5 Ways to Encourage Your Kids to Love Each Other

I posted on Monday about how we are focusing on LOVE this month in our home!

And while we are talking a lot about God’s love, and about how much we love each of our girls, we are spending some extra time focusing on SIBLING LOVE.

Our girls are so lucky to have this little army of built in best friends, supporters and future advice givers.

But, THEY FIGHT. They bicker, argue and hurt each others feelings more than I would prefer. I know that this will continue throughout all of their years of growing up, but we can teach them the importance of learning how to love each other through the process of growing….

5 Ways to Teach Our Kids To LOVE | Meaghanmorris.com

Here are 5 ways that we are trying to do that:

1. Love ‘Em Up: Sibling to Sibling Surprises: This was the idea straight from the book In This House, We Will Giggle. I love this idea because it teaches our girls to figure out what their sibling would receive as love. Is it making their bed so they don’t have to? Drawing a picture for them? Leaving them a note? I am helping each of the girls to do something nice for one of their siblings each day. And while, right now, its more me coming up with the ideas, I hope that it leads them to doing these sibling surprises on their own.

2. “Catch Them Being Nice” – We spend a lot of time correcting wrong hearts and wrong attitudes in this house. There are days when selfishness seems to rule the roost and its so frustrating. We started pebble collection jars when we began our chore charts, and we found that rewarding good behavior, at times, works better than correcting wrong behavior. So, this month, at the suggestion of a new friend and wonderful mom, we are “catching them being nice”. When I find them being nice, doing something loving or helping their sibling without prompting from me, I am adding a pebble to their jar. When our girls earn 7 pebbles, they get a trip to our secret prize bin.

3. Talk it Out: Truth is, we can’t avoid all arguments or selfish behavior. Fights and hurt feelings are part of the package of growing up with siblings. But we CAN teach our kids to express themselves properly, instead of biting, hitting or screaming. With our oldest two, we try to get to the heart of the issue – “Why does this make you upset?”, “Why are you feeling like you need to be selfish right now?”, “What could you do instead?”….With our younger two, and sometimes with our almost 4 year old, just explaining to them why something is hurtful to someone else is enough. We expect them to apologize with an “I am sorry for……”, and the person who was hurt needs to verbalize forgiveness. Hurts happen, and its okay.

4. Hug it Out: Another suggestion from a wonderful friend. A one minute hug after a fight!! I LOVE the idea of this, but to be honest, we have not implemented it yet. I am excited to see what happens, between the girls when they are encouraged to focus on loving each other after an argument. I think that a silly one minute hug will help to prevent any lingering hurt feelings! It will probably make for some pretty cute pictures too!

5. Teach them to pray for each other: In our house, Matt and I do the bulk of praying. But, this month, when someone has a need, we are encouraging a sibling to come and pray for them. There are few things in this world that we can do for someone we love, than to pray for them. I want my girls to be each others prayer warriors when they get older. I want them to constantly pray for one another as they continue to grow and find their own paths in life. I want them to know that praying for their sibling is important and makes a huge difference. And, it gets them thinking about the needs of others. I want it to just be second nature that when they know someone has a need, they stop what they are doing and pray for them. This is such a great place to start.

I’m not going to pretend that by implementing these things, our girls have suddenly stopped bickering, fighting or bossing each other around. They haven’t. Truth: Autumn BIT Scarlet during gymnastics class when she wasn’t listening to her, instead of encouraging her. They are not going to be sweet and kind to each other all of the time, because they are growing and learning more everyday. But, we can get the started on the path of thinking outside of themselves by teaching them to think about each other.

What ways do you teach your children to love each other, or to love others??

Valentine’s Day with Kids

I have noticed over the last few days the same question popping up in a bunch of different mom groups that I frequent online…

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your kids?

I have to admit, my husband and I are not that great at celebrating Valentine’s Day together…but we do love to celebrate with our girls. I love knowing seeing their faces when we ask them to be our valentines and give them little cards and gifts. We have managed to surprise them each year with some a different take on the holiday, and it some ways its more fun than Christmas!

So, today I am sharing you 5 easy ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your kids, regardless of their age…

5 Ways to Celebrate Valentine's Day with Your Kids | meaghanmorris.com

1. Serve a heart themed meal!! Whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner, take advantage of that heart shaped cookie cutter in your cupboard and turn everything into a heart! Pancakes, sandwiches, meatloaf…a lot of things can be shaped into hearts! And you can give it extra oomph by adding some pink and red foods to go along with everything. Watermelon, raspberries, strawberries, tomatoes, red peppers, tomato sauce! Kids love themed meals, so have fun and go to town!

2. Heart Attack! I have seen this in a bunch of different places on Pinterest and I am so excited to try it out. When they least expect it, cover their door, a wall in their room, the bathroom mirror or the kitchen table with heart shaped notes highlighting all of the things that you love about your kids! The older ones will love finding this and reading it on their own, but you can sit down with your littles who can’t read and let them bring you the notes one by one to read them to them. What an awesome way to let your kid know all the things you enjoy about being their parent.

3. Write your older kids a love letter and hide it under their pillow. Try your hand at poetry, or just list the “10 things I love about you.” Make sure you highlight those things that you are proud of, and things that are specific to them. And while older kids may not react with the excitement and appreciation of the younger kids, I promise you this letter will make an impact in the depths of their heart.

4. Have a cookies and hot chocolate indoor picnic. I know – an indoor picnic was on my list last week too, but my kids LOVE indoor picnics. You can make cookies, or buy them at the store and you can serve hot chocolate or sparkling grape juice. You don’t even have to eat cookies! Whatever you decide to serve, make sure you use this time to look your child in the eyes and tell them some things that you love about them!

5. Throw a Jesus Loves You party! I say this idea at themominiative.com, and I loved it. Come up with some fun age appropriate games, crafts and treats for your kiddos and spend time talking to them about how much Jesus Loves Them! Use Valentine’s Day as a day to show them how much there is to celebrate when we understand how much Jesus truly loves us.

Whatever you decide to do, I just hope that you use tomorrow to remind your kids how much you love them and how thankful you are that they are yours. Sometimes this parenting thing is so hard and we get so caught up in raising our kids correctly, that we forget how much they need to know, without a doubt, that we love them so much it hurts.

How will you celebrate Valentine’s Day with your kids this year??

Coconut Flour Pancakes

  Coconut Flour Pancakes|A healthy twist on an old favorite| meaghanmorris.com

On Friday I posted a bunch of fun activities to do with your kids this weekend and one of them was to have a huge pancake breakfast, for dinner….

Which leads me to an issue I have had for a long time.

I LOVE pancakes.

There I said it…

It doesn’t sound like an issue?

Well, I have to eat gluten free, and so do 2 of girls now.

When you grow up on Bisquick pancakes every weekend, that is a hard truth to swallow.

So that led to us trying to find a great replacement, and we found a ton! But the problem is, they weren’t healthy enough for eating regularly.

So our dilemma was – save pancakes for a monthly treat, or find a different way of making them.

Well….we have found a way to eat pancakes every single day if we want to! And I am going to share our not so secret, secret with you!!

Coconut Flour Pancakes….

High protein, high fiber, low sugar, yummy, healthy goodness.

After trying different recipes, we tweaked and added different ingredients, changed measurements and came up with our go to coconut flour family pancake recipe!!!

And now it can be yours too:

To make 12 – 14 pancakes

6 eggs

1/2c unsweetened almond milk

1/4 c coconut oil

2- 4 TBSP of honey (or more, depending on how sweet you want them!!)

1-2 tsp of Stevia (optional, depending on desired sweetness)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp butter extract

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 c Coconut Flour

pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Mix well all wet ingredients (eggs, milk, honey, coconut oil, stevia, extracts)

2. Add baking soda, coconut flour, and salt and mix by hand until just combined (Do NOT over mix!)

3. Melt some butter, or use additional coconut oil and heat skillet on low to medium

4. Cook pancakes on each side until slightly browned (they tend to take a little longer than traditional wheat pancakes)

5. Serve with butter and real maple syrup or greek yogurt with berries or peanut butter or plain!

Optional: Sometimes to jazz it up while the first side is cooking we will sprinkle the pancake with mini chocolate chips, shaved coconut or some chopped up berries!

 Autumn |Meaghanmorris.comEmmy|meaghanmorris.com Scarlet | meaghanmorris.com

10 Ways to Cultivate Joy in Your Kids…

This weekend!!

Okay…

I posted a few days ago about how we are getting intentional about the heart around here.

After reading the book In This House, We Will Giggle (did you buy it yet!?), we have decided to spend all of February focusing on creating an attitude of Joy in our house.

And while the Joy we are trying to instill in our kids is about being so grateful for like that you can’t help but feel joyful, and is about the full and complete joy that we find in Christ, it is also about having a lot less stress and a lot more fun!

Which to me means not allowing us to get so busy that we forget to plan fun things to do as a family…

So….

10 Ways to Cultivate Joy in Your Kids: Fun and mostly free activities to do as a family! | meaghanmorris.com

I have put together this list of 10 activities that you can do in the winter, are mostly free and can easily be done THIS WEEKEND.

1. Have a pancake breakfast, for dinner! Because, for some reason, breakfast always tastes better at night to my kids.

2. Order a pizza (or make some frozen ones – Aldi’s has them for a pretty decent price), throw some blankets on the living room floor, put in a movie and call it a picnic!

3. If your kids are a bit older, bundle up and go exploring outside! Winter hikes are awesome and so different than in the summer time.

4. Younger kids? Bundle up and stay close to home – explore your own backyard, build a snowman, teach them how to make snowballs, just GET OUTSIDE!

5. Make snow ice cream! You can find a lot of different recipes for it here on Pinterest.

6. Turn up the music (and the heat!), let your kids throw on their bathing suits and have an (indoor) summer dance party!

7. Dress up with your kids! Become princesses, pirates, monsters or have a fancy tea party! Let them decide what you will be and take part in their active imagination.

8. Have you older kids help you get some props together and make an indoor Photo Booth! Have a photoshoot with your kids! Take pictures of them or let them be the photographer – and don’t forget to upload all of your fun pictures so your friends and family can see.

9. Go out for ice cream. I know, I know – its cold. But, kids love ice cream (and frankly, so do I!) no matter what the weather. If you are like us, we NEVER go from November – May. But, surprise your kids with a fun trip to an indoor place and get some dessert.

10. Have a messy paint party! I LOVE this one, but my husband doesn’t. Cover your table in paper – you can use big sheets if you have them available or you can just use tape to cover the whole thing (make sure you overlap the paper so that paint doesn’t go through the cracks). Give your kids some finger-paints and a smock and let them go to town! Let it dry and find a fun place to hang it for a few days – or use it as the backdrop for your photoshoot!

I hope that you try some of these fun ideas, or come up with your own! I know our lives are busy, but our kids grow so fast. Let’s make sure that we are taking the time to have FUN with our kids while they are young!

What is your favorite winter activity to do with you kids?

Which of these are you most excited to try?

**I link up with these awesome blogs!**

Virtue of the Month

Well…

I slacked off on my weekly posts for One Year of Intentional Homemaking. To be honest, I was overwhelmed. I had a million directions that I wanted to go in and I was still recovering from my PPOCD. I was afraid to try new things and share them with you because I was afraid of failing at them.

But, I am over it! And 2015 is going to be our year, I am telling you! So many things are happening within our family, and God just keeps opening so many doors. But the most important thing that He keeps bringing back to my attention is the importance of our home life being at the top of our priority list.

Matt and I had been talking a lot throughout January about things we wanted to change in our discipline methods (or lack of discipline methods), and what we wanted to really focus on this year. One thing we agreed on was changing our focus from behavior correction to heart correction. We have been learning a lot that when we change our own hearts, the behaviors that we desire for ourself follow. Learning that as an adult is HARD, so we wanted to switch gears and really focus our parenting on that this year.

But…How do you teach to matters of the heart? Our kids, for the most part, aren’t old enough for lectures and to be honest, I don’t really find lecturing all that effective. We correct behavior, have set consequences and make sure that we reward for good behavior too, but how do you get your kids to think about the WHY? How do we focus them on doing the right things for the right reasons, not just to earn a prize or avoid time out?

The answer isn’t found in the moments of correction, but its found in between them. So we talked about focusing on certain behaviors that we wanted to instill in our kids and that we wanted to work on ourselves.

God is so good. Whenever I begin to wonder if I am doing the right thing, He finds ways to respond to me so that I don’t have to doubt. Racing through Barnes and Noble while alone one day (I know – it never happens….) I came across a book that I hadn’t heard of, but its title made me want to take it home…

In this house, We will giggle.

It sounds so simple. But when you are in the throws of raising kids its hard. I had to stop and ask myself, how often do I just laugh with my kids? Do I spend more time being worried, or being busy, or being angry than just laughing with them? How often do I make sure that they know I enjoy them? I grabbed the book without even looking to see what it was about.

And it turns out that the entire book is about teaching your child’s heart. It goes through 12 biblical virtues and how to teach them (without lecturing) to your kids while learning to live them out with your family.

If you have not read this book – you should go buy it now! And no – I am not posting any affiliate links, and the author didn’t ask me for a review. This book has really begun to change the way our household is functioning in just days. And mostly because it is working on my heart more than the girls at this point.

So…

What are we doing?

For the last week of January and all of February we are focusing as a household on Joy. I had to go against every bone in my body that wanted to focus on something more “serious”, and now I am thoroughly convinced that this is where God wanted our family to start.

We hung up the memory verse in the kitchen, along with the kid friendly definition from the book:

IMG_7796 IMG_7802

And we are making an effort to fix our eyes on Jesus and remember how much he desires us to be joyful in all things. We are working on pointing out to our kids things that they have to be thankful for. We are taking the time to praise our kids when we see them doing their work with a good attitude and ESPECIALLY when they do something to help out without being asked but simply because they wanted to help another family member. We are approaching negative attitudes in a different way, trying to get to the root of the attitude instead of focusing on the resulting behavior. Consequences are still being handed out, but its in a different manner. It is hard to not want to instantly punish and then ask questions later. It is hard for me to remember in the daily mess that there are things in that moment that should bring me so much joy. It is difficult to praise Jesus when your child is sick. It is incredibly difficult for me to remember to be an example of joy in reactions to my own problems and stresses.

But it is changing our family dynamic quicker than I ever thought possible. And it is bringing me closer to Jesus every time that I search for something to thank him for. As I thank him to show my kids, my heart is softening and growing closer to him too!

And I have been having so much fun allowing myself to break away from everything to just enjoy my kids. Giving myself permission to just let the messes happen, to play with them – to cancel everything we had planned for our normal busy Saturday and make a point to just spend time with them – has been the biggest blessing on this journey so far! I can’t wait to do more of the activities in the book and fill you in on the affects that they are having on not just the kids, but me as well.

Here are some pictures of what Joy looks like in the Morris Household!

IMG_7795 IMG_7829 IMG_7815 IMG_7809

We took every blanket, pillow and cushion we could find and spent hours Thursday just playing in the living room. We had jump contests, pillow fights, tickle wars and just had a blast. We took breaks for chores and to eat, but we were in there the whole morning!

IMG_7890 IMG_7884 IMG_7875 IMG_7869 IMG_7866 IMG_7858 IMG_7843 IMG_7837

The bigger girls and I took advantage of Emmy’s nap time today and bundled up to go and play on their playground! We spent the rest of today baking, watching movies and eating dinner. Saturday chores still were done, the house in clean and everyone is in their own bed exhausted from a day of fun at home.

My heart is so full of joy.

Thank you Jesus for opening my eyes this week.

I’m Coming Clean…

I have a confession.

laundry

(This is my laundry room folding table…)

My house is not always clean. I know that you probably thought it was, but it’s not.

Truth: I rarely have people over unexpectedly. My mom and mother in law are probably the only two people on the planet who get to see my house in its everyday state, and its because they have stopped over unplanned.

When I know someone is coming, I clean house – or at least I throw everything into a room, close the door and pretend to have an always clean house.

And it is stressful. Needing things to be clean is just how my desire to appear to have it all together all the time manifests itself. It causes me to stay up way too late, get up way too early and sometimes, unfortunately, to get way too mad at my kids.

And it also causes me to worry a lot about how I am perceived as woman, wife and mother. I don’t think we realize that the facade we create to appear to have it all together puts a lot of pressure on other moms to “have it all together.”

So here is another fact: I don’t have it all together. My house is a mess, I am wearing clothes from yesterday, my kids are still in their pajamas, I am tired and I still need to brush my teeth.

But, we are having fun.

God is doing some work in me lately, and He is teaching me (once again! seriously – I am not a quick learner apparently…) that I need to let go of control. In order to be happy, I need to embrace the chaos of this season of motherhood. I need to understand that living life with kids doesn’t look like clean houses and a shoe rack with shoes arranged in order by size….

It looks like pillows and blankets on the floor from snuggling to watch a movie.

It looks like dishes in the sink from dinner last night that we ate together around the dinner table.

It looks like a dirty laundry pile in the corner of the living room because excited children can’t always keep their paint on the paper.

And it looks like having a pile of clean laundry waiting to be put in drawers, because I was needed more for snuggles on the couch this week than I was needed in the laundry room.

So…

Don’t be surprised if next time you come over, I invite you into my mess, and wipe off a corner of the table so you don’t stick to it while drinking your coffee because my life is messy.

And embracing it means not pretending that it isn’t.

What’s on the Menu?

We have been getting serious about our health around here! I cut out sugar a month ago and feel so much better, Matt has been really paying attention to what he eats and we have been eliminating almost ALL processed foods from the kids diet.

We have dealt with digestive issues a lot in this house and I can tell you that it isn’t fun. I grew up having all sorts of things wrong with my stomach, but never REALLY knowing what was wrong. It seems as though the girls are unfortunately following in my footsteps, but I am determined to teach them young what foods make them feel good and which ones make them feel bad. Battling issues with food as an adult is HARD, so we are actively trying to set our kids up with good habits now and teach them to recognize the cues their bodies are giving them when it comes to different foods.

To say that is was overwhelming at first was an understatement. We have made major food adjustments in the past for health reasons, but this was a total over haul. Sugar is in everything and has been the hardest thing to control. And not having handy “snack” foods has resulted in a lot of “There is nothing to eat!!”

So I decided I really needed to get more specific with our menu planning and meal board. If you follow me on Facebook, you probably saw me post this:

fridge fail

I was so excited about it and jumped the gun on posting it!! It turned out that my magnets were too weak. Weak magnets combined with the fact that it was hanging on the fridge resulted in it falling and shattering into a million pieces less than 24 hours after posting the directions for making it. You can still make it using the directions that I posted, just make sure that you use STRONG magnets and put it somewhere your kids won’t be touching it a hundred times a day.

So I needed a new plan. I found this collage frame at Target on clearance and decided to see if it would work.

frame

I used my favorite teal paint and painted one side of the glass frames.

paintpainted glass

(I had a hard time making sure that I kept the paint on only one side! In order for the dry erase markers to work, the glass on the other side needs to be paint free!)

 

After they dried I put them back into the frame with the unpainted side facing out! A little bit of fun with my paint markers and I was able to turn that collage frame into this:

Finished

hanging

We hung it on the wall as part of our command station and I am so happy with how it turned out! This is MUCH more sturdy than the one I previously made, plus the kids can’t reach it and the wall doesn’t swing open and shut like the fridge door.

I spent Sunday preparing food, and now we have the menu board up and a refrigerator full of healthy and easy meals for the week. Our health is totally worth the couple of hours of work it takes to prepare for the week. If you try to make one yourself, let me know!!

Not as crafty? Head on over to the Creations tab to find out how you can order your own custom made menu board from me!

How do you keep track of what you are going to eat during the week? Do you menu plan and then grocery shop? Or do you just grocery shop and wing it?

I know when I first starting feeding  multiple people a few times a day I was OVERWHELMED with how to figure out what to buy, what to feed them, what to cook.

So….if you have a blog with menu planning or meal ideas that you think are AWESOME – post the link in the comments 🙂

Intentional Homemaking: Cleaning Schedule

Have I ever mentioned that I truly dislike cleaning? Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a clean house, I am just not the biggest fan of the work it takes. I used to be REALLY bad about it. Our dirty laundry pile would be so high that sometimes I just wanted to give it all away and buy everyone new clothes. I didn’t, but there have been times when the girls have outgrown something in the time it has taken to make it through the entire laundry cycle…

And then there are the dishes. Why, oh why are there so many dishes?? I mean there have been days when I have had to wash every.single.dish….

But it was usually because I spent the two previous days just rinsing them and letting them pile up in the sink. I am not always the most motivated person when it comes to cleaning, and I fantasize about the days when the girls are old enough to take over a majority of these things probably more often than I should…

In the meantime, the majority of the cleaning is left to me and I have had to figure out a way to help it along without making me feel like Cinderella all day long. I always thought cleaning schedules were for people who were either A. really strange or B.had OCD. Well, jokes on me because now I have postpartum OCD….

So I have a list of daily chores that need to be done in order to keep our house running smoothly. It is truly amazing how much longer these chores seem to take with each additional child….

I try to split the daily tasks up into a morning routine and an evening routine.

 

Morning Routine: Evening Routine:
Move clothes to the dryer Put new load in the washer
Empty dishwasher Load/Run dishwasher
Make beds/Tidy Rooms Clean remaining dishes
Put away laundry from dryer Quick Vac Kitchen
Vacuum living room/playroom wipe down table/counters
  clean highchair
  Pick up Bathroom

I don’t always do them in this particular order, and I definitely don’t do them all at once. I try to get the dishes going right after dinner so there is less to do after the kids go to bed. The rest of the things probably take me 30 minutes to complete in the evening. Morning dishes are put away while I am making breakfast and the rest I just fit in throughout the morning when there is time. I do TRY to get the morning things done before we leave the house for anything because then I don’t feel as overwhelmed when we get home, but honestly, that doesn’t always happen.

The rest of the major things are split up throughout the week:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Grocery Shopping Change Sheets Wash Towels Clean Garbage from Van Clean Out Refrigerator Dust Where Needed Create Meal Plan and Grocery List
Food Preparation Wash Bedding Clean Tubs, Showers, Toilets Vacuum Hallway Clean Kitchen Floors Vacuum Girls Bedrooms  
Straighten Kitchen Cabinets Clean Under Beds Clean Bathroom mirrors        

With the exception of Monday, which takes longer because of grocery shopping, these things take me at most an hour, freeing up the rest of the day for other projects, activities or just playing with the girls. I have just recently created this cleaning schedule, and have only stuck to it for a little over a week, but already my life feels a little easier and Matt is much happier when the house appears clean. Disorder breeds chaos and we honestly have enough of that around here already.

I am trying to make a schedule for larger monthly chores (like wiping down walls, vacuuming underneath all of the large furniture, the things that I REALLY hate doing…) but currently I am just squeezing them in if I have extra time in the day and I am already cleaning in a room that needs one of those monthly chores done. I am shooting for improvement not perfection Smile.

 

Okay – so I HAVE to know…

What is your least favorite chore and what do you do to get yourself motivated to accomplish it???

Intentional Homemaking: Kid’s Daily Schedule

Is it cheating if I start of this series with something that we have been desperately trying to work at over the last 2 months?

If you knew me in my past life (you know – the one I had before I had 4 little girls running it), you would know that I wasn’t the most scheduled person. I arrived late to things, forgot appointments, procrastinated most of my college homework and some nights barely managed to get 3 hours of sleep. I have always been a high energy person and I loved being spontaneous…

Well, spontaneity with 4 kids breeds chaos. I used to think it was fun being the mom who just came up with what we were doing that day, or who maybe made breakfast at 8, maybe at 10 and who never really knew what was for dinner. I was the “relaxed” mom, and I thought that some of friends who had “schedules” were just being uptight.

Well, want to know what my day looks like now without a schedule?

mom

Sometime between 530 and 7 – woken up by either a screaming/crying toddler wanting to get out of their bed, or being woken up by a child who has gotten out of their bed and immediately demands water, milk, TV, food, and all of my energy to be used up in the first 20 minutes of by day…

Then there is breakfast one, two, and three – all different foods at all different times and none of them were for me. Multiple breakfast times are followed by half hearted attempts at cleaning the kitchen while trying to keep my children off of the counter. Fights over TV, fights over toys, and probably one or two children running around naked, possibly peeing on the furniture will all happen before 11.

11 am – the golden hour….usually will be my very first cup of coffee, my breakfast and time to change while for some reason the kids always seem to be able to settle down and watch TV at this time….

11:22 – the minute said show is over, more chaos in the form of children demanding I make food for them again, only this time its worse because they are hungry and tired……

Naps will happen some where between 1230 and 130 – until about 330, but since they were not planned out, children are sleeping at all different times, meaning no break for me.

3:30 – 4:30 – a combination of kids begging to be entertained and fed all at the same time. “I’m bored”, “Come play with me,” and “There is never anything to do” can be heard countless times. Boredom eventually turns into destroying the house with some incredibly imaginative game that involves removing ALL the toys (and blankets, pillows, clothes and bandaids – why do they always use all the freaking bandaids!!??) and cleaning up none of them.

Somewhere between 4:30 and 5:30 – me screaming at kids to pick up and stop playing with things that are not meant to be played with and locking myself in the bathroom (which actually doesn’t lock anymore from the many successful attempts at children breaking into the bathroom to get to me) for 5 minutes at an attempt to gather myself enough to make it to bedtime.

5:30 – crap, dinner, what’s for dinner??? EVERYTHING is frozen because I forgot that you actually have to take meat out of the freezer before you want to eat it. So its cereal, or peanut butter sandwiches, or maybe if I am feeling REALLY calm, its eggs (because I have convinced myself that they are healthier than peanut butter sandwiches) and all the girls whine because when you give them eggs for dinner they SUDDENLY HATE EGGS.

TV time, unstructured playing, more mess making until bedtime is announced and everyone either yells, cries or, in Scarlet’s case, just continues to keep running away from you . If I am lucky they will wear pajamas and brush their teeth but if its really bad and I am just trying to get them into their beds without losing my mind they might just go in naked.

Yelling at, warning and threatening kids will all take place for about an hour until they are FINALLY in their beds and fall asleep.

And then I will shut off the lights, pretend I don’t see the mess in the kitchen, the living room and the bathroom and I will crawl into bed and fall asleep swearing it will be different tomorrow….

It would literally get so crazy some days that I would leave the house with them for the day just because THAT seemed easier than being at home all day with them. I was anxious, stressed and drowning in an ocean of undone chores. I couldn’t seem to get ahead, I felt like I was always yelling and the girls weren’t learning anything good from it.

Awhile ago we adjusted the girls bedtime routines so that at least that part of the day had become less stressful, but even with that the rest of the day still felt chaotic.

So a month ago we created two daily schedules; one for me, and one for the girls. And then we stuck to them for about a week. They worked great, but I started planning a lot of activities that didn’t fit within “our schedule”, so it seemed like every other day I was back to the unorganized chaos. I needed a schedule, but more than anything we needed the routine. I realized that as long as we followed the same structure for the day, the time frames for certain things didn’t really matter. We could still do things around the times they were scheduled, but by adding in some flexibility, we have found a schedule that works for us.

And let me tell you… I noticed the difference the very first day. Sure the girls fought be some (especially Gabbi) when I ended something and moved them on to what we were going to do be doing next, but they behaved better on a whole throughout the day. I yelled A LOT less, and managed to get A LOT more done during the day.

The first major change we made to our schedules was what time we were getting up in the morning. I have come to realize that in order to be the best mom I can be that day that I desperately need to start the day off with things that I need to do for myself. I need to wake up on my own, have coffee, get in my bible time, make my bed, workout, shower and get dressed. I know that it sounds like a lot in the morning, but none of these things will get done during the day if I don’t do them first thing and they set me up to be in a much better mood all day. So I have been getting up at 530 (I know its so early!!) and even though when the alarm goes off and I don’t want to get up, within 20 minutes I am so glad I did.

The girls are usually up on their own between 7 and 730, but instead of reveling in the quiet when they unexpectedly sleep in, I have started to make sure they are all out of their beds by 745 so that they can all eat breakfast at the same time. One meal, one mess and I usually get to eat too!

The rest of the morning for the girls goes as follows:

Clean up from breakfast

Get ready for the day (get dressed, brush your teeth, make your bed – even Scarlet does it too with help!)

Bible Time/A more structured morning activity

TV Time/Snack

Whatever fun activity that we are doing for the day while its still summer vacation – visiting friends, the zoo, even just playing outside for a few hours

Lunch

Clean up/TV Time

Naps/Resting/Reading Time

Free Play after naps

Jurisdictions (this is the time that we take to teach the kids how to do different chores – more about this in another post!)

Get Ready for Dinner

Dinner and then clean up the table

Family Free Time (I had to schedule this so that I remembered not to make the whole evening me cleaning up from dinner and the day and then jumping right into bedtime routines!)

Bed Time Show/Snack

Teeth and Pajamas

Stories and Prayer

7:30 – Little girl’s bedtime

8:30 – Gabbi’s bedtime

For my own schedule, I use the three 30 minute TV and snack times to squeeze in the cleaning that needs to be done on a daily basis (dishes, laundry, vacuuming, general picking up). My goal is to get all of my writing done during resting time, but with all of the busy summer things we have had going on nap time has been a little unpredictable and there are some things that end up taking precedent over my blogging, pushing it to when after the girls go to bed. I do attempt to rest during that time too, even if its just for 20 minutes. Its hard for me and I have to force it, but I know that I will be better off around dinner time if I do.  Free time and jurisdictions I use for prepping and cooking dinner. After the girls go to bed, I finish cleaning up the kitchen and try to get one of the bigger things done that I don’t usually have time for during the day right now (I will be doing a follow up post on weekly and monthly cleaning schedules – so make sure to check back!!).

I do have specific time frames set that I aim for in our daily schedule, but, unlike the first week, I am allowing myself some flexibility in changing time frames, or cutting certain things out altogether if we just don’t have time.  The best part is though is that the girls notice if we have to skip something. It only took the consistency of one week for them to start to anticipate what was coming next, and it has brought the level of chaos down dramatically.

I am planning to alter our schedule once school starts up again – Gabbi will be needing her own so that she can fit in homework, chores and cheerleading all while still having some free time outside of school. I am really hoping that this whole scheduling thing will begin to teach my girls how to prioritize their time and get the best use out of it. I am finding so much peace in knowing that I have time scheduled for the things that I know need to be done, the things that I want to do and, most importantly, ensuring that I always have quality time available for my girls.

So….

Do you have a daily schedule at home? Or do you take the more spontaneous route?

I am really interested in knowing what is working best for all of you moms out there!!

One Year of Intentional Homemaking

In this past season I am starting to realize more and more that homemaking isn’t just about cooking and cleaning. In the deepest depths of PPD I lost all passion and desire to take care of our home, and our family. I didn’t care whether we ate fast food or home cooked food, whether the laundry was done or not and I never vacuumed. I made sure the kids were safe, fed and mostly happy, but it wasn’t a season of disciplining, instructing or teaching. And as far as my husband went, he was picking up all of my slack AND balancing a stressful job, leaving very little time to nurture our marriage. It wasn’t a season of living joyously, it was a season of surviving.

When I started to climb out of the hole I was in, I could see everything around me that I should be doing, and I did it as much as I could, but for a long time my heart and passion for caring for my family had disappeared, and in its place this vocation of homemaking left me feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, under appreciated and valueless. At that point I had even contemplated going back to work full time, thinking that everyone would be better off with someone else caring for the kids and the home most of the time.

But slowly, mostly over the past 2 months, God has begun to reignite my passion for my role of homemaker for this family, and it’s a different kind of passion that I have ever felt before. This time, the value isn’t found it what the house looks like at the end of the day, or whether everyone was happy all the time (both things that left me feeling like a failure pretty regularly). This time, I am trying to find out what it truly means to be a homemaker by calling, knowing that even when I am not feeling valued, or everyone isn’t always happy, that all my actions in taking care of my home are good and pleasing to Him, and that’s what truly matters.

And that is what I want to teach my girls. In a conversation with my husband recently, we brought up what the girls might be like when they get older. I was talking about how I wished for them to be God fearing, hardworking, loving, passionate, caring women who lived joyfully whether they chose a career outside the home, or chose to take care of their families full time. When I began to think about the characteristics that I wanted them to possess in their adult life, I was brought back to a topic I had read about, and realized that I can’t give them anything that I don’t possess myself.

And so, I am launching myself on a journey, one of learning, growing and maturing into a more intentional homemaker.

I have some lofty goals to achieve this year, and every Wednesday I will recap the different things that I am working on at that time, as well as how it is going and what works and doesn’t for our family. I have prayed over and over again for one source of instruction on being a mom, like a manual that would just fall down from heaven into my lap and tell me what to do. But, the Lord keeps reminding me that its not that easy. I need to embrace the fact that the culture of every single family is different, so I will spend this year finding exactly what works for us – and you guys will all benefit from the trial and error!

So what kind of topics can you expect?

-Kids Bible teaching methods

-cleaning, organizing and decluttering methods and discussions

-disciplining and training

-marriage roles and my attempt at becoming a better wife to my husband

-my many mistakes that are bound to happen

and prayer, lots and lots of prayer.

And I hope that you more seasoned moms who are out there reading will take on the role of my Titus 2 mentors and leave suggestions, comments or even just recaps of your years of parenting littles so that all of the younger mamas out there reading can benefit from your years of wisdom.

If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, books that would be helpful, or know of any blogs that would be excellent to read or link up with, let me know that as well!!

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Stay tuned for the first official post next Wednesday!!

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