids to teach them gratitude and thankfulness? And what about good manners? Don’t those go hand in hand? Of course saying, “Thank you” is important, but I think that true gratitude goes beyond good manners. And with the season of giving, there are so many beautiful ways to foster a feeling of gratitude. Here are a few key thoughts I have about teaching gratitude and thankfulness, especially during the holidays.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Age Matters

Naturally I expect the best manners from my teenagers. And of course, my six year old knows how to properly behave…for his age. But I wouldn’t expect the same behavior from my toddler that I do from my kindergartner! Discuss with your partner ahead of time what behaviors you each expect from your children, with consideration for their ages.

This starts with teaching “please” and “thank you” from a young age. If your toddler receives a treat from someone, you can speak on their behalf to offer the “thank you”. Or if they are able to speak, remind them to say it themselves.

Elementary aged children can be expected to offer thanks without prompting. That doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes get wrapped up in the moment and forget though! Elementary aged kids do love to give, so make sure they have the opportunity to create something special for someone over the holiday (like a hand-drawn card).

Older children can show their gratitude in larger ways, both verbally and in physical action. Older kids and teens are able to think outside of their own small world and will often come up with their own ideas during the holidays. This may include donating their time volunteering.


2. Laying Out Expectations

Before we head out for a holiday-themed event, I run through my expectations for each child. When kids know what is expected of them, it’s easier for them to know their boundaries. I tailor topics to each specific child, depending upon their age and abilities.

Discussions might include:

  • Encouraging them to remember their manners during a holiday dinner when they are a guest (not wiggling at the table, using a napkin, etc.)
  • Chatting with the adult party hosts for a few minutes to say thank you for the invitation before running off to play.
  • Not whining about what foods they don’t like at the party.
  • Helping to clear their plate.
  • Offering to help the host to clean up.
  • Not asking for seconds of dessert, at least not until everyone else has had a first serving.
  • Saying “Thank you for inviting me” when leaving.

3. “I Want”

I told my mom’s group that I was having some issues with my six year old acting entitled to certain things around our house. Seems like the holidays brings out the sassy attitude even more! And what can we expect, when we ask our kids, “What do you want for Christmas?” With the focus on getting stuff so heavy during the holidays, young children can really get wrapped up in what they “want” and not what they can do for others.

Instead of asking the kids what THEY want to receive for Christmas, I’m twisting things a bit. I’ve been asking them what they think their siblings would like to receive. Instead of focusing on what they’re going to get, I can see that my kids are more excited to be involved in making decisions and helping choose gifts for others. We’re taking it one step further by making gifts instead of buying (easy things, like laminated bookmarks).

4. Role-Playing

What’s more cringe-worthy than a kid who receives a gift and says, “I hate this”. How embarrassing. And of course, hurtful to the person who gave the gift.

In our house, we do a lot of role-playing before parties and gatherings. It’s good practice for kids and a reminder of your expectations. Ideas for role-play is to ask, “What would you say if you received a gift that you didn’t like?” or “What if you received a gift that you already have?”

My son celebrated his sixth birthday recently and we did some role-play on the way to his play date birthday party. I asked him, “What if someone gives you underwear?!” His response was, “Thanks for the undies!”

So yes, the correct and easiest answer is always, “Thank you for the _____!” Even if you don’t like it. Even if you already have it. Even if it’s a weird present. Thank you is always the right comment to make.

5. Volunteer and Give

There are always going to be a lot of ways to volunteer your time during the holidays. Places like churches need extra help in the kid care area, which is usually something that teens can help with. Younger kids can assist with bagging up canned goods in a food bank.

There are also organizations that accept special items for donation during this season. When we donated food to our local food bank, I made sure that my 6 year old knew we were giving and explained where the food was going. He was so excited to tell everyone how many items he’d donated! We also made up boxes for Samaritan’s Purse this year. He helped me choose the items for the two boxes we filled and went with me when we dropped them off. He was able to see how grateful the volunteers were when we came with our donations and they prayed with us over the boxes. It was something he’s not forgotten and I know that it had a big impact on him.

6. Take the Focus Off Stuff

If you sense your kids are too focused on the stuff this holiday season, find ways to move the focus on experiences rather than things. That’s really what the holiday is, spending time with family and making memories. Things like baking and decorating cookies, watching a Christmas movie on TV, walking through the neighborhood to see decorations and singing along to songs on the radio are favorite ways to celebrate without spending a lot!

7. Keep It Simple

Figure out what things are most important to you and your family. From there you can decide what to do and what to skip this holiday. I find that when I try to cram too much good stuff into the season, it becomes not only stressful for me, it’s hard on the kids. And when the kids are having a rough time, it tends to come out in crabby behavior. And then we start to think, “Ungrateful brats!”

Be sure to work in plenty of downtime between holiday celebrations. Pick and choose only what you most love about the holidays and do those things. Don’t feel guilty about skipping over other things. Perhaps you can alternate years? Do what brings you and your family the most joy, incorporating gratefulness and thankfulness about being together!

Fed up with "ungrateful brats" during the holidays? These 7 practical tips can help teach you children about thankfulness during the holidays.


Confessions of a First Time Coach – 7 Ways I’m Shredding It!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BornToShred #ShredTheDay #CollectiveBias

Each day that I wake up, I’m thankful. I might not have received the best rest the night before (not always possible with a teething toddler!). And I’m still working through the chronic back pain that has plagued me since I was pregnant. But I don’t want to make excuses anymore! I’m thankful for the ability to do what I can. There are so many ways I still want to push myself to become a better mom, a healthier person, a more well-rounded me! And I was starting to see the disappointed looks on the faces of my kids when I’d tell them I was too tired or hurting too much to be able to play with them. Talk about the best incentive to get better, right?

First Time Coach Confessions

In late summer I signed up my kindergartner for soccer. There was a call for coaches and I immediately started thinking about who I knew in my family that could help. My husband works full time and also goes to night school, so as much as he’d love to volunteer I knew he was out. And then it hit me, “Why can’t I be the coach?”

This is new territory for me. I’ve never coached soccer before. In fact, I haven’t played soccer since I was 12. I used to be extremely athletic but have a back injury that I’m working through therapy for. However I really wanted to push myself into learning something new and being more involved with my kid’s activities. After some consideration, I registered as head coach. Way to jump in with two feet!

Here are a few tips and honest thoughts about being a first time coach. I’ve learned a LOT in the last few months of coaching and would like to share how I’m pushing myself to learn and grow as much as my players.

1. Build Up Stamina

There’s no way I could have just leapt into coaching without first getting into shape myself. I’ve been going to the gym several times a week and walking at least 30 minutes per day. It’s been all about moving more and sitting less to build up my stamina for playing soccer with these 8 little boys!

2. Get Help

As soon in the season as you can, seek out parent volunteers. I wasn’t unable to secure an assistant coach so it’s me, all by myself, on the field at practices and games. It can really be a challenge to set up drills during practice when you’re the only adult because with 8 players, I’m definitely out numbered! Having a “team parent” help with coach/parent communication is imperative. It’s best to have another parent available for collecting money for the team banner, arranging a snack schedule and ordering trophies.

3. Open Communication with the Parents

With texting it’s so easy to send a quick reminder to all my player’s parents about upcoming practices and games. In addition I send a weekly email with details about upcoming games, I go over the “game focus” and bring up anything that’s too long for a text.

4. Have a “Game Focus”

Each week at practice in addition to the usual drills like dribbling, passing and kicking, I have my players work on a predetermined “game focus”. Our focuses have been, “Corner kicks”, “Turning the ball around” and “Follow up”. After one week’s game when a player on the other team was taunting our players, our game focus was “Good sportsmanship”. We discussed how to handle things if another player is acting rude. Having a focus at each game reminds my players what we worked on in practice.

5. Move More, Talk Less

I try to keep my “coach talks” to less than 30 seconds each time. 8 boys tend to get pretty wild and they don’t listen much after thirty seconds of talk! Showing rather than explaining goes farther. I also find that if I’m silly their ears perk up and they’re more apt to listen!

6. Keeping It Fun

Let the game be a game and just have fun! Our division doesn’t keep score (though of course, each of my players has their own tally of the goals!). I always allow plenty of time at practice after our drills to just have a fun scrimmage against each other. Sometimes we even play 8 against 1 and the boys try to score past me!

7. Healthier Body for More Energy

Just as I always insist that my little players eat a well-rounded meal before a game, I’m setting a good example as well. I need good fuel for practice and games. For me, that’s Post Shredded Wheat Cereals.

These new Shredded Wheat flavors help me kick start my day. My son and I picked up Mixed Berry and Cinnamon Roll at Walmart. S’mores Bites is another new variety available. Just the right amount of sweet with the heartiness of the shredded wheat cereal. You can also earn $3 cash back on Post Shredded Wheat cereals on ibotta as well!

Before the Saturday game, my son and I make sure to take time for a bowl of cereal together. We chat a bit about the upcoming game, talk about the game focus and then pack up the mini van with our game ball and banner.

Pin this post to save for later and check out these Post cereal recipes on the Pinterest Page.

When Did We Stop Rooting for Ourselves?

This post originally appeared on my blog Painted Butterfly Studio on Sept 28th, 2010. I reread it this week and find that topic of accepting compliments and cheering for ourselves to be relevant. Kids are great at sharing their accomplishments but how can adults be better at accepting compliments?

Please note that I include affiliate links in my posts. Clicking and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

The Soccer Game

“At what point do we stop cheering?”

We were sitting on the sidelines watching our six year old soccer players celebrating after they’d just scored their uncontested sixth goal. The dad next to me posed the question. About 90 seconds later we got our answer when the seventh goal was scored. Parents didn’t cheer and just a small smattering of applause could be heard from our side of the field.

Later in the day, I got to thinking about that question.

“At what point do we stop cheering?”

Do we ever stop cheering? Or rather, should we ever stop cheering?

And I’m not just talking as parents, but just as adults?

“At what point do we stop cheering?”

Kids are great at sharing their accomplishments but how can adults be better at accepting compliments?

Shrugging Off Instead of Accepting Compliments

I was reading Sarah Ban Breathnach’s book Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy this week. The section I happened upon was about how as adults we tend to downplay our accomplishments. We shoo away compliments and never really revel in them as we should. She suggested that we pull out our awards, something we’ve created, or anything that really makes us proud of ourselves and put them in a prominent place in our home.

Why, as adults, do we hide our light under a bushel? Why do we shrug off encouragements from others instead of just saying, “Thank you so much! I’m proud of it too!” This daily reminder of seeing visually what we have done should be a push towards what we can do.

I recall hearing about a baseball player who didn’t display any of his awards in his home. The announcer noted how humble the player was and that if you walked into his home you’d never have guessed he was a ball player.

This actually just seemed kind of sad to me. If this man was a sculptor or an artist, would he not decorate his home with a few of his own art pieces? Is it not appropriate because it wouldn’t be humble? Or even just to have an important plaque on the wall, or one special baseball on a shelf that was particularly meaningful, something that recognized his accomplishments? Nothing?!

I’m not talking about constantly tooting our own horn here to the point of rudeness or painting an entire mural on our living room wall with our likeness. But really think about why we stopped cheering…Because we didn’t want to come across to others as too confident? Because it might hurt someone else’s feelings? Because we’ve been taught as children to be humble and modest, that we shouldn’t be “too good”?

 

Kids Are Naturals at Complimenting Themselves

Now, back to the soccer game…7th goal was scored. The little boy who scored the goal had already scored 4 others in our game, but just the same he looked excitedly over to the sidelines for recognition. We put our hands together and clapped briefly and smiled back at him. He wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed in the least to have created such a lopsided score.

As we were leaving two players chattered boldly to each other, “We scored 7 and they didn’t have ANY!”

One of the moms said, “Shhh, not so loud”, to which one of the boys looked up at her and said, “Why?”

The unabashed pride of these six year olds was actually inspiring to me. Humility and modesty will come eventually, as it should. But at this age it’s refreshing to see the exuberance about each accomplishment. Whether it’s getting across the monkey bars without falling off, finishing an entire puzzle without help or scoring the final goal in a 7-0 game.

Kids are great at sharing their accomplishments but how can adults be better at accepting compliments?

Rooting Ourselves On

I’m going to root myself on. When someone pays me a compliment, I’m going to say a simple thank you and not follow it up with something that undermines the entire good thought (you know the kind, “That’s a pretty blouse!” and we say, “Yeah, too bad I’m so fat that’s too tight on me now” FROWN!). That completely diminishes the compliment (and is not very kind to the person complimenting you either). “Thank you” is the perfect reply to any compliment.

I’m going to make some pillow covers to put in the living room and if anyone compliments them, I’ll happily share that it’s my own handiwork. I will bravely admit that there are things that I’m really good at and I’m going to promise myself that I won’t be too shy or humble to admit it!

I hope that by my modeling this, my own children will pick up on the air of confidence and not be ashamed or embarrassed of their own accomplishments. Accepting compliments and sharing what you’re confident and strong about isn’t bragging, it’s knowing that you are worthy. Knowing your worth and can humbly accept praise is given to us by God. And that’s something to cheer about.

In what ways and areas of your life could you be more confident and assured? Please share with me below in the comments!

Kids are great at sharing their accomplishments but how can adults be better at accepting compliments?

Motivation for School to Keep Kids (and Moms!) On Track

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BackToSchoolGoals #CollectiveBias

My 3 kids are excited to be headed back to school, are yours? They can’t wait to see their friends, start in a new grade and yes, even learn something new (Self-discipline runs high in those first few weeks of school and I try to take advantage of that!) Stocked with fresh school supplies, the kids are organized with assignments. They’re on top of their school paperwork and planning new projects. I’m on my game too, keeping a tidy calendar of events and going through the paperwork like a pro.

And then sometime in mid-October, energy wanes. Interest drops and sameness sets in. The school supplies aren’t so fresh anymore and motivation for school is POOF…gone! With three kids starting school in the fall, I’m looking for ways to keep my kids resolute on their school goals. Motivation leads to strong habits for a lifetime. And truly, that’s my ultimate goal as a mom: Raising independent people who can stick to their goals with minimal reminder from me.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Motivation for School

I have one child starting kindergarten and two teens in their final year of junior high. Setting goals and having small reminders help my kids stay motivated year-round. I find that I’m more likely to accomplish my goals when I write them down. There’s just something about seeing those goals day after day in my own handwriting that helps me stick to it!

This year I’m helping my kids get set for success by having them write down their goals before school begins. I’m encouraging them to stretch beyond the basics and truly extend and reach farther than they have before.

Coming Up with #BackToSchoolGoals

Keeping motivation high year-round is a challenge and kids need frequent reminders. Rather than the nagging “Mom voice”, I’m letting my kids come up with their own school goals. This is something they can foster themselves, with their own words and objectives.

Here are a few motivation goals for school that my kids came up with:

  • Clean out backpack each night after school
  • Prepare clothes, backpack and lunch the night before
  • Get to bed no later than 9 pm
  • Read at least 30 minutes each night before bed
  • Speak up in class and try to answer questions (even if we don’t always have the right answer)
  • Wake up early enough to have time for breakfast and getting ready without rushing
  • Aim not to miss any days of school
  • Remember to bring home physical education clothes at the end of the week
  • Complete extra credit assignments if offered
  • Organize folder and paperwork each week
  • Greet teachers and peers and make new friends
  • Limit free time at home with tablets and video games

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Writing Down Motivation Goals for School

Since I know that writing down goals helps develop good habits for a lifetime, I’ve created a FREE PRINTABLE: Motivation Goals for School. Kids can fill in their school year goals. This motivational worksheet can be referred to all school year. Use this free printable with your kids to help them write down their own school goals.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

In anticipation of the school year, I stopped at Walmart and I picked up the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and Scotch™ Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouches in a 50-pack. For some reason I always thought that a laminating machine would be really expensive, but it’s so reasonably priced (and now I can’t stop thinking about all the things in my house I want to laminate!) You can find these items in the back-to-school supplies section.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

I laminated my son’s school goals with the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator. After he was done with the goal sheet we simply slide it into the Scotch™ Letter Size Thermal Laminating Pouch. When the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator was warm and ready (a blue light indicator goes on), we slid the pouch in place and the machine did the rest!

We three-hole punched it and placed it where he’ll see it every day, in the front of his binder. This consistent reminder to my kids of their original goals is going to help them stay on track!

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

More Motivation Reminders All Over the House

I have several motivational phrases in my home, including favorite Bible quotes. Seeing them daily and repeating them either in my head or out loud keeps me calm and centered. I like being surrounded by positive encouragements.

I created this trio of motivational quotes and printed them out. I’ve laminated them with the Scotch™ Thermal Laminator and will be tacking them on the walls of each of the kid’s rooms. With two of them in their final year of junior high, I want to fill them up with as much positive energy as I can before they start high school!

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.                      #ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.                           #ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

FREE PRINTABLES: What Others Are Doing (orange), You Can If You Think You Can (blue)Motivation and Habits (green)

I frequently use Post-it® Notes around the house as motivational reminders. Seeing what I’ve written day after day really helps me soak in the affirmations. Strategically placed Post-it® notes with an uplifting message for the kids help keep them focused on their school goals.

I usually have my Post-it® Notes messages on the bathroom mirror. Consider placing motivation reminders where kids will see them frequently, like on a cereal box for the morning or inside their lunch box.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

Motivation Leads to Habit

Once kids are motivated, making something a regular habit will truly ingrain it into their routine. Since I was a child I’ve always taken a few minutes before bed to choose my clothes and prep for the next day. I have my kids do the same by getting outfits ready, putting their shoes and backpacks in the garage and we run through the next day’s calendar.

There are no last minute scrambles in the morning because we have a great habit of setting things up the night before. This daily preparation is now a habit that keeps me on track each day and sets up a calm and organized morning.

Another good habit is to keep binders and paperwork organized. Use of Post-it® Page Markers and Post-it® Flags Page Flags with crucial items tabbed saves time when trying to find assignments or important papers.

#ad Want to get kids motivated for school? Click through for these FREE printables including motivational posters and goal sheets.

What motivational goals are you setting up with your kids now in the hopes they will turn into habits? What #BackToSchoolGoals would you add to the list? Share with me in the comments!