Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rewards and God's Word

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:17 AM 2 comments
Looking at God’s Word not only tells us that rewarding obedience is not only an essential part of parenting, but also what those rewards should focus on. There are times that God rewards us materially. He does want us to prosper in the sense that we have everything we need materially and often even more than just what we need. But He most definitely does not want our material rewards to become our focus or motivation for righteous behavior. God is much more concerned with the state of our heart and His Word talks much more about a prosperity of spirit. God rewards us with healing of body and spirit, peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, joy, strength, endurance, self-control, spiritual gifts, and, of course, eternal life. This list could go on and on. It only takes a small amount of time in scripture to recognize the rewards God gives us “pressed down, shaken together and running over.”(Luke 6:38)

If God rewards us, why would we ever withhold rewards from our children? When we have an appropriate perspective on rewarding and motivating our children and what the proper rewards and incentives are, we allow ourselves to abundantly bless our children and ourselves, as we see them grow through positive interactions. There are many ways to reward our children and many different types of incentives available to motivate children. I think about my children when they were infants. As they learned to smile, to sit up, to crawl, to walk, I was there every step of the way cheering them on. A smile, a little clapping, and a big “yah!” was all they needed to encourage them to keep doing what they were doing and/or try a little harder to make that next step. Cheering our children on is a great way to motivate them. Children generally really do want to please their parents. Cheering for our children can come in many forms and will depend on your personality, your child’s personality, and the situation. Hugs, “way to go,” “I’m proud of you,” and “great job!” are all examples of ways to praise our children. It’s about encouraging them along when they’re getting it right and trying their best.

Time with our children and special treats are additional ways to reward them. We can take them on a special outing for good behavior or completed tasks over a period of time. We can let them choose a movie for the family to watch. We can let them pick what restaurant we’re going to eat at. We can buy them a small treat, or even have monetary rewards. It is all based on what works for your family and what motivates your child.

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; Deuteronomy 11:26-27

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Have you ever had one of "those days"?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:40 AM 1 comments
I did the other day. And unlike many of our "those days" that mommies have, it had nothing to do with my children being uncooperative. Quite the contrary, my children were being great. I was even being organized when it came to them. We had a wonderful, fairly productive morning and prepared to be out the rest of the day. I was dropping them off with daddy at my mom's house, going to a doctor's appointment, picking up dinner, picking up the kids, and heading to church. I had allowed plenty of time (so I thought) as my doctor's appointment was at 2:30 and we didn't have to be at church until 5:45. Well, the best laid plans....

I realized half-way down the road that I didn't have my wallet. Which meant that I had to ask for money to buy supper and hoped that I didn't need my insurance card for my appointment (which I didn't, fortunately, since I'd just been there two weeks prior - and yes, mom, I was driving without my license on me.) I also realized that I'd forgotten my insulin. So only salad for me for supper. I dropped off the kids, put the baby down and set the others up on the computer so daddy could continue to get work done. I headed down the road to the doctor's (with 10 minutes to spare) and realized I'd left my phone at my mom's. Oh, well. The Dr's office had a phone I could use to order supper and let my husband know when I was leaving.

I was early to the appointment, but of course they were running late. I finally saw the first nurse who proceded to let me know the plan that would involve an extra appointment in the next month (meaning 6 appointments in 11 weeks) or trying to make it to Norfolk to deliver my baby (1 1/2 hours away on a good day, and my last labor was 2 1/2 hours - not a good idea.) Fortunately she left me in another office to wait on the next nurse. I was trying not to be upset when my resources kicked in. In the quite stillness of that small room God reminded me that He was in charge, He has given me His peace, and that I can do ANYTHING through Him.

I didn't get out of my appointment until 4:30, I got cut off trying to order supper and then couldn't get back through, my husband had been expecting me for an hour before I called because the clocks in my moms house hadn't been changed yet, and it took me nearly an hour to make my way there. So I arrived with supper when I should have been leaving. But I called and got my position at church covered, sat and ate supper with my family (and did have half a slice of pizza) and was completely okay with being late. When things are out of our control, it doesn't help to get harried or upset. Instead, as I've learned, I can be content in any situation - including when lots of little things are adding up to make one of "those days."

I was exhausted that evening and had to put the kids to bed by myself because my husband was working late due to his three hour interruption. But I tucked my healthy children into bed, sat in my comfortable recliner, ate my bedtime snack, took my insulin, and relaxed. Throughout the day that had lots of little bumps, God kept using His Word that I had taken the time previously to read and study to continuously remind me that I was not alone and that all the little things - although aggrivating - really didn't matter. No matter what is going on, what is impacting my day, as long as I've fed myself with His Word and with His Truth, He will sustain me. My job is to prepare long in advance (each day, making Him a priority) and listen when He beckons me to His place of rest.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Rewards?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:55 PM 0 comments
First, it’s important to look at the nature of our children. There are different perspectives on human nature. One theory believes that people are inherently good and are corrupted by circumstances. One believes that children are blank slates and develop according to their environment. Another believes that people are inherently evil (sinful) and need to be trained to be good. A Biblical perspective tells us that we are born with a natural inclination to sin, a result of the fall in Eden, have a unique personality that effects how we interact with our environment, and are effected by our circumstances. In essence, this means that children do not naturally lean toward righteousness, need outward motivation to do what is right, and interact with how they are parented according to their God-given personality.
Second, it’s important to recognize that God models rewards and incentives for right behavior. As we discussed in the beginning of the chapter, we talked about the importance of obedience and how God rewards obedience and punishes disobedience. The Israelite nation is given rewards in prosperity and peace when they obey God and worship Him. We are promised the reward of the fruit of the Spirit as we seek God, love, worship, and obey Him. In the parable of the talents Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a man who rewards his servants with added responsibility and shared happiness[U1] . Paul tells us in Romans that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (8:28a) John tells us that “God’s love is truly made complete” in us when we obey God’s Word, of which being filled and complete in God through Christ is the ultimate reward. (1 John 2:5)

[U1]“His master replied ‘Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:23

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rewards

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:32 AM 0 comments
Rewards, incentives, and positive given to children for motivation for children to make good choices is not just okay, it is an important part of effective parenting. There is a lot of debate these days about using incentives and rewards in parenting. Some believe that children should do what they are asked to do and should do because it’s the right thing to do. They believe that rewards for good behavior or completing tasks provide outward motivation, which is not the goal. We’ve already discussed that we want our children to mature and develop internal motivation. This is true for making right choices, as well as for things like working hard. However, as I discussed previously, our job as parents is to provide outside motivation until our children become internally motivated. If we take a step back and look at our children in a little different light, it may help us in understanding clearly what rewards, incentives, and bonuses are and why they are important.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Make It Fun

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 4:12 PM 0 comments
It's really easy as moms to get bogged down in the day-to-day chores and keeping up with stuff. It doesn't take much to get caught up in everything we have to get done and get lost to the "stuff" of mothering. But we are supposed to enjoy being moms and our time with our children. To do this we often need to be intentional. There are often moments that will catch us off guard where we have one of those full of fun and laughter moments. But in general, to add more fun to motherhood we have to be intentional.

I'm not the most creative person in the world, but God has graced me with inspirational moments to make my journey of mommyhood more fun. One of the things I did recently was make a menu for my children for lunch. I like to give them choices for lunch, but don't want to wait a half hour while they go through the list of things I'm not going to fix or don't have. So I prepared a Wainwright Lunch Menu and treated them like guests in my restaurant. They got to eat on a blanket in the garage and love "putting in their orders." It made lunch fun and they still ate what I had and was willing to fix without any arguing.

Another thing we often do for fun is race to get the house straightened up. I don't like them to be racing against each other, so we all work together and race against the clock. I set a timer and we rush around (often with me giving step-by-step instructions) getting the house straight. It doesn't seem like as much work to them when it's a game and things go much faster!

Although everything can't be fun, it's an important tool to teach our children that we can have positive attitudes and make things enjoyable even when we don't want or don't feel like doing them. This goes a long way in experiencing life positively and learning patience. It's much more pleasant to do things and/or wait for things when we can make it more fun.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Catching up

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:11 PM 0 comments
Well, I certainly haven't posted as much lately as I would like to. My minimum goal is once a week, but I haven't been making it. The good news is, however, that things are going really well and that's why I haven't posted. I finished chapter five (on parenting) of The Mommy Answer and am starting on chapter six (on fostering relationships, especially the one with your husband.) And to live out what I'm writing, I just returned from a long weekend with my husband. It was our first alone getaway since our first child was born 5 1/2 years ago and was fabulous. We went to Beufort, SC - which I highly recommend as a beautiful, quiet place to vacation - and just enjoyed each other and the lack of a schedule. I didn't get as much work done as I'd hoped, but I guess that's a good thing.

Bible Study is also up and swinging and is going great. We've completed the first two sections which covers making Bible Study, prayer and physical discipline prioritities. God is blessing me so much through this study and teaching me and reminding me many things.

Hopefully I'll get back on track with my posts, but if I miss a week here and there, know that it's because things are going well and I'm having the opportunity to be fruitful with my family, writing, and other relationships.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear what's going on with you, what God's doing in your life, and what your current blessings are.

Friday, September 12, 2008

LIfe Management for Busy Women

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:07 PM 0 comments
I am priviledged to be teaching the fall ladies Bible Study at my church. I thought about posting my notes on this blog, but several people are already reading both and I didn't want to duplicate. So if your interested in learning about managing a busy life (based on the book and study by Elizabeth George), go to smithmemorialladiesbiblestudy.blogspot.com and join us!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Making Mommy Decisions

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:57 AM 0 comments
Do you ever look at or think about how you make mommy decisions? I recently got the book I Was a Really Good Mom before I Had Kids by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile. In one chapter they talk about making peace with your choices. Most of the chapter talks about the anxiety that moms feel about things from picking the right extra-curricular activities to packing to right lunch to deciding whether to work or not. While I agree with much of what they have to say - like about the number of choices we have today adding to our stress and moms often not being confident about their decisions and comparing their decisions to other moms - they are missing the greatest resource for confidence in decisions.

"We heard forom a lot of mothers that htey crave confidence and stability. They want to stop looking over their shoulders, stop living with doubt, and stop making choices based on others' expectations of them." True. They talk about expectations influencing decisions, considering wants, using core principles and values, letting go of pressure to do it all, and decide to make peace with decisions. Much of this is helpful, but an incomplete answer to the presented problem. A quote they have in this chapter says "Sometimes you just have to trust the universe that things will turn out OK. - Amy/2 children, Corte Madera, CA"

Trust the universe? Trust a created object that has no power? Trust in changing values and feelings that everything will turn out okay? I'd rather have something powerful and perfect and loving and guiding to the best end for me and my children to trust in. Making the ultimate choices for our children requires relying on the ultimate parent. In an authentic, seeking relationship with God, we can have the answer to every question we ever have in parenting. Our ultimate goals for our children should come from God's will in their lives. As we seek Him, diligently study His Word, and learn to listen to Him, He will hold our hands and show us the path to take at every fork in the road. He will also lead us when to just be still in Him. Intentionally and intellectually evaluating our expectations, desires, values, and choices are good things to do. But relying on God to guide us through this process is the best thing we can do.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More on Discipline

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:53 PM 0 comments
As I continued to think on my last post and the principle of pay now or pay more later, I felt compelled to add a warning. Although we are responsible for teaching our children discipline, doing everything that we can in teaching our children, they still are able to make their own choices. There will always be that one child who rebels despite strict discipline. We as moms have to be very careful in how we judge other mothers by how their children behave. It may be the case that she is not doing all that she can in the area of discipline, but it may also be that she doesn't have the tools, or support, or just that the child is particurly strong-willed.

I also felt the need to emphasize that discipline should always be out of love. There are just as many children who are out of control because there is too much discipline with a lack of love and relationship as there are those who aren't disciplined at all. Discipline and love don't balance each other, discipline occurs out of love. This is a fundamental principle found in the Bible, expressed in Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6, and Revelation 3:19.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Paying with Children

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:29 PM 1 comments
One of the ways that we don't realize that we have to pay now or pay more later is in raising our children. As a counselor I saw it time and time again that parents let their children get away with small acts of disobedience and disrespect when they were younger because they were little things. Then they came to counseling because their child was "out of control." The heartache and struggle that parents went through because they had no authority over thier child was hard to watch. Walking step by step as parents attempted to regain authority over a rebellious teenager was hard work for everyone. It is much harder to regain authority and enforce discipline that hasn't been kept in place than it is to maintain it. As hard as it feels sometimes to keep on my children and work to make them obey (and it is often WORK), I try to keep in mind (and tell them) that obedience is essential for their safety and well-being. One day they're going to need to mind me when I tell them not to run out in the street or not put themselves in a situation where they'll be tempted to sin, or any number of other possibilities. As laborious as it is sometimes to discipline my children and stop what I'm doing to enforce a rule, the pay off in obedience is well worth it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pay Now or Pay More Later

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:26 PM 0 comments
We live in a society of having the option to pay now or pay later for most things. Generally, we are encouraged to pay later – use your credit card, it’s so much easier; buy now, pay nothing until 2020 (okay, may not that far away), etc, etc, etc. Although the concept of getting what we want and not paying for it until later sounds great, what many people don’t realize is that when you eventually do pay, you will pay much more than the original cost of whatever it was you just couldn’t have to wait. At an interest rate of 18% or 36% it doesn’t take long for $300 to become $1000. And the larger the purchase, the greater the interest you’ll end up paying. But because we pay just a little at a time, it doesn’t seem that bad. Or, we’ve already made that choice, so we just have to suck it up and deal with it.

It’s usually taking the easy route that gets us into a big mess. It makes us feel good or makes things a little bit easier for us. This philosophy of pay now or pay later also works in many other areas of our lives. The cost, however, is often much higher than we want to pay. If we pay attention to the small print up front, we would never take the easy route. But like the small print on a contract or a credit agreement, we often choose to ignore it. That’s how we get ourselves into unhealthy, unbearable, and ungodly situations. In finances, in parenting, in health, in relationships and in spiritual growth we will pay now or we will pay later.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Bourne Mommy

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:04 AM 2 comments
I don't know if you've ever seen the Bourne movies (Bourne Identity, Supremecy, and Ultimatum), but I recently watched them for the second time. You may be thinking, "I can't believe she watched that", but I'll admit I may just watch them again (before I return them to their owner - they really are coming home Melissa.) Besides being a huge Matt Daman fan, there's just something about these movies that draw me in. Part of it is the incredible, unlikely feats that the hero (I guess he can be called that) accomplishes. This time around I started thinking of this character in comparison to Mommies. And I realized that we often expect ourselves to function similarly.
First - we are expected to keep on going, no matter what. No matter if we've been shot and fallen into the sea, if we've been in three car crashes in as many days, if we've just lost the love of our life. We don't literally face these challenges, but moms definately face some real challenges that affect us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. No matter what we have going on, we are expected (usually by ourselves more than anyone else) to just keep going.
There's also the phenomenon of holding everything together emotionally despite our world's falling apart. This is a result of the "have it all" myth that has come out of the women's lib movement. We're not supposed to let it show that we are stressed and maybe need someone to lean on and let us cry for a little bit. Not necessarily over anything big, but just because it all adds up.
We're also supposed to be able to evaluate and react immediately to situations. We expect ourselves to be able to handle any situation at a moments notice and without flaw. We have all of the information to deal with whatever comes up and have the sense of mind to use that information instinctively.
Although good movies, they are highly unrealistic, as are our expectations of ourselves sometimes. So take a break, watch a movie, and cut yourself a little slack.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Contentment

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 4:03 AM 0 comments
What is contentment? It's not settling, not accepting the best, not striving for better. Contentment doesn't mean that that we don't reach for goals or acknowledge that we might like some things to be different. Contentment means that we enjoy where we are. I look forward to the days when my children are more self-sufficient,when I have a book published, when I can stay home full time, but that doesn't mean that I'm not content right now. I love the developmental stages my children are in. They are so fun and still love to climb in my lap for snuggles. I am enjoying the working stage of my book and the small successes of getting one chapter completed at a time. I am grateful that I found a part time job that is a good job, in a good environment, and pays decently. I am content. It's not based on my circumstances (although I have to admit, they are good, if not my ideal), but based on the fact that I can focus on the positive. I also work diligently at keeping my focus on God and the fact that I can do everything through him, which Paul tells us is the secret to contentment. "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances...I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11b, 13. People with really good circumstances according to the world are often not content, yet many with difficult circumstances are able to live in a state of contenment. It's not a matter of what's going on or where you are, but rather a matter of where you focus.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Random Mommy Tip #4

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:34 PM 0 comments
Flour Power - It started out as a science project. I was teaching my 5-year-old about germs and washing hands. I let her play with some flour (germs) and then gave her a carrot to eat - without eating any germs. The lesson took (I think), but more than that we found a new form of entertainment. My 3-year-old joined in and they played with the flour, cups, spoons, etc. at the bar for over an hour while I cooked dinner. It gets a little messy, but I have to clean up the kitchen and sweep after meals anyway, so once in a while we get out the flour and tools and they "cook" while I do. Recently my 14-month-old also joined in. They love it and it's easy, cheap, creative entertainment!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Accepting Forgiveness

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:35 PM 1 comments
I haven't posted in a couple weeks, no reason really, just busy with life and on revising some early writing for the book. It's interesting, however, that I never moved beyond the forgiveness part of healing since an issue has come up where I've had to work through accepting God's forgiveness and work on forgiving myself. It has been a great reminder to me how easy it is to get out of step with the Holy Spirit - even when my intentions were good and even when I was trying to follow scripture. What I didn't do was stop and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. After working so hard to stay in God's will and live a believing life - leaning on, relying on, and trusting in Him, it was excruciating to be out of His will and feel the consequences of not just sin, but a transgression (sin while knowing the right thing.) I've had to remind myself that God has already forgiven me and I'd be a fool to give up on Him, because He will never give up on me. Although for a few moments I felt like giving up, and even questioned my ability to be a good mom, I decided not to stay in sin (by not accepting His forgiveness), but instead to use this painful experience to really evaluate myself. I will now take the lessons God has so graciously given me along with His forgiveness and do my best to use them to bring more glory to Him.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What Forgiveness Is

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:17 PM 2 comments
"Forgiveness
- begins with God...
- (shows we trust)that God alone can restore and heal us completely...
- (shows we trust) that God is totally and compeltely opposed to evil and sees it whenever and wherever it occurs...
- allows us to look at ourselves honestly: as broken children of God..."
- empowers us

The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother
by: Miriam Peskowitz

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Get Out of That Pitt

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:58 PM 0 comments
Beth Moore says that there are three steps to healing.
1 - cry out: acknowledge the problem and the need for God
2 - cofess: agree with what God says about Him and you
3 - consent: go along with the healing process

We have to make up our minds to get well, to not stay stuck in the pain and revicimize ourselves daily. When we don't choose to heal, we choose to be the victim over and over again, to live a defeated life, and to keep the pain fresh. When we choose to heal we open the door to the joy that Jesus lived and died for us to have.

John 10:10 The theif comes only to steal and kill and detroy;I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What Forgiveness is not

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:14 PM 0 comments
When choosing to forgive it is important to know what forgivenes is not. This helps to eliminate fear that we often have when we think about forgiving. According to Kim Gaines Eckert in STRONGER THAN YOU THINK, forgiveness "does not mean:
- we forget what happened to us
- we excuse the people who hurt us and say that..their actions are okay
- (we have to reconcile)
- we pretent the hurts never happened
- we ignore our wounds
- we allow others to hurt us repeatedly"

When we think about forgiveness we often have a picture of weakness, an individual who gets run over and abused constantly. But true forgiveness does not mean being weak. True forgiveness gives us the power to take care of ourselves in a healthy way and takes the power away from the person or event that has caused us pain. It is a sign of strength to be able to choose to forgive, choose to be healthy, and choose to take care of ourselves by healing from past hurts and to stop the cycle of pain that comes with being a victim. We no longer carry the pain. We scrape out the infection (bitterness, fear, anger) that had grown in the wound (the original offense/event) and care for it properly as it heals.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Forgiveness

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 4:08 PM 0 comments
A major part of healing from and dealing with difficult circumstances in life is forgiveness. Sometimes we have to forgive others, sometimes we have to forgive ourselves. We can learn the most about forgiveness by looking to God.

In their book WHEN IT'S HARD TO FORGIVE by Goldie Bristol and Carol McGinnis, we find that "Faith in Christ (is) the foundation for a forgiving lifestyle...Forgiveness was very much a part of Jesus' lifestyle...(His) whole purpose in coming to earth was to die so that our sins could be forgiven. Accepting this great divine forgiveness enables us to forgive others."

When we recognize that God forgives us everything when we ask, and all that he has forgiven us for, it becomes easier to forgive others. It is still not easy, however. We often don't feel like forgiving others and sometimes just don't know how to forgive. We have to purposefully and intentionally choose to forgive. To do this we need to have an understanding of exactly what forgiving is and what it isn't.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Healing

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:33 PM 1 comments
We all have some kind of issue that affects the way we parent. These issues range from the repercussions of our parents' divorce, our own divorce, a history of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, surviving a traumatic event such as a car crash or house fire, or dealing with a chronic illness. They include losses of parents, siblings, close friends, spouses, and children. These events impact our lives and effect who we are. In addition to, and in order to be a healthier parent, we need to acknowledge the impact these events have had on us and make sure we have or consciously choose to go through the healing process.

In Kim Gaines Eckert's book STRONGER THAN YOU THINK, she talks about making sure that we recognize that we are made whole in Christ. "Wholeness is a gift from God to be received, yet we can be activley involved in the working out of that gift." (p. 23) Yet when we are hurt through relationships, circumstances, or traumatic events, we often get lost in that pain. In order to heal, it's essential to name and grieve our losses, acknowledge how our decision-making and relationship patterns play a part in keeping the pain fresh, choose to forgive, and choose to heal by putting our hope in Christ alone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back Again

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:25 AM 0 comments
Wow! It's really been almost a month since I last posted. The last month has consisted of throwing my husband a surprise birthday party, going out of town two weekends in a row and being slammed at work. Not to mention getting diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and getting used to a new routine of taking insulin 5-7 times a day.Now, I'm back on track I think. Life is getting a little back to normal.

I haven't been doing a ton of writing (on the book), but I have been engulfing myself in research. I have come across some great writers and resources and will start to post quotes and recommended books.

I also want to know, do you have a beyond-mommy issue that you're dealing with? My journey with diabetes has had an impact on how I feel physically and emotionally and has at times affected my parenting. Let me know what issue (chronic illness, past trauma, past loss, recent loss, recent trauma) you're dealing with that effects who you are as a person and a mom. - Remember, posts can now be made anonymously.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Guiding 3

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:15 PM 0 comments
Children often get frustrated, angry, violent, and have difficulty with others because they don’t have the tools to handle difficult situations or communicate in beneficial ways. Many of these things seem small, and will most likely have to be repeated innumerable times, but put together enable a child to feel self-confident and have healthy relationships. Like teachable moments to model and talk about appropriate behaviors, opportunities to guide children in replacing negative behaviors and words with positive ones are almost countless. Each time a child gets frustrated when something’s not working the way they want it to is an opportunity to talk them through the problem calmly and showing them how to try it a different way. Each time a child gets angry is an opportunity to talk them through using their words to express themselves and resolve conflicts. Each time a child gets violent is an opportunity to express that violence isn’t appropriate and to talk through other ways of handling themselves.
Guiding, like modeling and verbalizing, is something that becomes natural with practice. And your children will give you lots of opportunities to practice. Although each child is different in how they learn and how fast they learn, none of them learn everything the first time. Repetition is the key to instilling the behaviors you wish to see. And those moments when your child does exactly what you’ve been working so hard to teach them will come – and oh how worth the hard work it will all be!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Guiding 2

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:10 PM 0 comments
Guiding includes giving a child words to use. It’s not “Give me milk.” It’s “Mommy, may I please have some milk.” It’s not “No, I won’t do it.” It’s “I’d rather not.” It’s not “Eww, Yuck.” It’s I’d prefer not to eat peas.” It’s not “Sammy’s mean.” It’s “Sammy hurt my feelings by snatching my toy.”Guiding also is teaching behaviors. Instead of whining and complaining while standing in line at the grocery store (or asking for every piece of candy on the shelf), try counting the number of other people waiting, or make up a story about what the food does at night when the store’s closed, or review school work, or practice scripture. Instead of hitting someone when they make a child mad, teach them to hit a pillow, or do jumping jacks, or go spend a few minutes alone to calm down. Instead of throwing something when frustrated with a task, teach them to write about their frustration, or jump on a trampoline, or talk about it. There are countless ways to handle difficult situations and express feelings. The goal is to teach appropriate behaviors that will be effective in handling situations. The method and techniques chosen will depend on the personality of the child. When an effective strategy is taught, appropriate ways to say and do things, a child is empowered.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Guiding

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:53 PM 0 comments
The next step in teaching children is guiding. Guiding is showing your child how to do something. Children learn a lot by seeing and hearing, but even more by doing. It’s kind of like teaching a child to ride a bike. They see other people doing it, we explain how to do it, and we put them on the bike and hang on while they work at getting it. In teaching things like respect, responsibility, integrity, and patience we sometimes have to “hang on” with them while they work at getting it. This is something that has to be done intentionally. Parents are generally quick to tell a child what behavior not to exhibit, but often forget to tell a child what behavior to exhibit and how to do it. Telling children not to argue lets them know that arguing is unacceptable, but it doesn’t tell them how to handle conflicts. Telling a child to be patient lets them know that patience is valued and expected, but it doesn’t tell them how to wait patiently. For a negative behavior to be stopped effectively, it must be replaced with positive behaviors.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Teachable Moments

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:42 PM 1 comments
When a child asks about traffic and expresses impatience, it’s a golden opportunity to talk about patience. To tell them that patience isn’t waiting, but how we wait. And since we can’t make the traffic move, let’s do something fun like sing songs. When they comment on how busy you are with chores, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about every one pitching in to help and having a positive attitude while getting the not-so-fun things done. When a child asks about that person at the store that wasn’t very nice, it’s a wonderful time to talk about being kind to people regardless of how they act, and that we never know what’s going on with someone to make them behave in an unkind manner. Teachable moments are almost limitless once mommy’s radar is tuned into them. Even though a child may notice mommy’s behaviors, he/she most likely will not understand the why and how without talking about it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Random Mommy Tip #3

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:38 PM 1 comments
Get on the Floor
Tonight I got on the floor and played with my children. It was wonderful and reminded me that I need to do it more often. In trying to keep balance in everything (including writing about keeping in balance) I've neglected just hanging out and playing with my children. There's always something to do. But, as I was reminded tonight, they won't always want to get on the floor, make a tent, roll around and get tickled and tackled silly. They may not remember this particular night that mommy took time to play. But I want them to know that they're a priority and just getting on the floor and giving them my undivided attention for 30 minutes tells them "you are important to me and I enjoy spending time with you." That's worth letting the laundry go until tomorrow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Love

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:31 PM 1 comments
Happy Mother's Day! On those hard days (when we're not being treated special like we are on Mother's Day) it helps me to meditate on 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it is not proud, it does not boast. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails.

God is love and will never fail us. On those days we struggle to be patient and kind, all we have to do is rely on, trust in, and lean on Him, and His Spirit will fill us with love so that it can overflow to our families.

God loves you and has something special in store for you every day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Answering Children's Questions

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:59 PM 0 comments
As children get older new rules get added, and some rules get adjusted, but children are able to handle these changes and additions. Likewise, when teaching character traits, children need a lot of verbalizing when they are younger and less and less as they get older. Most young children will invite opportunities to verbalize traits that you want to teach them. Children notice things. And if they’re like my children, they seem to notice everything. And they ask questions. About everything. Although parents tend to get tired of the seemingly-never-ending line of questioning, these are golden opportunities. I believe if we would answer every question children ask, we wouldn’t have to formally education them until they’re about 10. In addition to teaching our children that red lights mean stop and green lights mean go, that the moon is on the other side of the earth during the day (most of the time), and that pets need lot of caring for, we can also teach our children values and positive character traits through their questions.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Quiet Time

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:09 PM 0 comments
Quiet time is one of my favorite tools. Since one of my children doesn't take a nap at all and one only sporatically, we have quiet time. Not every day, but most days. First of all, mommy needs a break. With three children five and under there's a lot demanded of me constantly through the day. A little time to breath, get things done, rest, think, is necesssary for me to maintain my mental health. And even though the children often protest, I notice a big difference in their attitudes after quiet time. Everyone has a chance to play without having to consider someone else or worry about snatching or inturruptions. They also are learning that they are important people to be with. Time with themselves is valuable. And usually by the end of quiet time everyone's ready to play together nicely, for a while any way. Most of all, though, mommy is a little more rested and accomplished feeling and is able to handle things much better.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tricks of the Mommy Trade

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:36 PM 3 comments
What are your tricks of the trade? How do you get things done? What do you do to maintain balance? Share all your tips and tricks!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Verbalizing

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 2:07 PM 0 comments
The second aspect is verbalizing. Some parents have this technique down very well. As a matter of fact, some have it down so well that their child doesn’t hear them anymore. When children are very young (toddlers, preschoolers) information needs to be repeated. Parents often feel like broken records (a reference our children won’t even get) during this time of parenting. During this phase of parenting parents need to repeat rules again and again because of the developmental capabilities of a child to understand and remember them from day to day (and sometimes minute to minute.) As or children mature they need less repetition. They won’t let you know this, however. They’ll let you say something as many times as you will without actually making them follow through. By the time they are five, however, most children pretty much know what the rules are. They know things like washing their hands after going potty, brushing their teeth before bed, to not hit, to not snatch, and to not interrupt an adult conversation. They may need reminded every once in a while, but they pretty much know the rules.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Modeling

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:14 AM 0 comments
Modeling appropriate behavior shows a child how to do something. When mom gets caught in traffic and decides to use the time to converse with her child or sing some new songs, she teaches her child to be patient in circumstances out of their control. When mom gets hurt and verbalizes her pain without using obscene language, she teaches her child to express him/herself in difficult situations using appropriate words. When someone is rude or mean to mom and she responds with kindness, she teaches her child that we are to treat others as we wish to be treated, not as they treat us. When mom parent goes about her chores cheerfully, or at least not grumpily, she teaches her child that she can choose to be in a good mood even when she’s doing something she doesn’t like to do. When mom talks to dad with respectful tones and words, she teaches her child to respect both of her parents. When mom keeps a commitment even though she’d rather be doing something else, she teaches her child responsibility.
There are countless opportunities mothers have to model appropriate behavior for their children. However, teaching begins with modeling, it does not end with it. Once upon a time good parents who were good people tended to end up with good children. As a counselor I have often seen this not to be the case. When examining this phenomenon I wondered what was missing. These parents modeled good decision making. They were responsible and hard working and kind. But often their children were disrespectful, didn’t value hard work, and were rude. The problem was one or more of the other aspects of teaching character traits were missing from the parenting equation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Intentional Mommying

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:27 PM 0 comments
When we teach our children to go potty, we do it intentionally. When we teach our children to read, we do it intentionally. When we teach our children math, we do it intentionally. When we teach our children to drive, we do it intentionally. When teaching children these types of lessons there tends to be time set aside, specific instructions, often books read to assist in training, and sometimes even other adults are corralled in to help. Although traits such as respect, obedience, taking care of material possessions, patience, responsibility, integrity, and fairness are important, it is often assumed that children will just kind of pick up these traits by osmosis. Most parents understand the importance of modeling in teaching children, but by no means does it end there.
Modeling appropriate behavior is one of five aspects of teaching character traits. This is realized very early on, as children as young as one mimic behavior. It just makes sense that parents need to exhibit behaviors they would like to see in their child. Often a child mimicking the behavior of a parent will bring to their attention that maybe it’s not something they should be doing. Sometimes parents use these opportunities to make positive changes in their own choices. Sometimes parents take on the “do as I say and not as I do” mentality (which, by the way doesn’t even come close to working – it causes a child to see his/her parent as a hypocrite and decreased the child’s respect for the parent.) And sometimes parents just choose to ignore the behavior in their child so that they can continue to ignore the behavior in themselves.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Random Mommy Tip #2

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 4:52 PM 0 comments
My children can't pout. They just can't do it. They try, but I've found a trick that won't let them pout. As soon as that bottom lip comes out I get out my imaginary hammer and nails to start building a house. I tell them to hold their lip out because it makes a great foundation for a house. As soon as I start to "build" my house they can't help but laugh. They're used to it now and all I have to do is hold my fingers out like I'm about to start "building." They're distracted before they know it. And I don't have to get on to them or try to convince them to stop pouting.

Do you have any great tricks? I'd love for you to share them!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I am...

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:01 PM 3 comments
I am wise. I have been given the gift of God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30.) The answer to any question I could ever have is at my fingertips. Although I may not always be deemed wise by cultural standards, I have confidence and self-assurance as long as I make God and His Word the standard by which my choices are made.
I am invincible. If my body experiences pain, suffering, or even death, my spirit lives eternally (John 3:36.) God is for me and therefore there is no one who may come against me that has any power in stealing my eternal joy.
I did not pay the price. Jesus paid the price for me (Hebrews 10:10.) My ticket stub of life is marked “paid in full.” My responsibility is not to me, but to Him. I owe Him my life.
I am woman. I am God’s daughter. He has called me to be a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, spiritual advisor, and various other roles at different times in my life. Even though I still get bogged down by dirty diapers, runny noses, skinned knees, hungry stomachs, and needy hands, I know that it’s essential to stay focused on Jesus. As a woman, I have a high calling and know that as long as I know who I am in Christ and worshipfully fear the Lord, I will be fulfilled, content, and praised (Proverbs 31:30!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I am not...

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 12:34 PM 1 comments
I am not independent. I am dependent on God for everything I have and everything that I am. Oh, what a relief! No longer is there the pressure to “do it on my own”. My Father God, who is omniscient, is in charge of my life. He knows what is best for me. I don’t have to guess or try to figure it out. All I have to do is believe, trust, and rely on Him and my path will be made straight (Romans 11:33.)
I don’t have to take care of myself. Now, let’s not get crazy and discontinue personal hygiene habits, good eating, and exercise. God calls us to be responsible for maintaining our health. However, I am able to cast all my cares on Him. I am never alone in my needs. He provides all that I need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19.)
Although God may give me a man to walk through life with, I don’t need a man in my life to be complete. I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:9-10.) I am God’s daughter, He loves me knowing every fault and sin I’ve ever had or will ever have in my life. His Holy Spirit dwells in me and produces fruit in me. My cup runneth over!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Releasing "I"

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:43 PM 0 comments
As I have grown closer to God I have gradually released these “I” statements. (Okay, sometimes God had to bring me to my knees for me to give up some of them.) But as I have given these ideas up God has replaced them with a firm foundation of who I am in Him. As long as I stay focused on my identity in Christ, I will live a fulfilled, content, joyful life and contribute greatly to the world around me.
I have experienced pain. And God is always present, providing comfort and healing. He has taught me that the pain I’ve experienced is nothing compared to what He experienced as Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Jesus, who chose to die in the most painful of ways, died so that I may receive God’s complete healing. He has also taught me that as long as I fix my eyes on Him, I will persevere and He can be glorified through my pain.
I am strong. I have strength through God my Rock and my Shelter. My flesh will become weak and wear out, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, I will remain strong. As long as I rely on God for strength I will be able to support those people He has placed in my trust and fulfill the duties that he has assigned me. (2 Samuel 22:33)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

On Vacation

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:54 PM 0 comments
I"ll be off line until Friday, April 4. See you then!

Who am I?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:53 PM 0 comments
And just in case you don’t feel overwhelmed yet, don’t forget the other roles that we play in life. In addition to wife and mother, we also are daughters, sisters, friends, church members, employees, bosses, neighbors, committee members, and prayer warriors (just to name a few.) Somehow, we are to incorporate all of these roles and ideas and come away self-confident, self-assured and with a healthy self-image.
One day I began to think about my identity and the old adage from Helen Reddy’s song, “I am woman, hear me roar,” came to mind. Immediately my spirit rejected it. During one point in my life, I embraced this phrase, and what I felt were the ideas it supported. I had experienced pain. I was strong. I was independent. I could take care of myself. I desired to have a special man in my life, but told myself that I didn’t need one. I was wise. I was invincible. I’d paid the price. These are the things I told myself. I now realize that I “roared” these mantras because they were the characteristics I admired in other women more than because I owned them myself. I had bought into the shift in cultural thinking that women “can do anything a man can do, and do it better” and that women are superior to men (ideas that have very obviously damaged the foundation of both marriage and family.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

A mom's many jobs

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:30 PM 0 comments
As mothers we often hear or read various descriptions of the many jobs that we perform. These include, but are not limited to, wife, mother, chef (sometimes short-order cook), chauffer, personal assistant, Chief Financial Officer, nurse, housekeeper, sex goddess, time-management specialist, spiritual advisor, and teacher. Despite these distinguished (and not so distinguished) titles, many of us continue to feel bogged down by the never-ending, daily responsibilities of motherhood. We want to embrace the respect and pride in fulfilling these roles. Most days, however, there’s just no energy to do so.
Another stumbling block to fully embracing the idea of glorified motherhood is the way that our society has altered our thinking about what it is to be a woman. Often it feels as if there is no way to win. Mothers who work outside of the home (whether by choice or necessity) are often made to feel guilty for not making motherhood their top priority. We’re told that we can “have it all” and then chastised for not “giving it all up” for our children. Mothers who choose to stay at home full time are generally seen as not contributing to society. We’re told that by “just being a housewife” and choosing to make sacrifices for our children that we don’t contribute to our communities and the world. There’s still the idea among many circles that housewives are lazy and that they watch TV and eat bonbons all day. Try creating a positive self image as a mother with all those mixed signals!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Share prayer part 2

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:24 PM 1 comments
The second say to share prayer is to literally share it – to pray together. For if two agree about anything and ask for it, the Father will answer that prayer (Matthew 18:19.) Praying together can encompass the prayers mentioned above, prayer for families, prayer for friends, prayer for just about anything. It can be done in five minutes snagged while waiting for children to be released from school or get off the bus. Prayer can happen on a walk, in the car, over coffee, or while children play in the background. It’s nothing mysterious and doesn’t require certain conditions. All it requires is a heart that desires to talk with God.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Share prayer part 1

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:01 AM 0 comments
Share prayer: Prayer is something that almost everyone does, whether they are a Christian or not. Prayer often tends to be a higher form of wishing. Something deep in the core of our being calls out to a supreme, all-powerful being when we’re in need. And sometimes we pray for what we want. Prayer, however, is something that we are told to do (about everything) and shown how to do throughout the Bible. Prayer is meant to be powerful. It changes things. It changes attitudes. It changes lives. Prayer brings us closer to God, allows us to hear from God, and brings us closer to each other. Prayer can be shared in two ways. The first is praying for each other. These can be general prayers for health, safety, spiritual growth, and guidance. They can also be specific for things such as making a particular decision, handling a marital challenge, coping with a difficult child, or comfort in a time of loss. They can also be deeply personal, for things that are internal struggles such as personal sin and temptation. These are the hardest things to share, but usually need the most prayer. Knowing that someone is praying for you in a certain area can be reassuring and comforting.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's your biggest mommy reward?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:29 AM 9 comments
I want to know: What is your biggest reward as a mom?
Is it snuggles first thing in the morning?
Seeing your child accomplish something on his or her own?
Hearing them say things that you taught them?
Just watching them play?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Share accountability

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:26 PM 0 comments
Share accountability: Sometimes I am very self-motivated. I am in touch with my priorities and utilize all of the tools I have to be efficient with my time. At other times I get distracted – by extraneous events, exhaustion, or a break in routine. It’s these times I rely on my accountability partner is someone you share your goals, objectives, desires, short-comings and heart with. An accountability partner nudges you back on track, encourages you to keep going, listens, laughs with you, cries with you, and helps you maintain balance. It’s a relationship that must be mutual and with someone who is trustworthy. As with any relationship, it should be one that challenges you to grow in a respectful and supportive way.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sharing tips

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:49 PM 0 comments
Share tips: Do you have a secret to get your child to go to bed easily? Do you have a fun way to entertain your children while you cook dinner or clean? What do you do to distract your whiny toddler? All moms have secret tips to the trade. We’re all strong in some mommy areas and weak in others. Sharing tips with each other is helpful in several ways. First, moms benefit from tips that often help make mommyhood less stressful, easier, and/or more fun. Second, moms feel a sense of satisfaction from being useful and helpful to each other. Sharing tips also helps in building relationships and decreasing the isolation that moms often feel. Not feeling alone in an issue, or in mommyhood in general, goes a long way to being healthy and balanced.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Are You Reading?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:20 AM 0 comments
Are you reading my blog? Let me know. Even if you don't have a specific comment for a specific post, leave a comment just to say "Hi" and that you're here. Also, don't forget to share it with all of your mommy friends. The more feedback the better. Thanks for reading!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sharing child care

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:32 PM 1 comments
Share child care: This has been one of the most beneficial, mutually helpful parts of my mommy girlfriend relationships. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or work-away-from-home mom, you know the importance of getting to do things by yourself. Whether it’s running to the grocery store, having an uninterrupted two hours to clean, or just a desire for quiet and rest, having a friend to share child care with is priceless. This is a relationship that doesn’t involve finances and doesn’t involve score-keeping. It needs to be a balanced relationship, with each person giving and accepting responsibilities. A friend of mine and I have done this for years. One of us has a doctor’s appointment and the other watches her child (or children.) The other has a meeting, the first returns the favor. We have even begun sharing doctor’s appointments. We go together (either for ourselves or for the children) and take turns. We run errands together and for each other. It makes life less complicated and less exhausting. You actually have an adult to talk to on the drive, you’re saving gas, and the children are entertained. A trip to the grocery store without children or with another adult just isn’t as energy-draining. You can even exchange child care for date nights with your husband, something we’ll discuss in more detail later. Sharing child care, when done in a balanced and healthy way, benefits everyone involved, including the children.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sharing chores

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:48 PM 1 comments
Share chores: This doesn’t mean that you ask your girlfriend to come over and help you dust and fold laundry (although some moms are able to work out an exchange program.) It means that your house doesn’t have to be spic and span before you have company. And it’s okay to be washing dishes, straightening up, or folding clothes while hanging with your girlfriend. I have found that we moms tend to feel like our house has to look perfect before anyone comes over. I’m not really sure how this got started, but I’m sure that women of ancient times worked together in chores (as a matter of fact, the small amount of sociological study I’ve done shows that in most cultures women did work together in chores – of gathering food, child care, and maintaining homes. Even the wealthy had more than one maid.) And because so many of us feel that our houses need to be perfect before we have company, the rest of us that visit think, “wow, she’s got it all together. I wonder how she does it.” Only to find out that she is struggling just the same as us. I find it much more comforting to know that I’m not the only mom who trips over toys and hardly ever has the kitchen counter completely cleaned off. And I’m much less stressed about it if my girlfriend doesn’t mind me doing dishes and picking up toys while we visit.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sharing emotional burdens

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:35 PM 1 comments
What are the practical steps that we can take in joining together in mommyhood?

1. Share emotional burdens: When your stressed out or having difficulty with a parenting issue (or any issue) share it with a girlfriend. We have experience in doing this, we’ve been sharing our lives with our girlfriends since childhood. Often as adults and moms we tend to either bear our stress alone or depend on our husbands or the latest magazine to offer support. Our husbands are very helpful, but they don’t experience parenthood like we do. There are just certain challenges that moms face that our husband don’t understand. It’s not because they don’t care, it’s just that they generally have different responsibilities as a parent and experience parenthood (and life) differently than we do. They have their strengths and can support us in many ways, but there are some aspects of mommyhood that only another mom can truly understand. And magazines are very helpful. They are full of experts and experienced moms, but there is just not the personal touch and understanding that another mom can offer. You can’t bounce things off of a magazine. Sometimes just talking about an issue helps us to resolve it. And I have often been surprised how similar my mommy struggles are to what other moms are going through.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Beginning to Join Together

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 1:03 PM 1 comments
As we begin to view motherhood as a joint effort instead of an individual endeavor, it will become more of the blessing that it was originally meant to be. So how do we join together in this, the greatest of adventures? Practically speaking, what on a day to day basis can we do? The first part of the answer was covered already. As we take a step back, examine our priorities and obligations, and make changes to become balanced we start the work towards overall health and happiness in motherhood. We begin to be real with ourselves about our expectations and our capabilities. Another important step is to be real with others. I’m convinced that we wouldn’t need so many magazines and books for moms if we would be more real with each other. When I have opened myself up and shown my weaknesses to my mommy friends, the rewards have been great.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A tangent - For a Reason Part 3

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:47 PM 1 comments
What about disease, miscarriages, tragic accidents, etc. that don’t involve another person? These things occur because of the presence of evil in our world, which really boils down to an individual’s choice as well. Romans 5:1 tells us that “… sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin…” Through the sin of Adam and Eve sin, evil, wickedness, and malevolence entered the world. Satan is real and “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour´(1 Peter 5:8) and he will use any device he has to bring us down, make us doubt, and distract us from living under God’s love and grace.
Therefore, in the sense that “for a reason” means there is a reason behind bad things happening, there is some truth in the statement. Everything happens either because God causes it or the devil causes it or because of choices that people make. Good can always come out of any situation, but bad things do not happen just so that the good can happen. Bad things happen because sin is a part of the world that we live in. One day we will live in God’s Kingdom where there is no evil, sin, sadness, pain, or sorrow. Until then we are to trust in, rely on, and believe God regardless of our worldly circumstances. We are to realize that painful situations occur because we live in a sinful world, but God will never leave us or forsake us, and if we continue to love Him He can make all things work for our good.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A tangent - For a Reason Part 2

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:48 PM 1 comments
God can, however, bring good from evil. Romans 8:28 tells us that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This does not mean that God causes bad things to happen to people so that something good can come out of it. What it does mean is that when bad things happen to people, if they continue to love, trust in, rely on, and believe God He will bring good out of it. The something good is not the reason for the something bad, but it is a possible outcome.
So why doesn’t God bring the good without allowing the bad? If He is omnipotent (all-powerful), can’t He bring about the good without the bad? Of course He can. But in His infinite wisdom God made us creatures of choice. He gave us the ability and right to make our own choices about our actions and beliefs. We all make bad choices, some more than others. Much of the hurt, pain, and suffering in the world are caused by decisions other people have made. God could have created beings that didn’t have the option to make bad choices, but the only way for us to truly love God and receive His love is to choose it. Forced love is not true love. Love by choice is.

A tangent - For a Reason Part 1

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 4:38 AM 4 comments
Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

I hear people say “everything happens for a reason” all the time. I have to presume that if they are saying it that they believe it. The more I think about people believing that everything happens for a reason, the more disturbed I am by this philosophy.
The main reason this philosophy bothers me is that there are a lot of bad things that happen to people that they have done nothing to bring on themselves. Specifically, I think of children who are molested, people killed by a drunk driver, someone struck with cancer, the mom who loses a baby to miscarriage or SIDS. The list could go on. I have a hard time looking at these situations and thinking that these things happened so that something else could happen. And that’s really what people are saying when they adopt the “for a reason” philosophy.
A child is molested so that what? I can’t think of anything good that would be worth a child having to cope with the repercussions of molestation. Cancer happens to someone so that what? Some people find a new passion for life, while others die a slow, painful death. Losing a child happens so that what? Again, I can think of nothing good that would be worth losing a child. Losing a family member because of a drunk driver, or a distracted driver, or a bad driver, so that what? I just have a difficult time believing that the good things that sometimes come out of tragedy are worth the tragedy.
The other reason I have a problem with the “for a reason” philosophy is that there is an implication that God causes these bad things to happen. I’m sure many people with this philosophy don’t believe in God, but if things happen for a reason, who else would cause them? So, if there’s belief in God and belief that everything happens for a reason, that by default puts Him in charge of causing those things to happen. However, true belief in God includes knowledge of His nature, which is wholly good and wholly loving. He is also joy, peace, patient, kind, faithful, and gentle. Those characteristics do not allow Him to create evil.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Expectations of Motherhood

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:34 PM 1 comments
Today there is an expectation that we come home with our baby, our husband goes off to work for 40+ hours each week and we are to take care of baby, our home, our husband when he comes home, possibly returning to work ourselves after a few short weeks, or begin the activities of mommy groups and babycise, retain all our friendships and minister to other people in our lives. And this is all to be done while spending either 8-10 hours alone with baby or 8-10 hours at work and juggling home life afterword.
It’s no wonder so many new moms experience depression. Reality is often a far cry (sometimes a frequent cry) from the peaceful sweetness we tend to picture before becoming a mom. The expectation of what motherhood will be like generally does not match up with what we experience. We are all so generally good at hiding our struggle from others, not wanting to seem like we can’t do it. Therefore all the other moms seem to have it all together and we feel like even more of a failure when we’re not enjoying motherhood or can do nothing but cry because we’re so exhausted. But ask for help? Forbid! That would be admitting failure. I’m not a good mother. Or maybe just not adequate, because I can’t do what needs to be done as the mother I so longed to be.
The truth is, however, that we were never made to do it all by ourselves. We are interdependent beings. We were made to live together, love each other, help each other, and rely on each other.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cultural Independence

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:43 PM 0 comments
We live in a very independent culture today that makes it more difficult for families to really join together in raising families. One issue is our mobility. We generally don’t live close to extended family and nor do we live close to the people we grew up with. Although there are plenty of exceptions, most people, either through geographical moves or emotional moves, we don’t live interdependently with each other. At least not after we have children. Singles, whom don’t need the same type of support as parents, tend to rely on each other more. When we had no major responsibilities or commitment to take care of a family most of us wouldn’t think twice about calling a friend for a ride or to help out with something. But when we start a family most of us adopt a philosophy of needing to do it all by ourselves. Countless articles in parenting magazines advise new moms to ask for help when they need it and accept help when it’s offered. Recently an expectant mom asked me what advice I’d give her, and those two things were on the top of my list.
Why do we find it so hard to ask for and accept help? Part of the answer is the “I can do all, be all, and have all” myth. The culture that grew out of a desire for women to have more lifestyle choices has ended up putting huge pressure on women and especially moms. We have a feeling of needing to be supermom. We were made to bear and raise children (I don’t care what you say, look at our bodies – even if you choose not to or are unable to have children, it is one thing that women are uniquely equipped to do) and naturally have strong instincts to care for our children. If we didn’t have this instinct, children wouldn’t survive. How we are to raise our children according to our culture, however, is where a lot of unnecessary pressure comes in. Women used to have babies, take care of them, strap them on their backs or hand them over to an older female family member and keep on living life, which was of course a lot simpler than it is now.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The biggest challenge

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:57 PM 0 comments
When asked what their biggest challenge was in being a stay-at-home or go-to-work mom the following answers were given: time management, prioritizing, keeping balance, time for myself, finding time to get everything done, task management, time to just “be with” my child, time for housekeeping, and getting everything done. Can you tell who these answers came from? They came from both moms who are at home full time and moms who work outside of the home. The biggest challenges for moms seemed to have less to do with whether a mom was at home full time or not and more to do with the general expectations placed on moms. We all have challenges when it comes to “getting it all done.”
Regardless of our working situation, moms have a lot of responsibilities. As we discussed previously, as moms keeping balance is essential. In addition to taking care of ourselves, we also would benefit greatly from taking care of each other. Throughout history people have raised children in a village atmosphere. We are all familiar with the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” but in today’s mobile, independent culture we have lost touch with this truth. Never before have the majority of women raised children in isolation. Regardless of the culture, time in history, or socioeconomic status women throughout history have joined together to raise children. Many people I talk to this about bring up western expansion of the U.S. when families were settling in new territory. First, this was a unique time in history. It was also short lived. And a single family did not head out and settle all by themselves. Multiple families generally traveled together for safety and support. And although individual families owned large areas of land, and were somewhat isolated from other settlers, it was rare that a single nuclear family (two parents with only their biological children) lived day-to-day secluded from other families and individuals. There were more than ever during this time period , but it has not been the norm throughout history.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Random Mommy Tip #1

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 4:06 PM 0 comments
I will occasionally include a random mommy tip-just a little something that makes life a little simpler, more fun, or healthier. Here's the first one:

I started making pancakes from scratch after I began looking at the ingredients on prepared mixes from the store. This pancake recipe is one that I altered from a foodnetwork.com recipe. My kids love these pancakes and ask for them almost every day. They’re so sweet that I don’t even use syrup with them. I mix the dry ingredients and keep the mix in a container, ready to use.

Dry ingredients to keep mixed:
3 ½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

When you’re ready to make the pancakes:
1 ¼ cup mix
1 egg
¾ cup milk
1/3 stick butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla

Mix each wet ingredient in separately. Spray pan and heat on medium. To make it a little more fun, make tiny, small, medium, and large pancakes. I also make letters and spell words for my children (no, I’m not very artistic and they’re not perfect, but my children can usually tell what they are.) It’s a great way to throw in a little fun lesson with breakfast.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We can all be good moms

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:16 PM 4 comments
Working moms know that they miss out on some things, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be great moms. There are plenty of working moms who have close relationships with their children and have been able to find enough balance to be there for their children. We know that quantity of time spent with our children is as important as quality time. But plenty of moms have found a way to prioritize time with their children despite the challenges presented by working.
Likewise, women who stay at home full time aren’t necessarily the best at mothering. I’ll never forget when I was reading a book in preparation to stay home full time and read the statements of children who’s “stay-at-home” moms kept themselves too busy to build relationships with them (Leaving the Workforce.) Just because a mom stays at home with her children does not mean that she makes the best decisions for her children and family. Whether a woman works outside of the home or in the home does not determine how good a mom she is and we need a disconnect from this thinking.
It’s really amazing how much women have in common, regardless of whether they work outside of the home or not. Probably because so many people have focused on the differences, most of us don’t really realize how much we have in common. In speaking with other moms, I was surprised at first how similarly they answered particular questions. But as I got to thinking about it, it made more sense. We are all moms, we are all trying to do our best raising our children and taking care of our families and homes, and we all have personal needs that we have to squeeze in somewhere.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Guilt from not meeting the ideal

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:20 AM 0 comments
It becomes obvious when you talk to enough moms who are willing to be honest that not one of us “has it all.” This is an idea that causes many women to feel guilty and like they don’t measure up. Women who work outside of the home are often made to feel guilty because they don’t feel like they are spending enough time with their family. When they arrange things to spend more time with their family they are often made to feel guilty about not being dedicated enough at work. Or because they are letting housework slip. Or because they are not able to make healthier food choices due to a lack of time. I haven’t talked to many moms who work outside of the home who don’t feel somewhat torn because of how many directions they are being pulled.
Moms who stay at home, however, often suffer from their own guilt. They often are made to feel guilty because “all they do” is stay home. It is often expected that moms who stay at home are always available for whatever. They can sign up for this activity and that meal because they “don’t work.” They are made to feel guilty because they are not contributing to society or putting a financial burden on their family or not setting a good example for their children. They are often accused of giving up the privileges that women have worked so hard to get.
When moms talk about their choice to work outside of the home or stay at home things are often said that make the other feel guilty. I don’t think it’s done intentionally, but because there has been a debate about what moms “should” do, the reasons for making a particular choice have become arguments for everyone to make that same choice. When moms who work outside of the home say things like they chose to work in order to have an impact on the world, they don’t mean to imply that a stay-at-home mom can’t have a positive impact on the world, but she does. When moms who stay at home say things like they chose to stay at home because their child is their top priority, they don’t mean to imply that a working mom doesn’t make her child a priority, but she does.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What we miss, what we get

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 11:53 AM 0 comments
Women who work out of choice or necessity know that they miss out on things. It may be a first step or first word. It may be the excitement the first time a child really feels successful at something. It may be time spent just hanging out on a daily basis. Some of the things moms who work outside of the home have said that they feel like they are missing are: “the big things,” “bonding time with [my] baby … and getting to see him do all his new stuff,” “time during the day with my son,” “organizing my home to reduce stress and make evenings go smoother,” and “everything.” The differences from one mom to the other is obvious in these answers, but the main thing in common is that working moms did feel like they were missing out on something.
When asked about the rewards they received these women talked about things like getting time to run errands alone, financial rewards (for the present and future), adult time, rewards from accomplishing tasks, job satisfaction, having a positive effect on the world, friendships built at work, independence and fulfillment from working, and relationships beyond family. These are some of the things that women who stay at home feel like they’re missing out on. But the rewards that they list look very similar to the things that moms who work outside of the home fell that they are missing. At home moms say that their biggest rewards are: “I get to be here for the little things,” hugs (and) cuddles,” “freedom…flexibility…experiencing things with my child,” “being able to see every ‘first’ my child has,” and “seeing every milestone.”

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The myth

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:21 PM 0 comments
More people than ever before, especially women, are suffering from depression, anxiety, and a host of other emotional and physical problems. These problems are linked to stress, lack of sleep, and general unhealthy lifestyles. Our expectations have been set so high that we run like the Energizer Bunny until we wear out and/or get sick. When we are unable to fully and successfully complete any one of the tasks on our plate we beat ourselves up. We are so busy doing things in our lives we are not actually living our lives, and illnesses such as depression sneak up on us when we’re not looking. We women need a new revolution that lets us be honest with ourselves and each other. We CAN NOT have it all! We CAN NOT do it all, all by ourselves! We are not made that way and the wear and tear on our bodies should be evidence to these facts.
I know that many people will argue with me. They have a job and are dedicated to their family as well. There are many women who are successful in the business world and raise well-adjusted children. This is true, but that does not mean that they have, or have had it, all. Ask a mom who’s worked full time throughout raising her children and I guarantee that her list of what she’s missed out on is long. Similarly, as a mom who has stayed at home what she’s missed out on, and you will get different answers, but there will still be a list. It is physically impossible to have what we think of as “it all.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Say "goodbye, debate"

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:55 PM 0 comments
Nevertheless, there is a camp that supports the view that a woman isn’t living up to her potential, or worse making a detrimental decision for herself and her children, if she doesn’t maintain her career after having children; and a camp that supports the view that mothers returning home is the only answer to solving many of the problems that children and families face today. These camps have had their supporters ever since the debate began. I would like to dissolve these camps and have moms join together in support of each other, regardless of our working situations. We are not doing anyone any good by continuing to provide fuel to the debate. We are, however, propagating a harmful myth, placing incredible pressure on ourselves and others, and putting far too much focus on an issue instead of the health of women and their ability to take care of their families.
The myth that is so harmful to us moms is this: that we can have it all. I have heard this statement my whole life. Ever since the women’s lib movement, women have been able to “have it all.” We can have children and a career. We can eat our cake (be promiscuous before marriage due to birth control) and have it too (have a great, committed marriage regardless of the decisions we made in relationships before marriage.) We can be a corporate executive, room mother, and sex goddess all in one day. Can anyone say: “yeah, right!”

Discussing the debate

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 5:40 AM 0 comments
One reason there is such a debate around the stay-at-home/go-to-work issue is that we all want to believe that we are making the best decisions for our family. When we make a major decision such as this, we want reassurance that it’s the best decision. Somewhere in our subconscious we believe that since our decision is the best for us, it must be the best decision for everyone. Out of all of the books I’ve read on either choosing to stay at home or choosing to stay at work, all of them have tried to justify why each choice is the right thing to do. Most of the books are geared to women who have made a particular choice and aim to reinforce the decision made, encourage women in that decision, and give them tools to make it work. These books are very helpful in giving women support that is helpful in the challenges that come with either staying at home or staying at work.
For some reason, however, there is tension between the two groups. Somehow the encouragement and support for making the choice has become a debate. There has even recently been a book published that admonished that all women should work, and if they don’t they are doing a discredit to themselves and their children. My stand on the issue is that there should be no debate. There’s no possible way that all women can work. There just aren’t enough jobs out there. Not to mention that many women would be miserable and more stressed trying to balance work and raising children when their heart is not in it. Nor could our economy handle it if all women chose to stay home. We’re a huge part of the workforce. Not to mention that many women would be miserable at home, and some families would collapse under financial debt if there wasn’t a second income. It’s not always necessary, but our economy requires in many families that there be two incomes just to survive.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The issue that can't be ignored

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 7:52 AM 1 comments
There has been so much written on these topics that I won’t address most of them. But there is one that I can’t ignore. Even though it’s probably the most written about and talked about choice, it bears visiting. No mom’s book would be complete without entering in the stay-at-home/go-to-work debate. Where I come down on this issue is that there should be no debate. Just as there’s no one-size fits all dress out there (no matter what the tag says), there is also no one-size-fits-all answer to this hot topic.
I have experienced a little of it all, and have talked to dozens of moms about the work/home issue. Some moms work and wish they could be at home. Some moms work and wouldn’t have it any other way. Some moms feel stuck at home and have to work at having some adult outlets. Some moms are perfectly content being home full time. Some moms work at home and manage it very well. Some moms work part time and feel it’s the perfect balance. Each mom is different in her situation and reasons why she stays home or goes to work, but one thing every mom I’ve talked to has had challenges unique to their situation. So why the big debate?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What is my main job?

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:44 PM 0 comments
Now that we’ve covered some the general answer to being a successful mommy, it’s time to tackle some more specific questions and answers. The first question asked was “What is my main job as a mom?” The answer to that question is, of course, to raise my children to be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthy individuals. This answer possibly raises more questions than almost any other. The evidence for the complexity of the answer to this question can be seen in any bookstore or library by the shear numbers of books and magazines written for moms. These books answer all of the little questions (yeah, right. Are there really and little questions when it comes to mommyhood?) that we answer in raising our children. Questions like: Do I breast or formula feed? Do I work or stay home? If I work, what’s the best child care situation for my child? Do I make my own baby food or buy it prepared? Do I send my child to preschool? And when? And where? What’s the best way to educate my child – home school, private school, or public school? What activities should I sign my child up for? The list goes on and on.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Balance through letting go

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:00 PM 1 comments
Now that we have added some tools to our balanced life toolbox, we need to discuss “those days.” You know, the day where everything gets out of balance. Whether because of circumstances out of our control or because of our own decisions, we all have “those days.” One of my girlfriends confided in me today that she allowed her day to get all out of whack. How she spent her time did not reflect her priorities for the day. Her confession got me to thinking. Has the way I spent my time today reflected my priorities? Today I did okay, but reflecting back over the week showed me that I had spent too little time just being with my children.
The guilt and disappointment in myself is something that I believe we all (moms) share. Because of being pulled in a variety of directions it often happens that we don’t get everything done. Sometimes we feel disappointed in ourselves for not living up to our own standards. Sometimes we feel guilty about missing something important for something trivial. Sometimes we just don’t ever feel like we can keep everyone happy. On those days (or weeks) it’s essential to evaluate what’s going on and what went wrong.
We are often afraid of doing this because it means looking at and acknowledging our faults. And that just makes us feel worse. Therefore, the next step is to determine where changes need to be made. Some of the tools we’ve already discussed will be helpful in making necessary adjustments. Once you’ve determined to, or actually made, some changes to get back in balance you’re only part of the way through the process. The next step is to let go. Let go of the disappointment. Let go of the guilt. Let go of the self condemnation. Recognize that you’re human and forgive yourself. I find that I often skip this step and kind of “rake myself over the coals” over and over about the same issue. Even if it’s been years since I’ve made a particular mistake, the guilt can creep up on me.
Holding on to these negative feelings are not helpful to anyone. They just drag me down and tip my scales (and life) out of balance. They are damaging to my health and may negatively impact my relationships. Most importantly they affect how I see myself, how I treat myself, and how I expect others to treat me. If I’m able to forgive myself and be content with who I am (and who I’m striving to be) I will be more likely to take care of my health and thus be better able to take care of my family and all of the other responsibilities I have.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I Don't "have to"

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:46 PM 0 comments
Now that we’ve added a word to our vocabulary, it’s time to take a phrase out. I am just as guilty as anyone else about using this phrase, but I am working diligently to stop using it except when it is truly appropriate. I once had a teacher who said, “There are only two things in life that you have to do: pay taxes and die.” Well, there have been plenty of people who have proven that you don’t have to pay taxes. You still have the option, just most people don’t want to pay the consequences. So, really, the only thing we have to do is die. We don’t have a choice in that one.
If you listen to many of us talk, however, you would think that the world could come to an end at any moment. I’m not even sure how often I say “have to,” but I know it’s too much. I have to cook dinner. I have to go to the grocery store. I have to go to work. I have to clean. I have to… It never seems to end. But we really don’t have to do all of these things. There are plenty of people who chose not to do many of these things. Their lives may not be what we would want, but they’re still around.
The phrase “have to” brings with it a sense of burden. If I have to do something it’s an obligation. If you’re anything like me, you kind of trudge through obligations like walking through knee deep mud. The same task can be skipped through light-heartedly with the simple exlusion of the phrase “have to.” I’m going to cook dinner because I’m hungry and want us to be healthy. I’m going to the grocery store because we’re getting low on some food items that we like. I’m going to go to work so that we can continue to have the things we have. I’m going to clean the house so that it looks nice and is a healthy place for us to live. Just as we talked about changing perspectives earlier, changing how we say things can also change our experiences. Saying “I’m going to….because” it give me this good benefit improves my mood, motivation, and attitude about what there is to be done.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Balance through Self Discipline

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:27 PM 0 comments
Ourselves is a good place to start with saying no. This is otherwise known as self-discipline. Mommyhodd teaches us a lot about self-discipline. Discipline often gets a bad rap, but it is hugely beneficial trait. All self- discipline is is to tell yourself no when it is in the best interest of you or someone else. When that baby is crying in the middle of the night and you want to roll over and go back to sleep, you get up because you know that baby needs you. When you don’t feel good and would like to curl up in front of the tv, you dress and feed and maybe even play with your children. When you would really like a bowl of ice cream for lunch, you fix the salad (and maybe have the ice cream for dessert.) We all have the foundations of discipline, we just don’t like to exercise it very often.
What we don’t realize is that we will pay now or pay later. If I choose to eat unhealthily and not to exercise, I will pay by feeling sluggish and not being able to fit into my clothes. If I choose not to clean my house at all, I will pay by my family being sick more. If I choose to take on too many responsibilities outside of my home, I will pay by losing the close relationship with my husband and my children. If I choose to neglect any of my areas of priorities, I will pay in some way at some time.
In order to become better at saying no, I have to practice saying it and being okay with it. If I don’t feel that a certain responsibility or project is something I should take on, I don’t need to worry about who will do it or how it will get done. If I feel that a person is going to be disappointed with me for not doing something, I have to realize that their disappointment is more about their incorrect expectations of me, not a devaluing of who I am. I have gained an understanding that my self worth is not wrapped up in what I do or what other people think of me, and that has helped my be able to say no with confidence. I still have a lot of responsibilities, but I make sure that they are the right responsibilities for me and my family for right now and that they won’t throw me off balance.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Balance through Saying "No"

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 3:29 PM 1 comments
The next tool for achieving balance is one that we, as women, tend to have an especially hard time with. Many of us have never put it in our tool box of life, and others let it get buried so far down it hardly ever gets used. This tool is the ability to say “no.” Such a simple little word, such a difficult thing to say. Because we often tie our self-definition in the things we do (which is no wonder, with all that we have to do) we feel that we should do whatever we are asked. Especially if it’s a good thing and most especially if it’s something that we enjoy doing. We life in a world that is full of opportunities of every kind, which is great, but people (okay, I) often want to take hold of every opportunity. Which is, of course, impossible and leaves me feeling overwhelmed.
Our culture pushes us to be “overachievers.” It starts in school. The more activities you’re involved in, the more community services you perform, the higher your grades, the better college you’ll get into. Once you’re at college you’re encouraged to continue in this race of high grades and extra-curricular activities to be able to land the best job. Then many people start the rat race in the business world to keep moving up in the world. Even though many mom don’t join the business rat race, the same thing takes place in the world of moms. Instead of promotions, it’s being on the Parent Teacher Association, or being room mom, or making sure that your child is signed up for the right amount of activities, while still contributing to your community in a helpful way. Not all moms do this. I have a good friend who is in no way whatsoever compelled to take on the world like I am. She’s perfectly content to be at home, take care of her family, and do one or two extra things for them. She has learned the art of saying no when it’s appropriate and her family, I believe, benefits from it.
Just like any new habit saying no takes practice. You may even start with “I’ll think about it,” which is a good tool to let you actually think about whether this is something that you should take on or whether it doesn’t fit in your goals and objectives. It also gives you a chance to consider how your family would be affected. I came across an opportunity recently that I would have loved to taken advantage of. It was something right up my ally. As I thought about it, though, I realized that it would take time that I didn’t want to take from my family and that it would possibly also cause conflict in my family. It wouldn’t be worth what it would cost me, and it felt good to say no, even if it was just to myself.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Balance through Changing Perspectives

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 10:09 AM 1 comments
Changing perspective is another tool to achieving a balanced life. Balance isn’t just about what you have going on. It’s also how you look at and feel about what’s going on. When I start to feel overwhelmed with housework and taking care of my family I stop and give thanks. I’m grateful that I have a house that is safe and warm and has plenty of room for my family. I’m very grateful for my three children. They are true blessings in my life. Just because they’re blessings, though, doesn’t mean that they aren’t work. Just like the house and the husband and my calling to write, these blessings come with responsibilities and need work to maintain them. But if I never stop working to enjoy my blessings, they lose their positive influence on my life.
When I have a pile of laundry and ironing to do, I remind myself how blessed we are to have a full wardrobe of clothes. When the dishwasher is full again, I remind myself it’s because we have plenty of food to eat. When my children’s toys are all over the den, I remind myself that they are healthy. When my husband comes home late from work, I remind myself that he has a great job and is a wonderful father and husband. When I’m exhausted, getting up for the second or third time in the night with my baby, I sing praises that I have this sweet person who’s been entrusted to me.
I am not happy all of the time, and I have to work at changing my perspective. I have down days and do get frustrated. But I’ve learned that if I wallow in these moments, I’ll miss the great moments. I don’t ignore the things that need to change. Part of my job is to teach my children manners and to clean up after themselves. I ask for help when I need it. I take care of the things that need to be taken care of (eventually.) What I don’t do is dwell on these things. I choose instead to dwell on the hugs and kisses, the few moments alone my husband and I snag, the things and people that I have been abundantly blessed with. When I do this, I’m much more grateful and don’t feel as overwhelmed as often. It tips the balance of my mood to the positive side, which helps me bring balance to the other areas of my life.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Balance through Relationships

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 6:27 PM 0 comments
Lists, goals and objectives are helpful in giving concreteness to priorities and increasing motivation, but they most definitely don’t guarantee balance. I have even gotten out of balance in making lists and goals before. These are just tools that can be helpful in maintaining balance. There are many other tools that can be used to maintain balance in your life. Another way that I keep myself in check is through my relationships. The people in my life that I’m closest with know me well enough to notice when I’m out of balance. They are able to see things that I can’t or don’t take the time to see. Accountability relationships, as I call them, can include a husband, best friend, mother, sister, etc. These are the people you share your inmost being with and are comfortable enough to be vulnerable with. They are also faithful and trustworthy and will always build you up. They are there for you, because sometimes all you need is a sounding board. Just talking through your feelings, frustrations, and fantasies (on what all you’d like to get done) if often helpful.
These relationships also help remind you that you are more than a mother. Although we often get overwhelmed with all of the roles we play in life, there is healthiness in being able to define who we are separate from being a mom. Especially when mothering takes up a majority of our time and we feel completely wrapped up in mommyhood. It may seem contrary to what many think, but maintaining your identity outside of being a mom actually helps you be a better mom. Remember the metaphor of the air conditioning unit? We talked about needing to do regular maintenance. An air conditioner doesn’t spend time being a refrigerator or washing machine, but it doesn’t run all the time. Even though it doesn’t provide another function, it does its job of heating or cooling and then it takes a break for a while. We’re not appliances (contrary to some popular jokes), we have more than one job and more than one relationship to maintain. If we look at these other relationships as avenues of support and outlets, they become tools to helping us maintain balance instead of just adding more things on our to do list.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Adjustable Goals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 8:45 PM 1 comments
Your goals may look very different from mine. Your areas of responsibilities may look very different from mine. The helpful thing is to look at your priorities and responsibilities and how you can balance them. What can be let go. Some women may be freaking out that I only clean my house completely once a month. I like to keep my house what I call “clean enough.” It’s not spotless, but it’s not a danger to my children’s health either. For me, it’s more important to go on a date with my husband and work on my children’s scrapbooks (which is therapeutic for me) than have a perfect house.
It’s important to realize that goals are not a “have to.” A goal list is meant to help you maintain balance, not drive you insane trying to check everything off of the list. One year I planned to take a bath once a week. It soon became obvious that I relaxed in other ways and this was a goal I wasn’t going to meet. It was replaced the next year, and that was okay. When I had a newborn I most certainly did not exercise 4 times a week, and that was okay. Just because I didn’t meet a goal, had to adjust it, or alter it for a while didn’t make me want to quit. I realized that I needed to either reevaluate my goals or make adjustments in how I was spending my time.
Because I’m a list person, my annual goals are generally broken down into weekly goals, or to do lists. I have found that I am much more productive when I can see and check off items on a list. And because each week can bring new challenges, responsibilities, and events we often need to make adjustments in what we focus on. For instance, if I’m planning on hosting a function I’m going to focus more on housework. But the next week I may focus on spending more quality time with my children and husband because we were extra busy the week before. Many people may not find having a list helpful, but a list helps keep me accountable. On the days and weeks where I don’t consciously pay attention to what I have to do, I get much less done, feel unproductive, and often overwhelmed because things are still piling up.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Balance and goals

Posted by Tracy Wainwright at 9:53 PM 1 comments
So how do we maintain balance between all of our responsibilities, including our responsibility to ourselves. For me, I’m a list person. I am constantly evaluating where I am, where I want to be and how I’m going to get there. I’ve found it very helpful to make a list of goals and objectives. One is short term and the other is long term but it doesn’t really matter what you call it, as long as you pay attention to your priorities and whether you’re working towards something.
Several years ago I started making an annual goal list. On this list are different areas which, by no coincidence, are the responsibilities in my life that are the most important. They include: spiritual goals, health goals, personal goals, husband goals, children goals, housekeeping goals, financial goals and professional goals. Under each area I list short term and long term goals. My goals don’t change drastically from year to year and I don’t always meet all of my goals. It’s not a rigid, must do for me, but a way to keep myself accountable to putting my time, energy and effort into people and things that I say are my top priorities. Below is a sample listing of my annual goals.
Spiritual Goals: read scripture every day; pray continuously
Health Goals: exercise a minimum of 4 days a week; eat proper servings at most meals
Personal Goals: give generously; waste less time; catch up on scrapbooks
Husband Goals: go on a monthly date; spend quality time every week
Children Goals: spend time playing with children every day; read to children every day
Housekeeping Goals: keep clutter to a minimum; clean house completely once a month
Financial Goals: keep credit cards paid off; give 10% to church
Professional Goals: write consistently, get one book finished

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Rewards and God's Word

Looking at God’s Word not only tells us that rewarding obedience is not only an essential part of parenting, but also what those rewards should focus on. There are times that God rewards us materially. He does want us to prosper in the sense that we have everything we need materially and often even more than just what we need. But He most definitely does not want our material rewards to become our focus or motivation for righteous behavior. God is much more concerned with the state of our heart and His Word talks much more about a prosperity of spirit. God rewards us with healing of body and spirit, peace, forgiveness, reconciliation, joy, strength, endurance, self-control, spiritual gifts, and, of course, eternal life. This list could go on and on. It only takes a small amount of time in scripture to recognize the rewards God gives us “pressed down, shaken together and running over.”(Luke 6:38)

If God rewards us, why would we ever withhold rewards from our children? When we have an appropriate perspective on rewarding and motivating our children and what the proper rewards and incentives are, we allow ourselves to abundantly bless our children and ourselves, as we see them grow through positive interactions. There are many ways to reward our children and many different types of incentives available to motivate children. I think about my children when they were infants. As they learned to smile, to sit up, to crawl, to walk, I was there every step of the way cheering them on. A smile, a little clapping, and a big “yah!” was all they needed to encourage them to keep doing what they were doing and/or try a little harder to make that next step. Cheering our children on is a great way to motivate them. Children generally really do want to please their parents. Cheering for our children can come in many forms and will depend on your personality, your child’s personality, and the situation. Hugs, “way to go,” “I’m proud of you,” and “great job!” are all examples of ways to praise our children. It’s about encouraging them along when they’re getting it right and trying their best.

Time with our children and special treats are additional ways to reward them. We can take them on a special outing for good behavior or completed tasks over a period of time. We can let them choose a movie for the family to watch. We can let them pick what restaurant we’re going to eat at. We can buy them a small treat, or even have monetary rewards. It is all based on what works for your family and what motivates your child.

See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse – the blessing if you obey the commands of the LORD your God that I am giving you today; Deuteronomy 11:26-27

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Have you ever had one of "those days"?

I did the other day. And unlike many of our "those days" that mommies have, it had nothing to do with my children being uncooperative. Quite the contrary, my children were being great. I was even being organized when it came to them. We had a wonderful, fairly productive morning and prepared to be out the rest of the day. I was dropping them off with daddy at my mom's house, going to a doctor's appointment, picking up dinner, picking up the kids, and heading to church. I had allowed plenty of time (so I thought) as my doctor's appointment was at 2:30 and we didn't have to be at church until 5:45. Well, the best laid plans....

I realized half-way down the road that I didn't have my wallet. Which meant that I had to ask for money to buy supper and hoped that I didn't need my insurance card for my appointment (which I didn't, fortunately, since I'd just been there two weeks prior - and yes, mom, I was driving without my license on me.) I also realized that I'd forgotten my insulin. So only salad for me for supper. I dropped off the kids, put the baby down and set the others up on the computer so daddy could continue to get work done. I headed down the road to the doctor's (with 10 minutes to spare) and realized I'd left my phone at my mom's. Oh, well. The Dr's office had a phone I could use to order supper and let my husband know when I was leaving.

I was early to the appointment, but of course they were running late. I finally saw the first nurse who proceded to let me know the plan that would involve an extra appointment in the next month (meaning 6 appointments in 11 weeks) or trying to make it to Norfolk to deliver my baby (1 1/2 hours away on a good day, and my last labor was 2 1/2 hours - not a good idea.) Fortunately she left me in another office to wait on the next nurse. I was trying not to be upset when my resources kicked in. In the quite stillness of that small room God reminded me that He was in charge, He has given me His peace, and that I can do ANYTHING through Him.

I didn't get out of my appointment until 4:30, I got cut off trying to order supper and then couldn't get back through, my husband had been expecting me for an hour before I called because the clocks in my moms house hadn't been changed yet, and it took me nearly an hour to make my way there. So I arrived with supper when I should have been leaving. But I called and got my position at church covered, sat and ate supper with my family (and did have half a slice of pizza) and was completely okay with being late. When things are out of our control, it doesn't help to get harried or upset. Instead, as I've learned, I can be content in any situation - including when lots of little things are adding up to make one of "those days."

I was exhausted that evening and had to put the kids to bed by myself because my husband was working late due to his three hour interruption. But I tucked my healthy children into bed, sat in my comfortable recliner, ate my bedtime snack, took my insulin, and relaxed. Throughout the day that had lots of little bumps, God kept using His Word that I had taken the time previously to read and study to continuously remind me that I was not alone and that all the little things - although aggrivating - really didn't matter. No matter what is going on, what is impacting my day, as long as I've fed myself with His Word and with His Truth, He will sustain me. My job is to prepare long in advance (each day, making Him a priority) and listen when He beckons me to His place of rest.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Why Rewards?

First, it’s important to look at the nature of our children. There are different perspectives on human nature. One theory believes that people are inherently good and are corrupted by circumstances. One believes that children are blank slates and develop according to their environment. Another believes that people are inherently evil (sinful) and need to be trained to be good. A Biblical perspective tells us that we are born with a natural inclination to sin, a result of the fall in Eden, have a unique personality that effects how we interact with our environment, and are effected by our circumstances. In essence, this means that children do not naturally lean toward righteousness, need outward motivation to do what is right, and interact with how they are parented according to their God-given personality.
Second, it’s important to recognize that God models rewards and incentives for right behavior. As we discussed in the beginning of the chapter, we talked about the importance of obedience and how God rewards obedience and punishes disobedience. The Israelite nation is given rewards in prosperity and peace when they obey God and worship Him. We are promised the reward of the fruit of the Spirit as we seek God, love, worship, and obey Him. In the parable of the talents Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a man who rewards his servants with added responsibility and shared happiness[U1] . Paul tells us in Romans that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” (8:28a) John tells us that “God’s love is truly made complete” in us when we obey God’s Word, of which being filled and complete in God through Christ is the ultimate reward. (1 John 2:5)

[U1]“His master replied ‘Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” Matthew 25:23

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Rewards

Rewards, incentives, and positive given to children for motivation for children to make good choices is not just okay, it is an important part of effective parenting. There is a lot of debate these days about using incentives and rewards in parenting. Some believe that children should do what they are asked to do and should do because it’s the right thing to do. They believe that rewards for good behavior or completing tasks provide outward motivation, which is not the goal. We’ve already discussed that we want our children to mature and develop internal motivation. This is true for making right choices, as well as for things like working hard. However, as I discussed previously, our job as parents is to provide outside motivation until our children become internally motivated. If we take a step back and look at our children in a little different light, it may help us in understanding clearly what rewards, incentives, and bonuses are and why they are important.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Make It Fun

It's really easy as moms to get bogged down in the day-to-day chores and keeping up with stuff. It doesn't take much to get caught up in everything we have to get done and get lost to the "stuff" of mothering. But we are supposed to enjoy being moms and our time with our children. To do this we often need to be intentional. There are often moments that will catch us off guard where we have one of those full of fun and laughter moments. But in general, to add more fun to motherhood we have to be intentional.

I'm not the most creative person in the world, but God has graced me with inspirational moments to make my journey of mommyhood more fun. One of the things I did recently was make a menu for my children for lunch. I like to give them choices for lunch, but don't want to wait a half hour while they go through the list of things I'm not going to fix or don't have. So I prepared a Wainwright Lunch Menu and treated them like guests in my restaurant. They got to eat on a blanket in the garage and love "putting in their orders." It made lunch fun and they still ate what I had and was willing to fix without any arguing.

Another thing we often do for fun is race to get the house straightened up. I don't like them to be racing against each other, so we all work together and race against the clock. I set a timer and we rush around (often with me giving step-by-step instructions) getting the house straight. It doesn't seem like as much work to them when it's a game and things go much faster!

Although everything can't be fun, it's an important tool to teach our children that we can have positive attitudes and make things enjoyable even when we don't want or don't feel like doing them. This goes a long way in experiencing life positively and learning patience. It's much more pleasant to do things and/or wait for things when we can make it more fun.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Catching up

Well, I certainly haven't posted as much lately as I would like to. My minimum goal is once a week, but I haven't been making it. The good news is, however, that things are going really well and that's why I haven't posted. I finished chapter five (on parenting) of The Mommy Answer and am starting on chapter six (on fostering relationships, especially the one with your husband.) And to live out what I'm writing, I just returned from a long weekend with my husband. It was our first alone getaway since our first child was born 5 1/2 years ago and was fabulous. We went to Beufort, SC - which I highly recommend as a beautiful, quiet place to vacation - and just enjoyed each other and the lack of a schedule. I didn't get as much work done as I'd hoped, but I guess that's a good thing.

Bible Study is also up and swinging and is going great. We've completed the first two sections which covers making Bible Study, prayer and physical discipline prioritities. God is blessing me so much through this study and teaching me and reminding me many things.

Hopefully I'll get back on track with my posts, but if I miss a week here and there, know that it's because things are going well and I'm having the opportunity to be fruitful with my family, writing, and other relationships.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear what's going on with you, what God's doing in your life, and what your current blessings are.

Friday, September 12, 2008

LIfe Management for Busy Women

I am priviledged to be teaching the fall ladies Bible Study at my church. I thought about posting my notes on this blog, but several people are already reading both and I didn't want to duplicate. So if your interested in learning about managing a busy life (based on the book and study by Elizabeth George), go to smithmemorialladiesbiblestudy.blogspot.com and join us!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Making Mommy Decisions

Do you ever look at or think about how you make mommy decisions? I recently got the book I Was a Really Good Mom before I Had Kids by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile. In one chapter they talk about making peace with your choices. Most of the chapter talks about the anxiety that moms feel about things from picking the right extra-curricular activities to packing to right lunch to deciding whether to work or not. While I agree with much of what they have to say - like about the number of choices we have today adding to our stress and moms often not being confident about their decisions and comparing their decisions to other moms - they are missing the greatest resource for confidence in decisions.

"We heard forom a lot of mothers that htey crave confidence and stability. They want to stop looking over their shoulders, stop living with doubt, and stop making choices based on others' expectations of them." True. They talk about expectations influencing decisions, considering wants, using core principles and values, letting go of pressure to do it all, and decide to make peace with decisions. Much of this is helpful, but an incomplete answer to the presented problem. A quote they have in this chapter says "Sometimes you just have to trust the universe that things will turn out OK. - Amy/2 children, Corte Madera, CA"

Trust the universe? Trust a created object that has no power? Trust in changing values and feelings that everything will turn out okay? I'd rather have something powerful and perfect and loving and guiding to the best end for me and my children to trust in. Making the ultimate choices for our children requires relying on the ultimate parent. In an authentic, seeking relationship with God, we can have the answer to every question we ever have in parenting. Our ultimate goals for our children should come from God's will in their lives. As we seek Him, diligently study His Word, and learn to listen to Him, He will hold our hands and show us the path to take at every fork in the road. He will also lead us when to just be still in Him. Intentionally and intellectually evaluating our expectations, desires, values, and choices are good things to do. But relying on God to guide us through this process is the best thing we can do.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

More on Discipline

As I continued to think on my last post and the principle of pay now or pay more later, I felt compelled to add a warning. Although we are responsible for teaching our children discipline, doing everything that we can in teaching our children, they still are able to make their own choices. There will always be that one child who rebels despite strict discipline. We as moms have to be very careful in how we judge other mothers by how their children behave. It may be the case that she is not doing all that she can in the area of discipline, but it may also be that she doesn't have the tools, or support, or just that the child is particurly strong-willed.

I also felt the need to emphasize that discipline should always be out of love. There are just as many children who are out of control because there is too much discipline with a lack of love and relationship as there are those who aren't disciplined at all. Discipline and love don't balance each other, discipline occurs out of love. This is a fundamental principle found in the Bible, expressed in Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6, and Revelation 3:19.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Paying with Children

One of the ways that we don't realize that we have to pay now or pay more later is in raising our children. As a counselor I saw it time and time again that parents let their children get away with small acts of disobedience and disrespect when they were younger because they were little things. Then they came to counseling because their child was "out of control." The heartache and struggle that parents went through because they had no authority over thier child was hard to watch. Walking step by step as parents attempted to regain authority over a rebellious teenager was hard work for everyone. It is much harder to regain authority and enforce discipline that hasn't been kept in place than it is to maintain it. As hard as it feels sometimes to keep on my children and work to make them obey (and it is often WORK), I try to keep in mind (and tell them) that obedience is essential for their safety and well-being. One day they're going to need to mind me when I tell them not to run out in the street or not put themselves in a situation where they'll be tempted to sin, or any number of other possibilities. As laborious as it is sometimes to discipline my children and stop what I'm doing to enforce a rule, the pay off in obedience is well worth it.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pay Now or Pay More Later

We live in a society of having the option to pay now or pay later for most things. Generally, we are encouraged to pay later – use your credit card, it’s so much easier; buy now, pay nothing until 2020 (okay, may not that far away), etc, etc, etc. Although the concept of getting what we want and not paying for it until later sounds great, what many people don’t realize is that when you eventually do pay, you will pay much more than the original cost of whatever it was you just couldn’t have to wait. At an interest rate of 18% or 36% it doesn’t take long for $300 to become $1000. And the larger the purchase, the greater the interest you’ll end up paying. But because we pay just a little at a time, it doesn’t seem that bad. Or, we’ve already made that choice, so we just have to suck it up and deal with it.

It’s usually taking the easy route that gets us into a big mess. It makes us feel good or makes things a little bit easier for us. This philosophy of pay now or pay later also works in many other areas of our lives. The cost, however, is often much higher than we want to pay. If we pay attention to the small print up front, we would never take the easy route. But like the small print on a contract or a credit agreement, we often choose to ignore it. That’s how we get ourselves into unhealthy, unbearable, and ungodly situations. In finances, in parenting, in health, in relationships and in spiritual growth we will pay now or we will pay later.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Bourne Mommy

I don't know if you've ever seen the Bourne movies (Bourne Identity, Supremecy, and Ultimatum), but I recently watched them for the second time. You may be thinking, "I can't believe she watched that", but I'll admit I may just watch them again (before I return them to their owner - they really are coming home Melissa.) Besides being a huge Matt Daman fan, there's just something about these movies that draw me in. Part of it is the incredible, unlikely feats that the hero (I guess he can be called that) accomplishes. This time around I started thinking of this character in comparison to Mommies. And I realized that we often expect ourselves to function similarly.
First - we are expected to keep on going, no matter what. No matter if we've been shot and fallen into the sea, if we've been in three car crashes in as many days, if we've just lost the love of our life. We don't literally face these challenges, but moms definately face some real challenges that affect us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. No matter what we have going on, we are expected (usually by ourselves more than anyone else) to just keep going.
There's also the phenomenon of holding everything together emotionally despite our world's falling apart. This is a result of the "have it all" myth that has come out of the women's lib movement. We're not supposed to let it show that we are stressed and maybe need someone to lean on and let us cry for a little bit. Not necessarily over anything big, but just because it all adds up.
We're also supposed to be able to evaluate and react immediately to situations. We expect ourselves to be able to handle any situation at a moments notice and without flaw. We have all of the information to deal with whatever comes up and have the sense of mind to use that information instinctively.
Although good movies, they are highly unrealistic, as are our expectations of ourselves sometimes. So take a break, watch a movie, and cut yourself a little slack.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Contentment

What is contentment? It's not settling, not accepting the best, not striving for better. Contentment doesn't mean that that we don't reach for goals or acknowledge that we might like some things to be different. Contentment means that we enjoy where we are. I look forward to the days when my children are more self-sufficient,when I have a book published, when I can stay home full time, but that doesn't mean that I'm not content right now. I love the developmental stages my children are in. They are so fun and still love to climb in my lap for snuggles. I am enjoying the working stage of my book and the small successes of getting one chapter completed at a time. I am grateful that I found a part time job that is a good job, in a good environment, and pays decently. I am content. It's not based on my circumstances (although I have to admit, they are good, if not my ideal), but based on the fact that I can focus on the positive. I also work diligently at keeping my focus on God and the fact that I can do everything through him, which Paul tells us is the secret to contentment. "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances...I can do everything through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:11b, 13. People with really good circumstances according to the world are often not content, yet many with difficult circumstances are able to live in a state of contenment. It's not a matter of what's going on or where you are, but rather a matter of where you focus.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Random Mommy Tip #4

Flour Power - It started out as a science project. I was teaching my 5-year-old about germs and washing hands. I let her play with some flour (germs) and then gave her a carrot to eat - without eating any germs. The lesson took (I think), but more than that we found a new form of entertainment. My 3-year-old joined in and they played with the flour, cups, spoons, etc. at the bar for over an hour while I cooked dinner. It gets a little messy, but I have to clean up the kitchen and sweep after meals anyway, so once in a while we get out the flour and tools and they "cook" while I do. Recently my 14-month-old also joined in. They love it and it's easy, cheap, creative entertainment!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Accepting Forgiveness

I haven't posted in a couple weeks, no reason really, just busy with life and on revising some early writing for the book. It's interesting, however, that I never moved beyond the forgiveness part of healing since an issue has come up where I've had to work through accepting God's forgiveness and work on forgiving myself. It has been a great reminder to me how easy it is to get out of step with the Holy Spirit - even when my intentions were good and even when I was trying to follow scripture. What I didn't do was stop and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. After working so hard to stay in God's will and live a believing life - leaning on, relying on, and trusting in Him, it was excruciating to be out of His will and feel the consequences of not just sin, but a transgression (sin while knowing the right thing.) I've had to remind myself that God has already forgiven me and I'd be a fool to give up on Him, because He will never give up on me. Although for a few moments I felt like giving up, and even questioned my ability to be a good mom, I decided not to stay in sin (by not accepting His forgiveness), but instead to use this painful experience to really evaluate myself. I will now take the lessons God has so graciously given me along with His forgiveness and do my best to use them to bring more glory to Him.

Monday, July 7, 2008

What Forgiveness Is

"Forgiveness
- begins with God...
- (shows we trust)that God alone can restore and heal us completely...
- (shows we trust) that God is totally and compeltely opposed to evil and sees it whenever and wherever it occurs...
- allows us to look at ourselves honestly: as broken children of God..."
- empowers us

The Truth Behind the Mommy Wars: Who Decides What Makes a Good Mother
by: Miriam Peskowitz

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Get Out of That Pitt

Beth Moore says that there are three steps to healing.
1 - cry out: acknowledge the problem and the need for God
2 - cofess: agree with what God says about Him and you
3 - consent: go along with the healing process

We have to make up our minds to get well, to not stay stuck in the pain and revicimize ourselves daily. When we don't choose to heal, we choose to be the victim over and over again, to live a defeated life, and to keep the pain fresh. When we choose to heal we open the door to the joy that Jesus lived and died for us to have.

John 10:10 The theif comes only to steal and kill and detroy;I have come that they might have life and have it to the full.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What Forgiveness is not

When choosing to forgive it is important to know what forgivenes is not. This helps to eliminate fear that we often have when we think about forgiving. According to Kim Gaines Eckert in STRONGER THAN YOU THINK, forgiveness "does not mean:
- we forget what happened to us
- we excuse the people who hurt us and say that..their actions are okay
- (we have to reconcile)
- we pretent the hurts never happened
- we ignore our wounds
- we allow others to hurt us repeatedly"

When we think about forgiveness we often have a picture of weakness, an individual who gets run over and abused constantly. But true forgiveness does not mean being weak. True forgiveness gives us the power to take care of ourselves in a healthy way and takes the power away from the person or event that has caused us pain. It is a sign of strength to be able to choose to forgive, choose to be healthy, and choose to take care of ourselves by healing from past hurts and to stop the cycle of pain that comes with being a victim. We no longer carry the pain. We scrape out the infection (bitterness, fear, anger) that had grown in the wound (the original offense/event) and care for it properly as it heals.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Forgiveness

A major part of healing from and dealing with difficult circumstances in life is forgiveness. Sometimes we have to forgive others, sometimes we have to forgive ourselves. We can learn the most about forgiveness by looking to God.

In their book WHEN IT'S HARD TO FORGIVE by Goldie Bristol and Carol McGinnis, we find that "Faith in Christ (is) the foundation for a forgiving lifestyle...Forgiveness was very much a part of Jesus' lifestyle...(His) whole purpose in coming to earth was to die so that our sins could be forgiven. Accepting this great divine forgiveness enables us to forgive others."

When we recognize that God forgives us everything when we ask, and all that he has forgiven us for, it becomes easier to forgive others. It is still not easy, however. We often don't feel like forgiving others and sometimes just don't know how to forgive. We have to purposefully and intentionally choose to forgive. To do this we need to have an understanding of exactly what forgiving is and what it isn't.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Healing

We all have some kind of issue that affects the way we parent. These issues range from the repercussions of our parents' divorce, our own divorce, a history of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, surviving a traumatic event such as a car crash or house fire, or dealing with a chronic illness. They include losses of parents, siblings, close friends, spouses, and children. These events impact our lives and effect who we are. In addition to, and in order to be a healthier parent, we need to acknowledge the impact these events have had on us and make sure we have or consciously choose to go through the healing process.

In Kim Gaines Eckert's book STRONGER THAN YOU THINK, she talks about making sure that we recognize that we are made whole in Christ. "Wholeness is a gift from God to be received, yet we can be activley involved in the working out of that gift." (p. 23) Yet when we are hurt through relationships, circumstances, or traumatic events, we often get lost in that pain. In order to heal, it's essential to name and grieve our losses, acknowledge how our decision-making and relationship patterns play a part in keeping the pain fresh, choose to forgive, and choose to heal by putting our hope in Christ alone.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back Again

Wow! It's really been almost a month since I last posted. The last month has consisted of throwing my husband a surprise birthday party, going out of town two weekends in a row and being slammed at work. Not to mention getting diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and getting used to a new routine of taking insulin 5-7 times a day.Now, I'm back on track I think. Life is getting a little back to normal.

I haven't been doing a ton of writing (on the book), but I have been engulfing myself in research. I have come across some great writers and resources and will start to post quotes and recommended books.

I also want to know, do you have a beyond-mommy issue that you're dealing with? My journey with diabetes has had an impact on how I feel physically and emotionally and has at times affected my parenting. Let me know what issue (chronic illness, past trauma, past loss, recent loss, recent trauma) you're dealing with that effects who you are as a person and a mom. - Remember, posts can now be made anonymously.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Guiding 3

Children often get frustrated, angry, violent, and have difficulty with others because they don’t have the tools to handle difficult situations or communicate in beneficial ways. Many of these things seem small, and will most likely have to be repeated innumerable times, but put together enable a child to feel self-confident and have healthy relationships. Like teachable moments to model and talk about appropriate behaviors, opportunities to guide children in replacing negative behaviors and words with positive ones are almost countless. Each time a child gets frustrated when something’s not working the way they want it to is an opportunity to talk them through the problem calmly and showing them how to try it a different way. Each time a child gets angry is an opportunity to talk them through using their words to express themselves and resolve conflicts. Each time a child gets violent is an opportunity to express that violence isn’t appropriate and to talk through other ways of handling themselves.
Guiding, like modeling and verbalizing, is something that becomes natural with practice. And your children will give you lots of opportunities to practice. Although each child is different in how they learn and how fast they learn, none of them learn everything the first time. Repetition is the key to instilling the behaviors you wish to see. And those moments when your child does exactly what you’ve been working so hard to teach them will come – and oh how worth the hard work it will all be!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Guiding 2

Guiding includes giving a child words to use. It’s not “Give me milk.” It’s “Mommy, may I please have some milk.” It’s not “No, I won’t do it.” It’s “I’d rather not.” It’s not “Eww, Yuck.” It’s I’d prefer not to eat peas.” It’s not “Sammy’s mean.” It’s “Sammy hurt my feelings by snatching my toy.”Guiding also is teaching behaviors. Instead of whining and complaining while standing in line at the grocery store (or asking for every piece of candy on the shelf), try counting the number of other people waiting, or make up a story about what the food does at night when the store’s closed, or review school work, or practice scripture. Instead of hitting someone when they make a child mad, teach them to hit a pillow, or do jumping jacks, or go spend a few minutes alone to calm down. Instead of throwing something when frustrated with a task, teach them to write about their frustration, or jump on a trampoline, or talk about it. There are countless ways to handle difficult situations and express feelings. The goal is to teach appropriate behaviors that will be effective in handling situations. The method and techniques chosen will depend on the personality of the child. When an effective strategy is taught, appropriate ways to say and do things, a child is empowered.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Guiding

The next step in teaching children is guiding. Guiding is showing your child how to do something. Children learn a lot by seeing and hearing, but even more by doing. It’s kind of like teaching a child to ride a bike. They see other people doing it, we explain how to do it, and we put them on the bike and hang on while they work at getting it. In teaching things like respect, responsibility, integrity, and patience we sometimes have to “hang on” with them while they work at getting it. This is something that has to be done intentionally. Parents are generally quick to tell a child what behavior not to exhibit, but often forget to tell a child what behavior to exhibit and how to do it. Telling children not to argue lets them know that arguing is unacceptable, but it doesn’t tell them how to handle conflicts. Telling a child to be patient lets them know that patience is valued and expected, but it doesn’t tell them how to wait patiently. For a negative behavior to be stopped effectively, it must be replaced with positive behaviors.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Teachable Moments

When a child asks about traffic and expresses impatience, it’s a golden opportunity to talk about patience. To tell them that patience isn’t waiting, but how we wait. And since we can’t make the traffic move, let’s do something fun like sing songs. When they comment on how busy you are with chores, it’s the perfect opportunity to talk about every one pitching in to help and having a positive attitude while getting the not-so-fun things done. When a child asks about that person at the store that wasn’t very nice, it’s a wonderful time to talk about being kind to people regardless of how they act, and that we never know what’s going on with someone to make them behave in an unkind manner. Teachable moments are almost limitless once mommy’s radar is tuned into them. Even though a child may notice mommy’s behaviors, he/she most likely will not understand the why and how without talking about it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Random Mommy Tip #3

Get on the Floor
Tonight I got on the floor and played with my children. It was wonderful and reminded me that I need to do it more often. In trying to keep balance in everything (including writing about keeping in balance) I've neglected just hanging out and playing with my children. There's always something to do. But, as I was reminded tonight, they won't always want to get on the floor, make a tent, roll around and get tickled and tackled silly. They may not remember this particular night that mommy took time to play. But I want them to know that they're a priority and just getting on the floor and giving them my undivided attention for 30 minutes tells them "you are important to me and I enjoy spending time with you." That's worth letting the laundry go until tomorrow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Love

Happy Mother's Day! On those hard days (when we're not being treated special like we are on Mother's Day) it helps me to meditate on 1 Corinthians 13.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it is not proud, it does not boast. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails.

God is love and will never fail us. On those days we struggle to be patient and kind, all we have to do is rely on, trust in, and lean on Him, and His Spirit will fill us with love so that it can overflow to our families.

God loves you and has something special in store for you every day!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Answering Children's Questions

As children get older new rules get added, and some rules get adjusted, but children are able to handle these changes and additions. Likewise, when teaching character traits, children need a lot of verbalizing when they are younger and less and less as they get older. Most young children will invite opportunities to verbalize traits that you want to teach them. Children notice things. And if they’re like my children, they seem to notice everything. And they ask questions. About everything. Although parents tend to get tired of the seemingly-never-ending line of questioning, these are golden opportunities. I believe if we would answer every question children ask, we wouldn’t have to formally education them until they’re about 10. In addition to teaching our children that red lights mean stop and green lights mean go, that the moon is on the other side of the earth during the day (most of the time), and that pets need lot of caring for, we can also teach our children values and positive character traits through their questions.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Quiet Time

Quiet time is one of my favorite tools. Since one of my children doesn't take a nap at all and one only sporatically, we have quiet time. Not every day, but most days. First of all, mommy needs a break. With three children five and under there's a lot demanded of me constantly through the day. A little time to breath, get things done, rest, think, is necesssary for me to maintain my mental health. And even though the children often protest, I notice a big difference in their attitudes after quiet time. Everyone has a chance to play without having to consider someone else or worry about snatching or inturruptions. They also are learning that they are important people to be with. Time with themselves is valuable. And usually by the end of quiet time everyone's ready to play together nicely, for a while any way. Most of all, though, mommy is a little more rested and accomplished feeling and is able to handle things much better.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tricks of the Mommy Trade

What are your tricks of the trade? How do you get things done? What do you do to maintain balance? Share all your tips and tricks!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Verbalizing

The second aspect is verbalizing. Some parents have this technique down very well. As a matter of fact, some have it down so well that their child doesn’t hear them anymore. When children are very young (toddlers, preschoolers) information needs to be repeated. Parents often feel like broken records (a reference our children won’t even get) during this time of parenting. During this phase of parenting parents need to repeat rules again and again because of the developmental capabilities of a child to understand and remember them from day to day (and sometimes minute to minute.) As or children mature they need less repetition. They won’t let you know this, however. They’ll let you say something as many times as you will without actually making them follow through. By the time they are five, however, most children pretty much know what the rules are. They know things like washing their hands after going potty, brushing their teeth before bed, to not hit, to not snatch, and to not interrupt an adult conversation. They may need reminded every once in a while, but they pretty much know the rules.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Modeling

Modeling appropriate behavior shows a child how to do something. When mom gets caught in traffic and decides to use the time to converse with her child or sing some new songs, she teaches her child to be patient in circumstances out of their control. When mom gets hurt and verbalizes her pain without using obscene language, she teaches her child to express him/herself in difficult situations using appropriate words. When someone is rude or mean to mom and she responds with kindness, she teaches her child that we are to treat others as we wish to be treated, not as they treat us. When mom parent goes about her chores cheerfully, or at least not grumpily, she teaches her child that she can choose to be in a good mood even when she’s doing something she doesn’t like to do. When mom talks to dad with respectful tones and words, she teaches her child to respect both of her parents. When mom keeps a commitment even though she’d rather be doing something else, she teaches her child responsibility.
There are countless opportunities mothers have to model appropriate behavior for their children. However, teaching begins with modeling, it does not end with it. Once upon a time good parents who were good people tended to end up with good children. As a counselor I have often seen this not to be the case. When examining this phenomenon I wondered what was missing. These parents modeled good decision making. They were responsible and hard working and kind. But often their children were disrespectful, didn’t value hard work, and were rude. The problem was one or more of the other aspects of teaching character traits were missing from the parenting equation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Intentional Mommying

When we teach our children to go potty, we do it intentionally. When we teach our children to read, we do it intentionally. When we teach our children math, we do it intentionally. When we teach our children to drive, we do it intentionally. When teaching children these types of lessons there tends to be time set aside, specific instructions, often books read to assist in training, and sometimes even other adults are corralled in to help. Although traits such as respect, obedience, taking care of material possessions, patience, responsibility, integrity, and fairness are important, it is often assumed that children will just kind of pick up these traits by osmosis. Most parents understand the importance of modeling in teaching children, but by no means does it end there.
Modeling appropriate behavior is one of five aspects of teaching character traits. This is realized very early on, as children as young as one mimic behavior. It just makes sense that parents need to exhibit behaviors they would like to see in their child. Often a child mimicking the behavior of a parent will bring to their attention that maybe it’s not something they should be doing. Sometimes parents use these opportunities to make positive changes in their own choices. Sometimes parents take on the “do as I say and not as I do” mentality (which, by the way doesn’t even come close to working – it causes a child to see his/her parent as a hypocrite and decreased the child’s respect for the parent.) And sometimes parents just choose to ignore the behavior in their child so that they can continue to ignore the behavior in themselves.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Random Mommy Tip #2

My children can't pout. They just can't do it. They try, but I've found a trick that won't let them pout. As soon as that bottom lip comes out I get out my imaginary hammer and nails to start building a house. I tell them to hold their lip out because it makes a great foundation for a house. As soon as I start to "build" my house they can't help but laugh. They're used to it now and all I have to do is hold my fingers out like I'm about to start "building." They're distracted before they know it. And I don't have to get on to them or try to convince them to stop pouting.

Do you have any great tricks? I'd love for you to share them!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I am...

I am wise. I have been given the gift of God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30.) The answer to any question I could ever have is at my fingertips. Although I may not always be deemed wise by cultural standards, I have confidence and self-assurance as long as I make God and His Word the standard by which my choices are made.
I am invincible. If my body experiences pain, suffering, or even death, my spirit lives eternally (John 3:36.) God is for me and therefore there is no one who may come against me that has any power in stealing my eternal joy.
I did not pay the price. Jesus paid the price for me (Hebrews 10:10.) My ticket stub of life is marked “paid in full.” My responsibility is not to me, but to Him. I owe Him my life.
I am woman. I am God’s daughter. He has called me to be a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, spiritual advisor, and various other roles at different times in my life. Even though I still get bogged down by dirty diapers, runny noses, skinned knees, hungry stomachs, and needy hands, I know that it’s essential to stay focused on Jesus. As a woman, I have a high calling and know that as long as I know who I am in Christ and worshipfully fear the Lord, I will be fulfilled, content, and praised (Proverbs 31:30!)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

I am not...

I am not independent. I am dependent on God for everything I have and everything that I am. Oh, what a relief! No longer is there the pressure to “do it on my own”. My Father God, who is omniscient, is in charge of my life. He knows what is best for me. I don’t have to guess or try to figure it out. All I have to do is believe, trust, and rely on Him and my path will be made straight (Romans 11:33.)
I don’t have to take care of myself. Now, let’s not get crazy and discontinue personal hygiene habits, good eating, and exercise. God calls us to be responsible for maintaining our health. However, I am able to cast all my cares on Him. I am never alone in my needs. He provides all that I need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19.)
Although God may give me a man to walk through life with, I don’t need a man in my life to be complete. I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:9-10.) I am God’s daughter, He loves me knowing every fault and sin I’ve ever had or will ever have in my life. His Holy Spirit dwells in me and produces fruit in me. My cup runneth over!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Releasing "I"

As I have grown closer to God I have gradually released these “I” statements. (Okay, sometimes God had to bring me to my knees for me to give up some of them.) But as I have given these ideas up God has replaced them with a firm foundation of who I am in Him. As long as I stay focused on my identity in Christ, I will live a fulfilled, content, joyful life and contribute greatly to the world around me.
I have experienced pain. And God is always present, providing comfort and healing. He has taught me that the pain I’ve experienced is nothing compared to what He experienced as Jesus died on the cross for my sins. Jesus, who chose to die in the most painful of ways, died so that I may receive God’s complete healing. He has also taught me that as long as I fix my eyes on Him, I will persevere and He can be glorified through my pain.
I am strong. I have strength through God my Rock and my Shelter. My flesh will become weak and wear out, but through the power of the Holy Spirit, I will remain strong. As long as I rely on God for strength I will be able to support those people He has placed in my trust and fulfill the duties that he has assigned me. (2 Samuel 22:33)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

On Vacation

I"ll be off line until Friday, April 4. See you then!

Who am I?

And just in case you don’t feel overwhelmed yet, don’t forget the other roles that we play in life. In addition to wife and mother, we also are daughters, sisters, friends, church members, employees, bosses, neighbors, committee members, and prayer warriors (just to name a few.) Somehow, we are to incorporate all of these roles and ideas and come away self-confident, self-assured and with a healthy self-image.
One day I began to think about my identity and the old adage from Helen Reddy’s song, “I am woman, hear me roar,” came to mind. Immediately my spirit rejected it. During one point in my life, I embraced this phrase, and what I felt were the ideas it supported. I had experienced pain. I was strong. I was independent. I could take care of myself. I desired to have a special man in my life, but told myself that I didn’t need one. I was wise. I was invincible. I’d paid the price. These are the things I told myself. I now realize that I “roared” these mantras because they were the characteristics I admired in other women more than because I owned them myself. I had bought into the shift in cultural thinking that women “can do anything a man can do, and do it better” and that women are superior to men (ideas that have very obviously damaged the foundation of both marriage and family.)

Monday, March 24, 2008

A mom's many jobs

As mothers we often hear or read various descriptions of the many jobs that we perform. These include, but are not limited to, wife, mother, chef (sometimes short-order cook), chauffer, personal assistant, Chief Financial Officer, nurse, housekeeper, sex goddess, time-management specialist, spiritual advisor, and teacher. Despite these distinguished (and not so distinguished) titles, many of us continue to feel bogged down by the never-ending, daily responsibilities of motherhood. We want to embrace the respect and pride in fulfilling these roles. Most days, however, there’s just no energy to do so.
Another stumbling block to fully embracing the idea of glorified motherhood is the way that our society has altered our thinking about what it is to be a woman. Often it feels as if there is no way to win. Mothers who work outside of the home (whether by choice or necessity) are often made to feel guilty for not making motherhood their top priority. We’re told that we can “have it all” and then chastised for not “giving it all up” for our children. Mothers who choose to stay at home full time are generally seen as not contributing to society. We’re told that by “just being a housewife” and choosing to make sacrifices for our children that we don’t contribute to our communities and the world. There’s still the idea among many circles that housewives are lazy and that they watch TV and eat bonbons all day. Try creating a positive self image as a mother with all those mixed signals!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Share prayer part 2

The second say to share prayer is to literally share it – to pray together. For if two agree about anything and ask for it, the Father will answer that prayer (Matthew 18:19.) Praying together can encompass the prayers mentioned above, prayer for families, prayer for friends, prayer for just about anything. It can be done in five minutes snagged while waiting for children to be released from school or get off the bus. Prayer can happen on a walk, in the car, over coffee, or while children play in the background. It’s nothing mysterious and doesn’t require certain conditions. All it requires is a heart that desires to talk with God.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Share prayer part 1

Share prayer: Prayer is something that almost everyone does, whether they are a Christian or not. Prayer often tends to be a higher form of wishing. Something deep in the core of our being calls out to a supreme, all-powerful being when we’re in need. And sometimes we pray for what we want. Prayer, however, is something that we are told to do (about everything) and shown how to do throughout the Bible. Prayer is meant to be powerful. It changes things. It changes attitudes. It changes lives. Prayer brings us closer to God, allows us to hear from God, and brings us closer to each other. Prayer can be shared in two ways. The first is praying for each other. These can be general prayers for health, safety, spiritual growth, and guidance. They can also be specific for things such as making a particular decision, handling a marital challenge, coping with a difficult child, or comfort in a time of loss. They can also be deeply personal, for things that are internal struggles such as personal sin and temptation. These are the hardest things to share, but usually need the most prayer. Knowing that someone is praying for you in a certain area can be reassuring and comforting.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

What's your biggest mommy reward?

I want to know: What is your biggest reward as a mom?
Is it snuggles first thing in the morning?
Seeing your child accomplish something on his or her own?
Hearing them say things that you taught them?
Just watching them play?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Share accountability

Share accountability: Sometimes I am very self-motivated. I am in touch with my priorities and utilize all of the tools I have to be efficient with my time. At other times I get distracted – by extraneous events, exhaustion, or a break in routine. It’s these times I rely on my accountability partner is someone you share your goals, objectives, desires, short-comings and heart with. An accountability partner nudges you back on track, encourages you to keep going, listens, laughs with you, cries with you, and helps you maintain balance. It’s a relationship that must be mutual and with someone who is trustworthy. As with any relationship, it should be one that challenges you to grow in a respectful and supportive way.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sharing tips

Share tips: Do you have a secret to get your child to go to bed easily? Do you have a fun way to entertain your children while you cook dinner or clean? What do you do to distract your whiny toddler? All moms have secret tips to the trade. We’re all strong in some mommy areas and weak in others. Sharing tips with each other is helpful in several ways. First, moms benefit from tips that often help make mommyhood less stressful, easier, and/or more fun. Second, moms feel a sense of satisfaction from being useful and helpful to each other. Sharing tips also helps in building relationships and decreasing the isolation that moms often feel. Not feeling alone in an issue, or in mommyhood in general, goes a long way to being healthy and balanced.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Are You Reading?

Are you reading my blog? Let me know. Even if you don't have a specific comment for a specific post, leave a comment just to say "Hi" and that you're here. Also, don't forget to share it with all of your mommy friends. The more feedback the better. Thanks for reading!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sharing child care

Share child care: This has been one of the most beneficial, mutually helpful parts of my mommy girlfriend relationships. Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or work-away-from-home mom, you know the importance of getting to do things by yourself. Whether it’s running to the grocery store, having an uninterrupted two hours to clean, or just a desire for quiet and rest, having a friend to share child care with is priceless. This is a relationship that doesn’t involve finances and doesn’t involve score-keeping. It needs to be a balanced relationship, with each person giving and accepting responsibilities. A friend of mine and I have done this for years. One of us has a doctor’s appointment and the other watches her child (or children.) The other has a meeting, the first returns the favor. We have even begun sharing doctor’s appointments. We go together (either for ourselves or for the children) and take turns. We run errands together and for each other. It makes life less complicated and less exhausting. You actually have an adult to talk to on the drive, you’re saving gas, and the children are entertained. A trip to the grocery store without children or with another adult just isn’t as energy-draining. You can even exchange child care for date nights with your husband, something we’ll discuss in more detail later. Sharing child care, when done in a balanced and healthy way, benefits everyone involved, including the children.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Sharing chores

Share chores: This doesn’t mean that you ask your girlfriend to come over and help you dust and fold laundry (although some moms are able to work out an exchange program.) It means that your house doesn’t have to be spic and span before you have company. And it’s okay to be washing dishes, straightening up, or folding clothes while hanging with your girlfriend. I have found that we moms tend to feel like our house has to look perfect before anyone comes over. I’m not really sure how this got started, but I’m sure that women of ancient times worked together in chores (as a matter of fact, the small amount of sociological study I’ve done shows that in most cultures women did work together in chores – of gathering food, child care, and maintaining homes. Even the wealthy had more than one maid.) And because so many of us feel that our houses need to be perfect before we have company, the rest of us that visit think, “wow, she’s got it all together. I wonder how she does it.” Only to find out that she is struggling just the same as us. I find it much more comforting to know that I’m not the only mom who trips over toys and hardly ever has the kitchen counter completely cleaned off. And I’m much less stressed about it if my girlfriend doesn’t mind me doing dishes and picking up toys while we visit.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sharing emotional burdens

What are the practical steps that we can take in joining together in mommyhood?

1. Share emotional burdens: When your stressed out or having difficulty with a parenting issue (or any issue) share it with a girlfriend. We have experience in doing this, we’ve been sharing our lives with our girlfriends since childhood. Often as adults and moms we tend to either bear our stress alone or depend on our husbands or the latest magazine to offer support. Our husbands are very helpful, but they don’t experience parenthood like we do. There are just certain challenges that moms face that our husband don’t understand. It’s not because they don’t care, it’s just that they generally have different responsibilities as a parent and experience parenthood (and life) differently than we do. They have their strengths and can support us in many ways, but there are some aspects of mommyhood that only another mom can truly understand. And magazines are very helpful. They are full of experts and experienced moms, but there is just not the personal touch and understanding that another mom can offer. You can’t bounce things off of a magazine. Sometimes just talking about an issue helps us to resolve it. And I have often been surprised how similar my mommy struggles are to what other moms are going through.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Beginning to Join Together

As we begin to view motherhood as a joint effort instead of an individual endeavor, it will become more of the blessing that it was originally meant to be. So how do we join together in this, the greatest of adventures? Practically speaking, what on a day to day basis can we do? The first part of the answer was covered already. As we take a step back, examine our priorities and obligations, and make changes to become balanced we start the work towards overall health and happiness in motherhood. We begin to be real with ourselves about our expectations and our capabilities. Another important step is to be real with others. I’m convinced that we wouldn’t need so many magazines and books for moms if we would be more real with each other. When I have opened myself up and shown my weaknesses to my mommy friends, the rewards have been great.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A tangent - For a Reason Part 3

What about disease, miscarriages, tragic accidents, etc. that don’t involve another person? These things occur because of the presence of evil in our world, which really boils down to an individual’s choice as well. Romans 5:1 tells us that “… sin entered the world through one man [Adam], and death through sin…” Through the sin of Adam and Eve sin, evil, wickedness, and malevolence entered the world. Satan is real and “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour´(1 Peter 5:8) and he will use any device he has to bring us down, make us doubt, and distract us from living under God’s love and grace.
Therefore, in the sense that “for a reason” means there is a reason behind bad things happening, there is some truth in the statement. Everything happens either because God causes it or the devil causes it or because of choices that people make. Good can always come out of any situation, but bad things do not happen just so that the good can happen. Bad things happen because sin is a part of the world that we live in. One day we will live in God’s Kingdom where there is no evil, sin, sadness, pain, or sorrow. Until then we are to trust in, rely on, and believe God regardless of our worldly circumstances. We are to realize that painful situations occur because we live in a sinful world, but God will never leave us or forsake us, and if we continue to love Him He can make all things work for our good.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

A tangent - For a Reason Part 2

God can, however, bring good from evil. Romans 8:28 tells us that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” This does not mean that God causes bad things to happen to people so that something good can come out of it. What it does mean is that when bad things happen to people, if they continue to love, trust in, rely on, and believe God He will bring good out of it. The something good is not the reason for the something bad, but it is a possible outcome.
So why doesn’t God bring the good without allowing the bad? If He is omnipotent (all-powerful), can’t He bring about the good without the bad? Of course He can. But in His infinite wisdom God made us creatures of choice. He gave us the ability and right to make our own choices about our actions and beliefs. We all make bad choices, some more than others. Much of the hurt, pain, and suffering in the world are caused by decisions other people have made. God could have created beings that didn’t have the option to make bad choices, but the only way for us to truly love God and receive His love is to choose it. Forced love is not true love. Love by choice is.

A tangent - For a Reason Part 1

Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

I hear people say “everything happens for a reason” all the time. I have to presume that if they are saying it that they believe it. The more I think about people believing that everything happens for a reason, the more disturbed I am by this philosophy.
The main reason this philosophy bothers me is that there are a lot of bad things that happen to people that they have done nothing to bring on themselves. Specifically, I think of children who are molested, people killed by a drunk driver, someone struck with cancer, the mom who loses a baby to miscarriage or SIDS. The list could go on. I have a hard time looking at these situations and thinking that these things happened so that something else could happen. And that’s really what people are saying when they adopt the “for a reason” philosophy.
A child is molested so that what? I can’t think of anything good that would be worth a child having to cope with the repercussions of molestation. Cancer happens to someone so that what? Some people find a new passion for life, while others die a slow, painful death. Losing a child happens so that what? Again, I can think of nothing good that would be worth losing a child. Losing a family member because of a drunk driver, or a distracted driver, or a bad driver, so that what? I just have a difficult time believing that the good things that sometimes come out of tragedy are worth the tragedy.
The other reason I have a problem with the “for a reason” philosophy is that there is an implication that God causes these bad things to happen. I’m sure many people with this philosophy don’t believe in God, but if things happen for a reason, who else would cause them? So, if there’s belief in God and belief that everything happens for a reason, that by default puts Him in charge of causing those things to happen. However, true belief in God includes knowledge of His nature, which is wholly good and wholly loving. He is also joy, peace, patient, kind, faithful, and gentle. Those characteristics do not allow Him to create evil.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Expectations of Motherhood

Today there is an expectation that we come home with our baby, our husband goes off to work for 40+ hours each week and we are to take care of baby, our home, our husband when he comes home, possibly returning to work ourselves after a few short weeks, or begin the activities of mommy groups and babycise, retain all our friendships and minister to other people in our lives. And this is all to be done while spending either 8-10 hours alone with baby or 8-10 hours at work and juggling home life afterword.
It’s no wonder so many new moms experience depression. Reality is often a far cry (sometimes a frequent cry) from the peaceful sweetness we tend to picture before becoming a mom. The expectation of what motherhood will be like generally does not match up with what we experience. We are all so generally good at hiding our struggle from others, not wanting to seem like we can’t do it. Therefore all the other moms seem to have it all together and we feel like even more of a failure when we’re not enjoying motherhood or can do nothing but cry because we’re so exhausted. But ask for help? Forbid! That would be admitting failure. I’m not a good mother. Or maybe just not adequate, because I can’t do what needs to be done as the mother I so longed to be.
The truth is, however, that we were never made to do it all by ourselves. We are interdependent beings. We were made to live together, love each other, help each other, and rely on each other.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Cultural Independence

We live in a very independent culture today that makes it more difficult for families to really join together in raising families. One issue is our mobility. We generally don’t live close to extended family and nor do we live close to the people we grew up with. Although there are plenty of exceptions, most people, either through geographical moves or emotional moves, we don’t live interdependently with each other. At least not after we have children. Singles, whom don’t need the same type of support as parents, tend to rely on each other more. When we had no major responsibilities or commitment to take care of a family most of us wouldn’t think twice about calling a friend for a ride or to help out with something. But when we start a family most of us adopt a philosophy of needing to do it all by ourselves. Countless articles in parenting magazines advise new moms to ask for help when they need it and accept help when it’s offered. Recently an expectant mom asked me what advice I’d give her, and those two things were on the top of my list.
Why do we find it so hard to ask for and accept help? Part of the answer is the “I can do all, be all, and have all” myth. The culture that grew out of a desire for women to have more lifestyle choices has ended up putting huge pressure on women and especially moms. We have a feeling of needing to be supermom. We were made to bear and raise children (I don’t care what you say, look at our bodies – even if you choose not to or are unable to have children, it is one thing that women are uniquely equipped to do) and naturally have strong instincts to care for our children. If we didn’t have this instinct, children wouldn’t survive. How we are to raise our children according to our culture, however, is where a lot of unnecessary pressure comes in. Women used to have babies, take care of them, strap them on their backs or hand them over to an older female family member and keep on living life, which was of course a lot simpler than it is now.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The biggest challenge

When asked what their biggest challenge was in being a stay-at-home or go-to-work mom the following answers were given: time management, prioritizing, keeping balance, time for myself, finding time to get everything done, task management, time to just “be with” my child, time for housekeeping, and getting everything done. Can you tell who these answers came from? They came from both moms who are at home full time and moms who work outside of the home. The biggest challenges for moms seemed to have less to do with whether a mom was at home full time or not and more to do with the general expectations placed on moms. We all have challenges when it comes to “getting it all done.”
Regardless of our working situation, moms have a lot of responsibilities. As we discussed previously, as moms keeping balance is essential. In addition to taking care of ourselves, we also would benefit greatly from taking care of each other. Throughout history people have raised children in a village atmosphere. We are all familiar with the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” but in today’s mobile, independent culture we have lost touch with this truth. Never before have the majority of women raised children in isolation. Regardless of the culture, time in history, or socioeconomic status women throughout history have joined together to raise children. Many people I talk to this about bring up western expansion of the U.S. when families were settling in new territory. First, this was a unique time in history. It was also short lived. And a single family did not head out and settle all by themselves. Multiple families generally traveled together for safety and support. And although individual families owned large areas of land, and were somewhat isolated from other settlers, it was rare that a single nuclear family (two parents with only their biological children) lived day-to-day secluded from other families and individuals. There were more than ever during this time period , but it has not been the norm throughout history.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Random Mommy Tip #1

I will occasionally include a random mommy tip-just a little something that makes life a little simpler, more fun, or healthier. Here's the first one:

I started making pancakes from scratch after I began looking at the ingredients on prepared mixes from the store. This pancake recipe is one that I altered from a foodnetwork.com recipe. My kids love these pancakes and ask for them almost every day. They’re so sweet that I don’t even use syrup with them. I mix the dry ingredients and keep the mix in a container, ready to use.

Dry ingredients to keep mixed:
3 ½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

When you’re ready to make the pancakes:
1 ¼ cup mix
1 egg
¾ cup milk
1/3 stick butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla

Mix each wet ingredient in separately. Spray pan and heat on medium. To make it a little more fun, make tiny, small, medium, and large pancakes. I also make letters and spell words for my children (no, I’m not very artistic and they’re not perfect, but my children can usually tell what they are.) It’s a great way to throw in a little fun lesson with breakfast.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We can all be good moms

Working moms know that they miss out on some things, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be great moms. There are plenty of working moms who have close relationships with their children and have been able to find enough balance to be there for their children. We know that quantity of time spent with our children is as important as quality time. But plenty of moms have found a way to prioritize time with their children despite the challenges presented by working.
Likewise, women who stay at home full time aren’t necessarily the best at mothering. I’ll never forget when I was reading a book in preparation to stay home full time and read the statements of children who’s “stay-at-home” moms kept themselves too busy to build relationships with them (Leaving the Workforce.) Just because a mom stays at home with her children does not mean that she makes the best decisions for her children and family. Whether a woman works outside of the home or in the home does not determine how good a mom she is and we need a disconnect from this thinking.
It’s really amazing how much women have in common, regardless of whether they work outside of the home or not. Probably because so many people have focused on the differences, most of us don’t really realize how much we have in common. In speaking with other moms, I was surprised at first how similarly they answered particular questions. But as I got to thinking about it, it made more sense. We are all moms, we are all trying to do our best raising our children and taking care of our families and homes, and we all have personal needs that we have to squeeze in somewhere.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Guilt from not meeting the ideal

It becomes obvious when you talk to enough moms who are willing to be honest that not one of us “has it all.” This is an idea that causes many women to feel guilty and like they don’t measure up. Women who work outside of the home are often made to feel guilty because they don’t feel like they are spending enough time with their family. When they arrange things to spend more time with their family they are often made to feel guilty about not being dedicated enough at work. Or because they are letting housework slip. Or because they are not able to make healthier food choices due to a lack of time. I haven’t talked to many moms who work outside of the home who don’t feel somewhat torn because of how many directions they are being pulled.
Moms who stay at home, however, often suffer from their own guilt. They often are made to feel guilty because “all they do” is stay home. It is often expected that moms who stay at home are always available for whatever. They can sign up for this activity and that meal because they “don’t work.” They are made to feel guilty because they are not contributing to society or putting a financial burden on their family or not setting a good example for their children. They are often accused of giving up the privileges that women have worked so hard to get.
When moms talk about their choice to work outside of the home or stay at home things are often said that make the other feel guilty. I don’t think it’s done intentionally, but because there has been a debate about what moms “should” do, the reasons for making a particular choice have become arguments for everyone to make that same choice. When moms who work outside of the home say things like they chose to work in order to have an impact on the world, they don’t mean to imply that a stay-at-home mom can’t have a positive impact on the world, but she does. When moms who stay at home say things like they chose to stay at home because their child is their top priority, they don’t mean to imply that a working mom doesn’t make her child a priority, but she does.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What we miss, what we get

Women who work out of choice or necessity know that they miss out on things. It may be a first step or first word. It may be the excitement the first time a child really feels successful at something. It may be time spent just hanging out on a daily basis. Some of the things moms who work outside of the home have said that they feel like they are missing are: “the big things,” “bonding time with [my] baby … and getting to see him do all his new stuff,” “time during the day with my son,” “organizing my home to reduce stress and make evenings go smoother,” and “everything.” The differences from one mom to the other is obvious in these answers, but the main thing in common is that working moms did feel like they were missing out on something.
When asked about the rewards they received these women talked about things like getting time to run errands alone, financial rewards (for the present and future), adult time, rewards from accomplishing tasks, job satisfaction, having a positive effect on the world, friendships built at work, independence and fulfillment from working, and relationships beyond family. These are some of the things that women who stay at home feel like they’re missing out on. But the rewards that they list look very similar to the things that moms who work outside of the home fell that they are missing. At home moms say that their biggest rewards are: “I get to be here for the little things,” hugs (and) cuddles,” “freedom…flexibility…experiencing things with my child,” “being able to see every ‘first’ my child has,” and “seeing every milestone.”

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The myth

More people than ever before, especially women, are suffering from depression, anxiety, and a host of other emotional and physical problems. These problems are linked to stress, lack of sleep, and general unhealthy lifestyles. Our expectations have been set so high that we run like the Energizer Bunny until we wear out and/or get sick. When we are unable to fully and successfully complete any one of the tasks on our plate we beat ourselves up. We are so busy doing things in our lives we are not actually living our lives, and illnesses such as depression sneak up on us when we’re not looking. We women need a new revolution that lets us be honest with ourselves and each other. We CAN NOT have it all! We CAN NOT do it all, all by ourselves! We are not made that way and the wear and tear on our bodies should be evidence to these facts.
I know that many people will argue with me. They have a job and are dedicated to their family as well. There are many women who are successful in the business world and raise well-adjusted children. This is true, but that does not mean that they have, or have had it, all. Ask a mom who’s worked full time throughout raising her children and I guarantee that her list of what she’s missed out on is long. Similarly, as a mom who has stayed at home what she’s missed out on, and you will get different answers, but there will still be a list. It is physically impossible to have what we think of as “it all.”

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Say "goodbye, debate"

Nevertheless, there is a camp that supports the view that a woman isn’t living up to her potential, or worse making a detrimental decision for herself and her children, if she doesn’t maintain her career after having children; and a camp that supports the view that mothers returning home is the only answer to solving many of the problems that children and families face today. These camps have had their supporters ever since the debate began. I would like to dissolve these camps and have moms join together in support of each other, regardless of our working situations. We are not doing anyone any good by continuing to provide fuel to the debate. We are, however, propagating a harmful myth, placing incredible pressure on ourselves and others, and putting far too much focus on an issue instead of the health of women and their ability to take care of their families.
The myth that is so harmful to us moms is this: that we can have it all. I have heard this statement my whole life. Ever since the women’s lib movement, women have been able to “have it all.” We can have children and a career. We can eat our cake (be promiscuous before marriage due to birth control) and have it too (have a great, committed marriage regardless of the decisions we made in relationships before marriage.) We can be a corporate executive, room mother, and sex goddess all in one day. Can anyone say: “yeah, right!”

Discussing the debate

One reason there is such a debate around the stay-at-home/go-to-work issue is that we all want to believe that we are making the best decisions for our family. When we make a major decision such as this, we want reassurance that it’s the best decision. Somewhere in our subconscious we believe that since our decision is the best for us, it must be the best decision for everyone. Out of all of the books I’ve read on either choosing to stay at home or choosing to stay at work, all of them have tried to justify why each choice is the right thing to do. Most of the books are geared to women who have made a particular choice and aim to reinforce the decision made, encourage women in that decision, and give them tools to make it work. These books are very helpful in giving women support that is helpful in the challenges that come with either staying at home or staying at work.
For some reason, however, there is tension between the two groups. Somehow the encouragement and support for making the choice has become a debate. There has even recently been a book published that admonished that all women should work, and if they don’t they are doing a discredit to themselves and their children. My stand on the issue is that there should be no debate. There’s no possible way that all women can work. There just aren’t enough jobs out there. Not to mention that many women would be miserable and more stressed trying to balance work and raising children when their heart is not in it. Nor could our economy handle it if all women chose to stay home. We’re a huge part of the workforce. Not to mention that many women would be miserable at home, and some families would collapse under financial debt if there wasn’t a second income. It’s not always necessary, but our economy requires in many families that there be two incomes just to survive.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The issue that can't be ignored

There has been so much written on these topics that I won’t address most of them. But there is one that I can’t ignore. Even though it’s probably the most written about and talked about choice, it bears visiting. No mom’s book would be complete without entering in the stay-at-home/go-to-work debate. Where I come down on this issue is that there should be no debate. Just as there’s no one-size fits all dress out there (no matter what the tag says), there is also no one-size-fits-all answer to this hot topic.
I have experienced a little of it all, and have talked to dozens of moms about the work/home issue. Some moms work and wish they could be at home. Some moms work and wouldn’t have it any other way. Some moms feel stuck at home and have to work at having some adult outlets. Some moms are perfectly content being home full time. Some moms work at home and manage it very well. Some moms work part time and feel it’s the perfect balance. Each mom is different in her situation and reasons why she stays home or goes to work, but one thing every mom I’ve talked to has had challenges unique to their situation. So why the big debate?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

What is my main job?

Now that we’ve covered some the general answer to being a successful mommy, it’s time to tackle some more specific questions and answers. The first question asked was “What is my main job as a mom?” The answer to that question is, of course, to raise my children to be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthy individuals. This answer possibly raises more questions than almost any other. The evidence for the complexity of the answer to this question can be seen in any bookstore or library by the shear numbers of books and magazines written for moms. These books answer all of the little questions (yeah, right. Are there really and little questions when it comes to mommyhood?) that we answer in raising our children. Questions like: Do I breast or formula feed? Do I work or stay home? If I work, what’s the best child care situation for my child? Do I make my own baby food or buy it prepared? Do I send my child to preschool? And when? And where? What’s the best way to educate my child – home school, private school, or public school? What activities should I sign my child up for? The list goes on and on.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Balance through letting go

Now that we have added some tools to our balanced life toolbox, we need to discuss “those days.” You know, the day where everything gets out of balance. Whether because of circumstances out of our control or because of our own decisions, we all have “those days.” One of my girlfriends confided in me today that she allowed her day to get all out of whack. How she spent her time did not reflect her priorities for the day. Her confession got me to thinking. Has the way I spent my time today reflected my priorities? Today I did okay, but reflecting back over the week showed me that I had spent too little time just being with my children.
The guilt and disappointment in myself is something that I believe we all (moms) share. Because of being pulled in a variety of directions it often happens that we don’t get everything done. Sometimes we feel disappointed in ourselves for not living up to our own standards. Sometimes we feel guilty about missing something important for something trivial. Sometimes we just don’t ever feel like we can keep everyone happy. On those days (or weeks) it’s essential to evaluate what’s going on and what went wrong.
We are often afraid of doing this because it means looking at and acknowledging our faults. And that just makes us feel worse. Therefore, the next step is to determine where changes need to be made. Some of the tools we’ve already discussed will be helpful in making necessary adjustments. Once you’ve determined to, or actually made, some changes to get back in balance you’re only part of the way through the process. The next step is to let go. Let go of the disappointment. Let go of the guilt. Let go of the self condemnation. Recognize that you’re human and forgive yourself. I find that I often skip this step and kind of “rake myself over the coals” over and over about the same issue. Even if it’s been years since I’ve made a particular mistake, the guilt can creep up on me.
Holding on to these negative feelings are not helpful to anyone. They just drag me down and tip my scales (and life) out of balance. They are damaging to my health and may negatively impact my relationships. Most importantly they affect how I see myself, how I treat myself, and how I expect others to treat me. If I’m able to forgive myself and be content with who I am (and who I’m striving to be) I will be more likely to take care of my health and thus be better able to take care of my family and all of the other responsibilities I have.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

I Don't "have to"

Now that we’ve added a word to our vocabulary, it’s time to take a phrase out. I am just as guilty as anyone else about using this phrase, but I am working diligently to stop using it except when it is truly appropriate. I once had a teacher who said, “There are only two things in life that you have to do: pay taxes and die.” Well, there have been plenty of people who have proven that you don’t have to pay taxes. You still have the option, just most people don’t want to pay the consequences. So, really, the only thing we have to do is die. We don’t have a choice in that one.
If you listen to many of us talk, however, you would think that the world could come to an end at any moment. I’m not even sure how often I say “have to,” but I know it’s too much. I have to cook dinner. I have to go to the grocery store. I have to go to work. I have to clean. I have to… It never seems to end. But we really don’t have to do all of these things. There are plenty of people who chose not to do many of these things. Their lives may not be what we would want, but they’re still around.
The phrase “have to” brings with it a sense of burden. If I have to do something it’s an obligation. If you’re anything like me, you kind of trudge through obligations like walking through knee deep mud. The same task can be skipped through light-heartedly with the simple exlusion of the phrase “have to.” I’m going to cook dinner because I’m hungry and want us to be healthy. I’m going to the grocery store because we’re getting low on some food items that we like. I’m going to go to work so that we can continue to have the things we have. I’m going to clean the house so that it looks nice and is a healthy place for us to live. Just as we talked about changing perspectives earlier, changing how we say things can also change our experiences. Saying “I’m going to….because” it give me this good benefit improves my mood, motivation, and attitude about what there is to be done.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Balance through Self Discipline

Ourselves is a good place to start with saying no. This is otherwise known as self-discipline. Mommyhodd teaches us a lot about self-discipline. Discipline often gets a bad rap, but it is hugely beneficial trait. All self- discipline is is to tell yourself no when it is in the best interest of you or someone else. When that baby is crying in the middle of the night and you want to roll over and go back to sleep, you get up because you know that baby needs you. When you don’t feel good and would like to curl up in front of the tv, you dress and feed and maybe even play with your children. When you would really like a bowl of ice cream for lunch, you fix the salad (and maybe have the ice cream for dessert.) We all have the foundations of discipline, we just don’t like to exercise it very often.
What we don’t realize is that we will pay now or pay later. If I choose to eat unhealthily and not to exercise, I will pay by feeling sluggish and not being able to fit into my clothes. If I choose not to clean my house at all, I will pay by my family being sick more. If I choose to take on too many responsibilities outside of my home, I will pay by losing the close relationship with my husband and my children. If I choose to neglect any of my areas of priorities, I will pay in some way at some time.
In order to become better at saying no, I have to practice saying it and being okay with it. If I don’t feel that a certain responsibility or project is something I should take on, I don’t need to worry about who will do it or how it will get done. If I feel that a person is going to be disappointed with me for not doing something, I have to realize that their disappointment is more about their incorrect expectations of me, not a devaluing of who I am. I have gained an understanding that my self worth is not wrapped up in what I do or what other people think of me, and that has helped my be able to say no with confidence. I still have a lot of responsibilities, but I make sure that they are the right responsibilities for me and my family for right now and that they won’t throw me off balance.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Balance through Saying "No"

The next tool for achieving balance is one that we, as women, tend to have an especially hard time with. Many of us have never put it in our tool box of life, and others let it get buried so far down it hardly ever gets used. This tool is the ability to say “no.” Such a simple little word, such a difficult thing to say. Because we often tie our self-definition in the things we do (which is no wonder, with all that we have to do) we feel that we should do whatever we are asked. Especially if it’s a good thing and most especially if it’s something that we enjoy doing. We life in a world that is full of opportunities of every kind, which is great, but people (okay, I) often want to take hold of every opportunity. Which is, of course, impossible and leaves me feeling overwhelmed.
Our culture pushes us to be “overachievers.” It starts in school. The more activities you’re involved in, the more community services you perform, the higher your grades, the better college you’ll get into. Once you’re at college you’re encouraged to continue in this race of high grades and extra-curricular activities to be able to land the best job. Then many people start the rat race in the business world to keep moving up in the world. Even though many mom don’t join the business rat race, the same thing takes place in the world of moms. Instead of promotions, it’s being on the Parent Teacher Association, or being room mom, or making sure that your child is signed up for the right amount of activities, while still contributing to your community in a helpful way. Not all moms do this. I have a good friend who is in no way whatsoever compelled to take on the world like I am. She’s perfectly content to be at home, take care of her family, and do one or two extra things for them. She has learned the art of saying no when it’s appropriate and her family, I believe, benefits from it.
Just like any new habit saying no takes practice. You may even start with “I’ll think about it,” which is a good tool to let you actually think about whether this is something that you should take on or whether it doesn’t fit in your goals and objectives. It also gives you a chance to consider how your family would be affected. I came across an opportunity recently that I would have loved to taken advantage of. It was something right up my ally. As I thought about it, though, I realized that it would take time that I didn’t want to take from my family and that it would possibly also cause conflict in my family. It wouldn’t be worth what it would cost me, and it felt good to say no, even if it was just to myself.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Balance through Changing Perspectives

Changing perspective is another tool to achieving a balanced life. Balance isn’t just about what you have going on. It’s also how you look at and feel about what’s going on. When I start to feel overwhelmed with housework and taking care of my family I stop and give thanks. I’m grateful that I have a house that is safe and warm and has plenty of room for my family. I’m very grateful for my three children. They are true blessings in my life. Just because they’re blessings, though, doesn’t mean that they aren’t work. Just like the house and the husband and my calling to write, these blessings come with responsibilities and need work to maintain them. But if I never stop working to enjoy my blessings, they lose their positive influence on my life.
When I have a pile of laundry and ironing to do, I remind myself how blessed we are to have a full wardrobe of clothes. When the dishwasher is full again, I remind myself it’s because we have plenty of food to eat. When my children’s toys are all over the den, I remind myself that they are healthy. When my husband comes home late from work, I remind myself that he has a great job and is a wonderful father and husband. When I’m exhausted, getting up for the second or third time in the night with my baby, I sing praises that I have this sweet person who’s been entrusted to me.
I am not happy all of the time, and I have to work at changing my perspective. I have down days and do get frustrated. But I’ve learned that if I wallow in these moments, I’ll miss the great moments. I don’t ignore the things that need to change. Part of my job is to teach my children manners and to clean up after themselves. I ask for help when I need it. I take care of the things that need to be taken care of (eventually.) What I don’t do is dwell on these things. I choose instead to dwell on the hugs and kisses, the few moments alone my husband and I snag, the things and people that I have been abundantly blessed with. When I do this, I’m much more grateful and don’t feel as overwhelmed as often. It tips the balance of my mood to the positive side, which helps me bring balance to the other areas of my life.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Balance through Relationships

Lists, goals and objectives are helpful in giving concreteness to priorities and increasing motivation, but they most definitely don’t guarantee balance. I have even gotten out of balance in making lists and goals before. These are just tools that can be helpful in maintaining balance. There are many other tools that can be used to maintain balance in your life. Another way that I keep myself in check is through my relationships. The people in my life that I’m closest with know me well enough to notice when I’m out of balance. They are able to see things that I can’t or don’t take the time to see. Accountability relationships, as I call them, can include a husband, best friend, mother, sister, etc. These are the people you share your inmost being with and are comfortable enough to be vulnerable with. They are also faithful and trustworthy and will always build you up. They are there for you, because sometimes all you need is a sounding board. Just talking through your feelings, frustrations, and fantasies (on what all you’d like to get done) if often helpful.
These relationships also help remind you that you are more than a mother. Although we often get overwhelmed with all of the roles we play in life, there is healthiness in being able to define who we are separate from being a mom. Especially when mothering takes up a majority of our time and we feel completely wrapped up in mommyhood. It may seem contrary to what many think, but maintaining your identity outside of being a mom actually helps you be a better mom. Remember the metaphor of the air conditioning unit? We talked about needing to do regular maintenance. An air conditioner doesn’t spend time being a refrigerator or washing machine, but it doesn’t run all the time. Even though it doesn’t provide another function, it does its job of heating or cooling and then it takes a break for a while. We’re not appliances (contrary to some popular jokes), we have more than one job and more than one relationship to maintain. If we look at these other relationships as avenues of support and outlets, they become tools to helping us maintain balance instead of just adding more things on our to do list.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Adjustable Goals

Your goals may look very different from mine. Your areas of responsibilities may look very different from mine. The helpful thing is to look at your priorities and responsibilities and how you can balance them. What can be let go. Some women may be freaking out that I only clean my house completely once a month. I like to keep my house what I call “clean enough.” It’s not spotless, but it’s not a danger to my children’s health either. For me, it’s more important to go on a date with my husband and work on my children’s scrapbooks (which is therapeutic for me) than have a perfect house.
It’s important to realize that goals are not a “have to.” A goal list is meant to help you maintain balance, not drive you insane trying to check everything off of the list. One year I planned to take a bath once a week. It soon became obvious that I relaxed in other ways and this was a goal I wasn’t going to meet. It was replaced the next year, and that was okay. When I had a newborn I most certainly did not exercise 4 times a week, and that was okay. Just because I didn’t meet a goal, had to adjust it, or alter it for a while didn’t make me want to quit. I realized that I needed to either reevaluate my goals or make adjustments in how I was spending my time.
Because I’m a list person, my annual goals are generally broken down into weekly goals, or to do lists. I have found that I am much more productive when I can see and check off items on a list. And because each week can bring new challenges, responsibilities, and events we often need to make adjustments in what we focus on. For instance, if I’m planning on hosting a function I’m going to focus more on housework. But the next week I may focus on spending more quality time with my children and husband because we were extra busy the week before. Many people may not find having a list helpful, but a list helps keep me accountable. On the days and weeks where I don’t consciously pay attention to what I have to do, I get much less done, feel unproductive, and often overwhelmed because things are still piling up.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Balance and goals

So how do we maintain balance between all of our responsibilities, including our responsibility to ourselves. For me, I’m a list person. I am constantly evaluating where I am, where I want to be and how I’m going to get there. I’ve found it very helpful to make a list of goals and objectives. One is short term and the other is long term but it doesn’t really matter what you call it, as long as you pay attention to your priorities and whether you’re working towards something.
Several years ago I started making an annual goal list. On this list are different areas which, by no coincidence, are the responsibilities in my life that are the most important. They include: spiritual goals, health goals, personal goals, husband goals, children goals, housekeeping goals, financial goals and professional goals. Under each area I list short term and long term goals. My goals don’t change drastically from year to year and I don’t always meet all of my goals. It’s not a rigid, must do for me, but a way to keep myself accountable to putting my time, energy and effort into people and things that I say are my top priorities. Below is a sample listing of my annual goals.
Spiritual Goals: read scripture every day; pray continuously
Health Goals: exercise a minimum of 4 days a week; eat proper servings at most meals
Personal Goals: give generously; waste less time; catch up on scrapbooks
Husband Goals: go on a monthly date; spend quality time every week
Children Goals: spend time playing with children every day; read to children every day
Housekeeping Goals: keep clutter to a minimum; clean house completely once a month
Financial Goals: keep credit cards paid off; give 10% to church
Professional Goals: write consistently, get one book finished
 

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