Welcome to The Mom Project. For the next few weeks, we’ll be launching my book The Mom Project by hosting several mom friends who have tried it out for themselves. They read the book, completed a project from the book with their kids, and wrote all about it. And these are real moms. Busy moms. Unsure-of-themselves moms. Single moms. Special needs moms. Working moms. Stay-at-home moms. They do the hard work of mommy-hood every day, and have found fun ways to connect with their kids in the simple activities found in The Mom Project. Read on to hear their experience:
I’m an encourager by nature so it’s not hard for me to look for the positive in my children. But I have discovered a major weakness: undivided attention. From the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning, I am on the go – and on my phone. I check work email while I make coffee, scroll through the day’s headlines while brushing my teeth and message back and forth with friends and colleagues on social media while getting everyone else in the family up and ready for the day. I never sit down.
I can’t count the number of times my 3-year-old has asked me to just look at her. My 8-year-old has figured out that my phone is the way to connect with me. When she wants attention, she asks me to look something up on my phone or offers to show me a YouTube video. She’s even started asking if I’ll read books to her from my phone. It’s hard to look for the positive in my children when I am not making eye contact with them.
Then I started reading The Mom Project, which offers easy ideas for connecting with your kids that benefit the whole family. For our project, we adopted a phone-free Sunday, and I’m here to share the impact it’s made.
Just the idea of this project put a pit in the bottom of my stomach. A whole day without a phone? Impossible. What if work needed me? My husband, Brian, suggested we both go phone-free with some lenience. We could be on our phones if the kids were asleep or entertaining themselves but the rest of time, we’d focus on each child individually and together as a family. Throughout the day, we would intentionally look for positive traits and actions to acknowledge and praise.
My older daughter takes equestrian lessons every Sunday. Usually, Dad takes both girls while I stay home to catch up around the house. This time, we decided to divide and conquer. He’d take Lily and instead of sitting in the car while she rode, he would go to the arena and cheer her on. I would stay home with Abby and be fully present. While Brian and Lily were gone, Abby and I made muffins, cleaned the kitchen and played dress-up. At the end of the day, I made dinner while the girls spent time with Dad. Then he led bath time while I tidied up and I got the privilege of snuggles and reading bedtime stories (from real books with pages, not on my Kindle app).
What I Learned
Our girls have different personalities and needs for us to fulfill. The nuances are lost on us when we’re distracted by devices. In making muffins with Abby, I learned how important it is to do things herself. Complimenting her on taking initiative without worrying about the mess she was making with flour EVERYWHERE was hard for me but left her glowing. Her joy melted my anxiety and impatience. Her love for dress-up role-playing allowed me to observe the richness of her internal world. Until Brian fully focused on Lily’s riding, neither of us realized her fear of falling was preventing her progression. Being the dad that he is, Brian set out to solve the problem by teaching Lily to ride a bike that afternoon. After 30 minutes of encouragement and applause for getting up after every fall, Lily was riding up and down the street all by herself. Abby was jumping up and down on the sidewalk cheering for her big sister, and Lily beamed with pride.
Looking for the positive is easy when your kids are compliant, but what happens when they aren’t? If you’re going to try this project at home, the first thing you’ll want to do is decide how you’ll handle the situation if your children won’t follow the plan. For instance, Lily wasn’t interested in time with me. At first my feelings were hurt. She always wants my time when I don’t have it to spare. Rejection is tough but instead of pouting, I told Lily I was proud of her for feeling free to speak her mind (she said “no thank you” – at least she used her manners).
Ready for your chance to win a copy of The Mom Project? To be entered into the drawing, just comment on this post and you’ll be entered to win.
*Only US readers are eligible to receive the free book.
Whether girls put these concerns into words or struggle anxiously with these thoughts, during this season of change, girls have questions. Sometimes these questions also come with fears and they need a safe place to process these fears. From Proverbs 31 Ministries speaker and blogger, Lynn Cowell, comes Faithgirlz Brave Beauty: Finding the Fearless You.For girls 8-12, Brave Beauty brings tweens 100 courage-building moments to reflect on Scripture and find confidence in God, rather than in someone, some place, or some thing, as culture will all-too-soon tell them to.
According to author Lynn Cowell, 7 out of 10 girls feel like they don’t measure up. How can we build our daughters up from the inside out so they don’t let comparison rule their lives?
Join us as our host, Kathi Lipp, interviews Author Lynn Cowell to discuss her new book, Brave Beauty and learn how to root out fear in our children’s lives and teach our girls to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit rather than their own strength.
Lynn has given us 3 copies of Brave Beauty to share with our listeners! What area of bravery would you like to see your 8-12 year old grow in? Leave a comment to this question and be entered to receive a free copy of Brave Beauty!
Lynn and her husband, Greg, have been married for over 30 years and are the parents of three young adults. They enjoy spending time together, especially when it combines the mountains, well-worn sweatshirts, and anything with chocolate and peanut butter. Lynn, her family, and the occasional backyard deer, live near Charlotte, North Carolina.
We want to give parents the tools they need to truly disciple their kids through their most trying discipline situations. With these tools, parents can guide their kids’ hearts towards the God who loves them deeply, and survive those pull-out-your-hair parenting moments. We pray that PUT THE DISCIPLE INTO DISCIPLINE will help parents to connect with their kids in a heartfelt way so that their kids, in turn, can connect with the God who created them to be truly and imperfectly His.
The everyday ins and outs of parenting toddlers, to boundary pushing elementary schoolers, to moody pre-teens, to rebellious almost adults is trying and just plain hard. Erin and Ellen talk about dealing with our kids using not just using justice, but also mercy, and grace- the very ways God deals with us. They discuss why these options give us and our children a better foundation for living out the life God intended for them and help us to truly get to the heart of our kids.
Comment to win. What is your biggest challenge when it comes to the justice, mercy and grace of disciplining and raising your kids? Comment below for your chance to win a free book!
Ellen Schuknecht has been working as an educator for more than 35 years, with experience ranging from early childhood education, to high school advising to family ministries counseling. She currently serves as the Director of Family Ministries at Veritas Academy in Austin, Texas where she mentors parents, teachers, and students on a daily basis. She uses her blog, www.familywings.org, as well as her many speaking engagements as a platform to help parents learn how to lead their children to Christ in a way that’s not only authentic, but that also builds the relationship between parent and child. Ellen has been married to her husband Glen for 39 years and lives in Austin, Texas near her three grown children, their spouses and– her pride and joy– her eleven precious grandchildren.
What happens on family night … stays on family night. At least that’s what we said the night I dramatically pantomimed changing my adult daughter’s diaper. It was the final round of Cranium. If my husband guessed correctly, our team would take the win. If not, it was sure to go to the other team.
In the last few seconds, he shouted, “Changing a diaper!”
I raised my hands in victory. “Yes!”
The other team groaned as my husband moved our player piece into the winner zone. My daughter got up off the floor, red-faced and raspy from screeching/laughing.
Now, whenever we decide to play a game on family night, her older siblings (and brother-in-law) always tease her with, “Let’s play Cranium.”
And she always spits back “No!,” much to their delight.
Creating a fun family night
Family night has been a thing in our family since the kids were little. Now that they’re all out on their own, they still love it. So do my husband and I. I credit family night for one of the main reasons we’re a close family.
It hasn’t always been easy. But I’ve learned some things (sometimes the hard way) to make weekly family nights an event they won’t want to miss.
1) Yummy food. If your kids still live at home, this is a night to put something special on the menu. When mine were little, they’d beg for pizza — an obvious way to make the meal fun for them.
There are other nights for “eat your vegetables” and “try it — you’ll like it.” Family nights are a great reason to put out those “Yay! Best mom ever!” foods.
Now that mine are young adults on a meager food budget, anything that isn’t Ramen noodles or Kraft macaroni and cheese puts a smile on their faces. I usually make this my night to put more effort into cooking dinner. It’s also our one dessert night of the week.
Whatever their age, choose a menu (or restaurant) that will be sure to lure them to the table.
2) Fun activity. Don’t let the night end with everyone slipping away after dinner and melding with their devices. Planning an activity keeps the conversation going, often getting into the deeper issues of life. We’re fond of board games, so it doesn’t take much to entice them to play a round or two. Sometimes we’ll hike at a local landmark or head to the nearby city park if the weather’s nice.
Some weeks, like Easter week, we’re simply exhausted. Those are great times to head to the theater or rent a movie to watch at home. This weekend, my heart melted when my youngest curled up next to her dad on the couch like she did as a little girl.
3) Safe conversation. Speaking from some of the most painful parenting lessons I’ve ever learned, I highly recommend saving the difficult conversations for later. Most issues can and should be dealt with individually, but if it’s truly a family matter, we schedule a family meeting.
We work hard at cultivating positive interaction, with more encouragement than correction. For me, the work is especially hard, since I didn’t grow up in a positive environment; too many times I’ve repeated the mistake of being too harsh with my children. Often, it takes intentional work on the parents’ part to create a supportive and affirming family environment.
I’ve watched the work pay off not just on family nights, but throughout the week as well. Recently, one of our adult kids sent us all a group text before a big job interview and instantly got 100% response with many variations of, “You go, girl!”
One Small Win: Whether your kids are just barely old enough to sit at the table, or if they have dining room tables of their own, family nights are a great way to create great memories and foster closeness.
And if you ever find yourself playing Cranium and draw the “pantomime changing a diaper” card?
Do it with gusto.
Your family will be talking (and laughing) about it for months to come.
Lyneta Smith is an inspirational writer and speaker who lives with her husband near Nashville, TN. Some of her favorite things to write in her planner: date nights and family time with her adult children. She’s owned by a frisky Boston terrier and a tortoiseshell cat. Connect with her at www.lynetasmith.com.
Homework often feels like swimming in quicksand; it takes a lot of effort to make a small, microscopic bit of progress. I think my son often feels the same. His face, his voice, his delay of the inevitable all lead to a night of overwhelm, and there isn’t one of us who welcomes the arrival of it. Instead, we have had to reframe homework time in order to do more than simply survive the wade through quicksand.
Changing the homework atmosphere
In a moment of desperation, when overwhelm was about to suck every bit of joy from the house, I opted to change the atmosphere. It was time to think outside the box.
Who knew that lavender essential oil was just as important as a No. 2 pencil? It was news to me but now I keep it on hand. Diffuse it or wear it on your wrists to erase overwhelm – yours and your child’s! I bet fresh baked cookies, freshly cut rosemary or flowers would work to invigorate and motivate as well.
A clear space to work makes a big difference. It drives us all nuts to have to clear a spot or work around the syrup on the counter. Have a clear spot ready to go. Also, there’s something about a flickering candle that ushers in peace and shows overwhelm the door. The candlelight serves as a reminder of what home is – a place of peace, it serves to remind me not set a place at the table for overwhelm.
Music is powerful and completely customizable! What type of music focuses and calms your child? Instrumental music, soft rock, a movie soundtrack, or white noise? One night I put on John Coltrane just as I was about to pull my hair out and the strains of the talented saxophonist melted the frustration so that we could all stay focused on what is important – our relationships with each other!
Sometimes everyone needs a break. “Finish that worksheet and we can go shoot some hoops.” “Let’s practice your math facts and then we can have a snack.” “Go ahead and finish that sentence and we can go dance it out.” Homework will feel less like a prison sentence when there are opportunities to blow off some steam.
Atmosphere matters in homework. I can’t do my son’s homework for him (I already passed 4th grade), but I can set the tone in our home. Homework is not always going to be fun but there can be more smiles in the midst of math, more patience in the writing of the report. It is possible to end the night tired yet satisfied, that together, we navigated homework well.
One Small Win: With a simple step outside of the box, homework becomes more than just school work – it becomes a lesson in being patient and kind while mitigating overwhelm.
You can read more from Bethany Howard at bethanyhoward.com. She writes about finding fuel for joy and growth in the details of the daily. Her greatest leadership exercise has been her roles as wife and mom to three. She is a graduate of Leverage: The Speaker Conference.