Category Archives: Positive Parenting

Colossians 1:11
“May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience.”

Thankful Hearts

I can’t believe it’s already the beginning of November!  My mind is spinning toward Thanksgiving and thoughts of  how to make this holiday season particularly special. This year has been so crazy, that I really want to slow down and take it all in.

Here are some things I have chosen to create a memorable Thanksgiving season for our family this year.

Countdown to Thanksgiving 

To get the kids excited about Thanksgiving and to help them focus on others instead of themselves, I have decided to do a countdown to Thanksgiving.  I had the kids give me a list of things they are thankful for. I took the list and compiled activities to go along with each “thankful”.  Then, I made paper baskets and put some string on them so they can be hung. I made little pumpkins to go inside of each basket. On the pumpkins, I wrote the “thankful” and the activity to go along with it. I put them in order and strung them up in a large doorway.  We will begin on November 7 and have a 15 day countdown to Thanksgiving.

Here is what are “thankfuls” and activities look like.

We are thankful for….

Nov. 7     Freedom to worship God

–Pray together as a family and take turns thanking God  for His blessings.

Nov. 8     Jesus‘ Birth

–Come up with a new Christmas tradition. Make a decoration.

Nov. 9   Our family

–Family Game Night

Nov. 10   The things God has given us

–Donate to those who aren’t as blessed.  (OCC)

Nov. 11 Our church leaders and teachers

–Make a special treat or gift for Sunday school teachers.

Nov. 12   Our mom and dad

–DATE NIGHT!!!

Nov. 13   Our friends

–Make a special treat for friends. Acorns and pilgrim hats

Nov.14 Our clothes

–Donate extra clothing to those in need.

Nov. 15  Our food

–Donate to the church food pantry.

Nov.16 Our school and teachers

–Make a special card or treat for our teachers.

Nov. 17 Our home

–Decorate for the season.

Nov. 18 God’s creation

–Take a walk or drive and admire God’s creation.

Nov. 19 Our grandparents

–Call or send a special note.

Nov. 20 Our extended family

–Call or send a special note.

Nov. 21   Family memories

–Make a Thankful Journal. Family Game Night.

Nov. 22 THANKSGIVING

–Read  “Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving”

Our Thankful Journawill be a simple journal where each member of the family will record what they are thankful for this year. It will be kept and brought out each Thanksgiving to record what we are thankful for that year.  It will become a family tradition and a great keepsake for years to come.

We will also be doing a Thankful Wall.

For the Thankful Wall, we will use post-it notes and every day, each of us will write one thing we are thankful for. We will stick the post-it to the wall. Viola! Thankful Wall.

Make Great-Full Jars for each member of the family

For the Great-Full Jars, we will get a jar or cute decorated box for each member of the family. Grab some cute paper and cut it into slips. Write down things we are grateful for about the recipient. We will write each memory, reason, gift, on individual slips of paper. Fill the jar with the great notes of memories and joys and love, noting why we are so grateful for that person. They can go to the jar anytime and pull out a note of encouragement.

For our Family Devotions, we will intentionally focus our prayer time on praise and thanksgiving.

Another thing we are going to do is throw in some “fun” days.

No Complaining Day: Dare to go all day with no complaining. Slip a rubber band on your wrist and every time you complain, move it to the other wrist. Dare everyone in the whole family to go the whole day without moving their wrist reminder. We will celebrate with a special treat when the whole family can go the whole day with no complaining!

Random Acts of Kindness Day: This is a character trait I have already tried to instill in the kids, but how fun to have a day when we intentionally do random acts of kindness. At devotion time, we will share what we have done!

I am excited to really take time this year to intentionally Thank God for all his blessings to us. Sometimes in the busyness of life, and the trials and struggles  that we face, we forget about all the amazing gifts we have.  I encourage you to spend some time today to look beyond the pile of laundry, the fussing kids, the stack of bills, the long hours at work, or whatever those things are in your life that wear you down, and open your eyes to the many gifts that God has given you.

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Train up a Child…

When you look down into the beautiful eyes of your newborn baby, and see the amazing gift that God has given you, you have no idea the heartache that you will have for that child. The physical pain that you felt during labor, is insignificant compared to the emotional hurt you will feel as you watch them grow. Training turns into guiding. Guiding is the hardest task I have been given so far. Teaching them to eat their veggies and clean their rooms now seems trivial.

Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

I have claimed this promise for my children. It is my utmost responsibility, the most important task God has given me.  As my children are getting older, I am questioning my ability to accomplish this task.  I doubt myself in areas that I always thought I was firm in.  And now, as the training is turning into guiding, I question whether I have trained well enough, or whether I have even begun to hit the mark.

Have I really taught them the way they should go?  Is their faith strong enough to withstand the  wiles of the devil? Will they make the right choice when faced with difficult situations?  Is their faith their own?  Can they make those difficult decisions when I’m not standing over their shoulder?

My heart cries for one child who tells me everything he encounters, and it aches for another who shares nothing.

My children are faced with choices that can affect them their entire life.  The training is over, the guiding has begun.  The guard rail is down and the lines are left in place to guide them. Praying they don’t choose the wrong road and that they will allow God to take control of their lives.

December Resolutions

Family: Pursue Peace

☐ Remember I love them and they are mine.
☐ Remember they love me.
☐ Show them my love.
☐ Let it go.
☐ Don’t harbor hurt feelings.
☐ Touch base once a week.
☐ Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11

Occasionally we have moments when we don’t want to claim our family. There is something they do that embarrasses us and we would rather not be associated with them. This month my resolution is to focus on the good qualities and attributes of my family, from my grandma all the way to my kids. Occasionally we need to remind ourselves why we love them. For this reason, my first resolution is to remember I love them and they are mine.

The people we love the most are the ones that hurt us most and vice versa. Not they we intentionally hurt each other, but when someone you love disappoints you, it hurts. If a friend or acquaintance disappoints us, it’s much easier to let it go because we don’t have as much invested in that relationship. When family members hurt us, it’s easy to feel unloved regardless of the fact that we KNOW they love us. My second resolution is to remember they love me.

Often we think of how we want others to treat us and have high expectations for others and yet don’t hold ourselves to the same standard. Resolution three is to show my love.

Resolutions four and five go hand in hand. Let it go and don’t harbor hurt feelings. This is not easy. When someone hurts you it’s hard to let it go and it’s even harder to leave it there. We tend to hold on to things. Even if we have apparently forgiven someone for hurting us, it’s easy down the road to pull that back out and dwell on it. This month I want to examine my heart and ensure that I am not harboring past hurts and that I really let them go for good.

I am embarrassed to say that I have gone months at a time without talking to my brothers or having any contact at all. To maintain my innocence I acknowledge that they don’t call me either, so I shouldn’t feel bad. In the end, I still end up feeling guilty. Touching base once a week will allow me to build stronger relationships with my family.

It’s easy to allow little things to hinder a relationship. It’s hard to let go of hurt feelings. This month my resolutions are meant to remind me to encourage and build up my family. Friends come and go, but your family is yours for life.

On to the next stage…

It doesn’t seem like long ago, my parents were sitting me down and talking to me about being cautious to not make hasty decisions. They wanted me to use the things they had taught me, to make wise decisions regarding my life choices. I remember feeling as though they could never understand what I was thinking or feeling. At sixteen years old, those conversations never ended fast enough.

Now, I have a teenager of my own, a wonderful thirteen year old son whom I am proud of. He is kind and caring, and is always thoughtful of others. He’s a friend to the underdog and stands up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. He’s a hard worker and a great athlete. He has grown to be a wonderful young man. And yet with all of these great qualities, he is still a normal teenager who struggles to make the right decisions.

Last night for the first time, I felt what my parents must have felt nearly 15 years ago. As we were talking with him about the choices that he is making, his eyes were glazed over. As soon as I saw it, I quit talking. I knew that nothing I could say at that point would have any effect on him. He didn’t say it, but it was written all over his face. “Are you kidding me? Are we really having this conversation? You have no idea how I feel or what I am thinking. Can we be done yet so I can go to bed?” There’s no way to express how I felt at that moment, knowing that we have arrived at the point where it’s time to let him make his own choices and suffer the consequences. We can guide him, but ultimately he has to make his own decisions. We have sown the seeds and now it’s time to watch them take root.

I struggle when thinking about how he will respond in different situations, feeling as though if he makes a poor choice it reflects directly on me, that I have not done a good job parenting. And yet I think about the poor choices I made as a teenager and don’t think of it as being a parenting issue at all. We like to think that if we do everything right, our children will turn out okay. We may cling to Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” We can be great parents and there is still a chance our children will stray from the path they know is right.

There is no such thing as perfect parenting. We are all going to make mistakes. There are many areas that we question ourselves as parents. Did I make the right decision? Maybe I overreacted. Was I too hard on him? Was I too easy on him? And the list goes on. We only get one chance. We can’t dwell on the mistakes we have made. We need to acknowledge them, learn from them and move on.

No matter what choices our children make, if we give them to God, we can find peace and comfort in Him.

God, I have done my best to raise my children in a way that is pleasing to you. I have not been perfect, I have made many mistakes. God, I give you Justin. He is my son, but ultimately he is Your child. You know the desires of his heart, God. Bless him, raise him up as a man of God who is willing to take the narrow path for You. Give him courage to stand up for You when faced with difficult circumstances. Give him strength to make wise choices that will be pleasing to you, give him a hunger for righteousness and a thirst for salvation through Your Son. God, give him a passion for Your Word and give Hunter and I strength and wisdom as we continue on this parenting journey. Give us peace in times of chaos. Bless our home, God. In Your Name, Amen.

November Resolutions

I am late posting this months resolutions, but it is none the less important in my heart.

Gratitude: Thankfulness and Giving

☐Thank God for everyday.
☐Give to others without feeling prideful.
☐Be content.
☐Teach the children to truly have thankful hearts.
☐Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6

Life doesn’t slow down. With all of the activities and responsibilities that we have, sometimes it’s hard to remember everything we have to be thankful for. A heart of gratitude is something we should carry always, but in the every day grind of life, sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle. This month I want to truly focus on having a grateful heart and giving to others.

This is a great song. It’s audio only.
watch?v=3K5rzgVt5iY

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Take Time

It’s so easy, day in and day out, to get caught up in the mundaneness of life. We’re so busy surviving, that we sometimes forget to slow down and really take things in. There have been instances when I’m busy … Continue reading

My Father, My Hero

On the radio this week, I have heard a lot of people calling in with memories of their fathers. This always leads me to think about my relationship with my father. To be honest, my first thought about our relationship is often “What relationship? We don’t really have a very good relationship.” I try to think of special times and things that meant a lot to me growing up, but I can’t seem to dig them up. All I seem to remember are times of conflict.

You have to understand that my childhood memories don’t really begin until I was about 8. There are a few here and there before that, but not much. When I was 8 my little sister was born. So I figure, if I was close to him, that ended when Kristyn arrived. (Just a thought, I’m not sure it’s accurate.) 🙂

Even though when I think of my daddy I have a hard time pulling up fond memories of special father-daughter time, there is one memory that I have that will live with me forever, and that pretty much sums up my relationship with my father.

Only living in New York for 4 years, most people here don’t really know “my story”. They don’t know anything about where I’ve been or who I really am. Recently I have shared with a couple of people and it has brought this memory closer to the heart and has really allowed me to look at it with new light.

My father was the pastor of our church and I was the good little girl who tried to follow the rules, mostly out of fear of getting in trouble. I helped out at home and loved working at the pretzel shop that my parents owned. I was the boss’s daughter at work, the pastor’s daughter at church, and the oldest child in my family. My life pretty well centered around me, or so I thought. I couldn’t have been happier.

When I was 16 years old, I found out I was pregnant. I was terrified! I had never been so scared in all my life. Here I was, the pastor’s daughter…16 and pregnant.

The first thing people ask me is “What did your dad say?”

I didn’t actually tell my father, my mother told him. When I first saw him, I got out of the car, he walked over to me, gave me a hug, and said “I love you”, just like that. No lecture, no yelling, just “I love you”.

That is my fondest memory of my Daddy. It is one that I will never forget. I was so scared! He loved me through ALL the things to come over the next couple years. What an amazing example of a Godly father!

The love that my father has shown me, has given me a glimpse of the love that my Heavenly Father has for me. A love that I cannot even fathom. To know that my pain is his pain. To know that no matter how badly I mess up he will always love and accept me.

I have heard of so many fathers who push their children away during times like these, due to embarrassment or anger. I am so grateful for my Daddy’s relentless love for me, for all the time and energy he has spent on me, for all the tears he has shed and the prayers that have gone up for me. He was persistent even when I pushed him away. He never gave up on me. If not for him, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Thank you so much Daddy for showing me what love truly is…real, true unconditional love. I love you so much! You are my hero!

Good Mom, Bad Mom

Do you ever feel like you’re a “bad” mother, like you’ve failed your children in some way? The house isn’t clean enough. You forgot it was Billy’s snack day. Susie went to school with a hole in her tights and her pigtails are lopsided. My children are out of control, if I were a good mother they wouldn’t behave this way. And the list goes on…

We all have days when we feel inadequate as mothers. We compare ourselves to others such as June Cleaver, Claire Huxtable, the mother whose children sit like perfect angels in church, or the mother who always appears to be ready for anything. This mother carries with her extra clothes for every season, a full first aid kit, tissues, camera, umbrella, blankets, extra shoes, towels and enough snacks and bottled water to feed an army. What about the mother who is crafty and has (for each child )a scrapbook for each year. She is always doing crafty things with her kids. Or the mother who takes her children on a different field trip each weekend. The zoo, science museum, you name it they’ve been there or are planning to go within the next month. Better yet, the mother who is never late for a doctor appointment, church, dropping her child off at music lessons or picking them up from practice. Her calendar is perfectly colored coded and looks like a scientific chart of some kind.

Here is what you don’t know. June Cleaver (Barbara Billingsly) was divorced after only 6 years of marriage. Claire Huxtable (Phylicia Rashad) married three times, all of them ending in divorce. The mother whose children sit like angels in church had an awful morning, the kids were not cooperating at all. The only reason they are sitting still is because they were promised that if they didn’t, they would go home to take naps instead of going on the picnic that was planned for the afternoon. The mother who is always ready is actually a nervous wreck. She is so worried about what “might” happen, that she can’t relax and enjoy watching her kids on the playground or at their baseball game. The crafty mother is very talented, yet, she can’t make a home cooked meal to save her life. Her family eats microwave dinners every night, expect when they have cold cereal for dinner. The mother who takes her children everywhere has put their little bodies on overload. While trying to have fun with her kids, she has actually caused them to become exhausted from all the running. They have very little down time. Her children are tired and cranky. The mother who is never late, is very organized. I love her!! She always knows who is supposed to be where. What you don’t see is that she also has help. She has a few friends that she teams up with and they help each other with carting kids to and from events. Turns out, she is late on occasion too.

I am obviously exaggerating to an extent, but what we see in other mothers is not always reality. As a matter of fact, it usually is not reality. I have had people comment that I am a good mother. Ha! I think to myself, if only you knew about the time I lost my child on an elevator, that we missed our 6 month dental check ups and that I yell on a regular basis. No one sees you as the mother you see yourself to be. We are our own worst enemies. The mother you look up to and admire is very likely feeling the same way you are. None of us are “perfect mothers”, it is humanly impossible, but we can give it our all.

When you look at “perfect mommy” who makes everything from scratch, instead of thinking “I can’t do that”, you should try it. We are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit. If you see a mother who apparently has it all together or has a talent that you would love to learn, ask her about it. Don’t be afraid to ask another mother for advice or to teach you something new. Not only will they most likely be excited to help you, they will love that you asked them. There is probably something you are good at, that they would love to learn also. That doesn’t mean that you will ever be able to scrapbook the way they do or that they will be able to cook the way you do, or that you will become organized overnight. Everything takes time. While you may, over time, learn to do something well, it doesn’t mean that you will be an expert. And when it comes to things like discipline and routine, it’s great to take advice from others, but remember each child responds differently. What works for your friend may not work for you and what works for your firstborn, might not work for your second child.

Our children appreciate our efforts. Give yourself a break and quit comparing yourself to others. God has made you who you are and he gave you the child/children that you have, he knew you would be the best mother for them. Always know that your children’s failures and misbehaviors do not mean you have failed as a parent. As you are not perfect, your children will not be either. Accept it and get over it. We all have a sinful nature, even those precious little ones.

We tend to focus on the moments that are children make bad decisions or when we “mess up”. Try for one day, to pay attention and really soak up the good things your children do, and your accomplishments also. For me, it’s when my children stop and hold the door for someone, when they are kind and thoughtful to the underdog at school, when all the other kids leave and they stay to help cleanup. It can be as small as sharing a toy or doing a chore for a sibling. About a year ago, the “homework” for our family devotion was to intentionally show kindness to someone the next day and report back. Even now, a year later, Taylor remembers this and often comes to me and says “mom, I know what I did nice for someone today.” These are the moments to cherish, so what if they missed brushing their teeth before bed one night, they know what it is to be kind to others, and they learned it from you. These are the things your children will remember. They might also remember that they never had clean socks in their dresser, but this won’t really matter in the end.

Let’s encourage each other. While none of us want to believe anyone who tells us we are a good mother, it’s still nice to hear it once in awhile.

Mom Time

My children consume my life. Most of my time and energy are geared towards them. Does this sound familiar? With all the time that I dedicate to my children, sometimes life gets a little crazy.

Here is a look at a normal day in the Cook household during the months of November through about April or until spring arrives. They say it’s here, but I haven’t noticed yet.

6:00am My alarm goes off.

6:30am I get out of bed. (It takes me a while to wake up. I’m not a morning person.) Justin and Darren are up doing their morning chores. Garrett and Ryan are usually up now too. I brush my teeth and then pack Hunter’s lunch.

6:45am Hunter leaves for work. I pack school lunches and get the kids breakfast.

7:20am Justin and Darren get on the bus.

7:30am I realize Taylor isn’t out of bed yet. I go wake her and tell her to get dressed for school. She doesn’t know what to wear. I tell her to get the clothes out of her Wednesday box.

7:45am Taylor is ready for breakfast.

8:00am I make sure Garrett and Ryan have brushed their teeth and combed their hair, then I have them put their shoes on.

8:15am I do a double-check to make sure the backpacks and lunch pails are ready to go and everyone has everything they need.

8:20am I have the kids get their coats and backpacks on. Ryan remembers it’s show and tell and dashes upstairs to find something. He comes down with something of Garrett’s. Taylor immediately makes it known that Ryan has Garrett’s toy. Garrett doesn’t want Ryan to take it.

8:25am After much discussion, Garrett decides to let Ryan take his toy. Taylor remembers it’s her snack day. I run to the kitchen to grab the snack.

8:27am I am stuffing Taylor’s snack in her backpack and we see the bus coming down the road. The boys run out the door. I finish zipping Taylor’s backpack, give her a hug and tell her to hurry to the bus. Ryan gets halfway to the bus then turns around and runs back to the door because he forgot to give me a hug.

8:30am The children all made it safely on the bus and I can breathe a sigh of relief.

8:30am – 3:00pm I am home alone! I turn the radio on to my favorite Christian radio station, start the laundry, take care of any dishes in the sink and then sit down for my breakfast. After breakfast I try to have my quiet time, although I admit that it doesn’t always happen. While the kids are at school, I busy myself with my daily chores. I do laundry every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday’s I run all my errands for the week (or try to anyway). Wednesday’s I bake bread, and make snacks for school lunches. Every Thursday morning I volunteer in Taylor’s class and Friday’s I pay the bills.

3:00pm Darren gets off the bus. He bursts in the door yelling “MOM, Hello” and he continues yelling until I have replied. He is very happy, he asks me how my day was and typically he says his was great, terrific, or awesome. Occasionally he says ok, but this is not normal. He does his homework , has a snack, completes his afternoon chores and heads for the Wii. (The Wii is their favorite winter past time. We don’t have any other gaming systems and we do not allow them to have hand-held gaming devices, so the Wii it is.)

4:00pm Garrett, Taylor and Ryan get off the bus. This is when things get crazy. Coats and backpacks are flung, children are racing for the bathroom, and “What’s for snack” are the first words I hear.

After they have put their shoes away, unloaded their backpacks and hung them up along with their coats, and emptied their lunch pails, they may have a snack. You would think that at some point they would catch on and put their things away without being prompted, but this hasn’t happened yet.

After or during snack, depending on their moods, they do their homework. Some days this goes smoothly, especially if they have something to do afterward. Other days one page of math review has turned into World War 3. I prefer the first scenario, but nearly every week we have one day when World War 3 is looking very near.

4:20pm Garrett and Ryan make their way to the living room and inform Darren his time is up. Taylor is in the kitchen with her school papers. She is either still doing her homework or she’s quizzing me on papers she has completed at school.

4:45 By now, Taylor is usually looking for something to do. The boys are all occupied and she is left alone. She goes up stairs to Garrett’s room, randomly grabs a toy and parades through the living room with the toy of choice. She marches directly in front of Garrett and says to the toy “I love playing with you.” Garrett is upset that Taylor has gone into his room without asking and begins yelling…you guessed it, “MOM”. I head to the living room. Taylor takes the toy back up stairs, whining all the way.

This doesn’t happen everyday, some days, it goes more like this.

4:30pm Garrett and Ryan have just now chosen a game that they have agreed on. They begin to play. Suddenly, Garret has done something. I don’t know what because monster truck racing isn’t my thing, but never the less, he has done something that has upset Ryan. I begin to hear bickering in the living room.
“Garrett, STOP!”
“Ryan, don’t do that.”
I go to the living room and say in a not-so-nice voice, “That’s it, you’re done, turn it off.”
To this I hear “but Mom.”

4:45pm Since Garret and Ryan are already unhappy, Taylor chooses to go upstairs. A few minutes later, I hear a commotion. Taylor has barged into Darren’s room. This is Darren’s biggest pet peeve. He cannot stand this. It infuriates him. I leave the living room and head upstairs. I tell Taylor not to go in Darren’s room without permission and I ask Darren to be kind to his sister. I ask Taylor “What would Jesus do?” I leave her to think about things and head into the kitchen, where the pot of water I was boiling has gone dry as a result of evacuating to the living room, followed by a hurried retreat up the stairs.

5:15pm I start dinner over again. I hear fighting, yet I choose to ignore it. The water is boiling, the meat is in the oven and I need a vegetable.

5:30pm Dinner is going. I happen to notice the clock. Oh no! Justin’s practice just ended. I hurry to turn off the stove and make sure nothing will burn. I tell Darren to watch the kids while I go get Justin.

5:50pm I arrive at the school to pick up Justin. I wait in the car for him to come out.

6:00pm
Justin is not out yet, evidently practice ran over. Taylor calls me.
“Mooooom.”
“Yes, Taylor”
“When are you coming home?”
“I’m waiting for Justin. I’ll be home as soon as he comes out.”
“Okay.” She pauses a moment. “Mooooom.”
“Yes, Taylor.”
“I’m sorry I was being whiny.”
“I forgive you Taylor. I love you. I’ll be home soon.”
“Moooom.”
“Yes, Taylor.”
“I’m hungry.”
“We will eat as soon as I get home. Why don’t you set the table so it will be ready when I get there.”
“Okay. I love you.”
“Bye honey.”
“Bye.”

6:15pm It is 8 degrees outside. Boys are starting to come out of the school. Suddenly, I see a crazy child running out of the school in shorts and a short sleeve shirt. Wait a minute, I look closer, that’s my child!! “What?” he says, looking at me as if I am the one who is crazy.

6:30pm We arrive home. The table is set and no one is in sight. It’s quiet, but why? Did someone break in and kidnap the kids? I go upstairs. I look in Taylor’s room. That’s odd. There are no blankets on her bed. I look across the hall into Justin’s room. Hmm…there are no blankets on his bed either. I go down the hall and look in Garrett’s room. What happened? Someone broke in and took my children and their blankets? I go across the hall to look in Darren and Ryan’s room. Aha!! Every blanket in the house is in there and I assumed that the kids were also, but who could tell. I announce loudly “Time for dinner.” Suddenly, a stampede appears out from under the enormous heap of blankets. I am nearly trampled.

6:45pm We are all finally at the table for dinner, but we are not all happy. It begins.
“I don’t like chicken.”
“Do I have to eat the rice?”
“I don’t like green beans. Do we have any corn?”
Ahhhh!

7:00pm Three of us have eaten dinner, three of us have picked and complained and are contemplating starting to eat now if they can have a slice of bread afterward.

7:05pm Taylor gets in the shower.

7:30pm I go check to see whether Taylor was sucked down the drain, because she has not come out yet. She’s fine. I make her get out and have Ryan get in. Ryan doesn’t think he needs a shower because he took one the other day.
“Yes,” I say “you did, but that was 2 days ago and now you need another one.”

7:45pm Ryan is finally in the shower.

7:55pm Ryan gets out of the shower, Garrett gets in. I have Taylor and Ryan head for bed, an hour past bedtime.

7:56pm Garrett gets out of the shower. I make him get back in.

8:15pm Garrett gets out of the shower again, clean this time, and I head him upstairs to read. I go tuck the others in and as I walk down the stairs, I release a huge sigh of relief.

8:17pm Ryan comes back down stairs to go to the bathroom. Taylor sees him walk down and decides she needs a drink of water. I send them both back upstairs.

8:20pm I send Darren to take a shower and then sit on the couch with Justin and he begins telling me about his day.

8:22pm Ryan comes down stairs.
“Mom, Taylor came in my room.”
“Ryan get back to bed. I will take care of Taylor.”
Taylor peaks her head around the corner, “I just wanted to give him a hug!”
“Both of you, back upstairs, now!”

8:30pm Darren is out of the shower. I send him up to read and ask him to let Garrett know it’s time for lights out. Justin gets in the shower.

8:40pm I have just begun to relax, when I see headlights pull in the driveway. Hunter is home and he’s hungry. I go to the kitchen to get his dinner and sit with him as he eats.

8:45pm Justin gets out of the shower and sits down with us.

9:00pm Hunter gets in the shower. Justin heads to bed.

9:20pm Hunter gets out of the shower. We are both tired and decide to go to bed ourselves.
Once in bed, I try to start a conversation. I haven’t had any adult conversation all day. Hunter, however, has been dealing with people all day. Although he is trying his best to listen, he can no longer stay awake and falls asleep in mid-sentence. I end up falling asleep as well.

I have possibly exaggerated slightly, however, we do occasionally have a day like this.

With all of the commotion of everyday life, sometimes we forget the important things. It is important as mothers, that we don’t forget to take time out for ourselves. We need to have to time to relax and remember who we are. Sometimes we lose our identity in our children. There are days when I am Ryan’s mom and I lose myself. We need to stay rested and maintain ourselves so that we can keep up with the fast pace of motherhood.

Along with mothers taking time for themselves, it is important that we make time for our children. Children also need time for themselves. They need special time, which is focused on them. In our house, we call it “mom time.” It is a time, when I take one of the children and do something with them. Usually, it consists of getting picked up early from school and having a special lunch out. This time should be centered around the child. I give them options and let them decide where we go. Taylor will choose the bookstore and Ryan loves Wal-Mart. Garrett just loves being with me. He has learned to handle the grocery list well. On this day, I spoil them more than normal. On a normal day, when I am asked to buy small treasures, I say no. But on this day, I say yes. They a get a quarter for the gumball machine and they always come home with a special treat. They usually get ice-cream on the way home.

When your children are young, sometimes it is better to choose something at home. Taking a toddler out can be a tedious task. Here are some things my children have enjoyed. If you have more than one child, make sure the other children are down for naps or ask a friend or family member to watch them for a couple of hours.

Girls love tea parties. Taylor has an inexpensive tea set. If your daughter doesn’t have one, it would be a great investment. Instead of your normal lunch, plan a special “tea party” lunch for you and your princess. Make a big deal out of it and be sure to have foods that she likes, along with a special snack for dessert. She will love this! This would be great to do once a month or so with your special girl. It will create memories that will last a lifetime.

For your toddler boy, Lego’s or train sets are great. My sons love Geo Trax and so do I. They are well-built and very durable, which is a plus in our house. My boys have always been hard on their toys. Take time to sit down and just play with him. Make sure it is a time when you focus your undivided attention on him. Don’t jump up to switch the laundry or check your email. This is time for you to focus all your attention on your little man.

Boys and girls alike, love helping mom in the kitchen. For this, it is fun if they have their own apron. They think this is great! My children love baking cookies. Cutout cookies are their favorite. They are more work than drop cookies, but the kids have so much fun with the cutouts. We have a great recipe for sugar cookies that I got from my Aunt Cora. Look for it in Remarkable Recipes. It makes a large batch of cookies. You can make what you want and freeze the rest for later, or you can make them all and share them with your neighbor or a shut in. This is a great way to teach your children to think of others. Let them help you decide who to share them with and have them color a picture to go along. Be sure to allow your child to join you for the delivery. This really makes them feel good and elderly people love getting visits from little ones.

If making your own cookie dough is more work than you would like to do or have time for, buying a mix or dough from the store is fine too. The kids love rolling out the dough, but they do need guidance. We have a large assortment of cookie cutters they can choose from. Cookie cutters are relatively inexpensive. Cutting them out is the most fun. When they are baked, we ice them and put sprinkles on top. This is another part they really enjoy. Don’t let this become a chore. Relax and allow it to be a fun activity. If they don’t get the maximum amount of cookies out of the dough you have rolled out, it is not a big deal. The sprinkles will not be evenly spaced on the cookies. I’m not sure at what age they really get the art of cutting them out “properly,” because my children have still not figured this out. It can become aggravating if you let it, but remember this is supposed to be for them, not about you making perfect cookies in minimal time. It will take you considerably longer to do this with your children than it would take you to do it alone, and they will be less pleasing to the eyes, but your children will be proud of their creations. Take a deep breath, relax and have fun!

Play-doh is always a big hit too. Play-doh is not one of my favorite things, but kids love it. No need to buy special play-doh toys, you have plenty of things in your kitchen they can use. Remember, the point is to be spending special time with your child. Look in Remarkable Recipes for a recipe for Homemade Play-doh.

Children love the outdoors. If the weather permits, you can pack a picnic lunch and head to the park. After lunch, you can go on a nature walk. Make sure to bring a basket or bucket of some kind to collect your special treasures. They will love collecting colorful leaves and funny shaped rocks. This is also a great time to teach them about nature.

Enjoy spending time with your kids and don’t forget to take time for yourself!

I would love to hear your ideas for special “mom time.”