By Malissa Custer
Life is busy. Chaotic. There is always a valid excuse for letting something slide. Recently, the kids all got a wicked cold – the worst I’ve ever seen. When my kids get sick, I get really soft about quite a few things. I don’t require them to clean their plates, I don’t demand as much self-control, I allow them to watch videos or listen to stories more than they should, I clean up their rooms and put their clothes away for them, and discipline is more lax. Unfortunately, after they start feeling better I’m frustrated because the balance is off, and the kids are terrible because they only ever do what is required. It is like this giant uphill battle that is twice as hard because we rode the slippery slide of inconsistency all the way to the bottom of the hill. I lose my patience, I’m annoyed and short-tempered, and I caused it all myself!
I’ve also had a bit of a hard time being consistent in discipline with Mr. Terrible Toddler, because of homeschool. Every day, the morning and early afternoon are fully occupied with educating the older two, and then running around to activities and making sure the rest of the house is operating like it should. Sometimes, a small fit gets ignored, because my focus is fully taken by whatever task I’m doing. The next fit is bigger – every time – and it’s completely my fault. Now, it is actually taking more of my time and focus to stop everything and take care of the giant issue, rather than a small correction, earlier on.
What is the solution? What is my plan? What are my priorities? How can I manage all this without being Mad Mom all the time? Where is success? I needed to sit down and take the mind space to think about it, and come up with a manageable solution.
Priorities. What was most important to be consistent about? Here’s the list I came up with for my family:
Discipline- Most important and affects every other area of their life, especially salvation.
Self-Control- Are they keeping their emotions in check? Are they setting aside their own feelings to be kind to others or respectful of their mom?
School- I must be present and aware of everything going on with their schooling. What am I demanding of them? Are they lazy or not understanding? Check what they do. Help them study without being crabby.
Entertainment- Have set parameters so that they know not to even ask, and I know not to give in. If they do earn a video, make sure it is completely clean.
Cleanliness- Are their rooms clean? Do they do their chores without being told? Are they forming good habits?
Food- Do they eat what they are told? Am I making them healthy, balanced meals?
While I was thinking about it all, I had to also think about what was keeping me from consistency.
When I am consistent in my job as Mom, I am a much nicer person. When my focus is right, I’m not impatient with my kids. When I am disciplining correctly, my children are not bratty and annoying. I need to simplify to keep from being frustrated. If I live a life of inconsistency, my children will view me as mean instead of loving, even if that is not my intention.
I’m not imagining that we are all the same, and that my list should easily be picked up by every mother and applied. We are all different and we all struggle with different things. My only reason for writing it all out and sharing it is with hopes that it will make you think, and make us all better moms. No regrets.
“Who Moved Jesus?”
By Barb Russell
I will never forget my husband’s and my first Christmas together as a married couple. Bringing together a Northern girl and a West Virginia man…well, let’s just say our ideas didn’t exactly “go together.” As my sister so accurately stated, “I did not know there were two ways to decorate a Christmas tree!”
Yes, my husband and I had very different ideas and opinions about Christmas. Finally, after several years, I thought, why should this be such a big deal?! It’s just a tree, or a gift, or a nativity scene. Does it really matter how the tree is decorated, how the gifts are wrapped, or where the figurines are placed in the nativity scene?
Some families I knew had a “theme” tree; not us! My husband let our kids hang their little paper ornaments and shiny cardboard stars that they had made in Sunday School. Sometimes, I felt our tree looked sloppy, but as I watched our children’s eyes twinkle while hanging the ornaments they made, I was thankful my husband was allowing our kids to create heart-felt memories.
After our children were out of the toddler stage, my husband used the time that I was away at the Ladies’ Christmas party for him and the kids to put up the tree and decorate. This worked out great! Daddy had fun with the kids, Mommy came home to beautiful decorations, and our children were delighted to surprise Mommy!
If I am not careful, it is very easy for me to dislike the Christmas season. All the decorating and rearranging of the house, the baking, the gifts, parties, caroling, hay rides, concerts, programs, recitals…Everything can become so overwhelming and stressful! I learned to be thankful that I had a husband who was excited about the Christmas season and wanted to decorate and make it special for our children.
As the boys got older, they did not always share their dad’s enthusiasm for Christmas decorating, and they certainly did not care if they hung their paper ornaments or shiny cardboard stars! But Christmas was still a very special time in our family.
It saddens me when I hear of young adults who want nothing to do with Christmas because all they can remember is fighting. I know Christmas isn’t about decorating trees or giving gifts, but it was one way of showing our children love. As they got older, we were able to share with them the greatest love and the best gift given to mankind, that of God sending His Son, Jesus, to earth to save us from our sin.
The one thing the kids knew they did not touch was the manger scene. It was made by their Grandma Russell, and was very fragile. And besides that, their dad was very particular on how it was displayed. ☺ When the kids became teenagers, my oldest son, being the practical joker that he is, decided to tamper with the manger scene. We were all getting ready for bed when all of a sudden we heard my husband call out, “Who moved Jesus?!” Startled at such a question, my daughter and I looked at each other in bewilderment. Not knowing exactly how to respond I stated, “Well, the last I heard He was seated at the right hand of God.” My husband did not share the humor! My son, on the other hand, had a mischievous grin on his face, obviously quite pleased with himself that he had gotten the reaction from his father he was hoping for!
Sometimes, I can get so focused on all the activities surrounding the Christmas season that I “move Jesus” right out of the picture; and He’s the One I am supposed to be celebrating! Every year, even though our daughter is married and has a child of her own, she still comes over to help her dad set up the tree and decorate. And at some point during the Christmas season, we all get a good laugh when someone shouts out, “Who moved Jesus?!” It is a great reminder for me to “keep Jesus” in all my Christmas celebration!