I’m a Mom and I’m Not Perfect

What Do You Mean You Are Not A Perfect Mom?!!!

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I have come to the realization that I will never be a perfect mom. I will never have a house that is organized, clean, and looks like it was in a magazine. I will never be able to have amazing meals ready for dinner, when my husband comes home every night. I will never be that mom that is calm, sweet and gentle all the time. I will never have all the answers to my kids’ questions. And I certainly will never be able to understand my teenage daughter, but I can keep asking God to help me with this.

Perfectionist

All my life I have been a hard worker. Your success was measured by the type of job you had, how hard you worked and how clean your house was. Now I am a stay at home mom, who homeschools her three kids and runs the youth group at her church. I do not bring any money into our household at this time. I have a hard time keeping our house clean, because we are home all day. And I feel like I do not do any work that is worth while, or so I thought.

God’s Way

God has shown me how wrong I am. Since we started homeschooling I know my teenage daughter better than ever before. I am able to play with my kids and make memories. I have the capability to show my kids who God really is. To have them follow Him and become kids that help others and make the world a better place when they grow up. WOW!! I have so much more responsibility now than I did when I was a public school teacher.

What is even harder is I constantly kept telling my husband that I was sorry. Sorry for how messy the house was. Sorry that I didn’t dress nicer. Sorry that I didn’t have a chance to make a great dinner. Sorry that I wasn’t contributing to the bills. Sorry… Sorry… Sorry… I felt like I was a fraud. When he first met me I was a public school teacher. I made pretty good money and had great insurance. Now I was mooching off of him. Expecting him to be in charge of all the financial issues.

Trusting God

STOP!!! I was driving myself crazy. God had asked me to homeschool. I needed to trust Him. He knows more than I do. So I started to just relax. Look around. Take in each day with my kids and enjoy my family.

Things started to change. I was a better wife for my husband. I felt more in the mood to be intimate with him than before. I felt like my kids had more time with me, to play and talk and enjoy time as a family. My family was truly a family.

We now have dinner together almost every night at the dinner table. We build with legos, play board games, ride 4-wheelers and more together everyday. We talk about things all the time, especially with our teenager.

The best part of all of this, is realizing that I’m worth a lot even though I do not contribute financially to our family. I am a wonderful mom because I am not stressed out about the house having to be perfect. My kids actually like our house a little dirty. They said that it makes them feel more comfortable. Finally, I am an amazing mom because I do not have to run around with my head cut off, working hard all the time. I can relax and now so do my kids. All in all I am just the way God wants me to be and that is all I need.

Have you ever felt less than others because you do not have a glamorous job?

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Teaching Your Kids Accountability With a Simple Chart

With Minimal Effort and Great Results

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I Have Had Enough

As soon as summer started, I felt like all I did was remind my kids to pick up after themselves. Some days, I didn’t even ask them to pick up their own stuff, because, it was just easier if I did it. I was getting frustrated and started taking it out on my kids. “I am not you maid,” I would yell. “Why can’t you just pick up after yourself?” I would ask. No matter what I did, nothing worked. So I sat down at my computer, one night, and decided to create a chart that would put the accountability, back on them.

How To Use The Chart

Each week my children get $5 for completing all of their chores. They love to get their allowance, so I knew that I had to create a chart that incorporated the $5. So I came up with a simple tab chart. For each item in the house that I have to pick up, that is theirs, I will remove one tab. For example, if my youngest daughter leaves her cereal bowl out from breakfast and I have to pick it up. I then remove one tab from her chart, because I had to pick up her cereal bowl.

Each tab is worth 25 cents. There are 20 tabs altogether, which equals $5. If you would rather make each tab worth 10 cents you can do that too. Whatever amount of money that you would like to put on each tab, you can do so. I have left the tabs blank. So, on Monday each week, I print out a new chart for each kid. I have them put their name and date on their own chart. Then I write 25 ¢ on each tab. Finally, the chart gets hung on the refrigerator, where everyone can see it easily.

On Saturday, I have each child grab their chart and meet at the kitchen table with it (we do not do the chart on Sundays). We discuss how many tabs that they have lost and why. Then I have them tell me one way that they could do a better job next week. For example, my youngest son has a hard time remembering to pick up his toys when he is done with them. So this is the one area that he would need to work on the next week. My older kids tally up how much money that I owe them. Then I give each child their allowance for the week and it goes into their piggy bank. Some of their money is for giving, some is for saving and the rest they can spend.

Tips and Tricks

The first week that I used the chart, I kept reminding the kids to pick up after themselves. I didn’t want them to lose too many tabs. What I didn’t realize was that I was the one that was still holding them accountable. I wasn’t letting them learn that they are accountable for their own actions. That they needed to remember on their own, to pick up after themselves. Once, I stopped reminding them that they needed to pick up their own stuff, they started doing it on their own. What a difference it made for me, feeling like I could relax more and let the chart teach them accountability.

Every time that I have to pick up something that is theirs, I have the child go with me to their chart, and watch me pull off a tab. It is a reminder to them that because of their own forgetfulness, they lost a tab. Trust me, they do not like to see you pull a tab off of their chart. This is a great reminder for them to pick up after their self more.

When they are doing a great job at picking up after themselves for awhile, and it seems like they do not need the chart anymore, this is when you can change the chart up. Maybe now, they are not using kind words towards their siblings? Maybe they need to work on listening to you the first time? You can change the chart and use it for a different problem area. So now instead of losing a tab for forgetting to pick up something that is theirs, maybe they lose a tag because they hit their sister, or yelled at someone, or did not listen to you the first time. The chart should never be used for more than one problem area at a time. This allows them to master one area of their life first, before moving on to something else. If you notice that a problem that you have already worked on is coming back, then just use the chart for that problem area again. We all need reminders in our lives that help us to fix something that we are doing.

Good luck!! Have fun with this and remember, relax and let the chart do the work.

Click Here to Download Free Chart

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When House Work Drives You Crazy

The Need To Keep My House Clean at All Costs

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Have you ever come home from work, taken a look around your house and just wanted to scream? Are you the stay at home mom, who feels like you clean one room and start on another area in the house, and by the time you come back to the first room, it is already a mess? How are you suppose to keep your house clean? What kind of mom or wife are you if you have a dirty house? I think that we have all felt this way at one time in our life, some more than others. Here is how I learned to deal with house work.

Personal Story

I have struggled for so long, with the obsessive need I have to keep my house clean. I wasn’t a mom that had to have everything just perfect, but I wanted my house to look organized, clean and like someone who had it all together. I think the idea of a clean house, lets other people know that I am a good mom and wife. It made me feel like someone who other people wanted to be around. I would get so frustrated at the mess that the kids would make with their toys in the living room. The dirty clothes they left on the floor. Their dishes that they didn’t put away. The dirty towels left on the bathroom floor. I just couldn’t understand how the people that I lived with weren’t bothered about the mess in the house, like I was.

There are times that I have blown a gasket about needing help around the house. I swear the end of the world was coming, because my dishes were not done, there was laundry to be washed, dinner to be made and there wasn’t enough time to do it all. I wanted it done my way and I wanted it done now. I remember times where I would scream and cry like a two year old. I wanted it done my way and I wanted it done now. My biggest mistake was thinking that everyone else should automatically be able to read my thoughts. They should get up like little robots (or big ones), and start cleaning, without me having to ask. It sure would make life easier. Boy was I ever wrong. I caused so much stress in my house. My teenager commented on how “crazy” I used to be about the house being clean. She told me how much she disliked that part of me. My marriage suffered even more. When I would lose control, I would blame my husband. It was easier to blame him, then to accept that my house was dirty. We would be mad at each other for a few days. The time that I missed, enjoying everyone’s company because of my need to clean.

It wasn’t as bad when I was working, because there was no one around to mess it up during the day. Now that I am home all day, homeschooling three kids, the house gets quite a bit dirtier than it did before. We do school from 8-3 everyday, except for the days that we have our homeschool co-op. I have one in kindergarten, one in second grade and a ninth grader. So when it is homeschooling time, I do not get a chance to do much of the housework. I might throw a load of laundry in or pick up a few toys but that is it. So I had to figure out a way to organize our family more, so that chores could get done. I also had to let my high standards of a clean house go.

Let It Go

The first thing that I had to do to keep my sanity, was back off. I was the biggest problem when it came to cleaning the house. It didn’t bother anyone else, (even my husband), if the dishes weren’t done, or laundry was piled high in the living room waiting to be folded and put away. I had to take a deep breath and say “What chores am I ok with if they are not done everyday?” I realized that I didn’t care if the toys were not picked up, if their rooms (including mine) were a little messy, or even if the dishes didn’t get done. The chores that had to be done were, the floors had to be clean, counters and tables clean and sanitized and any food made for a meal had to be put away. Besides that, I realized that all the rest of the chores that didn’t get done, were not hurting anyone. No one became sick because I left the laundry for another day. No one else threw a fit because I forgot to clean all of the dishes.

The next thing that I had to do was to make a chore chart.  So I got out a piece of poster board and made a chore chart. It had all three kids down the left hand side and the days of the week along the top. I then, continued to fill in each day with chores that I wanted for the kids to do. My oldest child is in charge of keeping the floors swept and mopped, taking care of the dog and cat, cleaning the bathroom, scooping  dog poop, washing and folding her own clothes, and keeping her room clean. My seven year old has to keep the living room clean and dusted, fold her own clothes, vacuum and keep her room clean. My four year old has to, help me empty the dish washer, pick up his toys and keep his room clean. If you need help coming up with chores for your kids, try this site: http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/parenting-challenges/motivating-kids-to-clean-up/age-appropriate-chores.

This is how I make the chore chart work. For each day that the kids do their chores without being asked, they receive one dollar. Right now I give them $5 at the end of the week. I am going to change to this system this week, I would like to give them a fake dollar that they could put into a sandwich baggie that I will keep up high, except for my oldest child. I will make them put half of their money into their savings and some of their money will go to charity. To help me make sure that I remember to make them save, every Saturday they will take down their baggie, we will put half of it into an envelope to keep for when we go to the bank. It then goes into their savings account. Then they will put some aside to give to a charity. Sometimes we will give it to a family in need, a church or to a cause that they want to support. Then the rest will go into their piggie bank. Once they have enough saved for what they want to buy, then we can go shopping. They especially like going to Dunkin Donuts, or now that it is almost summer, a trip to the ice cream store is one of their favorites.

God did not create us, to become angered at the house chores. Actually, just the opposite. I know this sounds funny, but we are to find joy in everything that we do. “Always be joyful. Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. This is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). This verse seemed ridiculous when it came to cleaning my home. Find joy in doing the dishes, folding laundry or mopping my floors, yeah right! I wanted to laugh, but someone did that in the Bible (Sarah) and she was scolded for doing so. So, I figured I would listen to God and follow his words of wisdom. Now while I am washing the dishes, I turn up the radio and dance and sing. If I can’t turn on the music, I will pray and talk with God. I sometimes put on a podcast from Sound cloud on my phone. Either way I am enjoying doing the dishes. There are still days that doing housework joyfully is a stretch, but I try. “Be full of joy in the Lord always. I will say again, be full of joy.” (Phillipians 4:4). I am still working on this verse, but, in God I can do anything.

Dear Lord, help us to find joy in all that we do. We want to be joyful, gentle mothers and wives, but we can not do this without you. Help us to relax and have patience when it comes to doing the housework. Allow us the grace we need to falter, pick ourselves back up and try again. In you we can do anything. In you we will find our joy. In you, the house work will seem like nothing. Thank you Lord for all you do. Amen.

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My Teenager Thinks I’m Perfect

Changing Our Teens Idea of Who We Are

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Do you remember being a teenager? You felt like you were an adult. You thought that you already knew everything that there was to know. But, when a problem arose, nobody could understand you.  You felt all alone. If you needed to talk to anyone, you usually went to your friends. The problem is the advice that your friends gave you, probably wasn’t the best advice. We should have gone to our parents more. Now the roles are reversed, I have a teenager and I want her to come and talk with me (her parent). She thinks though, that I do not struggle with anything. Because of this, she thinks that if she makes a mistake, I will condemn her. That is not my job. It is God’s job to judge. So I went about thinking, how can I change her view of me, so that we can talk more?

I was a teenager that got herself into a lot of trouble. The last thing that I ever wanted to do was talk to my parents. My dad was really strict. He did the best that he knew how, but he didn’t know a single thing about me. Our connection was through sports. My mom was so laid back, that everything went. So I could have talked with her, but I was scared too. I don’t know why. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I didn’t want anyone to know who I really was. Afraid of what they would think of me.

Looking back at my teenage years, I become scared for my daughter. I never want her to do the things that I did when I was younger. Being so scared holds me back though. I need to parent from my heart, without the fear. Parent the way that God wants me to. So I sat down with her and shared my past. It was hard. What if she thinks that I am a bad person? What if she looks at me like a monster? What if she doesn’t love me anymore? And the what ifs, just went on and on and on. But I would do anything to help my teenage daughter. She means the world to me. So we began…..

My Life as A Teenager

I told her about how I had an abortion when I was 13. That I had killed an innocent child to save my own life. That I would someday meet that child, which is a little boy with blonde curly hair and blue eyes, in heaven. That I would have to answer to God for murder. I have done drugs before. I have drank and drove home once. I was so scared the next day after driving home, because I do not remember even how I got home. I have been in a marriage where someone emotionally, physically and mentally abused me. I could have dealt with the situation better, but, I decided to retaliate. I hit him numerous times. I would yell all the time and say mean things. I eventually knocked that person out cold with a frying pan. I was in a marriage that I should have never stayed in. A marriage where my now teenage daughter saw a lot of bad things. She watched people be arrested. She saw people drinking and becoming drunk around her. She would wake up to people passed out at our house with beer cans everywhere. She saw yelling and physical abuse. She saw so much that I cannot believe that I allowed for all of that to happen her.

Parenting

The problem with all of this, is the baggage that I carry around. I try to pretend that I have it all together. I read my Bible everyday. I pray all the time. I try to show my kids that I rely on God when things get hard. I do not show my kids the pain that I still endure from the past. The anger that can rise up easily if I am not careful. The want to yell and get mad and punish them. They do not see me cry hysterically when I feel so broken. When I feel like I am a failure. When my insecurity kicks me in the teeth and I fall down. Then sometimes when I’m down, I do not want to get back up again, but I have kids that are counting on me.  When I get scared, I want to run away. They do not see the demons that plague me and if I do not turn to God, they promise to overtake me. The want to drink and get drunk because then the pain will go away. Or the want to just run away for a weekend to just hide. To find relief from all of this.

“As a parent you will feel a range of emotions which are all normal and yet can feel like a roller coaster ride. It is important to remember you’re not expected to be perfect. Everyone has their own ideas about parenting and sometimes it’s easy to become confused or to feel not good enough.”My favorite part is knowing that I am doing the best that I can. I stop and take time to ask myself “what could I do to make our relationship better?” You see, I can’t control what my daughter does, I would like to think that I can, but that is not practical. I also stop and pray a lot. What I cannot do, God will fill in the rest. Parenting is different for everyone. Parenting is the hardest thing that you will ever do. Parenting is the most rewarding thing that you will ever do. As long as we never give-up, then we are being a good parent.

Teenagers

Take the way that you feel and remember what it is like to be a teenager. “Our brains take a lot longer to fully form than was previously thought. In teens, the frontal lobe (where our decision making happens) is not as connected to the rest of the brain as it is later in life. This means teens literally cannot come to a decision as fast as an adult.” This is scientific proof that teenagers need help with making decisions. That is why having a really strong bond with your teenager is so important. They need us now more than ever. It doesn’t mean that we smoother them, but we have to take the time to be there for them, everyday.  They need to know that you respect them and take the time to really listen to them. Even if you do not agree with what they are saying or doing, just take the time to let them vent. Then, take the time to respectfully disagree with something in their life. “That means that if you are expressing an emotion—say, disappointment—a teen’s brain has a 50% chance of misinterpreting it as a different emotion, like anger. Then, since the emotional part of their brain is already active from making that (incorrect) judgment, they become more likely to react irrationally and over the top.” So when your child becomes upset, grumpy or throws an attitude your way and you have know reason why, they may have misread what you just said or did.

Hope

I hope that in my trials you find hope. When life feels so overwhelming from being a parent, it is hard to know where to turn to or what to do next. I know that praying is what keeps me sane and talking to someone that I trust. Sometimes I just need someone to listen to me. May God grant you the grace, mercy and understanding to be the parent that your teenager needs. May you turn to God when you are at a loss of how to help your teenager. May you have peace in knowing that you are human, you will make mistakes as a parent, but, that God will be right there to be all the parent that you cannot be. And, may you also know that all parents struggle, all parents have regrets for how they raised their kids, but that most parents did the best that they knew how. What can you take from all of this to make your relationship with your teenager better?

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Raising Teenagers!!

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I am no expert in raising a teenager, nor would I ever claim to be. They are all so different. Each child in a family needs to be raised differently. But what to do when you find out that your child is doing something that is inappropriate! That is a hard problem to overcome.

This past weekend I found some disturbing news about my daughter. Never in a million years did I know what she was doing. We had taken many precautions when we gave her her smart phone. We had apps that allowed us to know what she was doing on her phone, where she was, and even how fast she was going if she was riding with someone else. I have even done Chip Ingram’s parenting series “House or Home.” None of this prepared me for finding out that she was talking to boys on her ipod.I had forgotten that she even had the ipod and I didn’t think that it still worked, the screen is all smashed. The thing that bothered me the most, was the inappropriate ways that they talked with each other.

I was so shocked, I couldn’t even speak. I wanted to march in her room, yell, scream, throw things and ground her for life, but I didn’t. I was afraid of what I might do if I went into her room. So, I sat down and talked with my husband, who was not as shocked as me. We poured over the ipod, reading and learning what was REALLY going on in her life. And then, the anger and guilt kicked in. I homeschool my daughter and I thought I was doing a pretty good job of talking to her. We would talk about boys. We’ve talked about drugs, alcohol, and dating. We have talked about friends, movies, clothes and music. We have rules, where she can not date until she is 15 (which is in only one month). Yet, she went behind our backs and started inappropriate conversations with other boys. How could this happen? I must be the worst mom in the world. Then I became scared. I had gone through a horrible marriage from the time I was 17 years old till I was 27. I never want my kids to have to go through a relationship like that. So I vented with my husband, then I stopped and took a breath. I didn’t know how to deal with what was going on at all.

Then, I prayed. I prayed that God would give me the wisdom and understanding to help her. That I would be able to love her still, when I was so disappointed. That I could show her that I loved her, when I wanted to scream at her. To help me be the mom that she needed. I was so scared. But, when I went to talk with her about an hour later, I found that I was calm. I never thought that that would happen in a million years. She was crying, shaking, scared and didn’t even want to look at me. I just said to her “I will always love you.” ” We have all made mistakes, and as long as you learn from this, then it will be ok.” It took her a long time to even stop crying. We finally went to bed that night, both of us on the couch, but in the morning things started to look better.

We sat down and talked for about an hour the next morning. Ever part of my body wanted to tell her how wrong she was, but I just listened. She told me how angry she was at her biological dad. How could he just leave her, didn’t he love her? She felt like she didn’t get enough attention in our house. She wanted to go back to school. And the list went on. We also had a long talk about boys. We talked about where she was heading if she continued to talk with boys like this.

I have learned that I need to spend more time with my daughter. She is someone who needs to feel validated with attention. I have also learned that God will give me the grace to show my children that I truly love them. I also know, that I need to pray more for my kids everyday. That I can not always be there for them, but God is. And that God, will lead them in a better direction then I ever could. Finally, that I need to pray for God to help me to forgive her. This ordeal has left me with a feeling of inadequacy. Being a good mom and wife is everything to me. Without that, I have nothing. So the anger and guilt of putting so much effort into being a mom and having my daughter do something that I specifically told her was wrong, hurt. But I know that we have all made mistakes, and forgiveness is necessary for everyone to move on and heal.

We have not decided what her punishment will be. I do know that it will be a long punishment. That it will include a lot of things taken away, but I want to make sure that I get this right.

So please, if you are in despair over your teenage child, stop and pray. Talk with your child, without judging them. Love them always. Then, let God be the mastermind behind it all. It can and will work out if you let God do it.

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