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Don’t Grow Weary!

I know it’s been quiet here at MyBusyHome… mostly because my busy home has been, well busy. I’m in a tough, demanding, active, crazy, overwhelming season of life. I have busy kids who hurricane around the house overwhelming me constantly with their endless energy.

There’s a four-going-on-thirteen-year-old, self-declared princess, who creates and perpetuates drama, but also initiates sweet conversations about God and life. There is a little boy running around in big boy undies, so busy with playing and jumping and laughing he sometimes forgets to do his business in the potty. And don’t forget the adorable, mobile baby who is as fast as lightning and has a fascination with electrical cords…

Some days I drop into bed at 11pm and I wonder how I made it through the maze of another day, and if I can muster the energy to do it all over again tomorrow.

So, I haven’t felt very inspired to write here about how to manage a Busy Home, because more days than not it feels like my busy home is managing me instead.

In days and weeks like I’m having lately, I find the greatest comfort in verses like Galatians 6:9:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

I cannot express in words the comfort that this promise brings to my heart.

I shouldn’t grow weary. I must not give up. I don’t need to stop doing what I’m doing. I can’t stop sowing into my children. I just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other… And, one day, when it’s time, I will reap.

Isn’t that a precious comfort? Don’t give up! It will take hard days, and long weeks, and toil and struggle and tears, but WE WILL REAP if we don’t give up!


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Indoor Exercise for Preschoolers

When it’s cold and rainy, or gray and dreary, it’s hard to get little ones outside to jump, run and climb like they need to. I’ve found that during rainy weeks, and winter months, it’s pretty easy to get some preschool exercise time indoors to help expel built up energy!

There are myriads of games and activities you can create inside to get your toddlers up and moving. But if you’re lacking energy yourself, there is a pretty simple way to lead your preschooler in some exercise time without having to do much planning or preparation:

Cue YouTube!

After lunch, and before nap on yucky days, I set up the laptop in the living room and announce that it’s “Exercise Time”! That brings my kids running! We have discovered a few YouTube favorites that my kids love to sing and dance with!

My House Preschool Exercise by LotstoLearn

Show Me How You Shake by kidconcoct

Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes by Jangiankotla

Five Little Ducks by upaglossy

So, next time you’re stuck inside on a rainy day, try some YouTube exercise fun!

**I can attest that the above videos are appropriate for children, however, not everything on YouTube is appropriate for children. Please check all videos yourself before showing them to your children.**


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Thank You Notes

My mom cursed blessed me by always making me write thank you notes when I was a child.  Nowadays I still hear her voice when I receive a gift, “Don’t forget to write a thank you!”

It is a dying art.  And nothing says Thank You quite like a handwritten, thoughtful note.  I want to instill in my kids a sense of gratitude and the ability to properly express thanks to someone who has given them a gift.  So, the best time to work on this is… January.

January, what a dull month!  The Christmas decor is packed away, the winter doldrums are upon us, and we have plenty of time to write thank you notes for the nice Christmas gifts we opened last month.  OK, you may not feel like you have plenty of time to write thank yous, but let’s face it, if you don’t write them this month, it’s probably not going to happen!  Here are some ways to get your children to write notes, even if they can’t yet write their own name!

Toddlers and Preschoolers

  • Print out a picture for your child to color, write a simple message for them, their name, and the date.  (If your child can write their own name, let them add their name to the drawing.)
  • Give your child some blank paper and art mediums– stickers, glitter, markers, paints, crayons– and let them create a little masterpiece.  Write a simple message their name, and the date for them.
  • Print a picture of your child using/wearing the gift received and mail it to the sender.  Write a brief message on the back stating your thanks.

School-Aged Children

  • Create a simple fill-in-the-blank generic thank you note for your child to fill in.  (This not only teaches them to write thank you notes, it helps them learn the proper way to write a letter!)  Add a picture for them to color if you would like.

______/_______/_______

Dear ______________________________,

Thank you for the ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­___________________________ you gave me for Christmas.  I like it because _____________

_____________________________________.  I hope you had a very merry Christmas!

Love,

____________

  • If your school-aged child is a little older, buy (or help them make thank you cards), and encourage them to write a brief message of thanks for the gift.  The note doesn’t have to be long, just an expression of appreciation for the gift! Let them use special glitter pens or markers or stickers– let writing thank yous be a fun activity, not a dreaded chore!

Do you always write a thank you note for gifts you receive?


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December Memory Verse

9 How can a young person stay on the path of purity?

By living according to your word.

10 I seek you with all my heart;

do not let me stray from your commands.

11 I have hidden your word in my heart

that I might not sin against you.

12 Praise be to you, LORD;

teach me your decrees.

13 With my lips I recount

all the laws that come from your mouth.

14 I rejoice in following your statutes

as one rejoices in great riches.

15 I meditate on your precepts

and consider your ways.

16 I delight in your decrees;

I will not neglect your word.

{Psalm 119}

Download and print a memory verse with picture clues to work on with your child(ren) this month: December Verse

Thoughts on Scripture Memory with Toddlers and Preschoolers:

  • Use key words and word cues. When we started working on Scripture memory with Ladybug, I chose key words in a verse for her to say and I cued her with the rest.  The first verse she ever learned was Genesis 1:1.  It went like this:

Me: In the beginning

Ladybug: God

Me: created the heavens and the

Ladybug: earth

Me: Genesis

Ladybug: one, one

As she has grown, I give her more of the verse we are working on to say aloud.

  • Use picture clues to help your kids remember the key words.  As you can see on our fridge, this month’s verse is written with three pictures.  A baby, the earth, and a cross– Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  (If you’d like to work on this verse this month, you can print it out using the link above!)  Pictures are indeed worth a thousand words when you’re working with children!
  • Individualize Scripture memory for each of your kids. Ladybug is (and always has been) a chatterbox, and she learned her first verse before she was two.  She already knows this month’s verse and can rattle off, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” without help.  However, Stinkbug has not been very verbal (until recently), and has just started working on his first few verses.  Right now he knows, “Children obey,” (Ephesians 6:1) and “Be thankful,” (Colossians 3:15).  As you can see, his verses are short and sweet, which is perfect for his verbal abilities right now.
  • Be diligent about speaking, learning, repeating, teaching, saying, memorizing, and reflecting on Scripture with your kids!  Use the Deuteronomy 6:7 principle for learning Scripture with your children–You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. Practice your verses all the time– in the car, in line at the grocery, at the dinner table, before bed…
  • Set a good example. If you are learning Scripture right along with your kids, you are setting the best example.  Share with them which passages you are memorizing and show them that Scripture memory is a lifelong discipline!  (If you’re not great with Scripture memory, share that with your kids and ask them to help you learn your verses too!)
  • Teach the reference. I always teach a verse’s address as part of the verse.  To me, it is so important!  Some verses I have memorized over the years have faded, or get jumbled in my mind, but if I can recall the book, chapter, and verse, I can easily find it in the Bible to read it.


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Little Helpers

One of the greatest things about toddlers and preschoolers is their willingness to help out around the house.  To them, folding the wash cloths for mommy, or pushing a broom around the kitchen is a game, it’s fun.  (Don’t we wish mommy felt like that about housework?)

Stinkbug ready to do laundry with Mommy

Before our kids get too old to enjoy helping out around the house, we need to ask them to help, and build in them the habit of helping around the house.  It’s important to remember that our two, three, and four-year olds will not be able to do tasks like we would do them (groceries won’t be categorized alphabetically when your toddler puts them away!), but that is OK!

Choose some things you can start asking your young kids to do to help you, model for them what you want them to do, and be sure to praise them for a job well done!

Here are some ideas of things toddlers and preschoolers can easily do to help mom and dad:

  • Put groceries away in the pantry.
  • Put dirty clothes in the hamper.
  • Feed pets.
  • Pick up toys, puzzles, games, and books and put them in a designated place.
  • Put sorted clothes into the washing machine.  (This seems boring to me, but Stinkbug loves to be the one to push the clothes I give him into the washer!)
  • Dust at their level (shelves, coffee table, end tables, etc)
  • Fold wash cloths, dish towels, and hand towels.
  • Put their clean clothes away in drawers.
  • Wipe mirrors, windows, and glass doors.
  • Sweep the porch or balcony.
  • Water plants.
  • Empty the silverware compartment from the dishwasher.
  • Set the table.
  • Clear the table after a meal.

Ladybug "sweeping"

What do you ask your young children to do around the house?


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Having a Newborn (Again)

I’ve been soaking in the long, tedious, sweet-smelling, snuggly, sleep-deprived days of having a newborn.  As I hold and feed and change Doodlebug, I have a hard time believing my other Bugs were this small.  This helpless.  This sleepy.

Oh, these days pass in a blur!

Having been here twice before, I know all too well that soon he’ll be smiling, cooing, sitting, standing, cruising, walking, talking, running, jumping… I know how much I’ll miss waking up at night to feed him.  How much I’ll miss his sweet smell as the yumminess of soft newborn scent is replaced by an interesting sweaty boy smell.

I’m reminded of a saying I’ve heard about motherhood more than once– the days pass slow, but the years go fast.

Even though I’m busy tending a newborn (OK, OK who am I kidding, he still sleeps most of the time!) I’ve been convicted of not maximizing my days as a mom.  Sure, everyone has a clean diaper on (for most of the day), everyone gets fed a variety of healthy meals and snacks, and the house gets (mostly) picked up every day, but am I purposefully and intentionally parenting to the glory of God?

It’s so easy to get sucked into the dailyness of being a wife and mother that often we look back and a year has passed.  Or ten.  Or twenty.

I ache at the thought that I could wake up one morning in my empty nest and mourn the years that I let slip by in a frenzy of diapers and goldfish and Elmo.  What am I doing today that will matter then?

It’s true that I am building a sense of security in my children.  I’m making a home in which they feel safe, and comforted, and loved.  I sing with them and count with them and practice letters and colors with them.  But recently we started having family devotions after dinner each evening.  My husband leads and right now we’re just figuring out how we want this time to look, but it is being set aside as sacred time.  No toys come.  No TV shows are on.  Everyone sits on the couch and my husband teaches from the Word.  And we pray together as a family.

There isn’t a magic formula for family devotions.  There’s no perfect way to do it.  But this time together as a family in the Word and in prayer is priceless.  In our children are being implanted truths that will live past today.  Truths that will equip them to battle sin and live righteously.  Truths that will point them to Christ.  Truths that will save.

How are you parenting to the glory of God today?

Some of our favorite resources for family devotions:

Some ideas for family devotion times:

  • Bible or Bible Story reading
  • Verse Memorization
  • Catechism Review
  • Singing Worship Songs
  • Prayer
  • Advent Readings/Jesse Tree (during December)

 


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Traveling (Again) with Littles

Well, twenty days after our transatlantic flight, we suited up to do it again.  With an infant ticket not purchased in advance, bags overweight with American goods, our first flight delayed an hour, getting onto the second flight mere minutes taking off, and now jet lagged kids at home (OK, OK all of us are a tad jet lagged!)– this time around was not as smooth!

But we made it and God is still good.  And as of yet I have not lost my mind (although the fact that I’m writing this post at 2am might signal that the end is near!)

Here are some of my good, old-fashioned, practical tips for traveling with wee ones:

  • Potty everyone at the same time.  If one of you needs to go, everyone else needs to try too.
  • Stash plastic bags in a handy place.  And ditch the cloth diapers for travel.  Really, it’s OK to use disposables so you can dispose of any unpleasantness.  And believe you me, unpleasantness will occur.
  • Have a pad of Post It notes in your purse.  The automatic flushers in the airports freaked Ladybug out and I wished I had a Post It to stick over the sensor each time to hold off the flushing until she was done.
  • Pack more stuff than you need.  It’s better to have a book that never gets colored, or a DVD that never gets watched than to be without in a moment of need.  Try not to go overboard, but be realistic when preparing snacks and activities.
  • Tell your kids you’re proud of them.  If they’re doing a great job riding in the car or playing quietly in the airport, praise them!
  • Pack yourself some chocolate.  Make sure it’s the good stuff.  And don’t share if you don’t want to.
  • If you end up with jet lagers at 2am like me, invite them into your bed and hold them tight.  Breathe in that baby shampoo and toddler breath and remember that these days won’t last forever…