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What is the Television’s Place in Your Home? {Ask Amy}

What is the Television's Place in Your Home? | RaisingArrows.netI had a reader ask me how our family handle’s television in our home.  She wasn’t asking the particular shows we watch, but more our rules and regulations on the television, and whether we even had one.  (and if we ever use it as a babysitter *gasp*!)

It really boils down to what place does the television have in your home?
(and how do you keep it there?)

Below is a brief video explaining our thoughts on television in the home.  (You can subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE.)  Below the video is a little Q&A with more of our thoughts on television.

Q:  Do we have a television in our home?
A:  Yes.  But, it doesn’t have any channels on it.

Q:  What do we have against “real” television?
A:  Bottom line – the content you can’t control.  The worst being the commercials (which now seem to permeate a lot of streaming video as well, especially the YouTube and Hulu variety.

Q:  What do we use our television for?
A:  We have it hooked up to a VCR/DVD player and we also hook up our computers to it from time to time to stream from the internet.  We also watch old family videos on it.  We use it for school (mostly history) and entertainment.

Q:  Do we have Netflix or something like that?
A:  We have Amazon Prime because we wanted the free 2 day shipping.  There are some good videos available there, but you have to search and you have to be discerning.  Look for kids’ shows and documentaries.  The best part about Amazon Prime is NO COMMERCIALS!

We also have VidAngel.  This is a service that edits streaming video, and it works flawlessly!  There are certain movies like Schindler’s List that we would like our children to see, but do not want them to see ALL of it.  VidAngel handles that.  You can get a FREE month to try it out HERE.  (Note:  The ads for Vidangel that pop up on YouTube are awful.  They feature little kids saying bad words that are bleeped out, but you hear the very beginning sound of what they are saying – not appropriate, in my opinion.  Just wanted you to be aware of this.)

Q:  Have you ever used the television as a babysitter, and would you recommend this?
A:  I bet you are thinking, “There’s no way she’s ever done that, and there is definitely no way she’s going to recommend that!”  You’d be wrong.

While I cannot stand calling it a “babysitter,” sometimes that is the role it can serve.  And yes, I have done it.  However, YOU have to be in control of it.  You cannot let it control everyone’s life, and the moment we see our children craving watching something on the iPad or computer or television, we shut it down.  (This is especially the case with our 3 & 5 year olds who don’t understand moderation.)  Craving tends to come in the form of boredom, or never getting enough television time, or not even wanting to go outside and play because they would rather watch something.

But, there are times when it is completely acceptable to use the television as a “babysitter.”  Morning sickness, needing to focus on schoolwork with your older children, needing to finish a project, or even taking couple time with your husband are a few times that come to mind.  I also allow grandparents to use the television as a tool to keep them from wearing out when they watch our brood.  Just be certain there are CONTROLS put on the content!  You wouldn’t let a foul-mouthed, rude, inappropriate babysitter in your home, so don’t let the television be that either!

Q:  What do you see as the #1 issue with having a television in your home?
A:  Again, it is not the television (or computer) that is the real problem.  It is how it is used and the lack of controls put on it.  The biggest issue I see with it is ESCAPISM.

Children and adults alike are easily drawn to escapism – some more than others.  The world of television takes us out of our reality and gives us a place to go where the troubles of our day are nonexistent.  And while there is nothing wrong with relaxing and taking a break, when we seek that over and over and avoid our responsibilities elsewhere, we are no longer relaxing.  We are escaping.

Note:  Chuck Black deals with this issue very creatively in his book Lady Carliss.  This would make a good read aloud or book for your teen and pre-teen.

Q:  How do you keep the television in its place?
A:  The television is a tool.  As with all tools, it shouldn’t be left lying out all day, every day.

*You don’t have to put your television in the main room of the house.  We keep ours in a guest bedroom.

*You don’t have to allow television time every day.  We have Movie Days – Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, typically in the late afternoon and evening.

*Keep your television inaccessible.  Cover it up.  Keep it in a cupboard.  Put it in a lesser-used room.

One thing we do a lot here is use our laptop or iPad connected to a projector in the living room.  The kids love having a HUGE movie projected on the wall!  A projector isn’t something that can just be left out.  We have to put it away after we use it.  This keeps us from just willy-nilly turning it on!

*Be sure responsibilities are taken care of before the television is turned on.  Is the house tidy?  Is school done?  Are other responsibilities complete?  Television is a time suck – be sure you have the time to give it.

*Never consider it neutral.  Herein lies the culmination of this entire post.  You cannot get complacent.  You cannot simply see the television as harmless entertainment.  It doesn’t matter what show you are watching, it IS teaching you and your children something.  You have to be aware of WHAT it is teaching and IF that is the kind of thing you want taught to your children.  I know all this thinking sort of takes the fun out of watching television, but trust me, in the long run, you’ll be glad you were paying attention.

Ask Amy – Postpartum Depression

It’s not something we like to talk about.  Having a new baby is supposed to be beautiful and wonderful, not a nightmare.  But Postpartum Depression is said to affect around 15% of mothers.  Women who have suffered from PPD previously have a 40% chance of it occurring in subsequent pregnancies.  Yet, when you are that mother, you feel completely alone.

Ask Amy - Postpartum Depression | RaisingArrows.net

A reader wrote me this email,

“It [postpartum depression] was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It took almost three months, but fortunately with the patience and help from God and my wonderful husband, I was able to pull through it… I was wondering if you have any tips for fighting off those feelings of crippling fear and depression.  Honestly, when I think about having more children, I’m terrified of re-living those days.”

****************************************

4 years ago, I would not have known how to answer this question.  I was not one of the 15%.  I’d never suffered through more than a light case of baby blues postpartum.

Then, our 7th child was born and life became a train wreck.

During his pregnancy, I had bizarre thoughts and feelings that were very abnormal for me.  I found myself not wanting to be a part of family activities.  I was standoffish and preferred to be alone.  His pregnancy drug on and on through a hot summer that left me antsy and sleep-deprived.

Finally, true labor set in and he was born very quickly.  However, six hours after his birth he began to cry.  His crying continued for the first four months of his life, leaving me anxious, tried, and very depressed.

I did not share with many people what was going on.  I did not share here what was going on.  I just kept pushing through, often using the internet to escape what was really happening at home.

And then a “troll” (as they are called in blog-land) came to my blog and pretended to be someone she was not in order to get her comments approved, only to later change her name and begin to attack me and my parenting – causing me to spiral even further downward.

Many nights I cried alongside my fussing newborn.  I wasn’t even sure who I was, but I was convinced I was a horrible mother.  I couldn’t take care of my children.  God must have made a mistake giving them to me.  I wanted to run away.  But mostly, I just wanted to feel normal again.

As I look back on those days, I don’t remember much other than a blurry existence.  I didn’t want anymore children because I obviously couldn’t handle it.  I did very little with the children as we coasted through our days.  I kept praying for a way to get out of the nightmare in my head because I knew what I was feeling was not truth.

So, when this reader asks what she can do to let go of the fears and actually deal with postpartum depression, should it happen again, I answer not from some lofty position that has it all figured out, but rather from a very humbled position that can only speak from what the Lord has shown me since that dark time in my life.

Simplify your every day life

New moms should do this anyway, but all too often, we complicate those newborn days with revamped schedules, stress over the upheaval, and resolutions to do everything right this time.

When dealing with postpartum depression, the every day is overwhelming and adding anything to it spells disaster.  You have to take your entire day to the lowest common denominator and get rid of the stuff that easily stresses you out.

Meals need to be simple and on paper plates.  School needs to be simple and workbook or internet-driven.  Your days need to be devoid of extras until you can crawl your way out of the postpartum pit you are in.

I failed to simplify as much as I should have.  I also allowed the blog troll to heckle me far too long.  I should have blocked her from the moment I realized she was there to bring me down.  Perhaps there are “trolls” in your life too.  Simplify your life by removing or avoiding those trolls sooner rather than later.

Search out ways to heal

Not every PPD remedy out there is going to be perfect for you.  While I believe postpartum depression is caused by an imbalance in your body, I am not convinced it is the same imbalance in every woman.  Don’t give up just because one thing you try doesn’t work.  Try something else.  Ask your doctor/midwife to help you find an answer – the right answer for you.

I never did find the cause of my PPD; however, I suffered 2 back-to-back miscarriages the following year.  After the second miscarriage, I felt different.  It was as if my hormones completely shifted and righted themselves.  I am still curious as to what initially caused my depression.

Get outside and bring it inside

It is a known fact that we do not get outside enough and move our bodies and soak up the nutrients in the fresh air and sunshine.  Even if all you can manage right now is to sit in a chair on your back porch, do it.  Work your way up to actually walking around your back yard or neighborhood.  Breathe deep.  Take as much of the outside with you inside.  Open windows, bring in flowers, eat fresh fruits and veggies.

One of the easiest things to do when you are suffering from postpartum depression is to eat junk.  I could barely find the energy to eat, so I grabbed junk to keep me going – or so I thought it would keep me going.  Oh, how I could have benefited from a bowl of fresh fruit or a baggie of cut up veggies.  I also should have started getting outside more, even if I had to put my screaming baby in a stroller or strap him to me in a carrier.  We both would have felt better.

Look forward

We move in the direction we are facing.  You must look forward so you can move forward. Write down 1 thing you are looking forward to each day.  It can be as simple as a bath or as complex as a weekend getaway.  However, I know from previous experience with depression, it becomes the simplest of things that pull you out of the depths.

Making a list was how I dealt with my depression in college, and it was making a similar list that helped to pull me out of PPD.  My list was in my head and something I told myself every morning as I awoke.  I would lie in bed staring at the ceiling trying to figure out why this day was worth getting up for.  Sometimes it was because a friend was coming over or I had planned a certain meal or treat, but more often than not, I would lie there and make up something to do that day that was worth looking forward to.  I would resolve to do things like wash my face with a new cleanser, buy a new pair of earrings, or pick a bouquet from the garden.  Most of the time the items on my list were simple and rather menial, but they were things that brought a smile to my face and gave me a reason for pulling back the covers and facing the day.

Pray for the Lord to direct your steps

God has given each of us a path to walk.  The Bible tells us He will not let us be utterly cast down even if we stumble.  The postpartum depression path is a difficult one, but it is not one devoid of lessons and understanding, and God has not left you to walk it alone.  And hopefully, someday, you will be able to give of yourself and your story in order to help another.

Give your fears to the Lord

Christ is our rest.  We can hand all the fear and hesitations to Him.  He is holy, He is mighty, He is our savior yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  He can handle these feelings and the fears that come with them.

My dear mama, you are loved!  God knows where you are and He knows exactly what you need.  He is bigger than your postpartum depression!

Feel free to share your own stories and experiences in the comments below.  For those of you currently dealing with PPD, I am praying for you to feel God’s presence every day as you walk this road.  I am also praying you find exactly the help you need to get through this trial.  ((HUGS))

How to Be a Consistent Mother

How to Be a Consistent Mother | RaisingArrows.netConsistency is one of those words we like to throw around as the elusive answer to all our problems.

“If I were more consistent, my children would obey better.”

“If I were more consistent, I would be able to get everything done.”

“If I were more consistent, my children wouldn’t be behind in their school work.”

However, we can’t make consistency the fall guy for everything.  Consistency is great, but almost entirely impossible.  We need to learn to see consistency in a different way, so when a reader asked about how be a consistent mother, I decided to tackle the issue in a different way – with a vlog (that’s a Video Blog for all of you scratching your heads at such a weird word).  It’s only 3 minutes, but if you don’t have the time to listen to it all, some of the highlights are listed below the video. {can’t see the video?  Click HERE!}

Highlights:

  • Stop stressing!  There will be different seasons in your life.  Accept them.
  • Create an At-A-Glance Schedule.
  • Surround yourself with things that help you be a better mom.
  • Enjoy the entire process of homeschooling, homemaking, and mothering.
  • Consistency does NOT mean every day looks the same!
  • Do the little things.

Do you struggle with being a consistent mother?  Anything in the vlog resonate with where you are?  Do you have other suggestions for the inconsistent mothers reading this blog?  Leave your comments below!  Raising Arrows is a community and readers love to interact and help each other out.  Don’t be afraid to add your thoughts to the conversation!

Looking for more Ask Amy posts?  Have a question of your own?  Click the graphic below!

Ask Amy

Ask Amy – How Do You Build a Blog That Reaches Others?

Building a Blog That Reaches Out | RaisingArrows.netI had a reader ask:

What are your suggestions when starting a new blog?  How did you start up, and get so successful with so many active readers?

First of all, God has really blessed Raising Arrows.  Never could I have imagined the community this place on the web has become.  Not only do readers interact with me, but they interact with each other.  I have seen all of you ask questions of each other, lend advice to each other, and pray for one another.  It makes me smile.  And it is so humbling that God has allowed my blog to be a place where other believers can connect.

That said, I am not of the “build it and they will come” mentality.  I believe we must do everything “heartily as unto the Lord” — including blogging.  In my mind, that means do what you can do.  Be ready.  Be available.  Never do anything half-heartedly.

I have a series on being a Christian Mom Blogger, but I’m going to spend this post just talking some basics of building a blog that reaches out to others and builds community.

How did I get started?

Well, I’m a blogging grandma.  I’ve been blogging since December of 2005.  I started blogging because I no longer had a consistent writing outlet once we moved away from the church where I wrote a monthly column in a newsletter.  Writing is like breathing for me.  When I heard about blogging, I was hooked!

Then Emily got sick, and my blogging became a way to keep people updated.  Then Emily passed away, and I grieved…on the blog.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was real and very raw.

A couple of years later, I moved to the WordPress platform after much prayer.  My husband and I decided to move forward with the blog in a more serious way.  At that point in time, I had about 24,000 pageviews a month.  I know for some of you, that seems like an unreal amount, but you must remember, by that point, I had been blogging for 4 years!

From there, the Raising Arrows community grew by leaps and bounds, but the foundation was already there.  I only built on that foundation, rather than laying a brand new one.

What kind of foundation does it take?

A blog that truly reaches others needs an author who is honest, but encouraging.  Your blog needs to offer something heartfelt and real, useful and inspirational.  It needs to be God’s message wrapped up in your story.

When people ask me what they should write about and the way they should write, I tell them to be the blog they are looking for!  What things keep you up at night?  What do you search the web for?  What blogs keep you coming back for more?  What writing styles engage you?  I imagine if you took a hard look at those blogs, you would find a common thread…

Real people sharing what they have learned.

So, how do you get started?

What is the ministry God has given you?  What unique story has He given you?  How can you take that story and share His message with others through it?

Now, when you start writing, you may be compelled to be a bit didactic, meaning you try to be ever-teaching and never just you.  People don’t like to be talked at, so avoid the pontificating.

Also avoid the whining.  Don’t be that blogger who never has anything positive to say.  And don’t be that blogger who shares EVERYTHING.  Guard and protect your family by honoring them in what you say as well as what you don’t say.

And lastly, BE YOU.  Don’t copy the style of another blogger.  Learn from other bloggers, but don’t BE other bloggers.

Once you have prayed through what it is God is wanting you to share, start writing!  Put out GREAT content.  Organize your blog into useful categories and pages – the kind of categories and pages that would interest you and keep you coming back for more.  Start networking with other bloggers.  Start sharing your content with others.  Be bold, be respectful, be genuine.

Working Heartily in the Online World

The online world can be noisy.  It can also be incredibly distracting.  A Christian blogger who is serious about blogging has to be willing and able to balance the online with the offline.

I am available to my readers in the places where my readers are, but they can never come before my family.  Even when what I am doing online is done in the name of the Lord, if I am neglecting my family, I am building my blog in vain (Psalm 127:1)

And just so you know, this balance I speak of is not something you do one time.  It’s something you do over and over and over.  If you ever once think you’ve arrived, you’re sunk.

So, now that we have balance thing settled, HOW do you work heartily?  Here are a few suggestions to get you thinking in that direction:

  • Your posts should be content-rich, useful, and well-organized.  If you can’t manage that, don’t post it until you can.
  • Any freebies you offer (ebooks, worksheets, etc) need to reflect your best work.  Free isn’t an excuse for shoddy.
  • Exemplify the Fruits of the Spirit in your posts, your dealings with others via social media, your answers to comments, your emails, and your business dealings.
  • Never grow weary in doing good. (Galatians 6:9)

So, now I’m going to open it up for questions specific to building a blog that reaches out.  If you have questions I didn’t answer here, feel free to leave them in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to respond with an answer that is helpful.

Got a question?
Ask Amy | RaisingArrows.net

Help! My Home Isn’t Organized! {Ask Amy}

Ask Amy | RaisingArrows.net

A reader emailed and told me that she has tried and tried to follow the organizational tips I offer here on Raising Arrows, but she feels she is failing miserably at keeping an organized large family home.

Folks, its time you took me off the pedestal.

The things I have managed to get organized in my home are not because I’m some super-organized person.  I have always been good at seeing the problem and then searching out ways to fix the problem.  Most of the answers to problems I offer on this blog were thought up by someone else.  I’m good at repackaging and making something fit my family.

For instance…

DrinkBandsDrinkBands – I didn’t think these things up!  I had a serious cup issue.  I had tried everything.  Nothing worked until DrinkBands…a product thought up by someone else.

Do I still have cup issues?

Yes.

HOWEVER, they are not nearly like they were.  But, let’s face it, even with products that help, there is the human factor, and I happen live with a lot of little humans.

By the way, the winner of the DrinkBands giveaway is:
winner

Congratulations!
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So, let’s talk organization in a very real, very candid way.

Organizing for most people is hard work.  It’s not an overnight thing, and it is never a completed task.  There will always be something else you will need to organize.

Some people can organize in their sleep.  These are the people who see the problem and immediately think up a solution.  We’ve already established the fact that I am not one of those people.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you are not either.

Moving on…

For every organizational challenge I have conquered in my home, there are a handful of others needing my attention.  But I refuse to give up!  Refusing to give up is how you build an organized home.

Large family moms tend to find they must become organized just to manage the chaos.  If I ever want to get anything accomplished, I have to have a chart for everything.  I didn’t start out this way, but again, I refuse to give up.

So, I know you feel like you are failing miserably.  I have those days too.  But, rather than letting the chaos overwhelm you, get on your knees and start looking for answers.  You have no idea how many times I stand in the middle of my bedroom with an organizational issue looming over me, and cry out to the Lord to point me in the right direction.

So, when you see some organization tip on this blog that inspires you, never for one moment think I’ve arrived and my home is organized from tippy top to tippy bottom.  I have a linen closet that looks like a bomb went off.  I have a homeschool closet that ought to be torched.  I have yet to come to terms with how many sets of clothes, towels, toys, and coats every person in this family ought to own, and I’ll probably move again before I manage to go through all the boxes I just dumped in my garage when we moved here.

You have to stop seeing organizing as a destination.  It’s more about meeting a need and moving on.   

I don’t write an organizing blog.  I write a life blog.  It just happens that sometimes life needs to be organized.

Ask Amy – Play Dates and Parties

How to Handle Bad Influences | RaisingArrows.netToday’s Ask Amy comes from a reader who asks:

How do you say no to a play date with a child whom you’d consider a bad influence? And what do you when you are at a birthday party where the theme is in opposition to your beliefs?  Can you avoid appearing self-righteous or snobby?

First, let’s get the last part of this question out of the way…

Any time you stand up for what you believe when it directly opposes those around you, you will appear self-righteous to someone.  Sorry, just the way it is.  And always remember…

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
John 15:18

These situations are tough.  You wonder how “in the world, but not of it” are you supposed to be.  You wonder if you can be a good influence in the other child’s life without sacrificing your own child.  You wonder what God expects of you when it comes to ministering to others.

In the matter of play dates, there are a couple of things you can do.

1.  Always say no until they eventually stop asking.

2.  Occasionally say yes, but on your terms.

What I mean by #2, is to be the one in control of the play date.  Don’t create an environment where your child will be off alone with the other child.  Make it a play date that is family-oriented.  Make it a trip to a museum or zoo with the children near you at all times rather than a playground or home where the children run off and play outside your direct supervision.

If you do encounter something during a play date or party, you again have a couple of choices:

1.  Address it right then and there either publicly or privately.

2.  Address it later.

You first need to decide if it is bad enough that something needs to be said right then and there to the host or to your children.  Often, the matter is not so dire it needs to be publicly called out and you can get by with explaining quietly to your children why the other child’s behavior is unacceptable or why they won’t be participating in the current activity.  Sometimes you might need to explain to the other family why you feel the way you do, but the fewer words you use, the better.  Remember:

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.
Proverbs 10:19

Before you publicly say anything, be sure you are clear why you believe what you believe, and it is not merely a matter of personal preference that is better off addressed later with your children or the other family.  Be discreet and be kind.

And please, please, please…be humble.

No family is perfect.  Not even yours.

Your turn!  How do you deal with bad influences when it concerns your children?

Got a question?
askamy