The Best Advice for Raising Well-Adjusted Children

The Best Advice for Raising Well-Adjusted Children

This post is by guest contributor Kristin Louis from Parenting with Kris

Parenting advice is everywhere these days, and shaping children into happy, well-adjusted members of society is a tough job. It’s easy to get caught up on particular facets of parenting, such as discipline, and lose sight of all the other ways you can raise children who thrive in school, work, and life. Whether your kids are toddlers, teens, or any age in between, check out the following resources for help raising children who are well-behaved, emotionally stable, and equipped with the skills they need for success.

Advice on The Importance of Routines

Routines help children feel grounded and in control. Set a schedule for your mornings, mealtimes, and bedtimes so your kids know what to expect.

12 Tips to Master Your Kids’ Morning Routine and Eliminate Stress by Nicole Spector

Best Ways to Help Children Fall Asleep at Nap Time

Creating a Night Routine for Your Family

Advice on Setting Boundaries

Establishing firm rules and boundaries—without sacrificing respect—can help your children learn to self-regulate their behavior.

How to Set Limits for Kids Without Harshness, Fear or Shame by Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW

Using Praise to Encourage Good Behaviors by Amy Morin, LCSW

Rules For Kids That Parents Should Follow by Sherry Parnell

Advice on How to Support Learning

As a parent, your actions have a significant influence on your children’s academic progress. There are plenty of ways to support learning at home!

Strategic Ways to Use YouTube in Your Homeschooling by Emily Sewell

7 Educational and Entertaining Activities for Young Kids

101 Reasons That Video Games Can Be Educational

Upgrade Your Internet for the Best Game-Playing Experience

Advice for Building Problem-Solving Skills

Raise confident, problem-solving kids by giving them the tools they need to figure things out on their own.

5 Reasons to Let Children Make Their Own Decisions by Ken Myers

Why You Should Let Your Child Fail: The Benefits of Natural Consequences by James Lehman, MSW

It’s common for parents to worry about whether they’re doing everything right. Just remember, there’s no such thing as a perfect parent! The most important thing is to be there for your children through every age and stage of development, offering gentle guidance and allowing your kids to take the reins once in a while. Do what you can to provide a happy and supportive home environment, and your kids are sure to thrive.

I hope you found this parenting advice round up helpful. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given since becoming a parent? What’s the worst? Let me know in the comments below. If you found this post helpful, share it with your friends!

Easy Goal Setting Tips for the Busy Mom

Easy Goal Setting Tips for the Busy Mom

Learning how to set goals changed my life, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that. They brought clarity and focus when I was in a season of uncertainty. We all have a set finite days to our life. I decided that I didn’t want to waste a single one any longer. I stepped into the calling that I was created on purpose for a purpose. And so are you, sweet friend. You have a worthy life to live! Goal setting takes practice, and it can feel overwhelming for someone just starting out. Here are my tips for learning how to set goals for your life.

Start with the Big Picture

What do you want your life to look like when you are 80? This was the question that sparked something in me. I realized I needed to be doing stuff now if I was to have the life I envisioned when I’m old. So, here I am asking you this same question. Think about all the aspects of your life. What do you want them to look like 50 years from now, and most importantly why? Why do you want your life to look like this vision? When you’re struggling, always refer back to your way.

Break It Down

Now that you have your long term vision, it’s time to break it down. Grab a piece of paper and write out various categories. Things like family, relationships, spiritual life, finances, and so on. You tailor this to you. Next, write out what needs to happen in each category for you to reach your end of life vision, and once again, don’t forget your why.

Bust Through the Doubt

We all encounter doubt and fear in life. Your goals might seem pretty far off right now, almost unreachable. You might be hearing whispers of insecurity, or maybe you feel trapped in the comparison game. I am going to ask you to do something hard here. I am going to ask you to do a deep introspection. Meditate and/or pray about what the root of your fear really is. Think back to the first time you felt that feeling. Replace those lies with truth. You are WORTHY. No one can do what you were divinely created to do. Dear friend, let me encourage you. I am here for you, and I am cheering you on.

Write It Down

Now it’s time to get after it. Go back to your categories and start thinking of small actionable steps you can take this month to move to needle forward on your goals. Small steps over time lead to big progress. You are not required to make perfect progress. In fact, I can guarantee that there will be mistakes and missteps along the way. My fellow enneagram ones might be panicking right now. I don’t like the idea of making mistakes either. However, I would rather make a mistake and learn while making progress on my goals, than stay stuck in the same place for the rest of my life. I like to have daily, weekly, and monthly check off items, when I am writing out my action steps. A daily step might be as simple as drinking water every day (why is this so hard??), while a monthly step might be paying down debt by a certain amount. You do you. This if your one life. But here is the MOST important thing. Are you listening? Put your action steps in a place where you see them every.single.day. I have mine taped to my bathroom mirror. It is so easy to get distracted by the day to day. Having your goals in front of your face will help to keep you focused.

Tips and Tricks

  1. While you do not need any special tools to set goals, I really like the resources from Cultivate What Matters. Makse is another popular tool, but I have not personally used them before.
  2. Set a word for your year that encompasses all of your goal. I know it’s not January, but here’s a secret – there’s nothing magical about January 1st. You can read all about my word for 2021 here.
  3. Your goals should stretch you. Be really honest with yourself with what you are capable of. Have realistic expectations of your goals, but you should also be stretching yourself. I will usually set my monthly goals to where I know I won’t accomplish them perfectly on purpose, so that I am always reaching. Does that make sense?
  4. Decide today is the day, because why not you? Why not today? You got this!

Tell me about your goals, and as always, please like and share this post if you enjoyed it.

The Best Picture Books to Add to Your Easter Baskets

The Best Picture Books to Add to Your Easter Baskets

Picture books are such a great way to teach our kids about faith and the love of Jesus. I love including books in my children’s Easter baskets. Here are a few of our favorite engaging stories that are sure to spark wonderful conversations about our Lord.

I hope your family enjoys these books as much as we do! I really find that exposing my children to Jesus through picture books fuels their understanding, curiosity, and love for the Lord in an exciting way. If your kids aren’t that in to books right now, have no fear. Go check out this post to spark a love of books in your child.

Let’s Review a Book

Let’s Review a Book

I am so honored to have the opportunity to review a new book for expecting and new mothers. 15 Ways to Manage Stress and Stay Sane: The Actually Useful New Mom Care Package by Kelly Mager is the book I wish I had when I had my first child 8 years ago. Kelly’s writing is concise and straight forward. This book is an easy read, which is refreshing when you’re running off little to no sleep.

What It Says

15 Ways to Manage Stress and Stay Sane is not like other new mom books. The author is an experienced mom of three. She anticipates the struggles new moms will have and provides easy and actionable steps to combat them. Things like the need for community, meal planning, money management, and even discipline. These are things that I, as a new mom, didn’t realize I would need help with. I didn’t know how to find mom friends when I had my first child, but man, I’m so glad I did! This book gives you ideas on how to meet other women in the same season of life as you are now in. I can promise you, that the friends you have when your babies are little will be friends for life. I don’t think I’ve seen another book address this need before.

How to Read It

The structure of Kelly’s book is a breath of fresh air to say the least. Sitting down to read a book comes in low on the list of things to do when you’re a new mom. How do you find the time? But this book is SUCH an easy read. The chapters are clear and concise. Each chapter ends with a list of actionable items in reference to the topic discussed. If you are struggling in a particular area, all you need to do is find the related chapter. I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I have!

If you enjoyed this post be sure to check out this post all about self care.

Spring Sensory Play

Spring Sensory Play

Let’s embrace that spring fever with some sensory play for the kids! Sensory bins are a favorite for kids of almost all ages. From young toddlers to elementary age, sensory play is not only fun but educational. Making a sensory bin for your kids is simple and easy. Take a look at the one I created for my preschooler and elementary aged kids.

Start With a Base

First, you need to decide what you’re going to use to hold all your items. You want something that isn’t too deep but is wide. I have this table, but you could also use a baking tray or something you have around your house. For the base of your sensory play, you want something that is smallish, that can easily be scooped and poured. You also want something that can be easily cleaned up, because let’s face it, sensory play involves a lot of clean up (stay away from sand!). I really like to use rice or beans. They sweep up easily, and they aren’t dangerous if a child accidentally tries to eat them. For our spring bin, I chose a mixture of pinto and garbanzo beans. I like that these have varying shapes and textures. Little pom pom balls are also fun, especially if you’re looking for a quieter option.

Add Some Interest

It’s fairly easy to keep your sensory play base the same at all times. However, I highly encourage you to change up the items in the sensory bin every season, or every month if your kids play with it daily. I am going with a spring theme here. I’ve added some plastic Easter eggs, artificial flowers, and several small flower pots.

Add Some Tools

Adding tools to your sensory play is adding the fun. Kids love so much to scoop and pour. This provides a huge learning opportunity too. Young toddlers learn things like cause and effect, while older kids are visualizing and estimating volume. You want to add small containers or cups (remember those little flower pots?) as well as spoons and scoops of varying sizes. I have this set, and my kids absolutely love it. You can also add in things like tweezers or magnets.

Sensory play is so much fun for kids. Have you ever made a sensory play area for your kids? Let me know what you like to put in your sensory bin in the comments below. As always, please like and share this post if you found it helpful and encouraging.

Covid: One Year Update

Covid: One Year Update

Wow. I can’t believe it’s been one year since I had covid. It really doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. I think because it has consumed me. What I mean by that is that the effects of having covid are at the forefront of my thoughts often. I am constantly checking in with my breathing. Is it normal. Does my chest feel heavy? I need to take some deep breaths. Oh no, I don’t have my disposable mask. This means I will need my albuterol inhaler because breathing through cloth masks is much harder. These are some of the thoughts that run through my head all day long.

Covid Changed Me

The term “long hauler” is more well known now. I have read a lot of really good news articles detailing and validating, not only mine, but so many other’s experiences. These articles bring me solace. I spent much of last year feeling so alone in my journey. While I don’t know anyone else personally who has walked this same path, I find it comforting to see long term covid included in the national conversation. But the thing I want you to know most is this virus has changed me. It took something from me, and I don’t know if I will ever get it back.

What My Life is Like Now

In my six month update, I talked a lot about different medications I was on. I still need those inhalers to help with my breathing. I still need my recuse inhaler as well. Honestly, I have gotten used to needing those things. What I mean by that is that I have come to a level of acceptance. It is what it is. While I am hoping my upcoming appointment with a specialist will give way to more effective medication, I accept that my body needs this help now. Do I now have asthma? Maybe. We will see. What is incredibly interesting about my breathing situation, is that I am able to exercise regularly. I felt like my fitness level had returned to pre-civid status by December 2020. I have even improved my fitness beyond that. But talking through a mask for a long period of time will almost certainly cause me to need my rescue inhaler. It doesn’t make sense to me, but much of this journey has been baffling to everyone.

Fatigue and Brain Fog

Friend. The fatigue is rough. I will be going about my day, and it will hit me so hard and fast. I will get this overwhelming feeling that I have to go to sleep right away or I won’t make it. It deal with this, I will usually take a twenty minute nap around lunch time (that’s usually when this sudden fatigue hits). Thankfully, my children are old enough to where I can do this. But I need this power nap almost daily. On top of that, once my husband gets home from work in the afternoon, I will have to go lay down and rest again before dinner. This is now my normal daily routine. I have to continually remind myself that I am not being lazy. But mentally, it is hard. I don’t want my kids remembering mommy in bed so much. Recently, my six year old asked my why I sleep the most out of anyone in our family. That brought on the tears.

Secondly, there is the brain fog. Google defines brain fog as “a term used for certain symptoms that can affect your ability to think. You may feel confused or disorganized or find it hard to focus or put your thoughts into words.” It’s sneaky. I will just randomly not be able to complete a thought. Or more noticeably, my short term memory is unpredictable. There is a good chance that I will forget anything that is not part of my weekly routine. For example, that extra errand I was supposed to run. Yep, I forgot about it. Or there was the time that I was supposed to book our summer vacation, then remembered three weeks later. The reason I say that this brain fog is sneaky is that I can’t predict it. It feels like it creeps up out of no where, usually when I finally remember that thing that I forgot.

Perspective

So, where am I one year after this virus? Though my symptoms are actively present in my life, I have been able to come to some sort of acceptance. I don’t feel that daily angst and disappointment that was so intense months ago. I have days when frustration and weariness overtake me, but I always have the support of my AMAZING husband to talk me through the difficult moments. Overall, from the outside, most people do not realize how much covid has changed me. The fact that I am still struggling is often a surprise to others. I think there is good and bad to this. It shows from the outside, I function pretty normally in the world. I homeschool my children, do laundry, run errands, see friends, work at my part time job. But on the flip side, I am often having breathing difficulty during these activities. I will always need a nap after an outing, and I will have a random day that is spent mostly in bed. Long haul covid is often a hidden struggle. I hope to continue to improve. Maybe one day there will be a magic solution to all of this.

I want to close with this. If you know someone who is struggling with long haul covid. Check on them. Ask them how they are doing. They might seem fine, but they could be struggling behind closed doors. Also, please…hear me on this….do not offer them advice on what they should try to get better unless they ask you. Just don’t. You do not know what they have tried. There are thousands of people struggling still one year later. If it was as simple as needing extra this or less that, we would know. Because those of us who are in this battle have tried it all. Instead, offer to bring your friend or family member dinner. Or cupcakes. Offer to baby-sit so they can have a quiet house for a few hours. Those are the things that are helpful.

I hope my story over this past year has impacted you. If it has, I would love to hear from you in the comments below and for you to share this post with your friends.

The Easiest Way to Start a Garden

The Easiest Way to Start a Garden

The easiest way to start a garden is to just jump right in and do it. Gardening is one of those things that feels really complicated and intimidating. It’s easy to get swept into the rabbit hole of soil composition, fertilizers, pest controls, and then quit before even starting. But friend, I am here to tell you that starting a garden is not complicated. You just need four ingredients. They are seeds, sun, water, and dirt. That’s it. It really is that simple.

Seeds

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether you want a flower garden, vegetable garden, or both. If you want to grow vegetables, I still recommend planting a few colorful flowers to attract the pollinators. You can order seeds online from a place like Botanical Interests, or you can buy them from your local box hardware store. You will find lots of choices at both places, whether you’re looking for vegetables, flowers, organic, or conventional. It really doesn’t matter. It’s important to know when to plant your seeds. To determine this, you need to know your planting zone. All you have to do is google your city and planting zone. Zones are labeled by a number and letter. If you are on the edge between two planting zones (I live close to 5b and 6a), go by the dates for the colder zone (so 6a for me). There is nothing sadder than when your new baby plants freeze because you planted them in the ground too soon. I actually plan to start my seeds inside this year, and then will transfer them to the ground in the beginning of May.

Sun

Almost every vegetable will need a considerable amount of day time sunlight to grow well. That seed packet you just bought – flip it over and read that back. That is where you will find exactly how much sun your plant needs. Knowing that you need access to a lot of light, it matters where you decide to place your garden. If your yard is mostly shaded, you can use large pots (or even buckets) in a sunny spot on your porch or edge of your driveway.

Water

When determining where to place your garden, you need to consider your water source. The easiest thing is to have your garden be close enough to your water hose, so you can easily use that. Once you get into the summer months, you will need to water your garden almost daily. If you live in a place with extreme heat, you will want to put a sprinkler on your garden for several hours if you go through a spell with no rain. I can attest that filling up a watering can and walking it to your vegetables multiple times each day get real old real fast. So yes, your plants need to have access to lots of sunlight, but they also need to be close to your water source.

Dirt

Next, let’s talk about dirt. This is where I see a lot of new gardeners get overwhelmed. Dirt composition is a whole thing if you make it one. But you can have a healthy and thriving garden without knowing too much about what type dirt you have. Don’t overcomplicate it. If you are using containers, just pick up some bags garden soil (or maybe find someone with extra topsoil). If you are worried about the soil at your house, you can also use store bought soil and mix it in with what you already have. This is a great options for those in the south who’s yard is mostly that hard red clay dirt.

Bonus Tips

Don’t forget about pest control. If you are using containers or have a raised bed garden, you won’t have to worry too much about rabbits. But if you think some furry critters will be interested in your veggies, then surround your garden with some type of fencing (I just use chicken wire). As far as bug control, your best resource are the employees at your local nursery. They have a wealth of knowledge about the pests in your area, and they will recommend effective measures to combat them.

Lastly, it’s important to note that starting a garden takes the most time and energy in the beginning. Once things are in the ground, pests are controlled, and you have a watering routine, the hard work is over. Then you get to reap the harvest of that work. You might have some bumps along the way, but takes the lessons from the garden all in stride. Have you ever had a garden? Do you plan to start one this year? Let me know in the comments below. And as always, if you liked this post, please share it with your friends.

How to Love Your Neighbor in 2021

How to Love Your Neighbor in 2021

How to love your neighbor well in 2021 can be tricky. I mean, we are still in a pandemic and the country is so divided over so many things. February is a great time to focus on others. There’s Valentine’s Day on the 14th, and a few days later is World Kindness Day on February 17th. I know I can speak for all of us when I say we can all appreciate a little extra love in this crazy world. Here are some simple and easy ways to love your neighbor this month.

Send Some Happy Mail

Don’t you just love getting something in the mail besides bills? We ALL do! Send a letter (vintage style, ha) or a postcard to a friend or loved one. Let it be a surprise. This past week, my kids made postcards (we used this kit) to mail to their friends. They had so much fun and talked about sweet memories they have with those whom they were creating for. I plan to mail my own little notes of encouragement too. Parenting is hard. Parenting during a pandemic is hard. Parenting during the winter during a pandemic is ridiculous. Send some unexpected love. It will fill your heart as well!

Everyone Loves Coffee

You know coffee is basically life for moms. Show a friend or even a stranger some love by paying for their Starbucks. The Starbucks app makes it really easy to send someone a gift card. Also, paying for the person behind you in the drive-thru line has the potential to make someone’s day or even week! When you pay for someone’s coffee order in the drive-thru, it will often set off basically a coffee love chain where people continue to pay for the person behind them for quite some time. That’s pretty cool!

Your Actual Neighbor

Loving those in our closest sphere of influence can be so powerful. That includes people who actually live next to us. I know I have been guilty of not knowing my neighbors before. Falling into that isolation really doesn’t benefit anyone. If that is you, it’s okay! Now is the perfect time to reach out. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway one morning, make them some banana bread (or the star of the pandemic – sourdough bread), bring their newspaper to their front door so they don’t have to walk to go get it, or offer to take their dog on a walk. There are so many little things we can do to make a difference in someone’s day.

I think so many of us had such high expectations for 2021. Like we thought the end of 2020 would just cause all the big things to just evaporate. Well maybe not quite so dramatic, but we hoped to at least to have turned a corner. For some people, things have gotten better. But for many, things are mostly the same. Pandemic fatigue is strong. Moms are all struggling. I know I definitely have hard days.

I know none of the things listed above are super revolutionary. But sometimes we just need to be reminded of the simple every day things that can make such a difference for others. I think the middle of winter during the month of love is perfect time to show friends and strangers alike a little extra love, kindness, and grace in a tangible way. How are you going to love your neighbor this Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments. And, as always, please like, share, and subscribe if you enjoyed this post.

We’ve Made Some Homeschool Changes

We’ve Made Some Homeschool Changes

That’s right. Our homeschool got a few changes and upgrades since we started our year last July. I think that’s my favorite thing about homeschooling. It’s okay and even encouraged to make adjustments to our schooling when we need to. I find it so freeing!

Language Arts

The first big homeschool change we made this semester was switching our Language Arts curriculum. Last semester, we used Abeka. You can read all about my initial review of this program here. Even though I quickly realized we wouldn’t stick with Abeka long-term, my plan was to finish the books I bought. However, we couldn’t even do that. The workbooks started moving too fast for my kids, and no one was having a good time. So, I made the decision to go ahead and toss it out earlier than expected.

What did we switch to you ask? Logic of English. We are LOVING it! Loving it, I tell you. My kids get so excited to do language arts every day. They love the multi sensory approach to each lesson. I made the decision to start with Foundations A, which honestly is way below their current reading level. But, LOE teaches things differently than Abeka. We needed to learn how LOE teaches. Plus, did you learn about broad sounds when you were in school?? I sure didn’t! Did you know the letter “i” makes FOUR different sounds, and there are rules for each one? Me either! I had to memorize so much when I learned how to read. It turns out, there are more logical (ha, see what I did there?) rules to reading than I thought. So, starting with Foundations A has filled in any gaps my kids (or I) had.

Hymn Study

The second big change we’ve made to our homeschool isn’t switching curriculums; it’s adding in a whole new subject. We started a hymn study. As you know, my husband is in vocational ministry. We are active in our non-denominational church. However, my husband and I grew up in more traditional churches. We grew up singing the hymns that have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years. I wanted my kids to learn these holy songs. There is something so inspiring about singing the words to a song that have united Christians of generations past and present. I wanted my kids hide these songs in their heart just as I have done.

As far as hymn studies, it turns out there are a lot of good options. All unique in their own way. I ended up choosing the curriculum by Not Consumed. This is a unit study program. And out of all the choices, I decided on this one because it had many songs that I personally love. The parent enjoying the material being taught is an important component of homeschooling. This study also teaches the child to play the hymn on a tin whistle (basically a recorder), which has been so fun. We are learning one hymn a month, and we just finished our first one – It Is Well.

Attitude and Pace

The last change we’ve implemented is my overall attitude on the pace of our homeschool. I’m realizing that it is okay if we don’t hit every single subject every single day. I’m continuing to learn that homeschooling does not need to look anything like traditional public school. That there are a million ways for kids to learn. That allowing time to play IS allowing time to learn in an organic fashion. I am dropping the weight of the pressure I put on myself a little each week. Yes, I make plans (I am loving this EC lesson planner), but it’s pretty rare that I check off every single little thing. And that’s just fine by me. I know my kids are learning and growing. Not just academically also emotionally and spiritually as well.

So tell me, whether you homeschool or not, how is the year going for you kids? Let me know in the comments below. As always, if you liked this post, please like and subscribe to be the first to see new posts!

Word of the Year

Word of the Year

New Year’s resolutions have been fading out of fashion over the last several years. It’s no wonder. They’re often daunting, overwhelming, and by mid-February only a distant memory. My biggest gripe with resolutions is that usually they’re made without much thought. What’s taken its place, though, is the all mighty Word of the Year. And it is mighty in my opinion. Having a word or short phase to continually refer back to for the entire year is a great way to bring focus and intention to the mundane of every day life.

NURTURE was my word for 2020. I had several areas of my life that needing tending to grow and further mature. Things I nurtured were my spiritual life, my marriage, relationships with my children, my love for the outdoors, and so on. It was a wonderful word. I had it posted on my bathroom mirror for the entire year. On the hard days, because we all have hard days, I would see it right there in front of me. It quickly reminded me of the things that matter most, and it made it easy to let go of all the excess. Having a word of the year grounded me amongst all the chaos that was 2020.

When picking a word of the year, I want you to consider a few things. Firstly, don’t rush it. Pray and meditate on the things that went well and the things that didn’t in 2020. How does it make you feel? What things do you want to change? Secondly, choose a verb. A verb will inspire action. It will make you focus on forward grace-filled progress. Lastly, when ideas start coming to mind, take time to look up definitions and synonyms. It’s likely that google will help you find an even more purposeful word or phrase for your hopes of 2021. Sit with your word for a few days before you commit. How does it make you feel? Hopefully not overwhelmed! The goal is to feel refreshed, motivated, and inspired.

On that note, I am so excited to share my word of the year for 2021:

EXPAND

I know that I nurtured good things in 2020. When working on my goals for 2021, one thing kept coming up. I want to expand on things that have already been planted. I want to expand my theological knowledge. I want to expand my physical fitness. I want to expand this blog. And so many other things. It’s perfect for where I’m at in my life, and I am so excited.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a word, I wanted to share this resource from Cultivate What Matters. (If you have followed me for at least 5 minutes, you know I love this company.) You will find suggestions on their site, and they also provide wallpaper for your phone with your word. I screen shot (shotted???) the blank floral pattern, then edited in my word, expand. I will have this be my wallpaper on my phone for the year. I cannot wait for you to share your word of the year! Drop it down in the comments below. And as always, if you enjoyed this post, please like and share, as it’s a simple way to support this little space of mine. Much love, and Happy New Year!!!