Achieving Balance as a SAHM

Ever have one of those days where you feel like you can’t do a damn thing right? 

Today is one of those for me.

The house is in upheaval, I have way too much to accomplish, and I’m starting to feel like I never get enough quality time with my boys even though I’m at home with them all day. 

Desperate for some kind of answer, I googled for it.  I don’t cope very well with stress so almost anything that’s swamping me gets googled.  You’d think that if something was getting a little overwhelming that you’d try like hell to get on top of it and make it seem not so bad.  Not me!  I go into some kind of horrific paralysis and start to fret about never being able to get anything done and how my day is ruined.  I know, completely productive, right?  Joy of joys, I come across an article by none other than one of my favorite moms, Tsh.  I found some of the best advice I’ve ever read about finding a daily balance in your life between your home and your children and at this moment, it was exactly what I needed to hear. 

An Article by Tsh @ SimpleMom:  The Daily Balance of Parenting & Housework: Four Useful Reminders

1.  Let go of perfection.

I’ve written already about how perfectionism ultimately makes you more unproductivebut it also makes you more of a control freak.  If the towels, the dishes, and the table setting has to be just so, then no one in your home will want to do it.  Which means you’ll have to do it.  When imperfect people live together in a home, the home will be imperfect.

2.  Let them help.

Let your children put their special touch on housework, and they’ll better understand that they matter in the home.  They’ll take more pride in the work if you’re patient and forgiving with their final results. Plus, when they’re young, they actually think chores are fun.  Take advantage of that.

You know what?  My daughter’s towel-folding chore has improved drastically since she first started helping about six months ago.  I know she’ll get the hang of it.  In the meantime, the perfectionist in me has to show her grace and be satisfied with wonky towels.  I cringe, trust me, but when I think about the big picture of things, I’d rather her develop a good work ethic at a young age than have stacked towels worthy of Martha Stewart.

3.  Let them wait.

As important as it is that they help, there are also tasks that must be done by a competent adult.  It won’t kill children to learn to wait.  When you’re paying bills, and they want to play Candy Land with you, teach them the value of patience.  It’s hard for kids, but the sooner they learn that they are not the center of the universe, the better.

It’s also good for kids to learn how to play alone.
My children are not good at this, being the social butterflies they are – but they still have alone time during the day.  The same 3-year-old who helped me with today’s laundry also has a 1-2 hour quiet time every day.  She doesn’t have to sleep, but she has to play quietly by herself in her playroom.  This is when I try to get a good portion of my chores done that require concentration.  There are plenty of “Is my quiet time over?” shouts from down the hall, but at least it’s a bit calmer than the rest of the day.

4.  Let them have your utmost attention.

Ultimately, there are unique times when we, as the parent, need to let go of our agendas and focus fully on our children.  My 8-month-old son has a cold at the moment, and he was wailing as I worked on the laundry.  I had a mounting pile of clothes before me, but I stopped and played with him on my lap for awhile instead.  That was more important.

My to-do list might barely get checked off on those days, but I have to stop and ask myself – how do I define a successful day?  Is it getting a lot done?  Or is it pouring into the lives that matter for eternity? Sometimes it’s hard to remember.

Lovely article, no?  Occasionally I just need things like this to smack me right in the back of the head to put things into perspective.  What do you do to make sure your house maintains that balancing act of work and play?

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Five Money Lessons for Preschoolers

An article by: Liz Pulliam Weston

Before we had our daughter, I thought financial education should begin somewhere in the grade-school years.

Clearly, I underestimated kids.

Our daughter has taught us that children are ready to learn about money as soon as they’re old enough not to swallow it. And increasingly the evidence suggests that we shouldn’t wait to begin teaching them.

Attempts to teach financial literacy to high-schoolers aren’t working. The courses, which are sometimes touted as a cure for rampant money mismanagement in our society, don’t seem to improve high-schoolers’ money savvy at all, according to research by leading financial literacy expert Lewis Mandell, professor at SUNY Buffalo School of Management.

Even middle-schoolers are often resistant to messages that contradict the pervasive messages to consume that they get from advertising and their peers.

Catching kids younger, and instilling habits like saving, may be the key to money lessons that actually take.

“It may be more indoctrination than education,” Mandell speculated. “They need to know things like, ‘saving is good.'”

Advertisers certainly have no compunctions about targeting preschoolers, noted Sam X Renick, a former financial services executive whose company, It’s a Habit, publishes money books and music for kids. Parents need to push back against those messages, he said, and teach kids the basics “before they’re too cool” to listen.

Renick’s Web site and the “Thrive by Five” resources offered by the Credit Union National Association are great places for parents to pick up ideas and resources for teaching preschoolers about money.  I’ve combined some of those lessons with my own experience to come up with these five money lessons your child should understand by kindergarten.

Money can be spent, saved and shared

The first concept — that money can be used to buy things — is the easiest of the bunch. Our daughter had it down by age 3 1/2, which is when we not coincidentally started her allowance (more on that later). It took a bit longer for her to grasp the concept of putting money aside to be spent later. And sharing … well, we’re still working on that. It’s mandatory in our household, but like peas, it’s not much appreciated.

Piggybanks, by the way, can help with all these concepts. When she was 2 and delighted in stacking and naming coins, we gave her piggybanks with removable plugs so she could put money in and take it back out again. When she got a little older we turned to a Moonjar, which has sections for spending, saving and sharing, although I also like the four-section Money Savvy Pig as well as the Amazing Money Jar, which counts coins as they’re deposited.

Saving should be a habit

Developmental experts agree that by the time most children are 4 or 5, you can teach them about saving by helping them put aside money for a goal, such as a toy they want to buy. (A savings chart can help.) But you can actually start instilling the habit of saving even earlier by simply making it mandatory: A portion of any money they get is put aside for “later.”

As Renick’s signature cartoon character, Sammy Rabbit, puts it: “Out of every dollar, save a dime.” Having a specific goal isn’t necessary; it’s the habit of saving automatically that’s important.

Once money is spent, it’s gone

Kids naturally think of money as an ever-renewing resource. It’s always sprouting out of their parents’ wallets, isn’t it? The idea that money is a finite resource starts with learning that a dollar spent is a dollar gone for good.

 

And the best way to teach that is to let kids spend money. Give them a buck at the dollar store, let them pick out something, let them pay for it. The first few times they may be surprised that they can’t use the same dollar to buy something else, or that you won’t cough up another buck if they change their minds after they’ve bought. Stick to your guns, though, and the message gets across.

People have to make money choices

Since this is a lesson many adults have a tough time learning, we shouldn’t expect preschoolers to have a perfect grasp of it. But it’s an extension of the money-is-finite concept that’s essential to learn.

 

We began teaching this by giving our daughter a weekly allowance and allowing her to select how she spends it, within limits. Once the money was gone she had to wait until the next week to get more. If she decided to blow it the first day on little rubber snakes — and she often did — that cool keychain she wanted the next day had to be passed up. If you’re giving your child a weekly allowance, consider cutting back to biweekly and then monthly payments as she gets older to give her more real-world experience in managing her money over time.  We contine to talk to our daughter about how we choose to spend money: on fun vacations, for example, rather than on fancy cars.

Don’t trust ads

This is another lesson that may take years to really sink in, but you want to at least plant the seed of skepticism in your little one. The first task will be simply distinguishing commercials from shows; a 2-year-old probably won’t be able to tell them apart, but a 4-year-old probably can. (Ours began shrieking “Commercial!” with equal parts horror and contempt when they come on.)  We’ve told her that commercials are designed to try to sell her stuff she doesn’t really need and that probably isn’t as neat as it’s depicted. But mostly, we try to limit how many commercials she sees (thank heavens for DVDs and TiVo).

Teaching tips

As you’re teaching, keep the following in mind:

 

  • Keep it fun. Games, songs, coloring books and smiling piggybanks are great tools for teaching about money. So are discussions with your budding financial genius, but your tone should be light and conversational, not doom and gloom.

 

  • Seize the teachable moments. Daily life offers all kinds of opportunities to talk about money. At the grocery store, you can talk about how you shop from a list to make sure you get the things you need and save money by not buying things you don’t. At the bank, you can talk about how you put money into your account so you can get it out later to spend.

 

  • Keep it simple. The older kids get, the more questions they’ll ask about money — and some of them will be stumpers. Try to keep your answers simple, and look for signs that the child’s attention is wandering . . . you’ll know lesson time is up.

Why Should We Teach Our Kids About Money?

An article by:  Dave Ramsey

Some people say, “Timmy’s so young. I want him to enjoy being happy and innocent.  Money is a worry for grown-ups, not kids.” 

I say, “We’re raising a whole generation with ‘sucker’ stamped on their foreheads because we’re not teaching them.”

Your job as a parent is not just to keep your child happy. You’re raising a future grown-up who needs to be able to deal with grown-up matters. If you teach little Timmy how to handle money responsibly, then grown-up Timmy will be better equipped for a richer life.  Look at the statistics below:

  • 19% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 declared bankruptcy in 2001. (USA Today, 2001)
  • The fastest growing group of bankruptcy filers are those people who are 25 years of age or younger. (Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, 2002)
  • Over 80% of undergraduates have at least one credit card and nearly 50% of college graduates carry 4 or more credit cards. According to the Department of Education, the average balance carried by these students is more than $3,000. (Senator Chris Dodd, CT)

These statistics show that many children aren’t being taught how to handle money.  Young people are making mistakes with zeros at the end of them. These mistakes often take years to overcome. Teach your children how to handle money while they are young, and they won’t make mistakes later on in life.

A Positive Resource to Teach Them NOW

The Financial Peace Junior Kit (ages 3-12) is a great way to teach kids the value of money and work.  The kit includes three envelopes labled Savings, Spending, and Giving.  The money that goes into these envelopes is earned through doing chores, which are charted on a commission board.  If the chores are done, the kid gets money; if the chores are not done, the child doesn’t get money.  This teaches the children the value of earning money.

The Savings envelope teaches children the importance of saving for future use.  I tell my kids when they are very young that they must save money if they ever want to buy a car.

The Spending envelope lets kids still be kids and enjoy the instant pleasures of buying toys and treats. There’s nothing wrong with buying something fun as long as you’ve saved up the money for it!

The Giving envelope is a way to teach children that giving is a part of life.  If you’re in the church parking lot, and you hand your kid $2 to take to the Children’s Church collection plate, the kid gets no spiritual blessing and does not understand.  The child was just a courier, bringing your money to the offering.  But when children bring money that they earned, then they understand that giving is part of life.

All of our resources were designed to help parents teach their children how to work and handle money responsibly.

Kids, Chores, and Money

Since he was old enough to hold it in his hand and push it through the slot of his giant train bank, D has been panhandling change from hubby and I.  This never really bothered me until recently when he showed just how bratty and spoiled he has become.  After a particularly heinous meltdown the other day at Meijer when I refused to buy him a matchbox car, I decided it might be time for an allowance. 

We had a chore chart for him several months ago before moving and have since gotten lazy and forgotten to implement it.  He still picks up after himself when he’s told (a lesson I refuse to let up on since I am HORRIBLE at picking up after myself) but I figure he’s absolutely old enough to have several chores to do throughout the day and that by doing these an allowance might be a more appropriate award than the sheer joy of putting a sticker on a chart.

To begin, I downloaded SimpleMom’s chore chart here.  I really love the way she designed it and love her blog even more.  She’s got the best ideas.  (Out of all the mom bloggers I’ve come across, Tsh and Amy are, hands down, the epitome of Momness.  You really should check them out).  Anyway, I laminated the chart and the chore blocks and affixed velcro pieces to the backs of the chore blocks and the spaces they’d stick to on the chart.  I like this idea because it allows for me to switch chores around, take away, or add to it as I see fit.

We haven’t come up with an ideal allowance quite yet, but if you’re interested, I’ll be posting a few articles that might help you decide what you might want to start your child out at and what kind of spending, saving, and giving habits you might want to instill.  Do your children receive an allowance?  If so, what habits are you trying to enforce when it comes to money?

My continued love affair with the Bullseye

I can’t stay away. 

I tried, but I lust after those gorgeous bright orange price tags.

TOYS ARE 75% off at Target now!!!!!

Today, I purchased 2 Hasbro Noodleboro games (listening and manners), 2 Radio Flyer Turbo Turtles, 1 Mega Bloks Learning Piano, 1 Moon Sand Farm Playset, 1 double package of Furniture Straps (hey, the twins are crawling!), a box of size 3 diapers, and a 6-in-1 Nick Toons Sports Center for $77.15 with tax.  I saved $177.17.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself!

Not only do I have all three of the boys taken care of for their upcoming birthdays, but I’ve even got a jump on Christmas.  I’m thinking that this is going to save us a ton of money in the long run.  I might go back tonight after hubby gets home from work to see what I else I might find.  There’s nothing wrong with putting in a little over time in the bargain hunting department! 🙂  This is just a little slice of how we make it work with one income, 3 kids, and 3 dogs.  Plan ahead!

My Soapbox

It’s no secret from most people that I am a conservative.

I’m pro-life, pro-gun, pro-God, and all for small government.  While I do appreciate the significance of Obama being voted into office in the first place,  I laughed heartily as he was compared to Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt and a bevy of other top political figures in our country’s history before his first full day in office and I cringed when he took the oath.  Even more cringe inducing was a random woman interviewed on our local news that night talking about how she was so happy that Obama was finally in office because she’s not going to have to struggle any more.  She’s never going to have to worry about bills or losing her home or putting food on the table for her children.  Oh, really?  Now that Obama’s in office he’s going to start paying your bills for you and putting 3 squares a day on the table?  While I doubt that Mr. President will be doing exactly this, it seems from his campaigning days that he doesn’t want any of this to be a problem for any family.  Heck, he even wants your children to go to whatever college they want no matter if they can afford it or not! 

Thanks, but no thanks, Obama.  I wasn’t raised to take hand outs.  I was raised to believe that you work for what you earn and that nothing in life is garaunteed.  Life is a struggle and nothing should come to you easily just because you’re alive and kicking.  If you can’t afford your house, that’s on you.  I don’t think the taxes that get taken out of my husband’s paycheck should go to digging you out of a home loan you probably shouldn’t have received in the first place.  If you can’t afford to put food on the table for your family, go out and get a 2nd or 3rd job.  It’s not everyone else’s job to make sure you go to bed with a full stomach every night. 

When Brad and I went through our rough patch a few years ago, we had times where we were forced to make decisions that included our son eating and us going to bed hungry and buying groceries instead of paying our bills.  Not once did we ask for any kind of assistance.  We made do.  We attempted to better our situation.  While I would never want anyone to have to go through that, sometimes you have to.  Sometimes you have to fail so that you can succeed and no one wants to fail anymore. 

When did the U.S. become a country that cottles?  When did we become a country that doesn’t allow our kids to play tag on the playground because it alienates some children?  When did we decide to hand out ribbons and trophies to everyone that participates instead of just to the teams or individuals that were exceptional?  Tell me, how does that teach a child to strive to succeed?  How does that teach a child to be their best? 

Simply put; it doesn’t.  It teaches self-entitlement.  It teaches laziness.

Do yourself and your child a favor; let them struggle.  Let them see you struggle and survive.  What lesson could be more important to hammer into a kid’s head than to pick themselves back up whenever they fall?

Lots to Learn

At twittermoms today, there was a discussion on favorite jokes. Hands down, my favorite joke would have to be the one that my three year old made up just a few days ago;
“Hey mommy, knock knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Umm, I don’t know, but you should make me some breakfast.”
Spoken like a true neanderthal. Who’s mama’s little caveman?
Speaking of jokes and laughter, do you like fun ways for you child to learn?   Lots To Learn, makers of the award-winning series of educational DVDs, have great educational programs that are both fun and informative.  Created for ages 2-5, Lots To Learn offers preschoolers and their parents a creative opportunity to share in the fun of learning unlike any other preschool DVD on the market today. On-screen host Buster, his Spanish-speaking sidekick Gato, and The Lots To Learn Kids guide children through each uniquely themed DVD with a wide selection of entertaining games, toe-tapping original music, colorful animations, breathtaking video and challenging puzzles

Moms, Dads, Educators, and Children have agreed that Lots to Learn is an excellent way to discover, share and explore together. With so much laughter, movement, creativity, exploration and discovery – there’s always Lots To Learn.

Lots To Learn is an improvement over other DVDs in that:
Lots To Learn is specifically designed for ages 2-5, unlike many existing “birth through …” productions.
They’ve been in video production for over 25 years, and their DVDs reflect a well-planned, professional, broadcast-quality product. From concept through to production, from packaging to shipping: they’re a Mom and Dad – run company that cares very deeply about their product and their customers.

With all of that in mind, they might be a company worth your time to check out, especially in the midst of winter.  If you can’t go outside and play, shouldn’t you be working your child’s brain instead?

Target Deals and Steals and More Free Snacks

The economy is circling the drain and while this scares the ever living daylights out of me, it does provide for some serious bargain shopping adventures. 

I decided to lurk around Target once more on Saturday evening to see if their toy and baby clearance items had hit 75% off yet.  Unfortunately, I was out of luck.  Baby items are still sitting at 30% and toys at 50%.  On the bright side though, I did find Bubba’s birthday present for when he turns the big 4 in March.  I have been lusting after the Fisher Price Kid Tough DVD Player for months now and after perusing the aisles for several hours, I found one hidden amongst various Barbies and Noodleboro board games, marked down from $149.99 to $74.98.  Needless to say, I was psyched.  Yeah, I know the screen is small but really, how big of a screen does a 4 year old need?  This is going to make road trips so much more enjoyable!

Also found at Target; Black & Decker power scissors for $4 (mark down from $20) and a Black & Decker scum buster for $9 (mark down from $40).  I highly suggest hitting up your local Target to do a little bargain hunting of your own.  It might take a little time, but it’s well worth the effort for such serious savings!

In other news, Amazon once again has Honest Foods Country Squares and now, Granola Planks restocked and ready for devouring.  As I posted earlier this month, enter the code HONESTFD at checkout and get any one box free with free shipping.  Who can pass up free snacks?

The Peters’ Plight

Over at BabyCheapskate I learned about a Georgia family who is auctioning off all their belongings on ebay so that they can continue to provide the medical care that their two special-needs kids need.  You can read about the Peters’ plight here.  For some reason, I can’t get the video to load correctly on my post, but you can watch it at Angie’s site here

What would you do in their situation?  Did you see those three beautiful children?  Should this family have to sell off everything they own because they were dealt a crappy hand in life or is this where strangers are supposed to show heart and offer to help in any way they can?  Click here to donate via PayPal at their website, EverythingWeOwn.org.  

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