Tag Archives: parenting

Our kids have worked since they were fifteen.  Probably because they wanted to eat off-campus at lunch and our scanty meal allowance didn’t give them much hope of more than dollar tacos at Taco Bell.  We have always had the intention of our teenagers getting a job as soon as they were old enough.  Jon and I both worked in high school, and benefited from the experience.

On the flip side, I know and greatly respect families who have decided that their teens will not be working because they need to be focused solely on academics and extra-curricular activities in high school, or their sports don’t allow them to have time to have a job.  Or, it just is not something they would consider for their child.

But, like SO many things in life, this topic is not a black and white decision.  As our children are in college and entering the last couple of years of high school, we have learned a lot along the way, and the biggest lesson—there are both pros and cons to our children working.

PROS

1. TEENS WITH JOBS LEARN THE VALUE OF MONEY before they leave the home.  Each of our three children, who all have very different personalities, have made mistakes at some point with saving and budgeting the money they’ve earned in their jobs.  And that is really good.  They have had to experience the “poof” phenomenon that all adults with jobs clearly understand—where did it all go SO FAST?

 They are learning priceless financial (no pun intended) lessons right now.

2.  TEENS WITH JOBS LEARN THE VALUE OF THEIR TIME.   Working naturally causes our teens to be more efficient with the time they have each day.  If your teenager is prone to couch potatoing in front of a video game or Netflix, working may be the best thing for them.  Having a job significantly reduces the down time available, so what is left is studying, eating, school activities and a little friend time–a good recipe for a balanced week.

3. TEENS WITH JOBS LEARN TO WORK UNDER AUTHORITY.  They will experience managers who are difficult, unfair, or just a new personality type.  They will also see good management examples.  Teens will learn to respect the natural hierarchy of the workplace.

4.  TEENS WITH JOBS CAN HELP CONTRIBUTE TO THE FAMILY.  We require our kids to pay us $100/ month when they are old enough to drive.  This money goes toward gas and insurance for the month for their cars, and although it doesn’t cover all of the expense, the fact that they don’t get to keep ALL of the money they earned for fun money is definitely a sacrifice when they get that paycheck.  Welcome to adulting.  And, it helps them appreciate the transportation they are being provided with all the more.

6.  TEENS WITH JOBS LEARN THE TYPE OF WORK THEY ENJOY (OR NOT).  Our children have been in the food service industry (Starbucks, Chick-Fil A, serving at restaurants),  retail industry (Tillys) , and general service industry (Discount Tire).   They are clearly learning what type of work they enjoy– and what they don’t.  They have a greater sense of empathy for those who work in these industries, as they know how hard, or boring or exhausting these jobs can be.  It is one step in helping them refine their work journey for the future.

5. TEENS WITH JOBS LEARN TO SAVE MONEY for the things that are important for them.  Our son, his Junior year, spent a vast majority of his money on fast food.  And he had nothing left to show for it at the end of the year.  This was really disappointing to him, and he has decided that the money he earns his senior year is going to be used for a better purpose.

6.  TEENS LEARN INTERVIEW SKILLS. Our teens learn to advocate for themselves, identify their skills and assets, and communicate those clearly to a person in authority.

7.  TEENS WITH JOBS LEARN THAT DOING THINGS THEY DON’T LIKE WON’T KILL THEM.  Often times our adult jobs include tasks that we don’t enjoy.  That is reality, and we want to prepare our kids to have that expectation when they are working as adults.  Just because part of a job isn’t fun or enjoyable, doesn’t mean we quit.  We remind our kids “Work is called work for a reason.”

Back to things not being black and white, we have also let our teens quit jobs they really don’t care for.  But they have to give it three months before they make that decision.  Our son really wanted to quit his job at Discount Tire his junior year (for reasons we found out later were quite valid), but he stuck it out and ended up liking it there.  Great life lesson on perseverance.

8.  TEENS WITH JOBS DEVELOP EXCELLENT CHARACTER TRAITS.  They learn to be prompt, to follow directions, to work with co-workers they don’t particularly care for, to plan their time, responsibility on the job, multi-tasking, learning new skills, and appeasing difficult customers (just to name a few!). 

Working in high school prepares our teenagers for launching into the real world.  There are incredibly valuable life lessons that working in high school prepares them for.   A high parenting value for my husband and I is preparing our children for the real world…which jobs do in significant ways.

CONS

There are cons.  Cons that sometimes have made us let our kids take a few months off of work.  Again, this is not black and white.  We need to stay flexible with our kids lives, keeping academics and emotional health as a priority. 

There are less cons listed below than the pros above…but they are still significant and worth considering when making this decision with your teen.

1.YOU LOSE YOUR DRIVERS  This was a big one that caught me by surprise.  As a mom of three with a husband who travels every week, I couldn’t wait until our oldest daughter received her license—yay drive help!  But since we also asked her to get a job, she was often scheduled to work when I needed that extra driver to pick up another child from soccer practice or after school activities..  This struggle has not gone away over the years, but we have decided the value of work is higher than the value of an extra driver.

2. YOU HAVE LESS TIME WITH YOUR TEENS.  They are busy.  And then the job makes them more busy.   This is an important con to consider.  Often our teen is scheduled to work during the dinner hours, so if having dinner together as a family is a high value, this might get in the way.  Teens will often be working on the weekends, after school, or in the evening, and when they are home they are studying or resting or hanging out with friends.

3. THEY MAY MISS OUT ON FAMILY EVENTS.  This is the reality of working.  Sometimes our teens have not been given days off that they requested for special occasions or family outings.  This is always difficult at the time, for all of us.  But it is another life lesson—being a reliable and loyal worker speaks volumes in your work life.  And sometimes that comes at a cost.

4.  ACADEMICS.  For some children, having less down time during the week actually helps them condense their studying to be more on task and efficient.  However, there have been many Thursday nights our kids have been scheduled to work while having two or three tests the following Friday.  This teaches them to plan ahead for these tests, but it also means late nights after they get home from work.  

And sometimes, if our teens have not been able to keep up their academic workload because of a job, we have given them time off from work because school is always a priority.

5.  SPORTS.  It is very hard for teens to hold a job during their high school sports seasons.  Our son is a golfer, so from spring to fall every year we learned that he needed to put his job on hold because practiced after school every day with tournaments on the weekends.  Most employers aren’t flexible enough to work with that schedule.  So, he works from October to March every year, and that works for us.

So there it is!  Our lessons from the past several years. My husband and I have had many late night discussions about each child and their work life–making sure they are finding a healthy balance with all that they are involved in.  We have had to make some difficult decisions along the way, but in the end we are glad for our own stories around work and are seeing our children develop many character traits that we want them to take into college and adulthood.

~Amy

PS: Keep an eye out for a blog about TIPS NOW THAT YOUR TEEN DOES HAVE A JOB!

Also…I created these prayer journals for the Fall.  I will be creating a new version for each season of the year.   If you are like me and need some structure during your prayer time to keep you focused, you might love one of these.  They are a perfect size, to sit on your nightstand, on the table by your favorite chair in the morning, or to drop in your purse.  $15, including shipping.  Just click here to purchase now!

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Hi Friends,

If you are like every parent out there that I know, you worry about how technology is possibly (ok definitely) going to affect your child negatively–if not now, someday.

Besides moving to a remote valley where there is no access to wifi, no phones or computers in your house (oh and no friends who have access to technology), this is something we as parents have to face.  And honestly, it is really scary.

When our kids were younger, I came up with a Power Point to share with our children talking/teaching about technology –its benefits, its dangers, the good, bad and the ugly.   It is simple and very general so we could tailor the discussion to our family’s needs at the time.  It is something I could share with them even now as older teens, but the format is geared for elementary-middle school children (however if you are a little Power Point savvy, you can “adult” it up a bit for your older ones!).

I want to share it with you in hopes that it may provide a jumping off point for you to have this discussion (most likely one you’ve had a few times before–it is not a one and done), with some structure and open ended points to allow some good family processing.  Just click on the link below and you will be able to open it up, customize it to your family, add, subtract, whatever you want. 

FAMILY TECH PLAN

With all my camaraderie in this journey of parenting!

~Amy

Also…I created these prayer journals for the Fall.  I will be creating a new version for each season of the year.   If you are like me and need some structure during your prayer time to keep you focused, you might love one of these.  They are a perfect size, to sit on your nightstand, on the table by your favorite chair in the morning, or to drop in your purse.  $15, including shipping.  Just click here to purchase now!

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When our oldest daughter, Hannah, was in middle school I had my first totally gut wrenching experience of watching her be truly hurt by friends.  She had been invited to a house for a birthday party with a group of girls from school.  When I dropped her off she was all smiles, bouncing up to the door with a polka-dotted gift bag. I remember feeling all warm and fuzzy about the new friends my daughter was making—all was well in the universe.

About four hours later she texted that she was ready to be picked up.  When I arrived, she walked out to the car, absent of all bounce.   “How was the party hon?” I asked.  “It was okay,” she responded sliding into the passenger seat.  “Is everything all-right?” I continued, noticing her flat tone.  “Not really, Everyone is sleeping over except me.  I didn’t get invited to.”

And then she burst into tears.

I can’t begin to explain the flood of intense emotions that rolled over me. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me by a bunch of pimply snap chatting middle schoolers. But I don’t need to explain, Moms, you know exactly what I am talking about.

Not only did I desperately want to hug my child until all the pain was squeezed out of her, but I found myself instantly remembering long locked away feelings of being left out when I was a child…which is always fun.

It. Felt. Awful.

“I am so so sorry honey.” I softly said. “I just don’t know why they don’t like me enough to see me as one of their group,” she sobbed.  I had no words to explain…who knows? 

We drove home in silence. Both of us hurting and confused.

Now I know some of you moms out there would be making a phone call the next day to the mom who hosted the party, or crossing those girls off your child’s friend list permanently and believe me, I understand. Our mama bear comes out in those situations like a dog chasing a cat.  I just didn’t have the fight in me for that one.  Hannah and I talked about security in God and not in friends and how much we loved and accepted her in our family.  But the pain was still there, and to make it worse it happened a few more times that year.  More fun.

I actually think in that situation I did the right thing.  This was part of Hannah’s friend story.  I didn’t rescue her.  I just sat in the pain with her.  But I didn’t always choose that option.  Over the years with our three kids I found other (unhealthy) ways to deal with my pain and theirs.

For example, sometimes after our children experienced particularly painful encounters, I would make secret plans in my head to move my family to a remote country where we would raise chickens and help orphans because of course there would be only rainbows and no pain there.

Other times, I would react, like the time I stormed out of our back door and told off a group of boys that were teasing my son (this had been a repeated event and I just lost all my cool).  And then I calmed down.  And got the full story.  And realized I could have asked more questions and talked to them in a reasonable way about how this behavior was really hurting my son instead of as a freaking out suburban crazy bear mom.  And then I called to apologize to all the moms for my overreaction.  And then felt even more terrible because one of the moms had just been diagnosed with terminal cancer and I didn’t know.  Geez.

A couple of times I sent emails to moms to try to work out the problems and both times that exploded into an awful exchange of misunderstood tones and meanings.  (Important note; DO NOT EMAIL OR TEXT IN THESE SITUATIONS.  Resist your inner millennial and pick up the phone).

But most often, I didn’t do anything except brew mean thoughts about those kids who were hurting our kids.  How they were just plotting and planning ways to leave our daughter out (which I realize sometimes is the case, but not usually) or how they relished the pain it was  causing my son to not get invited to high school social events (ok, relish is probably too strong of a word).  I would make up stories about how if I could only give them a taste of their own medicine then they would stop, or that maybe I needed to intercept my child’s phone and send a nasty text back. 

So…just so you know I’m not very proud of these thoughts. 

Note that what I didn’t at all account for in this inner mental tirade was that our child MIGHT have POSSIBLY contributed to the situation.  Which as moms we need to admit is very often the case.

And the problem is that when the next day my child is full of smiles and pep because they are now best friends again with that child that hurt them (AND sent me into an emotional nosedive just twenty four hours before) I was not over it.  And would have to drive this child to an activity in a carpool or feed them a snack at my kitchen counter.  With a smile pasted to my face.

I was sharing all of this with a close, wise friend few years ago and she (as good friends should do) said, “Amy. You need to get off this emotional roller coaster. You are riding it right along with your child and they don’t want or need that. They need you to be waiting at the end of the ride, calmly, sanely, with a hug and and ice cream cone. (Well I added that part about the ice cream but I could imagine her saying that.)

And when you watch them get back on the coaster (which they inevitably will), just sit on the bench and breathe and pray.”

In essence she was telling me to get a grip.

She was sooo right and her words were incredibly freeing.

Moms, our kids don’t need a mom who joins in on the railing and complaining against the perpetrator, or a mom who sends and email they might regret,  or runs out the back door yelling and pointing fingers.  Ahem. 

No.  They need stable, calm, sane mom. Solid in her foundation as a secure adult who is not rocked by the misdeeds of others (mere children for gosh sake!).  Who is confident of her God who loves her and her child…who takes a moment to calculate what time of the month it is before responding like a crazy person.

Our child needs a mom who assures them that everything is going to be okay and asks empowering questions like, “Wow. That must really hurt.  What do you think you should do about this?”

Believe me I know this is hard.  When our kids are hurt it causes us moms to go a little let’s say…bat you know what crazy. Just ask our husbands.  We lose rationality and clear thought.  We are out for blood.  We are mad. Like a little insane mad.  Because these are our flesh and blood and our primal instinct as moms is to protect them from pain at all costs.

The problem is in those moments we are totally focused on the now. Not the tomorrow or the years ahead.  Not our child’s long term maturing process.  Not our relationships with other moms…like when you will see that other mom at the bus stop or show up for the same volunteer time at your kid’s classroom, or sit down the row from each other at the middle school band performance. Awkward. Not that that has ever happened to me…

In those moments we are not understanding the long term perspective.  That our kids really end up being okay.  They figure it out.  It becomes part of their story, they learn from it how to be a better friend to others and who to choose as future friends.  We forget that that child that we are so mad at will possibly be in our home for years to come and really do we want to be harboring ugly feelings for an eight year old mistake when they are fourteen?

So, slowly, I got off the roller coaster of our child’s friendships.  I got a grip. Those friendships were brutal sometimes; still are.  Just last year my daughter had a incredibly painful friend situation her first year in college.  I listened.  I prayed for her.  I hung up and prayed for my heart which was killing me as I sat over a thousand miles away from her.

But you know what? She got through it.  That is the same child who was not invited to the sleepover?  She’s amazing.  And secure. And has good boundaries.  And has an incredible group of friends this year who all flew to our home for a weekend stay and some mountain skiing just last month.

Just last week our seventeen year old son shared that he had been left out of something his whole group did together.  They just didn’t want him there.  The pain is still very powerful and real. Those mean thoughts wanted to take root. But I just handle it differently now.  I pray.  I ask God to give me wisdom and peace and to shut my mouth.  I listen to my son and if he doesn’t want to talk about it I don’t pry.  He will be okay.

He will.

They survive.  We survive.

The pain…if we can wrap our brains around it moms, is not this evil ugly monster trying to devour our child.  If they have a safe and sane place to land at home, the pain turns into strength and learning about how to treat others, and perseverance, and healthy boundaries, and maturity.

I don’t think those girls at the birthday party were intentionally trying to be mean.  They were just clueless.  Can we give those who hurt our children the benefit of the doubt?  And can we acknowledge that our children aren’t perfect and also will cause hurt to others in their eighteen years of childhood?  Can we demonstrate grace and forgiveness to those in our home and those outside of our home? 

What an incredible example of Christ’s love we can be.

Moms, you are amazing!  Press on!

Xoxo

Amy

Also…I created these prayer journals for the Fall.  I will be creating a new version for each season of the year.   If you are like me and need some structure during your prayer time to keep you focused, you might love one of these.  They are a perfect size, to sit on your nightstand, on the table by your favorite chair in the morning, or to drop in your purse.  $15, including shipping.  Just click here to purchase now!

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This blog was written a few months ago and I am just publishing it now. I needed to let it percolate and seek the okay from family members, because it is real and a bit vulnerable…but hopefully encouraging to you as you know you don’t walk this parenting journey alone.

I do my best processing of life on airplanes. There is something about being confined to my own little space with no distraction except the occasional beverage cart or turbulent air pocket.  I am trapped and it is blissful. 

Out in the wide open world I have trouble containing myself. There is so much to see and do and be.  I am constantly pursuing and being pursued in wonderful friendships, pouring time into my family and my relationship with the Lord.  It too is blissful.  Yet my heart and brain are so busy and full that I don’t find much time for quiet reflection.  Which is why, right now, I am writing, almost 40,000 feet above the earth, traveling over cities and farmland and lakes, but in my own space of solitude with a blanket on my lap and a soda on the empty seat next to me.

Today I am thinking about parenting.  We are in the throws of teenage life.

My husband took me to the airport this morning, he taking his own flights, me on another route, and we will meet up in New Jersey tonight and spend the day in New York City together tomorrow, just the two of us on a little 24 hour vacation.  On the early morning car ride I brought up a sensitive topic—one of our children and how to navigate a promise we made to him and that we don’t fully agree on the appropriate reward at the end.

It is just one of the places we spend a lot of time lately-navigating our different opinions on parenting our teenager.  Me from my background, my husband from his, we circle the issues over and over, slowly, slowly coming together in the center.  It is taking time.  It hasn’t been easy. 

Up until our teenager parenting years we were always on the same page as mom and dad.  A unified front.  But what I have realized is that teenagers will peel back all the layers of ourselves, down to the tender core. The stakes feel high.  We can see the clock running out on their time with us and we care SO darn much about the people they are growing into.

Teenagers expose our messy, darker sides as we fight to control our emotions, have endless patience, and exhaust ourselves seeking the wisest way to handle each and every situation.

Growth.  It is a constant companion these days.

Just this week I smiled with clenched teeth at my daughter in the orthodontist’s waiting room as she argued with me in front of a room full of parents paging through magazines.  I reached for her phone after asking her to put it away several times and she pulled it away, thinking we were playing a game.  I. Was. Not. 

The playful arguing continued, evoking raised eyes and sideways glances from the people sitting around us. Until we got into the car…and I lost it.  Unfettered emotion and frustration and embarrassment spilled all over her.  She began to cry.

I had surprised her. She thought I thought it was funny, that we were just goofing around.  By all my outward signs she was right in her interpretation—getting publicly mad at my daughter and creating a scene is about as comfortable to me as sitting on a cactus.  So in the moment I play with fake smiles and clenched teeth “Please give me your phone…”. When inside I am wrapping up more and more tightly, like a coiled spring.

The emotion and tears and raised voices continued all the way home.  It was messy.  In our driveway, my daughter and I sat and talked it out.  I said I understood how she misinterpreted the situation, and that I was very sorry for not handling it better once we were alone.  She apologized for arguing and not being respectful.  We agreed to do better, both of us.

My tender core.  Needing growth, again.  So much stretching and learning and being humbled.   

And then last night, as we celebrated Father’s Day on our back patio on a stunningly beautiful Colorado evening, my girls called, “Mom! Come hold our feet!”  They were upside down, a 19 and 15 year old, in the grass trying to imitate a paired headstand yoga pose they had found in an Athleta magazine.  Giggling uncontrollably.

I walked through the grass, stepping on the thick blades and over dog poop land mines.  Holding the magazine in the air my girls said, “Hold our feet together this way!” Laughing, I tried…to hold their feet… but they couldn’t both stay in their pose at the same time. Breathless and giggling they kept falling over. 

I could only grab one leg and then as the other child’s leg came up the first one would fall. More giggling, “Try again!” More grabbing and falling and mismatched poses. Breathless laughing.  “Once more Mom!”  We never got it.  And it didn’t matter. The point wasn’t “getting it”. The point was the moment together, the laughing and trying and falling.

That is the Parenting Teenagers Experience.  Wanting to grab all their feet and connect them in perfect synchronicity to hold the perfect yoga pose.  No falling.  No multiple tries.  Spot on the first try.  Wanting the beautiful, composed image of a happy healthy family, like the sculpted Altheta models on a beach in Tahiti or somewhere.  Peaceful. Perfect. Balanced.

But instead, grabbing one child solidly only to lose grip on the other.  Lot’s of falling over, lots of trying, never quite in sync.

I call these “almost poses.” Almost always showing grace and patience and forgiveness.   Almost responding the right way every time.  Almost completely understanding each other’s point of view.  Almost perfect.

Almost.

Sometimes this place of “almostness” feels really discouraging.   I feel like I should have mastered how to react to stressful situations with my kids at this point, know the wisest call to make at every new issue, and how to always be on the same parenting page with my incredible husband by now.

Other times, when I am in a healthy spiritual place, I see this “not yet there” as a gift of the journey.  God has work to do in me, in my husband, in our children.  He can’t grow perfect people.  He can’t use perfect families to demonstrate forgiveness and mercy and grace and hope. 

God wants to sanctify me—the process of renewal and change for His purpose and aligned with his heart.

This is done, I am realizing, in “almost poses,” clumsy and surrounded by poop land mines, and meltdowns in the car.  It is where he can do his best work.

Not on a beach in Tahiti.

Those of us who are in this phase of life know what I am talking about.  I would encourage you to find a friend who is willing to share about the hard parts, who is striving to be the best mom possible, and walk this journey together.

I have several of those friends, but one in particular, who lives a over a thousand miles away and is walking closely with me through these teenage parenting years.  We text each week, sometimes call, sharing prayer requests, asking for advice.  We are brutally honest and completely real.  She is safe for me, and I for her.

We love our families with a fierceness that gets us in trouble sometimes, but we remind each other to embrace the process God is taking us all through.   We sometimes get off the phone completely validated, and sometimes completely challenged to get back in the ring of raising great kids and showing up well for our husbands.  It is awesome. 

Find your people.

So press on fellow parent. Strive not for perfection but for sanctification. 

I’m taking a sip of my Diet Pepsi now, gazing out at the patches of land below as the plane begins it’s decent.

We are almost there.

Xoxo

Amy

I don’t post blogs every week, but every week I do post content on my Facebook page–on parenting, faith, and design, so “like” my page and join in!  http://www.facebook.com/amyhayesblog/

 

 

 

Also…I created these prayer journals for the Fall.  I will be creating a new version for each season of the year.   If you are like me and need some structure during your prayer time to keep you focused, you might love one of these.  They are a perfect size, to sit on your nightstand, on the table by your favorite chair in the morning, or to drop in your purse.  $15, including shipping.  Just click here to purchase now!

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A few months ago my daughter, Maddie, asked if I could help her with her homework.  I took a screenshot of our text message conversation because it was a painful (but important) truth for me about how she perceived my attentiveness toward her:

 

 

Maddie is my brutally honest child.  And I love her for it.  She felt the need to highlight my history of “un-devoted” or “distracted” homework helping skills in the past.  And she was completely right in asking for my complete attention.

See, I am a distracted mom. Ask anyone in my family.  I am usually thinking of or trying to do five things at once, because I think I can.  But I really can’t, at least not well.

This need to be power productive at all times causes me to forget things my family has said to me because I was half-listening to them in the first place.  They often talk to my back as I whisk around the house with an armload of laundry or watering the plants out back or picking up shredded toilet paper rolls off the floor (thanks to our new puppy).   Often I am on my computer, responding to emails or blogging–and it’s effort to peel my eyes off the screen and shift my thoughts from what I am writing to what they are saying.  I rarely stop and look them in the eye, bend down to their level, put down what I am doing….why? Because I think I can multi-task and meet their needs while meeting mine.

The truth is, I shouldn’t “multi-task” my children.  When I do, I am not fully present with them–they only get a slice of me, and the world gets all the other slices.  And that sends a powerful message to them about their priority in my life.

I remember through my childhood years and even into college when I would call my dad at work, he would always, always take my call.  And he was the president of the company he owned.  He had important things to do and important meetings to have.  But whenever his secretary let him know I was on the phone, he stopped what he was doing and talked to me.  It’s not that I needed to feel loved…I knew he loved me.  I think it meant so much because it showed me I was more important to him than all the other important things in his life.

That’s what our kids want.  They want to know that when they ask for homework, we think that time together is worth a king’s ransom.  They want to know that when they are talking to us, we have eyes for them only, and their words and thoughts they are sharing are more important to us than our phone or computer screen, or the pile of mail to sort through.

It’s not always easy.  There are times when our kids just can’t be our center of attention. Maybe we have an important work project due or need to get the dinner in the oven.  It’s okay, we need to have grace for ourselves, because it is not good for our kids to be the center of attention all the time.

My point is more this…the reality that for many of us our kids are rarely the center of our attention.  At least for me.  My tasking, productive, technology-wooed life is a distracted one.  I am often not a fully present mom to them.

How about you?

The good news is that change is not that hard.  It’s being intentional with some new habits like looking our children in the eye, shutting the computer when they are around or just sitting still and being available. We CAN push past the shiny objects in our day that beg for our attention, and instead give it to our flesh and blood standing right beside us.

I have created a “Distracted Mom Quiz” to help clarify our areas of most distracted behavior and where we are doing a great job.  At the end are some practical tips and encouraging thoughts to help us regroup and find our way back to where I believe we all want to be as moms…present and engaged.

So, are you a distracted mom?  Maybe ask your kids.  Have a conversation with them and listen to their perspective.

Technology and busyness are our greatest barriers to being fully connected with our kids.

How are these getting in the way of your best parenting goals?

I’ve created a quiz to help us figure out exactly where we struggle.  I’ve included some tips on how we can start being less distracted moms right now:

And please, don’t be discouraged!  This is a tough one friends, but it’s never too late to make changes.

xoxo,

Amy

Also…I created these prayer journals for the Fall.  I will be creating a new version for each season of the year.   If you are like me and need some structure during your prayer time to keep you focused, you might love one of these.  They are a perfect size, to sit on your nightstand, on the table by your favorite chair in the morning, or to drop in your purse.  $15, including shipping.  Just click here to purchase now!

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I have been a parent now for nineteen years.  Some days I feel like I have learned and grown so much as a parent that I could sit with a new mom and pour wonderful nuggets of wisdom into her cup.  Other days I feel completely unequipped and literally exhale doubt and confusion about how to walk this parenting journey well.

Over the years I have garnered advice from various sources and tried numerous “systems” in our home to to be an intentional, character developing mom.  Many of the new things I have tried have totally flopped, and some have been a great success.  Today I want to share with you three of my most successful parenting “hacks.”    These are resources that are not only extremely helpful to me as a mom, but continue to help me again and again as my mothering seasons change:

MOTHER AND SON by Eggerich

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This book is a must read for any mother of a son.  Eggerich writes about speaking a different language with our sons–a language of respect.  We are natural speakers of love and affection as moms, but he teaches us how to reach our son’s hearts by speaking words of respect and honor to them.  I began to see changes in my relationship with my son as soon as I started implementing the wisdom in the book.  It’s well worth having in your parenting library– you can click here to find it on Amazon:
Mother and Son: The Respect Effect

CIRCLE by Disney  

So……this is not my children’s favorite but it is one of mine.  I have struggled with managing the technology beast in our house that was threatening some core values we had as a family–protecting what our children watched on screens (what we are putting in to our minds), time spent on screens (how we manage our time), and sleep (…pretty sure sleep can be a core value).

With Circle, you order a small modem that you get for a one time $99.00 fee.  When it arrives at your house you plug it in and the modem basically re-routes all the Wi-Fi in your home through the Circle network.  You then download an app and from your phone can manage all the users of any device in your house.

For example, my daughter has a computer and a phone.  Both of these devices are recognized by Circle which means I can see all the apps on her phone and subsequently manage all of them (Snapchat, Instagram, Netflix, etc.), specifically how long she can be on each app (like one hour on YouTube/day).  I can also see what websites she is visiting.

I can also set filters for all the devices (ours are all set to Teen) and set a wake up and sleep time which shuts down the devices at night.

For our family, Circle became necessary when our kids grew old enough to stay up later than my husband and me (actually we are just getting old an needing to go to bed earlier) and we were concerned how long into the night they were on their devices with no supervision.  However, I wish I would have been able to start Circle earlier when our kids first started having phones and computers.

As our teens get older, I will graduate them out of Circle since they will need to learn to manage their time on devices on their own, but for now it is helping them set good habits and learn reasonable time limits for their phone and video use (and I don’t think we can protect our sons enough from access to pornography).

You can order CIRCLE HERE if you want to give it a try…it has given me great peace of mind.

 

FOCUS ON THE FAMILY PODCAST  

I started listening to this a couple of years ago and boy do I wish I would have had this resource earlier in my parenting years.  This podcast is one of THE MOST helpful and encouraging (and challenging) tools I have had as a mom.  The podcast is every day, and it ranges from marriage to parenting to discipline to faith building topics.  They are all amazing. But the parenting ones have been priceless for me.  Here is the link.  I have downloaded the app on my phone and listen while I am driving or doing chores around the house.

http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast

So, those are my three favs.  I hope maybe one of these is helpful to you in your parenting journey. We need to link arms as moms and encourage and help each other out as we raise our kiddos.

Blessings to you!

~Amy

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Also…I created these prayer journals for the Fall.  I will be creating a new version for each season of the year.   If you are like me and need some structure during your prayer time to keep you focused, you might love one of these.  They are a perfect size, to sit on your nightstand, on the table by your favorite chair in the morning, or to drop in your purse.  $15, including shipping.  Just click here to purchase now!

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(Shared with permission from our son who is an amazing kid and I will be buying him a large Blizzard from D.Q. for letting me pick on him in this post)

A few months back my husband, son and I stood in our family room in the midst of a tense discussion. Our fifteen year-old had just responded in a not-so-stellar way to the idea that he would have to be dropped off at work a half an hour early to accommodate our schedules.

Since we had been working on respectful responses with our son for a few months now, and it had cropped up again, my husband decided enough was enough.  He proceeded to tell our son that instead of getting a ride to Chick-Fil-A that day for work, he would need to ride his bike the three miles to get there…and he better get a move on to make it in time.

Now a teenager riding his bike to work may not seem like a big deal, but it was for me. Our kids just haven’t ridden their bikes much outside of our neighborhood before.  We live in a semi-remote neighborhood where it takes riding a distance to get anywhere other than a gas station.

So as my husband stood his ground and told our son to hurry up and make sure the tires were full of air, I sat a little stunned on the couch.  Here’s what was going on inside my head:

“He’s never ridden his bike to work, can he do it?” (that sounds silly even as I write it but I really asked myself that question). “Is it too far?  What about the busy roads?  How will my directionally challenged son know how to get there?”

Even though my protective mom instinct was sounding off full volume,  I kept my mouth shut.  I needed to let my husband take the reigns on this one because this was a recurring issue lately and an important one. We clearly needed something tougher to use as a consequence than taking his phone away (which is what we had been doing).

Our son immediately went into sorry mode, which made staying quiet even harder.   He pleaded and then realizing he was getting nowhere got mad,  stormed into the garage and rode away.

I fought all sorts of urges to stop the whole scene.  But why?  Why was it so hard for me to accept that our son needed to have a hard consequence?

I’ve given this some thought…a lot of thought actually.  And I have three main ideas about why it is so difficult for those of us who are parents to give hard consequences to our kids.

ONE:  It Causes Us Pain

I feel pain when my kids are struggling and darn it, I don’t want to feel pain.  And I don’t only feel pain, but I worry and stress and doubt about the decision. As loving parents, we carry a fierce instinct to protect our children, and I think we feel like we’re leaving them outside to weather the storm alone when we dole out the tough love.

I’ve noticed I am mostly unaffected when grounding our kids or taking their phones away or making them do chores for misbehavior. But the truth is while those things are challenging for our kids, they often do not produce long term-results.

Sometimes we need to be brave enough to raise the bar on the discipline.  In our trying to “protect” them and soften the consequence, we ultimately fail at protecting them from turning into self-indulgent, self-centered, “me” focused children.

TWO: We Don’t Like Our Kids Being Upset With Us

I don’t know about your family, but when we set a boundary or say no to something, especially something that is a “big deal” to our kids, they aren’t all lovey dovey with us.

In fact, we may experience some anger or aloofness or distance from our kids.  We feel disconnected with them.  Doesn’t this go against everything we normally fight for as moms–feeling connected with our children?

We work so hard to create harmony and unity in our homes, between siblings, in our marriage, and with our relationship with our children, that the break in harmony really feels… yucky (that’s the most accurate word I can come up with).  It makes me sad, and my day harder, and adds to the tension in every conversation I need to have with that child…so I avoid it, even if it’s unintentional.

THREE: We Are Little Picture Responders Instead of Big Picture Fighters

Ultimately, we are so close to and emotionally involved in the situation that it is often difficult for us to step back and see that the misbehavior is actually derailing our great intentions for our kids’ character.

I think we all can agree that we want to raise respectful, kind, considerate, grateful kids.  It is often when our kids are disrespectful, unkind, inconsiderate and ungrateful that we are faced with the discipline decision.  Yet at that crucial moment we often make excuses for them or soften the discipline because of the previous two reasons.

We need to circle back to the kind of little/big people we want to raise.  The consequence, however painful for all involved, works toward that goal.  It is for their own good, and we need to fight for what is best for them.

The story wraps up like this.   Our son made it to work, and on the way there he was pulled over by a police officer who kindly told him that he couldn’t ride his bike across the bridge over the highway (no we didn’t bribe an officer to add a little extra shake up to the situation, but not bad timing).

After work our son texted me for a ride home since he would have to ride back over the highway to get home and didn’t want to have a second conversation with a police officer in one day.

I fully expected to pick up an angry child who didn’t want to speak to me.  My husband had left out of town for work so I braced myself emotionally for the evening ahead.

Instead, a humble and respectful young man got in the car and thanked me for picking him up.

Wow.

This was a lesson for our son, but it was a bigger lesson for me.  I learned that the hard consequences work, and more importantly that I could handle the pain they caused my mom-heart.  As our children continue to go through their teen years I often think about this day.  I remember that it is okay for our kids to sweat it out (literally) in order to experience changed behavior.

The truth is, our kids can handle hard consequences.  We are the ones that often can’t.

God is the perfect parent.  He does not cushion our life-lessons.  No, He let’s us fall hard, mess up, struggle and even suffer the consequences of our actions.  But He never leaves us, always is there to love us and care for us in the midst of our pain.  May I continue to look heavenward for the best parenting example ever.

Please love on another mom today and share this post with her–let’s encourage each other to be the best parents we can be.

~Amy

PS: If you are wanting to hear a whole lot of great parenting advice, you can attend the online MOM CONFERENCE next week, October 11, 12th and 13th.  It is FREE and you will get access to amazing speakers, and hopefully feel strengthened and encouraged in your mothering journey.

Here’s a short video sharing more:

Just click HERE for more information or to register!

MOM CONFERENCE 2016

Also…I created these prayer journals for the Fall.  I will be creating a new version for each season of the year.   If you are like me and need some structure during your prayer time to keep you focused, you might love one of these.  They are a perfect size, to sit on your nightstand, on the table by your favorite chair in the morning, or to drop in your purse.  $15, including shipping.  Just click here to purchase now!

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Hello!  I dare say it’s finally spring here in Colorado.  After weeks of below average temps and way above average precipitation (i.e. seat heaters in car and socks in bed required), the sun is warming the air and everyone’s spirits around here.

Something else is warming my spirits and I wanted to share it with you.  I found out about a magazine that is chocked full of resources for those of us who strive to make our home organized, our children connected to God, and our marriages thriving.

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Molly Green is for HOMEMAKERS, HOMESCHOOLERS, and if you are so cool to be this: HOMESTEADERS.  You can imagine all the topics covered and resources provided on this site.

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But, my favorite part and the reason to subscribe is just one thing.  With a yearly subscription, you also get FREE access to an online video library of hundreds of videos on topics such as PARENTING, MARRIAGE, FINANCES, LEADERSHIP, CONFERENCE SESSIONS (like “IF’), MEN’S ISSUES, WOMEN’S ISSUES, BIBLE STUDIES,  and more!

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Through Right Now Media, you have access to all of these videos for a yearly price, but if you subscribe to MollyGreen.com, you get the magazine PLUS all the videos included!

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It’s really quite amazing.  So, if you would like to check it out CLICK HERE.

To me, spring is about starting fresh, renewal, new growth.  I love seeing it bloom outside the kitchen window, and in our home.

I hope this provides some resources you can use for your own renewal.

xoxo,

Amy

PS: Please enter your email to subscribe!  I am going to be sending some special newsletters throughout the year that will only go to those on the email list.

 

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