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Teaching Kids About Money and Hard Work

5 Dec

I had a discussion with another parent recently and something she said has been on my mind.  We were talking about what is the “going rate” to pay babysitters these days and she said, “My problem is just finding a babysitter.  Too many teenagers these days could care less because they just get the money they need from their parents.”  This statement made me sad.  I too have been surprised lately with the lacking desire in teens to earn money.  I was always doing whatever I could to earn money as a kid, and had a job of some sort from the age of 12 all through college.  I’ve done more babysitting than I could ever count, I’ve done the fast food thing, I’ve worked in health care, I’ve worked in retail, custodial, and the list goes on and on.   Although a lot of it was hard work, I have fond memories at almost  all of the jobs I have had; they are a part of my history.

Granted, I had more financial responsibility starting at the age of 12 than I would wish on any teenager (bought my own clothing and paid my own school fees starting in junior high), but I’m so grateful for the experiences that I had and what they taught me.  I have a teacher for a husband and our income is pretty limited, but that doesn’t limit me from having some things that I want.  For example, I hated our teeny couch that we got when we were first married.  It barely fit the two of us and company never had a place to sit when they came over.  I really, really wanted a brand new beautiful sectional that I saw at a store.  Did our income allow for it?  No.  But my experience as a teen taught me that if I want something bad enough I can work for it.  So I started selling my belongings and saving up.  And believe it or not I purchased that $1000 couch after only a few months (I’m sitting on it right now and I still love it).  The same thing occurred with our Blendtec blender.  My husband would never agree that $400 of our paycheck should go to a high-tech blender, but it was important to me (I’m a green smoothie fan) so I found a way to make money and purchase one.

MoneyTeaching

Enough about my history, this is about the kids.  I’ve been brainstorming ways to teach children to manage and respect money, and these are my thoughts.  I’d love to hear yours as well!

Allowance?  I agree as well as disagree with certain principles in regards to an allowance.  I believe that children should understand that they are part of something larger than themselves: a family; and that as a family member you have a part to play and that means a little hard work here and there.  It is my personal opinion that chores are done without expectation of “getting” something in return, but that anything “extra” could be used for earning opportunities.  I liked how my best friend’s family did it growing up.  They had their personal chores that they were expected to accomplish, and then on the backside of one of the cabinet doors was a list of various extra chores as well as how much they could earn doing them.  I remember earning some money myself by swatting flies when I was at their house (Ha, I believe each fly was worth 5 or 10 cents)!

For kids 5 yrs and above:  Use real money for allowance

Under 5:  Get fake coins for them to earn for behavior and various tasks, and let them redeem them at the “treasure box.”  Just make sure the coins are big enough not to be a choking hazard!

Teach your children that sometimes you must give up something good for something greater.  Planning a family trip to Disneyland?  Rather than just taking them, have a valuable learning experience along the way.  Teach them ways that you can save as a family to allow more money to go towards the trip.  Maybe they can give up certain luxuries from the grocery store for a few months (No Oreos? what?).  How about washing the car by hand as a family rather than going to the express wash?  Even if your family is financially blessed, your children will be greatly blessed in the future if they learn these valuable lessons.

Don’t give into begging or you are creating a repeat-issue.  If your children automatically know they need to earn the things that they want, they will beg less often.  Another couple that my husband and I are good friends with uses this principle when they go to Disneyland.  They noticed the first time they went that their children begged all day for souvenir after souvenir.  The next year, they planned ahead of time.  For several months before the trip they gave their children opportunities to earn “Disney Bucks,” and the children understood that the only souvenirs they could buy must be purchased with Disney Bucks.  When they left on the trip their Disney Bucks were turned in and replaced with real dollars.  These parents were amazed that their children no longer had interest in every little thing; rather, they wanted to wait and make sure their Disney Bucks were spent on their most favorite items.  They became a lot more conscious of what they thought they “wanted.”  We think it’s a great idea and plan on doing it for our Disney trips too.  Since then I have found these printable “Disney Bucks,” that are super cute in case you don’t want to make your own.

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Let your children make “bad” financial decisions.  Don’t like the toy they want to buy?  Know without a doubt that it will break within 2 days?  Let them buy it.  That doesn’t mean you can counsel and give advice, but it’s better for your children to make poor financial decisions while they are young and learn from them, then to start the learning when they are adults.  Make sure to have follow-up discussions after certain purchases so that your children can start to recognize bad, good and better ways to spend their money.

Let them learn with you.  Don’t be afraid to let your children know how you handle the bills, or prioritize your shopping list, or calculate the tip at the restaurant.  Once again, the earlier they learn the better.

Let them explore money earning opportunities.  Dreading the lemonade stand?  Would rather just give them some money?  Don’t do it. Those moments are valuable.  Let your children do the lemonade stands and the bake sales and be a part of their learning process by doing it with them!  I remember as a kid sitting at the corner with my lemonade stand and counting in my head how many cups of lemonade I needed to sale to make $10.  When sales didn’t approach my goal, I grabbed my 10 gallon dispenser and started going door to door!  Granted, my mother had no idea which is why it’s a good idea to be part of the process so that your kids make safe decisions.  Because of the many lemonade stands I attempted as a kid I have a rule as an adult that as long as I have change in my wallet I will stop at EVERY lemonade stand that I pass.  It brings back old memories and just feels good to support the children with drive!

Yard Sales and Classifieds.  Yard sales are another drudgery among parents, but they are great learning experiences for kids especially if you let them sell some of their own items.  I have a hard time bartering for a lower price when I know that a kid is selling the item personally.  I also love it when I get onto Craigslist and see listings for a toy with the description, “my child is exploring ways to earn money and wants to sell some of her toys.”  Beautiful!

I will add to this list later, but these are just some of the ideas I have been thinking about.  What do you do to teach your children about money?  I’d love to hear!

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Where Did the Time Go? A Poem For My Daughter

26 Nov

We celebrated my daughter’s first birthday this last week and my thoughts have been trying to memorize the past year in fear that I might someday forget it.  Being a mother is …. well I’ve typed and retyped the ending to that phrase several times and just can’t get it right.  It’s wonderful and magical and crazy all at the same time.  There are moments that feel like they will never end and moments that end far too soon.  Right now I am feeling the “far too soon” part.  Being a mom is so incredible.

Here are a few pictures of our celebration and a little poem I wrote to my baby.

Letters To Santa

5 Nov

My recent post on Fun Christmas Traditions got me in the mood to make a Santa letter outline.  Growing up, my mom always had us make a “wish list” if that’s what you want to call it, but it took a different focus that ordinary lists.  She made sure we understood that we very possibly wouldn’t get anything from our list (she didn’t make much as a single mom), but that it was a way to help Santa get to know us better.  It included our interests, hobbies, dreams and goals.  It also had our favorite colors and what each of our sizes were.  There were times that good friends insisted on helping my mother with Christmas, and having copies of these lists really helped others get to know our family’s needs.  It was also great for our sibling gift exchange, because we could look up the name we had that year in the family Christmas binder for tips and ideas on what would make a special gift.

I want to continue that tradition in my own family, so I created a “letter to Santa” formatted to the way I like it.  It includes needs, wants, favorites, current sizes, etc. I also included a section for asking Santa a fun question such as, “What do you feed your reindeer?”  The back of the letter can be used for additional details or for drawing Santa a picture.

Feel free to print for personal use.  I included a blank version as well.  If you would like to have Santa write a letter back, you can make the letter yourself, or get it from here, here, or here.

The free digital scrapbook paper I used is from here and here.

Click to enlarge or print.

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A Mother’s Best Friend

25 Sep

I firmly believe that prayer is a mother’s best friend.  As a first time mom, it’s been neat to feel how much God is a part of my child’s life.  There is a certain peace that I feel that tells me that as long as I am doing my best and asking for God’s help, he will make up for the areas that I lack.  I love having him as a partner in parenting.

When I was in college I started something called a “prayer journal” for a summer.  I wanted to make my prayers more sincere and focused, so I started journaling before I would pray every night to kind of bring my mind to the right place.  Something incredible happened from this experience:  I noticed my prayers were being answered far more than I realized.  Too often I think we pray for little things, God answers them, but we forget that we prayed for it in the first place and as a result we withhold our thanks.

Now that I am a mom I have had prayer on my mind again.  How many times has God answered my little prayers and I have forgotten? I thought it would be neat to start again with a prayer journal but continue it throughout motherhood.  Maybe one day I will compile the sections that pertain to each child and give it to them when they are older.  How cool would it be to know about every prayer your mother said pertaining to you?  What if you saw the following entry:

“Please bless _____ that she will find some friends.  We just moved into a new neighborhood and I can tell that she longs for a good friend.”   A few days later…..  “Thank you for helping my daughter find _____.  I can tell they have a lot in common and will make great friends for each other.”

Or, “Please bless ______ that he will feel better.  It breaks my heart to see him so sick.”

Miracles and answered prayers happen so often but we naturally forget them as time passes (or at least I do).  It would be cool to look back on all the blessings received from the Lord, as well as prayers that didn’t get answered the way we wanted them to and how the blessings were found after time had passed.

This is the format that my prayer journal takes:

In the first part I try to list as many things as possible that I am grateful for.  I once heard, “If tomorrow you only had what you thanked God for yesterday, would you have much?”  I love that thought.  Gratitude is a powerful life tool.  Second, I try to notice specific answers to prayer, or different things that show the hand of God in my life that day.  This could be as simple as helping me to be  positive to a particular situation, helping me remember an appointment, or as big as healing me of sickness.  Whatever it is I try to be on the lookout for what God has done for me.  Next is people to pray for.  This is fun because it also gets me in the habit of thinking throughout the day who could use a prayer.  Sometimes it ends up being someone I don’t even know from a news article I read that day, or someone I just met.  Next is short term requests.  This would be things that I am wanting help with this day, week, and sometimes month (example: help me have enough energy to accomplish what I need done tomorrow).  Long term requests are typically a month or longer (example: help me pay off my debts).  Another section that would be good to add would be “My Part in Receiving Answers to my Prayer,” to help me remember to do my part!

What are some things you do to make your prayers more meaningful?

How has prayer helped you as a mother?

Shout Out to Moms. Fun Parenting Tips and Meaningful Marriage principles

18 Sep

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I was organizing downstairs and I came across one of my notebooks from college where I had written some of my favorite quotes and ideas for marriage and family. I had this quote written down about being a super mom and decided to make it into subway art and put it in my room since I love it so much. The original quote is from a talk by Ezra Taft Benson and it says:

“she will have the countenance of Christ for her beauty, the peace of Christ to support her emotionally, the Savior’s example as a means to solve her problems and to strengthen her, and the love of Christ as the source of love for herself, her family, and those about her.”

It was also fun to read the different parenting and marriage advice that I had listed in this notebook because I took this class before I was married. I thought it would be fun to list what I had written. Let me know if any of these ideas have worked for you or if you have some better ones!

*When you can, use parent-child activities as a reward for your children rather than food/toys

* Write about your child in a journal during your pregnancy with them and give it as a gift when they are older

*Find alternatives to yelling (like humor) if you want your children to learn. When you yell at your children they have no time to self reflect because they are exerting all of their energy protecting themselves or being mad at you. As you feel the anger bubbling, rather than yell use that energy to excitedly say something like, “I’m so excited for you! You must be wanting an opportunity to learn how to be nice to your sister!” Or an opportunity to learn hard work, or respect, or whatever brought on the behavior.

*SPECIFICALLY praise your children multiple times a day! (“You were so creative to come up with that idea!” Rather than “You are awesome!”). Also praise them in front of other people, especially if they think you don’t know they’re listening.

* Attack the problem, not the child. Always make sure they know they are loved.

* Have “brag time” with your kids. The rule: they have to brag about each other. This gives siblings a chance to brag about each other and uplift each other

* Ask your kids these two questions before they go to bed:

1. What was your happiest thing today?

2. What did you do for God today?

* Set an alarm for their curfew. This keeps you from staying up and losing sleep. If they make it home on time, they sneak in and turn off the alarm, if they don’t…the alarm goes off and you know to wait up for your child.

*If kid’s are having a hard time falling asleep, pull out the “magic pillow” (has a special pillowcase) that “magically” puts kids to sleep. If you have kids that are scared of monsters, have a spray bottle with water labeled “monster spray.” Spray the room before they go to sleep.

*Use humor to discipline your children! “If you’re going to argue you have to do it laying on your back,” or “If you’re going to argue you have to sing your argument (opera) style outside!”

*Don’t shield your kids from parental arguments. It’s good for children to see their parents disagree so that they know that disagreements are normal, just make sure to resolve arguments in a healthy way so that they learn how to resolve conflicts. One family had a “push up kisses” rule. If the kids saw their parents arguing, they could yell “push up kisses!” and the mom had to get on the floor and dad had to do push ups and kiss mom every time he goes down for a push up (allow humor in resolving conflicts).

*Kids that keep getting out of bed: As kids are going to bed give them certain privileges like a night-light or lamp, the door ajar, and music or a book on tape. Each time they get out of bed you say, “Sure! you can get up and get a drink…which are you going to give up first? The lamp, the story, or the open door?” Or another family that I know just has each kid keep a water bottle by their bed.

*Kids that refuse to wear their seatbelts: Teach, don’t control. Slow down to less than 15 MPH and BRAKE! Teach them that it’s a matter of safety so they don’t get hurt.

*Kids that are consistently unfair to each other: Next time they get in trouble, let them choose each other’s consequences. If they are unfair and choose something very difficult for each other, say: “congratulations! You did such a good job, you just picked your own consequence!” In the example given, the brother suggested that his sister should be grounded for a week and the sister decided to choose something equally painful for her brother. As a result, they both ended up with the consequence they intended for each other.

*Have a “blessings” jar. It could be for misbehaving, whining, hitting, etc. When the behavior shows up, have them pick a paper out of the blessing jar. On each paper is a task listed that they get to do to “bless” mom (could be dusting, or other tasks).

*Let your children decide natural consequences. Sometimes kids know better than you do what would help them learn a certain principle. One family I knew gave their children the chance to come up with a natural consequence if they misbehaved. You could say something like “I have a consequence in mind…but what do you think would be fair?” Make sure they know that they automatically get yours if they don’t come up with a good enough one the first time. This usually turns in the parent’s favor.

*Fighting in the Car. Rather than yelling or repeating 5 million times “if you don’t stop I am going to pull this car over!” try telling them ahead of time what the consequence is going to be. “If you don’t get along I will pull over and knit until you stop.” When they fight, don’t say anything, just pull over and start knitting. It won’t last long.

OR…I had a friend do this but it’s not something I would personally have the heart to do. Her kids always fought in the car and never believed her when she said she would turn the car around and go home. So one time she told the whole family they were going to Disneyland, but that there was to be no fighting or she would turn the car around and they would go home (She of course was not planning on actually going there because she knew a fight would start within five minutes). Sure enough, the fight started and she turned around and took them home. She said there were a lot of tears that day, but they believed her from that moment on.

*Don’t “overfeed” your children and “starve” your marriage. Make sure your children know that your first loyalty is to your spouse. Always back each other up in front of your children. If you don’t agree with a rule that is enforced with the children, talk about it privately rather than undermine each other. My husband and I started this fun idea that we recently heard: set a time that is just for you two. For us it is 8:30 after Kinley is in bed. This is a time to sit, snack, whatever…but without distractions. This is a time to just talk and hear about each other’s day.

*This goes along with the first, but continue dating after you are married. Take time away just the two of you each week. It doesn’t have to cost money, but plan for it and make sure it always happens! Here is a cute blog post on some fun date nights to have at home.

*We have this mistaken idea that the best way to “help” someone improve is to criticize them. The opposite is true. We are motivated by praise. When we were first married, I remember I was having a bad day and I proceeded to say, “I’m sorry for complaining…” and my husband responded with the words, “complain? Yeah right. I’ve never heard you complain about anything.” He was sincere in his compliment and it motivated me to want to stay that way; whereas, if the statement had been, “why can’t you stop complaining?” there would have been little motivation present. That’s how we are as humans. We want to continually do what makes others happy.

*distinguishing between preferences and principles takes humility. Just because you like something a certain way doesn’t mean it’s the only way to live.

*Pray for your spouse. Not only is it special for your spouse to hear you pray about them, it helps you remember all the reasons why you love him/her. In your personal prayers, ask, “what can I do to make my spouse’s life less frustrating?”

*Communication is more an attitude than a skill. Too many people say things like “My husband comes from a family that doesn’t know how to communicate” and continue to blame the problems on him. Good communication more often comes from two people ready and willing to find a solution than from two people with a communications degree.

*Rather than feeling shame for our weaknesses, we can rejoice as they lead us to true humility and greater dependence on God. Rather than try to defend yourself, delight in the opportunity to learn and become a better person. There should be no shame in recognizing an area in our life that we can improve on.

*Always say “I Love YOU.”

*Do something EVERY DAY to express genuine affection and appreciation. Appreciation is the gas that keeps marriages going. Let your spouse know how much you love and appreciate them often. Don’t let what’s missing discolor everything

*Love your Husband and you will love yourself! (Ephesians 5:28)

* Make it a goal to never attack or call names. Be hard on the problem and easy on the person.

*Remember that crisis is composed of two symbols: one representing danger, and the other opportunity. Trials and challenges can either harm or help marriages, depending on how you react to them. Treat each challenge as an opportunity to grow closer to one another.

*Remember that giving up is not the same as compromising

*Agree to disagree!

* Instead of nagging about things you want your spouse to be or do, try becoming it yourself.

*Focus on WHAT is right, now WHO is right.

Now it’s time to hear from you! What would you say is your “best” marriage advice? What skills/principles have most helped you?

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Doorbell ‘Witch’ing Ditching

13 Sep

I have always loved this time of year because I know once October gets here we have SUPER fun holidays to look forward to every month!  I have just been itching to pull out my holiday spirit as the fall weather has started to come in (maybe a little early) and so I whipped up this Halloween flyer to take to the neighbors this year.  We’ve gotten a ghost in past years, but I wanted to mix things up a little bit and I came up with was WITCHING DITCHING!  Come one, just admit it…it’s catchy?

So here’s the deal.  If you like fun things too, print this out and participate!  If you are just not really in for fun (what?!), chances are your kids are so print it out anyway!  Make a treat and ditch the witch! This is the poem that goes along with it:

Along with the following instructions:

1.  Enjoy the treats that were left for you

2.  Print out or copy 2 copies of the witch

3.  Send her on her way to 2 new homes, before she leaves you with a curse!

Click HERE to view full size and print.  If you’d prefer a black and white version, go here.

I’ve also been pinning some super cute and fun Halloween treats that would be fun to drop off for this activity, and there are a lot of them that require absolutely no baking, so feel free to check out my board for some ideas!

What are some fun Halloween traditions that you do in your family?  Now that I’m a parent I want to start some new ones.  What are some that you have heard of that you would like to try?

Printable Quiet Book

29 Aug

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Finally.  Remember this?  Well….after many,many long hours and some professional design I own two quiet books that I absolutely LOVE!  I just put them in my Etsy shop, but I would like to give a couple away to my readers for free!  Keep in mind my blog is a fairly new one so your chances of winning are very, very, good (in fact depending on how things go I will probably give away several).  So here is how you enter the contest:

I hate contests that make you do multiple things that usually involve bugging your friends on Facebook, so no worries…there will be NONE of that.  All you have to do is pin or re-pin this post on Pinterest.  After you have done that, comment on this post: paste the Pinterest link as well as which quiet book you are interested in:  Farm life or Bible.  That’s it!  Contest ends a week from now: Wednesday, September 5th.

UPDATE!  This contest is going again for 3 more winners!  Ends Nov 15th.  You can also win one by commenting on this post.

Good luck and happy pinning!

If you don’t have a pinterest account, you can share this blog post on your OWN Facebook wall.

Here’s a mini sample of the pages (there are also 8 sticker/cutout pages that go with each page):

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I hired my friend Hillary to do the Farm Life version.  She’s awesome; if you need wedding announcements or other design work, contact her!