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Okay, this post is not for me. My son is almost two.  I am writing this for the author of a blog that I follow who just had a baby a few days before Christmas, and now she is starting to feel overwhelmed as hubby goes back to work, mom goes home, etc. She asked on Twitter if any of her followers had blog posts on the topic of surviving with a toddler and a newborn, and since then all kinds of ideas have been flooding through my mind. Of course, since my second is almost 2, I figure I am an expert on the topic (hahaha), so here is my advice, for what it’s worth:

Prioritize

I know that sounds hard to do right now. But take 5 minutes when the baby is asleep and toddler is happily coloring or playing with dollies or something that will keep her attention for that long, and decide what is really important. Spotless floors? Dream on! Making sure mother and all minors are fed? Absolutely. Making sure they get nutritionally balanced, gourmet meals? Forget it! If they get Cherrios & milk for breakfast, PB&J sandwiches for lunch, and takeout for dinner for a month, you can consider yourself a good mother! Hubby can fend for himself for at least the first month! Of course, the newest arrival will be getting nourishment from Mommy or a bottle, so make sure you keep taking those prenatals!

Seriously, though, decide what is absolutely essential to making sure the house doesn’t cave in. Things like meals, laundry (as much as you’d like to skip this–though intensive stain removal can go on the back burner now), dishes (get paper plates & bowls to make this part easier), and sleep (not necessarily in that order). Then stick to it, and only add in things as you have energy (notice I didn’t say time–energy!)

Simplify

I alluded to this in the previous section, but you really should simplify things as much as possible. When clothes get scarce, throw a load in and wash it. Don’t sweat the baby poop stains around the legs of the onsies. They will come out well enough when you have time to put them on the line later. Stock up on frozen dinners, rice-a-roni, sandwich makings, cold cereals, quick hot cereals (this time of year hot food is nice, and oatmeal only takes a few minutes to make), fresh veggies for munching (avoid broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage if you’re nursing–though if your toddler likes them, have some handy for her!), pasta and pasta sauce, and take-out menus of all your favorite places–especially the ones that deliver. The less you have to think about right now, the more time you will be able to spend recuperating and enjoying your precious children.

Nap When You Can

I know they always say, “Sleep when the baby’s sleeping.” With one, that was easy. With two, it seems almost impossible! It took a while, but eventually I was able to get my two to sleep for at least half an hour at the same time. To be honest, I usually tried to get things done then, but I wish I had taken more time to rest–even if I couldn’t sleep. Hindsight is 20/20, and lack of sleep contributed to some very difficult times for me later (especially since my son had severe eczema, and that was emotionally draining for me, and even more so because I was sleep deprived).

There is a lot of conflicting advice about co-sleeping, but I did it with both of mine for the first few months, and that really helped me get more sleep. It can also be helpful at naptime. By 2-3 weeks baby should be able to handle nursing lying down, and it allows you to relax more than sitting would. If you just can’t fall asleep for worrying that you would roll over on the baby, get a co-sleeper thingy. There are different styles available; one kind slides under the mattress and hangs over the side of the bed; the other kind lays on the bed, but has soft sides that come up to keep baby safe. It’s worth looking into. At 3 or 4 months you should be able to transition baby into sleeping by himself (especially if he does that during the day already).

Cut Down or Eliminate Caffeine

I know it seems like caffeine is your friend, but it’s not. If you are nursing, you are passing it to your baby (which means he’s going to be more hyper), and you’re taking away from tomorrow’s energy reserves to get through today.

When I was a child, I had this kid’s book about health that had a picture of a couple of tired horses trying to pull a heavy carriage up a steep hill. They were giving it their all, and yet the driver was whipping them to make them go faster. And it told me that is what caffeine does to us. Maybe that’s why I never touched the stuff. And let me tell you, it’s not because I never felt like I needed it. There were days I wished I had some around! But overall, it’s much better for everyone to avoid it.

Ask for Help

They say children are meant to be raised in a village. If you were Amish, the neighbors would be over mopping your floors, weeding your garden (if it were summer), doing your laundry, and bringing you home-cooked meals–without you having to ask anyone for anything. But we don’t live like that anymore. Nowadays you have to ask for help. And that is hard on our pride sometimes. But the sooner you do it, the better off you will be.

The first place I would look if you don’t have family nearby is your church. A good church is like a second family. Call the head deaconess or the pastor and ask for help. You will probably need to be specific: “I would like someone to come once a week for the next month and a half to mop my floors and do some important cleaning like toilets and vacuuming major walkways; also, a few home-cooked meals would be lovely!” If anyone in your church has kids your toddler’s age, see if they would be willing to come pick her up once or twice a week in the morning for a playdate to let you take a nap while the baby sleeps and not have to worry that the toddler is getting into something.

Watch Your Coping Mechanisms

For me, adding a second child was not as hard as watching that child slowly develop a severe case of eczema. It was draining for me. By the time he was 7 or 8 months, he was a very miserable baby and I was about to have an emotional breakdown. I found myself trying to cope by watching movies and playing games on Facebook. Looking back, I wish I had looked for other ways to cope, because all I did was hide from my problems while they got bigger and more overwhelming.

Now don’t get me wrong. A good movie now and then is not the issue. It’s 3 movies a day while I ignored everything around me. I wish I had taken more of that time to get down on my knees and plead for strength to get through the rest of the day, claiming promises like Isaiah 40:29-31. I wish I had taken the time to read good devotional books and other good literature instead of letting Hollywood fill my mind with useless trash.

So there you have a few ideas. I hope it helps you and anyone else who finds this post.

By Melissa Toledo on Flickr

This week Sarah at Sarah’s Heart’s Home and I are discussing Quiet Time Ideas for Toddlers. A couple of days ago I listed a few ideas to keep preschoolers from being bored. A few of those ideas could work for toddlers as well, so I’m not going to repeat those here.

Maybe I should clarify that by “toddlers” I mean from the age the kid starts walking (sometime around 1 year old) until about 3 years old. By 3 years old, they aren’t really “toddlers” anymore, and then we call them preschoolers, I guess. I’m still trying to figure this all out! So there will probably be some overlapping of age groups in these ideas.

At this age, most kids still take a nap or two every day, so that is probably my favorite thing for them to do! However, my 3 1/2 year old only takes naps sporadically now–unless I wake her up early, in which case she will probably sleep for at least an hour, if not two, in the afternoon. But I can’t rely on this anymore.

One idea that come to mind is books. My daughter has “quiet time” in the morning before breakfast, where she looks at Bible story books quietly. Sometimes we let her use the computer (we don’t have a CD player right now) to listen to one of her books read out loud. This time will later evolve into personal devotions as she grows older.

I’m not terribly full of ideas, but I have rounded up a few sites, and I think they will be able to give you some more ideas. Sorry I’m not more creative, but I’m writing this before we move (because I won’t have time to get it done on time after the move), and my brain just isn’t very creative right now.

Here’s a list of a number of activities.
This post has a few ideas. It’s written from the perspective of a day-care, but could work for anyone.
This article is like a step-by-step guide for toddler quiet time. Definitely worth perusing.
This list of activities isn’t necessarily for quiet time, but it was so good I just had to include it. Many of the ideas could be adapted for quiet time.

Check back in two weeks when Sarah and I share a day in our lives. In the mean time, check back every day for other regularly scheduled posts, and other updates on my life.

This article is taken from the Raising Godly Tomatoes website, written by L. Elizabeth Krueger. It is not part of the book. You can find the full article here. Here is what she says about involving the children in your day. That way they won’t have time to think about being bored (see yesterday’s post).

By laurelbethyw on Flickr

Rather than trying to keep my children entertained all day, I believe that I should be training them on a minute-by-minute basis toward the goal of becoming godly adults. What better way than to include them as much as is possible in whatever I am doing, so they will learn to live as I do? I try to find ways so that even the little ones can help me, but it is also good for them to learn to just watch and listen, as well.

Sewing is a good example. I often sew or type with a baby on my lap and a toddler playing with my button box on the floor next to me. Slightly older children can help by cutting out patterns or they can play with my scraps. At eleven years old, my daughter could do much of the actual sewing and ironing, and we would be able to finish a dress in half the time by working as a team. It was also a lot more fun than trying to give her a “sewing lesson”. We just treat sewing like any other chore we need to get done, and we try to enjoy all our chores.

I try to treat everything else similarly. As I go about my day, I try to especially include the younger children in the things I am doing. If I’m in the kitchen, I will call the six year old to unload the dishwasher and the eight year old to help with the actual cooking and clean up. The two and three year olds climb up on the stools at the counter and watch (I never have to call them). They love to lick bowls and munch on scraps of things I am making.

Same thing when I’m working in the yard. I might give the younger ones a garden tool to dig with, or I’ll set them to work collecting the weeds I’m pulling, and throwing them out for me. Of course there’s always lots the older ones can do.

Dad does the same thing. He includes the children in his office work by giving them any job they can handle, often with the older ones teaching the younger. All except the babies are taught to run the fax machine, make copies on the copier, work the computers and calculators, type, file, etc. ( Our oldest, Shane, at thirteen, handled all the computer support work for our in-home office as well as our out-of-home, five-person business office.) This is all done informally by simply including them in Dad’s work. The children take turns accompanying Dad to business meetings whenever possible. If Dad is not home all day, as is the case in most families, he can include them in what he does when he is home; mowing the lawn, taking care of the car, fixing things, handling the family finances, etc. In everything we do, it is an opportunity to teach godliness to our children.

BEWARE of doing all the work yourselves and letting your kids play all day so they can “enjoy their childhood.” This will only result in a adult who is self-centered and lazy, and has a “the world owes me a living” attitude. When people hear the term “spoiled” in regard to a child, they often laugh and think of it as a temporary thing that can be sort of cute at times. Nothing could be more backward. When I used to own and ride horses, I often heard the term “spoiled” in regard to a particular type of animal. In the horse world, this was never cute. A spoiled horse was one whom BAD TRAINING HAD RUINED PERMANENTLY!

Deuteronomy 6:7   –  “And you shall teach them (God’s laws) diligently to your sons, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

By 55Laney69 on Flickr

One thing I have realized as a parent is that having your child’s heart is essential. You can train them until you are blue in the face, but if you don’t have their heart, you just breed rebellion in them. I recently read a post on this topic on another blog that I keep up with, and I want to share with you a short excerpt from the post Do You Have Your Child’s Heart:

The answer to nearly all child training questions is, you must have your child’s heart.  What exactly does this mean and how do we gain our child’s heart?

Proverbs 23:26 says it most like I’ve worded it,

My son, give me thy heart; And let thine eyes delight in my ways.

. . . This concept of having your children’s heart is vast and complex and I don’t pretend to have or know all the answers. . . . I believe the rewards of faithfulness in this area are most evident as your children get older and become more independent, but there are signs of success or failure early on.  A parent who is paying attention will know if they have their child’s heart.

Please go read the whole article. You will be blessed!

Today I’m starting a new theme with another mom: 2 Moms Discuss. We will be doing this feature every other week on Wednesdays. This week we are discussing Preparing for a New Baby. See what Sarah has to say at Sarah’s Heart’s Home.

When I thought about doing this topic, I thought it would be easy. Until I made an outline. I am sure I won’t be able to cover half of what I would like to, but we’ll see.

There are three general ways we can prepare for a baby: physically, mentally or emotionally, and spiritually. I want to discuss a little of all three ways.

Physical Preparation

Before the baby arrives, you will need to make sure you have all the accessories you need. Unless you plan on co-sleeping, you’ll need a crib. If you’ve had a baby before, then you probably already have one. Clothes are another thing you’ll need. It is helpful to have enough outfits for the first six months on hand, because you probably won’t have much time or energy to go out and buy any right away. If you aren’t having a baby shower before the baby comes, you will need to assemble these things beforehand. If the baby shower comes before, then you can look at what you have and fill in the gaps. Also, think about other things you will need for the first month. Here is a good list to get you started.

You might also want to discuss names beforehand. Although you don’t have to have a name ready at birth, you might not have the energy to think about it for a while afterwards. I met a lady once with a month-old baby that was still unnamed! I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want that to happen to me!

Another way you can prepare is to stay in shape as much as possible. Of course, this does not mean you continue training for a marathon! It takes a lot of energy to “cook” a baby, so resting is important. But so is light physical exercise. Your doctor or midwife will probably give you a list of prenatal exercises. Do them. I wish I had, and I’m going to do my best to do them next time around! Also, walk a little every day. A mile or two at a gentle pace would not be amiss. I have a hard time with this, because I have back and hip problems that are exacerbated by pregnancy, and walking makes them even worse, but I found that with regular chiropractic, I was able to walk at least a little (around the yard) with my second pregnancy, and I was in much better shape as a result.

Another way to prepare is cooking ahead of time. Make meals and freeze them. Then you’ll have something to eat when the baby has been nursing all morning and you’re just too worn out to face the kitchen! Also stock up on healthy snack items, like crackers, dry cereal, dry fruit, canned foods, soups, and the like. That way you will be able to get something to eat even when you don’t have time or energy to fix a meal. It’s cheaper to fix food ahead of time than to buy frozen meals, and the ones you make are healthier too.

Also, make sure you have someone around for the first week or two to help out. This might be your husband, if he can take paternity leave, or your mother or mother-in-law. It could even be a neighbor or church member that lives nearby. In any case, you shouldn’t have to do anything in the way of cooking, cleaning, or taking care of other kids for at least a week, so make sure you have help. Don’t be ashamed to ask for it! My midwife wouldn’t even let me carry my son for the first 2 days. I could walk, but I had to get someone else to carry him, then hand him to me after I sat down. This was good advice, and I’m glad my Mom was around to help me out!

Mental/Emotional Preparation

If you have children already, you will want to help them prepare for the new arrival. You can do this in a number of ways. When I was pregnant with my son, once I was showing, a started talking about the baby that was growing in Mommy’s tummy. When he started kicking enough to feel from the outside, I would put her hand on my tummy so she could feel the baby. We also talked about how much fun it would be to have a new baby. This helped a lot, I think, to prepare her for her brother’s arrival. When he showed up, she loved him and wanted to hold him all the time. Her not being jealous was a real blessing during those first few weeks!

One thing I wish I had done—and will do next time, is to work on discipline issues before the baby arrives. Let’s put it this way: the younger the child is, the easier it will be. And even though it seems like we have no energy during pregnancy, we will have even less after the baby comes. Not to mention time! If you have taught your children to obey the first time, life will be much easier on you when the new baby comes!

It is also good to take some time before the baby comes to establish priorities for after the birth. Think about things like your devotional life, a clean house, home-cooked meals, time with friends, etc. Do this before the baby arrives, because it will be harder to think rationally during those first few days. This is one thing that it would be good to discuss with your husband, too. He can help you see things better, and also help enforce your decisions after the baby comes!

And finally, accept what you can’t change. You’ve gained weight. It may or may not come off quickly after the birth. Stressing about this will only aggravate it.

Your husband isn’t perfect either. Now is not the time to change him. Of course, you will never be able to change him, but especially now just focus on accepting him for who he is.

Maybe you have a small house, or some other thing that you aren’t satisfied with. If so, learn to accept it. Your circumstances will probably change at some point, and even if they don’t, a cheerful attitude is better than a negative one.If all else fails, you might want to consider seeing a counselor to talk through your problems with.

Spiritual Preparation

Now that you are pregnant, you probably are cutting back on what you do. This means you will have more time to deepen your relationship with God. Take it. Don’t watch movies or play games to fill the time. Read your Bible and other devotional books and spend more time in prayer. This is probably the most important thing you can do! Especially pray for the new baby.

Something else: Now is a good time to work on your bad habits. Now when you are not overwhelmed with the responsibility of a newborn, ask the Lord what areas He would have you focus on, and start creating good habits. Once something is a habit, you won’t have to think much about doing it, and that will be a blessing when the baby is born! For example, if you have created the habit of picking up your Bible or devotional book when you were too tired to do anything else, you will probably keep doing it when you sit down to nurse the baby (once you have nursing down pat, anyhow). This will make it easier to resist the temptation to turn on the TV and fill your mind with junk!

Wow! That’s a lot of things to think about. Don’t let it overwhelm you, though. Remember, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13.


Don’t forget to enter the contest to win one of the items in my store! Multiple entries allowed! Click hereto find out more.

Today I’m starting a new theme with another mom: 2 Moms Discuss. We will be doing this feature every other week on Wednesdays. This week we are discussing Preparing for a New Baby. See what Sarah has to say at Sarah’s Heart’s Home.

When I thought about doing this topic, I thought it would be easy. Until I made an outline. I am sure I won’t be able to cover half of what I would like to, but we’ll see.

There are three general ways we can prepare for a baby: physically, mentally or emotionally, and spiritually. I want to discuss a little of all three ways.

Physical Preparation

Before the baby arrives, you will need to make sure you have all the accessories you need. Unless you plan on co-sleeping, you’ll need a crib. If you’ve had a baby before, then you probably already have one. Clothes are another thing you’ll need. It is helpful to have enough outfits for the first six months on hand, because you probably won’t have much time or energy to go out and buy any right away. If you aren’t having a baby shower before the baby comes, you will need to assemble these things beforehand. If the baby shower comes before, then you can look at what you have and fill in the gaps. Also, think about other things you will need for the first month. Here is a good list to get you started.

You might also want to discuss names beforehand. Although you don’t have to have a name ready at birth, you might not have the energy to think about it for a while afterwards. I met a lady once with a month-old baby that was still unnamed! I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want that to happen to me!

Another way you can prepare is to stay in shape as much as possible. Of course, this does not mean you continue training for a marathon! It takes a lot of energy to “cook” a baby, so resting is important. But so is light physical exercise. Your doctor or midwife will probably give you a list of prenatal exercises. Do them. I wish I had, and I’m going to do my best to do them next time around! Also, walk a little every day. A mile or two at a gentle pace would not be amiss. I have a hard time with this, because I have back and hip problems that are exacerbated by pregnancy, and walking makes them even worse, but I found that with regular chiropractic, I was able to walk at least a little (around the yard) with my second pregnancy, and I was in much better shape as a result.

Another way to prepare is cooking ahead of time. Make meals and freeze them. Then you’ll have something to eat when the baby has been nursing all morning and you’re just too worn out to face the kitchen! Also stock up on healthy snack items, like crackers, dry cereal, dry fruit, canned foods, soups, and the like. That way you will be able to get something to eat even when you don’t have time or energy to fix a meal. It’s cheaper to fix food ahead of time than to buy frozen meals, and the ones you make are healthier too.

Also, make sure you have someone around for the first week or two to help out. This might be your husband, if he can take paternity leave, or your mother or mother-in-law. It could even be a neighbor or church member that lives nearby. In any case, you shouldn’t have to do anything in the way of cooking, cleaning, or taking care of other kids for at least a week, so make sure you have help. Don’t be ashamed to ask for it! My midwife wouldn’t even let me carry my son for the first 2 days. I could walk, but I had to get someone else to carry him, then hand him to me after I sat down. This was good advice, and I’m glad my Mom was around to help me out!

Mental/Emotional Preparation

If you have children already, you will want to help them prepare for the new arrival. You can do this in a number of ways. When I was pregnant with my son, once I was showing, a started talking about the baby that was growing in Mommy’s tummy. When he started kicking enough to feel from the outside, I would put her hand on my tummy so she could feel the baby. We also talked about how much fun it would be to have a new baby. This helped a lot, I think, to prepare her for her brother’s arrival. When he showed up, she loved him and wanted to hold him all the time. Her not being jealous was a real blessing during those first few weeks!

One thing I wish I had done—and will do next time, is to work on discipline issues before the baby arrives. Let’s put it this way: the younger the child is, the easier it will be. And even though it seems like we have no energy during pregnancy, we will have even less after the baby comes. Not to mention time! If you have taught your children to obey the first time, life will be much easier on you when the new baby comes!

It is also good to take some time before the baby comes to establish priorities for after the birth. Think about things like your devotional life, a clean house, home-cooked meals, time with friends, etc. Do this before the baby arrives, because it will be harder to think rationally during those first few days. This is one thing that it would be good to discuss with your husband, too. He can help you see things better, and also help enforce your decisions after the baby comes!

And finally, accept what you can’t change. You’ve gained weight. It may or may not come off quickly after the birth. Stressing about this will only aggravate it.

Your husband isn’t perfect either. Now is not the time to change him. Of course, you will never be able to change him, but especially now just focus on accepting him for who he is.

Maybe you have a small house, or some other thing that you aren’t satisfied with. If so, learn to accept it. Your circumstances will probably change at some point, and even if they don’t, a cheerful attitude is better than a negative one.

Spiritual Preparation

Now that you are pregnant, you probably are cutting back on what you do. This means you will have more time to deepen your relationship with God. Take it. Don’t watch movies or play games to fill the time. Read your Bible and other devotional books and spend more time in prayer. This is probably the most important thing you can do! Especially pray for the new baby.

Something else: Now is a good time to work on your bad habits. Now when you are not overwhelmed with the responsibility of a newborn, ask the Lord what areas He would have you focus on, and start creating good habits. Once something is a habit, you won’t have to think much about doing it, and that will be a blessing when the baby is born! For example, if you have created the habit of picking up your Bible or devotional book when you were too tired to do anything else, you will probably keep doing it when you sit down to nurse the baby (once you have nursing down pat, anyhow). This will make it easier to resist the temptation to turn on the TV and fill your mind with junk!

Wow! That’s a lot of things to think about. Don’t let it overwhelm you, though. Remember, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Philippians 4:13.

Consider this thought:

One precious lesson which the mother will need to repeat again and again is that the child is not to rule; he is not the master, but her will and her wishes are to be supreme. Thus she is teaching them self-control. Give them nothing for which they cry, even if your tender heart desires ever so much to do this; for if they gain the victory once by crying they will expect to do it again. The second time the battle will be more vehement.

Child Guidance, 92

Following this bit of logic does make a difference. I have been working on my 3-year-old in this area. She has developed a habit of whining for things. I have been telling her that she must ask in a nice voice if she wants to get it. At first it made her mad, but then she realized I was serious. Now she changes her tone as soon as I remind her, and–wonder of wonders–I don’t have to remind her every time. She has started asking right the first time!

So try it! God’s principles work!

Every Thursday I want to have a guest post. It might be a post someone wrote specifically for my blog, or it might be a post that I found on another blog. Today it’s the latter. I found this post a week ago on a blog I’ve been following, and I found it very interesting.

Why nagging doesn’t work

Growing up I was homeschooled using the Charlotte Mason method. Now that I’m starting to homeschool my own children, I have explored all the different curriculum out there, and much to my Mother’s delight I’m coming back to Charlotte Mason. :-) Recently I have been pouring over the Simply Charlotte Mason website, there is way to much good information there! This is a free e-book entitled “Smooth and Easy Days” that they put out. I have copied just one chapter of it, but I would encourage you to go and download all of it and read it! You can do so here.

Why Nagging Doesn’t Work

I nag them and I nag them, but it does no good.” Most of us can testify to the truth of that statement. But I never understood why nagging doesn’t work until I started to study Charlotte’s habit-training principles. Now it makes sense. Let’s say that you’re trying to teach your child to hang up her coat when she takes it off. In order to make that action a habit, she needs to repeatedly and consciously think through the hang-up- my-coat-when-I-take-it-off neuron route. (Remember the neuron routes we talked about in chapter 6?) Now, let’s say you come into the room and trip over her coat.

The easiest thing to do is to call her into the room and say, “I’ve told you before, hang up your coat when you take it off!” She obediently picks it up and hangs it in the closet, but . . . and here’s the key . . . her brain didn’t initiate the idea, so you just reinforced the wrong neuron route.

You just reinforced the do-what-mom-says-to-do neuron route. That’s a completely different route from the one you want her to mentally travel. And that explains why once we start nagging, we find that we’re always having to nag in order to make something happen. We are reinforcing the do-what-mom-says-to- do route, which means the child will constantly wait until mom says what to do!

” ‘I’m sure I am always telling her’––to keep her drawers neat, or to hold up her head and speak nicely, or to be quick and careful about an errand, says the poor mother, with tears in her eyes; and indeed this, of ‘always telling’ him or her is a weary process for the mother; dull, because hopeless” (Vol. 2, p. 1734).

So, let’s say you just came into the room and tripped over your daughter’s coat . . . again. You call your child into the room, and you say something like this: “I promised I would help you remember.” That’s all. If she still doesn’t understand, you can pointedly look at the coat on the floor. Little hints might be needed at first. But you wait until the mental lightbulb goes off in her head and that will start those neurons traveling the hang-up-my-coat- when-I-take-it-off route. Do you see the difference? She thought of it. She made the mental effort.

Yes, it might be faster to nag. Yes, it sometimes seems easier to nag. But think of the long-term effects. You will have to continue to nag whenever you want something done.

“But, perhaps, even his mother does not know how unutterably dreary is this ‘always telling,’ which produces nothing, to the child. . . . As for any impression on his character, any habit really formed, all this labour is without result” (Vol. 2, p. 174).

Nagging doesn’t work. Stop nagging and start forming habits.

I really liked that. But I thought, “What if the child is young and totally clueless?” That can happen sometimes, you know. So I thought if they don’t get it, that you could always do something like this: Tell them to put their coat back on, then remind them what they are supposed to do when they take it off, and have them do it. You could practice two or three times in a row, just to reinforce it. This could really help, I think, and you can make it fun for the kids, so that by the end of the third time they are laughing, which would help deepen the impression.

So tell me about how this helps you, or share your own ideas!

Parenting the Heart of Your Child by Diane MooreI first heard about this book at a church function where the author came to speak. I enjoyed her talks and radio show, and bought the book.

I will start off by saying that I do not endorse absolutely everything Diane Moore, the author, teaches. That said, I do believe that she has a lot right. She is a Christian, and this fact is obvious in her book, which is something I appreciate.

In spite of the cover, this book is not so much for parents with small children as for parents in general of all ages. It takes you through the stages of what motivates us as people, starting with fear of punishment and anticipation of reward, on to less self-centered focuses. Ultimately, the goal of a parent should be to help their child to reach a maturity where they do the right thing for the right reason, regardless of personal feelings or what everyone else thinks they should do.

One thing I really like about this book is that her focus is more on character and less on behavior. For instance, sure you can motivate a toddler to do something by promising a cookie for doing it. That might even be appropriate at times (if you eat your veggies, you can have a cookie!). But by the time they are teenagers, you shouldn’t still be operating at that level. Teens should have progressed in their character development to where they will eat their veggies (to continue with the previous line of reasoning) because they know that they are good for them, will give good health, and because they know it’s the proper thing to do. It’s about teaching kids to do the right thing for the right reason.

An example that I appreciated from the book was when the author asked her teenage daughter to do something and offered a reward for doing it, and the daughter said, “Mom, I’m way past stage 2! I’ll do it for nothing.” This is the kind of thing this book is promoting.

I wish I had time to give a better review, but it’s been a while since I read it (a few months), and I don’t have much time right now. Kids need to be got ready for bed and I need to make cornbread for my husband’s supper. In summary, I do recommend this book. It’s not going to tell you what to do when your toddler throws a tantrum (in fact, I do not agree with the author on this topic), but in looking at the overall picture of parenting, and helping parents be proactive in raising mature, godly young people, I think this book has a lot to offer.

You can get the book here: Parenting the Heart of Your Child: Teaching Your Kids to Make Good Decisions Even When No One Is Looking

Self-Control

Here is something to ponder:

Well may the mother inquire with deep anxiety, as she looks upon the children given to her care, What is the great aim and object of their education? Is it to fit them for life and its duties, to qualify them to take an honorable position in the world, to do good, to benefit their fellow-beings, to gain eventually the reward of the righteous? If so, then the first lesson to be taught them is self-control; for no undisciplined, headstrong person can hope for success in this world or reward in the next.

Child Guidance, 91

Wow! The very first lesson. She gets more specific in the next paragraph:

The little ones, before they are a year old, hear and understand what is spoken in reference to themselves, and know to what extent they are to be indulged. Mothers, you should train your children to yield to your wishes. This point must be gained if you would hold the control over your children, and preserve your dignity as a mother. Your children quickly learn just what you expect of them, they know when their will conquers yours, and will make the most of their victory.  It is the veriest cruelty to allow wrong habits to be developed, to give the law into the hands of the child and let him rule.

Ibid

I know this is true. A child who is in control is an unhappy child. A happy child is one that has surrendered to his parents. I have seen it in my children. I know.

Lord, grant me the wisdom to know how to train my children for You. Give me endurance to outlast them whenever their will crosses mine. Give me strength to be happy and joyful with them when they are obedient. Help me to take time to spend with them and bind them to my heart. Guide me as I teach them self-control–and please help me to model it in my own life. Amen.

When I became a mother, I realized that I had an awesome responsibility. I didn’t have any money to go out and buy lots of parenting books, and I was leery about reading just any book, so the library didn’t seem like a good option. I wasn’t too concerned about the first few months. I knew I’d figure those things out. But I did not want to have to deal with the “terrible two’s,” and I wanted parenting advice that came from a godly perspective and was Biblically sound.

I had the book Child Guidance, and I had read a good deal of it, but somehow I couldn’t get my mind around some of it. Things like this:

The mother’s work should commence with the infant. She should subdue the will and temper of the child and bring its disposition into subjection. Teach it to obey, and as the child grows older, relax not the hand.

Child Guidance, 82

Sure. I agree. But how? Without someone to show me how it works, I wasn’t sure how to do it. I love the principles in Child Guidance, but sometimes I am at a loss to know how to apply them.

Enter Raising Godly Tomatoes. I found this book when my daughter was somewhere between 6 and 12 months, and I devoured it. It was only available online at the time, but it has now been published in book form, and is available for purchase through their website or from Amazon.com.

Let me say that this book has tremendously influenced my parenting–at least, as long as I apply the principles! I like it because the author ignores all the phychobabble so common in our world today and takes a Biblical perspective into her parenting. After reading this book at least twice, when I go back and read Child Guidance, it suddenly makes sense. Now I know how to subdue my child’s will (see my post Major Outlasting Session–The Rest of the Story for a rather lengthy example).

There are several sections to the book. The first section talks about teaching obedience. A favorite saying of the author is, “Teach obedience, and you won’t have to teach anything else.” She deals with starting early and starting later, discerning the heart of the child (because words and actions can mean different things depending on where the heart is), “tomato staking”, and spanking. The second section deals with emotional issues, like crying, whining, and tantrums, giving suggestions on how to deal with them. The third section takes a look at character. Though hardly exhaustive, it is a good start for parents who would rather teach their children to have a godly character than to just be good on the outside. The last section has thoughts for parents themselves, and for dealing with older children.

The author, Elizabeth Krueger, has 10 children and one grandchild. None of them ever rebelled or did anything wild as teenagers (granted, some of them aren’t quite that old yet). To me, that says something about her parenting. She has her children’s hearts. That is worth more than anything eles! She is a conservative Christian; she home schooled her children. What more can I say?

I could probably say a lot more about this book, but I suggest you go look at it yourself. You can still read the whole thing free online–though having a hard copy available is nice. I lost my first copy, in Mexico, I think. I bought a second. It was worth it.

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