I love this mama’s transparency; yes, comparison is the biggest mistake we don’t realize we’re making!
So I’m stuck in Miami. I was flying back to the field, when craziness broke out and now I’m…stuck. It’s a good stuck, overall, except I have been with my kids almost every minute of every day for about three hundred days. Or maybe it’s only three, I can’t remember. The point is we’re super stressed around here, and I majorly lost my cool with my kids tonight when they wouldn’t go to sleep in our shared hotel room.
Thankfully, I was watching a video unrelated to my parenting failures, and it reminded me about 4-7-8 breathing.
Mamas, this is my secret weapon, except I totally forgot about it until now. This helps me keep my cool 100% of the time, and I will totally be using it in the days ahead. So if summer’s got your hair falling out (or perhaps being actively ripped out of your head), let’s give this a try, shall we?
Breathe in for a count of four.
Hold your breath for a count of seven.
Breathe out for a count of eight.
Start over and do it again a few times until you feel calm.
Need a video? Probably not, but just in case, here you go: https://www.drweil.com/videos-features/videos/breathing-exercises-4-7-8-breath/
The science behind it is simple. When we’re stressed, we breathe IN a lot, but not OUT a lot. Breathing more out than in triggers your brain to feel calm. So if you can’t do a count of eight, just try for more than five.
4-7-8. Repeat. You can save the above picture as a backdrop for your phone.
And the real beauty is that you’ll confuse the heck out of your kids, who will expect you to yell or storm off or do something. Standing there just breathing, they’ll probably make sure you’re not having a stroke. Have some fun with it.
Love you, mamas. You are doing a good job. Keep it up.
The struggle is real, mamas. Once those little people have a little taste of Dora the Explorer or Octonauts, there’s no going back. I’ve had some other moms ask me how I get my kids to read with me so much, and I thought this article had some good ideas. Here’s a few more:
-Start small. Maybe you can’t get through a whole book at first…choose a shorter one. A board book, maybe, that’s more tactile, with things to push or pull or touch. Then work your way up to longer ones.
-Choose appropriate books. Babybug and Hello magazines have some great little poems and rhymes, and you can get an iPad subscription now. Don’t try to start them off with something heady or intellectual…there’s some rather academic picture books out there. Choose something sing-song, something memorable with interesting, colorful illustrations. Ebooks are okay, but most kids prefer to read on paper.
-Do the voices. Sure, I get that not everyone is comfortable with a dramatic reading, but come on, it’s a pretty friendly audience. Throw some silly voices in there and make it come alive!
-Put them on your lap. Kids love sitting with you more than anything, and it makes it easier to contain them, easier to see the pictures.
-Engage with the book. If it’s obvious you’re trying to get it over with as quickly as possible (what? No, I never do that at bedtime every night…), it’s pretty obvious to them. So go ahead and ask some questions. If the character is about to make a big decision, ask your child what they would do before you read what comes next. Have them make a prediction based on the title. Point out a little detail in the illustrations that the text doesn’t mention. Connect it to another book or life experience you’ve shared. Most of all, don’t ignore their questions! If you don’t know the answer, re-read to find out or look it up online.
-Choose books you liked as a kid. My own kiddos love to hear that this was a book Grandma read to me; it becomes more than learning. It’s tradition.
-Read nonfiction. Kids are curious about the world and love to know how to things work. When you hit the “why?” stage in preschool, nonfiction books are a nice outlet for that. And there is some AMAZING nonfiction out there now.
-Model for them. Kids want to be like you, right? (Trust me, they do.) So I let my kids see me reading books that are interesting to me, magazines, graphic novels, my Bible, a letter, anything. It makes reading part of your family culture, not just a school-type demand. Plus, it’s an excuse to put your feet up and ignore them for a few minutes in the name of good parenting! Win win.
You can totally raise a book lover. And it is so much easier if you start when they’re little!
You’ve got this, mamas.
Here’s how to listen:
-Right in this post! Just click play. You can also download it from here. (Amazing, eh? I know your internet stinks, mamas; I’ve got your back.)
-On Soundcloud. They have a nice app for your phone and if you add to a playlist or a station, you’ll always see when a new one’s posted (I think). And please, if you like it, hit like and share it! Let’s spread the word.
And if you’ve got more questions for me, don’t miss out on our first Twitter chat! Here’s the post on that, in case you missed it.
Attainable goals, mamas! Self care counts!
Heard a great thing this week: we’ve all got “to-do” lists, but what about “ta-da” lists? Can you make a list of all the meaningful stuff you did, all the times you played megablocks, the times you let yourself be interrupted to have a conversation with a neighbor, the nights you spend working for the family instead of goofing off…I look at all that and say, “Ta-da! Look what I did!” Cheer yourself on! Give yourself a little pat on the back for those small choices; they add up to glory.
Happy weekend. 🙂
…especially true when parenting TCK’s!
Mamas, meet my friend Tina. We were in Bible study together here in Haiti, and her words have spoken comfort to my soul for many years now. And now, she’s graciously agreed to share some wisdom with you, too! Enjoy.
When we came home for a year between stints in Niger, West Africa, I went to my best friend’s house where she showed me the beautifully detailed scrapbooks of her two girls. Each page had typical American experiences including July 4th parties, dressing up, T-ball, church retreats. Being a world away from enhancing your child’s memories with coordinated stickers, I started to feel weirdly disconnected until I started to cry. My poor friend was wondering what kind of strange I’d turned into when I blurted out, “My kids will NEVER have those kinds of experiences!”
I thought about how hard it was just to get their clothes clean, how they had no idea about movies and concerts their stateside peers were watching, and the fact that instead of neat uniforms and baseball leagues, they played soccer with a duct-taped flat ball in the street. Their Wodaabe peers were finding wives at 14 and their missionary kid friends were just as clueless about the states as they were. My children were in a “youth group” made up of maybe 10 people ranging from 6-18 and I remember their Sunday nights together involving games of Sardines.
Would they ever be able to make it back in the States? Would they be impossibly out of touch? Had I failed them?
My friend said something suitably comforting, and I moved on, but still struggled with doubts about our move to the Sahara with three sweet kids, and then later, to Haiti with my youngest, a girl of fourteen at the time.
The typical comment most missionaries say is, “They have a much richer life and perspective. They will thank you for the differences later.” I can agree with this, but like everything, it’s more complicated. Sometimes, they felt isolated and didn’t understand why certain things were so important. “Why does it matter if I wear shoes here? I don’t understand why people won’t just say what they mean. Who cares if my pants are this length? What’s funny to them isn’t funny to me.”
Sometimes they felt superior or inferior or just weird. Helping them through that wasn’t always fun. Again, doubts. Did we let them down?
Fast forward to three married kids, one with his own children. The long view back over the years is a luxury I don’t take lightly.
My overwhelming sense now is simply that God helped them. He brought people along who taught them how to make the culture leap, interpreters and patient friends who could bridge the gap. He gave them a groundedness and faith that was vibrant enough to withstand the isolation. They became very insightful about American culture and good at navigating it while holding on to their early experiences. And they became good friends to each other and to us. And they DID end up able to enjoy July 4th celebrations, league baseball and dances.
The same one who called us, called and sustained our kids. As they allowed Him to direct and love them, they grew into beautiful whole people. I think about those days as a young mom and wish I could have patted my hand and said, “It’s truly going to be alright, scrapbooks or not.”
Consider your hand patted, mamas. Mine included.
Man, this article had a ton of resources. I’d probably take me a week and read through them all. (Possibly, I am Netflixdistracted.)
One thing we’ve done for our kids when they’re little is a paper chain. It makes it a little more concrete, instead of them waking up every day wondering if today’s the day we fly out. I’ve also written the fun things we’d like to do in the U.S. on the links, and we talk about them when we tear them off. That gives them a better idea of what to look forward to.
Happy weekend, mamas!
This spoke encouragement to my heart, especially the part about kids leaving home. I’m not nearly to that part yet, but I’ve seen how hard it is on friends. God is faithful, mamas!