Breakfast Tip 1

When I was a smaller Chelsea, I recall my mother telling me about a woman she knew. “She makes breakfast every day for her children,” she said with incredulity.

Now that I’m a mother, I understand the surprise. Now that I am a mother to older children and I value my time in bed, I wonder at the sanity of that breakfast-baking woman. Did she know the benefits of (empty calorie) cereal?

Independence is important to teach children, for a variety of reasons. And independence doesn’t have to be about fetching crackers or applesauce packets when the need arises. It can also include making one’s own breakfast.

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My breakfast tip for this week is to buy a few breakfast items the kiddos can ‘make’ themselves.

My favorites are bagels, yogurt, cereals, bread (for toast), and Costco muffins. Sometimes I enter Super Mom mode and bake muffins of my own. Other times, I have leftover waffles or pancakes.

Pancakes are great snack items or morning-after breakfast foods, by the way. Some days I grab a few and make PB&J sandwiches for an on-the-go breakfast.

Most mornings, I wake to the pleasant tinkle of spoons on cereal bowls or the smell of reheated waffles. Up until they get into a fight over the syrup, it’s a very pleasant morning.

Religion in the Home

I believe in teaching religion to children. I believe religion provides many benefits in terms of structure, expectations, service, faith, strength of character, honesty, work, belief, values, love, self-worth, and a foundation for life.

I do not, of course, believe a child ought to be raised in the sort of religious household where beating, belittling, or deprivation are employed.

A love and a learning of God and creation needs to come from a place of love and understanding. God must be taught with a lesson of broadening one’s own understanding and of seeking for a personal testimony.

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If a parent feels the need to beat prayer into a child, that child is not going to learn to love prayer.

I currently raise my children as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (formerly nicknamed Mormons). I was raised in this church as well, and so was my husband. We have both gone through variations and broadenings of our faiths and knowledge. Yet, we have no desire to raise our children outside of religion.

My main reason? Besides the benefits I listed above, it is logic.

I know many people who, when they leave or drift away from organized religion, feel lied to. In their affront they resolve that their children will not grow up deluded as they were. They vow an open mind and freedom of choice for their offspring that they never had.

Which seems to be forgetting one thing: They, as adults, are at the position they are today because of the upbringing and religious foundation they received as children.

I fully expect my children to doubt religion as adults. They’re intelligent, curious, and stubborn. They feel they already know more than many authority figures. They will question and maybe even decide to leave their childhood faith.

Maybe, like others I know, they will still attend, but with a broadened perspective.

I can’t control that, but I can help to give them somewhere from which to leap. And so, I say to give a child a religious somewhere to start from. This doesn’t mean that I’m judging anyone for choosing a faithless family life; it does mean I do not choose that for mine.

As with any thing in parenting, I say to keep the conversation open. Encourage questions. Encourage them to work through the answers on their own. Ready or not, some day they will have to fly on their own.

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Sunday, April 7: “Moderate Momming,” a moderate post about moderation.

Monday, April 8: Wrote a poem titled, “Bedtime.”

Tuesday, April 9: Shared an inspirational quote by Sir Gilbert Parker.

Wednesday, April 10: Recommended buying ahead in my Dinner Tip.

Thursday, April 11: “Your Mama’s So Fed Up,” a snippet about an unfair joke bias.

Friday, April 12: Advised against birthing one’s children near each other in, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Birthdays.”

Saturday, April 13: Shared Manic Mama‘s tweet about a son’s priorities.

Sunday, April 14: That’s today!

Photo Credits:
Aaron Burden
Alexander Watts

Moderate Momming

I’m often a moderate apologist when it comes to religion. After being born and raised in the LDS Church, I eventually went through a stint of Atheism and returned to an uneasy truce with Christianity and Mormonism. Hence, I am currently halfway.

My overarching motivation in life is to treat everyone else the way they want to be.

As such, I do not try to convert people to an idea. I do not push my values on others. -Within reason. I have realized that even moderates like me have lines. I have values. I have issues that are my own opinions and a few of them extend out to how I think others should behave.

When engaged in philosophical discussions of this sort with others, I try to back my ideas up with things like, “The good of society,” and “That makes sense anatomically.” Really, though, ALL of them are tied to a value or opinion.

If the law allowed for people to walk around naked and procreate in public, would I still find that wrong? What if I were raised around that?

Maybe it’s time I stopped apologizing for what I might believe. Maybe it’s time I wasn’t hesitant to consider the presence of God. Maybe I ought to actually follow the advice to stop caring what others thought (also a bit of advice that needs reason, else one might get arrested).

What do I fear? Oh -right. I fear the people who will not listen. I worry for those who will turn away with an incredulous shake over my ignorance.

I meant to talk about how important religion is for raising children, but maybe this isn’t quite the morning for it. Looks like this was the morning to talk about values, popularity, and social anxiety. Which, though those were not my aim, are also important to address and important to teach children about.

All things in moderation, right?

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Sunday, March 31: “The Good Old Days,” reminiscing and reasoning about how things were.

Monday, April 1: Wrote a poem titled, “The Polls Are In.

Tuesday, April 2: Shared a quote (probably) by Frederick Douglass.

Wednesday, April 3: Cautioned against glass jars in my food tip.

Thursday, April 4: “Momvan, Or…,” a snippet about the awesomeness of minivans.

Friday, April 5: Reasoned that one should not ever purchase toys with, “Just Don’t Buy It?

Saturday, April 6: Shared 5KidsAndABunny‘s tweet about the things kids parrot back.

Sunday, April 7: Happy Today!

Photo Credit:
Jenn Evelyn-Ann

Food Tip 2

My children love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. It’s their standard fare for school lunches and snacks.

They are also in charge of making said lunches each morning. In order to help the process run smoothly, I keep all the materials they need within easy reach. In order to help me not have a lot of mess to clean up afterwards, I opt for plastics.

Use plastics!

I’m not referring to BPA-free, recycled, overpriced sandwich and snack containers, either -though we do happen to have those. I refer to the jars of jam and peanut butter.

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I recall a time in my childhood when my mother was bringing the groceries in from the car. I wanted to help. I grabbed a brown paper sack and began the long walk across our cement garage… only to have the edge of the bag rip in my hands. *CRASH!* It turned out that my bag had our newly-purchased jar of peanut butter in the bottom. Yes, it was good that the mess was contained. Yes, it was a waste of money and groceries because glass permeated the contents of the bag.

So stick with plastics! Save the world and your sanity and enjoy delicious sandwiches in the process.

Don’t Give In, and Stay Sane Doing So

I have a younger brother, and he is annoying. Everyone thinks his younger sibling is annoying; but, honestly, the younger ones often try to bother their betters.

Don’t believe me? When cell phones were a new thing, my teenage brother changed our mother’s ringtone to The Family Guy‘s Stewie saying, “Mom mom mummy mama… ”

He thought it was hilarious. …As if she hadn’t actually had us do that to her in real life.

Whether it’s a little brother or sister or not, all children are adept at repetitive behaviors. They say or do something over and over (and over); sometimes for kicks, oftentimes to get their way. If you think giving in will stop the annoying-ness, however, you are very wrong.

My advice for today is:

Don’t Give In!

Seriously. If you have said, “No candy before dinner” and catch them with Smarties, take the package away. When one boy smacks his sister, put him in Time Out just like your rules say will happen. Don’t want to impulse-buy toys every time you go shopping? Don’t!

The child who has exceptions learns that exceptions are the rule. And, elephants got nothin’ compared to the memory recollection of a child.

That’s not to say that sticking to your guns is easy. It’s not. Even after I (mostly) never give in, I often have to endure several minutes of telling my children, “No.” BUT, not capitulating does lead to respect, obedience, trust, faith, and fewer nagging sessions.

If you’re in the middle of a “no” session with your kid, here are some ways to keep your cool:

  1. Attempt to distract the whiner. He is probably hungry, tired, or bored; and badgering you is entertainment.
  2. Sing your answers. ♫ “Noooo! You may not have a coookieeeee! I love you too much to ruin your heeaaallllth!” ♪
  3. Put on some music. I do this as a last resort in the car, particularly if I cannot pull over to resolve a fight.
  4. Talk to the complaining child as best as you can, and tell her that you are not going to be able to talk to her for five minutes if the asking doesn’t stop. Then, set a timer for 5 minutes and ignore the noise.
  5. Pick a NON-PHONE task to do whilst repeating your calm, reasonable, “No.” Activities may include dishes, laundry, dusting, light cleaning, etc.
    I recommend against an activity with a phone because that’s teaching children to use phones for distraction.
    I also recommend against doing a task like pruning because you’ll be holding a sharp object.
  6. Imagine you’re somewhere else. Meditation and yoga exercises really help with this skill, or currently having a crush on a hot movie star.

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    Courtesy of People Magazine.
  7. Repeat back what he says as if you are a parrot, but do so with a lot of love and laughter. You’re not making fun of your child, after all; just the whining.
  8. Write the word NO on a Post-It and stick it to your mouth. Then your voice won’t get hoarse.
  9. Turn to your spouse, kiss him on the cheek, say, “Your turn,” then go take a nice relaxing closet break.
  10. Buy some noise-cancellation headphones.

Several of my boys are very concerned about fairness, fixate on erroneous issues, and have periodic mental meltdowns. If I can treat them with loving patience during any of those activities, so can you.

Staying strong will not only teach your offspring that you mean what you say, it will also exercise your own patience and mental endurance.

And you’re going to need that for the teenage years.