Friday, April 19, 2013

Mom would say... #8 Clean your room

"A clean house helps organize the mind," according to my mom. "Everything seems clearer when the house is in order."

Need help to tackle a room (or house) out of control? It's easy to let things slide, but these resources can help get your home back.

1. Don Aslett has written a bunch of books that I found helpful: he's a professional cleaner with amazing ideas on thorough cleaning with efficiency. Start here if you need a cleaning coach.
2. The magazine my mom used to read - Woman's Day - is online with tips for quickly cleaning a house.
3. If you thrive on time management ("I have 1 - or 5 or 10 - minutes, so what can I get done?"), these Housewives checklists are for you!
4. Martha Stewart on laundry. Check out the other great tips on her website.
5. WikiHow is amazingly practical about cleaning a child's room.

Keep in mind:
  • To have a home is a gift, whether it's rented or owned. Many people have never had a place to call their own.
  • Your house reflects your state of mind and your taste.
  • That said, rich or poor is not the issue. You can be clean or dirty in either.
  • Hospitality is your gift to the world. Invite the world in!
  • People love you because you're nice "people," not because of your house or fancy furnishings.
Have any great resources to share? We'd love them (comments below).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mom would say... #7 Be ready for anything

Today, I'm passing along five family resources from other bloggers:
1. New stuff and great design for families at Apartment Therapy.
2. An interesting blog about raising kids here.
3. Your child is a fussy eater. Here's a doc's take. The guest bloggers at this blog explore many other aspects of childraising and medical concerns, too.
4. Someone you care for ends up in the hospital. How do you show your care for them?
5. You're staying in hospital overnight, supporting a child, friend, or family member? Here's what to pack.

Got great resources to share? Post them in comments or write a guest blog.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mom would say... #6: Keep the kitchen and bathroom clean!

"No matter what, keep the kitchen counters clear and the bathroom clean," my mom told me. "If those areas are done and the living room is picked up, your guests will assume the whole house is done."

When you have little kids, they turn the house into a hurricane zone. Picking up after them and organizing school kids' stuff is an ongoing chore! After homework is done or babies are put to bed, cleaning bathroom fixtures and kitchen counters and sinks may not rate high on your list.

I was SO worn out when my kids were little, I was just happy to have peace and quiet. And sometimes the house looked a disaster. Oh well. They became functional adults anyway.

So - try to pick up. Try to keep up. But on days when it's all you can do to stagger to bed, having clean sheets may be enough!

Here are some links to help you out:
Real Simple checklists
Martha Stewart's housecleaning checklists
Microsoft house chore checklist
Housecleaning Central checklist

Have fun! but remember, your friends are coming to see you not a perfectly kept house.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mom would say ... #5 Your siblings are your best friends

I hated my little brother. He was adorable, took the attention from a happy twosome (my older brother and me), and had a mind of his own. My parents oohed and aahed over him. Our aunts and uncles cooed over his cuteness. I noticed. And was jealous. We had fierce spats in childhood because we disliked each other. Thankfully, we became friends as adults.

When my third child - a boy who even looked and acted like my "little brother" - came along, I was determined to ward off a similar sibling rivalry. I told our older two: "Wow, you're the big kids now! God gave you a little brother who will be your friend and admire you! He's going to think you are fantastic. Be good to him. It's your job to take care of him."

We fussed over the baby, but never to the exclusion of the other kids. He was "their baby" from the start.

We reinforced the importance and responsibility - and privileges - of being older. Today, the siblings get along and look our for each other. They're in each others' wedding pictures and attend events together. We eat Sunday lunches as a family, with dear daughters-in-love and grandkids around the big table.

There's a story in the Bible about twins whose relationship was rocky. The story of Jacob and Esau includes ambition, greed, inheritance, and divided parental expectations. In Middle East culture, the firstborn son got the lion share of the family goods. With goods came authority. Being the firstborn brought great responsibilities to care for the family, but that son determined how the rest of his family lived.

Esau beat Jacob into the world by just a few minutes. From birth, Jacob grasped Esau's heel and wanted the privileges and rights of his older brother. Here's part of the story - how Jacob legally stole the inheritance:

One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. Esau said to Jacob, "I'm starved! Give me some of that red stew."' (This is how Esau got his other name, Edom, which means 'red.')

"All right," Jacob replied, "but trade me your rights as the firstborn son."

"Look, I'm dying of starvation!" said Esau. "What good is my birthright to me now?"

But Jacob said, "First you must swear that your birthright is mine"' So Esau swore an oath, thereby selling all his rights as the firstborn to his brother, Jacob.

Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn. Genesis 25:29–34 NLT

Eventually Esau and Jacob's descendents became foes. They fought for land and power in later generations. The enmity of their forefathers became a wedge between neighbors and cousins.

What kind of a family legacy are you building between siblings? Is your child a heart friend to her brother? A selfish conniver against his sister? A peacemaker? A thorn in the family's side? How will later generations speak of your children? We need to model ways to show love, forgiveness, and inclusion to those around us, including our children.

We'd love your ideas about how you're helping your kids build strong family ties.

Mom would say: Friends come and go. Family is forever!


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mom would say ... #4 What's really important?

When we're making decisions as singles, our actions affect those around us. As parents, everything we do affects our kids.

W and I finally stopped fighting about trivia when we started thinking about what would matter in the future. Did the toothpaste squeeze have significance in 5 years? (nope) Would the choice of school make a difference for the children? (probably) Did where we went on vacation or the way we made tea matter in 20 years? (hardly) Would we regret not having hired the French tutor as babysitter? (yes) Did it matter if W liked his job? (oh, yeah)

Most often, the little decisions served to boost our ability to compromise that day. (Happier household.) They had little impact on what we valued.

Mom says: You can let go of a lot of tension by thinking about what matters in the long run. What's really important in shaping the person you are becoming .... and the character of your kids.

What have you focused on to build solid relationships? What have you let slide because it wasn't important?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mom would say ... #3 Respect matters

Do your kids sass you? Refuse to come when called? Slap or bite you? "What happened?" you may ask. "Who are these awful people, living in my house? I expected to be a good mom/dad, but my children don't listen to me at all."

"If you're wondering how your kids got to be so disrespectful, here are a few things to look out for," says this mama:
  1. Do you respect yourself? Are you modeling kindness and that each person has value in the way you treat yourself, your spouse, and your friends?
  2. Do you respect your kids? We're not talking about letting them get away with everything. But random slapping, yelling, and intermittent punishments are disrespectful to anyone - children and teens included.
  3. Do your kids know what's expected? Do you consistently follow up with consequences (praise or discipline) when they've been asked to do a chore or come to you?
  4. Do you sometimes overlook or laugh about their disobedience or disrespect to others? That's confusing, NOT cuteness! The first adolescence starts just before age 2. What you emphasize and reward in toddlers is what you reap in their teens.
  5. Do you support authorities? Schools, churches, and sport events set goals and consequences to train kids in self-discipline, life skills, and getting along with others. Ignoring guidelines and blocking consequences shows your kids they don't have to respect those looking out for their safety or helping them work toward goals.  If Blake's teacher tells you s/he needs to stay for detention, support the teacher!  If Kerry's coach puts her/him on the sidelines for bad behavior, let your kid learn to follow instructions. (These authorities have other things to do besides look for punishments for kids; they WANT to be on your kid's side.)
  6. Set realistic goals. We had "these three expectations by age 16" for our kids: read (you can find out any info); understand math (for calculations); and have good manners (so you can help others and others are happy to help you.)
  7. Are you polite? Do you expect good manners from your children? They have lots of chances to practice etiquette on the phone, holding the door for others, getting in the car, waiting in line, speaking in an "inside" voice, etc. People notice - and respect - children who are respectful to them.
That's a start anyway. How did you do on the list?

How did your parents or mentors teach you respect? (We're not talking about abusive submission!) What are you doing to teach your family to be liked and respected by others?

Mom would say ... #2 Is that you, dear?

I like to call my mom on the phone. She's our family connector. She tells me what my brothers are up to, what her friends are doing, and what's important to her.

She also reminds me who I am. Our conversations remind me of:
  • Values instilled in our family. What's important to us?
  • Traditions that are important or that can be left behind.
  • Things I was good at as a child - past skills that may kick me in the pants to try something today.
  • Things I never liked - flaws, weaknesses, or just plain "NOT ME!" stuff that keeps me out of harm's way.
  • What I said I'd like to do but haven't tried yet.
What about your mom or older friends reminds you who you are? Who you could be?

Mom would say ... #1 You're big enough for this, my dear!

Ever looked at the day ahead and thought it would kill you?
  • The wedding is a few months away and the details are overwhelming.
  • OR marriage isn't what we expected - or we've become single parents.
  • The calendar is so full we think we'll never make it to nightfall.
  • OR it's so empty that we may die of loneliness.
  • The kids are screaming and tearing the house apart.
  • OR we wish there were little feet running around, but the house is quiet.
  • Our job is stressing us out and our boss is downright mean.
  • OR we wish we could find a job to make ends meet.

My dad is 80. My mom is in her late 70s. They've been married 60 years. Both of them told (and showed) my three brothers and me that they believed in us. They KNEW we were big enough for any challenge life would throw our way. Each sibling grew up willing to risk and fail in order to thrive and succeed.

How do you encourage your family? Guard their dreams? Boost them toward their full potential?

Who does that for you?

Mom would say ... Introduction

After 37 years together, my husband and I have four kids, two weddings, one granddaughter, and two doctorates behind us.

From Real Simple Daily Thought
 I'm always on the alert for what works for - and what frustrates - parents and their children. Life is full of surprises, so it's good fun (and sometimes a lifesaver) to get input on making life better.

My husband is a wise man who got more involved with our kids once they were in their teens. He's got serious tech chops and people skills. I'll pick his brain occasionally for the male take on relationships, marriage, raising children, and being a good friend.

Let's buckle up, dive in, and get started! This is your place to share parenting, friendship, and community tips.