Blog

When Our Kids Complain

My oldest complains about everything.  Seriously, we could tell him that we’re going to a park or going out for ice cream and he would find something to complain about.  It’s really frustrating.

Of course, I want my son to be able to express his opinions about how he feels.  Of course, I want him to know that it’s OK to have thoughts and feelings that are different than everyone else.  Of course, I want him to know that it’s OK to not want to do something or go somewhere.

But complaining about everything was getting exhausting.

When kids are babies, they “complain” by crying or throwing a fit when they have a need or don’t get their way, and it’s our job to teach them to use their words instead of melting down.

We guide them by giving them their “lines.”

“Mommy, could I please have more juice?” 

Not that they will get more juice, but we are at least giving them the right words to say to be kind and respectful when they make their request.

When kids can use their words as they get older, then what?  Do we still give them their lines?

Absolutely, we do!  Not only do we give them the words, we give the tone at which to say those words too, right?

The tone we use means just as much, if not more, than the words we say.  

So when my son does complain about going to get ice cream (as crazy as it is), instead of getting angry and frustrated at him like I used to, I calmly and respectfully say:

  • “Can you try to say it again in a respectful way?”  This gives him an opportunity to think about how he is sharing his opinion if he didn’t share it respectfully with his words and tone the first time.   I will happily give him his lines if he can’t think of what to say or how to say it.
  • “I understand that getting ice cream may not be your favorite thing to do right now.”  This validates his feelings.
  • “And you don’t have to want to come.”  This respects his opinion and lets him know that I’m not out to change it.
  • “But you are a member of our family and we love you, so you will be joining us but you don’t have to eat ice cream or have fun if you don’t want to.”  (Can you believe that I actually have said these words???)  This again respects his opinion not to eat ice cream.  This also reinforces our unconditional love for him and our desire to spend time with him no matter what!

We may not always understand why our kids complain about things that don’t need to complain about or why they have the opinions that they have.  And we sure can’t make our kids want to do something.

In fact, it’s not our job to change our kids’ opinions at all. It’s our job to respect their opinions and to teach them how to share their opinions in a way that respects us.

And more importantly, it’s our job to show them that we love them unconditionally and want to be with them…even if they complain and don’t want to eat ice cream with us.

Lord, thank you for the gift of our words and our ability to express them in a way that honors You.  May we always model gracious words to our children.  May they be like a honeycomb–sweet to their souls.  May they bring health to their bodies (Proverbs 16:24).  Remind us that we say matters.  Guide us in teaching our kids about the power of their own words and expressing their own opinions without complaining but with respect and with love.  

**And by the way, when I’ve learned to respect my son’s opinion and not try to change it, my son has eaten ice cream with us every single time.  🙂

Here’s to building better families–
Christine

14 Ways to Love Your Wife Like a Girlfriend Again

Ok husbands…can we be real for a moment?  How have you changed since you got married?  Do you still woo your wife with cards, letters, flowers?  Do you still shower her with love and affection?  Or has kids, bills, stress, and life gotten in the way a bit?

We get it!

Well, here at Real Life Families, we believe very strongly in the power of teamwork in families.  And the best way to build a strong family team is to first build a strong marriage team.

Starting February 1st, we are inviting all husbands to join us in a 14-Day Challenge to love your wife like a girlfriend again by bringing some fun and romance back to your marriage in easy, practical ways.  If you’re not sure what that looks like, don’t worry.  Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day, we will send you a short email with a fun idea!

Let’s focus on our wives and build stronger families!

THIS CHALLENGE HAS ALREADY BEGUN.  WE WILL DEFINITELY DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR.  IN THE MEANTIME, YOU CAN SIGN UP TO RECEIVE OUR WEEKLY EMAILS WITH PARENTING TIPS INCLUDING OUR POWERFUL TEAMWORK PARENTING APPROACH.

SIGN UP HERE!

 

14 Ways to Love Your Husband Like a Boyfriend Again

How different were you to your husband before you got married?  Admit it…weren’t you just a little bit more flirty…easy-going…fun when you were a dating couple?

Well, Real Life Families is all about helping families work as a team and we believe that a strong family team begins with a strong marriage team.  But let’s be REAL for a minute–sometimes our husbands can take a back seat to the craziness of life–taking care of our kids, and the house, and the meals, and the shopping, and the laundry, and the laundry, and the laundry.  Is it just me?  Or do you ever look at your husband at the end of the day and think…”And you are???”

Well, no more (at least not during this 14-day challenge!)  Let’s focus on our man.  Let’s show him a little bit more love and attention.  Let’s take a little time to be more flirty and giddy and agreeable and available!  Let’s take some time to build that marriage team…14 days…14 emails…14 fun and practical ideas are coming soon!

 

 

THIS CHALLENGE HAS ALREADY BEGUN.  WE WILL DEFINITELY DO THIS AGAIN NEXT YEAR.  IN THE MEANTIME, YOU CAN SIGN UP TO RECEIVE OUR WEEKLY EMAILS WITH PARENTING TIPS INCLUDING OUR POWERFUL TEAMWORK PARENTING APPROACH.

SIGN UP HERE!

The Giving Box

Several years ago in our family, we started The Giving Box. What is The Giving Box, you ask?  I’m so glad you asked!

Raise your hand if you have too much stuff.  Me, me, me!  It seems that no matter what I do, I just can’t keep up with all the stuff in our house. Every gift-giving holiday brings a little anxiety as we don’t have room for the stuff we already have…especially toys.  We are so blessed but too many things can feel burdensome–especially when I think about those who have nothing or very little.

I want our kids to understand how blessed they are. I want them also to understand that having more and more things is not what this life is about.  If we have abundance or too much of something, we should give it to those who could use it or appreciate it more than we do…enter The Giving Box.

Every December, we put out a Giving Box (plastic tub or laundry basket) and see how many times we can fill it with things we can donate.  Last year, we filled it four times!  I’m challenging my kids to fill it more times this year.

Teaching our kids to have a heart to give doesn’t take much…

  • always having $1 handy for the Salvation Army bell ringer.
  • bringing a homeless man a meal.
  • participating in toy drives, book drives, or canned food drives.
  • bringing chicken soup to a sick friend.
  • putting $1 in the offering plate at church.
  • volunteering at a soup kitchen.

But teaching our kids to have a heart to give does take us.  We have to be the ones to set the example.  We have to be the ones to place an importance on giving.  We have to give first and then they will follow our lead.

You can work as a team with your family to teach the beauty of giving to others too.  Giving is about love, thoughtfulness, and compassion.  Giving is about understanding that there is a world outside of ourselves that our kids can be a part of helping.  Giving is about God in motion.  We are His hands and feet and so when we teach our kids to give, not only are we modeling teamwork, but we are modeling a calling to give as we are able.

How to use The Giving Box with your family:

  1. Get a box, laundry basket, or large tub or storage bin. Attach a sign that says “The Giving Box.”
  2. Bring your family together and share how blessed that you are as a family to have each other and that people are more important than things.
  3. Let them know that together, as a team/family, you are going to see how many times you can fill The Giving Box with things from around the house.
  4. Choose a local charity where you will be donating your items. Research the charity together so you know how your things are going for the greater good.
  5. Work as a team to go through every closet, every cabinet. Clean out toys, books, clothes, shoes, hats, gloves, coats, pots, pans…everything you own should be gone through!
  6. Keep track of how many times the box is filled and do a family hug each time you’ve filled it.

The Giving Box–what a great way to get rid of things in your home, bless others, and be blessed as you work as a team to give!

THE GIVING BOX SIGN AND DIRECTIONS
Lord, you say to give as we are able.  You say to give generously.  Open our hearts to the ways you want us to give generously using the gifts you have given us.  Show us ways we can use our time, our resources, and even our prayers to help others.  And may our acts of giving reflect your light and love onto our children so that their hearts would beam with the desire to give.

Here’s to building better families–

Christine

 

 

 

Here’s to building better families-

Christine

3 Reasons Our Kids Need Routine

Kids need routine.  I’m not talking about planning out every single minute of their day to the point where you rob your kids of all creativity, freedom, or spontaneity.  I’m talking about having a plan that kids can follow during certain times of the day in order to help them be more productive and help your life be less crazy.

During the school year, it is especially important for kids to have routines.  In our home, we have a morning routine, an after-school routine, and a bedtime routine.  We have checklists everywhere to make sure that they know exactly what to do.

Here’s why routine is so important…

  1. Routine creates security:  When we do the same things over and over in the same way, kids feel more secure.  That’s why little ones ask us to read the same books over and over and over and over and over.  I had Brown Bear, Brown Bear memorized because no matter how many times I read it, my kids wanted me to read it again and again.  There is security in familiarity.  Routines help the day become familiar.  And kids become more confident when they know what to expect and when they can predict what comes next.
  2. Routine encourages responsibility:  It is important for kids to know what is expected of them.  Whether it’s chores or homework or what they need to do at bedtime, establishing a routine allows them to take the responsibility for getting the job done.
  3. Routine fosters independence:  It is not our job to do everything for our kids–after all, we do want them to grow up to be self-sufficient, responsible adults.  But it is our job to teach them what to do, how to do it, and then let them go from there.  We want them to eventually be able to do everything without our guidance.  And routine helps.  With a solid routine in place, kids feel more empowered to manage their own time and their own responsibilities.

So, how do you create strong routines in your home?

  • First of all, identify “problem” areas or times of day where your family would benefit from a routine.
  • Write down everything that you would like for your kids to do.
  • Create a short, simple checklist (use pictures for younger kids) to help get their routine in order.
  • Read through the checklist with your kids to check for understanding.  You can also ask them if they have anything to add (this makes them feel important getting to share their thoughts and opinions).
  • In the beginning, have them practice going through the checklist with your guidance.  Remind them to look at their checklist.  “Have you done everything on your after-school checklist?”  Check their “work”.
  • Once they have learned the routine, you can give them some space.  You may need to remind or encourage them every once in a while.  And by the way, it’s OK to let your kids forget things from time to time–there will be natural consequences–especially when it comes to school work.  Or for frequent forgetfulness, you may need to introduce a small, fair consequence to boost that responsibility factor.

Hopefully, with practice, you will be able to watch your secure, responsible, independent children flowing through their routines and checking things off their checklists.  And eventually, you will find that your kids will know their routine so well, they won’t even need the checklists anymore.

And then, maybe…just maybe, you will have more time to just sit back, relax, and enjoy a brownie!  🙂 Ha.

Here’s to building better families-

Christine

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!

DOWNLOAD NOW 

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! 

DOWNLOAD HERE

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?

Sign up for our Summer Date Night Challenge too!

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.

Sign up for our Family Fun Summer Challenge too–with ideas of how to connect with your whole family!