Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 Things to Teach Your Children About Love

Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
Sending flowers or saying "I Love You," are ways we express our love. However, love is more than just an outward expression of words that we might see on some conversation hearts. I believe love is best revealed through actions. As a parent, I want my children to know what love looks like.  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, there are a few things I want my kids to know about love…..real love.
# 1 Love is patient
Patience is an endearing quality. People who love one another have to be patient with one another. With two kids, it's easy for me to get frustrated. Little kids can take some time to go to the bathroom, put on their shoes and brush their teeth. Yet, as parents, it's important that we show patience.
# 2 Love is kind
My kids watch my every move. I think your relationship with your spouse is one of the easiest ways to teach kids about love. Do you and your spouse use kind words or are you always yelling? Do you hug and kiss? Do you ever carry out random acts of kindness?
# 3 Love is pure
Purity is a vital part of love. For me, this revolves around being wholesome and faithful. Perhaps, young children can't understand this as much. However, it's important that tweens and teens understand the difference between lust and love. Someone who loves you will never dishonor you or force you to do something you don't want to.
# 4 Love is selfless
Selflessness is a great attribute. Simple gestures like offering your kids the last brownie is a great way to show generosity. A husband offering his jacket to his wife is another small way to show selflessness.

# 5 Love doesn't hold grudges
It's natural for people who love each other to disagree. However, parents cannot stay angry with their children. Furthermore, parents can't hold grudges against each other. These types of feelings just fester under the surface and pollute your relationships. Even when my kids get in trouble, I make sure to tell them that I will always love them, even if I don't love everything they do.
This Valentine's Day, I want my kids to understand the meaning of this verse:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
What characteristic do you think kids need to learn about love?

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Sunday, January 18, 2015

5 Reasons to Let Your Kids be Bored (Sometimes)

“You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”  ~ Maya Angelou

Over winter break, we went ice skating, to the zoo, on a trip to San Diego, to the beach several times, on a two-day Disneyland trip, and had a small family birthday party for my son. It was all so much fun. Like most people, we were busy during the holidays.  However, there were also a few days here and there, where we didn’t do anything except explore in the backyard, read books, ride bikes, and color.  

Even though I enjoy reading and playing with my kids,  I don’t want to entertain them all day long or spend a bunch of money on never-ending structured activities.  Here are a few reasons why I think it’s good to let your kids be bored, sometimes. 

Tweet: A few reasons to let your kids be #bored via @MelissaMatters1 

Adult-Free Fun

I enjoy a good game of tag. However, sometimes I like watching without participating.  Kids don’t need an adult hovering over them every second of the day.   While my young children still need plenty of supervision, I find great enjoyment watching my kids interact from the “sidelines.”

Let Your Imagination Run Wild

When kids are not watching television, playing video games or being entertained, they have to think.  These are great ways to get those creative juices flowing.  Give your kids a cardboard box and have them turn it into a car, house, or even just decorate it. Magnifying glasses are a fun way to get kids outside and look for insects. Recently my daughter has become interested in making drawings to hang up around the house. My son has taken to playing with water using cups and spray bottles.  I doubt they would ever do these things if I didn’t give them the time to be “bored.”

Unstructured Play Time

Sometimes, I feel like my kids are the only ones who don’t have multiple extracurricular activities going on at once.  My kids have done swimming lessons, ballet, Mommy and Me gym class and soccer.  I’m not against camps or extracurricular activities.  In fact, I think it’s beneficial for kids to be involved in sports, music and other activities.   However, when kids are carted from one structured activity to the next,  it doesn’t leave them any time for unstructured play.   

Open Ended Activities

When your child says they are bored, this doesn’t mean you should ignore them.   Rather, give them some tools to help foster their creativity.  For instance, I have a craft box that has paint, crayons, stickers and some other odds and ends.  My daughter has a notebook that she writes stories in.  A few years ago, we gave away almost all of our battery operated toys in exchange for blocks, arts and crafts supplies and other opened ended activities.  After all, open ended activities can help spark your child’s imagination.   

If you’re looking for some open ended activities you can try:

Dixie Cups:  They are good for building towers.

Poms Poms:  Put a bunch of pom poms on the ground and let your kids pick them up with a spoon.  Poms poms are also great for sorting or using with crafts.

Fostering Independence

Allowing your child to be bored, sometimes, helps foster independence.  In other words, if the caregiver isn’t always entertaining the child, they have come up with activities on their own.  I think this will help them be more independent when they get older.

I’m not planning on throwing away my television or tablet anytime soon.  Even though I have plenty of outings and boredom busting activities planned, I imagine sometime soon my kids will say “I’m bored.” 

And that's okay!

What are some of your favorite open-ended activities for your kids?

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Letter to my Son on His 3rd Birthday

Life Goes By in the Blink of an Eye. Appreciate the moments. ~Unknown

Dear M,

We’ve said goodbye to the baby years.  And, now you’re about to leave the toddler years behind too.  

Your cheeks are no longer chubby.  Your nose is suddenly sprinkled with a freckles.  You keep growing out of your clothing.  And, somewhere along the way, you started looking like a little boy.

You’re starting to color between the lines.  You’re running faster, climbing higher, and sleeping longer (thank goodness).
You’re beginning to try new things, like the 'Gadget Go Coaster' at Disneyland.  Even though, you were clinging to my arm for dear life (during the entire 30 second duration of the ride), I know you were proud of yourself for trying out a roller coaster that wasn’t in the kiddie land. 

I was proud of you too. 

Even though you’re getting older, I’m glad you’re still my baby. 

I’m still the one you turn to when you’re hurt, sad, scared, or just want a hug.

I’m still one of your favorite people to cuddle up with and read a story.  

Part of me wants to push the pause button on life and make it last a little longer.  The other part of me is eager to see what type of little person you’re going to become.  And, yes, I’ll admit, I’m hoping you’ll have a few less tantrums this year and won’t get mad at me because I won’t let you do x, y, and z. 

Being three can be tough. You think you know it all and you're invincible (like Batman):

I know there’s a big world out there, and I worry.  Still, I’ll make an effort to let you explore as much as possible, without hovering too much. 

I also know we will probably have some disagreements this year and realize you’re still learning how to express yourself.  

I know when I walk you through the preschool doors next year…..that it might be hard for both of us. 

You’ll meet new people, learn a lot, and probably break the rules a few times. 

Then, it’s off to kindergarten and before I know it…….well I better not get ahead of myself because even though I wonder about the future, I’m just glad to have you by my side each day.  

And, when you ask my to hug you with not just one arm but two, I will because I know you might not do that forever. 

I'm not going to focus on the future too much, the what ifs, and the I wonders because "Tomorrow will worry about itself" (Matthew 6:34).

Here’s to today, your birthday, let’s enjoy it!


Your Mom

Do you feel like your kids are growing up too fast?

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Monday, January 5, 2015

The Eye of the Storm

The Eye of the Storm: Noun: The calm region at the center of a storm or hurricane.

As a lifelong Southern California resident, I’ve been through plenty of earthquakes.  Big ones. Ones that have shaken me to the core and shattered my material possessions.  Yet, I’ve never experienced a hurricane or a tropical storm.  At least, not a real one.  I’ve seen them in movies.  And, sometimes, my kids are like little cyclones. 

They wake up like that. 

Within moments of their eyes opening, they are running around, wanting food, twirling, jumping on the bed (and on me).  Then, they are fighting over the pink ball, or the red cup, or who gets to use the honey first.  They chase each other.  They spin until they get dizzy. They create messes and destroy things in their path. 

They play in the dirt.  They run in circles.  They fall.  They get dirty.  They change their clothes.  They wash their hands.  Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

During weekdays, there might be struggles to get my daughter to brush her hair or my son to climb into his carseat.   

Everyday there are tears, disagreements, and battles.  

But everyday, there’s also that moment when everything is calm.  More than often, there’s a handful of those moments, sprinkled throughout the day.

It may be when my son falls asleep with his head nestled on my shoulder and I enjoy the calmness, his steady breath, and his heart beating against mine. 

It may be that moment when my kids collapse in a pile of laughter after playing. 

Or that moment when I find them snuggled up together reading a book. 

Or their thoughtful faces as they color or work hard at creating a masterpiece.

And sometimes, the eye of the storm seems to be miles wide. 

Like when my kids are splashing through the shallows at the beach and time stops.  The droplets of water seem to be suspended in the sunshine and their smiles make imprints on my soul. 

Or at family dinners when everyone says please, thank you, and we just talk. 

I have pictures of some of these moments, the quiet thoughtful ones.

I also have pictures of my kids crying, smiling, playing.  And when life seems crazy, I like to look at them and remember that it's all part of being a parent.   

All of it.  The chaos.  The sadness.  The frustration.  The fear.   

Joy.  Amazement.  Love.  Happiness.  

And, I remember: 

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” -Willa Cather

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