How to Get a Mommy-Break Without the Help of the Television

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We’ve all done it.

It’s too noisy.  It’s too wild.  It’s too stressful.  We need a mommy break, so we turn on the television and plop those crazy little people in front of the screen so they will be contained and occupied.

Let the big black box babysit for a while – Mommy needs to catch her breath.

How to Get a Mommy-Break Without the Help of the Television | RaisingArrows.net

We don’t like to admit it, but when the going gets tough, the television (or computer) saves the day.

Sort of…

The problem that comes from using the television as a regular babysitter is that we and our children become dependent on the feeling of being entertained.  It is a fine line between a healthy use of screen time and an unhealthy use of screen time.

Certainly, there are seasons when we don’t even realize the television watching is getting out of control.  We often “wake up” from those seasons, only to realize we have a lot of work to do weaning our children from the screen.  However, there are many times when we want to do better with not using the television as a babysitter, but we can’t think of anything that will occupy the children and offer us the break we feel we need.  So, we default to our old habits, and let them watch “one more show”.

Today, I want to offer you a few alternatives to television when Mommy needs to catch her breath.  Not that I’m asking you to stop letting your kids watch television altogether, but because I know you feel guilty putting them in front of the screen as often as you do, yet you can’t think of anything quite as effective.

Alternatives to plopping the kids in front of the television when you need a Mommy Break | RaisingArrows.net

First of all, here’s a short YouTube video from my channel discussing how we handle television in our home. I want you to start here before we talk more in depth about ideas for keeping the children occupied without it.

The second thing I want you to do is ask yourself WHY you need a break.  Make sure you aren’t running after that elusive Me Time.  If you have a habit of running away from your real life, then alternatives to television aren’t what you really need.  What you really need is a heart to heart with yourself and God.  That’s not the focus of this post, but it had to be said before moving on.

OK, so now let’s talk about alternatives to television and screen time…

Audios
There are tons of great audios out there that require your children to use their imaginations.  Some of our favorites are the Jonathan Park series and the Brinkman Adventures.  Put the kids in a room with a CD player and give yourself a few moments to breathe while they enjoy some quality, brain-engaging entertainment.

Crafts
Some of you are probably thinking I’m out of my mind for suggesting crafts as something that would give mommy a break, but if you keep a craft bag with things in it that aren’t super messy (i.e. anything but glitter), then you can pull that bag out every now and then and keep the children occupied for hours on end.

Outside
Even if you have to go outside with the children, taking some time in the out-of-doors, is a great way for everyone to change up their routine and get reenergized.  Have things like bubbles and chalk available for an added bonus!

Room Time
This is a concept I learned from Tricia at Hodgepodge.  Not only does Room Time help to keep children occupied when you need a break, but it is a great way to teach your children to sit quietly while you do school with older kids.  You can read more about this concept HERE.

Have older kids babysit
Way better than television is an older child spending time with their siblings.  Specify how much time you need and give them some activity ideas.

Bathtub
This can’t be an unsupervised break, but I have found just sitting and reading while the kids play in the bathtub is quite relaxing.  You can also use the bathtub as their own private play place.  Dry out the tub, fill with toys and kids, and let them have a ball!  (You can also let them stand at the kitchen sink pretending to “wash dishes” with plastic dishes – I remember doing this as a kid!)

Take a ride
There have been times when I needed a moment to think, and I’ve loaded up the children and we’ve gone for a ride!  Roll down the windows, play some relaxing music, get the kids a drink or snack, and just drive a bit.

Isolate yourself for a moment
This has to be very purposeful because you do not want to zone out for too long, but taking yourself outside or isolating yourself in your bedroom for a time can do wonders for getting back to the top of your game.  It doesn’t take long if you tell yourself you don’t need long.

Give your children a task
By giving your children a focused task, you give yourself a moment to breathe.  This needs to be something simple like picking up sticks in the yard or wiping down walls with a rag.  While they do the task, you take a breather elsewhere.  This will give you about 10-15 minutes.

Have them read a book
Even if they are too young to read, give them a picture book and have them take some down time.  This is something you should start young and do often!  Not only are you getting a break, you are fostering a love of reading!

Be creative
Sometimes all it takes is a cardboard box to keep them entertained for hours!  Look around you for things that are out of their norm that would give them a creative outlet and give you a little bit of a brain break.

And lastly…

Teach your children to be quiet
Play the quiet game.  Offer rewards for the quietest child.  Whatever it takes to help your children learn that when Mommy needs it quiet, she NEEDS IT QUIET.  This is a process, but a very good lesson for your children to learn.  You will be able to afford them many opportunities if they have been taught the importance of being quiet on demand.  This serves a much higher purpose than just giving you a break, so be diligent!

While this is not an exhaustive list of ideas, I hope it gives you a place to start.  The television truly does have a mesmerizing effect on children (and most adults!), but it isn’t much for getting creative juices flowing or offering quality engagement of the brain.  It should be used rarely and with caution.

Feel free to share how you take a break without plopping the kids in front of the television!

Teens and Money – Transitioning from Childhood to Adulthood Finances

Several years ago, I wrote a post about how we handle money with our children.  I spelled out our philosophy on allowances, paying for chores, and what jobs our children could do for extra pay.  At the time, our oldest was 13, and while the principles have stayed the same, the practice has change a bit now that he is advancing quickly toward adulthood.  I thought it might be a good time to offer a new perspective on money as it concerns the teenagers in our home.

(You can read that original post HERE.)

Learn how to make the transition from childhood finances to adulthood with your teen | RaisingArrows.net

Teens and Allowances

I mentioned in my Children and Chores post that we do not pay for chores and we do not give our children an allowance.  This continues into their teens.  The principle behind this is the fact that in adulthood, there are responsibilities a person has toward the upkeep and running of a household that is not a paid job.  Our goal is to teach our children to take care of those responsibilities without needing to be paid or praised for them.  It is simply something that is expected.  Our society no longer places value on a job well done for the sake of doing a job well done.  Too many people expect accolades for their effort, and too many people feel a responsibility that lacks excitement and financial gain isn’t worth their time.  I do not want my children to follow this tide.

I also want to add that I do understand the reasoning behind giving teens an allowance in order to teach money management; however, I do not believe unearned money is the best way to do this.  When the money is simply handed to you, you have no real connection to that money, so the concept of money management doesn’t have the impact it has when it is money earned by the teen.  But, how do they earn money if not by allowance?

Teens and Income Within the Family

Way teens can earn money, as well as money management tips as they move into adulthood | RaisingArrows.net

As I mentioned in the previous post on this topic, we pay for jobs that are “above and beyond” the expected.  For instance, we do not pay for babysitting when one of us needs to run to the store, but we will pay for babysitting if we need to be gone for several hours.  This is something we would have to pay someone else to do if it weren’t done by our teenagers.  Same goes for detailing the vehicle or major handyman jobs.

We also allow grandparents to pay a fair wage when the children go to help with a big project.  We encourage our children to serve their extended family, but we also know that the grandparents would rather pay our children than have to hire the work done outside the family.

Because this money is earned, it is more useful for teaching money management.  More on that in a moment…

Teens & Jobs Outside the Home

Many teenagers like to get jobs outside the home to have some spending money of their own.  There area two sides to this coin that need to be considered carefully before diving headlong into an outside job.

On one side, a job teaches responsibility to someone other than a parent, as well as teaching time management.  Both of these are very valuable lessons.

On the flip side, is the fact that an outside job (unless it is very flexible) has the tendency to separate the family and create a lot of scheduling chaos.  In the last city we lived in, our son had a very flexible job as a trapper at a sporting clays lodge.  This allowed us to take family vacations, work around his schooling, and not be beholden to his job.  Since the move, we have encouraged him to wait on taking a job, and not take just any job.  While we do not want to teach him that certain jobs are “beneath him” or that it is better to do nothing than take a job that isn’t “perfect”, we also know he has the rest of his life to work, and only another year or so to be fully a part of all family activities.  Because of this, we have been praying for another flexible job that would give him some outside money while allowing him to participate in family activities.  (He already has something in the works, but I don’t want to jump the gun telling you about it until we see how it pans out. 😉 )

Another thing we encourage when it comes to working an outside job, is looking for a job that will teach or further a skill.  While flipping hamburgers is definitely a job that will make your teen some spending cash, it is not always a job that will teach him or her a needed skill or hone a skill they already possess.  A good example of this is the sporting clays job.  While Blake has no desire to spend his life throwing skeet, he would like to own his own business some day.  The lodge he worked at was owned by a family who were more than willing to teach him the ins and outs of owning a business.  He was also exposed to all the people with varying careers who came to shoot.  In between stands, he was able to chit chat with them, exchange business cards (we highly recommend your teen considers having business cards made up for networking purposes), and learn more about their vocation and businesses.  He always came home from work with great information and stories.

Teens & Money Management

How you choose to teach money management is a matter of personal preference.  My son decided to use the 80-10-10 method (80% spending, 10% savings, 10% tithe) for his finances, but more often than not, he ends up putting even more into savings.

When I was a teen, I used mason jars to separate out my money.  I had 4 jars:

  • 1 – Savings
  • 2 – Miscellaneous Spending
  • 3 – Tithe
  • 4 – Specific Savings (This is how I saved up money to have my pickup windows tinted.)

You can use the envelope method.  You can actually open checking and savings accounts in your teen’s name.  You can even do some investing if you so choose.

Speaking of investing – if your son or daughter has a talent or skill that has the potential to be an income generator, consider investing in their “business” the way you would invest in a college fund.  For instance, our daughter is a budding photographer.  She’s good at what she does and she’s serious about it.  Because of this, we’ve chosen to help purchase photography supplies and lenses, and helped her start up a more professional website.  (We usually offer half the money she needs for something.)

We also invest in our children by sometimes “paying” them in other ways.  For instance, our daughter chose several years ago to sponsor a Compassion Child.  The photography work she does on this blog and for our family pays for that sponsorship.  Likewise, we have compensated our son for major jobs by paying his way to an event he’s really wanting to participate in that would be money out of his pocket otherwise (like TeenPact National Convention or pheasant hunting in South Dakota).

Compensate your teens for major jobs by paying their way to events and outings they are interested in, but would have to pay out of pocket for. | RaisingArrows.net

Items we regularly require our teenagers to pay include, but are not limited to, the following:

Travel expenses to events they want to go to – this teaches them not to take transportation and food for granted, and not to order the steak when the hamburger will do.

Extra tools and clothing for their job –  A pair of gloves, a pair of jeans, a pair of boots – these are things we are willing to fund fully, or at least half, but extra items that are wants and not needs are paid for by our teen.  For instance, when he worked at the shooting lodge, he decided he’d like to have a pick stick to pick up shotgun shells several at a time.  He found the one he wanted and purchased it with his own money.

This would also be our policy if our children played sports.  We will pay for the basics, they are in charge of anything extra – including an upgrade on shoes from the very basic of models.

“Toys” & Entertainment – Even big kids have toys, and those toys (unless they are gifts for birthdays or Christmas) are not funded by mom and dad.  My son airsofts.  Your child may like video games or sports or certain collectibles.  As adults, we are expected to fund our own entertainment.  The sooner a teenager learns that, the better off they will be.  They won’t grow to expect others to carry the responsibility of paying for their unnecessary items.

This brings me to the final point of this post.  Our teens are expected to be responsible with their money and their time.  As they age, they are given more and more privileges, leeway, and choices.  About 6 months ago, we gave our son nearly total control of his finances.  This past week, we gave him nearly total control of his schedule.  He is a man.  He’s proven this time and again, so it was time for us to let go.  As long as he lives under our roof, we have some control over his finances and time, but that control is nominal.  We are here to lend advice and ideas as needed, but we are transitioning away from planning every aspect of his life and into a new season where he plans his present and prepares for his future.

How do you handle money with your children – especially your teens?  Have you found the transition to be difficult?  What are your goals when it comes to teaching your children money management?  Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments section!

The Mission Field in Your Home

One thing I often hear from stay at home moms is that they feel they aren’t reaching out with the Gospel of Christ.  They are so busy running a household, they have time for little else.  (Remember my post on What You Need to Know About Being a Mom Many Littles?)  These woman want to be spreading God’s Word, but they can’t find the time, the energy, or the babysitter.  I’ve even known some women who gave up homemaking and homeschooling in order to make a greater impact on their community for Christ.

What these mamas are missing is the mission field right in their very homes!

The Mission Field In Your Home - "Living and Ordinary Life in the Name of an Extraordinary Savior" | RaisingArrows.net

Before you hang up on me because I’m being trite, please listen to these words written to me in an email by a Saladmaster Cookware representative who visited our home last week:

“Your family is truly amazing and I felt I was on very sacred ground being in your home.  I am in homes all the time and see interaction in all sorts of wonderful families but have to say, yours is a real stand-out!  I consider it a privilege to have been among you.”

That blew me away.  Sure we get comments as we are walking down the aisles of the grocery store or in restaurants, but to have someone who had been around us for more than 10 minutes give such an amazing testimony to the Light of Christ IN OUR HOME blessed my busy homemaking/homeschooling mama heart!

My children as a mission field.

The Mission Field in your Own Home - don't miss it! | RaisingArrows.net

My mission field has always been my home.  I care for children all day long, doing my very imperfect best to instill the Gospel of Christ in them.  My intent is to raise them as arrows for the Lord to one day be shot out from our home and carry the Gospel with them.  Thus, the name of this blog – Raising Arrows.

“Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.”
~Psalm 127:3-4

Often, a mother of young children won’t see the fruit of her labor until much later, giving her the impression she’s not really reaching anyone.  However, a funeral we recently attended gave me insight into what a faithful following looks like at the end of the race…

The gentleman who was being remembered died at 93.  Although he was raised in the church, he did not become a true Christ follower until he was 40.  By that point, he had been married quite some time and had 4 children, but it changed his outlook and attitude dramatically.  However, he lived his life as an ordinary man, doing ordinary things; the difference was that he now did it for and in the name of Jesus.  Because of this, his impact on his world was EXTRAORDINARY.

All 4 of his children are believers, as well as most of their family and extended family.  All of them spoke highly of him and how he ministered to them as a family.  His work in the community was done in the capacity of his various jobs, and he was well-loved by those who knew him.

Once, he counseled Ty not to worry about taking the “right” job, but to do something he enjoyed and work for the Lord there.  He did a lot of work in the church, but again, it was done in the capacity of the gifts and realm of influence the Lord had already placed in his life.

Visitors as my mission field.

The day the Saladmaster representative came to cook us dinner, we all pitched in and cleaned the house.  That was the only thing I did to prepare.  In fact, I’m pretty sure half of my boys had on jeans with holes in the knees.  I had to leave the kitchen several times to change diapers, my 4 year old kept playing with one of the pans, and my 2 year old took off with the 1 pound fat glob the guy brought as a visual to explain how to cook healthy meals.  Perfect it was not.

But, it didn’t need to be perfect.  It just needed to be authentic.

Being a missionary is easier than you thought.

The Mission Field is your own Home - RaisingArrows.netBeing a missionary is a calling all Christians have and it has very little to do with your training or your location.  As a mama, it is about being authentic with everyone you come in contact with from your husband to your children to the mailman to the Saladmaster representative. It isn’t about saying the right thing or looking a certain way.  It isn’t about being the perfect hostess or reaching the most people.  It is about living an ordinary life, doing ordinary things in the name of an extraordinary Savior!

Your life, your home, your testimony - it doesn't have to be extraordinary to reach others with the Gospel! | RaisingArrows.net

So, next time you are tempted to believe you aren’t really doing the Lord’s work, or what you are doing is much too insignificant, remember WHO is doing the work.  It isn’t you.  This isn’t about you.  Be faithful where you are.  The Lord didn’t accidentally give you these children or this life.  It was planned with a purpose.  Work where you are FOR HIM, and let Him do the rest.

Jealous Siblings and Other Such Nonsense

One question I get asked a lot is if any of my children are jealous of the new baby.  I can honestly say I have never had this happen.  I have never had a child ask me to send back a younger sibling or act like they hate the new baby.  Which makes me curious…why is this?

Well, because I’m pretty sure this whole jealously thing is a lot of nonsense.

Jealous Siblings & Other Such Nonsense - the answer to what's really behind it from a mom of 9 | RaisingArrows.net

Before I end up with scads of email telling me I’m all sorts of wrong about this, hear me out.  If at the end of this post you still believe I’m wrong, feel free to let me know.

Sibling jealousy is often nurtured.

Sometimes it comes from mom and dad, sometimes a well-meaning grandparent, sometimes from Joe Schmoe down the street…someone says something that seems harmless and the little kid wheels start turning.  For instance, Grandma tells little Timmy that when his new baby sister is born he might feel like he’s not getting any attention, but his parents really do love him.

Hello?!  Let’s just set the little guy up for failure, shall we?

Or what about mom and dad who bend over backward to try to keep little Timmy from feeling jealous with presents and coddling.  Or maybe the opposite happens and mom and dad suddenly focus all their attention on this tiny creature, all the while making it very clear that Timmy is “in the way”.

Don’t encourage jealousy with your words and actions.  As adults, we are the ones these little people take their cues from.  If your cues are suggesting they *should* be jealous of a new baby, then they *will* be jealous.

Jealousy stems from confusion.

We have always made the new baby a part of the family from the time he or she is a tiny little bump in mama’s belly.  The baby is an addition, not a replacement, and our children are encouraged to dream about baby, shop for baby, talk about baby, and ask questions about baby long before the baby joins the family on the outside.

If you avoid talking about baby and letting your little ones interact with the baby before he or she is born, you end up surprising your child with a kicking, screaming doll that is terrifying.  Mom and Dad spend a lot of time dealing with this tiny human, and little Timmy is totally confused about who this person is and how he is supposed to interact if he’s never been told this baby is “his” too.

Yes, your child may be too young to understand (my little Creed couldn’t even remember me without a belly, and he certainly had no concept of what a baby really was), but don’t let that stop you from talking about baby and including your child in baby related activities like shopping for baby and baby showers.

Jealous siblings see the new baby as YOURS, not OURS.

Jealous Siblings & Other Such Nonsense - the truth behind sibling rivalry from a mom of 9 | RaisingArrows.net

We talk about OUR baby.  We tell our toddlers the new baby is THEIR baby.  We make sure they know this new little one is a part of OUR family, and we talk about what it means to be a part of OUR family.

They come to the hospital.  We encourage them to hold baby.  We let them join in diaper changes, baths, and feeding.  We are in this together ,and baby is an addition to our family dynamic that we all get to enjoy.

But, if a parent excludes their other children from the day to day routine of having a new baby, or they never talk about baby being OUR baby, a toddler or older sibling may get the impression the baby isn’t someone they should pay attention to or bond with.

All this aid, my biggest gripe with this whole sibling jealousy thing is…

Sibling jealousy is talked about way too much.

Any little sign of a child feeling jealous and we jump on the “we might warp them if we don’t do something quick” bandwagon.  We are so busy trying to nurture our poor jealous child’s psyche, we end up making things worse!  We run to grandparents, friends on Facebook, and even strangers in the supermarket to get their opinion on jealous siblings.  All the while, our little children are wondering what you are so in a tizzy over, but the attention they are getting sure is fun!  It doesn’t matter if the perceived jealousy is real or not, if little Timmy can milk it, he will.

He may actually be feeling a little left out and confused by this new person in his home, but if you run around like a crazy person, stressing over everything he says and feels, he’s not going to feel MORE secure, he’s going to wonder what is going on and act out even more!  Stop talking about it so much.  Stop stressing over it!  Bring little Timmy alongside you and baby and show him that having a new baby in the house is just the way things are and everyone is better for it.

I truly believe many “modern” sibling issues are a lot of hype.  We American parents stress over everything it seems.  Somehow we’ve got to get a grip and just be parents…be a family…have a life!  No more majoring in the minors.  Let’s enjoy our families!  Let’s show them just how wonderful and special new babies are.  Let’s try to keep things low key and normal.  No more jealous sibling nonsense!

So, now that I’ve laid it on the line, I’d love to hear from you!  Be respectful, but feel free to share your thoughts on sibling rivalry, especially pertaining to bringing a new baby into the house.  And if you have questions, feel free to leave those here too!  Raising Arrows readers are always more than willing to help other moms out!

Table Chores

Table Chores {our newest version since the move and new baby} | RaisingArrows.net

A couple of days ago, Ty’s mom was down for a visit, so Ty and I took the opportunity to go out for dinner with Miss Aspen.  When we arrived home, things were in utter chaos because the kids had left my mother-in-law to do all the meal clean up alone.

It was time for a new Table Chores list!

For the past several weeks, we’d been winging it.  Mommy or Daddy would throw out random chores to random children until everything got finished.  It was nowhere near the autopilot we were used to, but it was what we could manage.

When I asked the kids why they didn’t help Grammy with the after meal chores, they all exclaimed they had no idea who was supposed to do which chores.  (Well, all but my 16 year old son who has gotten to the point where he automatically does whatever chores he sees needing to be done.  He had helped Grammy to an extent, but had gotten sidetracked by the time I walked in the door.)

A new house always means a new list because every house has a unique dynamic and a unique set of chores that needs to be accomplished.  With the new baby and the holidays, I hadn’t gotten around to putting together a new list.  Seeing the chaos that night prompted me to immediately sit down at the computer and revamp the old list.  (It took me about 10 minutes, including multiple interruptions.)

Before I share our new list, I want to mention that there are other things that change Table Chores besides moving.  You might have a baby graduate to eating at the table or a toddler graduate out of the high chair.  Perhaps you have a child who is now old enough to help out and you need to add them to the rotation.  Or maybe you’ve had a child grow out of Table Chores.  There are a number of changes in a household that will subsequently change the Table Chores (and most everything else as well!).

For us, there was a toddler moving out of the high chair and a newly turned 6 year old being added in that needed to be taken into account.  I also decided it was time to switch out a few of the harder chores, giving them to a different child for a while.

Obviously, Table Chores are going to be unique to your family.  You will need to consider ages and abilities as well as priorities.  You can see from my 2010 Table Chores post that back then I didn’t have many children with abilities, and my priorities and standards were much lower than they are now that I have 5 children working at a time.

I’d encourage you to start by writing down everything you think needs to be done after a meal.  Assign those chores by ability (with mom and dad taking any chores that are too “big” for your children).

Next, look through the list and order it.  For instance, don’t have one child’s first chore as “Sweep floors” when you have his siblings still bussing the table and before anyone has wiped down the table.  That’s asking for a traffic jam and a floor that doesn’t look like it’s been swept.

I always work through the list in my mind child by child and then put it through a trial run before setting the Table Chores in stone.  There is almost always something that I missed or a chore or two that don’t fit correctly in the mix.  These things can be tweaked and the list printed and posted.

And now for our 2015 Table Chores:

16 (almost 17) year old son:
Unload dishwasher
Sweep floors
Mop floors (may just require spot mop)
Take out trash (as needed)
Wash stove, microwave, refrigerator

14 year old daughter:
Rinse dishes
Load dishwasher
Wash extras
Clean out sink
Wipe down sink area & dry

10 year old daughter:
Bus table
Put away food
Tidy counters
Wash island, bar, counters

9 year old son:
Bus table
Wipe down table & chairs
Help put away food

6 year old son:
Bus table

Yay!  No more after meal chaos!

If you’d like more tips on keeping your kitchen neat and tidy, check out this post – How to Keep The Kitchen Clean.

Baby Boot Camp

The 6 year old is running through the house.  The toddler is constantly saying no and hitting the 4 year old.  The 8 year old is whiny, and everyone (including mommy) has a bad attitude.  Oh, and you just had a baby a few months ago.

You are in those difficult “little years”. Those years when chaos seems to reign supreme.  Sometimes you look around you and wonder what happened.  Most of the time you look around and wonder if you’ll ever gain control of the household again.

Never fear, mama…there is hope!

Baby Boot Camp - how to get the little ones back on track (no drill sergeant needed) | RaisingArrows.netI’m sure some of you read the title of this post and immediately jumped to some sort of torturous conclusion about what it was going to be about.  While the name “Baby Boot Camp” (coined by another mom of many) sounds somewhat harsh, the heart behind it is anything but harsh.  (Honestly, I tried to come up with a name other than Baby Boot Camp and nothing sounded as good or made as much sense.)

So, let’s proceed with an open mind about the name, shall we?…

In the military, boot camp is a time of concentrated focus on getting new recruits battle ready.  There are little to no outside influences and everything the soldier does is monitored.  Yes, there are screaming, often foul-mouthed drill sergeants on hand to facilitate this.  That part, I am NOT advocating. 😉

So, how does this translate into our Baby Boot Camp?  Here’s a quick 5:

1.  Manage one issue at a time.

2.  Stay focused on the task at hand.

3.  Don’t go anywhere.

4.  Don’t add anything extra to your day.

5.  Be Mommy.

I’m going to go through each of these one by one, but I need to offer a caveat…

Baby Boot Camp may be harder on you than on the children.

OK, so now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to business!

Manage one (or two) issue(s) at a time

You may be tempted to try to fix every issue with every child all at once; however, you will quickly find this is impossible and you will will wear yourself out.  Think about the biggest issues you are having with each child.  Running in the house?  Bad attitudes?  Hitting?  Whining?  Pick one or two to work on.

Stay focused on the task at hand

You cannot “check out” during the day by flipping through Pinterest or checking Facebook.  You can’t hang out on the phone or stare mindlessly at the television.  You have to be PRESENT and AVAILABLE and READY.

You are watching for the issues you have chosen to focus on.  As soon as you see the beginnings of one of these behaviors, you head it off.  The name of the game is immediate redirect.

Here’s what this might look like…

You toddler has taken to hitting.  You decide this is one issue you really want to work on.  You keep your toddler close to you all day long.  You watch his activity and watch for signs that he might be planning to hit a sibling.  With hitting, I like to grab the offending arm and give a firm, “No hit.”  Then, I let them try to play again.  If it continues, I come to a point where I completely remove them from the situation and tell them, “When you hit, you cannot play.”

Toddlers do not have a very long attention span, so you only need to remove them for a short time before bringing them back into the group and try again.  You want to give him opportunities to succeed.

Now, do you see why you need to be completely present and ready to go?

Hopefully, you also see why you can’t possible handle more than one or two issues at a time!

To help you stay on task, keep these two things in mind…

Don’t go anywhere

and

Don’t add anything extra to your day

For obvious reasons, you need to stay at home.  I know it may be hard to clear your schedule, but if you really want to be successful with this, you have to stay home, and you have to keep your extra activities to a minimum.  Your meals need to be simple and you need to be completely engaged.

The final part of Baby Boot Camp is quite possibly the most important…

Be Mommy

Baby Boot Camp naturally means you will be spending a lot of time alongside your children.  Don’t squander this time by being that drill sergeant I mentioned at the beginning of the post.  The simple act of spending time with your children, smiling at them, setting them up for success, and loving on them will do as much, if not more than your actual disciplining.  Use this time to not only nip bad behaviors in the bud, but also to read to your babies, sing to them, enjoy them!  Sometimes all they need is to know you really are there, you really do care, that you will be swift to redirect their bad habits and even swifter to praise them.

Large Family Homeschooling eBook | by Amy Roberts of RaisingArrows.net