Inside: Three simple tips for transitioning to the stay-at-home mom life
Some see stay-at-home mom life as simple and light on stress. As if our days are full of couch time and play. But while baby snuggles and playing games are part of the job description, there’s a lot more to being a stay-at-home mom than what most people realize.
3 Tips for When You’ve Decided to Stay at Home
If you’ve made your way to this article, I’ll assume that you’re either considering being a stay-at-home or that you’ve already decided to take the plunge. Either way, I want to say welcome! This life is so beautiful, but also demanding.
Here are a few of my tips for the transition to becoming a new stay-at-home mom.
And for more about life as a stay-at-home mom, check out this playlist over on our YouTube channel:
1. Realize you may face opposition
There are likely people in your life who just don’t understand or don’t approve of your decision to stay at home. It usually comes out of a loving place, but it’s marred by fear.
They worry how your family will financially survive. They’re saddened that you’re “wasting” your potential. They wonder how you’ll do it without losing your mind. They think it would be better for the kids to be in daycare and socialize with others.
The list could go on.
But if you know that it’s coming, it’s easier to handle. So before you even announce your new plan, expect to hear concerns from family and friends.
And while it can be hard, try to give them the benefit of the doubt and know that they’re saying these things because they love you. Try to not go to that mental dark place that says:
They’re against me. They don’t believe in me. They don’t understand me. They don’t respect my decisions.
Instead, stay confident in your decision and loving in your approach to dealing with the naysayers.
We’re often encouraged to burn bridges and assume that anyone who doesn’t support our decisions is toxic. While that may be popular, we should be cautious before cutting off anyone just because they don’t see the value in our decision.
Instead, we can use this opportunity to build bridges. To show patience and kindness. To educate when we can and rely on the example of our lives when words aren’t enough. Simply put: prove them wrong without being vindictive.
2. Go easy on yourself
There’s definitely a learning curve when it comes to the stay-at-home mom life. Just like any job, it takes time to get accustomed to the daily flow. And unlike other jobs, you likely don’t have someone training you and showing you the best way to get it all done.
It can be so overwhelming to step into this role. You likely chose to do so because of your children. But being at home also means more housework. And meals. And learning to budget better due to loss of one income stream.
There’s a lot.
So be gentle with yourself. Even we perfectionists have to understand that we won’t be able to be 100% amazing 100% of the time. It’s just not possible. Especially in the beginning.
Now, does that mean that we just throw up our hands in defeat and think, “oh well, I’m just not the type of mom that’s good at this”? No! We keep pushing and little by little get our daily rhythm down to a science.
You can do this!
3. Resist the urge to dive into a “side hustle”
Speaking of your loss of one income, it may be tempting to pick up a side hustle. You’re used to doing some sort of job and may even feel guilty that your family has to be a little more financially conscientious now.
But resist the urge to take the bait with certain side hustles.
let go of the pressure
First of all, as long as you and your husband agree, you don’t HAVE to have a job. Don’t feel any less valuable now than what you did while you were working. Don’t feel like you’re not pulling your weight. You’ll see in time just how valuable this decision is. So resist the mindset that says you’re “just” a stay-at-home mom. Being “just” a stay-at-home mom is a worthwhile and weighty thing.
be aware of predatory companies
Second, there are many “jobs” that are designed to prey on your current position. Ads for work-from-home jobs for moms are pretty popular. But they don’t tell you that they pay next to nothing for lots of work. They may also require expensive training that you have to pay for just to “maybe” find a position, which may not be a set-up that works for you financially right now.
the whole Network Marketing Thing
Then there’s network marketing. Been there, done that.
I won’t tell you not to do it, but I would say be very cautious.
I do know of one woman in my area who is very successful in the main network marketing company I was a part of. BUT she was the first one to really be talking about that company in our area. Most ambassadors in our town are signed up under her, and she was able to get customers before people knew lots of other ambassadors selling it.
Even though every MLM claims to not be a pyramid scheme, they’re all modified versions of pyramid schemes, meaning those who get in on the ground floor (at least in a specific area) are the ones who are most likely to succeed.
With that said, I also won’t demonize any of the people who are involved with network marketing companies. They’re just trying to help provide for their families.
But it doesn’t work out for most people. And not just because they didn’t “hustle” hard enough.
Use wisdom, don’t hastily jump into anything, and you’ll be fine!
What questions do you have about life as a stay-at-home mom? I’d love to hear from you and answer what I can! Drop a comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Until next time,
If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to like, comment, and share!
New here? Learn more about our family and this blog on this page.
Inside: All about the 1000 Hours Outside challenge and how you and your kids can participate
Before we get started, you can find out more about the challenge and the mission of 1000 Hours Outside here.
Ever notice that kids are completely different after having time outdoors? Especially when they’re allowed to go outside consistently? There are scientific reasons for that.
Our kids need time outside, but these days, the time they spend in nature is dwindling. According to an article by childmind.org, the average American child only gets about 7 minutes of unstructured outdoor play per day. And much more time in front of screens.
I get it! My kids have screens too. But we now know that too much screen time is damaging to the mind of a child, especially with a hand-held device.
This is a rising problem that’s being confronted by the 1000 Hours Outside challenge.
What is the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge?
I recently heard of it when a friend shared that she and her kids would be taking the challenge this year. It piqued my interest, so I looked into it.
Started by a married couple with 5 kids of their own, 1000 Hours Outside is all about getting families outside in nature. Ginny and Josh (the founding couple) noticed that outdoor spaces such as hiking trails were usually devoid of children and asked themselves why.
Through research, they found that it’s recommended for children to spend 4-6 HOURS outside daily. But the amount of outdoor time kids are actually getting is staggeringly less.
They set out to change that for their own family and committed to more outdoor time together — something they’ve never regretted. Now, they encourage other families to take the plunge and get outside.
Why Take the Challenge?
While 1,000 hours outside may seem like a lot, the average American child spends 1,200 hours a year or more in front of screens (and that number is on the rise).
Sadly, I can say our family isn’t immune to the epidemic. Our kids have tablets they can play on when they’re done with chores, we often watch movies as a family in the evenings, and my son is starting to really enjoy video games like Minecraft and the LEGO series. Add it all up, and that’s a lot of hours each year in front of a screen. Again, damaging stuff.
How Behavior is Affected
Aside from the science, I notice a major shift in my kids when they’ve had too much screen time. They become impatient, whiny, and irritable. They’re more likely to be disrespectful, and they often complain about being “bored” when not entertained by a screen.
These are just some of the reasons why kids NEED outdoor time. Their behavior when they’ve had the chance to explore and enjoy nature is in stark contrast to their screen-influenced behavior.
More time in the great outdoors has been linked to:
It’s simple. There’s no sign-up process or anything daunting.
Step 1: Download and print the tracker from the 1000 Hours Outside website to help keep track of your family’s hours. Step 2: Get outside as much as possible!
If you do the math, 1000 hours spread out over 365 days is a little over 2 1/2 hours a day. Of course, this is assuming the kids can go out daily.
For our family, I’ve scheduled several points in our day when we can go outside. There will likely be days when we’re not able to make it outside, like when the weather is too bad or the kids are sick. So our plan is to make up for those days in spring and summer when we can spend longer periods of time outside.
What if you can’t personally commit to 1000 Hours Outside?
You may be a super busy momma with a lot on your plate but still want your kids to be able to spend 1000 hours outside. Even we stay-at-home moms may have some trouble being outside every time that our kids are. I plan to spend as much time outside with them as I can, but here are some solutions for days when it just doesn’t work out.
Split it with Your Spouse
Could you and your husband divide and conquer? Maybe sometimes you can all be outside as a family, but other days only one of you can take the kids out. Either way, the kids are still getting their 1000 hours.
Entrust Another Adult
Do grandma and grandpa like to pick up the kids for outings? What about an aunt or uncle? Is there someone else who you trust who would like to take the kids to the playground or hiking trails a few times a month?
Supervise from Inside
Do you have a window in your home that overlooks your yard? I know for some people this isn’t an option. But if it is and you feel comfortable doing so, let the kids play outside while you get things done and keep an eye on them from inside.
What if you’re reading this after January 1st?
That’s okay! As the old adage goes, better late than never. It’s still possible to reach 1000 hours even after the year has already started OR you can set a goal that at least stretches you to get your kids outside as much as possible.
Don’t forget to go check out the 1000 Hours Outside website! They’ve got a lot of great information to encourage you through the process and remind you of why it’s important. They also have ideas for fun nature-related activities.
Have you ever taken the 1000 Hours Outside challenge? Will you be doing it this year? Drop a comment below! I’d love to hear from others who will be participating.
Until next time,
If you found this post helpful, don’t forget to like, comment, and share!
New here? Learn more about our family and this blog on this page.
Inside: Dealing with a lot of sibling fighting in your home? Disagreements are bound to happen. Here’s how to handle them and teach your children to work through them.
Tears streaming. Everyone’s screaming. Two of my children are in front of me, trying to yell their side of the story loudest, hoping they’ll be the one I deem as “right.” One is clenching their fists and turning red. The other is jumping up and down in frustration.
And I’m standing there, becoming frustrated myself and wondering how we got to this point and how I can make it STOP.
On any given day, this is the scenario I picture as I hear those tell-tale signs. The huffs. Their pitch and volume increasing as they begin to disagree. A stomp here. An “I’m not playing with you anymore” there. The scene I described above is where I know it’s headed.
So as soon as I hear it, my anxiety starts to rise. I want to stop it in it’s tracks. I want them to get along. To not have all these sibling spats.
But unfortunately, that’s just not realistic.
The truth is, siblings are going to argue…
What we can change is how they do it. How they process their emotions, express them, and how well they listen to others and consider their point-of-view.
The Old Way of Dealing with Sibling Fighting
My usual way of handling their arguments was what I thought was the right way.
Get them to stop yelling. Have each tell their side of the story. Put on my judge hat and decide what each of them did wrong. Talk to them about it. Make them apologize and hug it out. Time-outs given when/if necessary. If I’d refereed my limit of fights for the day, I’d tap out and have them figure it all out themselves. After all, they have to figure it out at some point, right?
But was it working? Was I teaching them anything about empathy or understanding the other person? Was I teaching them how to work through their emotions without throwing verbal darts at other people? Was I preventing future meltdowns? Or just getting by? (And even doing some damage by trying to get them to stuff their feelings?)
So I went searching.
For the most part, I found other people doing things similar to what I was already doing. I also found tips about things like getting a giant tee shirt for them to share, making them hold hands, sit nose to nose or wash opposite sides of the same glass. All of that (while tempting) sounded more like punishing them with each other’s presence. That was the opposite of what I wanted.
So what was a method that would actually work and help them learn valuable communication skills in the process?
The New Way
As I shared with you in another post, God has been really changing my perspective on parenting. While I could understand the thought process behind all the usual methods of dealing with sibling rivalry, my heart was telling me there was more. There had to be a better way. Settling for “well they just don’t like each other. Let them sort it out” wasn’t going to cut it.
I understand I can’t always be the referee. Who even wants to do that? I know allowing them to solve their own conflicts fosters independence and maturity. But my kids need tools to figure it out first, or it will be the blind leading the blind. Nothing will truly get resolved, and no lessons on empathy and respect for relationships with others will actually be learned.
I looked at a ton of resources. And finally I was able to boil it down to the absolute best ways to help my kids transform their relationship.
First things first, home environment matters! But I also found a really practical way to deal with the conflict while it’s happening. Ready?
Before a Fight Erupts
Preventing outbursts sometimes comes down to having the right foundations already in place for solid relationships and good self-esteem. Here are some things to have in place as a constant:
For positive parent/child relationships
Emphasize strengths in all your children, praise them individually, honor their individuality & celebrate their differences.
Allow unconditional love to rule in your home.
Fill each child’s cup with love and attention often, and regularly spend one-on-one time with them.
Try not to yell. Monkey see, monkey do, right? If we handle conflicts by yelling, chances are they will too. For more on that, read this post.
For positive sibling relationships
Have a zero tolerance policy for yelling, hitting, saying mean things, etc.
Give them problems to solve together, and play games that require them to work as a team
Acknowledge & praise them when they’re helping one another
Avoid interrupting happy play
Make sure each gets their personal space
Raise their oxytocin levels with laughing, singing, dancing, rough-housing, etc.
Teach them to pray for one another
A good idea shared on another blog: teach them that its their choice how they react to other people. For more on that, you can read this article by Mama in the Now.
A Word on Being a Prayerful Mom
What are you seeing in your home? Either when your children fight or just in general. Anger, frustration, misunderstanding, impatience, selfishness? Pray against those things!
In their place, ask God to strengthen everyone’s desire for His peace, joy, kindness, and unity (or the fruits of His Spirit in general). Ask Him to help each person with understanding. And daily choose unconditional love and respect for others in your home.
It starts with us. We’re the homemakers, not just outwardly but spiritually as well. Water the garden of your heart by drinking from the well of the Word daily. It will give you sound wisdom and better equip you to have the right perspective and the words to say in the moment. Time with God makes us better models for our kids and gives us the patience to walk through the hard stuff with mercy and grace.
When Conflict Strikes
When conflict does arise, be prepared to be patient. Especially in the beginning. We’re in the early stages of implementing this strategy in our home, and it isn’t something that just happens over night.
When I was researching, I nearly leaped out of my seat after coming to a blog post on the “Peace Process.” I’ll include the link below. I LOVE the author and her perspective. It’s full of truth and wisdom. Definitely worth the read!
So what exactly does this process entail?
The Peace Process
1) Calm down
First things first–take a deep breath. I know the rush of irritation that comes from hearing the whining voices and stomping feet. But our level of calmness affects theirs. Conflict is normal, and how we model frustration-management matters because it’s going to shape how they see conflict and manage it in the future.
Once you’re calm and ready to jump in, address the kids.
Simply put, we all need our space sometimes in the heat of debate. Especially if feelings have been hurt. If everyone is yelling over top of each other and the tears are rolling, give them a minute. See if they calm down when they notice you’re calm.
If not, use a firm voice to cut through the noise, and ask if they need a break on their own before working anything out.
2) Understand each other
This step is for both us and our kids.
While they’re calming down, ask yourself how you can let the kids know you understand the way they’re feeling. Also think about how you may be able to help them understand one another.
When they’re ready, ask them to think about how the other person may be feeling. It’s important not to take sides here. Stay neutral, remembering the problem is whatever they’re arguing about, NOT them.
Once each of them has given an explanation of the other’s feelings, have them give one another feedback. Were they spot on? Or were they interpreting the other child’s feelings incorrectly?
3) Solve the conflict
In this situation, what could you have done differently to keep from fighting?
Did your actions hurt someone else? How?
How do you want to make things right?
At first, they’ll most likely need help processing through this step, especially if they’re used to the blame game. This method emphasizes taking responsibility for your own actions instead of looking at what others did wrong.
It is so so so important during this phase to remember: no condemnation.
The way we word these questions and the tone of our voice as we deliver them really makes a difference. If you’re trying to heap shame on them for not communicating effectively, it’s not going to solve the problem. In reality, it will make them more likely to lie or become defensive.
It’s super easy for us to jump in and start pointing fingers. But if this is going to work, we need to help them realize where they went wrong and what they could have done better. And they won’t do that if they have their defenses up.
Side note: make sure children know the difference between an argument and bullying. It’s important for them to know if someone is bullying them, there’s nothing they personally did wrong.
Woohoo! They did it, and you’re one step closer to intervening a lot less. High fives and encouraging words all around! Even baby steps of progress are worth praise. It’s hard to work through issues even for us adults sometimes!
For more on the Peace Process and other truly awesome tidbits, visit To Love, Honor, and Vacuum’s article here.
Doesn’t sound like it’s for you? Of course there are other methods out there. This is just the one we chose for our home. Another great idea from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls: along with using more behavioral methods to address the conflict, address the heart with engaging Bible lessons at home. You can check out her verse lesson on Proverbs 12:18 here.
There ya have it! It’s all about creating positive relationships, being prayerful, and implementing a plan that teaches kids to examine their own hearts and what they could do better.
Sure, it’s a lot of work to get there. But for us, it’s worth it to transform our family and get our kids character development off to a healthy start.
What other ways have you found that work for handling sibling fighting? Let me know in the comments!
Inside: A list of our favorite heavy work activities and why you should use them to calm and focus your child
It’s one of those days.
You know the ones when the kids seem to be stuck in a permanent “play mode”? Like that little lever in their brain just won’t switch off (or even just turn down a little)?
While I’m all for kids being kids and enjoying play, there’s also a time for calm. Like when you really need to go to the grocery store, but you can’t imagine what that would be like considering the volume and chaos level inside your home at the moment. Or when the kids are supposed to be cleaning up and getting ready for quiet time, but instead their attention continues to be diverted by more (chaotic) play.
That’s when this mom pulls out the laundry basket and some thick books off our living room shelf.
It’s time for some heavy work.
What is “Heavy Work?”
It may sound like some form of prison punishment, but it actually comes in the form of play.
Heavy work activities push or pull against the body and are usually used to help kids who have trouble with sensory processing. They ground the body and put out excess energy (OR energize the body more, depending on which type you do).
How do heavy Work Activities Help?
Heavy work aids a sense called proprioception, which is basically self-awareness. If you’re finding that your little one:
is all over the place
makes wild motions while playing
often gets in other people’s personal space while playing
plays roughly even when the other person doesn’t want to
has a hard time coming down from this high-energy play
seems to have little control over their volume,
certain heavy work activities could help him/her become more regulated and aware of their body.
NOTE: Kids do need a level of play that allows them to get their wiggles out. So when our kids do the things listed above, it communicates to us as their parents that they need to get out pent up energy. That’s another reason why heavy work activities are great. They allow kids to get what they need in a way that’s acceptable. If we don’t them a positive way to do something (heavy work), they’ll often stumble upon a negative way (chaotic play). If we let them stick with the negative way for too long, it forms a habit/pattern and becomes that much harder to break as we try to redirect them in a more positive direction.
Like I mentioned before, there are different forms of heavy work. Some help bring their systems down while other activities may charge them up (best for kids who are particularly low). In my home, we don’t need any help with high energy. Instead, we need to bring it down.
Are They Only Used to Regulate Sensory Issues?
Occupational therapists often recommend heavy work activities to children with sensory processing disorder. But heavy work can also be great for any child who maybe just has some extra pent up energy or who is having a hard time focusing.
We first found heavy work activities while one of my children was referred by our pediatrician to see an occupational therapist for a month. While my child doesn’t have sensory processing disorder, the occupational therapist felt that these activities could help regulate some of the behaviors we were struggling with at home.
So even if your child has no diagnosed sensory issues, heavy work activities can still be extremely beneficial.
PLUS unlike medication, these are natural ways to help your child regulate behavior. No harmful side effects here.
Some of Our Favorite Heavy Work Activities
Again, this list is based off what works for my high-energy kids. You won’t see things like running and jumping on this list (although they do those things too, just not during heavy work time) because those activities tend to act as uppers. That’s the opposite of what I want. If your kids are high energy, you know what I mean!
Instead, these are the activities that help expel extra energy while grounding their nervous systems so they can calm down and focus.
Carry a bucket of water or sand
Dig in a sand box, using scoopers & hunting for buried toys
Pour sand or water back and forth between two or more containers
Do a back yard obstacle course
Push a wheelbarrow around the yard (fill it if your child needs it)
Animal walks (bear crawl, crab walks, duck walks, etc.). Tell them to be slowwwww bears or slow ducks. Keeping it rhythmic and slow-paced will help their bodies settle. Being silly and going through the activity quickly, on the other hand, will likely rile them up…
Wheelbarrow walking. Side note: I tried to have my two oldest kiddos do this together (they’re super close in size), but that was definitely a no-go. It actually made them more hyper! So we now always do this activity with an adult/child pairing.
Build a low fort, then army crawl under it
Load a laundry basket with toys or books, push it across the floor, unload it. Then repeat!
Carry a stack of books from one room to another (holding them against the chest)
Hand pushing game (adult and child place hands together and push back and forth)
Doing push-ups against a wall
Pushing an exercise ball against a wall or against an adult who is pushing back
Now that you know the why and the what, there’s the question of how. While it may seem daunting to imagine, incorporating heavy work throughout the day isn’t a difficult task.
We do heavy work activities 4 or 5 times a day. It doesn’t have to be any crazy carved out amount of time. We just do a couple items off the list every few hours. But there are ways to make it flow seamlessly in your day.
For example, as a chore, my children are responsible for wiping their spot at the table (and their chair) after each meal. So not only does it help me by allowing them to take responsibility for their own mess, but it’s also a heavy work activity that requires a little bit of energy, helping them calm down.
If you need some ideas on how you can fit these activities into your day, subscribe below to download the free Sensory Diet Cheat Sheet.
The surprising change that’s been just as beneficial as the shift in their energy has been the shift in mine.
Granted, we haven’t stuck perfectly to our sensory diet by any stretch of the imagination. But even knowing how their bodies work and what helps has changed the way I view their behavior when they’re wired.
Knowing what heavy work can do has given me just one more set of tools in my back pocket. On tough days when I’m feeling frustrated at the hyperactivity, I’m reminded of what I know works. And suddenly I’m thinking up creative ways we could play to get their wiggles out and expel some of that extra zing.
So in that moment, I get to CHOOSE to shift my mood (from frustrated mom to playful mom), and change our whole day.
If it’s something you’re struggling with, it’s worth a shot.
Why does your home need more focus and calm? Have you tried heavy work and seen positive effects in your family? Drop a comment below!
Until next time,
New here? Learn more about our family and this blog on this page.
Inside: Help your kids get into simple morning and evening routines
It’s all fun and games until I’m running around like a headless chicken, wishing past me had made life easier on present me. Wishing my kids remembered to put their pants in the hamper without a reminder every morning. Wishing I had an extra set of hands and an army general barking orders so I didn’t have to.
Sometimes I’m a slow learner (or maybe just hard-headed). There’s something about the idea of a set routine that makes me want to rebel, even though I know I need it.
But it became obvious that set, easy-to-follow morning and nightly routines weren’t just things that I needed. My kids needed them even more.
When I gave them structured routines (and made them self-directed), it made life so much simpler.
Our Morning & Nightly Routines
Without a simple flow to follow, our mornings can get hectic, and our nights are lacking. Kids (at least mine) truly operate best when they know what to expect. And I’m the most productive when I have a set time for getting important things done.
So here’s what we do.
What we need from our morning routine:
easy to follow
The best course of action for me is waking up early. I know it’s not for everyone. Some days, it’s not even for me. But the mornings when I get up sometime between 4:30 and 5:30 are the mornings that go the smoothest and when I feel the most accomplished.
When I can, I like to head straight downstairs, drink a bottle of water, throw some laundry into the washer, get my essential oils going in the diffuser, and have Bible time. Doing those 4 things right off the bat start my day on the right foot.
Next I shower and get myself dressed and ready. If I stay in pajamas or just throw on some sweats, I’m more likely to have a lazy day. Even though that’s needed sometimes, on the typical day, it’s best for me to get myself together.
For the Kids
After that, I wake up the kids and help them get ready/keep them on track.
When everyone is fully ready, we head downstairs together, and I make breakfast.
HOWEVER, this part of our routine will be changing as our time with public school comes to an end.
NOW I’ll head downstairs after getting the baby ready and fix breakfast while everyone else finishes getting ready and doing their morning chores (mainly making their beds, putting clothes in the hamper, and tidying up anything out of place). While chores are happening, I’ll play some worship music in the background to get their day started right.
After breakfast, I’ll do a quick clean-up. Then we’ll jump right in to our homeschooling schedule, which starts with worship, calendar, and Bible before digging into our morning basket then our curriculum.
What we need from our nighttime routine:
a good wrap-up to our day
easy to follow
For the Kids
In the evenings after we spend some time together as a family, we let the kids sink into some wind-down activities while they each have their turn taking a bath. Of course, at this point, they also put on jammies, comb their hair, and brush their teeth.
When everyone has had a bath, they all do a sweep of the house, making sure any toys and books they’ve had out are put away.
Before bed, everyone has to go potty. Then we snuggle in for a story, sing “Jesus Loves Me” together, talk to God, do kisses and hugs, and they’re off to sleep. (Other than our baby Aspen, who stays up with me for a while.)
Of course, all of that is best-case-scenario. There are nights when there’s a glitch in the system, and someone has trouble going to bed. But generally speaking, that’s the routine.
During all of the kids’ nightly kerfuffle, I’m either giving them the baths OR Chris is doing baths while I clean up the kitchen/do dishes from dinner. Hubby and I also do a quick nightly cleanup where we throw away any trash and pick up any loose ends.
After the kids are in bed, Chris and I have some unwind time. We usually veg out on some YouTube videos, play a game, or just hang out for a while.
I finish my night with working on blog posts, writing emails, editing YouTube videos, creating printables and all of the other things that go into running this site and our channel. I love to go to sleep early (we’re talking like 8 pm), BUT I usually try to stay up until around 9 or 10 to get a nice work session in.
Routines & Learned Responsibility
Those routines are just what work best for us. Regardless, figure out what that flow looks like for YOUR family.
The main point is to get routines down and help your kids learn them. Doing so means your children learn another layer of responsibility and maturity. Plus you’re setting them up for a lifetime of positive and healthy routines.
I also found that letting my kids be in control of their own routine gave them a sense of accomplishment and lessened the amount of early morning/nightly whining that was usually involved in our day.
Keeping it All Straight (Without Constant Prompting)
Even if your child is too young to read, they’ll likely do well with visual cues. That’s why I created cue cards for my kids, along with a checklist to boost that sense of accomplishment as they mark off each task.
And I want to share them with you.
If you’d like these printables for free, you can download them by subscribing below.
Subscribing also means you get the password to our free resource library which houses any printable or other resource that I create!
Inside: Over 70 ideas for helping your child build fine motor skills
Psst.. Just an honest DISCLOSURE: Some links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. That means (at NO additional cost to you) if you click them and make a purchase, I receive a small portion of the profit.
We know that fine motor skills are important for our children’s development and precursors to writing and other hand-related tasks. (And as homeschooling mommas, we don’t want to grade super sloppy papers because of a lack of fine motor coordination!)
So here are some great ideas for helping our kids build and improve their fine motor skills.
70+ Fine Motor Activities for Your Child
Let’s break them down into categories, starting with more simple tasks and building up to the more complex skills.
NOTE: Everything is more fun with a playful story to go along with WHY they’re doing the activity. Be silly/creative where you can, and make it a game!
Pinching is one of the very first fine motor skills that young children can learn (and it’s a precursor to several other categories of fine motor skills). It involves grasping something between the thumb and index finger.
A good way to introduce pinching includes sorting small objects by picking them up and placing them into containers. (If you don’t have your child put it into a container, it’s likely they may just slide them into groups instead of actually picking them up.) Sorting makes up a big chunk of activities on this list, but there are other beneficial ways to practice pinching as well.
Sort gel beads (like Orbeez) based on color
Sort glass gems by color
Stick skewers into a Styrofoam block then have your child sort beads by color onto the different skewers
Pluck pom-pom balls out of a wire whisk
Pull objects out of slime and sort them by shape or color
Pop bubble wrap
Stretch small rubber hair bands onto popsicle sticks
Stretch small rubber hair bands onto a spiky ball
Stick paperclips onto toilet paper rolls
Sort buttons by color into cups with slots
Sort assorted index cards by color into a box with colored slots
Hammer pegs or golf tees into a Play-Doh mound or styrofoam block (while pinching peg between fingers)
Put Cheerios (or other small object) into a water bottle
Threading involves both pinching and some hand-eye cooridnation to get the string/rope/etc. through the hole.
Thread pool noodle pieces (Parents: chop up some pool noodles, get shoe string or rope, and have your child string the short noodles onto the rope. Depending on age, you could also have them make patterns with different colors.)
Letter/number ordering with pool noodles (Parents: write letters/numbers onto pool noodle pieces with a Sharpie and do the same as above, having your child thread them in order)
String beads on twine to make a necklace
String penne or macaroni on twine to make a necklace
When you feel your child is ready and they can properly hold a pencil, it’s time to let them trace! But it doesn’t just have to be pencil and paper. Since kids learn best through play, let them toy with as many different ways of “tracing” as they can.
Use a Qtip & paint to dot-trace letters
Shape Play-Doh into letters on letter mats
Use fettuccine noodles to trace straight patterns, letters & numbers
Use dry-erase markers to trace patterns, letters & numbers on sheets in slip-covers
Inside: Insight on giving kids responsibility and how it contributes to the family culture we’re creating
*inhale & sigh*
I love the sound of busy little feet in the morning.
Not just because it means I’m not the only one tidying up. But because what my kids are doing is actually teaching them important lessons and strengthening our family culture.
What is Family Culture?
It’s kind of a buzz word in the parenting community in recent years, so it’s likely you’ve heard of it.
Family culture is a family’s unique blend of values, ideals, attitudes, and traditions. It’s what gives structure to the identity of your family. How your family operates in day-to-day life is shaped and given context by your family culture.
That’s why it’s so important.
Your family culture signals to your children what’s expected of them and what it means to be a part of your family. Without it, there’s no real cohesive vision, and it’s harder for a child to know how to make choices that are in line with the family norm. But with a family culture, children become more firmly rooted. It makes it easier for them to discern what’s right and wrong in light of their family’s beliefs and values.
It’s just one more way of training them up.
For more on creating family culture, check out this post from Rachel over at a Mother Far From Home.
Where Responsibility and Family Culture Intersect
opportunity for independence
cultivating new abilities
room for confidence to bloom
So what does that have to do with family culture?
It truly all depends on the type of family culture you’re going for. But in our home, one of life’s treasures we want to teach our kids about work.
That sometimes it’s hard, but you’ll reap the rewards. That working toward a common goal with those you love is good for the soul. That we sometimes have to do things we don’t want to do. That we share one another’s burdens. That some of the most telling lessons we can learn about ourselves are learned through working. And not giving up. That nothing is too hard when broken up into bite-sized pieces.
Maybe all that sounds a little idealized. But they’re lessons that took me way too long to learn. I’d rather instill them in my kids now
How Young is Too Young?
Like my youngest daughter’s most beloved cartoon character, Daniel Tiger, our family believes “everyone is big enough to do something.”
Obviously, babies would be excluded from this. But starting between the ages of 15 months and 2 years (depending on communication ability), kids can start to have small responsibilities. As simple as putting toys into a bin or being “in charge” of mommy’s shopping list while they ride in the grocery cart, there’s always something that can be done to give small children a sense of having their own role to play.
Not Empty Praise
The key is to choose a job that’s truly helpful for your child to do, especially once they hit age 2 or 3. Before then, giving them responsibilities is more about getting them used to having their own role and kindling their excitement about being a contributing member of the family.
But as they grow, they begin to realize what’s truly helpful for the whole and what’s not. Empty praise won’t cut it anymore. Only divvying out tiny roles for them will begin to make them feel, well… small.
Instead, we try to think of all the things that truly NEED to be done in our family. That way, even if we choose a fairly small role, it isn’t something that’s just invented for them to do. They’re actually pitching in by following through with their responsibility.
Another gem from Daniel Tiger: Everyone’s job is important. We all help in different ways!
Choosing What’s Age-Appropriate
It can be a little tricky to nail down what duties fit your child’s age and abilities. You don’t want to choose anything overly difficult that would discourage them, but it can also be beneficial to give them at least one or two tasks that are a challenge.
At first, I was TERRIBLE at this. I had my 3-year-old (at the time) trying to vacuum… and our Shark was bigger than she was. She had fun, but it wasn’t necessarily the most helpful idea.
It takes some time and fine-tuning. Tweaking and experimenting. But now they (mostly) have responsibilities that fit well.
For some ideas on age-appropriate responsibilities for you kids, check out this post over on Focus on the Family.
Successfully Introducing New Responsibilities
Of course, if this is something new (especially if their proposed responsibilities are less than exciting), kids may be resistant to the idea of taking on accountability. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
It’s all in the delivery
Like with a lot of things, the delivery is important.
Enforcing responsibility doesn’t have to come with an iron fist. Remember why we’re doing this: to strengthen family culture. Not create power struggles.
Some things aren’t optional
This may seem like it’s in direct opposition to my last statement, but it’s actually not. While I’m all for parenting gently, it’s also true that sometimes things aren’t optional. (Again, delivery is important. There’s a line between firm and harsh.)
Even if my kids don’t want to do something, as their mom, I know what’s good for them. They may dislike it some days. But this is one of those areas where I stand my ground.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
Building healthy and positive habits (and creating family culture) takes time. It may not go smoothly for the first day or two. Or even the first week or two. But you’re plowing soil and instilling important lessons in your kids. It’ll get there. Don’t give up!
What responsibilities do your children have? How do they contribute to your family culture? I’d love to hear from you, so comment below!
Until next time,
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