Doing hard things is well… hard. And none of us ENJOY doing things that are frustrating and hard. But I think deep down we know the value in doing hard things. My good friend introduced me to the quote “I can do hard things” several years ago and now I see printables and cute signs with this saying everywhere. I love it. It is so simple, yet so powerful. What if we all believed that we truly can do hard things? What if our KIDS believed that THEY could do hard things!? How different would attitudes be? In my own household, I know that this single belief would benefit the overall feeling and attitude in our home.
I have one son who is showing very little confidence even at a young age. Which baffles me. Before having my own children, I would have sworn that all kids were confident in themselves and their skills. We’ve all seen a kid say, “watch me!” as they jump over a crack and truly believe that they are the greatest things since sliced bread. Now that I have my own children, I know that there is plenty of that kind of confidence going on, but there is also a lack of the belief that they can do hard things. Since my kids were young, one of my top parenting goals has been to instill a sense of self-confidence in my children. I’m learning that this is harder than I first imagined… but “I can do hard things!”
So how do we teach our children that they can do hard things and in turn, boost their confidence levels? In a world that works incredibly hard at making things easy, this can be a difficult task. I know that there are many times that I have bailed my kids out of hard situations, which is exactly the opposite of what I should do:
-Times that I have taken them a lunch at school when it was forgotten on the counter.
– How many meals have I prepared completely alone simply because it’s easier on me to do it alone, rather than have them in the kitchen helping me and learning how to cook?
-Clean the house and do chores on my own because it is easier and will get done better if I just do it myself.
-Let my kids quite piano lessons and swim team.
I’m sure there are many other examples of ways that I have enabled my children and robbed them of the opportunity to do hard things. So how can we encourage them to do hard things?
1. Tell them they can. “I can do hard things” should be a mantra in every home and should be repeated over and over again. The kids should want to slap us in the face because we remind them of this so often! This is one declaration that can be fitting in every home and family situation. It applies to all of us. There is power in saying something out-loud, so say it and say it often. There are tons of printables out there, so find one you like and have it hanging on your wall. Here is my printable.
2. Let kids fail. This is one of the hardest things for me to do (good thing that I can do hard things, right!?). In many of the parenting books I’ve read, I have learned that it is good for parents to stand back and let kids fail as they are growing up. Even if what they are failing at may seem like a big deal at the time. If we let kids fail while they are young and the risk is low, then they can hopefully learn and not repeat that mistake when they are older and the risk is higher. For example, if we repeatedly bring their homework to them because they left it sitting on their bed when they are in elementary, middle and high school; what is going to happen when they are in college and forget to turn in assignments on time? The consequences of missing a deadline in college are much greater than the consequences in K-12 school. If we see their homework sitting on their bed in 5th grade, we should simply leave it there. Sure our little sweetie might miss recess that day, but isn’t that a good lesson for them to learn to be more responsible? I have yet to master this parenting technique, but I do understand it’s value and I’m working on it.
3. Let kids lose. What!?? This is practically child abuse in today’s world of “everyone gets a medal,” right? Most of us have probably witnessed the tantrum of a child that has lost at something. It’s not pretty. Unfortunately, losing is part of life. We can’t win them all, so we must learn to lose and lose with dignity. It is hard to lose and it’s often easier to let kids win if you have that control of the situation, but it is not helpful in teaching them that they can do hard things! My husband is the best at this. He does not let the kids win at any type of competition they are doing: basketball, board games, football, wrestling, or knowledge of random facts. Most of the time the kids handle this just fine, but there have been tears over losing and he just tells them to buck up. Mom’s are not always as good at this one. Letting kids lose and teaching them how to do it without being a poor sport is tough and never-ending, but it can teach them that they can do hard things.
4. Let kids struggle. This one is most obvious on homework in our home. Kids figure out quickly that it’s easier to say, “I don’t get it” and then zone out as parents try to explain how to do it and wait for the answer. This one is hard for me too to not rush in with an explanation. I’ve found that I do better if I am busy with a task or walk out of the room while they are doing homework so that I’m less inclined to jump in and help at the first sign of stress. Kids need to struggle to figure out a solution. Sometimes the answer isn’t clear or easy and they just need time to work through it. Sit back, remind them that they can do hard things and see what happens.
5. Don’t solve every problem. I tend to be a problem solver. I like to have the answer for everything, but I can see that this does not encourage kids to do hard things. Last night one son was crying and devastated because the other kids were singing along to The Greatest Showman soundtrack. He said it “hurt his feelings when they sang.” I was truly speechless. This was one problem I didn’t know how to solve, so I told him, “well, you can’t make people stop singing, so I’m not sure what to tell you. You are smart and I’m sure you’ll think of someway to solve your problem.” I let him know that I would love to hear what he comes up with. That situation was easy to not resolve, because it was so ‘out there.’ But other problems, like fights with friends for example can be harder to sit back and watch when you know darn well how to fix that problem. Too many times parents step in and try to protect their kid if they believe there is injustice going on, but it is not always helpful for the child. Sure that one problem might get fix, but what about the next and the next. Parents will not always be around to tell the other kid to knock it off. When my daughter is having friend issues, sometimes I tell her a story about a similar situation that happened to me with my friends and how I dealt with it. Or I ask her for her ideas on how to resolve the problem. She usually has good ideas on her own. I have a feeling that this in only going to get harder as a parent as kids get older and problems get worse. But I can do hard things!
6. Give kids responsibility. When they have tasks that they are responsible for they are given the chance to prove to themselves that they can do hard things. Consequences for not doing their responsibilities should be defined and followed through on. As they carry out their responsibility, you can praise them and point out how well they did that hard thing. Household chores are a simple way to do this one. Even the chores that you want done well… let them learn.
7. Remind kids of the times that they have done hard things. Simply pointing out that they’ve done it before can be encouragement that they can do it again. Share your own stories about when you’ve done hard things. Keep these conversations going all the time.
8. Family challenges. Organizing a family challenge is a fun way to show kids that they can do hard things. It might be something like a breakout room (I haven’t tried these yet, but if I understand them right, it would be a good way to do something hard together), or a ropes course. I’ve seen more and more of these lately where you complete a challenging obstacle course together as a team. Another idea might be to set a difficult reading goal, memorize a quote, compete in a race, or any other type of competition your family might enjoy that provides a challenge for the family to overcome.
9. Develop new talents. I instantly think of piano lessons for this one. Why do we all think we must torture our children with piano lessons? I don’t know why we do it, but it is a great way for them to learn that they can do hard things! This is true for any new skill or talent they are developing. It is hard to learn new things, but they can do it. Find an activity that your child finds interesting and let them take lessons and work through the hard beginning phases. Parents can set the example for this by learning new things as well and sharing their experiences with their kids.
10. Write it out. There is something therapeutic about writing something down. It might be fun to have a family journal where everyone writes about the times they did something hard. If it’s too personal to be shared with the whole family, then encourage kids to write in a personal journal. Writing it down, just seems to make it more real and tangible. It can solidify to the child that they really did do a hard thing and then reflect on how that makes them a stronger individual.
I recently listened to this talk about “hard is good.” I do believe that doing hard things is good for all of us, even our children. I am trying to focus more on facing the hard things rather than avoiding them. I hope that I can be more deliberate in encouraging my kids to do hard things and that it can (eventually) help us all to be nice and happy!
One of my very favorite activities that my two little ones still at home and I do in our weekly routine is Story Time at the library. I want to make a Meme that says, “All my friends were made at Story Time.” It’s kinda true as a mom with little ones. My kids love going, but sometimes I admit, that I go for me just as much for my kids. Its a great place to see my friends and catch up while the kids enjoy their friends, dancing, singing and a great book. In our new town we have really grown to love our Story Time lady, Miss. Michelle. She is seriously THE BEST! She makes it so fun and entertaining for the kids… and the moms! She has 4 kids of her own, so she remembers what it’s like to be in this stage of motherhood. Yesterday, she read this Poem just for the moms and I wanted to share it here:
The Last Time
From the moment you hold your baby in your arms,
you will never be the same.
You might long for the person you were before,
When you have freedom and time,
And nothing in particular to worry about.
You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,
And days will run into days that are exactly the same,
Full of feedings and burping,
Nappy changes and crying,
Whining and fighting,
Naps or a lack of naps,
It might seem like a never-ending cycle.
But don’t forget …
There is a last time for everything.
There will come a time when you will feed
your baby for the very last time.
They will fall asleep on you after a long day
And it will be the last time you ever hold your sleeping child.
One day you will carry them on your hip then set them down,
And never pick them up that way again.
You will scrub their hair in the bath one night
And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.
They will hold your hand to cross the road,
Then never reach for it again.
They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,
And it will be the last night you ever wake to this.
One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”
and do all the actions,
Then never sing them that song again.
They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,
The next day they will ask to walk to the gate alone.
You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.
They will run to you with arms raised for the very last time.
The thing is, you won’t even know it’s the last time
Until there are no more times.
And even then, it will take you a while to realize.
So while you are living in these times,
remember there are only so many of them
and when they are gone, you will yearn for just one more day of them.
For one last time.
Isn’t that awful! I mean it’s a beautiful, but so sad too. Honestly, some of it I like to claim that I won’t miss. Like the whining and fits
and trying to feed stinky baby food to a baby who just wants to spit it in my face…
But there might be a few things I miss. There really is nothing sweeter than a sleeping baby…
I want to be more mindful about enjoying the moment. All the moments. Even the difficult ones, but especially cherishing the sweet ones. I have this quote framed and hanging right above my kitchen sink to remind me to do keep my kids and family my priority over all the stuff that needs done. Here is a free printable for the quote if you’d like. I’ve also included a printable of the poem. (You can also click on the images to get the PDF version).
I hope I can remember to a be a nice and happy mom today just in case there is a last time.
This has been a year of record keeping for me. I have always had a desire to improve my efforts to keep a journal, but every time I decided to write I felt like I had to catch up the events in my life since the last entry 8 months ago and it took FOREVER. The idea was always too daunting to even try. The last time I probably wrote in my actual journal was when my third child was born. I should at least make a note that we have since had another child…
I read The Happiness Project (you can read more about this book in my ‘I have a book for that!‘ page.) in December 2017 and my eyes were opened to new ways of journaling. Since reading that book, I have now started to write daily in three journals: my gratitude journal, my one-sentence journal, and to track my goals in my bullet journal. I spend less than 10 minutes a day writing in these three journals and yet I feel like I am creating a thorough record of my life. The other journaling I have committed to improve is the journaling I do for my kids.
Several years ago I decided to start a journal for each of my children where I can record the important, funny, serious, memorable things that goes on in their childhood. I have a terrible memory so I knew that I would not remember to tell the kids these stories about them as they grew older. I don’t want to forget the funny things they say and the important conversations we have or the great memories we made together that I know my memory wont remember! The idea when I started these journals was to write something in someone’s journal every day. For me at that time in my life it was too much. So I started doing what I had done with my own journal and just not write anything because I had already missed so much. I at least tried to write on their birthday’s, but even that didn’t always happen.
My journaling year of 2018 has given me a fresh start and a more realistic plan to keep these journals up to date. I write in the kids’ journals once a month. This can still be a challenge because it does take at least 20 minutes to write in all 4 journals, but one time a month is doable.
My kids love these journals already. I usually have the journals in the drawer of my nightstand, but if I ever leave them out the kids get excited and ask if I’m writing in them and they want to read a few pages. I think these will be treasures to give them when they graduate and move on to the adult phase of their lives.
If this sounds like something you would like to start for your children here are a few tips/ideas:
- Buy a small notebook for each child. If you don’t have many kids a larger binder or notebook would be fine, but I find these small notebooks to be just the right size.
- Don’t try and catch up for the lost time. If you start journaling when your oldest child is 15 and your youngest is 3 that is okay. Just start now. It will be too overwhelming to go back and try to remember everything from previous years. For once, your youngest will have the benefit here (unlike in the family scrapbook of baby pictures…).
- Set a goal, write it down and stick to it. Decided what is realistic for you. If you are already a dedicated journal keeper, then writing daily might work for you. If you tend to start strong and then slack off then maybe monthly is more doable.
- Always write on or around birthdays. This is a good time to reflect on who they are and not so much on what they are doing. I like to make a list in their journal of their traits, their interests, their friends and my feelings towards them. It’s also fun to write about how you celebrated their birthday.
- Record mental health habits you notice. My daughter has anxiety over different issues and my son can focus on self-pity at times. I think it’s important to write these things down so that if they get older and continue to deal with these issues we can look back and see how they were dealt with as children.
- Record important talks. These can be spur of the moment talks about friends or concerns the child has about life, or this can be the “sex talk” or talks about spiritual things, or just one-on-one talks that build the bond between you and your child.
- Both parents should write in the journals. I’m assuming that “you” are a mom and will be the main author in these journals. However, I do think it’s good to let dads or grandparents write important memories in these journals as well. My husband wrote in my son’s after they walked home from a football game together and had one of those one-on-one bonding moments. I think it’s important for kids to remember those moments with other people who are important to them in their lives.
- Remember the fun. Don’t only focus on the sensitive/important stuff. Write about the times where you laugh over silly things together and how the child and his/her siblings couldn’t stop laughing when it was bedtime and mom and dad were getting so mad that the kids wouldn’t settle down, but that only made them laugh harder…
- Make these journals special for the kids. I don’t let my kids have these journals and read them any time they choose. I want them to be a mystery and something they look forward to getting one day. Once in awhile I do let my kids read certain entries so that they understand what these journals are and they get excited about them, but I want them to look forward to getting these journals when they graduate.
I hope you will try this out if you aren’t already doing something similar. You won’t regret it and I do think you will notice a stronger bond between you and your children. I hope it will make everyone nice and happy.
Do you pay your kids for doing chores? I have heard about parents who pay their kids well for doing chores around the house, and I’ve also heard about parents who say that doing chores is just a part of being a family. I can see good in both concepts. While I do agree that chores is just an expectation of being part of a family, I also want my kids to learn how to manage money before they are really making a lot of money and the risks and lessons learned are harder. I have tried several different methods to pay kids for doing chores, but the rock system (as I like to call it) has been the most consistent and convenient way to make sure it happens. It was completely free for me to make and is easy to start right away.
I gathered up baby food jars for each of my kids. My two older kids have the taller baby food jars and my two younger kids have the small jars. I removed the label on the jars and wrote each child’s initial on their jar. The last step to getting it ready to use is to find your “rocks.” I used the glass beads you can buy in the craft section at the Dollar store or Walmart. I’m not sure why I call them rocks, when they are clearly not rocks, but oh well. You really could go out and find different sized rocks and even paint them to make them cute. You could use cotton balls, dried beans, candy, or whatever you can find around the house. That’s it. You are ready to start paying kids for their chores. Now, here is how is works…
For every chore your kids do, they get to put a rock in their jar. If they want to do 5 chores in a day then they get 5 rocks. Some chores are worth two rocks (cleaning the bathroom AND the bathroom floor). If you try out this hot spot wheel, then kids would get a rock after doing their hot spot. When the jar is full they get paid. So simple! You can decide on the amount that each kid gets paid for a full jar. When we first started and my older kids were about 5 and 6, they both got paid $2.50 for a full jar. In our family, we donate 10% of our money to our church, so $2.50 made it easy to figure the 10% the kids would pay for tithing. Our younger kids received $1 for their full smaller jars. This was such a small amount of money, but the kids love getting paid and feel so grown up to have their own money to do with as they wanted. A good idea is to teach kids to give 10%, save 10%, and keep the 80% to do with as they chose, but since I was paying my kids such a small amount I did not stress over the saving part. They could spend their money on whatever they chose.
Now that my kids are a bit older, I felt that they should have a raise and more financial responsibility along with it. We had a discussion with the kids to see if they felt they deserved a raise. At first my seven year old wanted nothing to do with a raise… this was a good teaching point. Now he understands what a raise is and you better believe he wants it! We agreed that the kids will earn their raise on a full jar IF they had an overall good attitude while doing their chores. If we have to remind them to change their attitude more than twice as they work on filling their jars, then they do not get the raise and go back to the $2.50. We agreed to pay our kids their age in dollars for every full jar. For example, my nine year-old earns $9 for a full jar and my seven year-old earns $7, etc. In a perfect world I would always have the exact change on hand to pay the kids the minute they fill their jars. I do not live in that perfect world. Sometimes they get to empty their jar to start over and I just make a note that I owe them their money. That immediate reward for a full jar is much more powerful though, so if at all possible try to have several dollar bills available at home. Now that my kids are making more money we can talk more about saving for college, cars, missions and also saving for big items they want. My daughter attends a gymnastic camp at her favorite college in the summer and she is expected to pay for a portion of that camp. So she is working on saving towards that. My two older sons have decided that they want to buy one of those battery powered cars they can drive, so they have combined their money to save for that. After just a couple of weeks (and some Valentine money from Grandma and Grandpa), these boys are already up to $61 combined! Any time they ask to buy something at the store I love that I can tell them, “sure you can buy that. You have your own money now!” It’s funny how those silly little things are not as appealing if they have to use THEIR money to buy it!
A recap of why this system works for my family:
1. Cheap, easy and fast to put together and get started.
2. Kids receive an immediate reward for doing their chores.
3. Offering a raise for good work ethic teaches kids a real world concept. (and less whining!)
4. Allows kids to develop a habit of paying tithing.
5. Kids can learn about money management.
6. It is easy for ME to be consistent with this system.
A clean house and watching kids work makes me a nice and happy mom! I would love to hear your experience with this rock system if you give it a try, or about what other payment systems work for you.
We went to church yesterday, and as always I bring my 50 pound bag filled with paper, coloring books, crayons, markers, colored pencils, pencils, pencil sharpener, puzzles, books, cars, snacks, water bottles, and Kleenex, among other things. I bring these things to help ensure that the kids are quietly entertained while we listen in church for the hour and 10 minutes we need to sit there reverently (cough cough). And these things are usually helpful, but yesterday we happened to sit behind a great family with a couple of teenage kids, one of whom babysat my kids recently. So of course, my kids were more entertained my tickling their backs and playing pew-peek-a-boo than getting out the same old coloring books they have every week. These awesome teenage kids in front of us also shared some of their toys that were completely entertaining and I will be purchasing for our family ASAP. This gave me the idea to share my favorite 5 toys that are unique and helpful in keeping kids QUIETLY entertained without using electronics:
1. Boogie Boardd. My parents gave one of these to my kids for Valentine’s Day a few years ago and it is still a favorite in my church bag. We got the idea from another family at church who had one and my kids were completely enthralled just watching these other kids use it. You can draw on the screen and then push a button to wipe the screen clean. It has been used over and over for tic-tac-toe and hang-man, and hilarious pictures of grandma.
2. Cryptograms Books– My 9 year old daughter loves these. It is a little hard to start a blank cryptogram, so I usually look in the back at the cheat sheet and then fill in a few letters for her. After that, she can usually fill it out on her own. I actually love doing these as well! This one that my daughter uses has some great quotes. For example, “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver
3. WAFF Journal– This is one of the activities that the teenage boy let us play with at church on Sunday. It will definitely be an Easter gift for my kids this year. My kids love little notebooks and that alone is a fun gift, but the letters and numbers that snap on to this journal really make it unique. My kids just sat on the floor and spread out the little rubber tiles and came up with different words to write on the notebook. There is a little bag or container to keep the tiles together and clips to keep the journal shut. There are several different colors, sizes, and styles.
4. Magnetic Beads– These are so addicting! They can be shaped into about anything you can imagine and you can separate them to share among kids. The description mentioned stress relief for adults and I could seriously see this. I just couldn’t get enough! It was hard to give these back to the family in front of us at church.
5. Peg Game– This game will forever remind me of my Grandma and Grandpa Lyon. This game was always sitting on their counter and you couldn’t help but pick it up and try it a few times before moving along. It’s small enough that a Ziploc baggie would keep all the pieces together and fit inside a church bag.
I would love to hear what works for your family to keep kids entertained without electronics.
Quiet kids in a quiet place make me a nice and happy mom!
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Are you a goal setter? I usually set new goals at the beginning of each year. Sometimes I make it till Spring before I forget about what goals I set. One year I made a goal to go a whole year without eating chocolate (what was I thinking??). I did surprisingly well until Mother’s Day. My husband sent me roses from ProFlowers and they were delivered in a box to my house. The box came while he was at work and when I opened it I found a box of chocolates included with the flowers. I figured that my hubby must want me to break that no-chocolate goal, so I ate every one of those chocolates before he got home from work! When he got home he apologized about sending chocolate and explained that the chocolates automatically came with the flowers. Oops. Well, I’m an all or nothing kind of gal, so since I had ruined my goal I just forgot about it all together.
So even though I don’t always keep my goals, I still feel like it’s important to set them. This year I feel more goal driven than ever. I wrote goals for physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, relationship and parenting categories. I made goals and then details about how I will achieve those goals. I also made a vision board to help me visualize some of these goals. I am using a bullet journal to track how well I do with each goal. It’s only February, but I’m hoping that I will do better this year. I also wanted to encourage my kids to set goals.
I bought a foam cork board at the dollar store and cut it in half. Each of us got a half to post our goals on. We had the kids think of goals for spiritual, character, educational, and extra-curricular categories. My husband and I asked questions and helped prompt ideas for the kids, but we really tried hard to not make suggestions. It is hard to do, but that was our goal. Our older kids were able to come up with ideas easier than our five year old. We had them set a goal and them asked them to come up with a plan on how to achieve that goal. Their goals boards are now hanging in their rooms as a visual reminder to ask themselves how they are doing with their goals. We haven’t done this yet, but I keep thinking it would be a good idea to give each kid one of my bullet journal pages to help them track their progress.
I hope this helps the kids to be nice and happy!
Have you ever tried a gratitude journal? I have heard several people talk about them, but it wasn’t until the new year that I finally tried it out. I have been doing one for about a month now and so far I am loving it. I have enjoyed it for me personally to end each day reflecting on what I am grateful for.
But the real power that I have seen is with my son. We have been doing this as a family after we do our scripture study and prayer, we then each have our own notebook and we jot down one thing we are grateful for that day. My son can sometimes get into a habit of focusing on the bad and get into a slump of feeling sorry for himself, but I have noticed a change in his attitude recently. There could be many factors contributing to this change, but he has really gotten into the gratitude journal and takes it seriously every night and I don’t think it is hurting his attitude.
We help write for our preschooler, but then he draws a picture of whatever it is. Our two year old will sometimes tell us what he is grateful for that day too. Tonight he was grateful that he could play Harry Potter and basketball. I really feel like these little notebooks are going to be treasures for all of us.
I bought these little notebooks at the dollar store and every night when we finish reading scriptures and saying a prayer, we write one thing we are grateful for. It was easy to throw into our bedtime routine and has been something my kids really enjoy doing.
This has made me nice and happy.
Isn’t chore time your favorite part of the day?? I just love how when I tell the kids that it’s time to do chores they all quickly stop what they are doing and jump up and down and beg to get started right away. NOT!!! We all know that it’s easier, faster, and will get done better if we just do all the dang chores ourselves, right? But, we also know that doing this is a great way to raise entitled slobs.
There are so many wonderful methods out there that really do help chore time go smoothly… or smoother. For my family, assigning a “HOT SPOT” to each person is what really eliminated my fear of saying, “time to do chores.” It’s pretty simple. I created a spin wheel to match each person with a chore.
I first cut out a large circle and a smaller circle that was about an inch smaller than the large. I then divided the circles into six even slices (do this depending on the number of people in your family). In each section of the large slice I wrote the name of each person.
On the small section I put a picture of an area around the house: dining room, bathroom, entry way, living room, kitchen, and family room (this is when having a large family pays off!!).
I then put the small circle on top of the large circle and attached them with a brad in the center and voila! You now have a hot spot chart.
Now what do you do with it?
Each person is now assigned a spot in the house, A.K.A. a hot spot! And that person is responsible for keeping it decluttered and clean until the hot spot chart is turned to assign a new hot spot. We usually rotate hot spots every week or two. You can do it daily, monthly or weekly; whatever works for you.
Before you begin this process make sure to take the time to go through each hot spot and give your expectations of what it should look like. I usually just wanted the area picked up each day, not necessarily cleaned. After explaining the rules, try it out by simply saying, “check your hot spot.” I love that I don’t have to give assignments or explain what they need to do. We usually like to set a timer for five minutes and see if everyone can do their hot spot before the timer goes off.
After everyone has completed their hot spot and it meets mom’s approval, then the kids would get a rock in their jar… which brings me to another day and another post!
Are you ready to be nice and happy??