Engage Positive Parenting Initiative
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Several years ago, God called me to a new mission. I’m still writing, but in a fresh and beautiful way for my parenting outreach program. It’s called Engage Positive Parenting Initiative. We lead discussion groups for men and women in areas affected by poverty or adversity. I started this organization with the desire to encourage parents in all communities to love and nurture their children in a positive way. You can find out more about our work by visiting www.EngageParenting.org

We would love for you to prayerfully consider joining us as we reach out to parents and change lives for generations to come. You can volunteer to lead an Engage group in your city by visiting our website. Of course, you can always donate and most importantly, pray for our work. For the next few months, I am devoting my time to build our organization and continue to write the curriculum, so I won’t be posting on this page. You can go to www.KarolLadd.com for my encouraging blog for women of any age, and you can visit our Engage resource page to find helpful articles and blogs.

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Make it A Great School Year
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Whether you are homeschooling are sending your kids out the door, you can have a tremendous influence on your children’s growth and learning. As a positive mom, you have the opportunity to inspire and encourage your kids to love the learning process. Here’s a few thoughts on making it the best year ever:

Positive Perspective – Enthusiasm is contagious and when you choose to have a go-getter attitude, it permeates the family. I’m not saying you have to be Mrs. Perky Positive all the time, but I am encouraging you to examine your words and attitude toward school and the other families. Instead of saying, “Oh, you have an awful schedule this year.” Why not say, “Wow, it looks like it will be a tough year, but I know you can get through it. With God’s guidance and strength, it may even turn out to be your best year ever.” Be honest and realistic, but always turn toward hope and away from despair. As you maintain a positive outlook, you will find your kids will learn to do the same. I’d much rather have positive kids than negative ones!

 

Pray Together – As you face challenges throughout the year, make prayer a consistent theme in your family. During those times when you don’t know how to handle a challenging friendship or a rude teacher, take it to prayer and ask God for wisdom. He promises to give generously to all who ask (James 1:5) without finding fault. Perhaps your child has been hurt by others, pray for God’s comfort and healing. Pray for new friendships together. There is nothing that bonds you more than praying together as a family. This is also an important way to get your kids in the habit of praying about everything, instead of worrying about issues in school and in life.

 

Stop praising, start encouraging – It is much more important to encourage your child to learn and grow through a challenge, rather than simply praising them as “the smartest” or “the best.” Studies now show that insincere praise can actually do more harm than good. When your kids face a challenge or a test, highlight their hard work and preparation along with their ability to learn from mistakes.  Instead of insincere flattery, focus on specific and sincere ways to cheer your kids on and strengthen their heart. A good life-lesson for us all is “progress rather than perfection.”

 

Thoughtfully Engage with your Kids – Instead of asking, “How was your day?” Try asking, “What was the best thing that happened to you today.” Or “Who did you sit with at lunch and what was the hot topic of conversation?” Engaging in conversation along with eye contact with your kids can have a positive effect on your family. Studies show that when you interact with your kids over the dinner table at least four times a week, they are more likely to do well in school, stay out of trouble and adhere to family values. One of my favorite times for conversation was at the kitchen table right after the kids got home from school as we enjoyed after-school snacks. Perhaps yours is breakfast time or during dinner or in the car. Find the time that works best for you, and lovingly listen to your kids.

For great discussion starters around the dinner table, check out Table Talk

Never Underestimate a Good Night’s Sleep
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The sleeping boy

 

As school gets back into full swing, it’s the perfect time to set some good habits in place. One healthy habit to instill at the first of the school year is getting to bed at a decent hour. There are many benefits to getting a good night’ sleep. One of the most important benefits for our kids is that sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory through a process called memory consolidation. Sleep loss, on the other hand, may result in irritability, impatience, inability to concentrate and moodiness (and who wants that?).

What is the recommended amount of sleep for kids and adults? Here’s what the National Sleep Foundation recommends:

Newborns (0-3 months)               14 -17 hours

Infants (4-11 months)                  12 – 15 hours

Toddlers (1 – 2 years)                   11 – 14 hours

Preschoolers (3 – 5)                      10 – 13 hours

School Age Children (6 – 13)       9 – 11 hours

Teenagers (14 – 17)                      8 – 10 hours

Younger Adults (18 – 25)             7 – 9 hours

Adults (26 – 64)                             7 – 9 hours

Older Adults (65 +)                        7-8 hours

To see their full report, visit the National Foundation for Sleep website

 

What is the best way to get kids to bed? I recommend starting a regular bedtime routine. This can be as simple as:

  • Bath time
  • Read books and Bible story together
  • Pray together
  • Lights out

Guard against feeding foods and drinks with a high amount of sugar or caffeine before bedtime, and stay away from any forms of violent, disturbing or scary media. Use your bedtime routine as a time to interact with your kids and talk about what they are thankful for and what you can pray about together.

Here’s one of my favorite Bible story books:

 

 

962131: The Complete Illustrated Children"s Bible The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible
Look Toward the Heavens
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This week as you talk with your kids about the Solar Eclipse, add some fun activities to your family time. First, I encourage you to visit NASA’s website to discover several activities you can do to help build your kids understanding of this unique solar event. Click Here for ideas from NASA. Then extend the fun with the following simple outer space ideas.
• Space Helmets. Take a clean plastic gallon jug, and cut away the spout and handle to create a simple helmet. You can either spray it with silver or white paint or cover it with foil.
• Power jet pack. Take two 2-liter plastic bottles. Spray paint or cover them with foil. Use silver duct tape to connect them together. Tie or belt them on your child’s back (with spout down).
• Space food. Tang is always a treat along with some dried foods in baggies and food bars. Serve on a tray covered with foil.
• Moon Rock Hunt. Crumple up aluminum foil and you have instant moon rocks. You can place little goodies inside and hide the rocks much like an Easter egg hunt.
• Moon dust art. Purchase a variety of colored sands at a hobby store. Place newspaper over the work area for easy clean up. Use cardboard as your base, and begin to create a picture. Use Q-tips to spread glue, then carefully sprinkle the different colors of sand color by color to form a picture (use a plastic spoon or curved paper to sprinkle the sand).
• Make a Rocket Ship out of a big moving box. Paint it white; add the letters USA on the side along with a sticker of the flag. Cut out round windows
• Visit a planetarium or science museum or a NASA museum.
• Write a letter to an astronaut, or write a journal entry from an astronaut’s point of view.
• Look at the stars either through a telescope, or take your sleeping bags outside and gaze at creation. If you live in a big city, you may need to drive to the outskirts of town to get away from the city lights for better viewing. Make a simple telescope using paper towel tub to view the stars. Download Star Chart ap on your phone to help you locate planets and stars.
• Read: Roaring Rockets (Amazing Machines) by Tony Mitton
• Do experiments from The Glad Scientist Visits Outer Space (see link below)
• Read in the Bible: Psalm 19:1-6 Talk about creation Genesis 1:14-19

If you would like to lead your kids in a little more space and science exploration, check out The Glad Scientist Visits Outer Space – Perfect for Homeschoolers.

Stay Calm and Make it a Great School Year
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Cashier:  “Do you want your receipt in the bag?”

Me, with a perplexed look:  “Ummm.”

Cashier:  “Receipt in the bag or in your purse, lady?  It’s really a simple question.”

It’s a little scary when I can’t come up with answers to no-brainer questions.  You can imagine what I’m like at the grocery store when I have to decide between paper or plastic, cash or credit.  And don’t even get me started on ordering a vanilla latte at Starbucks.  (Tall, grande, or venti?  Caf or decaf?  Whipped cream or no?)  If the server were to hand me my coffee and then ask for my kids’ names and ages, I think it would send me over the edge.

I affectionately refer to my inability to think clearly at times as “brain blips.”  Maybe a better term would be “mental overload.”

How did I get to this disoriented state?  The first rumblings of overwhelm began when I brought my first precious baby girl home from the hospital.  Diapers, feeding, laundry, bath, more feeding, diapers, spit up, ear infection, laundry—it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  Eventually I graduated from those early stages of being rattled and found my life returning to some semblance of order until . . . my second precious baby girl was born.  Then I was back to caring for all the needs of a newborn—plus managing a toddler.  The good news is, even those responsibilities eventually settled into a peaceful rhythm.

When my oldest daughter entered kindergarten, I thought my life would be smooth sailing from then on.  I was wrong.  My overwhelm increased one soccer game at a time.  Allow me to explain.  The year Grace (my oldest) entered kindergarten, I joined the volunteer ranks of hundreds of moms cutting, pasting, and driving on school field trips. One of my newfound friend-volunteer moms informed me that she was starting a kids’ soccer team, and she wanted to give me the opportunity to sign Grace up before all the spots were taken.

Soccer?  I didn’t know much about the game, except that everyone else was talking about it.  Grace had never expressed an interest in soccer, but who was I to hold her back?  Maybe she had the potential to make the women’s Olympic soccer team one day; but how would she ever have that chance unless I started her at the age of five?  Besides, I figured, going to soccer games would give me an opportunity to get to know the other moms.  Practice every Tuesday during our normal dinner time?  Well, I guess that’s okay, I thought to myself.  Just as long as it doesn’t get in the way of church on Wednesdays and gymnastics on Thursdays.

The next year my other daughter, Joy, joined a different soccer team with a different set of practice times.  And as if that didn’t require enough schedule juggling during the week, we now had two games to get to on Saturdays.  As the girls grew older, their practices grew longer and more frequent.  Did I mention we also added volleyball and basketball seasons to our year-round athletic cycle of practices and games?

Kindergarten and sports were only the beginning of the treadmill.  Add homeroom mom responsibilities, school meetings and programs, field trips, and luncheons.  Mix in time with friends, exercise, housework, cooking, doctor appointments, dentist visits, helping with homework, and trips to the cleaners.  Before I knew it, I was juggling more balls than I could dream of holding. Each one represented a good and worthwhile activity, but their sheer number was slowly pushing me into a frazzled state.

Why did I do it?  Why did I add all these activities to my plate and my kids’ plates?  Some of them could not have been avoided (like doctor appointments); yet some certainly could have been circumvented, postponed, or never added at all.  To be brutally honest with you, the root causes of my over-scheduling were deep within my own heart:  the fear of being left out or left behind; guilt that I wasn’t doing enough for my kids; and pride that I was asked to be in charge.  Comparing myself and my family with others played a big part in my over-involvement too.  I suspect I am not the only mom who has ever found herself in such a pickle!

If you have not yet stepped onto the fast-lane, activity-driven treadmill, don’t do it!  Save yourself before it’s too late!  Stop and consider the following:

Is this best for our family as a whole?

What are my reasons for doing this?

Is it possible to do this at a later time?

Most importantly, pray and seek God’s direction and wise advice from others before you fill up your calendar this year.

A portion of this blog is an excerpt from A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress.

17575EB: A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress - eBook A Positive Plan for Creating More Calm, Less Stress – eBook

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