When Can My Kid Do Their Own Laundry?

Posted on Aug 27, 2014 by No Comments

I have had a theory that a child can start learning to help with laundry as soon as they can help separate colors and begin doing their own when they can put stuff in the machine. For my kids, the magic number has always been age eight.

When you have a lot of kids and spend long hours homeschooling it seems reasonable that your kids would learn to do something like laundry pretty early on. It is a good thing because there have been times that the only reason the had clean laundry was that they did it themselves. In fact, now there are times when the only reason I have laundry is because my kids do it for me!

Tips for Teaching Kids to Do Laundry

  • Start them early helping to sort colors, fold easy things like socks, and collecting dirty laundry.
  • Have them switch the clothes from the washing machine to the dryer.
  • Let them add the detergent while you watch.
  • Have them help with the folding.

If you have them do small things right alongside you then they learn little by little.  As they get older they can be trusted to do more of their own laundry with less supervision from you.

It may sound silly but not doing their laundry has been a big weight off of me. If they can’t find socks or their favorite jeans shrink, it’s all on them — and that’s a very, very good feeling. The more kids can do for themselves the easier it is on them when they’re older.

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Don’t Even Consider Using Your Retirement for Your Kids’ Needs

Posted on Aug 25, 2014 by 1 Comment

According to experts you should not even consider using any of your retirement for your kids’ college, or anything else. While we want to help our kids and make their lives better, all too often Mom and Dad are putting a negative strain on their own finances by doing so — at a time when we should be sprinting for the career finish line and padding our retirement funds with all we can.

Apparently nearly two-thirds of middle aged (and older) parents are helping to support their adult children in some way.

For most of us it is the economy. It’s more and more  difficult for young adults to find even part time jobs. There’s less funding for college, and it’s increasingly difficult to get a loan. A child’s divorce, loss of job, or other events swallow up our savings. Parents are stepping in to do what they always do — play a little fix it for the kids.

Helping adult children is not a terrible thing but the consequences can be serious if it isn’t handled correctly. It can be easy to begin something that turns into a monkey on your back without any good way of cutting it off. There are often no papers drawn up, agreements made, or boundaries set.

Can you say unrealistic? I knew you could.

What’s happening is that we are creating financially irresponsible adults who will need to be taken care of their whole lives. Like wild animal babies that have been raised by humans our kids simply don’t know how to survive in the wild. They become even more dependent on their parents than they were as children and eventually they expect to be taken care of and don’t understand the term, I can’t afford this anymore.

Parents, being parents, feel trapped by the monster they’ve created. They can’t just cut their child off and hope he makes it, can they?

The best scenario is that it never gets started. Parents should step in only when absolutely necessary and only for a set amount of time with agreed upon boundaries. Handing your kid money for groceries once in awhile is completely different than paying their rent for six months.

If you’ve allowed a situation to go on for too long the only thing you can do is to step in and put an end to it. You will have to watch you child struggle for awhile and it may be quite painful but eventually he’ll figure it out and learn to stand on his own two feet.

Using money that should be going into your retirement or, worse yet, using your retirement funds to provide for an adult family member is financial suicide. Just remember that when your retirement is gone the child you support now is the one who will have to be supporting you.

Scary isn’t it?

source : Kiplinger

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Revisit the Local Library

Posted on Aug 21, 2014 by No Comments

Technology has made many things that used to take time much faster. For example, you can go to the grocery store, buy a new dress, and make bank deposits all from your bedroom. You can fill your life with all of your favorite books, buying them and even borrowing them from the Internet.

It’s wonderful but there are things that we miss now because of it. It’s time to think about revisiting your local library.

The library has something that you won’t be able to download. It gives your kids relationships with books.

I have so many really good memories of time spent at the library when I was a child. I’d browse the aisles looking for just the right book. To this day the scent of old books is just relaxing to me.

My kids have many happy memories of time spent at the library either looking for books, for storytime, crafts, or whatever. They did reading club activities several summers in a row which earned them everything from their pictures in the paper to free pizza.

My youngest daughter has several books on my iPad. She takes it to bed with her and reads which makes me happy. Since she has been around I have had less time for trips to the library and I am afraid that she is going to miss out on those memories that I think are so important. Taking an hour or two and visiting the library can help your child learn about books in a way that downloading an eBook can’t.

Do you spend time at the library?

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Head Lice Happen

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 by No Comments

One of my favorite movies is I Don’t Know How She Does It with Sarah Jessica Parker playing a mom who battles with the perfectionist gene. I identify so closely with her that I could watch the movie every single day.

One of the best scenes in the movie is when she is on an important business trip and gets a call from the school that her child has lice.

We have only dealt with that once and it was a very long time ago. It still makes me feel crawly to think about it. We did get a letter home from the school last year letting us know that one of the students had been sent home with lice so I have been compulsively itching my head and checking the kids every ten minutes or so. No matter who you are, or how clean you are, head lice happen.

There are plenty of articles on how to deal with them. I don’t know about you but I am more interested in preventing them! Here are some things to talk to your child about that may keep those nasty critters away.

Obviously don’t share:

  • Brushes
  • Combs
  • Barrettes
  • Headbands
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Helmets
  • Ear buds and ear phones
  • Helmets
  • Ear muffs

It’s also good to teach your child to avoid head to head contact, as when they are looking at a book or computer website with a friend and their heads are in close proximity. Keeping your daughter’s long hair in a braid or pony tail may be helpful, too. Preventing lice is easier than getting rid of them, for sure!

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State Fairs Provide Family Time and Learning

Posted on Aug 19, 2014 by No Comments

The Texas State fair is something that we, as a family, look forward to every year. The tickets and the parking are outrageous but there is so much to see and do (and eat) that it is worth it.

My husband likes the vendors areas where there are all kinds of things for sale that you might not ever see if it wasn’t for the fair. I like the wine and beer tastings that are hosted by the local wineries and breweries. I also love the quilts, horses, and food.

OK, I love all of it.

The kids like the Midway, the food, and getting the day off school — so it really is a win-win deal.

State fairs are a tradition that, for me anyway, reconnects me with the basics of life. There’s just something wholesome about looking at rows of canned vegetables, you know? It’s something that our country has grown past, a sort of simplicity that most of us long for but rarely find.

Getting outside and walking around, seeing all of the sights, tasting way too much greasy food, and spending time together with the people you love best is something that you just never regret doing.

Last year we went for the food. The Texas State Fair is known for some of the weirdest fried foods on the planet. Things like fried butter, chicken fried bacon, fried Nutella, and fried Koolaid are just a few of the things that will have you popping Alka-Seltzer for the rest of the night.

I guess what I am trying to say is that you should never give up a chance to spend time with your family. Maybe it won’t be the state fair but make sure that you take time to build both memories and traditions, OK?

It’s what makes life rich.

image: Marye Audet

Where Have All the Adults Gone?

Posted on Aug 18, 2014 by No Comments

Have you noticed that the gulf between children and adults seems to be getting smaller and smaller? It’s more and more difficult to look at someone and say, “Yep, there goes and adult!”

Parents used to have certain activities that they did that were totally different than what kids did. Parents paid bills, grocery shopped, went to work, and watched the evening news when they got home from work. Sometimes on the weekends they played board games with the family or had some mysterious event called a date night.

Dads came home from work and changed from suits and ties into chino pants and button shirts. Now-a-days you’d call it dress casual. Back then it was called clothing.

Parents had their own world and kids had their own world. Once in a while the two worlds collided and it was called either the weekend or vacation. The idea of being a grownup was exciting, mysterious, and intriguing – kids couldn’t wait.

I don’t know how it was in your era but that’s how it was in mine.

It’s more difficult to see the differences now. I see parents sitting at restaurants texting and playing games on their phones. I do it myself – no judgment from me. More than one adult in my family got Pokémon themed items for Christmas last year because they just gotta catch them all.

Adults have more free time than ever before and they do things that used to be associated with childhood like just hanging out with friends, playing the xBox, or walking around the mall.

It’s just so weird to me. Again, I do these things so I am not judging. I am just wondering when we made that decision to move to Never-Never Land and just never grow up.

I wear similar clothing to my daughters. I can’t imagine my mom wearing the same kind of clothes as me when I was a teen but here I am, sitting in the foyer at church while my kids are at youth. I’m wearing gray Uggs, gray skinnies, and a black tweed sweater. There is nothing that screams “I’m a MOM” about this outfit.

I have a large reach on social media and I spend time on Facebook. I have been known to type things like, OMG and WTF. I do draw the line at calling an outfit totes presh.

And I am glad about that.

Adults are important. They lead the world, they keep the rest of humankind safe, and they make rational decisions. Maybe playing Pokemon doesn’t keep you from making those decisions but I wonder if it keeps us from being taken seriously by our kids.

Adults didn’t used to worry whether or not they were cool. They worried about the bills being paid, whether or not they could afford a nicer car, and … you know… adult stuff.

I find that I have more in common with my kids than my parents did with me. We talk about things that I never would have talked about with my mom. I think that’s good in many ways. The other side of that coin is that I wonder if they are as secure as I was. After all, if your parents aren’t any more mature than you are, who’s going to catch you?

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5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Read

Posted on Aug 13, 2014 by No Comments

I have readers. Some of my kids have spent more time reading than others but all of them know their way around a book. Most of them can explain how the book was different from the movie. One of them read through my complete collection of Shakespeare before he was 12.

After having homeschooled for well over 20 years, I have people ask me how in the world I get my kids to read. After all, kids are supposed to hate reading, right?

I’ve found that it is pretty much a rule of thumb that if you read then your kids will read, too. If you spend time reading to them, not just when they are small but their whole lives under your roof, then they will believe that books are a normal part of life.

When I was homeschooling I found that when I was reading a book to the younger kids, the older kids hung around, too. They might pretend not to listen but you could tell that they were paying attention as they worked algebra problems or solved chemical mysteries.

Here are five ways I have found help raise a reader, no matter how reluctant he is to begin with.

Read Aloud

This was already briefly mentioned but since it is the most important thing it deserves to be given a bit more than a mention. Read the books you enjoyed as a child. My kids got hours of the Little House books, My Side of the Mountain, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Chronicles of Narnia, and more. I always started with books that I had loved as a child because I figured that my kids weren’t that different than I was.

Branch out from there by sharing new books, authors you are not familiar with, and books that others recommend. Don’t let it become stale.

Read Just One Book in a Series

This is pretty sneaky but it works. I usually just read the first book in a series so that my  kids would get introduced to the characters and get a taste of what the books were about. I have been known to be really mean and read the first chapter of the second book in a series. If you’ve picked your books based on your children’s interests, this will work every time.

Get Them a Kindle or a Nook

A relatively new way to interest kids in books is to get them a Kindle or a Nook and let them load it up. These electronics allow you to take your entire library with you where ever you go and read as much from it as you have time for. Plus, they are cool.

Leave a Book in the Bathroom

I don’t know about your kids but mine hid in the bathroom when it was time to clean the kitchen. There was something about it that sent their digestive systems into overdrive.

When people are sitting there with nothing to do they will read anything up to, and including, the ingredients lists on the back of shampoo bottles. Leave a book that you think they’ll like (open to a good page) on the back of the toilet. When boredom kicks in you’ll have them trapped.

Pay Them

While this might sound counter-productive it really isn’t.

If you have a  child that is truly resistant to reading then pay them with cash or with extra video or TV time for each book that they complete and review. It encourages them to read and as they are getting in more practice, they are also learning to enjoy reading. Win-win.

Do you have any tricks you use to get your kids to read?

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Can You Be too Supportive of Your Kids?

Posted on Aug 11, 2014 by 1 Comment

Being supportive of your kids, encouraging them, and building them up is sort of a given as a parent, but can you actually be too supportive of them?

Apparently you can. According to therapist Lori Gotlieb, the depressed, anxiety ridden patients she is seeing regularly had childhoods that were practically perfect in every way. Parents who cared more about their kids’ happiness and well being than their own, parents who were supportive of every thing the patient did as a child, and parenting that encouraged, protected, and cheered them on.

So what happened?

Well apparently humans need to be exposed to discomfort, failure, and the occasional parental failure. According to Gottlieb it acts as a vaccine, strengthening the child for the rowdiness of life.

Protecting kids from emotional pain, telling them how amazing they are when they do the smallest thing, and creating the perfect home environment doesn’t equip them to handle the harsh reality of grumpy bosses, rude salespeople, and a society that does not believe that little dumplin’ is the center of the universe.

The world is a big place and it can be pretty painful when you expect to get a pat on the back for making a sale or an M & M for using the correct employee bathroom but get an indifferent shrug instead.

I read this article several times because I really struggle with some of it. I am an encourager.

I grew up in a home with a mom that was, bless her heart, not particularly encouraging or affirming. I know she did her best but I was  always left feeling like I was not quite enough. I was determined to overcome that and be my family’s biggest fan. I worked at it and since I am a perfectionist, I worked at it hard.

My kids aren’t lying on couches as far as I know. I think they are all pretty much well adjusted and responsible. I think that I have probably balanced all of that encouragement without my own special type of crazy so they aren’t as bad off as some.

Sure, we all want our kids to have as pleasant and easy lives as possible. It’s always been my opinion that there is enough meanness out in the world that we don’t need to add to it at home, you know?

At the same time I try not to fix things for my kids. Yeah, they are always going to come home to a mom that tells them that they can do it, overcome any obstacle, and climb the highest mountain should they choose to do so but I am not one to interfere in issues that they have outside the house.

I like to think of the house as a sanctuary that helps them to cope with everything that goes on outside of it.

When kids get the idea that mom and dad are going to fix their problems, that’s when I think the damage begins. They learn no confidence in themselves because they are used to having their parents fix things for them. They never grow out of childhood and the need to be taken care of.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

Source: The Atlantic

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Secure Parents Equal Confident Children

Posted on Aug 8, 2014 by 1 Comment

Every parent wants to raise emotionally healthy children, at least unless there is something totally off about the parent in the first place, but actually doing that seems to be a pretty daunting task.

The type of discipline you use, your tone of voice, the opportunities that you give your children, and things that aren’t even obvious are all factors that contribute to the type of adult that your child eventually grows into. Even if you give them consistent discipline, a rich learning environment, buckets of affection, and material benefits there are no promises that your child will be a level headed, responsible adult.

How many kids from loving, materially comfortable families have you heard of that make dumb choices and end up wearing a fashionable orange jumpsuit somewhere, or can’t function in the real word and live off their parents for the rest of their lives?

It’s scary.

On the other hand, there are kids that have nothing —whose parents are abusive, poor, or neglectful— that end up as presidents of large corporations who give generously to many different charities.

It makes you shake your head.

In reading about good parenting I read so much about being supportive. Not in a financial way, but being emotionally and verbally supportive of our children as they grow and work through various issues in their lives.

I think that being supportive is one key but I also think that it has to be balanced by honesty, integrity, and the understanding that no matter what you do your child still has that pesky freedom of choice.

You can do everything wrong and end up with a kid that wins a Nobel prize. By the same token, you can do everything right and end up with a kid that makes you want to change your name and move to the Canary Islands. The first tip I have for you is to lose the idea that you are solely responsible for how your kid turns out.

Once you get past that, you are free to be confident in your parenting. You see, when you are worried whether or not you are creating a monster you’ll send off those insecurity vibes. I personally believe that insecurity about one’s parenting abilities has as much to do with the way kids turn out as anything.

People who train dogs know that in order to raise healthy, happy, obedient dogs you have to be alpha dog. You have to be the one in leadership, the one that the dogs look up to, and the one that exudes confidence. Why does society think it would be any different with children?

Kids need parents that are involved, that are confident in their abilities to parent without worrying too much about what their “parenting style” is, and who make their kids feel secure enough to face whatever life throws at them.

That’s where we are failing, y’all. Kids want strong leaders and they aren’t going to find them in the government, in the sports stadium, or at the movie theater. They need to be able to find them at home.

Are you confident in your parenting abilities?

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