Recently, my husband and I had a conversation about a class I wanted to take. He questioned if I really NEEDED to take the class to learn some new thing and asked if I should be teaching instead of attending. I consider myself a novice in the arena we were discussing so I quickly told him I’m in Kindergarten, not a college graduate in this area.
A few days later, on the local Christian radio station Matt and I listen to during his bath and dressing routine, a psychologist added wisdom to the discussion of self-care. She said many folks believe self-care is synonymous with selfishness. This was curious to me.
My notion of self-care included things like eating, cleaning myself, being appropriately dressed for the season. The local radio personality described her self-care as cleaning the house thoroughly on a particular day of the week. Her reasoning was that a dirty house led to dissatisfaction, discontent, and even stress. So, her remedy to remove those negatives was just to clean her house.
It seems to me as I evaluate the children of our home, now all adults, that each has a different method of self-care. One needs to hike in the mountains as a form of exercise, challenge, achievement, and fresh air. Another needs to strum a guitar to contemplate the serious elements of life. One needs to be a student to be ever learning a new skill. My husband needs to play the piano or write a book to feed his soul.
And, I need to take a class to develop the skills so I can graduate from kindergarten to first grade. No one in my family needs any more of what I will produce, as the class is a hands-on, make a product kind of learning experience. I don’t know what I will do with the end product. Maybe I will give it as a gift. It is utilitarian. Maybe I’ll save this and any subsequent article like it in the hope some grandchild would cherish it.
I recognized that keeping my home in some semblance of order; having a menu plan and adhering to it; maintaining my weekly routine of errands; having a time to study the Bible and attend Bible study are important elements to be completed for personal sanity. The classes I take to learn and advance a skill; or the garden I tend; or the knitting I do during football season are all ‘frosting on the cake’ for positive mental health. For they fill the need to be creative and productive.
Jesus pulled away from his disciples to fellowship with His Father. He healed, taught, and withdrew over the three years of his ministry. Each of those efforts built upon the previous year. Each he did for the fulfillment of his time on earth. He completed His ministry in a way that was complete.
You and I have different gifts and talents to be used in His kingdom. While we go about the work at hand, God anticipates we will hone our skills and use them for His glory. These are the things that personally fulfill us and give us positive mental health.
So if you interchange the words ‘selfish’ and ‘self-care’, take another look at it. See if self-care cannot give you just what you need to function in life in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.
Most of you are not part of Pastor’s book club. So, this is a community service notice. It’s a great group IF you love to read and do best with a deadline to compel you to complete the book. We have read easy and challenging things; inspiring books; and hard things.
I’ve had to force my way through some of them to accomplish my goal. Not every book has been finished…I think just one went partially read (ok, it was the December book…that’s an excuse but it’s a busy month for a mama).
It’s not normal for me to spend a ‘healthy’ column on books to read, though I’ve certainly given some recommendations in the past. Today, I’m recommending EVERYONE WHO READS THIS COLUMN also pick up a copy of our most recent read.
Honor’s Reward by John Bevere. It’s 17 chapters. His writing style is an ‘easy read’. The reading will not challenge you but the contents might. Honestly, everyone in our group agreed that it was worth the time we invested in reading. Each of us gained something from it.
He covers what honor means in the home, social circumstances, business world, at church, on the mission field. Beyond what honor requires, he speaks directly to the benefit when honor is properly employed. It’s a heart attitude: not a quid pro quo: I’ll give honor only to reap a reward. No. He gives example after example in every instance of right heart attitudes in giving honor and the resulting benefits.
Specifically, if you get the book and read only one chapter, make it chapter 10. Church! We are missing a huge blessing because we are missing the mark that chapter 10 addresses. I’m not going to tell you what the chapter addresses. This is the bait on the end of the hook. I encourage you to get a copy of the book and read it ALL, but if you only have 30 minutes to read, make it chapter 10! I am serious.
One chapter deals with all that has happened recently in our American political spectrum: not in politics, specifically, but it addresses how to respond to all that has splattered the newspaper in the last few months. You will need to read more than one chapter to glean that, but I promise you it will change the way you look at and respond to every situation from city government to the national political scene.
I don’t know if your appetite has been whetted. I’ll stop before I spill the beans. But, I can only recommend this book to anyone who wants to honor God in word, attitude, and action. Get it. Read it. Apply it. Don’t miss chapter 10!
One hundred to one
In the winter, I dream of and plan for a garden. I don’t think the garden and flower beds are really at rest for the season till they are blanketed with snow. It seems that white blanket really puts them ‘to bed’ and they can sleep till that blanket melts into the soil, tickling all that brings it to life, like an alarm clock waking one for a new day, a new season.
In the meantime, we are still eating off last year’s bounty, or the bounty of my sister’s garden. She grows barrels of butternut squash in her larger space and is kind enough to share with us. I was scooping seeds out of the cup of the squash, preparing to bake it. I wondered if I could roast the seeds for later snacking.
The pulp that entangles the seeds was dutifully peeled away from the seeds. I washed them and laid them on a paper towel to dry. I could eat them later or plant them in the garden. I’m sure they will germinate and grow more plants with more squash and more seeds, perpetuating their kind.
And, then, I decided just for fun, I would count how many seeds were in the belly of the vegetable. One hundred, thirty-seven seeds. If each seed were planted and developed into one squash, the magnification would quickly become exponential. Considering a squash vine doesn’t produce just ONE fruit, but several, depending upon the richness of the soil and the health of the environment, the multiplication would quickly demand a calculator for accurate predictability.
I’m sure you know the correlation I’m about to suggest. If each of us used the opportunities given to share Jesus and each of the individuals with whom we shared did the same, our growth would be phenomenal. It’s true, not all the seed will germinate. Not all of it will grow. Not all will bear fruit because of the environmental factors. But, if even a fraction of the seeds did germinate, grow, multiply and each of the harvest multiplied by even 50%, great growth would be seen.
The older I get; the more I study; the more I realize that God repeats similar lessons in different ways, depending upon the audience. I have no idea where God has planted you, in what
‘soil’ you live, where you can reproduce. Maybe you work in a hospital where mercy and empathy are your avenues for the love of Christ. Maybe you care for children in a school, preschool or as a volunteer in Crew to have compassion and teaching as your venue. Perhaps you are a plumber or an electrician or work with HVAC and have opportunity to venture into a person’s home. Maybe you work in the computer and technology industry where numbers and information reign. Or, perhaps you serve tables to customers who are in a hurry to feed their bodies. Wherever you are, there are opportunities to reflect the glory of Jesus, to the impatient, stressed, hurt, and ailing members of society who do not know Him.
Maybe you are the one in a hundred who can say a kind word, open a door, feed a soul because He has germinated within you and you can plant a seed of hope to a world in despair. Just remember the humble squash has over a hundred seeds to donate and offer opportunity for new growth and maturation. If the squash has so many opportunities, can we have less?
Door handles and Light switches
Last week I listed the benchmarks for illness that tells you when to avoid the general population and when it is safe to circulate amongst coworkers and peers. Today, let’s address some issues you face at home.
One year, we invited one of the grandmothers to a school performance for a high schooler. She had just spent a week or more in the hospital with pneumonia. This was challenging for her because of her COPD; meaning, her recuperation was not as speedy because of that lingering issue.
She graciously declined in this manner: “I’d love to come and see my grandchild perform. But there will be a lot of people there and they will all be breathing.” Well stated, Grandma.
That’s the problem. So much of the winter illness comes from respiratory transmission. Coughs, sneezes, breathing.
My soapbox of teaching children to sneeze into their elbows to cover as much of the exhalation and little moist particles as possible helps. Hand washing should become a ritual.
But, there is more. Cleaning surfaces is so important. We often don’t think of the ones we all touch: door handles and light switches. We all do it. Everyone in the household touches these items. So, as much as one tries to sanitize and clean, when illness comes into the household, be sure these items are part of the cleaning routine.
The market sports dozens of products that clean the germs. If anyone is sensitive to the chemicals in these cleaning products, there are some household supplies that can be used to make your own.
Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent disinfectant. Hydrogen peroxide is created in the atmosphere when ultraviolet rays from the sun hit oxygen in the presence of moisture. It is basically the same chemical make up as water but with an extra oxygen atom. Because of this it breaks down quickly and harmlessly into oxygen and water.
Hydrogen peroxide has antibacterial and antiviral qualities and is a strong bleach. The most common form is three to six percent hydrogen peroxide solution and this works best in the home as an all purpose cleaner.
It normally is purchased in the aisle near the band aids and alcohol, in 3% solution. It’s a bargain at $1.00 for a 32 oz. container. It can be used straight (without dilution) in a spray bottle. The key to using it as a disinfectant is to let it sit for a few minutes. Spray. Wait. Wipe. Because of its bleach qualities, it will leave spots on dark items. It will also lighten whites, so use a white or light towel for wiping.
Vinegar, diluted cleans well also. But there are some significant things to avoid cleaning with vinegar. Egg messes; granite or marble countertops; solid wood countertops (diluted may be ok for floors) and kitchen knives. The acidity in vinegar can harm or destroy any of these items.
Vinegar CAN be used to clean appliances, clogged drains, lime deposits, shower heads, soap scum, windows and mirrors, toilets. Each application would have a different dilution rate, so be certain to check that before using it on any surface.
You can purchase cleaners at the store but any prepackaged disinfectant will be more expensive and perhaps less effective than these two alternatives. Whatever product you use to clean, include light switches and door handles. Combined with fastidious hand washing, they are a key to killing germs and keeping everyone as healthy as can be during this season of respiratory illnesses.
This is a fair warning. I’m about to preach on my winter soap box. We have quarantined ourselves from group assemblies till the weather is better and illness amongst the masses has quelled. We do this for our own (aging) health, but mostly for our son whose respiratory system cannot risk the respiratory influenza. You won’t see me for awhile. I try to keep in touch via Face Book, messages, and listening to the sermons on line.
Today, I want to share a simple chart to help you know when to avoid folks and when it is safe to be out and about. It’s challenging to balance the ‘need to be at XYZ’ (work, school, church, sporting events, etc.). If our mantra is to love others first, this chart will assist you in making wise decisions so everyone can avoid illness.
You should stay home if any of these conditions present:
Fever: Temperature of 100.4 or above
Vomiting: within the last 24 hours
Diarrhea: within the last 24 hours
Rash: with itching or fever
Lice: itchy head; active head lice
Eye infection: Redness, itching or active infection of the eye
Hospital stay of ER visit: Stay home till medical personnel releases you to circulate
You can safely return to public in these instances:
Fever free for 24 hours WITHOUT the use of over the counter medication (Tylenol, Ibupropen)
Vomiting: free from vomiting for at least 2 solid food meals
Diarrhea: No diarrhea for 24 hours
Rash: free from rash itching or fever for 24 hours; cleared by medical personnel
Lice: treated with appropriate medication and cleared by a nurse or medical personnel
Eye infection: Cleared by medical personnel
Hospital stay or ER visit: Released and cleared by medical professional
If you are out and about at big box stores, use the cleaning wipes on the shopping carts if they are provided. You might want to carry some with you if you know you are going somewhere they are not offered. This helps disease transmission. (It’s also important for reducing exposure to any drug residue on hands.)
Make it a policy to wash your hands as soon as you enter your home from being out in public. Hand washing is essential to keeping germs from reproducing and allowing illness.
And, finally, reduce sugar consumption and increase fresh fruit and vegetable intake. Sugar compromises the immune system from operating at its highest potential. Fresh fruits and vegetables help fuel the immune system to do what it is intended to accomplish for your good health.
In love, please consider the folks around you if you are feeling under the weather. Stay home if you are ill. Wait till you are well to return to public events. Eat well. Use good personal hygiene. And pray for spring to arrive quickly.
Peas Porridge Hot
Do you know the nursery rhyme, ‘Peas Porridge Hot; peas porridge cold; peas porridge in the pot 9 days old’? Apparently, when housewives made stew in the fireplace with the food in the Dutch oven, on a lever that would swing over the fire and out for stirring, women just added new vegetables to the container. The stew might have ingredients that were 9 days old.
I would not recommend that kind of food preparation today. The risk of food poisoning would be significant.
One morning, I forgot to push the ‘bagel’ setting on the toaster. I put condiments on my bagel before realizing that it wasn’t very ‘toasted’. In fact, it didn’t even seem very hot. I think the same morning, I finished the carafe of coffee made the day before and stored in a thermos. It also wasn’t very hot.
I finished my breakfast and left the kitchen but I felt as if something was not quite right and it didn’t take many minutes for me to put the pieces together. My bagel was tepid. The coffee wasn’t much better and I was disappointed. In fact, I was not satisfied with my breakfast.
What came to my mind? The verse in Revelation that says, ‘You are neither hot nor cold so I will spit you out of my mouth.’ It nearly stopped me in my tracks.
Is my spiritual life tepid? Am I content to read 5 Psalms and the Proverb that corresponds to the date? Is my prayer life rote? Is this what God means when he calls us tepid?
We are just a week into the new year. It’s time to reassess those resolutions that were made. How are you doing? Did you take my suggestions to piece meal your efforts and start a new one every 21 days or set a new goal for each month? Have your resolutions to lose weight, get in shape; gain discipline in weak areas of life already dissolved? I’m on track so far, but I’m thinking about what my February goal is going to be.
This year, in each month, I want not to be tepid; not allowing my walk with the Lord to be lukewarm or half baked; or giving Him the leftovers if there are any.
Today is a great time to start your resolve to study rather than just read the Word; to apply what we learn and be earnest in our relationships every day. It will be a great start before the new year progresses. It’s time to evaluate what is working and what is not and make an adjustment. Be hot or be cold. Don’t be tepid.
And make sure the food you eat isn’t nine days old.
It’s a New Year
Have you made your resolution list for 2020? Have you given up before you begin? Here’s the thing: most of us stop before we get started. So this year, I’m going to try a new thing. I invite you to join me.
Research indicates it takes 21 days to form a new habit. So, for this year, I want to make some changes in my life. Any new habit requires discipline and effort. Sometimes, the goals we set overwhelm us because we ‘bite off more than we can chew.’ We start too many new things at once. I wonder if that is why folks fade after the first week or two of new resolutions.
You know the ones: lose weight, exercise, read the Bible, be a new person overnight. You may be giggling, but I’m guessing you have been on that band wagon more than once.
One year, I decided that I wanted to read more books. A century ago, when I was taking education classes at the university, we were taught that every goal needs to be measurable. So, my resolution was to READ more books but by keeping track of what I read, I could measure how successful I was. I wrote in the back of my daily planner every title I read. At the end of the year, I could review what I read and determine if I exceeded my past record. I read more than a book a month, which satisfied my personal desire to ‘read more’. For the next year, I might expand my goal to read books from different categories: fiction, biography, autobiography; or from different persuasions: political, religious, fantasy, etc. I wonder if our resolutions, our goals, are unattainable because we expect too much too soon.
This year, I want to limit and define my goals so they are specific. I might choose to walk on the treadmill OR take a walk outside for X minutes or Y distance Z times in a week. I will need a method to determine if I am successful in my goal. If there are hurdles in meeting my goal, I will need to amend the X or Y or Z of it and reassess.
The important element in this is that I am only going to work on ONE ITEM per month. This should give me the 21 days I need to make my goal a habit. Once it’s part of my regular routine, I will evaluate if I need to adjust my expectations, do more or less, etc.
As you think about changes you want to make in the next year, think seasonally. I know my goal for walking will change when the gardening season begins. So, I might make my goal a short term goal: until gardening season, I will do this.
In a Bible study I was in through the fall, we learned about fasting. There are several kinds of fasting: giving up a meal a day; fasting for certain lengths of time through a day; fasting for particular day(s) during a week. If fasting is a new spiritual goal for you, try something small until you realize it will not kill you. Then move to a larger goal. I think this smaller to larger method is better insurance for success.
If getting up earlier is your goal, make it easier with a tiny adjustment. Go to bed earlier. Get up 15 minutes earlier every day for a month and then increase the ‘earlier’ by another increment of time. These bite sized pieces are easier to accomplish than ‘get up at 3 a.m. to study for an hour; walk an hour; nap an hour; get ready for work.’ Do you see the impossibility of the 3 a.m. goal. It won’t happen on day one and certainly not in a month’s time. However, if one pairs going to bed 30 minutes earlier and rising 15 minutes earlier, it is more likely to happen.
Our daughter’s church does a ‘30 days of fasting and prayer’ the first month of the year. This year, their church has rented gymnasiums at two schools for an hour each morning of the week, 6 days a week. Someone from the leadership team will be at each location to lead a devotion, pray, and the rest of the time is available for walking, jumping rope, shooting hoops individually or as a group. There is some built in accountability in this method.
Our daughter and her husband are pairing this with the Whole 30 food consumption plan, in an effort to purge sugar from their diet. It’s a short term goal they will work on together. They will re-evaluate at the end of January how they feel with less sugar and more exercise. And, they will have additional friends to join them in their efforts.
Whether or not you make a resolution to improve your life, think about how you can achieve success by biting off a little at a time, finding success, and moving forward. I’ll cheer for you as you make progress. Now, back to my goal setting for the last few things I want to accomplish.
One of my adult children asked in a recent phone conversation, “Are you SO excited to have me come home so you can wait on me hand and foot?” in anticipation of the trip home for Christmas. I responded that Christmas with adult children is so different than Christmas anticipation with younger children.
The wish list of young children, their anticipation and hopes for what gifts will soon be theirs; the lists, the visits to Santa for some; the decorating of cookies and making gingerbread houses fuels the energy and attitudes of the season. As adults, we may recall those very events in our own childhood and think fondly of the relationships the experiences created.
The gratification of delight and shouts of ‘It’s the BEST Christmas EVER’ when a gift is opened cements the efforts as worthwhile. And the delight with empty boxes and balled up gift wrap drills memories into our hearts and minds. It’s all so lovely and energizing.
The delicious fragrances and delightful flavors of the day linger in our minds and on our taste buds. They demand we repeat such feats in the future as a way to recall and establish tradition in the next generations.
Every family has different traditions: gift wrapping everything vs. ‘displaying’ gifts; Christmas movies or visits to light displays vs. decorating one’s own space; traveling or staying home; being with family or being home alone. Each tradition marks a memory that may be wonderful or it may be harrowing.
In my younger years, my mother was the fuel behind Christmas. We didn’t get treats through the year, except on birthdays. There were no Easter baskets, or treats from a trip to the store. But Christmas was as abundant as she could make it. She worked through the course of the year to find bargains and buy a little here and there so on Christmas morning, the desires of our hearts were fulfilled. I cannot remember a year I wasn’t delighted with my gifts.
As my siblings and I grew into teen years and adults, with a little cash available for us to be the givers, our parents became the objects of our affection. They didn’t have a wish list, so we had to be attentive to conversations and hear the desires of their hearts ‘in between the lines’. I remember seeing a pencil mark beside an item in a mail order catalog: a quiet indication of which item was the favorite. What a delight to order that and have it secretly stored in an out building to be carried into the house after livestock chores were complete to stun and thrill the recipient.
As our skills and interests became honed, we turned our gift giving to one another. We tried to use whatever skills we had to make gifts for one another. The investment in time and energy and the anticipation of shock and delight for the recipient of the gift was the reason for the gift. It was the hope of delighting another with an over the top gift, unexpected yet completely satisfying.
Recently, I wondered, as a parent, how God feels about Christmas and the way many Christians celebrate the season. Was He full of anticipation for the great gift He was about to give the world? He had been dropping hints over the centuries of what was to come. His many hints were all to be fulfilled in ways mankind neither expected nor believed.
Has He been disappointed that instead of anticipating the Savior, preparing our hearts, whetting our appetites and looking to Him, we have commercialized the ‘greatest gift’? Have we been duped by a counterfeit ‘gift giving’: we are the givers and the boxes under the tree the purpose of the season? Do we focus on the purpose of the greatest gift: God with us to fulfill the law?
I don’t know about you, but I’m always torn during the season between decorating the house and putting lights out; and focusing on the Reason for the Season. I want to focus on the Reason in the midst of the traditions our family has accrued and perpetuates. I want every thing we choose to glorify the One who came as a tiny baby, unexpected, to fulfill that law in ways we never anticipated. I want all the glitter and glory of the season to be for the One who fills my heart and mind each day. I want my focus to be on Him so that all the tradition underscores Who and Why we celebrate.
And, yes, I AM looking forward to having my children home so I can wait on them hand and foot because being a servant is my nature. May it be an example for them of how He lived and how He wants them to serve one another.
Furry little Rodents
We have an extended family of squirrels who entertain us all year long. They are friendly little fellows. They climb onto the window sills and look into our home. They seem to know that Matthew cannot come outside to play or climb trees with them anymore, so they check on him. We enjoy the jumping around; playing tag with one another; searching for and burying food.
I’ve learned to outsmart them on a few fronts. After years of needing to replant tulip bulbs which they found delicious, I learned to plant the tulip bulbs under some chicken wire. They haven’t figured out how to get the bulbs out from the wire yet and I’m giving them no clues.
Because I’m a couple of years behind in cracking and harvesting black walnuts, I didn’t bother to go through the messy steps of preserving them this year. I picked them up from the two trees and hauled wheel barrow loads to our overdrive, and donated them as a food pantry for the squirrels. I told my husband I’d scoop them up and put them in compost bags at the end of the season but he suggested I wait till spring. It would allow the hulls to decompose and I’d just have the nuts to throw away. I agreed.
The squirrels were not too interested in eating the nuts which surprised me. We observed them nibbling but it didn’t seem to me that they were hauling much away or storing them in the trees or ground. Till the first snow. Something about that first snow fall transported them into industrious little diggers. They moved nuts from the over drive to flowerbeds, different spots in the lawn. We have watched them scurry around like patrons at the grocery store when a storm is forecast.
The thing is, those nuts are not going anywhere. They don’t know that. They are worried the nuts will disappear, so they are working busily to store enough for the long winter.
How like those squirrels I am. God reminds me that I don’t need to worry about anything and yet, I spend energy doing everything I can to provide for the future. It’s an unsure future. I don’t know exactly what I might need, so I try to cover all my bases.
I can laugh at the squirrels whose stockpile of food will remain in the overdrive all winter or I can watch the squirrels and be reminded that my God will supply all my needs according to His riches in heaven.
Maybe that is why he sent the squirrels to live in our yard. He knew I would need frequent reminders to trust Him rather than scurry to stockpile provisions.
Last week, I offered you some suggestions on toy giving. This week, my ideas are not my own. Really, I’m copying and pasting something I found that was so well stated, I couldn’t do better myself. Here’s the spoiler: take it personally. Please don’t be offended but take it to heart.
One of the benefits of gray hair is the experiences that created the gray hair and the wisdom that comes with it. Ever wonder why grandparenting is better than parenting: gray hair! It’s true. I understand the ages and stages of growth and development better than when I studied it in college because I’ve LIVED it. I can spot fatigue in a toddler screaming his way through the grocery store without seeing him or her. I can observe the stress and strain in the parents who are trying so hard to do everything right but feeling as if they are failing on every front. I see you and I understand. You see, grandparents don’t take things as personally as parents.
No, grandparents can just love those kiddos and then send them home. We realize that the mistakes we make are probably not going to ruin them. The thing they need is unconditional love, attention, and sincere answers to the questions. Parents have to balance so much more than that. So, parents, read this article and refocus your efforts to include the things that matter and discard the things that don’t. (Compare it to the empty boxes and spent gift wrap that hold a toddler’s attention more than the gift that was in it.)
A SILENT TRAGEDY
There is a silent tragedy that is unfolding today in our homes, and concerns our most precious jewels: our children. Our children are in a devastating emotional state! In the last 15 years, researchers have given us increasingly alarming statistics on a sharp and steady increase in childhood mental illness that is now reaching epidemic proportions:
Statistics do not lie:• 1 in 5 children have mental health problems• A 43% increase in ADHD has been noted• A 37% increase in adolescent depression has been noted• There has been a 200% increase in the suicide rate in children aged 10 to 14
What is happening and what are we doing wrong?
Today's children are being over-stimulated and over-gifted with material objects, but they are deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood, such as:• Emotionally available parents• Clearly defined limits• Responsibilities• Balanced nutrition and adequate sleep• Movement in general but especially OUTDOORS• Creative play, social interaction, unstructured game opportunities and boredom spaces
Instead, in recent years, children have been filled with:• Digitally distracted parents• Indulgent and permissive parents who let children "rule the world" and whoever sets the rules• A sense of right, of deserving everything without earning it or being responsible for obtaining it• Inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition• A sedentary lifestyle• Endless stimulation, technological nannies, instant gratification and absence of boring moments
What to do?If we want our children to be happy and healthy individuals, we have to wake up and get back to basics. It is still possible! Many families see immediate improvements after weeks of implementing the following recommendations:
• Set limits and remember that you are the captain of the ship. Your children will feel more confident knowing that you have control of the helm.• Offer children a balanced lifestyle full of what children NEED, not just what they WANT. Don't be afraid to say "no" to your children if what they want is not what they need.• Provide nutritious food and limit junk food.• Spend at least one hour a day outdoors doing activities such as: cycling, walking, fishing, bird / insect watching• Enjoy a daily family dinner without smartphones or distracting technology.• Play board games as a family or if children are very small for board games, get carried away by their interests and allow them to rule in the game• Involve your children in some homework or household chores according to their age (folding clothes, ordering toys, hanging clothes, unpacking food, setting the table, feeding the dog etc.)• Implement a consistent sleep routine to ensure your child gets enough sleep. The schedules will be even more important for school-age children.• Teach responsibility and independence. Do not overprotect them against all frustration or mistakes. Misunderstanding will help them build resilience and learn to overcome life's challenges,• Do not carry your children's backpack, do not carry their backpacks, do not carry the homework they forgot, do not peel bananas or peel oranges if they can do it on their own (4-5 years). Instead of giving them the fish, teach them to fish.• Teach them to wait and delay gratification.• Provide opportunities for "boredom", since boredom is the moment when creativity awakens. Do not feel responsible for always keeping children entertained.• Do not use technology as a cure for boredom, nor offer it at the first second of inactivity.• Avoid using technology during meals, in cars, restaurants, shopping centers. Use these moments as opportunities to socialize by training the brains to know how to work when they are in mode: "boredom"• Help them create a "bottle of boredom" with activity ideas for when they are bored.• Be emotionally available to connect with children and teach them self-regulation and social skills:• Turn off the phones at night when children have to go to bed to avoid digital distraction.• Become a regulator or emotional trainer for your children. Teach them to recognize and manage their own frustrations and anger.• Teach them to greet, to take turns, to share without running out of anything, to say thank you and please, to acknowledge the error and apologize (do not force them), be a model of all those values you instill.• Connect emotionally - smile, hug, kiss, tickle, read, dance, jump, play or crawl with them.
Article written by — Victoria Prooday
I promise you this: If you follow this advice, you may not need the gray hair. You will have wisdom beyond your years. And your children will thank you (maybe that will take a few years) for all you did right.