Saturday, June 5, 2010

day 152: preschoolers—traditions and playing with them

“During dinner Joshua and Kayla told some jokes from their joke books, and Mommy and Daddy talked about all of the yard work we have to do on Saturday. I don’t know why adults like to work so much! After dinner Daddy read to us from the Bible and we sang. I chose “Father Abraham,” which is my favorite song ‘coz I like the motions. We cleaned the kitchen quick so Daddy, Joshua, Josiah, and I could play army men.”
                                       “Jonathan’s Journal”

Again, we see Jonathan included in the family discussion and activities. Little kids just don’t want to be left out!

Additionally, our family had many, many traditions, as written about above--singing, cleaning the kitchen, and playing together in the evenings. (This excerpt took place over ten years ago, and guess what we did last night, these many years later? Cleaned up the meal, went outside and played Frisbee, came back in and played table games, and then had “spiritual discussions.” Traditions are things that never really change, you know?)

Traditions give our children something to hold onto—something that makes us our family, unlike everybody else’s. They are those things that we hear our children say, “We always…” Why? Because they love to say those words. They love to know that “we always” do this or that—that those are constances in their lives.

Another important point about today’s passage is that of the preschooler choosing a song. I have gone over and over how dangerous it is to children’s contentment and obedience to give them choices for which they are not ready too early—and how we are given to our children to make those choices for them until they are ready to do so. Likewise, however, I have stressed the importance of giving our children choices in things that are in their control. As long as our preschoolers obeyed, they got to choose books, songs, movies, games, etc. that we did all together. Jonathan always picked the same song—and that’s okay, too, because “he always…”

Lastly, I can’t stress enough the importance of (1) having normal times—just times to hang out, talk, play and be together; and (2) playing with our children. Ray played with the older kids nearly every night when they were little (while he worked at least sixty hours a week—it was a priority)—and he continues to play with our kids today, including our young adults! We wanted our kids to want to be home. We wanted our kids to choose family over others. One way that we could help those things happen was to play with them.

Friday, June 4, 2010

day 151: exasperating our preschoolers

“Daddy called and said that he is not going to be home for another half an hour, so my brother helped me set up army men. We worked and worked, making the forts and setting up all the cannons and everything. We got done setting up just in time to eat dinner. Mommy said we could leave it out for later.”
                           “Jonathan’s Journal”

One thing I loved about the routines that I had with my little ones is that they were never bored. They never complained that they had nothing to do. Or said they were bored, etc. Ever…I really cannot remember any of my kids ever being bored, ever—no matter what the age. For example, in today and yesterday’s excerpts, Jonathan had run out of time and didn’t even get to his army men yet. (Of course, above, since Dad was coming home late, he got to them.) His day was coming to an end, but he hadn’t done everything his little heart wanted to that day!

One problem we did always have was setting things up to play with and leaving them out. This was not conducive to a large family with little kids. When we had a bigger house, we could let them set things up in a room and shut the door. In our small house, we do not have that option. If you have that option, I recommend letting your kids do that.

We always encouraged our older kids to play a big role in the lives of the littles. Some day I will post Jonathan’s salvation testimony he wrote in seventh grade—and how his big brother read Scriptures to him at night and ultimately led him to the Lord. It is priceless. In the passage today, Joshua was helping Jonathan set up his army men. Playing with Jonathan, despite the ten year age difference, was one way that Joshua built an enduring relationship with Jonathan that is still strong today at their ages (twenty-seven and seventeen—at ten o’clock on a Friday night here, Jonathan is in town playing basketball with Joshua and some other guys—still playing, just different games now!).

Lastly, I want to point out the importance of not exasperating our children. The Bible says that fathers, specifically, should not provoke their children to wrath. One way that we provoke or exasperate our children is by rushing them all the time. In the excerpt above, Jonathan was happy because he was permitted to leave his army men set up for Dad to see and to play with later. To have him take it all down immediately, when he and Joshua had just set it up, would have definitely exasperated him.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

day 150: activities with and routine for preschoolers

“When Josiah finally woke up, Mommy, Josiah, and I played puzzles on the floor. We did our huge ABC floor puzzle. It’s really neat. We left it out for Daddy to see.

The next thing I knew it was time for evening chores. I didn’t even get to play army men yet! Josiah and I had to unload the dishwasher and set the table. Kayla and Cami are making bbq chicken tonight. Yum!”
                                        “Jonathan’s Journal”

There are a few tips we can glean from today’s excerpt. First of all, as I mentioned earlier, if you are not going to allow your preschooler to watch television and play electronics all day, the day will oftentimes go slowly for your little one. That is one reason I liked to break my preschoolers’ day up with a routine. Secondly, we can counteract that potential boredom by doing fun and educational things with our little one, such as the floor puzzle that that little guys and I did in today’s passage. Many of the activities introduced in the room time blog post are good activities to do with the toddler and preschooler. (See earlier posts for activities and book ideas—links are given below.)

All throughout this blog, I have mentioned including the preschooler in your day (and the day of your other children if you homeschool). Our third chore session was about to begin in the excerpt above. Again, if you make chores a daily part of your little one’s day, there will not be a daily fight. Our kids knew when Chore I, Chore II, and Chore III were going to take place. And our little ones, especially, had the exact same daily chores, so they were never surprised by them. (See the blog about age appropriate chores for this age group too—links below.)

Your days with preschoolers and toddlers can be filled with joy, fun, learning, growing, Bible teaching, character training, and love. I pray that this will be the case for all of our Positive Parenting 3*6*5 readers.

                                      Links to older posts referred to in this post:

Devotional read alouds for preschoolers Part I:

Devotional read alouds for preschoolers Part II:

Age appropriate chores Pre K/K:

Age appropriate chores for toddlers and preschoolers:

Links and ideas for activities for preschoolers:

Links and ideas for activities for toddlers:

Involving preschoolers with older kids:

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

day 150: trusting the Holy Spirit to woo and draw our children--"hound of heaven"***

"Still with unhurrying chase,
And unperturb'ed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
Came on the following feet,
And a voice above their beat--
'Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.'"

                 "The Hound of Heaven" by Francis Thompson

In recently reading the lengthy poem, "The Hound of Heaven" to my boys, I was reminded of how the Holy Spirit sought me out and brought me to a place, as a young seventeen year old, soon-to-be-married senior in high school, in which I would hear and understand the gospel. Like the poem describes, I, too, had tried to worship other things and seek eternal life--even through my own works and "righteousness."

But then as I read on, day by day, it hit me even more that the Holy Spirit will, and even is, doing that same thing for my children. "..with unhurrying hase, and unperturbed pace. Deliberate speed, majestic instancy," He is seeking them out, chasing them down, if you will.

My part in this hunt? To be patient. To trust God. To believe that the Hound of Heaven who sought me out is also seeking them out--and will bring them to the Lord in their every need.

This is so hard for a "fixer"--and yet as parents, we must do this. We must trust that the same Holy Spirit who not only sought us out to receive God's grace but also comforted us through our trials and misfortunes will also do the same for our children. That as much as we hurt when our children face disappointment, illness, loss, and other trials of this life, our Heavenly Father hurts even more--and sends the Hound of Heaven to seek them out and comfort them.

We must believe that He is doing this for our children:

"I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled him, down the labyrinthine ways.
Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears."

***Note: My computer is in ths shop, so I am taking a day off from preschoolers (which is on the other computer) for a more devotional/inspirational post. God bless and lead all of us as we seek to raise our children for Him.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

day 149: preschoolers and deference

“Josiah slept FOREVER today, so I got bored. It stopped raining after lunch, so Mommy said I should go outside and jump on the trampoline—I think I was getting on her nerves. My three big sisters got done with their school work and came out and jumped. We played ‘California Earthquake’ until Mommy finished her writing on the computer.” “Jonathan’s Journal”

Jonathan was in the process of learning deference and patience while Mommy was busy! We stressed character training with our children from their births. Part of that character training was that of learning deference. Deference is a big word that simply means “prefer” or “defer” to someone else. It is a character quality that we desperately need in our world! In our me-saturated society, we seldom defer to others—that is, put others above ourselves.

One way that our little ones can learn deference is to defer and be patient when their wants cannot be addressed right at that moment. (Notice I said “wants”—not “needs.”) Jonathan was sent outside to jump on the trampoline with his sisters so that Mommy could get something done. (As he put it, “I think I was getting on her nerves!” He’s always been a smart one!)

When our third child Cami was six years old and outgrew her nap, she would follow me around when I was trying to have lunch, read, plan, etc., asking me questions, wanting this or that, etc. I had been used to her taking a nap and having a little free time, but not anymore! (Keep in mind I had already given her and her siblings at least six hours straight of my time—reading, playing, doing school, learning together, overseeing chores, etc.) Finally, I had to set the timer every afternoon for thirty minutes and tell her that during that thirty minutes she couldn’t bother Mama. She watched the timer go down every afternoon at first, waiting until she could use all of the words she had stored up in that half hour, but eventually, she learned to let Mommy have a little break. (We all still tease her about being so high need we had to set a timer for a thirty-minute-no-need period of time, and it is probably part of the reason why the “little” boys have dubbed her “Needy Child Number One” when she calls—the other older kids are Numbers Two, Three, and Four, of course!)

Preschoolers and toddlers do have a lot of needs. That is one of the reasons that we stress the Preventive Parenting ideas that we do—naps, schedules, room time, activities, story time etc. all help channel these littles ones into a daily routine that is good for them and Mom. However, they also must learn the difference between wants and needs—and that sometimes wants must wait for a little while.

Monday, May 31, 2010

day 148: time off from little ones?

“Josiah slept FOREVER today, so I got bored. It stopped raining after lunch, so Mommy said I should go outside and jump on the trampoline—I think I was getting on her nerves. My three big sisters got done with their school work and came out and jumped. We played ‘California Earthquake’ until Mommy finished her writing on the computer.”            “Jonathan’s Journal”

Today’s excerpt brings up a reality that we all must face as parents of preschoolers: sometimes taking care of toddlers and preschoolers by yourself all day long can be tiresome, and even annoying. It feels as though there is rarely a break. Somebody always needs something. Getting other things done can seem impossible at times. And people tend to think that you don’t have much to do. After all, you are just home with a couple of little kids!

Twenty years ago I read an anti-feminist book in which the author said that we should not want to farm our kids out all the time. That we should take care of them ourselves. That we should not need time for ourselves or breaks from our children. Well, I was suspicious from the beginning. First of all, I was an extremely attentive mother of four small children—and frankly, I wished for breaks that I seldom seemed to get. Secondly, this woman obviously had many breaks. She had written two best-selling books and was working on a third—while she was having babies and caring for toddlers and preschoolers. I don’t know about you, but I have trouble taking advice from someone telling me to stay home and take care of my own kids while, clearly, she could not have been doing the same all the time.

I feel that these sentiments are dangerous to young moms. They make tired, exasperated mothers feel like they are bad or wrong in thinking that an afternoon of free time would be a good thing. They paint an unrealistic picture of child care and set moms up for failure.

At the same time, I think there is equal (if not more) danger in the opposite extreme we see today: women who simply do not want to do the hard work of raising and training their toddlers and preschoolers. I am not referring here to women who need to work to make ends meet (and certainly not to single mothers). I am pointing to women who take the concept of needing a break sometimes to every other day needing Grandma to take the kids or a babysitter to babysit or ripping and running every day instead of staying home and training these little ones in a consistent, peaceful environment.

Advice? Do the hard work now that it takes to raise toddlers and preschoolers in the way God is leading you. Don’t delay. Don’t shirk your responsibilities. Know that some day it will all pay off. And if you need a break, take it—guilt free.

I never felt the slightest tinge of guilt having a babysitter one afternoon a week for the toddler and baby, so I could take the older children to the park and the library (or McDonald’s play place in the winter). It broke up my week. I had some time off to look forward to. I got some uninterrupted time with my olders. I had a few hours every week in which needs were not so intense. Likewise, I never felt guilty for my date nights with my husband (though early on they were few and far between due to finances and moving to a new area in which we did not know anybody for a while). I was doing the hard work of raising children…doin’ the stuff day in and day out. And the fact that I needed some time off occasionally did not make me a bad mother.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

day 148: seventy things we love about grandpa

My PP/TFT (Positive Parenting and Training for Triumph) computer is infected with viruses, so I am going to need to take another detour from preschoolers until I get that computer back. That's okay. With Father's Day approaching, I wanted to share a neat thing that we did for my dad's seventieth birthday two years ago. It would make an ideal gift/idea for fathers and grandfathers alike for Father's Day. I am pasting the article that Dennis Rainey's FamilyLife ministry put at their website about our special gift to my dad--and the link below will direct you to a picture of it as well (and the article at their site).

Honoring those in authority is something that we have tried hard to instill in our children. Respect and honor for their grandparents is simply the beginning of that. Our children love their grandparents--and the feeling is completely mutual. Why? Obviously, they love the kids because they are their grandparents, but additionally, they appreciate and enjoy an amount of love, respect, and attention that they see few of their peers receiving. Teach your children to honor, serve, love, respect, uplift, encourage, and help their grandparents. It is truly the beginning of teaching our kids the character qualities of loyalty and honor.

                         Seventy Things We Love About Grandpa

                                               by Mary May Larmoyeux

Donna Reish wanted to make her father’s seventieth birthday extra special. “We knew that his daughters and nine grandchildren were the most important things to him,” she says, “so we centered the day around spending time together.”

Donna’s twenty-one-year-old daughter, Cami, came up with the idea of making a list of 70 reasons the grandchildren loved their grandfather. Each grandchild was asked to jot down why they loved Grandpa—specific things he had done with or for them.

“A month before Dad’s seventieth birthday,” Donna says, “[we] had a wonderful surprise birthday party for Dad.” When he returned from a trip to the store, he was greeted by his grandchildren, daughters and sons-in-law. He was completely surprised.

But the most wonderful surprise was the last gift opened. In the middle of a framed collage with pictures of the grandkids all around the outside was the list. Cami read the list out loud as she sat next to her grandfather. There wasn't a dry eye in the room. “As each reason was read,” Donna says, “we all had little flashbacks in our minds and hearts of Dad and that child. It was truly moving.”

Today, Seventy Things We Love About Grandpa, proudly hangs on Grandpa’s wall. “I am sure that when my step-mom goes to the grocery store or runs errands,” Donna says, “Dad stands beneath it and reads and cries again. This was, by far, the most moving, celebratory, affirming gift I have ever given to anyone.”

                            70 Things We Love About GrandpaOne for Each Year!!!

                                               Grandpa, I Love It When....

1. You do special things for us.
2. You make us food we love.
3. You let us watch our favorite shows on your TV.
4. You make us seashells in tomato juice.
5. You take us fishing.
6. You take us to McDonalds.
7. You take us to Silver Town.
8. You read with us.
9. You take us to Wal-mart.
10. You watch football games on TV with us..
11. You read with us when we were learning to read.
12. You take us to Red Lobster.
13. You go to watch our basketball games.
14. You spend time with us.
15. You support us in our ministry opportunities.
16. You save comics out of the paper for us.
17. You let us play with your “noise makers.”
18. You play Phase 10 with us.
19. You make butter bread for us.
20. You watched us in Speech and Debate.
21. You make summer sausages for us.
22. You always give us hugs.
23. You always have kisses for us.
24. You make Christmas special for us.
25. You have special nameplates on your Christmas tree for us.
26. You gave us a “Sharing Box” full of goodies each Christmas.
27. You make our birthdays special.
28. You pass out Christmas gifts at Christmas time.
29. You go to the movies with us.
30. You go and watch the Rocket games with us.
31. You went on trips to Florida with us.
32. You try to “surprise” us.
33. You have sugared cereal at your house for breakfast.
34. You talk to us.
35. You have cookouts at your house.
36. You cooked out on your grill for us.
37. You watch TV sports with us.
38. You play Euchre with us.
39. You play games with us.
40. You played kickball with us.
41. You held us when we were little babies.
42. You are never too busy for us.
43. You were there when Joshua and Lisa got engaged.
44. You taught us to love baseball.
45. You gave us coins to start our coin collection.
46. You give us Legos every year.
47. You took us to the water park.
48. You were snowed in with us.
49. You let us play in the field by your old trailer.
50. You took us to the Blueberry Festival.
51. You took us to the Street Fair.
52. You took us to Bearcreek Farms.
53. You took us to the zoo.
54. You have cookies jars at your house.
55. You let us sleep on your couch at your house.
56. You tell stories about when you were younger.
57. You take us to the Ritz Movie Theatre.
58. You go to all our graduations.
59. You bought us American Girl dolls.
60. You make us your homemade chili.
61. You go watch our plays.
62. You went to our homeschool Expo’s.
63. You talk “sports” with us.
64. You take time for your “every day granddaughter.”
65. You make us smile.
66. You have a funny laugh.
67. You are sweet to us.
68. You give us special snacks to take on our way back to North Carolina.
69. You make us feel special.
70. You are the BEST GRANDPA EVER!

Picture and full article at FamilyLife site:{DD388856-331E-4D96-AF9A-16D69EF92994}¬oc=1