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Back-to-School Prayer for Your Daughter

My daughter starts kindergarten this week and I don’t even want to talk about it.  My heart is breaking to send her out into this world.  It really is.

And every time I say: “But God, I want to keep her at home and protect her from this world forever.  I want never want her to experience a broken heart and I never want her positive, joyful spirit to be crushed.  I want her to do cartwheels, sing songs, and paint pictures just because.  I want her to ask me to “watch this” 50 times a day.  I want her to swing on her tree, play with her stuffed animals, and hold my hand as we walk to the park.  I never want her to be told that she’s not smart enough or pretty enough or good enough.  I never want her to feel rejected or insulted.  I never want her to be exposed to the negativity and hate in this world.  I need her at home with me all day every day and I never, ever, ever, ever want her to be out in this world, OK?”

But God says:  “I understand…but this world needs her.  Trust me.”

But that’s so hard especially when you’re a mama bear wanting to protect her cub, but then I have to remember whose cub she is in the first place.

We have to choose to trust the Lord.  We have to give our children to the One who created them, loves them, and chose them to be exactly where they are in this time and place.

Oh that’s hard.  Deep breaths.

Lord, bless my daughter as she goes into the world each day. Be near her
and help her to be strong. Remind her that in You there is no fear, but
instead there is the power to be confident, loving, and brave. Protect her
feelings and emotions. Help her to make good choices and give her an
assertive voice to share her own opinions and know that they matter. Help
her to be able to stand alone and always do the right thing and encourage
others to do the same. Give her a helpful heart and a kind spirit. Put
positive friends in her path, but also allow her to show love to those who
need You in their lives. Give her a heart to include others and encourage
them. Show her how to use the gifts that You have given her to be all that
You created her to be. Give her a healthy body image and allow her to see
her unique beauty and appreciate how she is wonderfully made. Protect her
each and every day. I know that You love my sweet girl even more than I
do. God, I give her to you. I trust her in Your loving, protective care.
In Jesus’ name…Amen!

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A Prayer for My Daughter

Back-to-School Prayer for Your Son

I feel so powerless when my kids are away from me–especially when they are at school.  I worry about their safety (especially in the crazy world we live in).  I worry about their choices, their friends, their feelings.  I worry about if they are showing respect and if they are being respected.  I worry about them being brave to stand up for themselves and being even more brave to stand up for someone else.  I worry that they will focus too much on their appearance or “being cool” and forget that what matters most is what’s in their hearts even though I tell them this 100 times a day.  I worry that they will forget that they have the Creator of the universe living in their hearts and that through Him they have a very special purpose in this world that no one can take away from them.  I worry that words, actions, and attitudes of hate, intolerance, and entitlement will leak into their words, actions and attitudes.  I worry that I haven’t done enough.  Will they remember about showing kindness and love to everyone no matter what they look like?  Will they remember what we’ve taught them, what we’ve practiced, what we’ve encouraged in our home?  Will they take God’s light into this world or will they allow this world to extinguish their light?

Have I done enough?

The worry cycle spins in my mind–round and round like clothes in a dryer, and I feel so dizzy and disoriented trying to sort it all out.  The more I worry…the faster and more blurry everything gets.  AAAAAAAHHHHH!

The bible tells us to worry about nothing and pray and praise God about everything, but that’s sure hard!  But at some point, we have stop the worry cycle–literally turn it off or better yet, just unplug it, and give the entire load to Him.  He will help us sort it, fold it, and put away in His Mighty, Loving Hands.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  And pray.

Lord, bless my child as he goes into the world each day. Be
near him and help him to feel Your presence. Help him to be
brave and strong and courageous. Help him to feel confident
as he learns new things. Protect him, God, against
discouragement, frustration, and negativity. Guide him in all
he says and does. Give him a very strong conscience to help
him make the right choices, and give him an assertive voice to
share his opinions and know that they matter. Help him to
stand up for what is right even when no one else does. Put
positive friends in his path, but also allow him to show love to
those who need You in their lives. Give him a heart to include
others and encourage them, and show him ways to love, to be
helpful, and to be kind. Guard his heart and his mind against
the bad things that are in this world and show him how to use
the gifts that You have given him to be all that You created
him to be. Protect him each and every day. Be with him
wherever he goes. I know that You love my son even more than
I do. God, I give my son to you. I trust him in Your loving,
protective care. In Jesus’ name…Amen! 

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A Prayer for My Son

Stop the Mealtime Madness: How to Get Kids to Eat Anything…and Be Grateful for It

Getting kids to eat can be so frustrating, but don’t let your kids ruin your mealtimes.  Mealtimes are meant to be about eating healthy food, spending time with your family, and being grateful for whatever food is on your plates…period.

  • If you’re thinking…”What is this crazy person talking about?”
  • If mealtimes make you want to pull your hair out.
  • Or if you’ve just plain given up on any sense of peace at mealtime…

Let us help you.  We have three kids who eat anything…who are grateful for their food…and who enjoy spending time together at mealtime.  I know.  It sounds impossible.  And I will have to be honest and say that it wasn’t easy, but it’s been so worth it for our family and it will be so worth it for your family too!

You can have kids who eat anything.  You can have kids who are grateful for whatever is on their plates.  You can have family mealtimes that don’t look like feeding time at the zoo.

We have put all of our methods, strategies, ideas, tips, tricks, and sanity-saving secrets into a free resource for parents. Download this free resource to find:

  • no-nonsense strategies to encourage your kids to eat anything.
  • clever ideas to help your kids choose to eat healthy food and be more grateful.
  • creative ways to enjoy family mealtime together!

DOWNLOAD STOP THE MEALTIME MADNESS NOW

BUY IT ON AMAZON (All proceeds goes to Real Life Families)

CHECK OUT OUR OTHER FREE RESOURCES

Stop pulling your hair out and finally enjoy mealtimes together!

Here’s to building better families together…

Family Fun Summer Challenge

Truly, they may drive you crazy–as my kids already are and summer break has only just begun—but taking time to connect with your family and have fun together can make a big difference.  My kids love our “Family Fun Summer Surprises” as we call them.  We write them on our calendar once a week and don’t even tell them anything about them.  We make them wonder what we are going to do and where we are going to go.  Building memories together is what it’s all about and Real Life Families wants to help your family do it too.

Starting June 6th, we will send you a short and sweet email once a week for 10 weeks throughout the summer with a super simple family fun idea to do each week.  That’s it.

Are you ready to connect with your family this summer?

Summer Date Night Challenge

Making time to date your spouse will only make your family stronger.  Why?  Because your kids need to see you and your spouse having fun…connecting…being silly…making each other laugh…and more importantly, making each other a priority.  That means: “We love you, kids, but you’re going to bed early so mommy and daddy can spend some time together WITHOUT YOU!”

Oh I know how hard it is.  Raising kids can suck every ounce of energy and motivation you may have and just simply getting through the day can be something to celebrate.  I get it.  I really do.  But, this summer, Real Life Families would like to invite you to get a little boost of energy and a teeny tiny bit of motivation to date your spouse, and we will make it easy for you.  For the next 10 weeks, we will give you 10 simple date night ideas for you to try and we challenge you to do one idea just once a week.  We know that your marriage will be totally blessed by it!

Join in the date night fun!  It starts June 6th.

Bedtime Sticker Chart–Plus, 4 Tips to Make Bedtime Easier

Sometimes I love bedtimes with my kids–books, snuggles, songs, prayers, hugs, kisses and lights out.  And sometimes I hate bedtimes with my kids.  Why is it that everything seems to hurt…at bedtime?  Why is it that suddenly everyone is dying of thirst…at bedtime?  And why is it that bowels seem to need to move…at bedtime?  AAAAAAHHHHH!  It’s enough to make you scream…JUST GO TO BED ALREADY!!!

I have three children and all three of them have had very different bedtime needs.  My husband and I have had to crack the secret code with each kid to figure out what would be the right combination to not only get each child to bed, but keep in child in bed!

Along with prayer, here are a few tips I’ve learned to help bedtimes be less crazy.  I hope these help you too…

  1.  Have a routine:  This helped each of our children get into a bedtime rhythm.  We try to keep bedtime close to the same time every night too and as early as possible–around 7:00pm or 7:30pm for little ones.  It always helped our kids to know what to expect which brought them security and a flow at bedtime.  After dinner, we clean up the house together, do baths, do some family special time like a quick game or a pillow fight or read a book while we have a little snack.  Then it’s go to the bathroom, brush teeth, and get tucked in bed.  In bed, we do the 4-Bedtime Questions–(if we don’t just do these quickly in the car or while they brush their teeth) which gives our kids a chance to talk about their day.  We rub their backs, sometimes sing a quick song or lullaby, say prayers and light out.  Do we do all of this every night? No.  Do we try? Yes.  And that’s all you can do too.  Try to keep bedtime as consistent as possible.
  2. Slow Down:  I’m right there with you.  At bedtime, you just want your kids to freaking go to bed, but I’ve also learned that they sense that which somehow triggers them to recharge and run around the house like goblins.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had somewhere to go after bedtime and those were always the nights where my kids get bit by the Extra Bug–can I have an extra song? an extra hug? an extra drink of water? an extra blanket? an extra stuffed animal? an extra backrub? When I rush, bedtimes don’t go as well.  Slowing down and connecting has really made a positive difference.  
  3. Find what works:  My oldest needed a sticker chart (download below) to help him learn to go to bed when it was time to go to bed.  He would fight bedtime with all his might until we got him a sticker chart.  Every night that bedtime went well, he got a sticker on his chart and got a special tickle time with daddy.  My daughter had trouble staying in bed all night long.  Sticker charts didn’t interest her, but she loved to be tickled.  So every night that she stayed in her bed all night, she got 200 tickles the next day.  Every child is different.  Find what will work for yours.
  4. Build a positive relationship even before bedtime begins:  Prayer, routine, bedtime questions, sticker charts and even 200 tickles can help with bedtime, but making sure that our kids have our time and love throughout the day can be helpful at bedtime too.  Whether you see it as a time bank or a love tank, kids need to feel full with our love and affection.  If they feel empty at bedtime and we’re trying to rush them through the process, they may act out simply to get our attention–even if it’s negative.  However, if we are intentional about filling our kids up throughout the day with giving hugs or encouraging notes or playing catch or helping them with homework or playing a game or reading a book, they will not feel so depleted when it’s time to close their eyes at night.  In fact, we want them to feel as full of our love as possible at the end of each day.  Investing time into our children will always be worth it!

Even though there may still be many “Whack-a-Mole” nights,  it is my prayer that you will be able to work as a team with your child to crack the bedtime code and discover the right combination for unlocking a beautiful, peaceful, and memorable bedtime for your family!

DOWNLOAD A STICKER CHART BELOW

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Boy

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Boy

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Girl

Bedtime Sticker Chart-Girl

 

 

The Get-Along Jar: An Idea to Stop Sibling Rivalry

The yelling…the screaming…the fighting…OH SO ANNOYING!  Sibling rivalry drives me crazy sometimes.  I’ll be honest…sometimes, I just let them argue it out. I just simply don’t have the time, energy, or the patience to step in every time and in fact, I’ve learned that it’s healthy to let my kids work it out on their own–unless it gets too out of hand, of course.

I’ve learned that it’s not always necessary for me to step in.  Taking time to teach my kids that they have a voice and they can stand up for themselves is an important skill for life.  Learning to handle an argument will certainly come in handy for their future.  I have given them three simple steps in a little rhyme to help them remember what to do…

  • Say it kindly.
  • Walk away.
  • Go get help. (Clap, clap, clap)

I want to empower my kids to try to solve their own problems with their siblings with kind and respectful words first.  “Please don’t hit me.  I don’t deserve it.”

Then, they walk away and get some space.

Then, if the offender keeps offending, they come get me for help.

Sometimes it works beautifully. Sometimes it doesn’t.  They are still learning and I just keep on teaching because I know they will benefit in the long run.

Recently, I found a new idea from www.kidsspot.com.au in an article called Put a Stop to Sibling Bickering: Make a Get-Along Jar.  It was my hope that I could use The Get-Along Jar in my own home as well as help another mom with some sibling rivalry going on in her home too.

I tried it.  And?

It was awful.  Ultimate fail!!  It only created more arguing.  So what started as an argument between siblings ended up being an argument between me and my oldest.  Not the point at all, but only he could turn an idea about getting along into an argument.  Oh the irony!

So why am I sharing this idea with you?  I’m sure you’re thinking…”Why do you want me to try it then?”

Because it just might work for you.  All kids are different.  And my oldest just so happens to thrive off of conflict so The Get-Along Jar gave him yet another opportunity to argue, but with my youngest kids, they actually did enjoy it.  They did choose to change their focus to try to work as a team instead of arguing which is the whole point of The Get-Along Jar to begin with.  Every child is different. Every family is different.  Your kids just might get it and if it can help you have less sibling rivalry going on in your home then my failed experiment will be all worth it.  🙂

Purpose

  • To distract kids in the middle of an argument or silly bickering.
  • To provide an opportunity to do something together that requires teamwork.
  • To remind each other that they love each other and that life is too short to spend time arguing when they can spend more time having fun and doing kind things together.

Materials

  • Jar or cup
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Strips of paper with get-along ideas (printable below)
  • Scissors
  • Markers to decorate
  • Glue

Get-Along Ideas (Download below)

  • Say three nice things about the other person.
  • Turn on some music and dance together.
  • Read a storybook together–taking turns reading a page.
  • Set the table together.
  • Make up a ‘getting along song’ and perform it for the family.
  • Make the other person’s bed.
  • Write a poem for the other person.
  • Clean the other person’s room.
  • Get each other a glass of water and sit outside to drink it.
  • Draw something positive about your sibling.
  • Sweep the floor together.
  • Make each other a ‘sorry’ card.
  • Play Simon Says for six minutes.
  • Draw a picture of each other.
  • Give each other a big hug.
  • Clean the bathroom sinks together.
  • Pick up the other person’s toys.
  • Do 10 sit ups, 10 jumping and five push-ups.
  • Tell each other a story.
  • Draw a picture together.
  • Tickle each other.
  • Do a kind deed together for someone else.
  • Ask your sibling 3 questions about themselves.
  • Make each other laugh with silly faces.
  • Play The Quiet Game.

How to use

  • Introduce your kids to The Get-Along Jar. Let them know that they are family and that they are called to love each other and work as a team and The Get-Along Jar is going to help remind them of that. Ask them to brainstorm ideas of some things they can do together to have fun instead of fighting or you can just use the ideas below.
  • Have them help decorate the sticks as well as label and decorate the jar.
  • When fighting or arguing begins, walk over to the kids with The Get-Along Jar and assign one child to pick out a stick. If you know your kids will argue over this, you pick out the stick for them.
  • Have the child read or you read what is on the stick and they must do that instead.
  • Encourage your kids to do things in The Get-Along Jar anytime they want too. They can use The Get-Along Jar for ideas of things they can do show their family teamwork or to just have some fun together. They don’t have to be in an argument to use The Get-Along Jar. It’s for “all things teamwork.”
  • What a great way to refocus the kids on what is important—being kind and loving and working as a team!

Good luck.  I hope The Get-Along Jar works for you.

Here’s to building better families together!

DOWNLOAD THE GET-ALONG JAR DIRECTIONS

DOWNLOAD THE GET-ALONG JAR IDEAS

The Bedtime Hoops: 4 Important Questions to Ask Your Kids Every Night

This post first appeared on  Her View From Home

I love my kids, but by bedtime, I’m just exhausted.  At 8pm, my patience shuts off.  It’s like I have some sort of glitch in my parenting code, or maybe I just missed the patience upgrade with each kid or something?

So when I have to jump through so many drinks-of-water hoops, tickle hoops, tuck-in hoops, bedtime-song hoops, pee-pee hoops, and brush-your-freaking-teeth-already hoops, I feel that if they don’t get away from me as soon as possible, I’m going to jump through the I’ve-lost-my-mind hoop and escape into a dimension where only brownies, beaches, and books exist.

But that’s not reality! (Oh how I wish it was sometimes though—minus the losing my mind hoop).    The reality is that parenting doesn’t stop at 8pm.  And even though some of the hoops I jump through annoy me, there are four hoops that I would never miss jumping through no matter how tired or impatient I feel…The 4-Questions Hoops.

I started asking my kids these four questions every night and it has changed our relationship.  It has brought us closer.  It has created a more positive shift in their focus throughout their day and in mine.

  1. What was your favorite part about your day? This question allows us to jump through the hoop of positivity together.  It helps my children focus on the best parts of their day, and gives us another opportunity to reflect on them, laugh even more about them, and find joy in those special moments one more time before they close their eyes.
  2. What was your least favorite part about your day? This question allows us to jump through the hoop of reality together.  No one is perfect.  Everyone makes mistakes, so it’s great to have the opportunity to be real and talk about those things in their day that didn’t go well—bad choices, disrespect, being irresponsible.  This question has allowed for me to model unconditional love and has given me many second-chance teachable moments.  Even if I lost my temper the first time around, I have one more chance to walk them through what they should have done differently.  It’s great for kids to be reminded that tomorrow is a new day to try again.
  3. Do you have any questions about your day? This question allows us to jump through the honesty hoop together.  It establishes a habit of always letting them know that they can ask me anything and can trust me to listen and love.  It shows them that I’m a “safe” person who isn’t going to judge or get angry or be upset if they want to talk about the tough stuff.
  4. How did you show kindness or love today? This question allows us to jump through the integrity hoop together.  It encourages them to be kind and loving to others even when no one is watching.  It is the most powerful, life-changing question I have asked!  My kids have learned just how simple it is and how capable they are of showing kindness or love every single day.  When I first started asking this question, my eight year old had trouble coming up with an answer, so I would step in to tell what I saw him do–he was thoughtful to take his plate to the sink, he played with his sister nicely, he gave his little brother a turn with his squirt gun, he washed his hands the first time I asked him to.  Creating an awareness of the little ways that he can show kindness and love has empowered him to do even more.  Plus, I find myself looking for those positive things that each child does throughout the day so I can share it with them that night.  They love hearing all the great things they’ve done.  Kindness and love…this is the focus I want my kids to have throughout their day!

The 4-Questions hoops have helped me learn more about my kids: baseball game play-by-plays, storm fears, favorite colors and movies. But I have also taught more to my kids:  answering questions about abortion, smoking, appreciating the differences in others and I’ll never forget the night we cried together about a little boy in a wheel chair.

Because of jumping through the 4-Questions hoops of positivity, reality, honesty, and integrity every night, I have laughed louder, cried more, snuggled closer, and taught lessons about life that I would not have had the opportunity to do in the busyness of the day.  Dear parents, at bedtime, won’t you join me in fixing that glitch in your parenting code, upgrading your patience level, bending your knees, and jumping through these four extra hoops with me every night too?  I promise that these are the hoops you will never regret jumping through for your kids.