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A simple test to predict future success & happiness

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day ~William Shakespeare

Worldly pressures, images and persuasions can be confusing and often misleading. If we are not careful, we can quickly stray from our original goals. We are continually exposed to media, social ideals and various other forms of information and unsolicited feedback, but thankfully, we have some insight and knowledge of these pressure pits which can help us thwart the mass of it…unfortunately, our children are still young and not as well prepared…but we are here to help them along their way!

This transitional time of year is a perfect opportunity to help remind ourselves – and our children – of what our values and priorities are, and take a closer look at our goals…in order to reevaluate our cause. Learning more about who we are wonderfully made to be will help navigate this wide open space. Discovering more about who we *want* to be and less about what the world is *pressuring* us to be can be the key to true happiness.

So, how do we help our families achieve these ideals?

Mama Drama: Mama Needs a Minute

Dear Mama Drama:

I adore my three-year-old daughter and love spending time with her. However, I have so much to do and she always wants my attention. I am frustrated as I can’t seem to get anything done when she is awake, which is most of the day. It ‘s impossible to even make a phone call!

When I tell her I need ten minutes to take care of a few things she cooperatively says, “Okay, Mommy,” and then proceeds to check in with me every minute asking, “Is ten minutes over?”

I need a little sanity, but don’t know what to do. I don’t want to put her in front of the television, but am not sure what other options I have.

~Begging for a break

(photo credit)

Dear Begging:

There are so many mom jobs to get done throughout the day that your frustration is understandable. It is also important for children to learn to spend time safely on their own without constant interaction of adults.

At three your daughter does not understand the concept of “ten minutes” and needs a more concrete definition of when that time is finished. Using a timer can be helpful in facilitating this understanding. A digital timer that she can watch count down and/or listen for the beeping is a good option. Other more expensive choices are visual timers that show a strip of red getting smaller or flash from green to yellow to red when the time is up.

Another idea to help her understand when you are done working (and she’s done waiting) is to give her a time limited task to do during the time you need to make a phone call or complete another task. If she is engaged and has a clear ending time, she is less likely to interrupt along the way.

  • Have her listen to (and look at) a recorded book, which supports literacy and listening skills along with setting a clear ending time.
  • Give her a stack of books to “read” and have her place them in a basket when she has finished each one. She’ll be able to see when the task is complete and the activity is all cleaned up when she is done reading.
  • Put on a music CD and tell her she can come to check in with you when it reaches a particular song or is finished depending on how much time you need.
  • Give her an independent project to do in the same room with you. She can have crayons and paper, blocks, beads to string, play dough, or any other toys or activities she can engage with independently.

The keys to success here are providing clear expectations, her being engaged in an activity, and setting a clear ending. Start with small segments of time, five to ten minutes, and stretch her ability to play independently over time. Keep in mind that five minutes to adults is a short time while to a small child it can feel like forever.

We all need our sanity and little break now and then, so be gentle with yourself and remember that a little educational television now and then won’t harm her.

How do you balance mom tasks and time with your kids?

Don’t blame me. Blame the Big Hand.

Now that summer is officially over and October is here, we really have no excuses to not be into our “new” routine yet. Well, I have a confession to make: we’ve just now gotten into a smooth routine. What was the hold up? How hard can this be?

Part of the challenge is the fact that Claire has always had a later bedtime than most. My husband works a later schedule, so if Claire went to bed earlier, she wouldn’t get to see Daddy at all. For all three-and-a-half years of her life, this hasn’t been an issue. Bedtime at 9:00 pm and getting up after the Crack of Nine the next day has worked for us.

The Young Preschooler Class she did last year on Mondays met at Noon. Perfect! No struggles! Now that preschool starts at 8:45, we’ve been struggling with the new schedule. And, by “we” I mean me and the voices in my head. I’ve been struggling with the new schedule, and Claire is just being a typical 3-and-a-half year old.

(Here is where I’ll take a moment for all of you who think 8:45 is a late hour to stop laughing at me. Don’t judge! I’ve always been a Night Owl. I can be a morning person if I’m required to be. I just don’t like it. For years, I had a job where I had to get up at 4:30 IN THE MORNING in order to be at work by 6am. Painful. Very painful. But, I did my time, and no one could tell that it nearly killed me.)

I have a feeling that if we went to preschool every day, we would have been into our new routine within a week or so. But, because it’s only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we can be slackers on the other days. If I had a dollar for every time the words, “Come on! We have to hurry!” escaped my lips on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I could add my newfound money to the budget and justify sending her more often.

If only it worked that way.

I thought there was no end in sight to the struggle I faced on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Claire loves school. She loves going to school. She also has no concept of time and loves to dilly-dally. The more I’d try to tug on her to leave the house, the harder she’d pull right back.

Push-Pull. Pull-Push. Isn’t Momma funny when she gets so frustrated?

And, then it clicked. I was tired of the being the bad guy, so I decided to find something else to take the blame.

Enter the old-school clock we have in the kitchen and Claire’s love of numbers.

“Claire! Let’s race the Big Hand. Do you see that Big Hand? We have to be done with our breakfast before it touches the 3!!”

And, it worked!

Now, every Tuesday and Thursday morning, we race to have our breakfast done by the time the Big Hand reaches the 3, and then we race to have our teeth brushed and clothes on by the time it gets to the 6.

Now, every Tuesday and Thursday morning, she is the one telling me how close the Big Hand is to the 3 or the 6 and every number in between. I haven’t said, “Come on! We have to hurry!” once, which is a shame. I was looking forward to those large bank deposits.

How do you deal with the we-have-to-be-out-of-the-house routine without going crazy(ier)?