Tag Archives: Life lessons

52 Weeks of Talking to Our Kids: When You Need to AIM [Answer It More]

52 Weeks of Talking to Our Kids When You Need to AIM

We wanted our children to ask questions–and lots of them! We wanted to be their answerer as much as possible. Thus, we “trained” them to ask questions–by answering them freely and endlessly.

Ray is the best answerer I have ever met (honest!). He is the one who made me come up with the little acronym that we teach at our parenting seminars. I have watched him day in and day out, year in and year out, answer a question. Then he paused and continued on with more answers and more answers and more answers.

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Why a Resolution With the Word MORE in It Will Likely Not Be Met

Why A Resolution With the Word More In It Will Likely Not Be Met

I recently looked up top resolutions for the new year—and saw some interesting lists. They were the typical ones you would expect—lose weight, exercise, get out of debt, eat more healthfully, spend time with family, etc.

But what struck me most was the recurring use of the word MORE.

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O is for ORGANIZATION–DAILIES, TIMELY TASKS, AND ABC WEEKLIES!



Once you learn to “Delight in Dailies” and get the things done that need to be done on a daily basis, it is time to get other things done, but what?

I can remember when my husband and I were first married, I would ask him, “How do you know what to do every day when you go to work?” I just couldn’t figure out how he knew what needed to be done.

He would always ask me, “How do you know what to do when a student comes for tutoring?” or “How do you know what to do around the house and with the kids every day when you get up?”

I remember telling him, “I just do.” And he would say it was the same for him at work.

Prioritizing at work and at home are two very different things though. I mean, at work, you have a boss waiting for you to finish something. And you have deadlines, etc.

But at home, once you get the dailies done, everything else that isn’t a daily is always screaming out to you! (Come to think of it, before you get the DAILIES done, everything is screaming out to you!)

I have followed two very simple tips in working on non-dailies:

1. I always do the next thing that is due. I call these my TIMELY TASKS.
(Well, almost….like just now I was printing recipes for my cooking morning tomorrow and I got sidetracked writing this post. Technically, the recipes are due before this because my cooking day starts at 8:30–and this could wait until tomorrow–but I digress!)

Once I am done with my dailies, I always ask myself what is the next thing that has to be done–my editor is waiting on a document; student papers have to be edited for class the next day; tomorrow’s meat has to be marinated; bedding has to be moved to the dryer in order to go to bed tonight, etc.

This one little tip always keeps me moving in the right direction!



2. I have an ABC WEEKLIES list. 


Yes, for many years, I hardly saw this WEEKLIES list, but now I get to some of the things–and I am having so much fun! 

After I get my dailies done–and I have “put out fires” by doing the next thing that is due–then I am ready to consult my WEEKLIES list. (I finally get to organize a closet or clean out the snack cupboard!!!)

But I don’t just have a WEEKLIES list; I manipulate my WEEKLIES list. I go down the list task-by-task and write an A, B, or C beside each one.

Then when I have a chance to do something off of it, I do an A task. And I keep on doing A tasks all week–anytime I get a chance (after my dailies and timely tasks).

No matter what else happens in any given week, I know that I have my DAILIES done; I have my timely tasks out of the way; and I did as many A’s as I could (and occasionally even a B or two!).

This isn’t a glamorous approach. I don’t craft beautiful things. I don’t decorate my home Better Homes and Garden style. I don’t always cook from scratch. I don’t scrub between the washer and dryer.

But I feel like an organizational genius. And my home runs fairly smoothly. And I spend time with my kids and husband. And we eat decent meals. And we always have clean clothes and the trash out of the house….because these things are my DAILIES.

When I was homeschooling a houseful of children, the new readers read, the writers wrote, and I checked their work, read aloud to them, talked to them, and taught them the Bible…because these things were my DAILIES.

Because I always did my DAILIES…..I became an organized homeschooler! 

Everything is always crying out to be done. People want us to do everything. Our extended families need us. Our church needs us. Our ministries need us. Our jobs need us. Our children need us. And we can start to feel like the hamster on the wheel very quickly if we don’t have a plan in place to get to the important things.

My DAILIES, TIMELY TASKS, and ABC WEEKLIES have helped me do that for many, many years!

(Now back to my recipes!)

The Impact of Teaching Our Children to Minister to “the Least of These”


The homeschooled kids in our area start out young (as early as ten years old with their parent) serving in the One Heart Disability Ministry. Look at the joy that children bring to those with disabilities!




A Facebook post just came through from my daughter and her husband concerning their 

disability ministry, One Heart:


“Got some sad news this morning that Charlie, one of our dear One Heart members passed away this Wednesday night. Charlie always made us smile and brought us joy. I bet he’s bringing other people joy in Heaven now! He always answered questions about the Bible with, ‘Jesus died on the cross for us.’ What a simple, amazing truth. Last year at the Talent Show he sang ‘Jesus Loves Me.’ So blessed that he was part of our lives!”


My son-in-law Joseph with Charlie


If you have heard Ray and I speak in our parenting seminar, “Raising Kids With Character,” or at a homeschooling convention, you know that we are big advocates of teaching children to serve at young ages. You might also know that we believe there is a hierarchy of service outlined in the Bible that teaches children to serve the Lord at home–to serve their own families—first, followed by reaching out to those locally and finally to the “uttermost parts of the world.”



“Journey Through Easter”–drama and walk through (with petting zoo!)–is always a hit with the One Heart attendees


Without going into the entire seminar session, I will give you some keys that have led us to this thought process:

1. “To whom much is given, much is expected.”
2. “He who does not provide for his own family is worse than an infidel.”
3. Parable of the talents
4. Serve in your own “Jerusalem” then your state/region….then the uttermost parts of the earth


One of my sons helping a One Heart client fill in his VBS book



We began this teaching with our kids when they were two or three years old–teaching them to pick up around the house, unload the silverware in the dishwasher, help put away laundry, etc. Then they continued to learn household skills that they could/would eventually use in serving others.

As they grew, they served with us–starting with setting up chairs for small group or homeschool support group meetings and moving into going with us to nursing homes and other local outreaches. 

Soon the time came for them to go “out” and serve others–that is, they had learned to serve their family so well and so cheerfully and so diligently that they could take the skills that they had learned here and serve on their own.


The skills that we have built into our children during their formative years–cooking, cleaning, organizing, serving, music, drama, reading, writing, leading, Bible teaching/studying, etc.—are used over and over by our young adults in their various ministries

This has looked different for different kids–from preaching in young adult services to leading/directing dramas in church to singing on the praise team to working in children’s ministries (locally and at state homeschool conventions) to “going to the uttermost parts of the earth”–such as taking wheelchairs around the world with Joni and Friends; serving at state capitols every weekday for a semester; leading drama teams of teens in summer drama traveling around the midwest or southern USA; and even starting a ministry that would some day reach over one hundred disabled adults every week for many years.

Boys’ sports night (along with a trophy for each client!) is always a hit with the One Heart male clients

The latter is what this post is going to focus on–and the impact that teaching our children to minister to “the least of these” really has on our children–and their futures.

When our third child, Cami, was seventeen years old, she served at a Joni and Friends Family Retreat (the world-wide disability ministry of Joni Ereckson Tada) for two weeks. At the end of the retreat, she told the leaders there that she wanted to do something similar to the retreat back home–on an ongoing basis. They told her to go back to her pastors and tell them and see what she can start. 

One Heart “Special Deliveries” is a yearly outreach to nearly three hundred disabled adults in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area

Cami was a senior in high school when she began the One Heart Disability Ministry (One heart…one soul..is worth it…). She had trouble getting volunteers (it is difficult to work with disabled people–and many adults do not want to get involved), but she started rounding up her younger sister and little brothers and their friends, and before she knew it, she had a weekly ministry, sort of a “Sunday school” every Tuesday night for adults with cognitive disabilities. And it grew. And grew. And grew.

The joy that One Heart brings to the lives of those who attend is unmistakable

Within two years, she had her associates degree in church ministry with an emphasis on disability ministry, and she was asked to come on staff at the church as the Disability Ministry Director, the “official” head of One Heart Disability Ministry.

Four years ago Cami married a young man who has a paraplegic brother and cousin with severe brain injury–and also a heart for the disabled and broken, much like Cami has. They have continued leading One Heart together with their combined compassion, love, and selflessness.


In addition to the weekly services that are held with over one hundred disabled attendees all throughout the school year, One Heart delivers gifts and goodies to up to three hundred disabled adults in the Fort Wayne are every Christmas, hosts a summer VBS, and has other special events throughout the year. 

My message today is not what kids can do when they are trained in so many skills (that would take a book–and I would love to write it!); nor is it about having kids serve in general (though that is a good idea too!). My message today is this:

Teaching our children to minister to “the least of these”–the widows, elderly, disabled, and orphaned–has the potential of having a bigger impact than almost any other ministry or service opportunity they could do.

Why do you suppose this is the case?

It is consistent with Scripture–“do not only invite those who can invite you back”; “care for the widows and orphans”; and Jesus’ ministry to the blind, mentally challenged, poor, hungry, homeless, etc.

It builds an empathy in our children that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. Truly, we can tell them there are poor children who do not have enough to eat, but until they serve food to them in a summer ministry in the park, they cannot comprehend that. We can tell them that there are people whose brains do not work like ours do and they cannot do for themselves, but until they go week after week and listen to these people tell the same stories over and over or teach them to color or tell them about Jesus, they cannot FEEL the feelings that we should as Christians feel for those less fortunate than we.




Our four youngest children started working in One Heart with Cami as soon as they could be trusted to fully obey their older siblings and really work hard without parental supervision (not be tempted to play ball in the gym during the gym night but instead stay focused on the people they were there to serve). This was between the ages of eight and ten for all of them. 

And as a result, they are four of the most sensitive, compassionate kids I have ever known. 

Would they have developed this sensitivity and compassion without serving “the least of these” in an ongoing manner? 

Maybe. Maybe not. But I know that this consistent outreach–having to give up their own interests one evening a week, being responsible for their parts (teaching, serving refreshments, leading games and crafts, etc.), and learning to love and reach out to those who are “different” and extremely-mentally challenged–has had a huge impact on the kinds of people that they are growing up to be. 




P.S. Cami and Joseph are expecting their first baby in January, and Cami recently posted the status below. It is such a blessing to think that my grandson is going to start learning to serve “the least of these” from babyhood.




Funny story from One Heart last night….(this is even better than last week’s story!) I (Cami) was closing the evening in prayer with a full classroom of people and as I stood in front with my eyes closed, I feel someone patting my belly. I look down (mid prayer) and I see Susie, a One Heart member with down syndrome, just patting my belly and smiling as if she was talking to the baby. It was adorable and hilarious all at the same time. I got through the prayer without cracking up too much and dismissed everyone. Love it that the One Heart people are so excited about our baby. Can’t wait until he is here and can meet everyone. He is loved already!”


A Change a Week–Times Fifty Weeks a Year Times Thirty Years…Equals a Lot of Change!

Even just one change a month can equal a lot of changes over a lifetime—and a lot of NOT GIVING UP!

Thirty years ago, Ray’s mentor said, “Sit down with Donna every week and ask her, ‘What change do you think we need to make? What do you need for me to do?'”

He continued, “After you do this for a long time, it will give Donna peace, and she will feel secure that you really care about your family and how to improve it. 

He said, “Then one day, you will ask her ‘What do you need for me to do for you?’ and she will say ‘Nothing at all. What can I do for you?'”

Well, that time of my saying “nothing at all” has never happened yet in over thirty years! 😉 

But he was right about part of it: the peace and security that come from knowing for over thirty years that my husband wants good things for our family as badly as I do is incomprehensible.

A change a week times fifty weeks a year times thirty-plus years–equals a lot of change. Granted, we didn’t do this every single week of our lives. But even if we made a change a month for thirty years….

Twelve months times thirty years equals 360 positive changes. That is 360 opportunities to make our family stronger. It is 360 times to solve problems. It is 360 situations to improve. 

It is 360 painless times to say, “We can do this. We can make changes in this area, and we can make this month better in our home than last month!”

You see memes on Facebook and other places all the time that read something like one of the following:

1. Just do it! The time is going to pass whether you do it (a fitness activity, usually) or not, so you may as well have a good change being made as the time passes!

2. Make the change (again, usually fitness-related). Sixty days from now (or whatever), you will look back if you do it, and be glad you did. If you didn’t do it, you won’t look back and be glad you didn’t!

There is actually no place this is truer than in parenting….
(from Destination Healthy Me)

And so it is with family changes. We all have things to work on in our homes. We need to tweak the schedule, so that things run more smoothly. We need to discipline a child differently so that the child’s behavior is changed. We need to remove so much fun or add more fun in. We need to drop things for our lives to have time to spend on/with a certain child at a certain time. We need to take our focus off of one thing and put it on another until a skill is learned. And on and on and on.

However, those many changes can feel overwhelming when we look at them all at once. (I used to make “Master Changes Lists,” so I know what I’m talking about here!) 

But what if we didn’t have a “Master Changes List,” but instead we just looked at this week, this moment in time, and we decided to do one thing to improve our family….and what if we really carried out the steps necessary to make the change? And what if once we got that change down pat, we took on another problem area and solved it–and again really did what it took to make it better?

Now that doesn’t feel overwhelming at all–and not only does it not feel overwhelming, but it also feels good–and doable. 

We are talking on the Facebook page about how my husband and I kept going–NOT GIVING UP week after week, month after month for thirty years of parenting so far. This is one of the things that kept us going–knowing that we had the ability to change things that were not working in our homes–but also knowing that we didn’t have to do everything all at once.

You can do this! You can have the family life that you want. You can discipline your children properly and in love. You can raise children who have the character of Christ—not perfect, mind you, but virtues in their lives that you know the Lord wants for them. You can have fun in your home, have organization, and develop deep relationships with your children…

…one change at a time…facing one thing today and another thing in another week or month…because even a change a month times twelve months a year equals a lot of change…



Ray and I for our thirty-second anniversary this summer visiting the first place we made changes in our lives–the church where we were born again the year before we got married

Four Things Teens and Young Adults Need





I am an experiential writer. I like to write and speak about things only after I have experienced them for myself for a while. I have had the writing/speaking bug ever since our first born (now thirty) was two years old, and I headed up our children’s church department and taught teachers how to teach, manage the group, etc. (based on my credentials as an elementary education major). However, it wasn’t until I had homeschooled for many years, raised a few babies and toddlers, managed a busy household for a decade and a half, etc. , that I felt ready to talk to others about those things. As a learner, I also like to learn from those who have “been there” and “came out to tell about it”! Smile…

My husband and I began talking about raising and homeschooling teens about eight years ago–when our first born was twenty-two. Now I have seven children ages fourteen through thirty–three of whom are in college and living at home. Guess what? I am more than ready to tell the world what I have learned and continue to learn about raising/discipling teens and young adults in this heart-affecting way that we have chosen to live. If there are even a few things that we have found to work, I want to spread that vital info from shore to shore and sea to sea (okay, that’s a little dramatic, but have you ever had seven kids ages fourteen to thirty at various critical stages of life–let me tell you, it’s more than a little dramatic!).

So…with deep affection and emotion, I bring you a few things that we KNOW teens and young adults need from us as parents:


1. Safe place to talk

They need to know that it is safe to tell you whatever is going on in their hearts and lives. They need to know that you won’t completely freak out (even if you don’t agree)–and that you will love them regardless of what they say in these talks. Our oldest son and daughter (30 and 27) were raised in a pretty strict home. We had rules that did not have logical reasons (see our teen posts for Recipe for Rebellion beginning here: http://characterinkblog.com/day-sixty-eight-avoid-the-recipe-for-rebellion-ingredient-i-rules-without-reason/). We were oftentimes lost, exhausted caring for small children and emotionally drained trying to help young teenagers find their way. However, our son told us that he never wanted turn away from us–in spite of our many faults–because no matter what we made him do, wear, or say, we always gave him “intellectual freedom”–freedom to believe and think for himself (with our guidance but not with an iron fist). Fourteen to twenty-four year olds need a safe place to talk that should be found in their parents.




2. Availability

Are you tired of hearing me talk about this yet? One of the most unfortunate things to me in the whole “teen” thing is that parents sometimes think that they are done or at least almost done long before we really should be done. I have often said, and continue to believe, that children between the ages of sixteen and twenty need their parents more than ever. Why would we work so hard to instill in them our beliefs, to teach them character, to raise them with love and tenderness–just to leave them to peers alone during these ages? They need us. And they need for us to be available when they need us. For some of us, this means not going to our own things (shopping, golf, and, gasp, ballroom dancing) many a Saturday for much longer than we originally thought we would have to give up those things. Parents of teens and young adults–you are not done! There are still some more critical years to make yourself available to these amazing people in your life.





3. Time

This might seem like a repeat of number two, but it really isn’t. Yes, we need to clear our schedules not just to watch them play baseball or go to their concerts; we need to clear our schedules to provide times of availability. We also need to understand the amount of time that these ages take. We have had two of our kids get married so far. The amount of time that it took to counsel them, have fun and plan with them, encourage them, and help prepare them was probably more than my many long days of teaching that child to read or working on chores together! We have three college kids at home right now. They need the “normal” time things–help with college math, reviewing class schedules and seeing how they can squeeze in something that is only offered at a certain time during a certain semester, help changing a tire, and the “as-only-Mom-can-do” edits on their big papers. But they need long periods of time for #1 (safe talking place) and long periods of time of just being there—when they feel friend-less, when the stress of going to college and working is taking its toll on them, when they have a broken heart, when they are questioning something that they have always believed to be true, when they are disillusioned with people and this world….time….and lots of it.





4. To Be Treated Like Adults

If you have been to our parenting seminars or read our parenting book (The Well-Trained Heart), you have likely heard us emphasize the strong link between responsibility and privileges. This point, to be treated like adults, is not to de-emphasize that. We believe that children (and adults!) who show themselves responsible and mature get more and more privileges (hmmm…parable of the talents????). However, many of us treat our sixteen year olds like little kids–micromanaging their school work and homework, following them around to check on each step of their chores, not “expanding the boundaries” of responsibility/privilege in a way that is commensurate with the responsibility and maturity level they are showing. If your teens are still working on that whole responsibility thing and really aren’t ready to have the boundaries widened like you had hoped they would be, at the very least, don’t continue to treat them like little kids in other areas. Give them opportunities to please you and do good things. Set them up for success so that you can expand their boundaries and treat them more adult-like. Quit giving them money for nonsense and toys that keep them playing all the time, and instead provide them with tools–books, computer for school, gas cards, work desk, handy tools, car wash passes, and even fast food gift certificates so that when they are out doing those adult things, they can get gas and a bite to eat. Stop giving them video games, ipods, and individual sports things that twelve and fourteen year olds want/get. Talk to them like adults–don’t ask them where they are going or what they are doing in an accusatory way, but ask them in the same way  you would ask your spouse–in order to determine the schedule and plan for family time. Say, “When will you be home from class–I was hoping we would have some talk time tonight” not “And what time will you be rolling in tonight?” I have so much more to say about treating our teens and young adults like adults, and I will try to address this even more as Ray and I are speaking about some teen topics this summer at some conferences, but I will leave you with this word of advice: The tone in which you speak to your kids tells them right away whether they are being treated in a condescending, child-like way or an adult way. Tone is where I would start.


That’s all for today. I am crying as I finish this article. I have had a couple of weeks of intense parenting of teens and young adults. I truly have the most amazing eighteen, twenty, and twenty-two year old living in my home right now. But their hearts are vulnerable, and they are facing a big scary world. And they need me and Ray to help them finish becoming who and what they are going to become. The needs are so much bigger than getting them to finish their peas and pick up their toys. 

 Our teens and young adults need us! They need our support. They need our advice. They need our encouragement. They need our faith in them. They need our time. They need for us to be available to them. They need for us to treat them with respect. They need us.









Your Kids Will Do To and For Others What You Have Done To and For Them….

“Throughout their lives, your kids will do to and for others what you have done to and for them.”

 

 

In our “Character for Tweens and Teens” seminar, we stress the quote above—because we have seen it over and over in our children’s lives during our thirty years of parenting. And it is truly something to consider in the time, effort, money, and teaching that we invest in our children. When I look back at how true this statement has been in our lives, I just want to tell every parent that there are genuine dividends paid for all of that investing!

I could share examples of this with you from every age and stage of our seven kids:

*How Joshua, our first born, when he was six or seven,  would sit in the back of the van and tell his sisters what to expect when we got to our destination, how they should behave and how they should treat others—because his mommy and daddy had done that for him since he was a toddler.

*How Kayla, our second daughter, took it upon herself at age fourteen to do all of the family cooking for a long period of time during my grief after our stillborn daughter’s birth and my harrowing ruptured uterus—because her parents had served her, fed her, and taught her everything she needed to know in the kitchen.

*How Cami, our third child, started a ministry for the disabled when she was a senior in high school (that still runs today seven years later and ministers to over a hundred disabled adults every week)—because we taught her to look into people’s hearts to see their deepest needs, and we looked into her heart.

*How the girls planned a special meal for their brothers and even called and invited their grandparents to their “Silly Supper” while Mom and Dad were out of town—because Mom and Dad had always tried to make things special for them.

*How Kara, our fourth child, listened intently night after night to the needs of the teens on the traveling drama team that she led—because her parents had listened to her needs for twenty years.

And on and on and on and on. Our children are far from perfect—as are their parents. But there is one thing that we can be sure they will always do: serve, love, reach out, touch, help, and communicate with others in many of the same ways that they have been served, loved, reached out to, touched, helped, and communicated with by us, their parents.

 

We have an example of this hot off the press that is so incredibly cute I just had to share it with you. Our almost-eighteen  year-old Josiah (sixth child of seven living)  asked a few weeks ago if he could surprise his younger brother Jacob (our youngest) by taking him to visit their oldest sister near Chicago where she is in grad school at Wheaton College (a four hour drive from us). We discussed it and decided to let him do it, so he set about planning the trip.

He must have talked to me about the “unveiling” of the trip to Jakie no fewer than a dozen times over the three weeks prior to the trip: “Should I drive home with him from my drum teaching and ask him to tell me where the gps says to turn?” “Should I take him to Cami and Joseph’s (our daughter and son-in-law) and make him think we are spending the night there but then take off from there?” “Should I pack all of his stuff while he is at piano then act like we are going to run errands?” On and on. He had a new idea everyday it seemed.

He set aside two hours the night before to go over directions with his dad, talk to us about details, call Kayla to talk details (whom they were going to see), and pack/load the car while Jacob was at the YMCA exercising with Kara (our fourth child). He gassed up his vehicle. He packed snacks. He gathered story tapes. He went to the bank and got cash. He packed Jakie’s things and hid them in the trunk.

At one point in Josiah’s preparations, he said, “Don’t you think this is the best surprise that any of the siblings have ever done for another one?” To which we just smiled and nodded. (Our kids have had a sort of unofficial “best sibling EV-ER” contest going on for many years.)

And then they left. His idea to take Jacob to Cami and Joseph’s and go from there, telling him only when Jacob noticed that they were not taking the route that led home, won out. And Jacob called us to see if it was really true—“are we really driving to Kayla’s for the weekend?” We could hear Josiah laughing in the background—one happy big brother.

Josiah’s idea wasn’t quite as original as he thought—but we didn’t tell him that, of course. For Josiah had just done nearly everything that we had done for him eight years ago when we took him and his siblings on a surprise weekend trip—right down to hiding packed things in the trunk, packing good snacks, sneaking out story tapes and games,  and taking a strange route to confuse them. Because by that time, we knew that  “throughout their lives, our kids will do to and for others whatever has been done to and for them.” Smile…

Integrity!

From my teenage son’s status today. So glad when people show in real life what we have tried to instill within our children!

“The following story exemplifies what true integrity is: A man delivered a drum set me yesterday. A short time later I received a phone call from that man. He told me that I had over-paid him by twenty dollars. He drove back fifteen minutes to give me back my twenty bucks. I never would have known that I over-paid him. He could have kept the money and no one would have know. However, I know that his integrity led him to do the right thing. I pray that God will bless that man’s life.”

“Time in a Bottle”

                                              “Time in a Bottle”
                                                 
                                                               Donna Reish

If I could save time in a bottle
The first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day
Till Eternity passes away
Just to spend them with you

If I could make days last forever
If words could make wishes come true
I’d save every day like a treasure and then,
Again, I would spend them with you

But there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go
Through time with

Time. It’s such a precious commodity. Something that those of us who have been parenting, say, for thirty years, with at least six more years of “kids at home” time, have come to  understand the preciousness of.

You know the whole “Enjoy them now ‘coz they’ll grow up too fast!” (Or worse yet, “Enjoy them now ‘coz soon they’ll be preteens back talking you and making your life miserable.” Sadness…) Anyway, I remember people telling me all the time that time would go fast…and I never believed them.

However, during our early parenting years (the first fifteen of them), my husband worked a job that took him out of the house sixty to seventy hours a week at least fifty weeks a year. Because of that, while we didn’t understand that our kids really would “grow up so fast,” we came to put a real value on time. We learned to use it wisely, to be efficient, and to “spend” it on the most important things to us—our kids, marriage, and God.

Time is so similar to money—yet so different than money. Like money, once it (i.e. today) is spent, it is gone—never to be retrieved again. Like money, there is only a certain amount of it—and we always wish we had more of it. Like money, it can be “spent”  foolishly or wisely, invested or squandered, used for good or for evil. Like money, it is valuable and sought after.

 

Unlike money, we all get the exact same amount of it. One of my pet peeves is to hear someone say, “I don’t have time for __________.” Maybe I’m just too literal, but, honestly, we all have the same amount of time to begin with. Granted, some of us have predetermined “time expenses”—such as a large family, an ailing parent, or other way in which our time must automatically be utilized. In that way, we don’t really all have the same amount, of course, because those people’s time is already partially earmarked. However, it is probably more accurate to  say, “I have already allotted my time elsewhere, so there’s not enough left for ______.” (Okay, that’s getting picky…but we all know people who waste A LOT of time—then say  that they do not have time for this or that.)

I’m somewhat of a “time freak.” You know how some people just really seem to love money—and want more and more of it? Well, that is me with time. Every year when it’s time to “spring forward” and move our Indiana clocks up one hour, I go through the house ranting that “someone just stole an hour from me” and “we should do something—I just had an hour stolen,” etc. etc. (To be fair, when we “fall backwards” and gain an hour, I also squeal with delight that “someone just gave me an hour”—“I can’t believe that I have been given a whole extra hour!” And yes, this tradition drives my family crazy!) This afternoon, when my family pulled out to go watch football, I looked at the clock and did my mental math, fell back on the bed and said aloud gleefully, “I have been given four precious hours to do whatever I want to do!” (That’s not really true because this week I start  teaching writing to seventy-four students, so I have some definite “predetermined time expenses” in my life right now!) But yeah, I’m crazy about time.  I love clocks, hourglasses, and time pieces. I have timers in six drawers—and the most used app on my phone is definitely my timer!

Strange time attachments aside, what does time have to do with “Character Training From the Heart” (our new blog name and seminar name) or “Positive Parenting” (our former name)? So many of our New Year’s resolutions, family goals, relationship needs, household jobs, and work tasks could be accomplished much better simply with better time management skills. A funny difference between time and money that we often do not consider is that of “stolen money” or “stolen time.” If someone broke into our car and stole our billfold (and a hundred dollars), we would be outraged. We had been “robbed”—some of our precious commodity of money taken from us. We had plans with that money. We were going to pay a bill or buy some needed item for our kids. But now that money is gone—stolen.

However, we continually allow time robbers to rob us of our time—without being outraged or trying to put a stop to it. We purposely have chosen not to have a television or game system for most of our parenting years. When people asked us (especially many years ago with several kids at home and homeschooling, etc.) how we got so much done, we only needed to say, “We don’t have a television.” And they nodded—they knew exactly how we got so much done.

Now I’m not saying that anything fun should be omitted from your life (my family is at our oldest son’s house watching football and when they return, my husband and I are going dancing!), but I am saying that we can’t complain about not having enough time, we can’t wonder why we can’t get certain things done, we can’t wish for more hours with our kids and spouse—if we let time robbers continually steal them from us (the hours, not the kids!).

We would all love to be able to “save time in a bottle” like the old Jim Croce song says. We would all love to “make days last forever” sometimes. But as the song says, that can’t happen—and “there never seems to be enough time to do the things we want to do….”

So what do we do to “get more time”? What do we do to get more accomplished? What do we do to have more time with our kids? Tune in later this week—for some “Timely Tips”—things that we have found to work for us in the areas of time management and saving that “time in a bottle.”

 

P.S. For those of you who are nostalgic for old music, like I am, I’ll put the Youtube link below to that song. Take a look at the words—they really are poignant when it comes to parenting. And no, I am not just fond of this song because it is an absolutely perfect Viennese Waltz song! Smile…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyTfbtZeGeU

Why a New Year’s Resolution With the Word MORE in it Will Probably Not Be Realized


 

I recently looked up top resolutions for the new year—and saw some interesting lists. They were the typical ones you would expect—lose weight, exercise, get out of debt, eat more healthfully, spend time with family, etc.
But what struck me most was the recurring use of the word MORE.
+Exercise MORE
+Spend MORE time with family
+Get MORE organized
+Pay off MORE bills
+Cook MORE healthy foods
What exactly does a resolution that has the word MORE in it even mean?
MORE than what? By what measuring stick? How will you know when you have achieved it?
Resolutions that contain the word MORE will likely not be realized simply because they are too general, too abstract, too non-checkable—if that were a word.
Any change—be it a New Year’s resolution or a beginning of the school year plan or a new family schedule must be quantitative in order to be met. In other words, there has to be some sort of method by which the resolver can see whether or not the resolution, plan, habit, or schedule has been met.
My husband and I are problem solvers—both of us. Sometimes we butt heads because he has an idea to solve a problem at the same time that I have another, albeit superior, idea. Smile… More often than not, though, the fact that we are both problem solvers has not been a negative but rather an amazing way to propel us to accomplish goals for our family.
In our problem solving, we have had to be extremely specific in what the steps to success were—no use of the words MORE, better, less, fewer etc.
Rather than saying that we would read the Bible or worship with the kids MORE, we said that we would have devotions more often than we didn’t. (This was one of our favorite benchmarks for many good things with our kids through the year–more often than not!)
Rather than saying that Ray would meet with our boys MORE to mentor them, we said that he would meet once a week per boy—or once a month per boy—or whatever the goal was.
Rather than saying that I would read with a new reader MORE, I said that I would read two times a day with the new reader—right after breakfast while the olders cleaned the kitchen and right before I began dinner preparations (with another older!).
The other thing we have found in our quest to be problem solvers is that we can’t solve too many problems all at the same time! In our parenting seminar, Raising Kids With Character,” we encourage parents to choose one or two things from each session that really spoke to them—one or two things that they want to implement or utilize right away in their homes. This keeps parents who have just sat through six hours of parenting lectures from being so overwhelmed that they are unable to implement any of the tips and strategies.
Throughout our thirty-one years of parenting, we have tried to tackle one problem or aspect of our family that needed changed per week (and later one per month or so). We sat down together and decided what one thing we would work on—and exactly how we would work on it (without using those taboo words of MORE, better, etc.!).
Sometimes we want lots of changes immediately! We are so quick to see the areas in our family that need work—and maybe there are many areas that we need to work on (we could always think of many!)….but if we set out to change everything all at one time, we will seldom change anything.
If you have a dozen things you would like to work on this year, consider doing one per month—and really dedicate a month to making that one thing happen…with a plan of attack that is measurable and concrete and doable. Then when that one is realized, add another the following month and so on.
Too many resolutions and too many vague words are both enemies of real change and problem solving. So try to make FEWER resolutions and keep them BETTER! Smile….