Ten Ways Develop a Child’s Attention Span

10 ways to develop a child’s attention spans for long term success.

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I just got back from Word Camp which is a conference for people that use the website platform Word Press. The crowd there was extremely diverse, but we all had one thing in common: websites, or more specifically Word Press websites.

One thing I heard over in over in the sessions was about the latest research on the attention span. The average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8 seconds, which is shorter than that of a goldfish. The point of this information was that we have to have eye-catching designs and content that will grab our visitors attention immediately before they move on. We want people to stay at our websites and we have less than 10 seconds to make an impact!

While other attendees are nodding and taking notes the mama bear in me is thinking Let’s back this truck up. Did I just hear that humans attention spans are now shorter than a goldfish? And we are supposed to be catering to that!? This is an epidemic! Not just because I am old school and want everyone to go back to the slower paced lifestyle of the 1950’s. I am a major multi-tasker and I love my modern, fast-paced conveniences. I do have one major concern though and that is the selfish implications that come with short attention spans.

The selfie lifestyle.

The entitlement mindset.

The era of entertain me now.

YUCK!

That is not what I want for my kids and I think we can do better.

Phil Vischer did an interview 6 years ago about the effects of certain types of media on our children and it has always stuck with me. He says:

What we’ve learned through recent brain reseach is that the part of our brains that process facts and data can be trained to go faster, but the part of our brain that process emotions and make emotional connections can’t be trained to go faster. So in some of these cases, like churches where they are wanting to speed things up because kids are used to faster tv, we are discovering that while they can collect the data faster they can’t have a feeling about it faster. So if we are trying to teach kids values or help them have compassion for people in worse situations than they are we have to slow them down. 

When I really think about it, it sounds like common sense. You can teach a kid reading fluency or to do multiplication tables at a rapid pace, but you can’t teach them to hurry up and feel compassion! Our generation is better than ever at multitasking, but you can’t multitask true empathy.

That’s what concerns me about the lack of attention spans. We aren’t taking the time to pay attention! So I thought about how to cultivate an attitude of long term attentiveness in the next generation.

Please keep in mind this list is not for short-term attention span improvement. It is also not professional help for those with actual attention deficit disorder. I have plenty of loved ones, adults and kids alike, in that category. There is no shame in that. This is just a list that I thought would apply to my children and might be helpful to some others.

1. Discomfort

It’s easy to want to shield our kids from feeling uncomfortable, whether it’s boredom, not wanting to share, or detesting chores. I’ve read two books on this subject that I love. Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World by Kristen Welch and Cleaning House by Kay Will Wyma. I recommend either one.

2. Focus on Others

Putting our attention outward through community service or acts of kindness is a great way for children to pay more attention to the details and needs around us.

3. Sleep

This is a practical way for all of us to increase our attention span. On a side note, you sleep more peacefully without electronics in the room.

4. Exercise

Robert Melillo, a professor and specialist in childhood neurological disorders says “Lack of physical activity in early childhood is actually the biggest single problem that will hurt the growth and development of the brain.” Melillo talks more about this mind-body approach to attention span in his book Disconnect.

5. Passion

I’m not so stuffy that my whole list is going to be about diet, exercise, and chores. Help your child find what skill or hobby that they are passionate about! This is a great way to increase attention span in a healthy way.

6. Hydration

Drinking water has been shown to improve focus while dehydration can impair your attention span, memory, and motor skills. 

7. Reading

Reading helps us to use our imagination, ask questions, think about other points of view, and with practice can definitely lengthen our attention spans.

8. Turn off electronics

I’m not anti-technology at all, but this is the biggest culprit of our shrinking attention span and it has to be balanced. Hamlet’s Blackberry (excuse the outdated title) is a fantastic book about how technology isn’t awful and the addiction to it is not even necessarily a new problem. However, it does have to be balanced with time unplugged in order to get the most out of it.

9. Prayer

I’ve read a lot about using meditation to improve attention spans and I am sure that helps, but as a Christian I think prayer is even better! When we teach our kids to pray, they begin to process the world through communion with God which brings peace, purpose, and clarity.

10. Old Fashioned Playtime

Puzzles,  board games, dress up etc. The simpler the toys the more focus for the child. We have to tone down all the stimuli.

 

I admit I am preaching to myself with this list. I am the worst when it comes to going to my computer to look at my calendar and two hours later I have been on Pinterest, Facebook, and Email and forgot to ever even look at my calendar. I am also guilty of reaching for my phone when I’m  on the toilet for more than 12 seconds (TMI? Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about).

The goldfish information was a wake up call though. The good news is I don’t think this situation we find ourselves in is irreversible. We can expand our attention spans and I hope to be the first to model this for my kids.

 

By | November 16th, 2017|Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Top 10 Things I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Motherhood

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I can’t believe I now have a decade of parenting under my belt. No more rookie status for this Messy Mom; I’m going Pro. Actually, I’ll save that status for mothers of teenagers, but I think I’m ready for semi-pro. Yeah, that’s me. One decade of experience. I’ve finally found my footing, even if it is on top of a few legos. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along this motherhood journey so far.

1. You don’t need all the junk they market to parents.  

If I were stranded on a deserted island to raise my children and could choose three things to have with me I would pick

  • The Bible
  • A double stroller
  • Chocolate chip cookies

and I would have it all delivered by Amazon and repurpose the box. I could totally live with that.

2. Moms aren’t the only ones who can have an appreciation for mini vans.

They are also well received by the hundreds of cars that will NOT have their sides dinged by careless children abruptly exiting a vehicle. You’re welcome.

3.  There is no amount of admiration that compares to what you feel watching your precious angel child sleep peacefully…

and the most frustration you will ever feel is often the moments leading up to that point.

4. Don’t tell kids ahead of time when a fun thing is happening.

Do not, I repeat, DO NOT announce a fun upcoming activity until you are ready to listen to your child ask/talk about said activity incessantly until the moment the activity actually takes place.

5. Kids are fast.

Turn around for one minute and suddenly they’ve climbed on top of the counter and devoured half a sleeve of Oreos. They can run in the library at Olympic level speed while you “whisper scream” at them to walk. When I get tired of chasing my kids I hold onto the hope that it will all pay off someday in the form of some kind of athletic scholarship.

6. Kids are slow.

Forget what I said in #5. All of my dreams of a scholarship or college in general disappear when I see how slow my children move when we are trying to get out the door. Or when we are in public and someone needs to get by and says excuse me. I try to coerce the child who suddenly has a fascination with the ceiling and has lost the ability to understand English in that moment. Time to bring in the arm yank.

7 .Eating out at a sit-down restaurant is like going to the dentist.

It’s a great way to spend a lot of money on a painful experience.

8. Children aren’t afraid to tell it like it is.

Like when your four year old needs a new pair of glasses and you have a terrible experience at the eyeglass store. You walk away venting about how bad the service is and that you will never come back to that establishment again. Then an hour later when the frames are ready you go back in to pick up the glasses and the child shouts loud enough for the entire store to hear, “I thought you said you would NEVER come back to this place again!”

9.  Your “mother-age” is the age of your oldest child.

When you have your first child they are a newborn and you are a newmom. When your child is 5 you are a 5 year old mom. Keeping this in perspective allows us moms to cut ourselves some slack.  Now that I am a 10 year old mom I am starting to get pretty confident at this gig, but I’m still young. I’m still learning and I am also getting ready to go through a lot of hormonal obstacles, i.e. puberty!

10. Now I understand what my parents went through and how awesome they are.

Hopefully my kids will also have this same epiphany, even if it does take 20 years, give or take.

By | August 30th, 2017|Laughter, Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Digital Citizenship

Sometimes it’s scary to think of raising kids in the digital age that we live in. Terrorism, pornography, bullying, and so much more can creep into your home via the computer screen. It wasn’t like that when most of us were kids, but on the bright side our kids have such an advantage over this past generation and I’ll explain why.

The internet wasn’t really around until I was in middle school (I was born in ’82 by the way). I remember visiting a friend’s house who was not the best influence and fortunately that relationship didn’t last. We went down to the basement where that boxy cream colored IBM sat and she logged into the dial up AOL service. As the computer dinged and beeped for what felt like half an hour we talked about teachers and boys and acted like 12 year olds, because we were 12 years old. Finally we were online! She knew more about this world wide web stuff than I did and she quickly moved her mouse around on The Simpson’s mouse pad until she arrived at her determined destination. The chat room.

I just sat there and stared at the blinking cursor on the screen as she started typing away. It was totally random small talk with strangers. Supposedly boys. The small talk then esclated from How is it going? to I think you’re hot. faster than Homer can say Doh! She even said I love you (and other things). It was so bizarre, because there was no way for this guy to know whether or not she was hot and there was no way for my friend to fall in love with someone online within a few minutes. I was an adolescent and even I was mature enough to see how ridiculous it was! But for a lot of kids there were no boundaries when it came to the information they gave or what they looked at online. There wasn’t software to filter out objectionable content nor was there a way for parents to track what their kids were looking at or who they were talking to. There was no Youtube Kids or Kiddle. We only got those two sites within the past year! So as technology gets darker and scarier we’ve also made huge advancements to make it safer. That’s sad for the kids that were the pioneers of the internet, but really great news for this generation of children!

One reason this is on my mind lately is because Z got a phone for his 9th birthday.

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For the record it is his dad’s old iphone and it can’t make calls, text, or us data. He is completely connected to his dad’s account and if he tries to go onto a website or download and app it sends a text to J which allows him to choose whether or not to approve the action. Z doesn’t get to take it out of the house and only gets it with permission. There are a lot of cool educational apps that he uses and I am really happy that he has the device. Even with all the monitoring I know we can’t keep him in a bubble forever so we have had lots of discussions about internet safety and have even gone through the workbook “Good Pictures Bad Pictures“. I’ll do a separate post about that eventually, but if you want to discuss pornography with your child I HIGHLY recommend it.

On top of that he has had lessons in online safety from Cub Scouts in order to earn his cyber chip badge.

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One day I asked Z if he cared if I used his name online and he said “Yes and no.” I felt bad because I really want to respect his privacy and I asked him to elaborate. He said that while he didn’t really mind, he learned in Cub Scouts that you shouldn’t give your name or personal information on the internet. That was a proud momma moment for me.

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On a side note, I realize that I share a whole lot more than some people would be comfortable with. On the other hand there are people I respect (including famous people) whose children’s faces and names are out there for all the world to see online, on TV, and in books. I think it’s a personal decision and I choose not to judge anyone one way or the other.

Last night was parent information night at Z’s school and I learned even more how much the internet is integrated into their daily lives. However, the thing that they stressed over and over is how serious they are about online privacy and safety. They use a curriculum called Digital Citizenship and they went over all of the basics with the students right off the bat when school started and will continue to cover more throughout the year.

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Aside from being Amish technology is a part of life and just like proper hygiene, or safely crossing a street, or driving, internet etiquette and safety has to be taught. Thankfully I made it through the internet dark ages without too much trouble, but I have friends who can’t say the same. It was new and we had/still have a lot to learn. However, I am grateful for the resources that are out there and the leadership that is making internet safety a priority. There was no such thing as digital citizenship when I was Z’s age, but times have changed and as his mom I want to be proactive in equipping him for those changes.

By | September 14th, 2016|Parenting Tips, Schooling, Uncategorized|1 Comment

Cleaning House Book Review

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A few weeks ago I got the book Cleaning House from the digital online library. I had no idea what to expect with this book, but about half way through I knew I had to share it with all of my mom friends!

Side note, if you are a book lover and not using your local libraries online options then you really need to. For one it’s so fast. If you finish a book you can download another ebook or audio book right then and there. Two, you don’t have to bring the kids with you while you look for your next book. Three, I like all types of reading material but audio is my favorite because I can listen to it on the road or folding clothes. Four, your online account customizes your experience. It’s like Netflix as far as making recommendations based on what you read or what other people are reading.

That’s how I found the book Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12 month experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement by Kay Wyma. The author has 5 kids and most of them are at least close to the teenage years. The book is about her battle against the entitlement and codependence that is rampant in her home. She decides to have her kids tackle a new responsibility each month to teach them necessary life skills and give them meaningful work. The projects are things like laundry, cooking, yard work, and hospitality.

A quote from the book that sums it up is “One of the biggest obstacles is parent induced over indulgence. What is the answer to over indulgence? Give them work. Meaningful work.” 

I love the idea that when you allow kids to have more responsibility in the home you empower them and encourage a confidence that goes deeper than words. Many parents, myself included, often want to help our kids out of the best of intentions. Whether it is because we don’t want to see them fail or struggle, or on a practical note we know we can do it better and faster. However, if you are always bailing your child out when it’s tough (like homework, carrying things, and making lunch are just a few that come to my mind) you are sending a message that they can’t do it. Another great quote from the author-

“Loving them by making them work puts energy behind my claim to believe in the kids. The assurance that you can do anything you put your mind to has greater meaning now that I’ve gotten out of the way.” 

I read a post recently by Amanda of Airman 2 Mom. She got a new van recently that has keyless entry and locks automatically when you walk away from the van with the key in your pocket and it unlocks as you approach the van. Amanda says the problem is that she likes to double check to make sure it’s locked so she goes back to grab the handle, but by doing so the door automatically unlocks. Do you see the dilemma? She can’t check the lock because she is inadvertently unlocking the door. She has to walk away and trust that the remote worked.

Amanda compares this to not trusting your kids. When you hover, and doubt, or refuse to let go you undo that independance that they were practice. Sometimes you have to trust that the door is locked or that your child can handle themselves and then walk away. I thought that was such a great analogy. It doesn’t mean you don’t ever check on your kids. She does a great job explaining the scenario, you should read the whole post.

That’s what cleaning house is about. The goal of parenting is not to provide a successful childhood, but to grow your child into an idependant adult. You eventually have to get out of the way.

I am so glad that this Kay Wyma book fell in my lap because I personally gleaned so much from it will need to reread it later down the road (although for the record the concepts can apply to ages 5 and up in my opinion). I never thought I would say it but I, The MESSY Mom, love “Cleaning House”.

By | August 17th, 2016|Parenting Tips|2 Comments

Identity and the Internet

Sometimes I wonder if I would be as creative or motivated if it weren’t for social media. Kind of like if-a-tree-falls-in-the-woods-and-no-one-hears-it-does-it-make-a-sound kind of thing. Do I worry too much about sharing and not live in the moment enough? 

Those of you my age and older are some of the lucky few in the history and future of the world that have had the opportunity to live life before the internet, while also getting to watch society progress with the advancements of  the world wide web. It’s pretty awesome when you think about it.

Feeling like I now have some responsibility to share my knowledge with the future generations I wrote this letter to my children (and their generation). I’m sure by the time they read this a lot of the latest websites and apps will be obsolete, but the core message remains the same. Here it is.

 

Dear Post-Millennial Children,

 I was born way back in 1982. It was a bad year for hair and make up (in my opinion) but it was a good year to be born and I’ll tell you why. I am one of the last ones to remember a childhood without Wi-Fi or high school without social media. No this is not another lecture about how when I was your age I was content just looking out the window on car rides. This is a different message. This is a lesson about your identity. I struggle with this even now. Sometimes I wonder if I really enjoy writing or if I just want people to read my blog. But then I have the luxury of knowing that before I was blogging I was writing. I’ve always had a passion for writing, even before it ever hit cyber space. 

Other times I wonder if I would be inspired to throw fun theme parties if not for Pinterest. Then I remember that I’ve always loved to throw parties from the birthday party I planned for my dog as a child, to the fun bachelorette parties in college. All of that was before the age of Pinterest. Same goes with my photography, my friendships, my “outfit of the day”. When my identity feels lost on the Internet I can at least reach back and remember that I have been the same person I am today with or without all the online exposure. I won’t let the internet take credit for my interests nor will I allow it to steal my joy.

Your experience will be different than mine, but I want you to know that the screen does not define you.
Your Identity is Outside of the Screen
Just be yourself no matter what. I don’t care how many likes you get on Instagram or how many shares on Tumblr (Is that a thing? Did I spell it right?)  I don’t care if your embarrassing YouTube video goes viral or your cool video tanks. Your identity is not found on the Internet. Social media can trample your ego just as fast as it inflates it, you have to be grounded in the truth on and off-line.
You have skills. You have style. You have value. Believe in yourself and be yourself because “the Internet” doesn’t know you like real life people do.
When Social media becomes a sad depressing place feel free to step away from it all and unplug for a bit. There was life before the iPhone believe it or not.
I know you may think I’m out of touch with what’s trending, and that’s probably true, but I also know what it’s like to feel lost in the vastness of all the messages that you absorb online. Those trends are going to come and go, but always remember you are a fearfully and wonderfully made individual and your voice matters.
Trust me. I should know, because I’ve been around longer than the Internet.

 

By | March 14th, 2016|Parenting Tips|8 Comments

Acknowledging the Self Control Crisis

I recently did a book review of Strong and Kind by Korie Robertson. I mentioned the idea presented in the book to choose two character traits that you would want to be the main focus in your home.

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J and I chose Self-Controlled and Compassionate as our two character traits. J was the one to choose self-control and I went along with it because we are in this together. I have to be honest though, I really struggled with the idea of self-control as one of our main family goals. That did not sound like fun to me. It didn’t even sound biblical. Yes I do realize self-control is a fruit of the spirit, but subconsciously I hear the word “self” and I think “selfish” then add the word control and I think “controlling”. There is nothing I dislike more than a selfish controlling person. All we need is love right?

You guys must think I am crazy. The rest of you are probably obsessed with self-control and have it mastered.

So to avoid resentment about the very thing I am supposed to be imparting to my children I did a little research.

Scripture and truth about self-control began to resonate with me. It’s not glamorous. You won’t hear of people being honored at their funerals for how much self-control they had.

It’s a big deal though. It’s in the Bible for a reason and I am 100% on board with making it a priority in our home.

Obviously self-control that is contrived by legalism will only leave you feeling like a failure. On our own there is no way we can have a healthy balanced sense of self-discipline. Biblical self-control however is critical. It means having a backbone in the face of temptation and denying one’s flesh. It’s doing the exact opposite of what our culture says to do (which would only leave us hopeless in the end). The lust of the flesh is an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure as C.S. Lewis puts it.

Proverbs 25:28 says a man without self-control is like a city broken and left without walls. I have seen the affects of this. I’ve watched powerful ministries ripped to shreds due to a lack of self-control. It can cost you everything. You can have so much success that you are standing among the stars, but without following God’s command for self control the enemy has the perfect opportunity to kick the ladder right out from under you. Having self-control actually amplifies and supports the other spiritual fruits. It allows you to have integrity as you serve and move in the gifts of the spirit. I definitely want that for my children.

So when it comes to self-control as a core value in our home I’m still not like Ohhh yay! I love self-control. I know my kid’s will too. Now let’s practice by setting a jar of forbidden candy on the coffee table. Woo hoo!

What I do know though is that the media is screaming indulgence! Our society reeks of entitlement. We are a nation of instant gratification who would rather point fingers than take responsibility for anything. We have a self-control deficiency!

Enough is enough. It’s going to take an intentional effort on my part to teach my children the truth. God has given us instructions, a path, and a plan. The Holy Spirit guides us and has given us the reins of self-control. I want myself and my family to grab ahold of those reins.

So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

-1 Corinthians 9:26

 

 

By | February 2nd, 2016|My Life, Parenting Tips, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Strong and Kind

I decided that instead of a brief synopsis at the end of the year of all of the books that I remember reading, I would do a review (or at least share some thoughts) of the books as I read them one at a time.

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I just finished Strong and Kind: and Other Important Character Traits Your Child Needs to Succeed by Korie Robertson.

I feel guilty because I kind of gave the book a bad wrap when I shared on Facebook last week. I said I was anxious to move on to another book and admitted to falling asleep reading it. It’s not my all time favorite parenting book and I’ll admit, not being a Duck Dynasty fan probably takes away a lot of the appeal. However, I did glean some valuable wisdom from Strong and Kind and I am really glad I read it.

The title Strong and Kind are the two main character traits that the Korie and Willie Robertson wanted to instill in their kids as they were raising them. Toward the beginning of the book there is a list of character traits to pull from.

The idea is to choose your top two from the list and be intentional about teaching these habits to your children as well as exhibiting them yourself. Of course it’s hard to choose just two. We want all of them. Korie even mentions that in the book. You should want all of them and strive for all of them. But by choosing two above the rest you can really focus and have a better chance of actually following through because you are making it a priority.

Here is the list and I don’t remember if you are “supposed to” add your own, but I don’t see why not.

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I sent this list to J and it took him days to decide. I was more inclined to choose the first two that popped out to me. I’m not too surprised. That really is typical of our personalities. He chose words of power and determination, while mine were more about the heart and emotions. Again, I am not surprised. We’re opposites (remember my Ricky and Lucy comparison?).  I like to think that we balance each other out. So we settled on one of his words and one of mine. That is how we came up with Self-Control and Compassion. I bet you can guess who chose what.

I’ve been thinking and studying what these words really mean and what the Bible has to say about them. It’s been a very positive experience and I plan to share more soon.

What two words do you think you would choose for you family? I know it’s hard, but even thinking about it is a good exercise every parent should consider. So despite my skepticism in the end I did like Strong and Kind and if you like the Duck Dynasty clan then I would definitely recommend it.

By | January 21st, 2016|Parenting Tips|2 Comments

When to Introduce Video Games

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When my son Z was four we were given a Wii. It was a hand-me-down. No exchange of money was involved. The consoles have since been discontinued anyway, so it really shouldn’t be too big of a deal.

It was a very thoughtful gift and we still enjoy using it so I don’t want to come across as ungrateful in anyway. I just want to share my story for any moms on the fence about when and if they should introduce video games into their children’s lives. It seems like there is a big divide between the electronic game lovers and haters. I have met parents (and read many reports online) that exhibit both extremes.

I personally have never had reason to be anti video games. We got a Nintendo when I was 5 years old. I played it, but I certainly never had any addiction issues or negative impact so that was probably what has shaped my opinion. However, Z loved the Wii on a level beyond my expectations! He also loved games on the phone or the computer. From ages 4 to 6 I would say he was obsessed with Mario and Sonic.

He is a smart kid, which I honestly think contributed to his obsession. He would eventually conquer the games he played. Although it wasn’t without cost. There were many times he lashed out in anger when he lost. He would be grounded for treating family members aggressively while playing. He would have break downs and cry huge tears over games. It was painful for me to watch. He had a video game addiction and it was scary.

One day I asked a mom friend who has kids several years ahead of mine how she handles it. I knew she would be knowledgable because not only is she a homeschooling mother of 4 boys, but even her husband who is a successful business man has nights dedicated to playing video games with his friends (I know this because sometimes my husband joined in). My question to this wise woman is how she balances the gaming. I expressed my concern and explained that I didn’t want to pull the plug completely, but I didn’t know what else to do. She paused and thought out loud saying that I could consider setting some strict boundaries and rules with a timer and then she said something that kind of made me mad. She said

I don’t know. I can’t really give you advice because we don’t deal with that. The boys are so busy with school work, swim team, and church. They are outside a lot and yeah they play video games, but we just don’t have much time for it. We have a lot going on. 

Ohhhhhh, well. Us too I thought sarcastically. Except I was really burnt up by her non-answer answer. I guess if my family were just as studious, athletic and dedicated to more important things then I wouldn’t be having this problem.

I can see why 4 years ago I would feel that way, but now I get it. I mean I really get it. Z is in school all day. We get an hour of screen time a day, if that. He has a lot of other commitments and things that he puts his energy into. So even though Minecraft and all that is fun, it’s not the obsession that it was. He’s matured more emotionally since then too. Don’t get me wrong, he still gets overly competitive in his gaming at times and I’ve caught him being rude and ignoring people while playing, which of course is unacceptable. Also, I have had to be really careful of any games online because I have learned that some of them include interacting with other players and I am completely 100% against that! He knows he is NOT allowed to communicate online under any circumstances whatsoever and I keep a close eye on it, but that’s another topic.

I have seen how there are good things that can come from video games. Z and his dad have really bonded over electronics.

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Z got to join a programing course for his birthday this year and this was his showcase.

He has learned a lot of problem solving skills. He’s pretty much already a techie mastermind in my opinion. I wouldn’t be the surprised at all if programing or computer engineering is in his future (like his dad).

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The day Z got to get out of school to go see the robot his dad programed.

So I am still not anti-video games. However, as I look back I can see how maybe we would have been better off waiting until last year when he was 7 to introduce gaming.

Keep in mind this just a personal testimony, all children are different. It’s not like I am one of those parenting experts or something.


Next up I have to worry about when he is going to care about having the latest and greatest (i.e. super expensive) game device. Or when the violent games become an issue. Yikes.

Sometimes I feel like I am in my own live action parenting video game having to get through unforeseen obstacles. I guess I’ll worry about conquering the next level when I get to it.

By | October 23rd, 2015|Family, Parenting Tips|13 Comments

How to Respond to Whining and Model Behavior

I have heard people teach that the best way to encourage your child to read is for them to see you reading. I have heard the same concept about eating healthy, and being eager to learn or try new things, or being active… The list goes on and on. Children are very in tune to our actions and especially when they are younger they are going to mimic our behavior. It is safe to say that actions truly do speak louder than words and the best way to lead is by example.

The way you demonstrate self control and self regulation to your children will determine what they give back to you. 

OUCH! I have a hard time with this, especially when we are running late. Is it even humanly possible to be a positive example when we are running late?

As hard as it is, it is still an important reminder that no matter how much you try to train, teach, or bombard your child with these learning opportunities it isn’t going to amount to much unless it means something to you and you are living it out. One of my favorite quotes is from Naomi Wolf and it says

“A mother who radiates self-love and self-acceptance actually vaccinates her daughter against low self-esteem.”

I hear so many mother’s say they don’t want their daughters to be insecure like they are. So they lavish their little girls with compliments and then turn around and talk about their own bodies in a  way that is degrading. This method is INEFFECTIVE! You can’t just talk the talk honey, you have got to walk the walk.

My 2 year old is at the stage where he copies everything we say. EVERYTHING. It definitely makes us more aware of our words. My 4 year old, who is deaf, is more in tune to facial expressions so sometimes when I am trying to communicate with her it is like looking in a mirror. This video is from a  while ago, and I know I look ridiculous, but it shows what I am talking about.


How comfortable are you with your children mirroring your actions? All of this just continues with one of the main themes of Teachable Parenting, which is that we set the tone in our home by the kind of environment we create. One of my favorite techniques that I read from Love and Logic is “I will respond when your voice sounds like mine”. This is an extremely helpful line to use with screaming or whining. Not only does it defuse the situation by giving them simple instructions, but it’s always a reminder for me that Oh yeah, I have to watch my voice too! If I bark at them and scream “I said I would respond when your voice sounds like miiiiine!!!” Then that would defeat the purpose wouldn’t it? So it keeps me in check and it also reminds me that I am an example to them. This is also why I have a hard time saying don’t hit followed by a little swat on the diaper. I’ve done it, but the message seems conflicting.

Again, this is why it is so important to discipline with empathy and respect because you are showing your child how they deserve to be treated and how they should be interacting with others (remember the idea that you teach them what their inner voice sounds like). Teachable Parenting is about bringing a culture of honor into the homeThat doesn’t mean you are not in charge.

Modeling the ideal behavior is not going to happen over night, and we’ll never be perfect. For now I totally recommend trying that tip.

“I will be happy to respond when your voice sounds like mine.” It’s worth a try.

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This post was originally written on October 13th, 2014 as a part of the 31 Day series Teachable Parenting.

By | October 2nd, 2015|Parenting Tips|2 Comments

More Laundry Headed My Way

With a family 5 I do my fair share of laundry, and I am about to do even more.

First of all I’ve got these itty bitty baby girl clothes to wash.

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Aside from the items I got from Carter’s all of this stuff came from a yard sale I went to last weekend. They had a two year old girl that was born in the winter so the stuff was perfect for our baby. The deal was all you could stuff in a grocery sack for $5. Well, call me Doc McSTUFFINS. I was all over it and now we should be set for the first 3 months of clothes.

I am also excited about pulling out the cloth diapers again. Every time you use a cloth diaper the cost per wear goes down and that makes the pay off for the initial investment even better. My cloth diaper stash paid for themselves a long time ago so now it’s just the cost of soap, water, and electricity.

And get this, the cost of soap and dryer time is even lower now since I’ve discovered Eco Nuts.

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I had never heard of this unique product before, but they sent me some stuff to try and it’s perfect timing for me! I’m not going to lie I normally just pick up whatever is on sale when I’m grocery shopping. The one time I am picky about my detergent is when I have baby. I don’t want to ruin the absorbency of my cloth diapers and I don’t want to irritate the delicate newborn skin so I have always been particular about what I use with a newborn.

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Despite the name and the appearance of Eco Nuts they are not really nuts. Though they are called soap nuts they are actually berries from a Sapindus mukorossi (Soap Berry) tree in the Himalayas. Inside the shell of these berries is something called saponin which is a natural cleaning agent that truly does work as a laundry detergent. I have been trying it for a couple months now and I don’t know if I am still used to how out of the ordinary it is, but it does get clothes clean.

You just put 4 or 5 berries in the little sack that is provided and you use the same berries up to ten times.

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They have a guide on their website that is more specific. Don’t worry you don’t have to keep a chalk board and tally each time you use one, you will be able to tell by the way the berries look.

I also got to try out their liquid detergent and wool dryer balls.

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I LOVE the dryer balls because I am pretty much a fan of anything reusable. Also the kids have gotten a kick out of helping with the laundry since I’ve incorporated balls and soap nuts.

Now for the downsides. I know it’s natural and all, but I do miss that artificial perfumy smell that comes with liquid soap and dryer sheets, but I would have gone perfume free when the baby came anyway.I always do.

I also don’t particularly like the hassle of having to make sure I don’t throw the berries in the dryer. HOWEVER, there is a solution to both of these legitimate complaints.

  1. You can add essential oils to the dryer balls if you want fragrance and then you get to pick exactly what scent you want!
  2. The bags usually fall to the bottom of the load on their own making them easy to find (like coins). However it is possible that they could get tangled in with the clothes especially if you are like me and toss your wet clothes into the dryer by the arm full. If you do accidentally dry your soap nuts it’s not going to hurt anything. I have only done it twice. So out of all the benefits of Eco Nuts that really is a small inconvenience.

There is so much more I could say about these products and if you are like me you probably have some questions. The Eco Nuts website is full of information. They have videos, savings comparison chart, cloth diaper details, and local retailers (which makes even more savings when you don’t have to pay shipping). Speaking of savings, right now there is a offer that allows you to get 10% off with the coupon code EcoFall2015 .

If you want to know more go to econutsoap.com . It’s all very fascinating and worth looking into even if you don’t decide to go the organic soap nut route. I am looking forward to see how it works with the baby clothes and cloth diapers and I’ll be sure to keep you posted.IMG_4800

By | September 18th, 2015|Babies, Babies & Toddlers, Frugal Living, Natural Living, Parenting Tips|2 Comments