Posts tagged ‘Motherhood’

Venturing Out With Children- A How-To Guide

The first time I left the home, alone, when our third child was born was terrific- because it was horridly awful, and set the bar low for what a good experience would be.

My beautiful mother in law, who had been SO helpful, boarded a jet plane and left me in the city, two hours from our home. Technically, she was with me for the first part of our excursion, so it was really only the return trip that was done independently. Navigate the stroller through the airport, through the parking garage, load ’em up, and drive two hours home. Sounds pretty simple! And it was. The biggest one held on properly to the stroller, which was carrying the two year old and newborn. We got to the car, I buckled them in (and laughed because now they couldn’t move) and started on the drive. I blared their favourite music, we got on the highway, we can DO THIS! Look at me go!

Until one had to go to the bathroom.

In all fairness, he was three and a half. For SURE he had to go the bathroom, his bladder was the size of a grape on the best of days.

We stopped at a Tim Horton’s, and my whole universe fell apart.

I hefted the car seat in one hand, which is always awkward, and encouraged the two boys to hold each other’s hand, and walk with me inside. Well, of course, the two year old saw the donuts and wanted to choose one. He needed to wait, because his brother REALLY had to go to the bathroom. I raised my voice a little too quick- he could hear my desperation- while I’m trying to balance the carseat, diaper bag and my purse (a combined total of 112 pounds) and he broke. Loudly. Started screaming, laying on the floor. I had no way of picking him, so I tried to pull his hand. This is in the middle of the line, people walking around me to get to the counter. The biggest one, trying to push open the bathroom door, starts crying, “I HAVE TO PEE NOW!!!!” I finally manage to pick up the screamer, the baby in her carseat, the diaper bag and my purse, and rush to the bathroom to help the Clever One.

We went to the bathroom, I changed both of the littles’ diapers. Took a breath. Regained my cool (mostly waited for all the customers that witnessed the spectacle to leave.)

Back into the store, I had to nurse the baby- maybe we could all have a snack together. What a treat!

Well, now a tour bus emptied into the store. The line up was pretty long, and I was caught in the middle. I could no longer carry the baby seat, the purse and the diaper bag. My arms were shaking, my back hurt. I had the boys sit at a table seven feet away, and put the car seat on the table so when I looked back I could see our precious little girl, less than two weeks old, embarking on her first all-Canadian visit to Tim’s. I ordered our snacks, thanked the good Lord I didn’t have to wait in line after all these people, and started walking back.

With the wrong donut.

Well, if I thought the display in line was humiliating, this one was enough to switch provinces. He crashed to the dirty floor, bumping the table. The car seat FELL TO THE GROUND. The whole restaurant collectively gasped/screamed/shouted in a foreign language. There was pointing. There were faces. Thankfully, I had buckled her in, so she was unharmed, but of course, the other people didn’t know this. I grabbed the food, grabbed the kids, and with superhuman strength carried/dragged everything to the safety of our car where I fed the baby and cried. Of course, the car was parked facing the restaurant, so I could still see everyone pointing, and they could see my crying.

So.

How do you leave the house with more than one child?

1. Safety first.

Hands must be held in the parking lot, at all times. If they let go- back to the car to try again. If they won’t stay with you in the mall or at the zoo, they must be in a stroller or grocery cart. I never used the harness type things, but I respect the fact that they can be a necessity at times. Do what you have to do, crying or not. Freedom is earned. If one goes to the bathroom, everyone goes to the bathroom. The car gets parked if seatbelts or car seat buckles are undone. Know that everything will take longer- try not to be in a rush. If you can train your kids at a young age to stay with you, you will save time later. Talk in the car about what happens if you get separated.

2. What does the situation call for? What are the children’s capabilities?

Determine how long the event or outing will be. Will it overlap with a scheduled snack time or meal? Is it a quiet ordeal (like a funeral) or will noise be okay? Plan accordingly:

*I do not bring snacks unless it’s a normal snack time. We eat at home- no spills, no I-want-something-different- and honestly, it’s a pain to have to pack around either a bunch of containers, or a bunch of baggies. I have enough getting out the door without having to pack a variety of snacks I think they will like. Sometimes, we’ll have a snack in the car before we leave, or right before we get there. Unless it’s something over two hours, I don’t pack snacks. It’s more of a pain then it’s worth, in my opinion. And candy doesn’t work. Don’t do it. They’ll just want/cry for more.

*Pack appropriate activities.

Books, dinky cars, Little People (the people and a couple animals), colouring books with special crayons- all of these work well for long things-grads, retreats, ceremonies, etc. Then, give out the activities ONE AT A TIME. Do not give all the books at once. Nor all the toys. Kids are way better occupied when they have one thing to focus on. When they are done, have them pick it up and switch it out- also keeps the mess down.

*Involve them.

Make sure they can see what’s going on. Talk to them about it (or whisper, depending).

*Know your children, and what they can do.

Every child is different. If it’s something short, like a wedding, often they will be okay just watching what’s going on, and toys/books will just be a distraction. If it’s something longer, and past their attention levels, give them the activities. Don’t frustrate them by expecting more than they can do. 

*Take a walk/bathroom break when needed.

Honestly, probably every thirty minutes, depending on the event or the day. Use these times to talk about what’s going on, how much is left.

3. Take care of necessities first.

Always go to the bathroom before ordering or getting in line, or anything that requires you to stay in one place. And you, too! Be comfortable. Make sure diapers are clean. There is nothing worse than ordering your food, sitting down at a table, and then realizing you have to pack everyone up to go to the bathroom. This will still happen despite your best intentions- but it will happen more if you don’t build in these breaks. Make sure everyone has eaten, babies have been fed. This is important. If you try to brush it off, you will pay. Be willing to take a break from the graduation and take everyone to the bathroom.

4. Tell the children exactly what’s expected.

From the time they are born, they can understand SO much. And if they are still super little and don’t understand, this gives you practice on talking to yourself (a needed Mom skill). Tell them, chronologically, what will happen- which stores you are going to, how they must behave, how long you think it will take. How would you feel if you were tossed in a seat, driven somewhere (rear facing, no less!) and then forced to sit quietly for an hour? We call that kidnapping. Tell them what’s going on, who’s getting married, everything you can think of. Things to look for, symbols they may see. Seriously, tell them bananas are on sale- when they see the sign in the store, they will be excited!

5. Encourage! Don’t Bribe. 

Do not point out the negatives. Deal with those things later when you talk about it at home. When you are out, focus on the positive. If they feel like “they can’t get it right,” they will stop trying completely. Don’t bribe. Ever. That’s just manipulation so that you can get what you want. Point out or whisper how proud you are, how thankful you are, how much fun you’re having. Try not to “shhh”, but whisper in their ears and model what’s expected. The only negative things that should be pointed out are safety issues. Make stuff fun! This goes hand in hand with. . . .

6. Never let them see you sweat.

If you are starting to lose your cool, how can you expect your kids to have self control? Try to stay patient, kind and encouraging NO MATTER how they are behaving. You can’t control your kids- you can only control yourself.

7. DO NOT CARE WHAT OTHER PEOPLE SAY/THINK.

Give up. Kids are kids. Adults are adults. Everyone has bad days. It is NOT a reflection on you as a parent. Learn to smile and nod! How else will they learn, but by making mistakes? Always apologize if there’s an issue, but do not take it to heart or take it personally. Kids need to be stretched, they need to learn how to act in everyday situations. They can’t learn it unless they do it. Live life with your children. 

I would love to hear your horror stories of when things went wrong! Tell me in the comments.

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World Cup Day!

We recently decided to start providing childcare, and that has made me much more intentional of celebrations, activities, and events that I might normally not do. Also, I know how hard it is for kids to adapt to a new schedule and environment, so I wanted to have a fun party to look forward to. It wasn’t until someone got bit* that I got the idea: Hey! Let’s have a FIFA party! (*That never happened. I just thought it was funny. I imagine that if I were a soccer player, and I got bitten by another professional athlete, it might not be funny but rather insensitive. If that applies to you, I’m deeply sorry.)

So, since there are two weeks left of this glorious, worldwide event, I thought I’d share with you our celebration, so that you could easily adopt your own. If you’re bored, and looking for a fun day in summer, look no further. As a sidenote, I did not talk about how I actually feel about Brazil’s involvement with our children and the children in my care: the cost to the country, especially it’s poor and at risk people, at the profit of corporations. I decided to let them have some fun. But for the record, not one penny was spent profiting Fifa.

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Yesterday:

*We looked at some encyclopedias to study world flags. I printed out the flags of all the countries participating, and the six year old girl had a great time finding the flags in the books, and we wrote down the names of them together. Every time she found one, she was so excited!

*We talked about, as a group, what kind of country we want to live in. Some obvious highlights were “a country with lots of lions!” and “one with a super hero Statue of Liberty” and “I just like blue.” Then they cut pictures out of magazines and coloured their own flags to decorate. I also printed off some bookmarks here to post on the wall.

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Today:

*We dressed up as soccer-ish as possible. My HH used to play, so he had a couple cute jerseys for me to wear. I find, with our kids, dressing up is half the fun!

 

*As soon as our new friends got here, we read a book about Curious George and baseball. That felt like an epic fail. We have 10,409 books, and I couldn’t find one about soccer. Oh well.

*We went outside with popcorn, and the kids all wanted a picture with a soccer ball. I think they’ve seen enough of them at people’s houses, that they all knew what to do. One foot on the ball.

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*We made obstacle courses involving the soccer ball. That was fun! Today was perfect weather for this, but it could be done inside if you cater it specifically.

*We played a very funky soccer game, with the Precious One sitting in the middle of the game. She loves to be in the midst of the action. The One with the Role didn’t want to play, and no one wanted to be with me, so it ended up being four against one. If you play. I highly recommend shin pads. For yourself.

*When we came inside, we matched upper and lower case letters, and ordered numbers up to 20 on sweet soccer flash cards. I got them off this site, that I absolutely LOVE. This worked well to keep them occupied while I prepared lunch.

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*During quiet time, the boys discovered that I had donated the only soccer movie we had. Fail #2. They recovered. I had my HH stop at McDonald’s yesterday to pick up free soccer activity packs I noticed they were giving away. We went there for dinner last week after Stephen’s last soccer game we stopped there to tell people of the dangers of what they were eating. I didn’t grab any then, because I’m trying to cut down on stuff, but it sure made an excellent contribution to our day. There is a soccer ball to make, stickers, tattoos, etc. It went over well.

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*For the last part, I printed off some certificates, affirming something they had each done today. The kids loved to be cheered for, and will generally clap for each other with little effort on my part.

If you decide to do a day like this, please know that not all kids are interested in the same things. It doesn’t mean you stop doing them, it just means their idea of involvement in specific activities may not look like you want it to. The ONLY way to wreck a Event Day is with a bad attitude. And it’s usually mine. 

I’d love to hear any fun day, or theme day ideas!

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Soaring Up the Stairs

Drip, drip., drip.

You know how annoying water dripping from a faucet is? I feel like that is my life right now. I am so blessed. I am married to an incredibly good-looking man who treats me so good. I have four healthy, beautiful children. I am a part of a church family that loves me no matter how much I mess up. I live in a home that is big enough for our needs, the cupboards are full, two vehicles are working. I have a few close friends whom I trust. What more could I ask for?

But I am getting so TIRED. The counters are always cluttered, no matter how many times I clean them off. The hampers are always full, even though I do laundry every day. There are always innocent-looking toys shaped like jagged glass on the floor. I will clean them up, but new ones fall from the ceiling before I finish. I spend days cleaning up. What is the point? It’s just going to get messy again.

After numerous meltdowns and crying on my Handsome Hubby’s shoulder, I realized I needed a break. But I don’t have anywhere to go, and where is he going to take all the kids for the few hours I need? I left the whole thing with him, and he came up with a God-inspired solution: I would stay home from church, and he would take the kids with him. Absolutely beautiful. Let me tell you, those kids were ready a little early this morning. I was on a mission.

I started scrapbooking our homeschool year, and got a few pictures cut out before our beautiful New One had a diaper malfunction on me. So I changed her, and started again. Well, now she needed to burp and go down for a nap. When it was all said and done, I think the 2 glorious hours I looked forward to evaporated into a broken up 30 minutes of frenzied cutting and pasting, until I ran out of photo tape. Fun, fun, fun!

The page I ended with turned out to be Valentine’s Day. We had a great day: fractions and math while making pancakes, hand/eye skills with cutting out hearts, creative writing while describing the things we love about each other. We also read 1 Corinthians 13 together, so I wrote that out on the page. Even if you are not an avid Bible reader, I know you’ve heard “Love is patient, love is kind. . . ” While reading, I put my name in the place of “love.” See, I have heard that this is a good idea to determine if you are living the way the God wants, seeing as how HE IS the God, and the Maker, of love. You know, 

I am patient, I am kind. I do not envy, I do not boast. I am not proud. I do not dishonour others, I am not self-seeking, I am not easily angered, I keep no record of wrongs. . .

PERFECT! I feel so much better now! Ugh. I suck, I suck. Lord, what is the POINT?

I always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere.

It is so easy to say those words. Hope. Persevere. What do they actually mean?

Hope: to desire with expectation of obtainment

Persevere: To persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The clean counters won’t remain. My house will not stay clean. I may not get the daily requirements of fruits and vegetables into these little mouths. The children will not always act and live the way that we are training them to. It is very easy to say that there is no point.

But I will have faith in this: God made me. Jesus loves me. The Holy Spirit is in me. 

I will have hope in this:  God has a plan for my life. He has a plan for the lives of our children. I may not know what the “point” is, and I may never know. I still don’t know how to fold all the towels exactly the same, or why it bothers me so much in the first place. But I believe that I am where I’m meant to be.

And I will love these children. I will love my husband. I will love my home. Even when I am so annoyed, impatient, tired.

Faith, Hope and Love will remain, even after this crazy month is over, after my bad attitudes fizzle, even after the kids grow up, even after I die. 

“Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:28-31

Oh, Lord, help me to soar, even when I’m too annoyed to walk up the stairs AGAIN.Image,