For tired young mothers of many

Back when we had a lot of Littles and no Bigs, daily life looked very different.  Sometimes it felt a little dark and hopeless.  How could I do everything that I need to do?  How could I be a good wife, a good mother, a good Christian, while battling morning sickness and creeping chaos of a house with so many little ones?

I struggled to do all the things that I thought I needed to do, often failing.  On a good day, I got everyone’s hair done before the mats moved in.  Laundry was always a struggle, but somehow I kept up.  Children and bedding got washed as needed because I refused to add another thing to The Schedule.

I often stayed up too late, either because the kids needed me or because I was savoring those few quiet hours of the day in which they didn’t need me.  Many nights, I was wakened once by a nursing baby, again by a crying 2yo and/or a wet 3yo and/or a sleepwalking 4yo and/or a 5yo who just threw up on the 3yo’s hair.  If the days seemed too short, the nights stretched on forever.  Neither afforded much time for sleep or rest.

At that time in our life, we had no family within 1,000 miles.  The church Perry had attended since he was 15 had dissolved in a mess ugly beyond belief.  He was unhappy at his primary job, and working 2 more jobs on the side.  We had personal problems and marriage problems.  In spite of a few local friends, we felt very alone in our world.

That was the bad side.  Sometimes, that’s what I remember about those early days.  When people told me to enjoy them because they would pass too quickly, I just hoped they were right.

But I also remember walking to the library on a crisp day with a double stroller packed full of shining faces.  I remember the friendly librarians who smiled when we walked in and knew us all by name.  We spent a lot of time there!

I remember our friends at the cheese factory who always greeted us with bright smiles, free tours, and sample bags for each child packed full of all the best kinds of cheese in the world.  Every visit turned into a picnic.

I remember building the Great Wall of China in the living room with wooden blocks, and a 4 foot Eiffel Tower made entirely of marshmallows.

I remember using Five in a Row for school.  We read endless picture books, and every single one was a favorite.

I remember snow forts and hide-and-seek and a giant wooden playset given to us for free by an acquaintance I barely knew.  Her husband worked at a local lumber store and was able to borrow a big flatbed truck to deliver it for us, fully assembled and ready for use.

I remember grocery trips that began and ended with laughter, packed full of smiles and compliments from every passer-by.

I remember the hot air balloon festival at the county fairgrounds, just a few blocks away.

I remember long family bike rides all over our little town with 2 little ones in a bike trailer behind each of us, and a fifth child on a baby seat, 8yo Deanna trailing behind on a bike of her own.  She seemed so big to us back then, and now she’s nearly 18.

I remember trips to the zoo, to used book stores, to Chuck E. Cheese, to our friends in the country with the huge country house, to Texas and Tennessee and Oregon.  We may not have gone to Disneyland every year, but we made memories – good memories!

Why do I sometimes think of those days as dark and full of chaos?  They were also some of our happiest, most carefree times.

I think attitude plays a huge part in what we remember, how we remember it, and which memories we call to mind.

You can’t change your attitude in the past, but you can pray for a good attitude today and in the future.  You can choose which memories to review and relive, and which to let go.  You can look back with a good attitude and call to mind the good times, forgetting the bad ones – or seeing how God used those bad times to bless you in ways you didn’t understand at the time.

Now I’m the mom with older children, speaking to the tired young mother.  Now I’m telling you to enjoy those days, because they will pass quickly.  It’s true.  I nodded and smiled when they said it to me, but I didn’t really believe their words.

Now I see the end of my baby days coming soon, the end of a season approaching.  Yesterday, I was you.  Today, I am my mom.  Tomorrow, I’ll be my grandmother.  They were right.  It does happen quickly.  I’m sorry I ever doubted them.

Yes, your days are long and busy, and you never seem to get enough sleep.  You don’t think you spend enough one-on-one time with your children, and you feel guilty or stressed or worried.  I’m not discounting that.  This a busy season in life, and a hard one.

But still enjoy it.  Remind yourself to remember the good times, and let the bad times fade out of time and mind.  Ask God to help you do better tomorrow, and let the day’s failures disappear when you crawl into bed.

4 Moms Naptime linky

4 Moms 35 Kids answer questions about big families

It’s Thursday yet again, and this time the 4 Moms are talking about naps this week.  I wish I could say we were taking naps instead of just talking about them, because like most moms I feel like I operate on a perpetual sleep deficit.

I’ve spent a very large proportion of the nighttime hours of the last 18 years doing night feedings, soothing nightmares and night terrors, changing wet sheets, bathing sick children along with the sibling who woke up with vomit in her hair, checking the breathing of a baby who is sleeping too well…and loving every minute of it.  Well, more or less, in a theoretical kind of way.

I certainly haven’t pulled all those night shifts alone, and this is where my hunney would probably appreciate it if I mention that he often sends me to bed early while he battens the hatches, and I have to give him credit for helping me to get as much sleep as I do.  No, he’s not for sale.

Oh, but I was supposed to talk about naptime, wasn’t?  For the kids, you mean?  Very well, then.

Once upon a time, when all the Coghlan children were very young and small, we all had naps or quiet time every single day without fail.  Maybe you’re wondering about the difference between a nap and quiet time?  If you were young enough or tired enough to fall asleep, it was a nap.  If you managed to stay awake the whole time, it was quiet time.

If the kids are doing quiet time while Mom takes a nap, you might have a problem.  You might also decide that the nap was worth the mess you found when you woke up, provided the toddler didn’t wander down the street wearing nothing but a diaper.  I’m not saying this ever happened to me, but I’m also not saying that something similar never happened.

am saying that training is important.  The little ones can and should be taught to stay in bed until nap time is officially over.  This will take an investment of time on your part, but it is sooo worth it.  Stake out the door for a few days or weeks, and you will have years of afternoon peace for your own nap/quiet time.

For one particularly stubborn child, I used a scarecrow. My husband once bought a tiger mask that covered not just his face, but his entire head.  When he wore it and went about the house on all fours, even I felt a lump of fear in my stomach.  It was realistic and terrifying, and even after the novelty wore off, our strong-willed toddler was still afraid to open the toybox if she thought the tiger might be lurking in the depths.

Heh, heh.  Call me a bad mom.

At nap time, I tucked her in and gave her a kiss.  I reminded her to obey and stay in bed, knowing full well she would try to creep out as soon as she thought I was down the stairs.  I closed the door behind me and perched the tiger head on a chair just outside the door, right at eye level for a 3yo.

That may have been the last time she got up during nap time.  Ah, memories.

It’s been years since we did a daily household-wide quiet time.  The definitions of nap time and quiet time still stand, but those of us who don’t regularly melt into a quivering heap of tears at the end of the day usually do without either these days.  I don’t necessarily recommend this.  I think quiet time can be especially beneficial for a large and busy household, and we’re always talking about going back to the good old days.

Naptime reading

Our kids love when I read aloud to them – doesn’t every child?  I have found that naptime is a perfect time for read-alouds.  It entertains their brains while their little bodies are winding down.  Since they all sleep in the same room, I can read to all of them at once after they’re tucked in.

I often read something short and sweet for the very little ones (Goodnight Moon and Sandra Boynton’s Going to Bed Book are favorites), but I find that they also enjoy the chapter books I read for the slightly older children.

We recently read through several of the Boxcar Children series, and in the past have also read Little House books, the Chronicles of Narnia, and some others that slip my mind at the moment.  Chapter books give them a reason to look forward to naptime, a chance to wind down during naptime, and something to discuss after naptime.

The linky: your favorite naptime book(s)

We promised a linky today, and here it is.  Share your favorite naptime reads and link up here.  When you join the linky at one of the 4 Mom’s, your link will show up on all 4!

Please remember the linky rules:

  1. You must link to a specific relevant post on your blog.
  2. Your post must include a link to at least one of the 4 Moms.
  3. The post you link to must be completely family friendly.

If your link is deleted, you probably didn’t follow one of the rules above. Please feel free to add your link again once you have fixed the problem. If you don’t know why your link was deleted, please ask.

No blog, or no time to post?  Share your favorite naptime story in the comments!

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The other moms are talking about it too:

Upcoming topics for June:

  • June 16 – Homeschooling the challenging child
  • June 23 – Q&A
  • June 30

Recent topics:

  • June 2 – 4 Moms talk about church
  • May 26 – 4 Moms Q&A: toothbrushes, internet filters, taming the stuff monster
  • May 19 – 4 Moms try to lose the baby weight
  • May 12 – 4 Moms practice hospitality, and YOU are invited!
  • May 5 – 4 Moms talk about you-know-what
  • April 28 – 4 Moms Q&A: sleep, exercise, and making do with one bathroom
  • April 21 – Large families & church, part 2: keeping them quiet
  • April 14 – Eating inexpensively on the road
  • April 7 – 4 Moms teach history
  • March 24 – Large families & church, part 1: getting there on time
  • March 17 – Bread baking linky
  • March 10 – Spring cleaning
  • March 3 – Books for early readers
  • February 24 – 4 Moms Q&A: my first audio blog on potty training and more
  • February 17 – Individual time with children: scary stuff here.  Just kidding.  Let go of the guilt.
  • February 10Cooking with little ones without losing your sanity
  • February 3 –Teaching reading, because it’s so much easier than teaching them to use the toilet.  Do not request a 4 Moms post about potty training, do you hear me?
  • January 27 – Q&A: Must-have baby equipment and other nitty gritty stuff
  • January 20 – Top 10 Books for Preschoolers
  • January 13 – Soups and Stews
  • January 6 – Teaching Bible

    4 Moms tackle the scary topic of individual time with children

    enter our current giveaway: Spiral Slicer

    Welcome back to the weekly 4 Moms post, in which 4 moms with a collective total of 35 children share our knowledge, experience and and helpful tips in maintaining health, order and sanity.

    This week we’re talking about spending one-on-one time with children when you have a whole brood of them.  Are the 4 moms all on the same page?  Checking with each other ahead of time would be like comparing answers on homework.  We’d be homeschool moms caught cheating.  Oh, the scandal!

    Click over to find out how our answers compare. If you’re an early riser, you might know before we do.

  • Connie at Smockity Frocks
  • Headmistress at The Common Room
  • Kimberly at Raising Olive
  • I didn’t consult with the other moms ahead of time, but I did ask my lifeline: hubby.  He knew me well enough to know that I often feel guilty about this area.  He also knew me well enough to assuage my ovarian guilt.  He reassured me that although I don’t always plan for one-on-one time with my children, it happens in the course of our day.

    Individual time, aka quality time, comes when I give a reading lesson to the preschooler, when I read a picture book to the toddler, when somebody helps me make my bed, when we cook together, when I help somebody with her hair or get my own hair styled.

    Individual time might be when I help an older child with math, when we sit together in my room to read our Bibles, when 2 of us squeeze together in front of the monitor for a secret youtube viewing with the volume down low, or I take somebody on an errand.

    It might be a quiet cup of coffee or cocoa with an early riser, a bedtime hug that stretches into a 5 minute review of the day’s highlights, or a middle of the night snuggle before somebody gets sent back to their own bed.

    It can even be a short, sweet chat with the toddler while I change her diaper or wash her face.

    Individual time, aka quality time, does not have to be over ice cream at the local fast food restaurant, though that certainly qualifies.  Much like Bible time, school time, and other important parts of our life, we think individual time can be planned, but often works best when tightly woven into the fabric of our daily lives.

    Upcoming topics for 4 Moms 35 Kids:

  • February  24 – Q&A –  Got a question?  Leave it in the comments on my last Q&A post.  Or you can email me, but I promise you right now I will lose your email and forget to answer your question for 15 months.  By then, you probably will have found your own answer.
  • Recent topics:

  • February 3 –Teaching reading, because it’s so much easier than teaching them to use the toilet.  Do not request a 4 Moms post about potty training, do you hear me?
  • February 10Cooking with little ones without losing your sanity
  • January 27 – Q&A: Must-have baby equipment and other nitty gritty stuff
  • January 20 – Top 10 Books for Preschoolers
  • January 13 – Soups and Stews
  • January 6 – Teaching Bible
  • 100+ Reasons to Have Children

    Lately I’ve come across several lists of reasons not to have children.   I find it very sad and telling that nearly all of the authors’ reasons are based in immaturity, materialism, myths, and misconceptions.  Yes, children require work, money and personal sacrifice, but these are all things we do willingly because we love them.  These are joyful sacrifices for a worthwhile cause.

    I couldn’t help but work on my own version.  Here are a few of the perks of having children, in no particular order.  Some are tongue-in-cheek, while others are dead serious.  I’ll let you try to guess which is which.

    Please understand that I am not criticizing those who do not have children, particularly those who struggle with infertility.  I am also not suggesting that you or I should have children just so that we can save some bucks when it’s time to file taxes, or use the stork space in the grocery store parking lot.  My point is that children are a blessing and a delight, not a burden to be avoided at all costs.

    What would you add to the list below?

    100+ Reasons to Have Children

    1. Have a happier marriage.
    2. Pay less income taxes.
    3. Learn to share, and like it.
    4. The ultimate diet plan: morning sickness and breastfeeding.
    5. Enjoy snuggles on demand, around the clock.
    6. Cuteness abounds.
    7. Disposable diapers.  There.  I said it.
    8. Receive preferential treatment in grocery lines.
    9. Be seated first (or last, if you prefer) on planes.
    10. Park in the “stork” space at grocery stores.
    11. Have an excuse to buy cool toys and cute little outfits.
    12. Children will love you on your worst day, and…
    13. they think you’re beautiful, even on bad hair days,
    14. or when you’re not wearing makeup.
    15. Free entertainment: kids are hilarious.
    16. Laughter is good for your health.  See above.
    17. Have family still living when you’re old.
    18. Have someone to help you when you’re old.
    19. Grandkids!
    20. Have someone to help care for your pets.
    21. But who needs pets?  Kids are way cuter, and they last longer.
    22. Unlike pets, kids eventually learn to take care of their own poop.
    23. Get a lollipop every time you go to the bank, along with your children.
    24. Tone your arms the old-fashioned way: tote a toddler.
    25. Kids eat free at many restaurants.
    26. Have an excuse to buy junk food.
    27. Sharing your junk food means less stays on your own hips.
    28. Children will eat and appreciate your failed cooking experiments.
    29. Embarrass your kids.  You won’t believe how fun it is.  Displays of affection with your spouse work well for this.
    30. Be better able to encourage other parents during rough times with their children because you’ve been-there-done-that.
    31. Blow bubbles.
    32. Give your friends somewhere to send their kids’ hand-me-downs.
    33. Burn calories: play with your kids.
    34. Kids will help hone your reactions with obstacle courses on the stairs.
    35. Save money by not buying birth control.
    36. Have sex without worrying about pregnancy.  It’s fun.
    37. Ask anyone who has given birth: the pains of labor are worth it.
    38. Pregnancy reduces menstrual cramps in subsequent periods.
    39. Pregnancy lowers your risk of ovarian cancer.
    40. Breastfeeding lowers your risk of breast cancer,
    41. and uterine cancer,
    42. and osteoporosis.
    43. Not using birth control lowers your risk of ectopic pregnancy.
    44. Think pregnancy dooms you to getting fat?  Take a look at my mom with her 14 kids.  Can you even tell which one she is?
      Mom and 14 children
    45. Pregnancy requires you to eat more.  I can appreciate that.
    46. Be motivated to be a better person.  Little eyes are watching.
    47. Help raise the languishing birth rate.
    48. Learn alongside your children.
    49. Read books you never would have discovered on your own.
    50. Reread your childhood favorites with and to a new generation.
    51. See the world through new, unjaded eyes.
    52. See yourself through your baby’s eyes.  It’s amazing.
    53. See yourself through your children’s eyes.  You’ll never be the same again.
    54. See your flaws reflected in your children.  It’s enlightening and humbling.
    55. Kids will make you proud and keep you humble.
    56. If you make a mess while eating, everyone will assume the kids did it.
    57. Kid will say what you wish you could say, but can’t.
    58. Strengthen your relationship with your own parents by becoming a parent yourself.
    59. Stay physically active.  It’s much harder to be lazy when little ones depend on you.
    60. Improved immune system.  It’s a law of nature: Moms never get sick.
    61. If you do get sick, you have someone to take care of you without your spouse taking time off work.
    62. Baby smiles.
    63. Carrying a baby?  Strangers will smile at you.
    64. Babies are also a great conversation starter.
    65. Learn to delight in everyday occurrences.
    66. Translate toddler gibberish with ease for puzzled onlookers.
    67. Your own love for your child gives you a small taste of how much God loves His children.
    68. Live vicariously: remember that toy you never got as a child, but you’re too old to want it now?  Let your kids try it out.
    69. Relive your childhood: remember the toy you did get as a child?  Let your kids try it out.
    70. Rediscover the joy of crayons.
    71. Job security: moms have it.
    72. Learn and believe that happiness really doesn’t come from material wealth…
    73. …yet be amazed at how much joy you can buy your child with a quarter.
    74. Kids are cheap.
    75. Marvel that 2 people can produce children that are better-looking than either parent.  Heredity is a strange and wonderful thing.
    76. Be welcomed home like a returning war hero every time you go grocery shopping or to the post office.
    77. Be looked at like this:
    78. Soft little fingers and toes.  They’re cute on other people’s children, but utterly priceless on your own children.
    79. The unbearable cuteness of newborn-size diapers. (credit: Deanna)
    80. Discover your super powers: make milk, and heal mortal wounds with a kiss.
    81. Ask any parent you know if they regret having kids.
    82. Learn to appreciate simple pleasures: ice cream cones, a single M&M, homemade cookies.
    83. Do you love your spouse?  Experience a miracle: a new person who looks like both of you.
    84. After 10 years of children, washing dishes becomes optional.  (credit: Deanna)
    85. Get special treatment on Mother’s Day.
    86. Breakfast in bed is fun, even when it’s cheerios and multi vitamins.  (credit: Becca)
    87. Experience the triumph of potty training.
    88. Have the advantage of a youthful memory again: have your kids remind you about important things.  (credit: Megan)
    89. Expand your wardrobe: share clothes with your teens.
    90. Gather candy from the piñata without getting funny looks.
    91. Have help cooking.
    92. Be a safer driver,
    93. In a safer vehicle.
    94. Free or cheap manicures and pedicures.  I pay a dollar.
    95. Ditto for back/shoulder rubs.
    96. Perpetually late?  You don’t even have to blame it on the kids.  People will assume.
    97. Vanity?  You’ll look at your baby in the mirror instead of yourself.
    98. Paint your kids’ nails in a color you like but could never wear yourself.
    99. Have your bed made for $.25/day.  Maid service has never been so cheap or cheerful, and there’s no need to report payments to the IRS.
    100. If you’ve never had a baby fall asleep on your chest, you just don’t know what you’re missing.
    101. Homemade friends.  My children are some of my favorite companions.
    102. Kids with money ROCK!  They buy their own clothes, treat you to Starbucks, and buy you unbelievable birthday/Christmas gifts.
    103. World domination through militant fecundity! [maniacal laughter]
    104. Children are part of God’s purpose for creating marriage:But did He not make them one,
      Having a remnant of the Spirit?
      And why one?
      He seeks godly offspring.  Malachi 2:15

    Want to see another list, more thoughtful and eloquent than mine?  40 Reasons to Have Kids

    If, on the other hand, you like ’em funny, try this: Reasons to Have Children.

    Visit other posts about being a homemaker at the Homemaking Link-Up


    Pacifier Epiphany

    This weekend, I was a little shocked to see a 3yo with a pacifier in his mouth.  Wait – if your 3yo still has a pacifier, don’t leave.  Read the rest.

    My kids have all been finger or thumb suckers, so we don’t do pacifiers.  This worked out well for us since I don’t like pacifiers.  I’m afraid we would constantly lose the paci, causing emotional turmoil in the middle of church, the wee hours of the night and other inconvenient times.

    I understand that many parents encourage the use of pacifiers because they don’t want their babies to become thumbsuckers, and I understand that many parents use pacifiers for other reasons.  However, I’m always a little surprised and disapproving when I see a toddler with a pacifier.  I can’t help but wonder, Isn’t it time to take that thing away?

    But why?  Why do I feel that way?  Is 3 really too old?

    I don’t mind if my children hang onto the thumb habit until they’re 4 or 5, even though well-meaning friends and family sometimes express disapproval.  All of our children have quit on their own, gradually, without external pressure or trauma.  Maybe people are shocked when they see my toddler with her thumb firmly planted in her mouth.  I’m not offended, but neither am I motivated to wrap her thumb in duct tape or paint bitter chemicals on it.

    This made me realize how my own preconceived notions affect the way I think and the way I see things.

    That’s not to say that everything in life is subjective, or that we each should find what’s right for us and our family.  When it comes to principles, there is a right way and a wrong way, and we need to search God’s Word and seek out wise counsel.

    But there are principles and then there are methods; one describes the goal and the other describes the path.   Sometimes the two blur and overlap.  Sometimes there is only one path to a particular goal.  Other goals may be reached more than one way.  Even if we agree that a calm and happy baby is a noble goal, we may find many God-honoring ways to reach that point.

    It’s a small thing, but my little pacifier epiphany was a reminder that when I feel disapproving feelings bubble up, the first thing I need to do is take a look at my own assumptions in light of scripture.  Do I disapprove because it’s not my way, or because it’s not God’s way?

    Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.  John 7:24

    Are your kids accident prone?

    This morning several of the kids were down on the trampoline.  The house was peaceful, but the sound of screaming drifted across the hills.

    I wondered aloud whether they were happy screams and Deanna voiced her opinion: Assume they’re happy until you see the blood.

    Actually, she’s right.  That pretty well sums up how I operate, and it has worked out well for us so far in spite of the accident-prone gene carried by their father.

    In 16 years of child-rearing, we’ve never had one accident-related visit to the ER.  The Superman incident only resulted in a walk-in visit to the doctor’s office, for which we paid $300 for “outpatient surgery” because he applied a splint to her arm.

    Deanna and I did go to the ER long ago for carbon monoxide poisoning when the furnace flue in our old house backed up, and we visited the ER again when a congenital issue acted up in one of the girls, but neither of those were injuries caused by accidents.  Well, the flue didn’t exactly collapse on purpose, but you know what I mean…

    All in all, I think that’s a good record.  But I won’t get smug about it – I know that pride goes before a fall, and as soon as I check that “I’m a good parent” box we’ll have 6 visits in a month.

    But what about your family?  How well does the ER team know your kids?  Are you brave enough to tell?

    [poll id=”9″]

    An open letter to working moms

    Dear Working Mom,

    I see you nearly every time I’m out with my children.  Sometimes you are very young, sometimes you look older.  You might look happy one day and tired or stressed the next.  You are different every time I meet you, but you say the same thing to me nearly every time:  “You’re so lucky.  I wish I could stay home with my children but I just can’t afford it.”

    Usually I smile and agree that I am blessed, but quite honestly  I’d like to challenge you.  You say you can’t afford to stay home.  Maybe you can if you’re willing to make some changes.

    • Will you trade in your 2 year old car for a 13 year old mini van?  The side door might not work very well.  Yes, it will break down occasionally on your way to the kids’ dental checkups, but that’s ok.  Your dentist will understand.  Do plan to change a flat every now and then, since you might be driving on older tires.
    • Will you buy your clothes at thrift stores from now on?  I know your clothes aren’t terribly expensive now, but even inexpensive clothes add up when you buy them new.  No, you won’t always be able to wear exactly what you want, but you might find that it’s not such a big deal if you’re spending most of your time at home.  Your kids won’t make fun of your fashion sense.  Well, not unless they’re teens.  Then I can’t vouch for them.
    • You might have to reconsider cable TV.  Anyway, the last thing you need is to watch the average 5 hours/day of TV.  Too much of it is about working moms driving late model cars and wearing all those clothes you won’t be buying.
    • Something as simple as grabbing pizza on Friday night might become a financial decision, carefully weighed out.
    • Your children should expect some changes too.  Ballet lessons, karate lessons, and sports might go on the chopping block.  They might be among the sad minority that does not possess a laptop or cell phone.  They might never visit Disneyland.  Summer camp might even be crossed off the calendar.  Don’t let the guilt get to you.  Just like adults, children are not entitled to all the best in life.   Children need to understand that these things are extras.  They are wants, not needs.  The sooner your children know this, the happier they will be.
    • Would you be willing to sell your house?  If you’re serious about wanting to stay home with your children, this might be what it takes.  Are you willing to live in a smaller, older home, in a lower priced neighborhood?

    To sum it up, are you willing to give up a middle class lifestyle?  I know you’re not rich now, but you could get by on less if you really had to.   Is staying home with your children worth that much to you?

    I realize that not every situation is the same.  You might be a single mom, struggling just to keep the electric on.  Some churches would help you, but you might not be in that sort of church.

    You might be willing to make all the lifestyle changes that would enable you to stay home but your husband insists that you work.

    Maybe your husband is disabled, and truly can’t support the family.

    Maybe you have other truly extenuating circumstances.

    Or maybe you didn’t really mean that you’d love to do it.  Maybe you just meant it might be kinda nice, if you didn’t have to give up any of your current creature comforts.

    But maybe, just maybe you really never thought of it this way and now you realize that you can afford to stay home.  Will you do it?

    Rules I never thought to tell them

    I think we all have this list tucked away somewhere, and everyone’s list looks different.  Here’s the Headmistress’s list.  I would love to know what’s on yours.

    First, a few basics:

      1. If you learned it from Calvin and Hobbes, it’s probably not allowed.
      2. Emulate The Three Stooges and Little Rascals with great caution.
      3. Don’t be stupid on purpose.

      And some specifics:

      1. Do not play in the dryer. Do not turn on the dryer while somebody else plays inside.
      2. Don’t hold a 5 lb. bag of elbow macaroni upside down and shake it to test the zipper seal.
      3. If you must play Catholics-and-Protestants-at-the-Inquisition, please do it quietly.  For the neighbors’ sake.
      4. Don’t drink up the leftover communion wine at church.
      5. Rough-housing does not mean it’s ok to push your friend down the basement stairs and lock the door.  Even if you’re already remorseful, you will be punished.
      6. Don’t color on puppies. Especially not Golden Retriever pups.  Especially not with a black permanent marker.
      7. Don’t pour water inside plaster walls on the second floor.  I don’t care if you think there’s a rat in there.
      8. Don’t hold down little boys and punch them, even if somebody just finished explaining that little boys like to play rough.
      9. If you find old gum stuck to the bottom of a chair, it will not be funny when you stick in your dad’s hair.
      10. I know it’s cool that the tree branch makes snapping noises when you stand on it, but that doesn’t mean you should jump up and down.
      11. Don’t try to cut holes in the floor with a butcher knife.  I don’t care how realistic your dream was.  You will not find a secret tunnel leading to your grandma’s house in Tennessee.
      12. Don’t cut holes in your sister’s underwear and put them on the dog. Even if I laughed when you did it, don’t do it again.
      13. Do not rifle through your uncle’s pockets while he is sleeping.
      14. Do not dig 4 ft. deep pits in a city yard and threaten to bury your little sister.
      15. Do not hide on the roof. I don’t care if you’re playing hide-and-seek and can’t find a better place.
      16. Sliding down the stairs in a sleeping bag might be fun, but I don’t approve.
      17. Don’t have mud fights with the neighbor boy.  I don’t care who started it unless it was you.  Then you’re in even more trouble.
      18. If you eat bugs in any form – including fried walking stick bugs with cheese – don’t tell me about it.  Again.  Yes, it’s very cool that the rocks were hot enough to cook them outside, but I still don’t want to know.
      19. Just believe the TV for once when they tell you not to lick a frozen telephone pole.  Extend this to include the side of the ice cream maker, the ice tray, and the inside of the freezer door.
      20. Don’t play in the laundry chute, even if you saw your uncle doing it first.  Nor should the cat be encouraged to do so.
      21. Ask before you decide to walk to the library.  Especially if you’re 4yo.

      Laughter keeps us nice

      Since Bethany and The Boy have a ba-a-a-a-d case of diarrhea – what’s that?  TMI? Too Much Info?  I haven’t even started with the details yet…

      Anyway, since there is sickness in the house, I had a nice chat with a friend this morning about potty humor and boys and the whys and wherefores thereof.  We found ourselves talking about the hidden laugh – the one you do even though you really don’t want your kids to see you laughing because IT’S NOT FUNNY.  Like when The Boy serenaded his baby sister:  “My butt is in my underwear, my underwear, my underwear,” or the one about “Your poop is yummy to yoooooo!

      I often find myself trying to cover a smile or hide the fact that I’m laughing because I don’t want to encourage the behavior, or I want to make sure that my correction is taken seriously.  But you know what?  I hope it never gets too easy.  I want to always fight that laugh.  I’d much rather struggle with my own laughter than my anger while correcting a child – especially when I’m correcting foolish immaturity rather than rebellion.

      If they do catch on?  Well, usually they knew it was funny anyway.  They knew they wouldn’t get off the hook just because they made us laugh.  So the laugh doesn’t help them, it just helps us.  And since we were created in God’s image, it makes me wonder if God ever laughs at our foolishness, even while He chastens us.

      From the mailbag: getting little ones to sleep all night

      Tammy asked,
      I have three little ones…ages 5, 3, and 18 months.  None of them sleep through the night.  The 5-year-old has autism and I think will probably always have trouble sleeping…I am not so worried about him.

      It’s the younger two girls that are making me nuts!  They both wake several times during the night and I have to get up and tend to them.

      Our house is very tiny and the girls share a room.  Letting one of them cry it out would mean the entire house would be awake.  I wouldn’t even mind that except that I don’t want to wake my husband.  He has to get to work, and he is not very good with night-time wakings.  We are better off if daddy gets to sleep!

      I just haven’t figured out a low-noise way to get them to sleep through the night.

      Any ideas?

      This might not be what you were hoping to hear but my best advice would be to make sure hubby is on the same page and give up trying to do it without a lot of noise.  🙂
      If you are consistent, the adjustment really shouldn’t take long and will be worth the sleep you and your husband lose.
      If that simply isn’t an option, I would try to sooth them without getting them out of bed or turning on any lights.  Don’t necessarily *put* them back to sleep, since they need to learn to do this themselves, but help calm and reassure them so that they can fall back to sleep as quickly and naturally as possible.  No drinks or snacks, no playing or socializing, no diaper changes unless absolutely necessary.  With some persistence you should be able to shift your children’s sleep patterns toward a full night.
      Having said that, I’ll take this opportunity to confess that my 7mo, who shocked me and the rest of the world by consistently sleeping through the night from the age of 3 days, no longer does so with any measure of consistency.  You can stop hating me now.  It really was too good to last, just like you were hoping.
      I might also add that The Boy occasionally wakes up in my bed.  How did he get there?! and how did he know to go to hubby’s side of the bed? He obviously knows that in the middle of the night, I AM THE MONSTER UNDER THE BED!  Don’t wake me up unless there’s blood or a whole lot of vomit somewhere.  Even then, be afraid.
      And while I’m on a roll, you might as well know that 4yo Rachael just fell asleep in my bed.  In our defense, Rachael dozed off waiting to say goodnight to her daddy before she went to bed.  I just carried her back to her own bed, where I expect her to stay.
      So take the advice for what it’s worth.  All in all, our children have been spectacular sleepers in spite of the small houses we’ve always lived in.  But consistency isn’t the same as perfection; even children that sleep all night consistently don’t do it perfectly.