Teach Your Preschooler to Pray

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Our kids will naturally begin to do what we do. Have you ever heard something come out of your child’s mouth and you thought “Yikes! Is that really what I sound like?!”

 

And then there are moments when your preschooler repeats something you’ve said and it just blesses your heart and makes you want to text your mom and tell her that you’re actually killing it at this parenting thing!

 

The other night we had a friend over for dinner. In our house, we pray before we eat, and so the kids waited patiently (odd!) while everyone settled into their seats, and our usual question of “who wants to pray” was met with a unexpected “I do!” from our 4 year old.

 

In complete astonishment and absolute amazement, we sat there and listened to him recite the Lord’s Prayer verbatim. It was a proud moment for sure. We have periodically said the Lord’s Prayer before a meal, but it’s definitely not something we do every single day. And it’s not even one of those verses we’ve had the kids memorize. So for him to say the entire thing, on his own, without any help, was utterly amazing!

 

When we do things on a regular basis, our kids pick up on that and they naturally do it too. Praying is something that is essential to our faith and in our home. We make it a priority. We try not to force our children to do it if they don’t want to, but we do give them ample opportunity to pray, whether it is on their own or repeating after us (like with the Lord’s prayer).  

 

This week my 2 year old was sick; runny nose, fever, just a general sense of not feeling well. My 4 and 5 year old decided they wanted to take care of her, so when I was putting her down for a nap, they took turns telling her a story and singing her a “goodnight song”. As they were kissing her goodnight, my 4 year old said “we should pray for her” and then laid hands on her little body and said “Dear God, please bless her and help her to feel better. Amen!”

 

His little heart is full of compassion for his siblings and a love for the Lord. But how do we cultivate that? And how do we even get to the point where their instinct is prayer?

 

 I believe that we need to model for our children the act of prayer and we need to point back to God when prayers are answered. It’s hard for little ones to understand what prayer is and why we do it when they can’t tangibly see the result.

 

This may seem like a silly example, but I believe this was the turning point for our 4 year old when it comes to understanding prayer: It was Halloween and it was raining. The forecast was rain all day and evening. The kids were bummed because I told them if it was still raining after dinner, we wouldn’t be able to go trick-or-treating. I mean, we aren’t die hard Halloween fans. We just love dressing up and getting free candy! For us, rain = no go.

 

I told the kids we should pray that it stops raining so we can go. My husband thought it was silly to pray for Halloween. And yeah, I get it. But it’s fun for the kids, and who knows, God works in mysterious ways.

All day it rained. No let up. When I picked the kids up from preschool, we talked about the rain and how we probably wouldn’t get to go trick-or-treating, but we should pray that the rain would stop so we could go. I could hear the kids praying in the back of the van.

I checked the forecast again. Still supposed to rain all evening.

 

And then! Right after dinner, as if on cue, the rain stopped.

 

Completely stopped. It was still pretty wet outside, and looked a little ominous. But zero rain.

 

I was overjoyed!

 

Not because I love Halloween or I’m a sugar addict or dressing the kids up in matching costumes is the reason my heart beats (it is).

 

But because this was a clear answer to the kids prayer, and I could tangibly point this back to God.

 

Okay, yes, I get that some will say it was just a coincidence. Or even praying for something like Halloween is silly and trivial (and is it even Christian to participate in Halloween anyway?!). But the truth is, it DID point back to God and the kids were able to see that God cares about everything, even the little things.

 

When you are teaching your children to pray, eventually they will need to see the fruit of their prayers. Otherwise, they won’t understand. They won’t know what prayer really is or why we do it. As they get older, we can explain more in depth about what prayer is, that God doesn’t operate on our timeline, that prayer is multi-faceted, and even quite mysterious.

 

But for now, we stick with the basics.

 

What is prayer // Prayer is simply talking to God. We can talk to God like we talk to each other.

What do we pray // When we talk to God, we thank Him. He has given us everything, so we can thank Him for everything. We can ask Him for help. If we are sick, we can ask Him to make us better. If we are scared, we can ask Him to take away our scaries.

When do we pray // Make it part of your normal routine. Pick a certain time of day that you always pray. In our house, it’s before dinner. Other people pray at bedtime. My husband and I pray together each morning before he leaves for work. The kids are invited to join us, but regardless if they do or not, they see and hear us praying together regularly. Find a way to incorporate it into your family each day, and watch how it impacts your children.

How do we get kids to pray // Like any new thing, kids are often hesitant to try it. Start off by simply praying yourself. Tell your kids what you’re doing -- “I am going to pray now, and thank God for what He has given us”. Let them see that it is a normal part of your life. Incorporate prayer in regularly. When your toddler is afraid to go to bed, say “Let’s pray about this and ask Jesus for help. Dear Jesus, Eliza is feeling scared in her room right now. Please take away all of the scaries and throw them far far away. Help Eliza to not be scared because you are here with her and you are protecting her. Thank you Jesus! Amen”.

Then begin asking them if they’d like to pray. If they say no, that’s okay. Don’t force the issue. Try doing a corporate prayer (like the Lord’s Prayer) and have the kids repeat after you. Or have them repeat something simple like “Dear God, thank you for this food. Amen”. Keep it simple.

It took a long time for our kids to start praying on their own. You have to build their confidence. And let them know that they can talk to God about anything.


One of my favorite things about teaching our kids to pray is actually what I have learned from this experience. At first, you teach the basics. You look for opportunities to pray // little things, big things, silly things (Halloween, anybody?), all the things. And suddenly you begin praying about all of your normal daily things, because it’s become a habit to take everything to God.

 

Before starting this whole prayer thing with our kids, I got in a prayer slump. I would pray before meals, pray before bed, and pray when a friend asked me to. I would pray for big things, or life's crazy circumstances, or just things that were out of my control. But what praying with the kids has taught me, is that God really does care about the little things.

 

When you ask my kids what prayer is, they will say it’s just talking to God. How quickly I forget that! Yes, prayer is simply talking to God. I don’t just need to pray when I need something. I need to pray/talk to God throughout the day, just like I would with my husband or a close friend.

 

So if you’re trying to figure out how to teach your little ones to pray, simply start by praying! And before you know it, they will be the ones saying “let’s pray about that!”.

 

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How to Maintain Your Sanity When You're Home with Kids All Day

I have four kids. My oldest is 5. I stay home with them every day. To say that it gets crazy and frustrating and overwhelming is an understatement. The daily grind is...well, a grind.

My kids wake up around 6 or 6:30 am, but stay in their beds until 7:05. As soon as it’s time for them to come out of their rooms, the craziness begins. We have the same routine every morning, and apparently that means we must whine about the same exact things, fight over the same exact cups and argue over who gets to turn on the big light every single day.

It’s like their energy builds as they race down the stairs in the morning.

As a mom of four, it is constant. Breaking up arguments, teaching kids to use kind words, reminding to not whine, explaining why we don’t hit, asking to pick up toys, prompting to apologize, reminding to use the bathroom, wiping snotty noses, making meals and giving snacks, hugging, kissing owies, disciplining, cleaning up after…. Constant.

By the end of the day (let’s be real here, by the end of the first hour!), I am spent. I haphazardly stumble through our bedtime routine, reading only the first sentence of each page and skipping entire pages altogether. I get all of the kids into their beds, and it takes every ounce of strength I have to clean up from the days whirlwind.

There's got to be a better?!

 

And there is!!

If you’re anything like me, you’re tired of being tired. You want to not only make it until bedtime, you want to have energy and enjoy your kids throughout the day, and also not give your spouse your worn out, exhausted and depleted self.

Here’s how I manage to stay sane and have energy throughout the long days of staying home with kids:

1. Routine: I think the most important thing is to have a nice routine in place. It doesn’t have to be an hourly plan that you follow blindly. But have something in place for yourself and your kiddos so that you have time limits for things and everyone knows what’s coming next. Trust me, it’s a sanity saver! If you need some help on where to start, check out my sample schedules for toddlers and preschoolers or read about a day in the life which outlines a general daily routine we follow.

2. Quiet time: Insist on naptime/quiet time each day. This is essential. If you have babies or toddlers, they need to nap during the day. If you have kids that are no longer napping, insist on having quiet time. It benefits them greatly! They need that time to be alone, to play independently, and to learn how to play by themselves ( A fool proof way to get your preschooler to have quiet time).

3.Get out of the house: I don’t know what it is about getting out of the house, but it changes everything! When we are able to get out of the house in the morning, it gets the energetic cooped up craziness out of the kids. Sometimes we just go for a walk for 15 minutes, or I run a few errands with the kids in tow. But usually we try to plan playdates with friends or we go to the zoo (memberships and passes to fun kid friendly places are a great investment!) When I’m not able to get out with the kids, it shows. The kids act more wild and crazy and there is more whininess and complaining. Plus I tend to lose my cool and be less of a patient and kind person. Eek. Honesty.

4. Send the kids outside: With four kids in the house, I’ve learned to be okay with loud and crazy. But sometimes the noise and chaos can get out of control. Luckily for us, we have a great fenced in backyard and I feel comfortable letting the kids roam around back there. They basically have free reign of the place. With a swing set, a bounce house, and a whole slew of outside toys, the kids are able to entertain themselves for a long time (though they often whine about it being too hot and NEED to come inside.Tsk). When they start literally bouncing off of the walls and trying to jump on furniture, I tell them they are allowed to run and jump and do acrobatics outside!

5. Get active: When I am able to get some exercise I feel so much better. Finding time to workout when there are a few little people begging to be entertained can be quite the chore. But I’ve learned a great trick to get in some exercise AND entertain the littles! Include them in your workout. The kids will be beyond thrilled to get to do what you’re doing. I turn on a workout DVD and the kids will try to follow along. If you have a baby that keeps tripping you as you do your ridiculous moves, grab him up and hold him while you workout. Just be careful not to fall! When holding my little guy, I sometimes have to modify different moves. But the baby LOVES it! Another fun way to get in some exercise is simply to crank up the music and dance dance dance with your kids. They will LOVE it! My kids always ask to have dance parties. Taking walks around the block is a great way to get in some exercise and get out of the house.

6. Get yourself together: There are days when everyone will stay in their pajamas until bedtime and you won’t feel the fresh air on your face at all. That’s ok. These days happen. But for sanity’s sake, make sure these days are few and far between! Try to get yourself put together in the morning. You don’t necessarily have to put on make-up, but do get dressed (and no, I don’t mean yoga pants!) and maybe do something with that hair (mom bun!). Truthfully, when you look and feel good, you’ll most likely have a better day!

7. Have some “special occasion” activities: When I was pregnant with my 4th, there were some days when I really felt like I wouldn’t survive the entire day. I was exhausted!! On those particular days, I would load the kids up in the van (all safely buckled in their carseats) and I would give them a snack and a put on a movie. I would either park the van in the driveway and rest my weary body while the kids happily watched a movie and ate a snack, or I would drive around (and usually get some coffee!) and enjoy the (mostly) quiet afternoon. Sometimes a mom just needs a little break. So come up with a few creative “special occasion” activities and pull those out when you’re especially exhausted or feeling overwhelmed.

8. Take a “Time-In”: My oldest daughter is a strong-willed Blessing. With that comes ALL the emotions. She feels things in a big way. When this happens, and her emotions take control, I explain to her that she needs a “time-in”- where she takes a few minutes to be alone and get all of her emotions out. Everybody needs to take some time to be away from other people and collect themselves. My sweet 5 year old is an introvert at heart. She loves to be around her friends and does a great job in social situations, however she needs quiet alone time to recharge. She doesn’t quite understand this yet, but I remind her daily that when our emotions start to take control, we need to have a “time-in” to get back in control of ourselves. If you stay home with kids all day, the chances of you needing a “time-in” are pretty high. It’s okay to tell your kids that you’re taking a quick time-in to regain control of your emotions. Remember, you’re leading by example. You want your children to be able to handle their emotions in a healthy and positive way, so you need to do that too. So before you reach the point of complete frustration and overwhelm, take a time-in and regain that control!

9. Stay Connected: It can be emotionally depleting spending the entire day with tiny people you can’t exactly have a rational conversation with. Stay connected with other adults that you can really share your life with. For me, I have two close friends that live near me and are in the same stage of life I’m in. We can call or text each other about the ridiculous tantrum our toddler just threw in the middle of Target, or we can get together in the evenings and chat about the more serious and deep things going on in our lives.

I also have a couple of long-distance friends that I text daily. These girls are not all in the same exact life stage that I'm in, but their friendship is so very important. We tell each other the mundane and silly things we are doing throughout the day, but we also provide encouragement and accountability on a daily basis. These relationships are essential. Whether you are getting out of the house and meeting up with a friend for a play date or a coffee date, or you’re just talking to/texting a close friend throughout the day….you need to stay connected.

10. Remember why you do this: When I find myself getting overwhelmed and I’m growing increasingly frustrated with whatever the crazy situation is, I take a moment to remember how grateful I am to get to do this. The truth is, a lot of moms don’t have the option to stay at home with their kids. I am so thankful that I get to be at home with my Littles while they are still little. Yes, it can definitely get crazy and overwhelming at times, but when I put it into perspective it changes my mindset. I stay at home with my kids so that I can teach them what is important, so that I can model for them the kind of adult I want them to be, so that I can watch them grow and learn and try new things, so that I can soak up these itty bitty crazy fun years before they are no more. I love my crew, and I’m so thankful I get to experience these moments of wild and overwhelming and frustrating. Chances are, one day I’ll miss the simplicity of temper tantrums and diaper changes, because I’ve heard that the teenage years is a different kind of brutal!!

 
Posted on November 10, 2017 and filed under Life with Littles, How To's.

A Foolproof Way to get Your Toddler to have Quiet Time

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Quiet time.

I used to roll my eyes when I heard or read about  moms talking about how much they loved quiet time. Quiet time? What’s that?! My kids are NEVER quiet. How could they get their toddler or preschooler to be quiet for any amount of time?

I was dumbfounded and slightly annoyed that my kids wouldn’t do the quiet time thing.

I eventually clued in on some pretty basic, but genius, ways to get kids to not only have quiet time, but to ask for it.

First, hype it up! I realized that if I got super enthusiastic about having quiet time and I found a way to make it enticing, the kids would follow suite.

Give them a huge incentive! I told them that quiet time is awesome because they get to play with whatever they want and.... here's the kicker....they DON’T HAVE TO SHARE!!

Let’s just be honest, that’s pretty important to kids with several siblings. I can’t tell you how many times an HOUR my kids fight over the same toy. Usually I have to say something along the lines of “please share, or nobody gets to play with it”, or “if you keep fighting over it, I’m putting it away!”. You would think that by now my kids would understand and one of them would relinquish the object and go find something else.

Nope.

The fighting usually gets worse. Power struggles. Ah, the young age of trying to figure out how to get control and give yourself whatever your self darn well pleases.

It’s usually about that time that one of them will ask to play quietly in their own room. I pretend like I’m really thinking hard about it, contemplating this serious question, unsure of what to decide. “Hmmm….I don’t know….didn’t you have quiet time yesterday?” Eventually I concur that “Yes, quiet time sounds like a great idea! I’m so glad you thought of that!” And off to their rooms they go.

But if your kids still protest being alone in their rooms (my 3 year old hated being by himself for any length of time), here are some tips on how to get your kids to stay in their rooms:

Be consistent. We have quiet time at the same time every day. It’s right after lunch when the two youngest are taking their afternoon nap. It’s just what we do. Every time. Without fail.

As we continue to implement a routine day after day, the kids just naturally fall in line. They may fight it at first, and even whine about it from day to day, but kid’s actually need routine. It helps them to know what’s coming next.

Be adamant. It’s natural for kids to try their hand at bucking the system. They want to see what they can get away with, how far they can push the boundaries. But if you’re set on the kids having quiet time each day, then be adamant about it.

The first couple of days may not include any amount of quiet at all. Mine sure didn’t. My 3 year old cried off and on almost the entire time. He kept coming out of his room. Eventually I had to put up a gate in his doorway. Which he decided to climb over. I wanted to just give up.

But I didn’t. I made it part of our daily routine, and I was adamant that he was going to stay in his room. And now...he simply goes into his room after lunch. I actually don’t even need to say anything about it. He’ll occasionally come out and ask if quiet time is over, but the crying and the whining have stopped.

Be affirmative. When you hear them playing nicely in their room, let them know how proud you are of them. When quiet time is over, tell them that they did an awesome job staying in there the whole time and that you love how well they played by themselves. Express how cool it was that they got to play with all the toys and do whatever they wanted, and that quiet time is so great because of that!

A few other tips:

Have them clean up after quiet time is over. Kids can make a mess, even if it’s just one kid in one room. My kids know that they have to clean up their toys before they can come out. That might mean they spend another 30 minutes in there playing. Obviously I don’t mind that one bit. But before they can do the next thing, the room needs to be picked up.

Be mindful of what they are doing. I made the mistake of not checking on my 3 year old. I could hear him in there playing, and the door was open, so I assumed all was well. All was NOT well. He consumed a whole tube of maximum strength desitin. Ugh! And in case you find yourself in the same predicament as I did, maximum strength desitin is NOT poisonous! Even if you consume an entire 4 oz tube. A quick call to poison control eased this mama’s fears and I was told that it could simply cause diarrhea. But lesson learned! If it’s a little too quiet during quiet time...go see why!

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Posted on October 27, 2017 and filed under Life with Littles, How To's.

How to have a Sick Day when you're a Mom

Recently I was under. Not under the weather so much. Under the knife. Under anesthesia. Having my gallbladder somehow removed from four tiny cuts in my abdomen. The thought of how it actually happens makes me nauseous to think about. I’m sure I could google it. But I’ll spare myself the details, thank you very much.

As I came home from ridding myself of my diseased organ, I realized how very true it is that mom’s don’t get sick days. If I were working outside the home, I’d simply let my boss know I was having surgery and would be out for a week. But try telling that to your tiny bosses at home! Oh no!

My 5 year old boss is not normally a cuddly or clingy child, but tell her that mommy isn’t feeling well and needs to rest and she suddenly cannot get enough of you. My first day home was a blur. Thank you anesthesia and pain meds. But I do remember the kids all coming in the room crying because they wanted me to sing the night night song to them before bed.

Honestly, I don’t know if I sang the real song, how the words came out, did I even sing?! But whatever came out of me, the kids seemed content and I guess went to bed.

Or was I just dreaming?!

The next morning I decided to hang out in the living room so the kids could at least see me and know that I was still their mom. I felt terrible because I hadn’t held the baby in like 24 hours, and mommy guilt. All the mommy guilt. Of course, after ridding yourself of your nasty gallbladder, you’re not supposed to lift anything over 10 lbs. Insert chuckle here. We moms know that’s not even a thing. I held my sweet babe for a few minutes before he started to get all wiggly and then I remembered those four lovely incisions.

 

Anyway, my husband took off work over the weekend so he could be on mom duty. He did awesome! But then he had to go back to work on Monday. Sad face.

I stopped taking the really good pain meds because, well, it says not to operate heavy machinery while taking it, and I kind of feel like children are similar to heavy machinery. So.

When you’re under the weather as a mom, whether it be from surgery, you have a cold or some nasty disgusting stomach bug, you just need to take a break. But breaks are hard to come by as a mom because of those tiny bosses that control us.

 

Here's how to have a sick day when you're a mom:

Forget all the things: Don’t even worry yourself with laundry and dishes and toys piling up in the weirdest places in the house. Those pesky little things the kids do that for the life of you you can’t figure out why it bothers you...yeah, let those go. For me (and forgive me for being so weird), it’s pillows. The kids LOVE to scatter all the pillows around the house and I can’t figure out why. And I can’t figure out why it’s so annoying to me! But they do it. Day in and day out they do it. Pillows everywhere. Why do we have so many pillows?!

But whatever is going on, let it happen. Unless, of course, it’s a hazard. Then yeah, obviously worry about that. Maybe do something about it too.

For real though, forget all the things because you need to rest and the dishes and laundry can wait.

Tell the little bosses the plan: After my surgery I had to tell the kids that mommy doesn’t feel well so I’m not going to be able to do all the things. I had to tell them that I couldn’t hold them like I normally do, that I couldn’t play with them or take them anywhere. I could read them books though!

Convenience Trumps the Mom of the Year Award: I know we moms strive to be the best and do the best for our tiny crew of people. We want to make sure they are eating healthy, not having too much screen time, getting in plenty of outdoor time and physical activity, blah blah blah. Sick days have no time for such things. Toss out the handbook that says your kids need scrambled eggs for breakfast, fancy organic vegetarian thingamajigs for lunch and a delicious made-from-scratch gourmet dinner that all the kids actually eat and enjoy.

Set out a box of breakfast bars and toss some cheerios on the table. Breakfast. Put cups out for them and make it easy for them to get their own water. Have some easy to reach snacks in the fridge or on the counter that they can just grab. I put apples, grapes, carrots and cheese sticks all on a low shelf in the fridge. And have easy things like fruit snacks and peanut butter crackers in a basket on the counter.

Typically lunch is all the fruit and little snacks. It is what it is. It’s not every day and I’m not going to let mommy guilt kick in over a day or two of snacking all day in place of real meals.

For dinner...order out or make frozen pizza. Do whatever is easiest and most convenient. Typically the hubs will stop at the store on his way home from work and grab something easy. Who cares. We are trying to survive here.

Put the television on and let it do it’s job. Your kids will not be worse for the wear after a day or two of mostly tv interaction. If they’re a little bit older, have crayons and paper/coloring books out on the table and let them color to their hearts content. Props if you can get them to make you a ‘feel better’ picture!

For the little ones, really baby proof an area and make that the baby zone. For me, it was the living room and play room. I closed all the other doors and put up gates so our little guy couldn’t get into anything. I barricaded the end tables and fireplace with ALL those pillows. I may or may not have tossed a few cheerios on the floor ;-|

Try to make it special for them: Since taking a ‘sick day’ is so rare, I leave the mommy-guilt behind and try to just make it a special once-in-a-while treat for the kids. Yeah, my sickness is a treat to them. Mom’s are so awesome.

We basically have a movie/tv show marathon and they get to do all the things (most of the things) I never let them do; watch endless t.v., eat junk for meals, snack all the day long. I say things along the lines of “You get to have a fun kids day today and do all the fun things. Mommy is just going to rest here while you kids have so much fun!”

Get Comfortable: You know we moms never get out of our pajamas all day long anyway. Well pick out your MOST comfortable pair, make the couch a cozy haven, and place all of your sick person necessities within arms reach (but preferably out of reach of the tykes!). Lock all the doors, close the curtains, dim the lights and STAY PUT as much as possible. Like on Daniel Tiger “When you’re sick rest is best, rest is best”. (Gosh I need to get out more...)

Insist on Nap/Quiet Time: In our normal daily routine we have an allotted nap/quiet time. My 9 month old and 2 year old both take an afternoon nap at the same time. While they are sleeping, my 3 year old and 5 year old have quiet time alone. They stay in their own rooms for one hour and then I let them watch something until the other two wake up. It’s typically a glorious two hours of quiet.

Having this allotted time is really nice when I’m not sick. But it’s 10 times better when I’m feeling under the weather because I can literally lay on the couch for nearly two hours without worrying about small people getting into things or getting hurt.

Obviously this is much easier said than done. Babies can’t change their own diapers or get their own food. Potty training kiddos can’t just suddenly start going on their own. And no matter how much you try to baby/kid proof your designated area, someone is still likely to get hurt. As a mom, you’re still going to need to be a mom and attend to your kid’s needs and wants.

BUT if you can set it up to be as easy and convenient as possible, you’ll get a little more rest than normal.

For me, it wasn’t easy recovering from surgery with 4 kids. I was just not feeling the normal everyday mom activities. But setting the kids up to be independent and have a fun ‘kids day’, and settling my frail body on the couch for the duration of the day was a real life saver.

 

How do YOU survive sick days with kids in tow?!

Posted on July 13, 2017 and filed under How To's, Life with Littles.

How to get a FREE babysitter

Let’s just be real here...when you start bringing little ones into your life those fun and spontaneous dates fly out the window. You tell yourself you won’t stop dating and you really mean it. But life happens. You realize that finding a sitter you trust is difficult and the idea of  forking over the money to hire a babysitter AND go out on a date makes you want to do a google search on “at home date nights”.

With each baby you add, it gets harder to find someone to manage your little family while you’re out trying to keep the flame alive. We currently have 4 kids under 5 years old. Gone are the days of letting a high-schooler watch the kids. Most aren’t comfortable with so much responsibility.

Even if your babysitter comes AFTER all of the kids are in bed (so you can pay half the price), you’re still doling out a gob of cash for someone to listen to your children sleep PLUS paying for that movie and dinner.

It’s no wonder parents of littles can count the number of dates they have been on on one hand...for the whole year! What’s a couple to do then, when they desperately need that time alone, yet they don’t have money growing off the trees in the backyard?

 

Here’s how to get a free night of childcare:

 

 

Swap babysitting duty with a friend!

I had thought about this once upon a time, but the more kids we added, the more I realized that a friend probably wouldn’t want to swap, especially if they had just as many kids as me. Could you imagine the chaos?!

But then my good friend and I came up with a foolproof plan: Put your kids to bed as normal, then have the friend come to YOUR house while the kids are sleeping.

This works out great because both of our kids go to bed early by normal standards. We can be out of the house for date night by 7pm, and we have no obligation to come home early because we’re not paying by the hour. Heck, we’re not paying at all!

 

 

The beauty of this trade off is that whether it’s your turn for a date night, or it’s your turn to babysit, it’s a great night!

 

When I go to my friends house to watch her kids I know that I’ll most likely have a quiet evening to do whatever I want because her kids will already be asleep. Usually I’ll binge watch something on Netflix because I can. Occasionally I’ll read a book, often I’ll fall asleep on the couch.

Swapping with a friend guarantees that we both get a date night at least once a month- without the added cost of hiring a sitter.


So find a sweet friend who is in the same boat as you, and begin dating your spouse once again!

 
 
Posted on March 28, 2017 .

How to find quiet time with God when you can’t even pee alone

 

If you’re anything like me, you’re having a hard time balancing your crazy hectic life with spending actual quiet time with God. You read blogs or devotionals about the importance of spending time with the Lord. You know it’s true. You desire it. Yet the reality of your everyday life is weighing you down and wearing you thin. You just can’t find that special time and place to be alone with God daily.

 

For years (yes, years. It’s sad) I struggled with knowing that I needed God daily and finding a spare moment throughout the day.

 

I heard the same old suggestion again and again. Just wake up earlier. It was beyond frustrating! I don’t know about you, but waking up earlier is not a thing in my house. I have 4 kids under age 5 and on average, none of them sleep completely through the night. The baby wakes up to eat once a night and usually a few times for his paci. My 4 year old wakes up to go potty and insists on coming to let me know. My 3 year old gets up because he wants to sleep in my room, on the floor next to my bed. And my 2 year old is the only one that will almost always go all night without a peep, but is up by 6 am. All of them (besides the baby, who actually sleeps until about 7:30) are awake by 6:30.

 

I tell you all of this to say that waking up earlier just isn’t an option for me. Not if I want to be a decent person throughout the day.

 

So what’s a mom to do when she has children at home with her all day long, gets zero breaks throughout the day, and can’t even go to the bathroom alone?! How can this mom ever hope to spend time with the Lord before her kids go off to college?

 

First, realize your quiet time is going to look different than a mom with older kids. And that’s okay. If you’re a mom with babies, toddlers or preschoolers, you are living in survival mode. Literally. Your days are quite literally spent keeping little people alive. It’s exhausting.

 

So no, you might not wake up an hour earlier than everyone else so you can sit quietly and read your Bible. You might not be able to take the kids to school, then spend some alone time studying God’s Word. Heck, you might not even be able to complete the weekly assignments from the Bible Study that you are in (the one you’re in because it provides free childcare so you can finally come up for a breathe of air mid-week). No, your quiet time will not be so neat and clean.

 

Ways to have quiet time when you can’t even pee alone:

 

Do it before the kids get out of bed. I know what you’re thinking. I’m contradicting myself. I said I cannot possibly get up any earlier because my children literally get up before the sun. That’s true. I can’t wake up before them. BUT, I often have my quiet time with God before the kids get out of bed.

In our home we have a rule: You can wake up early, but you cannot get out of bed until 7am. So when I hear that my kids are awake, I will usually grab my phone and do my devotion and then pray for a bit. I must admit this is both a great time and a terrible time to do it. It’s great because I’m typically not interrupted. I can hear the kids in their beds, but they don’t come out of their rooms (unless they have to go potty). But It’s also terrible because...I’m still in bed and sometimes I fall asleep reading or praying.


 

When you’re driving anywhere: 2 of my kids go to preschool 3 days a week. It’s a 20 minute drive there and back. I often spend the drive praying and talking to the Lord. Sometimes out loud because, kids. Kids can be loud. I know God can hear my thoughts, but sometimes I cannot. Sometimes I’ll pray, listen to a podcast, or crank up the worship music. It’s 40 minutes that I can talk to and listen to and worship my God.

 

During quiet time: Listen, I get it. Quiet time isn’t always a thing. Here’s what works at my house. 3 days a week I just have a baby and a toddler at home with me. They both nap for several hours during the day. Several hours! I can spend actual quiet time with God at those times. The rest of the week though, my older two are home and I insist on having “quiet time”. They are supposed to be in a bed for one hour. They don’t have to sleep. They can pick a few toys and books. But they must be in a bed. It doesn’t always play out like I want, and often I’m having to redirect them back to bed. But I like to believe that God understands and these small interruptions don’t bother Him.

 

When the kids are playing: When I notice that the kids are all in rare form and playing nicely together, I stare at them with my mouth open wondering how this happened and how long it will last for I grab my Bible or devotional and I spend a few surreal moments with the Lord.

 

I tell the kids it’s reading time: I don’t do this one as often as I probably should. I like this one because it involves the kids, and I think it’s important that your kids see your love and excitement for God. I grab my Bible and sit in the living room and I invite the kids to also grab a book and read. We tell each other what book we’re reading and then spend a few minutes quietly reading to ourselves.  

Oh yeah! I just remembered why I don’t do this one that often. It never works out!! My 3 year old will NOT, for the life of me, sit quietly and read. But I still think it’s important for your kids to see you spending time with the Lord, even if you have to keep reading the same sentence over and over again because you’re being interrupted a thousand times to “watch me mommy”!

 

As I trudge through the day: It’s no secret that the baby, toddler and preschool days can just draaaaag on! It often feels like a warzone and I feel so depleted throughout the day. As I go from one sticky messy situation to another, I talk to God. I tell him how tired I am and how I just long for one night of uninterrupted sleep. I tell him how frustrated I am that the kids cannot seem to fathom the importance of obedience and cleanliness. I ask for forgiveness for how I treated the precious children He entrusted to me. I beg Him for patience and kindness and love and the supernatural ability to make it through the day even though I got like 40 minutes of sleep last night. I just keep God near me all day long, talking to Him, sometimes whining, but trying to keep in step with the Spirit as I go about my day.

 

When the kids go to bed: I’m not entirely sure why, but this one is really hard for me. Actually, I do know why. I’m extremely selfish. After the chaos of dinner and the bedtime battle, I’m ready to call it quits and begin my mind-numbing t.v. and ice cream binging evening routine. But the reality is, it’s an excellent time to spend with the Lord. My kids go to bed at 6:30. That gives me hours in the evening.

Also, realize that what I currently do right now may not work for you. What I hope you get out of this is the realization that quiet time with God can happen anywhere, whether it is quiet or not. Chances are, it won’t be that quiet. That’s okay. God can still hear you and the Holy Spirit can still speak to you.


And know that every day will be different. The important thing is that you ARE spending time with God.

 

How do YOU find quiet time with God throughout each day?

Posted on February 22, 2017 and filed under How To's.