My Parenting “Don’ts”

I am a parent; a mother. There are many things I do… I give out lots of hugs and cuddles, I kiss boo boo’s, I say bedtime prayers every night.  I change poopy diapers, I do bath time, I clean up (or try to), and I answer a lot of questions. I listen to my 4 year old’s stories, I laugh a lot, sometime I cry. I love with all my heart and I always strive to do what’s best for my kids. However there are a few things that I simply refuse to do…these have become my parenting “don’ts.” Some of these can prove very difficult at times, but parenting is work! These are things I just don’t put up with.

1. I don’t tolerate whining

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Exactly. “I’m sorry I don’t speak that language.” Is usually what I say to my four year old when he starts to get that whiney tone in his voice. I refuse to listen to you while you’re whining and complaining and your voice is reaching that level that makes me want to scream. There is a proper way to ask for something if you’d like it and that is what I’m trying to teach my kids instead of giving them what they’re whining for without even thinking, just to make them stop. (Tempting, believe me – but not helpful especially in the long run).

2. I don’t entertain tantrums

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All kids have ’em. Some more than others. The dreaded temper tantrums. They’re nasty of course. No one likes them. And while I can’t fully avoid them since I have a four year old and a 14 month old – I do not simply “put up with them.” Kids need to know from a very young age that they don’t always get their way – and especially not if they scream and throw a fit. It doesn’t work like that. If they’re left to throw a fit and then eventually get what they want – they know they can – and that’s dangerous. You’ve just made your life a lot harder in the long run. While tantrums are not nice to deal with – they need to be dealt with EVERY time. Even when my kids throw a tantrum – it doesn’t usually last long, because they are learning it never works – it never gets them what they want.

3. I don’t answer questions before coffee

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This is just a really practical one. It’s sort of not completely true…as I do mumble vague responses to my four year old such as, “yes” “mmhmm” “ok” “maybe” “right” and “I don’t know sweetie” as he proceeds to ask me 50 questions each morning before we have even made it downstairs – before the coffee is even on! I’m not a morning person and it’s a real struggle. The especially hard questions are the never ending stream of “why questions.” I just don’t have answers, especially not before coffee. I usually end up saying, “Just let mommy get downstairs and get some coffee sweetie, then I’ll answer that.” Thankfully most mornings he does eventually give up, unsatisfied with my run-of-the-mill answers and lets me get my coffee in.

4. I don’t negotiate with toddlers

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Maybe I’m just not as patient a parent as some people are, but I just refuse to negotiate with my toddler. A two year old doesn’t need a choice about what to eat – they just need food to eat. And if they’re really hungry – they’ll eat it. As children grow older I do believe it’s important to give them age-appropriate responsibility and choices, but as a young toddler – I’m the parent, and they’re the kid, I make the decisions – end of story. Besides, most of the time to they even really know what they want? And toddlers tend to change their minds about 10 times a minute anyways. Maybe in a minute he will actually want what I’m giving him and if not too bad – back to number 2.

5. I don’t lose (even though some days it feels like it)

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Parenting is truly hard work. It’s not easy and many times it’s not fun. Most of the time if would be easier to give in to the little people’s demands but then I have lost and it will make it that much harder the next time. The fact is I am the parent. I love them and want what is best for them and I make decisions based on that. And most of the time small children can’t see that – they just want what they want not knowing that sometimes what they want will actually end up hurting them – so my saying “no” has their best interests and safety in mind. When I refuse to give in and refuse to lose the battle (no matter how hard) I am teaching my children to respect authority. Children who have no respect for authority usually grow up to be adults with no respect for authority which usually means trouble. I want the best for my kids in every way and teaching them to be respectful will help them as they grow and hopefully with lots of love (and prayer) they will grow up to be loving, respectful, compassionate people.

No one is a perfect parent because there are no perfect people. All we can do is our best, every day. The biggest influence in your child’s life (especially small children) is you, their parent. They watch everything you do; they learn by watching you. It’s a scary thing sometimes! Lord, give us the strength we need to be the kind of parents You want us to be. Amen!

A Generous Heart

Today I am challenged by this word: generosity.

It’s a word that is used a lot. It’s used in many different situations. Some of us may have become kind of used to this word without really stopping to consider what true generosity means; what it looks like practically.

It’s easy to say you want to be a generous person. I think most people probably do. But how are you practically living that out on a daily basis? How does your life show that you are generous? Would other people call you generous? These are difficult questions to answer sometimes. It’s easy to say you are generous or that you aspire to be a generous person, but the true measure of that is if other people would also agree.

I sincerely hope that others would call me generous. I am striving to be a generous person in every way. I want to have a generous heart. I’m still figuring out exactly what that looks like on a daily basis, but here are a few thoughts…

Generous people give without expectations 

To be truly generous you must give without expecting any pay back. If you expect something (anything) in return for your act of kindness, than it’s not really kindness it’s just business. This also means giving sometimes without even expecting a thank you. Simply giving because you know it’s the right thing to do; you are there and you’re able to help.

Generous people give what they can

Sometimes I think we can hold back our generosity because we feel the need(s) are too big. We can’t help in any “significant” way – so we don’t help at all. This is tragic. Any help – is help. Even a small act can go a long way – and you may never know the impact. Being generous even when we feel it’s only a drop in the ocean is still being generous. Do what you can. There is no act, no amount, no time that is too little to give. It all counts.

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Generous people know that you gain when you give

Generosity is such a powerful thing. As much as you may help that other person or that group of people, something very special and amazing happens inside of you when you give. It brings joy – not just a good feeling – but true joy. Just try it – I guarantee the more you give the happier you will become. You know why? Because the focus changes from an inward, selfish me, me, me mentality to thinking outside of yourself, considering others, knowing you can make a difference and that always feels better that just being self-centred.

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Generous people know there are no limits to giving

Truly generous people have figured this one out. You can’t give too much. It’s impossible. The more you give, the more you have to give. It just grows. Whether it’s time, support, finances, compassion, etc. – the more you give out the more you have to give out again and again. It’s an amazing thing. If you don’t believe me then just try it. 🙂 You’ll see. You can’t out-give God. God will continue to give you more so that you you can pass it on and continue blessing many.

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Generous people change the world

One small act at a time…that’s what makes the big difference. Everyone has a part to play. If you give without expectations, if you give what you can, if you realise the joy in giving and you know you can never give too much you will make a difference. You may not even ever know the impact you had, but I’m sure it will be bigger that you could imagine. Want to change the world? Want to make a difference in the lives of people around you? Start giving. Seek to have a generous heart and watch what happens.

Enjoy the ride!

Why I Love Being Married

I don’t know if it’s the season we’re in or the peace we have in what we’re doing now in Tanzania or what — but lately I  just feel so in love with my Hubby. I know what you’re thinking – yes of course, I always love my husband but sometimes those feelings of love can be harder to come by that other times.  I’m generally not a super mushy person but let me say I’ve been feeling quite mushy lately and I’m loving it! Whatever the reason, through the highs and the lows I truly love being married. I think it’s the greatest adventure of life. I feel so blessed that I get to do life with my amazing Husband. We don’t know what tomorrow will hold but we know we will face it all together and there is great peace in that. OK. Mushiness aside for a minute…here are my top 10 reasons why I love being married.

Reason # 1 – Someone to listen to me

OK. I admit it. Sometimes I can talk a lot. I’m a girl – it’s what we do 😉 I am thankful for a Husband that (for the most part) listens to me – to my stories, to my complaints, to my worries, to my fears, to my excitement – to everything! It feels great to have someone that is always interested in YOU. That genuinely cares about what you have to say (most of the time – as I know sometimes I wouldn’t even want to listen to me).

Reason # 2 – Someone to make memories with

I am a very nostalgic person. I like looking at old photographs, I like reminiscing about old memories – it brings me joy. I’m not stuck in the past by any means but I do appreciate looking back at where I’ve come from. I find this even more amazing to do with my Husband. We’ve only been married 6.5 years but in that time we have lived in Canada and in two different places in Tanzania. We have traveled, we have had two beautiful sons, we have had several different jobs – it’s been kind of a whirlwind of constant change – but through it all we have made some pretty amazing memories together that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

Reason # 3 – Someone to learn with

Learning together is another great thing about marriage. We’re never going to have it all figured out – but we learn as we go. We have learned so much about each other; about how we think, how we operate, what makes us tick etc. And we still have lots of learning to do!

Reason # 4 – Someone to sleep beside.

It’s just the best thing ever! Now, while I do enjoy having the bed to myself every once in a while when the Hubby travels, the rest of the time I really do enjoy having him sleep beside me. (With the exception of when he tries to sleep diagonally across the bed and I have to kick him so he’ll move). 🙂 There is some kind of security and intimacy in just sleeping (literally) with someone.

Reason # 5 – Someone to put me in my place (once in a while)

Every now and then I need a good, “Jade you’re wrong” moment. Keeps me humble and less selfish. Husbands are great for this 😉 All jokes aside – I am thankful for a Husband who can tell me when I’m wrong in a loving way and who encourages me every day to do and to be better.

Reason # 6 – Warding off unwanted conversations/attention

This one might be more specific to me since I’m living in Tanzania…but because I kinda of stand out here (blonde hair, blue eyes etc.) sometimes I will get some people (men) striking up random conversations with me and it’s not just that they’re being friendly if you know what I mean. This is uncomfortable and awkward and I just plain don’t like it. But because I’m married I can usually easily get out of these awkward encounters fairly quickly. At the soonest opportunity available in the conversation I am quick to mention my husband and our family – Works like a charm.

Reason # 7 – The security of knowing someone else has your back – always

It doesn’t take a lot. A quick kiss on the cheek, his hand on my back, a quick squeeze of my hand and I know – all is well. These are small actions that we can sometimes take for granted or not really even acknowledge but the truth is they mean a lot. They convey and affirm love. They communicate warmth and security.

Reason # 8 – The company

I am more introverted than extroverted but at the same time I don’t really need time COMPLETELY alone. Time with my family and no outsiders – yes, but completely by myself? – No. I get bored easily and I enjoy being around someone else. My favourite person hang out with of course is my Hubby. I love that I don’t get sick of being around him (except for possibly the odd time when I’m probably PMS-ing ;)). It’s great to have someone to hang out with all the time even when it’s not really doing much of anything – just chatting, watching a TV show or playing with the kids together.

Reason # 9 – HUGS

I think there is some kind of science that has proved that hugs actually make people feel better; I read something, I can’t remember where but I’m pretty sure it’s true. How’s that for a fact?  Now I don’t think anyone else would describe me as a very touchy feely person but I find myself different with my Husband. There is something great about being able to just reach out and hug someone and have them hug you back and it’s never awkward or weird – it’s just normal and comforting. His arms around me make me feel secure and loved and it’s great to be able to have that all the time.

Reason # 10 – Ending and beginning each day together

I love the late night talks as we lie in bed; going over our day – the good, the bad, the ugly. Finding support, encouragement, laughter and strength. Then as well waking up to a brand new day with that same someone by your side, ready to do it all over again with you; another day, another fresh start together.

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If you’re married, why do you think it’s so great? (I’m assuming you do) 🙂

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