Frustrated with Morning Routines?

Schedules. I know. As a parent of small children or even school age children, we cringe when we hear the word. It seems impossible to bend those little wills to co-operate and stay on a schedule. And then, we all know, we feel like failures, slaves to this impossible task master, Schedule.  As a homeschooling parent you may not think we use a schedule, but a good working routine is key to homeschool.  So how do we do we get everything done before we have to leave or start school?

First of all, after reading Positive Discipline: The Classic Guide to Helping Children Develop Self-Discipline, Responsibility, Cooperation, and Problem-Solving Skills I learned that Children need to do something to contribute to the household before breakfast. So a morning act of kindness or morning job was added to our routine. We also have our children say prayers, make their beds, get dressed, pick up their room, and have a ten minute scrpiture-study. Then we have breakfast and do the dishes. Thus we have the house mostly in order before we start our lessons. 

I quickly saw the benefits of  requiring jobs before breakfast.  Breakfast was at a set time and only available for a certain amount of time. Then we just had to say “When your routine is done you may eat breakfast.”  This helped a lot, but I had a hard time dealing with the sadness of  someone not getting breakfast. I saw a lot of time being wasted still.  So how could I eliminate the waste of such a precious asset?

As I observed my children I realized that they were getting distracted while picking up their room, or while walking from job to job. Now some parents don’t want to remind their children to get jobs done and then just let them suffer the consequences.  But I for one appreciate a reminder when I get distracted, and believe that we help our children succeed when they have an occasional, appropriate reminder. So how could I remind and refocus my children without nagging?

I tried timers, but children have no concept of time. If they are too hot or bored and you have them wait for something, a minute feels like an hour. If they are having fun being distracted, they are shocked when their timer rings. So they needed something that helped them know how quickly time was passing.

A neighbor friend gave me the answer. She had come across a musical morning routine. Check it out here:

This “game” really changed how my kids got through each morning.  After a couple years the music became old, and we also had some other things we wanted done in the morning, so we decided to try making our own.  We made a list of things we wanted to have accomplished in the morning.  Then we took a few days and timed how long it took for each thing to get done. Then we found songs that the kids liked listening to and assigned a task or two to each song.  Then we let the kids listen to it and told them what each song was for. The next morning we turned it on after prayer and they started their jobs! They would come running in occasionally to ask what they were supposed to be doing in this song.  When we gathered for breakfast we took a minute and inspected all their work, and asked what they read in scriptures. Wow! In roughly thirty minutes they had all their work done and were ready to eat! We kept the musical routine going through breakfast and dishes.

Now, it doesn’t always work like that. I have to do an inspection everyday and make sure they are done before they get breakfast. If they aren’t, they have to go finish while we start eating. But it is a great tool for getting the day started on a good foot!

I hope this helps you in your Daily Life!



Child training: obedience

“The representative of God …… did not say ‘You shall choose God’s service now; and if you deliberately refuse to do so God will break your will so that you do do it’; but He said ‘….Choose ye this day whom ye will serve’ (Joshua 24:15)” ~ Hints On Child Training by H. Clay Trumbull
“Many parents and teachers use the phrase ‘I’ve told you a hundred times.’ They need to realize that it is not the children who are dense. Children know what works for them. Adults need to learn that telling a hundred times is not effective.” ~ Jane Nelson “Positive Discipline
“Now, if the parent realise that obedience is no mere accidental duty, the fulfilling of which is a matter that lies between himself and the child, but that he is the appointed agent to train the child up to the intelligent obedience of the self-compelling, law-abiding human being, he will see that he has no right to forego the obedience of his child, and that every act of disobedience in the child is a direct condemnation of the parent. Also, he will see that the motive to the child’s obedience is not the arbitrary one of, ‘Do this, or that, because I have said so,’ but the motive of the apostolic injunction, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” (Charlotte Mason, Vol. 1: Home Education, p. 161)
“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.” Titus 3:1

We all know that obedient children make our lives more smooth, and the days easier. But if you are anything like me the question of how to “make” them obey looms between the dream of obedient children and reality. I wanted to share some things I have found helpful in teaching my children to obey. But first I want to mention that these work better with young children. I am pretty sure your teenager will hate you (and me!) if you try these on them!
Obedience is more of a childhood habit you want to teach while they are young. As they grow older obedience is born out of respect for the authority making the request.

  • First, when my children are small, I teach them the “obedience game”. I state a command and they obey. At first the commands are simple and essential like “Stop! Walk.” “Sit. Come. Go.” As they get better and more capable I give instructions “Go to the fridge and open the door, look what is on the top shelf and come back to tell me.” “Pick up all the pink toys you can find between here and the door and count them.” We practice obedience this way so that when we are out in public or in the middle of the day, I can expect them to listen and know what to do. I give them lots of encouragement as they accomplish each task. “That is good stopping! you followed all those directions! Good job!” I try to focus on the job they did, with honesty, and not what I feel about it. So no “Thank you! I am so happy you obeyed me!” as this can teach them to depend on outside acceptance and praise rather than how they fell about themselves.
  • In the course of our day, when I need a child to do something I always call them to me first. I have learned that if I make a request from across the room I am setting both of us up for failure as they stop listening after one word or so, so ai have to make that one word count. I also have a game where they learn to look at me when I say their name. If, in the moment, they choose to ignore I remind them that we need to practice looking when I say their name. And then I say their name five to eight times, each time telling them to look away again. If they don’t come when I call, or are too involved in a game to respond to their name, I go to them, touch them and tell them to come. While they are with me, we practice responding to their name and then remind them that they need to come when I call. Then I allow them to return and practice coming to my call several times. All of this before I make my request. It probably doesn’t take as long as it sounds, and even if it does I feel it is an investment well made.
  • When they come to my call, I always look them in the eye to make my request. It shows respect for them and me, and it teaches a good habit. It also ensures that I have their attention.
  • I then make my request and have them repeat it back to me by asking “What did I just ask?” or “What are you going to do now? This helps with their follow through. If up till now they have only been going through the actions, they finally get their mind and heart involved by repeating what their plan is now.
  • There is always times when you don’t follow all these steps, or even through the steps, obedience is not observed. When you feel guilty that you didn’t do it right, does this justify the child in not obeying? No. These times you can take the child aside and explain to them that you require obedience always. That they need to remember the good habits you have taught them, and implement them in their lives so that they can become useful and pleasant people. It can also be a good time to talk about obeying cheerfully and the quote from Titus 3.
  • One more thing that you can do in moments where they don’t listen or obey is a do-over. Simply say “Wait! lets try that again!” Try for eye contact and state your request again. Hopefully you will have a better outcome. If not, it may be time for a bigger talk about what is bothering them. (By the way, this one applys well for teens!)
  • As always thanks for reading! Here’s to hoping for more obedience in your Daily life!

How I potty trained my daughter easily

Potty training can make the most stalwart parent tremble. I know, because I was one. I confess, life gave me the neccesary experiences to make me a little gun-shy. But I did gain humility! And a lot of understanding.

My first daughter was not quite two when she showed interest in the potty and I figured she was ready. Besides we had another baby in diapers by then.  So we began. I gave her a small m&m when she went to the potty and I gave her the chance every 30 min. She did great!  She told me potty, she kept her pants mostly dry, and I felt like a succesful parent……… For two weeks.  Then her accidents became more frequent. It annoyed me, and I hated that it hurt the bond we had had through the process. So began the accident battle that lasted FOUR YEARS!!

My son came along, but I wasnt going to try until he was older. I had heard boys were harder, so I waited. I had also heard that it was good to catch the window of time that they were interested, so I didnt wait too much longer. Since I was still struggling with accidents in my daughter I sought more counsel from other mothers. I decided to try putting a large T-shirt on him and leaving him bare.  I might have been lucky but he did NOT like making a mess on the floor. So he quickly learned to go to the bathroom where I had a little potty set up for him.  He was trained in two weeks and did not regress as my daughter had done.

My third child, my son was trained in nearly the same way by his grandma while I was on a trip.  He also did not regress or have accidents. I started to feel a little more confident in the potty training arena again.

Then my second daughter turned two and again showed signs of being ready.  I tried the same tactic that had seemed to help my sons be so successful. It seemed to work magic again and she had enjoyed it. ……… for two weeks.  Then she apparently decided it was not just fun, it was work to go potty. And again we were in a battle of wills and accidents for another year. Again our relationship was damaged. Again I hated it.

My third son was potty trained quite easily and I decided that the saying about boys being harder was absolutly wrong.  So far my girls were much harder. Impossible might be a better word.

So my darling third daughter and sixth child I was not going to tackle so early. At 22 months, however she had different plans.  I would find her playing in the toilet with her cothes off more than once a day. She told me potty all the time. she loved to go sit on it. In the middle of church service she would say “Mommy! I need the potty!” Everyone would look at me, expecting me to take her, and so I would.  I was rather annoyed and I decided to train her as she seemed so determined. I put her in a long dress and left her bare, but took her to the bathroom every half hour.  She seemed to purposely wait until she was in the kitchen, just after we had tried to go potty, to make a puddle on the kitchen floor. And her brothers thought it was so funny. It was a really bad combination. She got tons of attention for having accidents, and nothing I could do could out weigh it.  I tried to put her back into diapers only to have her take them off and make puddles for her siblings to laugh at. It was a nightmare, and I felt helpless.

I decided to try a new approach. By this time she was two and a half, and my patience was thin. I tried to not let it come between us and strove to not react negatively when I changed her.

One day I had a lot of energy and was teasing her and laughing as I changed her. I said “I Love you!” as I let her go. She turned around to say “Yep, but you dont like me when I wet my pants.”  I felt shocked. She must’ve still gotten the vibe of my feelings of frustration that I had tried so hard to hide.

Since I was learning a lot about positive discipline a couple months after the afore mentioned incident, I decided to try talking to her about her accidents. I started by saying I was so proud of her for trying to go potty and keep her pants dry. (Even though it didnt feel like she put forth effort, I still tried to acknowledge her possible efforts.) Then I said I noticed that she had some accidents. how did she feel about it. She sighed like she was emotional and said “I just am playing and I dont want to miss anything. Then my pants are wet even though I go potty!” I gave her a hug and said it is really hard to miss the playing while you go potty. I added “I know that you will get better at leaving your play while you go potty so your pants can stay dry. You are getting big and thats what big girls do. I am so glad you are trying to be big.” After our talk she did an AMAZING job of keeping her pants dry. She still had about one accident a day, but I could tell her efforts were doubled.  She started doing preschool with me this year and that helped her feel bigger and more successful as well. So her accidents are more rare now, and when she starts again I know she needs a shot of confidence. A reassurance that she is getting big and that I love her for who she is, not what she does. Can you blame me though for being a rather burned out when it came time to think about potty training my next daughter, who came right after her?

I had no motivation to start potty training my youngest girl. We had a great relationship and I was afraid of letting it be damaged again. So searched out a connected way of potty training. Meanwhile she learned to take off her clothes and diaper, signs I used to look for to determine readiness. I read enough that I was determined that she could potty train herself when she was ready, and I mean really ready.

I started by just talking to her about going potty, and taking her in with me when I went. I told her that soon she would be big enough to go potty like me. Sometimes I would ask her if she wanted to try to sit on it, and accepted her answer whether it was yes or no. I wanted to respect her on everything. There were times I felt a little discouraged and like she would never be interested in it, but I never let myself pressure her.

One day she said she didnt want to wear a diaper. She didnt like diapers she said, so I asked if she wanted to try wearing panties like a big girl.  She said yes. I helped her sit on the potty, put panties on her, and got her dressed. A few minutes later she had an accident. She cried, and said she didn’t like panties. “Panties make me pee!” she stated. I did not tell her it was not the panties fault. I just laughed.

It took her a couple weeks before she was ready to try wearing panties again. Most mornings I would ask her if she wanted to wear a diaper or panties and then respect her choice. I told her to not worry. Soon she would be ready to wear panties and go potty ike a big girl.  After a couple weeks she tried again, only to have another accident. But it didn’t take her as long to recover, and a couple days later she was back in panties. This time she did well. She even told me “Mom! I was going to pee but I stopped it!”

“Oh good! Then did you go potty?”

“No. I didn’t” She said, still holding herself

“Well after you stop it you have to go really fast! ” She said “ok” and darted off. Only  a few days later she was dry, and taking herself to the bathroom. I occasionally ask her, mostly if we are in a store, or outside, so she remembers to go. I don’t have to set any timers, she is completely self motivated to do it. Yes she is a little over three, but it was worth it to wait for her to be wanting it and doing it herself. I feel I didn’t do hardly anything to train her, and we both felt good about the process. It was respectful, peaceful, and connected.  She is now secure in her Daily Life.


Toddler Times!

Do you have a toddler? Then you know what its like to watch your little angel baby turn into an independent, control loving, person full of their own ideas and ambitions, which I might add, seldom line up with your own.  It can be a daunting, frustrating, and even hurtful experience. The intimate and beautiful bond you have shared becomes broken and lost, and it feels like they are just trying to push your buttons. The good new is they are not. They are simply trying to get their needs met in the best way they know how.

All behavior  is communication. When children act out they are trying to tell us something. They may be trying to say they are anxious, or scared. Or perhaps they need teaching or a boundary to feel secure. And of course we all know they need love. The only thing is they ask for it in the most unloving ways!

I do not claim to be a parenting expert, but I have have a passion to share what I have learned through books (lots of them!) and through my eight kids experience, even though I am still learning. So my goal here tonight, is to share my favorite responses to common toddler misbehaviors.  If you have questions, or if I left out the behavior you are struggling with please comment and let me know!

Obedience: Or rather disobedience, right? Toddlers love power. They love to test how much power they have, and how much you have.  So they run from you instead of come when you say. Or just say “No!”. They are wanting to see how you will help them obey. When they see us stand red-faced, angry, and helpless they feel powerful, maybe too powerful. They know they are misbehaving. They essentially don’t feel good about themselves and need our help to feel better. They know we are mad and even if they are laughing, they are scared. They need us to stay calm, cool, and collected while we handle them.

My children will usually cry even if I gently pick them up and bring them back to the place I was when I called them, but that is okay. I usually gently talk to them and say they need to come when mom calls. I can even say I am scared when they don’t come, or take the opportunity to teach that Heavenly Father wants them to learn to be obedient.  Then I take time to train the response I want. After they are done crying, and they are ready to try again I set them up for success by telling them they need to go back to where they were and come this time when I call their name. So they return and I call “Alyssa, come!” This short command is easy to hear and follow. If they come I am overjoyed and openly show them they were successful. A quick celebration with lots of hugs and “high fives” and then I ask then to run back and do it again. We repeat five or seven times.

If they do not come they may need a hand to hold while they walk to where you called them again. And another try. If they obviously know what you want  it can be a signal that they need something besides knowledge. They need motivation. The only motivation that really lasts is attached relationships.  So as soon as possible find five minutes to hold them and read a book. Or play a quick little tug of war over a blanket or pillow. Then as you settle back down, or close the book, ask if they are ready to try coming again. Soon they will come every time on the first call. I can still call my ten year old’s and they come right away.

Attention: It is so frustrating to be ignored. At first I didn’t know how to respond when my child ignored me. Now it is still frustrating, but I go to them, place my hand on them, and say “I need you to look at me when I call your name. Let’s try that again. Alyssa! Oh good job you looked at me. Look over there. Alyssa! Great you remembered!” We repeat in a fun way, looking at different areas about ten times.

Tantrums: These are the times when it can be hard to keep calm while our child melts down, -sometimes even in public!- And we feel a range of emotions ourselves including helplessness.  We cannot make that child stop crying. The thing is that their little brains are overwhelmed with feelings of loss and disapointment.  If we are honest with ourselves we have these moments too (sometimes right as our child is disolving into sobs!) and it takes all our efforts to hold ourselves together too. Realizing this in the moment can be helpful, as thinking helps get our brains in a more relaxed state, instead of in a reactionary one. Think, what do you wish someone would say or do when you feel this way? I would probably like to hear something like “Its okay. I love you. I know you are dissapointed. I know you wanted to stay and play more.  Its so hard to leave when we need to. Do you want to say goodbye? Don’t worry, I will help you out to the car.” And then either carry them or lead them out, while they tell you (through sobbing) exactly how they feel.

Cleaning up after themselves: It is important that Toddlers learn to pick up the toys they use, and the clothes they take off. It helps them feel capable. And when kids feel capable, they behave better. (Just like when we parents feel capable and successful as parents, we find it easier to behave well too!)  Teaching this skill can be as easy as showing them where their dirty clothes go. But with some kids, it takes more practice. More success. So do it over and over until they feel succesful at it!

Most other behaviors can be taught with the same idea of setting them up for success and repeating.  I base my ideas off the methods put forth by Jane Nelson.

If you want more ideas here is two of her books targeting toddlers and preschoolers. Good luck with your toddlers in your daily life!

Ten Simple Ways to Help Kids Love Work

Before I had kids, I dreamed of turning work into a family bonding experience.  I wanted them to love hard work. I wanted them to always do a good job and feel proud of it. Fast forward a few years, now I have kids, and anytime there is work to do you can count on  yells of despair, wails of “NOOOOOO!” and in  general a feeling that work is the enemy. Not exactly the bonding I had dreamed of, is it?

So how do you teach children to love work? I realized I had fallen into the mentality  of “Lets get the work done and then we can do something fun!” it sometimes helped get started, but then the goal was to get done, and in order to do that corners were cut, little things skipped.  Then there was also the ever present attitude of  “I worked, now I am entitled to do whatever I want.”  It certainly didn’t cultivate the love of work.  In fact it seemed to do the opposite, and feed the attitude of  “Work is the enemy”.   It stood in the way of the fun things.

I started to realize that I needed to look at what my attitudes of work were too.  I have learned that most of life is work. In fact many days I don’t really get to the point of doing that ever elusive “something fun”.  I have had to learn to enjoy the work itself, or at least the effects and results of the work.  I also realized I felt guilty.

Why did I let myself feel guilty? And over what?  Well, I was constantly worried I was asking too much of them.  I was listening to the complaints, and thinking something needed  to change in order for them to love work; it needed to be easier for them to love it, right?  When I came to this realization, I discovered it was undermining my desire for work to be fun.  It was actually feeding the kids poor and entitled attitudes.  I decided to try something else, and challenged myself to not feel guilty, not let their complaining get me to change the goals.

After a  little while I found that these things helped us meet our goals so I wanted to share them with you.

  1.  Help them face reality: Life involves work, lots of it. Once they accept that they can move on to find the fun in it.
  2. Make sure you model enjoying work, doing it and seeing the results of it, and how good you feel that you did it………. not just that its done!
  3. Empathize with their feelings about it.   I’m sure you can relate to the feelings they have! It is frustrating to not be able to always go right into what you want to do, and have to do work first.
  4. Find the fun! There is always patterns, little games, and goals you can find. Some of our favorites is putting the silverware into their “beds”, drying a cup then a bowl, cup , bowl,  or all the cups first and maybe seeing if you can guess the number of cups you will have. In fact everyone can have a guess!  Kids are pros at finding fun once they are shown how.  Beware: some games and fun make the job take longer.  You can either let them do it if you are not in hurry, or kindly suggest ideas for a shorter version while telling them that they had a great idea, its just you are in a hurry today.
  5. Inspire them. Read or tell stories where young children where expected to do a lot of work, like “Farmer Boy” by Laura Ingalls Wilder,  or where hard work was rewarded, like in “Dust Under the Rug” (from “Mother Stories”) Tell them that good things happen to hard workers, or those that do a good job and wait to see what happens later!
  6. Just begin!  “A job once begun is half done” is a very true statement. beginning is the hardest step.
  7. Work nearby and enjoy your time together. Tell stories during dish jobs, listen to music during the weekly house cleaning.  Be careful to not criticize or take over their job!  Your Goal here is to help them feel competent and useful.
  8. Discuss and plan something fun to do together later. I know it sounds like I spoke against this at the first, but if you plan a “together” activity for after your work is done “together”,  it does not seem to breed the same entitlement as promising something fun for just them once they are done with just their work.
  9. Train and Teach. Kids need to know what is expected of them in a clear way.  What works good for us is an index card with a ll the steps of the job written on it.  Then as I inspect (see next idea)  I use the card to read out loud and notice all the good about the job. With them standing right there.  If there is something they missed usually reading it out loud is enough to remind them in a non-critical way.  If I see something else that needs done that was not on the list, I ask “Will you do this too?” If they say no, I will usually do it right then. most often the next time they will do it for me.
  10. Inspect and hold the kids up to a standard.  People – even kids- need to feel good about their work. they need to know it was the best they could do. So tune in; if they come all smiles to show you their beautiful job, just admire it.  But if they have a grumpy attitude about the work, most often they could do a little more. abut be careful to not discourage or keep adding more to the task.

Something I have to be reminded of often is to not give in to complaining, yet be in tune with whether the job is really their capability level.  Don’t get sucked into letting them off the hook!  I’ve learned that sometimes kids have to have something firm to push against.  It feels good to them to push against you and feel the solid security of you expectations. In the end they usually feel good about themselves. Kids need to feel capable and doing a good job is a great way to give them that gift.

I hope these ideas help you in your Daily Life! Good luck!

Nice to meet you!

Hello! Its so nice to meet you. I am Charlotte Williams, a.k.a. The Daily Life Mom.  If you’re anything like me, we started out with high ideals of being a wife and mom. But as I soon found out, real life is messy. Things don’t go as planned. Children disobey, embarrass you, (and me!) and need you at the most impossibly inconvenient times. That’s what daily life is like. Our most thought-out plans are at best delayed and at worst foiled. And then what do you do?

I once read it described like this. In life we come to intersections daily, just like in traffic. Red light we stop, at a green light we go, but at a yellow light we have to use our own judgement and make the best decision we can.  Lets face it. Most of the time in life we have yellow lights. There is not a rule to tell us exactly what to do or say.  We only have our own judgement to rely on. We pray for Divine help, but still we make mistakes……… lots of them.  That’s where I come in. Leaning on and learning from other moms who have “Been there, done that”  can help us in the “yellow light” moments. I hope to create a networks of moms for you to turn to when discouragement starts to settle in, when your best judgement was still not enough, or just if your day was taxing and you need to be reminded of your ideals. Because ideals are still important.

“Aim for the stars, and you may hit the moon.”

Our ideals become our guiding star, what we aim for. We probably won’t often meet them, (if ever!) but having them before us gets us farther than if we don’t have them. So I encourage you to hold onto your ideals, and dreams, and come visit us often!

Thanks for reading!