Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quality vs Quanity

Almost sixteen years ago I was assigned to write a paper in college that argued two opposing views, I was then supposed to bring it together and make a conclusion. Of course sixteen years ago, I had no children of my own, but nonetheless, my interests must have hovered somewhere in the motherhood realm. I chose to write my paper on "Working Mothers versus Stay at Home Mothers." I cringe now at that term 'working mothers' because truly, EVERY mother works. (I addressed that fact here, if you remember!)

Regardless of whatever terms I used, I wrote a whole paper based on all sorts of research, studies, and articles. (By the way NONE of which were found 'online.' They were all found the old fashioned way--in periodicals and journals at the Marriott Library... Do college students even go to libraries anymore?) The findings of my studies surprised me sixteen years ago. The conclusion I reached based on the research I did, was that more often than not 'working mothers' had much more QUALITY time with their children than 'stay at home mothers' did. Although clearly, 'stay at home mothers' had far more QUANTITY time with their children.

And really,what matters most? I'm not going to get into that. Clearly, further arguments and studies can delve into all sorts of research based on one or the other and it is more than obvious that there are all types of mothers that will be exceptions to the rule. My point is, and I think the reason I recently remembered my college paper, is because sometimes by virtue of a mother's 'subtitle' ('employed somewhere' or 'stay at home') we are given all sorts of judgments, excuses, and expectations.

A couple of things that make me crazy when people blur the lines between...

** If you are a 'stay at home' mother, it seems people expect you to have a completely flexible schedule and should be able to accommodate the 'working' mothers. Case in point--my friend's PTA who holds the meetings after school because some 'have to work.' Yet, the ones who then have to 'find a babysitter' or adjust extra-curricular activities to have the after school meeting, are given no consideration.

** Men or women who make the comment that allude to the fact that stay-at home mothers have nothing to do, or get bored. Case in point--a mother who works part-to-full time once mentioned to me that she would get bored and have nothing to do if she stayed home all day with her children. I wonder what exactly she thinks someone like ME does all day.

Granted. Today while my recently mopped floor was drying, I did lay on the couch and work on a crossword puzzle while I waited for it to dry. But bored? I can't even remember the last time I was bored at home.

Recently, I sat at a park with two very top notch ladies. We were having a Power of Moms business meeting of sorts. Nine children clamored among us (thank heaven five children were not even there!) as I listened to these two women, who while clearly are very passionate about their job as a mother, talk about their involvement in a lot of really wonderful organizations. And though one may be considered, 'stay-at-home' and the other a 'working mother' neither fit the stereotypical title. I can't quite remember where the conversation was at, when my friend Saren asked, "Really, is any mother truly a stay-at-home mother?"

I've thought about that a lot lately. I can't think of a single mother who simply stays home. Every mother I know, whether earning a paycheck or not, is doing more than 'staying home.' Whether they are training for a triathalon, serving neighbors and friends, writing a book, home-schooling children, working a photo shoot, sewing some bedding, keeping their body fit and healthy, baking home-made cookies, or painting bedroom walls, stay at home mothers are doing plenty of things besides simply staying home.

Which brings me back to that whole paper conclusion I came to, it doesn't matter if you are a stay at home mother or a working mother, it is about the quality of time spent mothering with our children. We all get too hung up on the stereotypes of 'working' mothers versus 'stay-at-home' mothers. There should be no difference. We need to cut each other some slack.

Just last week, I had a deadline on a project I was working on. Despite the crying, fighting, and throwing toys in the next room, I spent the better part of an hour telling my children, in essence, to go away. When really, what I probably should have done was find a babysitter that my two boys could have gone to, and finished my project in peace. But, I'm a 'stay at home mom' and therefore I should have been able to 'babysit' my own kids, right?

Wrong.
Where was the quality time with my children? What message did I send to them? It doesn't matter that I am a stay-at-home mom, I went to bed that night wondering if I'd even spent a single quality moment with a couple of my kids. (My daily priority/goal to spend at least some time with every single child one-on-one is (obviously) not something I have completely mastered yet.)

My hat goes off to mothers who have to leave their children and go to a working job each day. Some of the working moms I know, are some of the best. They've got the quality versus quantity thing figured out pretty darn well.

As for me, I guess I've got plenty of time 'at-home' to figure it out still.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Too Many Mistakes In One Night

Saturday night our ward (local church) had an activity in our cul-de-sac. For a myriad of reasons, I am NOT a fan at all of ward activities and generally try my hardest to avoid them at all costs. But with tables, chairs, barbeque grills and a hundred plus people scattered mere feet from my house, it was kind of difficult to avoid. So I went outside, and did my best to be somewhat cordial and polite in my mingling.
Maybe that was the first mistake.

Or maybe the first mistake is to be blamed on Mike when he gave permission for Hank, yes HANK to attend the party. Luke was one proud goat owner walking around that cul-de-sac with Hank on a leash. Children flocked to Luke and Hank as they settled in the shade gnawing on carrots. (Hank, not Luke. Luke favored the cookies and chips.)

Or maybe the real mistake lies with me when someone (obviously assuming we were 'animal people'!!!!!!) asked, "Do you want a rabbit to go with your goat?" and I replied, "Oh Megan has been asking for a rabbit for two years now but...." I DIDN'T GET A CHANCE TO FINISH MY SENTENCE that we are a NO-PET family, because the next thing I know Megan was being asked if she wanted a rabbit, and Megan was jumping up and down grinning from ear to ear. The rest is kind of a blur.

I do know that Megan asked Paul (our neighbor who has a heart bigger than anyone I know) if she could house a rabbit in his deceased rabbit's cage. Next thing I know Megan and Luke are talking a million miles an hour. I couldn't tell which one was more excited Megan or Luke. All I caught tid-bits of, were planned walks around the block with a goat and a rabbit, and the planned trips to the feed store they'd make together.

What?!?

By this time Mike wandered over and looking at me and at Megan said, "It's your deal."

MY DEAL??

The rest is history.
Meet Daisy.
The newest addition to our family. (Wait, didn't I introduce Hank as the newest member barely a week ago!?!)


Let me back up just a bit. Paul once had a goat--it died a couple of years ago. When this whole goat 4-H thing came up last spring, Paul's 'goat pen' was still all set up and it made perfect sense for Hank to make his home there. Paul had a rabbit that just died a month or so ago, and so the rabbit cage was still all set up...

We I am now including Paul's chickens and horses in my prayers that their days may be LONG. We don't want any more 'spaces' to become available!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Too Quickly

Last week, as Ellie and I walked out of a store, she reached out to grab my hand. That is certainly nothing out of the ordinary, but for some reason, as we walked to the car holding hands I suddenly felt a pit in my stomach as I questioned, "When did Megan and Luke stop holding my hands at a store?" (I still habitually reach out to grab their hand if I'm in a parking lot with them, and they oblige me for the quick stretch amidst cars.)

I've been pondering the hand-holding question for a week now.
This morning, I sent my fourth child to preschool for the first time. He was as excited as can be, Ellie was just as excited for him, and the other kids gave him plenty of attention for his special morning. And me? I'm not quite sure how I feel.

But let me explain.
When my first two children went to preschool (for two years no less) I was thrilled. With Megan and Luke, I always seemed to be in a rush to move them onto the next stage. Diapers to underwear, tricycles to bikes, cribs to beds, and home to preschool. I was the excited one. I was the overly-anxious one. I was the one who couldn't wait to see a new milestone met.

This morning as Drew and I walked out of the preschool, Drew crying for toys he couldn't touch, and me blinking away tears at leaving a baby of mine that no longer is, a mom and dad stopped me and asked if I'd take a picture of them with their little girl. I knew it was their oldest child. I could tell. I flashed back to what seemed like yesterday, when Mike and I did the same thing; took Megan to preschool together when she was just THREE years old.

I wanted to give this young couple all sorts of advice. I wanted to tell them not to be smiling so big, not to look so proud, and not to be so cheery. Instead, I looked through the camera with blurry eyes and snapped a permanent reminder for them of a day they will always remember.

It was bittersweet capturing a moment for someone else, I didn't want captured for myself.

Even though Luke let me plant a kiss on his cheek after administering a test to him yesterday at school, Megan on the other hand politely requested on Monday morning, "Please let me walk to the junior high bus stop by myself."

Perspective.
I think I'm learning this principle all too well.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Love at School

I distinctly remember being on the school playground one day as a six or seven year old playing 'house.' One particular girl, named Nicola, wanted to join in our game. I guess I was the (self-appointed?) boss of the game, and so it became my decision whether or not Nicola could join in. I can remember exactly where I was standing on the Cheam Park Farm Infants School playground as I looked at Nicola, the standard green snot dripping from her nose, as she waited for my reply to her request to play with us.

I was (overall) a nice girl. I knew that telling her not to play with us would be mean, and so despite her runny nose and other playground infractions I told her she could play with us.

Except I put it this way, "You can play with us. But you have to be the dog." Desperate to belong, Nicola spent the next fifteen minutes crawling around the asphalt playground on her hands and bare knees (we wore skirts to school) at the mercy of me, who in addition to playing the role of mother, was a mother who didn't particularly like dogs... (Told you I've never been much of an animal lover!)

I do not tell that memory in an attempt to be funny, but to illustrate why since the day before Megan started Kindergarten in 2004 I have given the same Family Home Evening Lesson every single year the day before school starts. This was our eighth year.  I use the exact same paper dolls, I tell the exact same stories, and with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat every year, I impart the exact same message:

Be KIND.
Love one another.
Be nice.

The paper dolls are four different children holding hands. One has no arm, one has different color skin from ours, one has no hair, and one wears glasses. None of the paper dolls show snot dripping from their nose, but each year, I pray my children get the message.

Be KIND.
Love one another.
Be nice.

One of my fondest memories will always be my memory of Megan, as she walked into the elementary school on her first day of Kindergarten in August of 2004. Just shy of six years old, she turned around to me as she waved goodbye and said, "Don't worry Mom, if there is a kid in a wheelchair in my class, I'll be nice to them."

A new school year is upon us.

Each year, we choose a one-word reminder that hangs on our fridge. Each child writes a letter to 'own' the word that defines the principle we have chosen for the school year.

For the last few years in a row the word has been, "OBEY". It seems each year Mike deems the principle 'not quite mastered' among our children and last year it was our 2010-11 word yet again.


Though our children are certainly not proficient in obedience, they each receive very good reviews from their teachers in regards to being obedient at school and so this year we decided a new word would be appropriate. (We have separate family rules to internalize other principles, but this 'one word' is for focus at school.)

This year after our paper doll lesson, we moved onto our one-word-for-the-school-year discussion. I was thrilled with this year's choice.

It is for all the paper doll realities, the Nicola's, and the children like yours and like mine that all deserve to feel accepted and loved on the playground and in the classroom.

Here's to another school year.
(Megan--7th grade)
Luke-4th grade
Ellie-2nd grade

Entitlement

I'll admit I smiled a proud smile recently when one of my children asked, "Mom, how can I earn some new cowboy boots?" but then I will also admit that just two weeks ago, I dragged a crying child from a store after they were denied being the proud owner of a much desired item.

I was MAD. Very mad. I plonked my items on a nearby counter and marched the wailing child out to the car. It didn't take long for the crying to stop when I discussed what else wouldn't get purchased with that kind of attitude.

I was appalled. I was disappointed. I was embarrassed. I spent the next couple of hours berating myself about all the things I must be doing wrong as a parent to give a child of mine an attitude that we get what we want, when we want?

Guess it is a good thing I have pre-ordered the book, The Entitlement Trap.  This wonderful resource for parents will be hitting the shelves in just a few weeks. You can get the book for $13 by pre-ordering one versus $18 when it hits store shelves.

Now, you know I'm really not one to typically blog about give-aways and products, but really, who can't benefit from this book? And as an added perk for pre-ordering, you can be entered into the following drawing.

Wow. There sure are a lot of links in this post, but check them all out. I highly recommend the book. Even if you have never had to drag a wailing child from a store...


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hank's Fate

Hank made his appearance at the County Fair this week. Hank had his own little stall and was surrounded by goat friends on every side. I really had no idea what this whole 'entering a goat into the County Fair' thing was all about.  It has just kind of been Luke and Mike's (and Hank's) deal. But when my neighbor called me the other morning and asked what time Luke was 'showing' Hank as she was planning on attending, I thought I as the mother should probably make an appearance at the goat show!

Aaghh-about two hours, 500 degrees, and a lot of dusty feet, clothes and hands later I momentarily wondered if it really would have been best to have kept it Luke and Mike's (and Hank's) deal after all. Instead it was a family affair. (Minus Megan-who had some musical commitments.)

I wish I could record every moment, every expression, and every thought I observed or felt while I was sitting at the County Fair Goat Showmanship Show, but I can't. And even if I could, I wouldn't. They are instead quiet little memories and moments that will be forever ingrained into both mine and Mike's heart and mind. Luke may not exactly be a 'Goat Showman' but by golly is he a goat lover.
And maybe I even have a place in the 'goat lover' category. After all-it was ME that got all choked up and teary eyed when I read this last minute 'stall decoration' Mike made for Hank's County Fair stay.
This morning was the Goat Auction. Despite Hank's ranking of 5th place in the 'Goat Meat Show', Hank remained in the comfort of his Fair stall, while Hank's County Fair room-mates met their fate. The decision was entirely Luke's. The enticement of doubling and tripling Luke's financial investment thus far was not enough to break the bond of love between a boy and a goat! 
And so I introduce Hank, our official family pet.




Thursday, August 18, 2011

1811 or 2011

Sometimes I can't help but wonder if perhaps Luke and I were born in the wrong era. Last week was one of those times.

A kind new associate of Mike's invited our children to come and watch them haul hay with no machines, just the plain old-fashioned way: with a horse and wagon.

Of course all of my children jumped at the chance, but Luke of course didn't WATCH. He jumped right in and helped. What a kid.
Luke worked hard lifting heavy bales and keeping up with the others more than double, triple and quadruple his age.

As I stood clicking pictures wearing flip-flops and totally non-hay-baling-attire, I daydreamed of being in a farm house cooking bread and fried chicken for the menfolk to come in soon and eat. I thought about how much I would have loved wearing a long dress and an apron and spending my days baking, cleaning and sewing in a time period more than a century ago.

Mike and I are so far removed from this country stuff Luke is in love with. Mike and I have never had the exposure to such things, until Luke has gotten all these new contacts for us. I am now appreciating all sorts of things I never would have thought I would. I spent the morning smiling at Mike and Luke hauling hay while three of my other children observed from a wagon. Despite the heat and the physical exertion, the smile never waned from Luke's face. It was such a step away from our everyday life.

Pretty abruptly I returned to 2011.  The cell phone in my pocket rang through a text message, and a glance at the time told me I was minutes away from a meeting I had to get to. My daydreams of slower time periods with horses, wagons, home-made breads and jams were over.

Oh well. Minutes later when we climbed into the car, my feet were dirty. My black shorts were covered in dust and straw and my kids' clothes and bodies were even filthier. I was relieved and cooled as I blasted the car's air-conditioning on us.

Maybe I wouldn't have survived living in an earlier century after all.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Long Days, Short Years

There are moments in life that are stark reminders of how quickly time passes. Sunday was a blatant reminder of my oft repeated quote, "The days are long, but the years are short."

Oh boy are those years short.

Yesterday, we attended a missionary 'farewell' of a nineteen year old boy ready to leave on an LDS mission. He is NINETEEN. Mike and I, as two-week old newly weds, met his dear family when this NINETEEN year old boy was looking forward to starting kindergarten. This dear family whom we have such fond memories of living across the street from for seven years, once had children the ages of our children now.

As I sat and listened to this handsome soon-to-be missionary speak, I couldn't help but look down at my three boys. One asleep on the church pew, one pestering his sister, and one shoving pretzels into his mouth at what seemed record consumption speed. And though my immediate thought was that the one son will probably never grow out of pestering his sister and the days of another other son always seeming to demand a snack in one hand and a Hot Wheels car in another will never cease, the once pre-Kindergarten kid turned pre-missionary whose deep-mature voice was bearing testimony of the Atonement of Christ was an instant and poignant reminder, that these days will surely pass.

We spent the afternoon interacting with these dear friends reminiscing of days gone by. I remembered their now high school junior having an accident on our three week old carpet from a potty training mishap. I remembered their now married son with a child of his own as a high school senior dating a girl that caused his mother constant worry. I remembered this dear friend, Kathy calling me while I was hooked to machines at a hospital with pregnancy complications, and then a few months later throwing me my first baby shower for Megan.

A baby shower for Megan?
Today I am taking her to her 7th grade Junior High orientation.
Again I am reminded, "The days are long, but the years are short."


It doesn't seem too long ago that Mike and I took turns in an old ugly wooden and wicker rocking chair willing a newborn to sleep. But now our newborns have turned to toddlers, most of our toddlers have turned to pre-schoolers, the majority of our pre-schoolers have turned to grade-schoolers, and now one of our grade-schoolers has turned to a junior-higher.

The days have been long. The days are STILL long.
But oh boy, are those years short.
I know it!
know I know it.
But sometimes temper tantrums, messy floors, unmade beds, toothpaste stained sinks and empty cups filling every inch of counter space blur the separation of long days and short years.

But then I have moments like Sunday, when I see a once five year old tow-head boy who loved playing at our house, now a mature, nineteen year old almost-man politely yet warmly, bid me farewell for two years. All the while from out of the corner of my eye, I could see and hear my diaper-only wearing two year old wail his impatience from the constraints of a car.Yet despite the chaos of the car, I climbed into the car feeling renewed.

I heard the whines with a little more perspective and a little less frustration.

The days are long, but the years are short.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ouch Times Twenty Five

Wednesday evening, Mike was grilling some meat, while I was in and out of the kitchen and garden preparing the rest of the dinner. The kids were back and forth from the yard to the park play toy that connects to our yard. To make a long story short, Drew was stung 22 times by some hornets.

We were all impressed with Drew's bravery as his tears stopped after mere seconds, and instead began picking up on what the six people surrounding him kept talking about; "Bees sting." "Bees sting." was repeated about 5,438 times.


Drew was a trooper. After a shower and some medicine, besides a blotchy body and multiple 'bee stings and toddler' Google searches you wouldn't really have known anything had happened. (Well unless you count the overdone meal--we eventually sat down too--everything cooked a little too long!)

In our almost thirteen years of parenting, we had only dealt with stings twice before. Once with Megan a few years ago, and once with Luke when he was two. Both of those earlier times, and more recently Drew's episode, I couldn't help myself from thinking about Mike's uncle who died from bee stings leaving a young child and a pregnant wife thirty years ago. I always thought his uncle must have been allergic to bees, but a few years ago I learned from the widowed wife, that he wasn't allergic to them, he just got stung too many times in too few of a day period.

Needless to say, I went to bed Wednesday night praying Drew would not get stung again anytime soon. I was amazingly calm and my usual-worried self was very much at ease as I recalled that up until Wednesday night, we've only had two stings in twelve years between all of our children.

Friday night we went camping. While Mike and Megan relaxed at the camp, the rest of us went exploring. Ellie, a few feet behind us suddenly began crying. As I walked back to her, I asked her why she was crying. She replied, "I don't know." The long and short of it--Ellie got stung!!

Unbelievable!

With Drew just a few feet away from her when the attacker came, I thanked Ellie that she took the sting for Drew.


As we finished up our exploring we went back a different way, avoiding the stairs where Ellie had had her painful encounter. Again, Ellie trailed a few feet behind and suddenly Luke's constant chatter was interrupted by a scream. Ellie was stung again.
UNBELIEVABLE!
As I hoisted Ellie up onto my back. I thanked her again for taking the sting for Drew.


The next morning. Mike set out on a walk with all the kids but Drew. Drew and I stayed home to start cleaning up camp. As the story goes, Luke, the self-proclaimed tour guide announced, "This is where Ellie got stung last night, on these stairs."

Mike, the ever-wise parent announced, "Then DO NOT go down that way."

Luke and Joshua chose to disobey.

Previously we were two stings in twelve and a half years. We are now twenty five stings in seventy two hours.

And for the record, Ellie cried more at the one sting on her arm, than Drew did with his twenty two.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rivalry Fishing

It could probably pass as a tradition now that we spend one evening each summer at Deer Valley picnicking and fishing. It is beautiful, peaceful, and tranquil. There are usually very few (if any) people around, and we usually enjoy the pond to ourselves.

For whatever reasons this year, though still stunning in it's beauty, our time at Deer Valley didn't seem quite as peaceful or tranquil.

Maybe some of it had to do with the overcast sky and the falling raindrops.  Seven people eating chicken strips, hamburgers, and french fries, IN A CAR with sachets of ketchup being squirted on laps, on shorts, on car-seats and a little ranch dipping sauce being spilled here and there, don't exactly spell t-r-a-n-q-u-i-l-i-t-y.

(It also didn't help that my dear husband was feeling a little cheap 'financially responsible' at the Burger King drive-thru and at the completion of the meal, every single person was requesting and declaring, "Is there any more food, I'm still hungry?" or "PLEASE can I have some more food?")

Just as the food requests were being denied, the rain passed and the anxious-to-get-out-and-fish children were finally released from the confines of a fast-food scented suburban.  Relieved to have a little silence and just a little time to myself, I rolled down the car windows and looked forward to observing some quality family moments.

Of course Luke was the first one at the pond's banks.

 With Joshua, following very closely behind.
Mike made an attempt to help Drew enjoy his first fishing experience, but Drew wanted nothing to do with it...there were 'tactors' that took his fancy instead.
Oh, but look at those children together that are enjoying the fishing.
But then a couple of them lost interest (I think helped in part by words to the effect, "Go away and leave us alone."). So then we had a beautiful, mountain location setting and three kids playing 'house' on a fork lift!
But at least two children were having a nice, pleasant time bonding and fishing together.
Remember, I was still sitting in the car, so I am far enough away to think it is sibling togetherness at his finest. Oh the feelings of joy I was feeling at the thoughts of my two children bonding over a fishing pole. But it didn't last. My silence was broken by repeated declarations getting louder and louder of, "She does NOT know how to fish. She is going to ruin my pole."
But fortunately, by this time Drew had discovered a different 'tactor'.
Which confirmed Mike's ponderings that he probably wasn't going to get any fishing in, which worked out nicely to free up Mike's fishing pole to be used by the accused fishing pole breaker.
Megan's apparent lack of fishing skills was enough to have ended the sibling bonding moment, probably before it even started.
And then I obviously ruined all the fun by demanding a family picture. Thanks to a forklift propping up the camera and a ten-second self timer, I planned to trick ourselves into remembering with just one camera shot that we had a fabulous, filled with bonding and togetherness family activity.
Except Joshua had different plans.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nothing Comes Free

It seems I keep finding myself in casual conversations about whether or not I've taken my kids back to school shopping yet, or what they get, or how much, etc.

Then just the other day, my cousin from Arizona asked me about something she knew my family did from talking with her sister. I honestly don't know if it was from a passing comment on my blog or a comment from a phone conversation. But she asked if I would explain what my children's 'Summer Goals' were. She hasn't been the first to ask recently, so I thought I'd give a brief explanation.

Mike and I have never been quick to simply 'give' our children 'things'. (By things I mean tangible belongings, privileges, or a chore-free life.) I do have to give credit to Mike for setting this tone early on in our parenting. I remember clearly a day when Megan was just four years old and she was asked to do a fairly simple task in exchange for having a privilege of going somewhere special with me that evening. She did not do the task, but I allowed her to go with me after having her promise she would do it when we got home.

When we returned home, Mike was laying in bed in the next room. He kept quiet as I fought and pleaded with Megan to do the task as she had promised. I can't even remember if she eventually did it or not, but I do remember going to bed feeling frustrated and furious that she hadn't done as she said. Mike very kindly and tactfully said, "The reward was given first, what incentive did she have at all to do it?"

I've never forgotten that little lesson which set the major groundwork for our parenting style that continues today: You work and then you play and nothing in life is free.

(Oh dear, do we sound like slave-drivers already? We aren't, but sure we'll admit we have high expectations.) Life isn't fair, life isn't easy, and life isn't free, and we believe it is OKAY for children to learn those lessons young.

As I mentioned last month here, with Luke's horse lessons, we try our best to have our children take some ownership in what they do and what they get.

Mike and I balance each other well. Where I would say, "Kids, we're heading to the pool today." Mike will say, "We have the opportunity to go to the pool today. How will you earn it?"

Although with all our 'work for what you have/get' efforts, it seems the last few summers as a new school year approached, there was a natural inclination towards new shoes, new outfits, and new backpacks that somehow seemed to be dire needs to just be purchased with little thought. (Well except last Summer and bless Luke's heart in order to get new cowboy boots that exceeded the shoe budget amount, he faithfully did something like fifty homework sheets in a two week period!!)

I'm rambling.
Back to my cousin's request.

Though goals are nothing new to my children for working towards earning privileges or things, we decided to really enforce it this year for back to school clothes. It is based off of this idea here.

Generally, Mike and I have five areas we focus on with our children. Whether with goals, in conversations, or activities to participate in, etc., Mike and I try to be aware of the Financial, Spiritual, Physical, Mental, and Social well-being and progress of our children. One slow Sunday early in the summer, we sat our three oldest children down and with some guidance and suggestions from us, we asked them to make a couple of goals in each area and what they may want as rewards at the end. Each of them then decorated and designed their own posters displaying their 'Summer Goals.'
(We wanted to hang them in a prominent place in our home where they would be seen daily--our kitchen seemed the most logical--but to protect our children's privacy (and progress) from the 20-25 church members that parade through our home each Sunday for choir practice, they are in a more secluded location.)

Here's a little closer look at some of the specifics:



We do plenty of chores around here just because they have to be done, and there is no 'payment' or 'reward'. But this idea is about working towards something tangible that is desired.

We take effort and persistence into the final decisions--not just the end result. And around here, working on goals doesn't end because school starts. If you want something... you have to earn it. Our children are more than welcome to show us what goals they have accomplished and see what they may be able to get in exchange for it. And of course there are times the completion of a goal is nothing more than personal satisfaction... you don't always get something for everything.

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