Q&A with the 4 Moms: competitiveness, pregnancy and newborns, Bible for little ones

I know, I know.  It’s Thursday and the other Moms are way ahead of me.  I hope you already visited all 3 of them to see their Q&A while I was still sleeping  taking care of a newborn.

I put a last-minute request on Facebook for some easy questions that wouldn’t reveal the effects of sleep deprivation.  Here’s a sampling of what I received.  I may or may not have picked the easiest ones.

Savannah Perkins-Berniquez um…what’s 2+2?

Bless you, Savannah.

Savannah Perkins-Berniquez This might have been covered before, but in what ways do you purposefully spend quality time with your kids? right now we have 3 (soon to be 4), and the baby doesn’t really need mommy or daddy dates yet..but I’m curious how those with BIG families do it..i guess also just looking for ideas

Oh, I see, Savannah.  You were just buttering me up for the hard question!  Fortunately, the 4 Moms posted on that topic already, so I don’t have to think of a new answer.

Kimberly Rivera How DO you get those babies to sleep through the night??

Well, first I’ll confess that Parker is still a little hit-or-miss when it comes to sleeping through the night.  He was a high needs baby and was high-strung long before birth.  I felt him startle in the womb at every loud noise that came along, and in our house that’s a lot!

Now if you still think I might be a good source of advice, I’ll recommend my previous posts about how I got my [other 9] babies to sleep through the night from an early age: Sleeping babies Q&A and Sleeping Like a Baby are good ones to start with.

Elizabeth Clouser Sacks I’ll ask you the same one I asked Raising Olives: How on earth do you handle homeschooling after having a newborn? Do you take time off? How much? How does everybody else get along? Esp. the little ones? I am SUPER interested in your answer, because we are expecting no. 4 in March, and our other 3 (6, 4, 22 months) might need more of a transition than I expect. I’m looking at taking a month off possibly, just so everybody has time to adjust. But I’ve never done this before, so both of your perspectives will be wonderful help!

Elizabeth, we school year-round and take time off whenever we need to.  Even when nobody is sitting at the table with pencil in hand, learning happens, so I have learned too: I have learned not to stress over the particulars of the school schedule and just make sure their brains are getting plenty of exercise.

Since your children are so young, I would especially encourage you not to stress over missing school time.  Just do a little informal review every now and then to make sure they don’t lose what they have already learned, and pick things up again when you feel ready.  You may find that relaxing your school schedule can make it an enjoyable passtime for the kids rather than a source of guilt and stress for you.

Just read aloud to them (Bible and other books), engage them in discussions, and encourage them write, draw, etc.  If they are reading at all on their own, have them read with you a little each day.  If they can sit next to you on your bed while you rest and nurse the baby, everyone will be happy.

Katelyn Ahlgren How many months/years between each of your children? What’s the most important thing you have done/eaten to maintain your health through childbearing and nursing? Will you post pics of how you organize your new house, once you’re happy with it!

Our oldest 6 are about 19 months apart.  After that, our spaces are closer to 2 years.  Our last two are 28 months apart.  I know it could be due to declining fertility in my 30’s, but honestly I think it’s because my later babies have nursed longer than the first several.  In the early days with so many littles, it was harder to find time for nursing so our babies tried more solid foods at an earlier age and nursing tapered off sooner.

The most important thing I have done to maintain my health?  I know diet is important, but I have heard that exercise is even more vital to health.  While I loudly proclaim my hatred of exercise, I have tried over the years to stay in reasonably good shape and I think this has helped prepare my body for so many pregnancies as well as helped me recover from them afterwards.  Now Perry is after me to start fitness class in 6 weeks.  He seems to think that just because he is working out regularly, I should do the same.  Pbbbt.  [I really appreciate his encouragement and I know I need the extra motivation because – did I mention this? – I hate exercise.]

Kelley Dennis How do you deal with jealousy or competition in your teen girls? I have two that are 14 months apart, and though their Dad and I greatly discourage it, they are always competing with each other with everything from friends, clothing, school….ugh! I dread the day that boys are thrown into the mix!

Kelley, I do agree that competitiveness can become very unhealthy and think you and your husband are wise to watch and mediate, but I don’t feel the need to completely discourage.  Instead, we make sure our children’s interactions are governed by Scripture.  Competition can encourage both parties to work harder and do better, or it can discourage and tear down others.  When we see unkindness, we correct it as such.  When we see healthy competition, we encourage it.

Instead of competing directly with each other, they need to set their goal on honoring God with their best.  With the right goal in sight, some friendly competition can provide good motivation and encouragement.  When the competition itself becomes the end goal, then there is a definite problem.

I think in your example, it can be dealt with as selfishness.  Does one child want to succeed only so that the other won’t?  Does she want to buy/wear that particular blouse because she knows the other really wants it?  Does she want somebody to be her best friend because she knows that person is her sister’s best friend?  That’s a lot like a toddler who only wants a particular toy when she sees somebody else playing with it.  It’s coveting, and God forbids it.

Once these patterns are established it’s much harder to change them (ask me how I know!).  Change can be painful, but the sooner you can do it, the better.  Especially if you do it before boys are thrown into the mix.  🙂

Andrea Garlach How do you start introducing the Bible to little ones? Any tips for starting a Bible/worship time for kids who have never had one? We go to a bible study where they have their own lesson, but as far as doing stuff as a family, it’s something i want to incorporate, but feel at loss as to what to do since I didn’t grow up in a religious home and don’t have an example to follow

We talk about the Bible every day in every imaginable context, so even if our little ones aren’t part of the conversation they are being exposed to the Bible.  They are listening and learning that the Bible is the foundation of our thinking.

When it comes to reading from the Bible, I love the Golden Bible.  It is heavily based on the King James Version of the Bible, only lightly edited to simplify, and includes far more of the Bible than the typical children’s collection.  The illustrations are beautiful and reverent (no silly pop-eyed Jesus), and there are no additions to the text as far as I can tell.

We also read to them directly from the Bible, and have them read from the Bible as soon as they are able.  Psalms make a good starting point since many are short and may be familiar already.  The book of Jonah is another good one for beginning readers, again because it is short (just 4 chapters) and tells a familiar story.

We often read a daily chapter of Proverbs together.  There are 31 chapters, so you can do this every month.  You might be amazed at how soon your children begin to recognize their favorite verses and are able to complete sentences as you read.

Whatever you do, be sure to allow plenty of time to discuss.  Don’t be frustrated if you have to stop OFTEN to answer questions and don’t cover as much material as you had hoped and planned.  Just be happy that they are engaged and thinking, and follow the rabbit trails!

Heather Bunting How do you survive the first trimester when you only have littles?

Heather, I had terrible morning sickness with my first 8 pregnancies, so I feel your pain!  I learned to pare down my activities to the absolute minimum during those difficult times.  We ate a lot of cereal for breakfast, peanut butter & jelly for lunch, and very simple dinners.  My kids watched a lot of educational DVDs because I simply couldn’t crawl off the couch some days – or if I did, it was only to run for the bathroom.  I changed the toddler’s diaper, did dishes and laundry, and picked up the toys at the end of the day.  Everything else could wait.

I learned to let go of the guilt and took comfort in the knowledge that I wouldn’t be sick forever, and each time there was a great reward at the end: a new eternal soul in my care.  🙂

Lela Smith Erthein How do you deal with playmates from outside your family /church.

Lela, we lived in the country for the last nine years so all of our kids’ playmates were from church, family and work.  Now that we’re in a neighborhood with actual neighbors, I’m wondering the same thing.  How do you deal with them?

Amanda Hartung How to get littles to be kind even when they’re frustrated?

Amanda, I have a little mantra I repeat to my children: Don’t let others lead you into sin.  Then I might elaborate, depending on the situation: “I know she wasn’t nice to you, but is it ok for you to be rude because somebody else is rude to you?  Did you like it when she was rude to you?  Are you treating her the way you want to be treated?  No, we’re not talking about her sin.  We’re talking about yours right now.  I’ll talk to her about her sin…”

If it’s somebody too little for that, I simplify even more: “No, you be nice.  Love your sister.”  No need to discuss the sins of others with others.  I deal with them individually, based on their own actions, and remind them each, on their own level, that the actions of others do not excuse their own bad behavior.

Anna Aho How do you teach little children to take care of books?

I don’t, but I’d love to learn how.  Paperbacks are consumables in our house, in every sense of the word.  If they’re not destroyed by a toddler within the first week, they are typically eaten by the baby in the second week.

Shalayne Lammiman Do you sleep your babies on their front, sides or back?

I’m a victim of ovarian guilt.  While I personally believe that the dire warnings against letting your baby sleep on his [pick your time period with its accompanying sleep position: side, belly, back] are mostly nonsense based on scare tactics, poorly executed studies, and faulty logic, I could never deal with the guilt if my baby succumbed to SIDS while sleeping in a non-AMA approved position.  Until they can roll over and thwart me and the AMA, I currently put my babies to sleep on their backs.

Mary Jo Murch What do you do with babies who want to be held all the time and won’t sleep in their beds? My 16 day old is like this and I’m not sure what to do. Cry it out? Just enjoy snuggling him and not worry?

My general practice has been to let them work up to a good solid cry before picking them up, and if I want them to learn to sleep in their own bed I just sooth them a bit, check for needs (diaper? hungry? too warm or too cool?) then put them back in bed.  You might want to read my posts on getting babies to sleep through the night, linked above in my answer to Kimberly.  I do let an older baby cry longer than a very young one, though I wouldn’t say I let them cry it out.  So far, 9 of my 10 babies have developed very good sleep habits from a young age.  The other one contributed heavily to my personal sanctification, so it’s all for the greater good.


The other moms are taking questions too:

Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

  • October 11 – Introducing kids to technology
  • October 18 – Food preservation
  • October 25 – How do you keep the car clean?
  • November 1 – Q&A

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  1. I had to laugh at the personal sanctification comment! Haha! So true… Thank you for answering my question. Most of my school related anxiety stems from two things:
    1.) Living in PA, and in a particularly unfriendly to homeschoolers district in PA, in which I used to have close professional ties as a teacher on a committee to ease transition from pre school to public school.
    2.) Family objections. We have a large number of family members who are not only unhappy, but openly hostile on a regular basis to our homeschooling choice. They have even taken the few opportunities they have to voice this in front of, and to our children.

    As a result of these two situations, I really struggle with justifying my daily choices. I feel the need to prove that homeschooling is not a failure. This, I think, is a failing of mine. I’m not really trusting God, and letting him handle the other things. I’m getting all anxious over things I can’t control. Just need to breathe, pray, and do what is right for our family, according to God’s Word!

  2. I’m very curious about the Golden Bible you recommended. I tried googling it but wasn’t exactly sure what to look for. Can you give us a link? Or just let us know where to find one! I’m always looking for Bible time recommendations for my two- and four-year olds.

  3. Thank you for your thoughts, as always. I’m especially appreciating the details about siblings getting along today. It’s good for me to see specifics illustrated about how to help them in this area.

  4. Great questions and answers! I especially liked your last little comment, there, about the child whose sleep habits contributed heavily to your sanctification. So far all THREE of my children have done just that. God must love me, right? 😉

  5. Amanda Hartung says:

    yay, thank you! I have a 4yo, 3yo, and 18-month-old and we’ve been having issues with kindness lately 🙁

  6. I’m curious about the answer to Katelyn’s last question: will you post pics of the house when you’re getting enough sleep to do so? 🙂

    • Katelyn & Justine, we’ll definitely share more pics of the house as we get it together. There are still a lot of boxes in some rooms. 🙂

  7. I love reading your answers and posts. Playmates are an ongoing issue that I pray about and try to remember these darlings will not be in my care forever and it is my job to prepare them for life after they leave my care. With that thought in mind, while I have requirements, I let my kids choose their friends from what ever source they encounter them. What I mean by requirements is simply, getting my help to interact with said friends, the friends must be a mostly positive not negative influence and I need to feel comfortable with the parents. Our children need to learn to deal with what society sees as normal and how those “norms” match up or don’t match up with God’s will for us. But when they need to learn this varies by child and temperament.
    Right now while there are lots of kids on my block and in my neighborhood none are friends with my daughters. No fear though between our homeschooling co-op, the private school they had been attending and church we have lots of friends:D

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