By Malissa Custer
We all hear this, what seems to be a hundred times a day! Why does the sky need clouds? What happens if you lose all your blood? Why can’t we have a hockey rink in our yard this summer?
These questions require a lot of dialogue, and it can be fun to learn about things together and make your kids continue to think deeper than they need to. For the most part I love this, unless I’m trying to get something done… then it is super annoying! Along with making you think, they will also call you on things you do that don’t make sense. They definitely put you on the spot, and sometimes the classic “because” is the only answer I’ve got. So often, it gets me thinking, “Why do I do that?” and it will end up that it is just the way I’ve been doing it since I was a kid.
So much of how we parent our children can just be what comes naturally, which is to do what our parents did. This is a great thing, when we are talking about our parents’ strengths, but a detriment, when we are talking about their weaknesses. What are our hobbies and interests? So often, we develop a love for something just because our dad loved to do it. Why do we love a certain food? Well, because Mom made it, and it reminds me of her.
So many people in Bible Baptist Church have the church campground deeply woven into their childhood, which of course, makes it easy for them to pass on that love to their children. For me it is not quite that easy. My most enduring memory of the camp is 8 years ago, going to the bathroom in the middle of the night and finding that I was sharing the facilities with a very large moth. To say that I had a hard time embracing the place is an understatement. When I was working full-time, it was exhausting to drive out and back forth every night. When my kids were babies, it was SO much work, and it interrupted their nap schedule, and I just ended up sitting in the nursery a lot. I remember wondering how could this be worth it?! A few years ago, I felt very convicted about this subject. There were people testifying of how Family Camp had changed their life, how they had received Christ there, while some others wished they could still go every year, but couldn’t because of distance. It made me take a step back and wonder why I didn’t like it (there were plenty of logical reasons, including that moth) and if that was the best for my family. Of course, it wasn’t, and I decided that year to shift my focus, and remind myself that it was only 1 week, and all the extra dirt and work were worth it for my kids: a place away from the world to play; people willingly teaching your kids while you soak up some much needed parent-focused preaching; blessing and encouraging each other in conversation, while pushing the kids on the swings; laughing around a campfire; playing games in the dining hall; good, old-fashioned competition.
When I decided I wasn’t going to focus on the bugs and bathrooms, things went much better. I want my kids to have this be part of every summer, and think of it every Fourth of July. I want my kids to be surrounded by other kids whose parents are on the same wavelength. I want my kids in as much preaching as is available. I want my kids hiding God’s Word in their hearts. I want my kids saturated with truth. I want my kids saved someday. So, fellow moms, if you are like me, I encourage you to embrace Family Camp, and prepare to be blessed! Remember, it is the only place in the world where culottes are cool!
Offense or Defense
By Barb Russell
I’m not sure I even knew the definition of offense and defense until I started watching my boys play basketball. I watched as the defense players REACTED to whatever the offense threw their way. The offense seemed to be IN CHARGE of the ball and “called the shots”. Sometimes I would hear the “lead” offense player call out “5,” or some other number, and right away each player on the offense team seemed to know the path the ball was supposed to take.
I couldn’t help but think that being a mom is a lot like playing basketball. The days I played defense seemed to be the ones where I didn’t have a plan, so I just reacted to whatever my children “threw my way.” The offense days took planning, but they were far more relaxing, because I was in charge and “called the shots.” And just like basketball, a plan of action takes practice! I couldn’t give up on my schedule, just because it didn’t run smoothly the first week I tried it!
My goal was for all of us to work as a team. As the mom, it was my responsibility to have a plan, set the plan in action, and then teach my children to follow. I thought how disturbing it must be for children to feel like they are on the defense and not part of the team. They never know what to expect, so they just react to whatever happens. I know I didn’t like it when I would start a new job and I didn’t know exactly what I was supposed to do. It was very unsettling, and often caused me to feel ill. I believe children can feel the same way, when there is very little structure or a routine.
I had a routine for each child, starting as young as 2 years old. Get up (have some needed cuddle time), make bed, get dressed, put pajamas away, eat breakfast, have Bible time, do household chores, structured activities, and then whatever yard work or chores Dad put on the list! I learned that if my children worked WITH me, then I wasn’t always breaking up a fight or cleaning up a mess they were making. Play time was more exciting when it wasn’t something they were allowed to do ALL DAY LONG.
When my children reached school age, since I home-schooled, the schedule became more detailed. I figured if they went to “real school,” they would have a set time for everything, and I didn’t want to raise lazy, undisciplined home-schoolers. Every hour was planned and written down: morning chores, school subjects, music lesson practice, lunch, recess, afternoon chores, etc. They knew that at any given hour I could look at their schedule and know what they were doing (or supposed to be doing!) A schedule leaves no room for excuses like, “I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.”
When children KNOW the plan and have a routine, not only learn responsibility, but they are more likely to feel secure… and Mom isn’t run ragged trying to keep everyone in line! A schedule can help to provide a relaxing day and things get done! There is even time to play a game, have a picnic, go to the park, have friends over, or be a blessing to someone.
Sometimes, it can be difficult to find the balance between being the “Keeper at Home,” which should be our first priority, and leaving the house to serve others. We may find ourselves unable to have a schedule or a routine, because we are so busy “running”. Serving others INSTEAD of our family is an easy trap to fall into, because sometimes, we can feel more appreciated doing things for others than we can by serving our own family. On the flip side, we can become so self-focused and “tied to our schedule,” that we refuse to be flexible in order to serve others. Like I said, it is a learned balance.
Home should be a peaceful place where our children WANT to be. It doesn’t need to be chaotic. Yes, life is busy and full of work and responsibility, but we can strive to make our home a happy place to be! Life responsibilities are different for every mother, so I encourage you to take the time to make a plan that works best for YOUR family. “She looketh well to the ways of her household and eateth not the bread of idleness.” Prov. 31:27