Avoid Sick Days: Keep Your Family Healthy

Avoid Sick Days

Avoid Sick Days

Nothing strikes fear in a working mom’s heart more than the sound of a child getting up in the middle of the night and telling you that they feel sick.

Since I am relatively new to my job, I do not have a lot of personal leave stored up, and even if I did, most days I need to actually BE at work. . .I have a one-person department!

My goal is to keep my family as healthy as possible, so that the kids don’t need to miss school, and I don’t have to miss work.

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How To Share Your Proud Parent Moments

family I’m a mom to six awesome kids. I’d like to say that they are awesome due to my superior mothering, but that would be a lie. In many ways they are awesome in spite of my many flaws! I’m usually pretty careful about bragging about my kids, in public and on this blog, partially out of a sense of humility and partially because I don’t really want to sound like a perpetual annoying Christmas letter.

At the risk of sounding like a braggart, I think that we need to spend more time building up our kids, by praising their childhood achievements.

The temptation is to bemoan our kids, and point out the very burden of raising them. Trust me, I know. A quick glance through some recent posts would lend you the idea that my girls only cry and fight and that my sons sit around and make messes without cleaning them up. While this may be true at least part of the time, most of the day I am super proud of my kids!

Lately I’ve been shouting from the rooftops that my son who has always struggled in school is now earning As and Bs! The really awesome thing is that the more I praise this achievement, the harder he works and more responsible he acts.

I have a sporty son too. He is way sportier than Dakotapastor or I. Now, he may or may not be the most athletically gifted kid, but what he does have is a great attitude towards sports. He sees the sports he participates in as entertainment. He does not need to win to have fun…though winning is fun! His good sportsmanship is something to be proud of, and I let him know this all the time.

And those toddler girls? They are starting to talk! And the more that they talk, the less they cry…and that, my friends makes me a happy and proud mama!

Here are some tips to share your pride in your kids.

Don’t be afraid to brag at home.

The dinner table is not a Christmas letter. There is no shame in playing up everyone’s strong points around the table. When you have dinner as a family (and I hope that you do), spend a little time sharing achievements. Teach your kids to “toot their own horn” when needed. Let them know that the things that they achieve are worth being proud of.

Let your kids “catch” you bragging on them.

Next time you are talking with your friends and the kids are within earshot, take a moment to talk up some of your children’s achievements. Trust me, they do hear, and it will make them feel great!

Don’t stop documenting milestones with the baby book.

We tend to obsessively keep track of the baby and toddler years. Find a way to document elementary and high school milestones as well, either with a scrapbook, journal, photo book or even a blog.

Teach your kids to watch out for other people’s achievements.

Have your family cultivate a culture of encouragement in which you point out and praise other people’s achievements! The more they praise others the prouder they will be of themselves.

Older kids are harder to praise.

Sometimes it takes a “captive audience” to praise teens for their achievements. They tend to be more self conscious and are not fond of talking about themselves. Take advantage of times driving them around town to let them know just how very proud of them you are. Or, every once in a while, write them a note and leave it on their bedside table or desk. They may not look like or act like your approval matters, but it really does!

Chime in! What are some of your kids’ latest and greatest achievements? Do you have a special way to mark them? I’d love to hear from you!

This post was sponsored by Electrolux. The Electrolux Perfect Steam washer gets your clothes cleaner than any other washer2, keeping kids looking their best, so parents can focus on the moments that count. Kelly Ripa and Electrolux want to know your proud parent moments. Visit facebook.com/Electroluxto share your BEST moments and enter for a chance to win a new laundry pair.


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[2] NO PURCHASE OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  Sweepstakes ends  6/26/12.   Full rules available at facebook.com/Electrolux.

First Things First

Over the past few months there has been a lot of chatter about Amy Chua’s parenting memoir, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. I’ve not read the book, but I’ve seen Ms. Chua’s interviews from several sources and read enough reviews to know that her parenting styles and mine are dramatically different from each other.

For starters, I have about four too many children to be an effective Tiger Mother.

Then, I read this article by Deaconess Pamela Nielsen, and I am finally comforted by the fact that God does not expect me to be a Tiger Mother.

While good grades and success seem admirable, and are helpful in our society, we need to be careful about making academic success an idol.

Deaconess Nielsen points out what should be our “first things”, according to God’s word:

If you are a parent, your children are your vocation and your most important calling. God sets the standard for you: “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). To raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord is to raise children with God’s Word, in His Church, where His gifts of forgiveness, life and salvation are given to all who believe. These are the “first things” for Christian moms, dads and children.

That is a HUGE responsibility. It almost makes homework checking and instrument practice supervising and sports shuttling and private tutoring seem EASY!

In our family it is a given that the children attend worship and Sunday School every week. They even begrudgingly participate in the various choirs. The boys have been active (or at least underfoot) during the renovation project. BUT, do they understand that these are FIRST things?

As in “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)?

Do they really know, or grasp that what goes on at church on Sunday Morning, and Wednesday night Bible Study, and during time spent memorizing scripture for religion class, and time spent in Sunday School, and Confirmation class, and helping our neighbors in God’s name, ALL of these things are more important than Algebra? Or Boy Scouts? Or even sitting still in class?

And if they don’t know (and I suspect that mine don’t); whose fault is it?

Mine.

While I can claim to not be a “Tiger Mother”, I still secretly hope for all As on report cards more than I expect happy service at church. I praise athletic devotion more than daily devotions. I’m even (especially) guilty of making Sunday morning preparation time less than pleasant for my offspring.

And so, I repent.

I’ve been given an awesome and very important vocation in motherhood, and I pray that I do not fail my children.

Chime in! What has been your focus, your “first thing” in parenting? Do you think that you should, or should have changed course? You know I’d love to hear from you!

How to Prevent Childhood Obesity: Start in Your Kitchen

The facts are staggering. Childhood obesity is a major problem in America. How is it that a nation that is so obsessed with health and dieting has such a high rate of childhood obesity?

Statistics show that nearly 1 in 3 children are overweight or obese! I have six children. Statistically, 2 of them should be overweight. However, all six are slim and fit! If you were to view the genetics of both sides of our family you would see that Dakotapam’s children are genetically predisposed to being at least a little chubby.

How have we managed to (so far) beat the childhood obesity odds?

  1. I cook from scratch and use real foods. The temptation when trying to control your own weight, or that of your children is to prepare and serve “diet” foods. If you were to peek in my refrigerator and pantry you would be hard pressed to find any reduced fat, or sugar-free artificially sweetened foods. In my experience, full fat foods (in moderation) are more satisfying and closer to their natural state. A more satisfying meal leads to less over-consumption. Also, many reduced fat, fat free and sugar free foods have added extra ingredients (many of which you cannot pronounce) to make up for what is missing. So, in our kitchen I cook with butter, and real cheese, and full fat milk. I also make many of my own sauces, and very rarely use packaged mixes.
  2. I serve more water. When you attempt beginning a diet, the first thing you do is up your water consumption. Proper hydration is essential to our health and water is the perfect liquid. However, the temptation is to give our kids lots of juices and sports drinks and excessive amounts of cow’s milk instead of water. The current AAP guideline is that children ages 1-6 should have no more than 4-6 ounces of juice, and older children should be limited to 8-12 ounces of juice a day. Preference should be given to eating actual fruit over fruit juices. The AAP recommends  2 cups of milk/dairy for children ages 1-7 and 3 cups a day for ages 8-18. In our family our children get enough fruit juice and dairy before dinner, so our dinner beverage is water.
  3. I rethought my fruitbowl. I always have a bowl of fruit available to the kids for snacks. I have found that they appreciate vegetable options as well. Whole, peeled carrots are a treat for my bigger kids, and they also enjoy raw broccoli and cauliflower dipped in some Ranch dressing. Apples are an ideal, portable snack, and my kids learn to eat whole apples from a very young age. Spend some time a few days a week preparing fruits and vegetables for family snacking. The fiber in fruits and vegetables helps fill up little tummies and you are teaching healthy snack strategies.
  4. I got my kids involved in meal planning. My boys know where I store the cookbooks and food magazines and have been known to thumb through them. When they see a new dish that interests them, I make sure to try it out on my next meal plan. My kids are more willing to try new foods if they are involved in the planning process. We also have fun theme food nights, such as different ethnic foods, Superbowl foods, movie themed meals. We also talk about what makes certain foods healthier than others. As a matter of fact, we talk about food a lot; where it comes from, how it is produced, the benefits to our bodies and the like.
  5. I break the rules sometimes. Let your kids know that it is OK to splurge sometimes. My kids look forward to soft drinks with popcorn for our at home movie nights (I am so thankful that some soft drink brands are going back to sweetening with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup). I have a sweet tooth and that comes out at dessert time several times a week! The key is keeping most of your diet healthy, so that the splurges are the exception and not the rule!

So, chime in!  How are you preventing childhood obesity in your home? I’d love to hear from you!

My Cherished Readers:

Thank you!

Thank you!

Thank you!

Last week I asked you to chime in on your thoughts on holidays and dates and family time. Chime in you did.

I am humbled. You all gave me so much to think about! I’m going to really cherish my time having all of my kids under one roof for the holidays and learn to be really flexible in the future.

While, ideally, the Rev. and I would go TO the grandchildrens’ homes for Christmas, The Rev.’s vocation just may impede this, unless they live close to us (we’ve not set a great example int his regard.) I have, however, come to learn that it is very difficult on young families to pack up and visit far flung relatives, especially when children are very young and used to certain routine and space. Money is also an issue as even driving vacations can be cost prohibitive. So, as grandparents, I hope we can do most of the traveling.

I  know that with two small babies in the house it seems silly to be planning to be a grandmother. However, our oldest is 14. We were blessed with him at age 24. 10 years is not that far away!

I also know that having the girls later in our parenting career will complicate things. Will they be forced to spend a few Christmases away from their home? Perhaps. I do know that they will spend more holidays without their siblings than their brothers will.

So, thank you for your frankness, your willingness to put it all out there, for joining in the conversation! It has been an eye opening conversation to say the least, and I appreciate learning from all of you!

And now, another chance to chime in! As you look back at 2010, what is the most eye opening experience you had? Let me know!