Category Archives: Family First, 31 Days Series

Everything They Want

This post might fall a little into the judge not lest you be judged category so say it with me right now, won’t you please?  Different house.  Different rules.  Different family.  Different ideas.  Actually that different house, different rules is a good mantra to have as your kids get older.  It also helps keep the judging out of the forefront.  I do what works for my family and you do what works for yours and that works well for all of us.

Have you ever heard someone say how “they just want to give them everything they want” when talking about their children.  Ugh.  I must be an ogre because I absolutely do not want my children to get everything they want.  Do I want them to be happy?  Of course.  Do I want them to be content?  Again, of course.

Do I want them to have everything they want?  Nope.


I actually would like them to experience a small bit of sorrow , failure, and missing out on occasion (even if it pains me to watch it).   I want them to know that they can exist without the latest greatest toys and gadgets even if ALL of their friends have them.  I want them to know how to wait.  I’m still struggling with that waiting and being patient thing as an adult so I know it won’t be easy for them.  I want to give them the tools to get everything they want as well as they tools to cope with it when they find out they probably aren’t going to get everything they want every time even when they do try to work hard.


I want to give them everything they need not everything they want.   I want to teach them to be content with what they have and to appreciate what others in life do give them.  I want them to value integrity above winning.  I want them to value people over possessions.   I want them to know that who they are matters a whole lot more than what they own.

*I feel like I need to qualify this post by stating that I’m not one of those only give my kids things at their birthdays and Christmas kind of people (oh, to have that discipline!) and my boys have plenty of things (too many by my standards and not enough by theirs) and I probably say “yes” a lot more often than I say “no” so I’m far from perfect in always  following those ideals listed above.

**This post is part of the 31 Days of Putting My Family First Series.




Love Means Clean Socks and Underwear

Guess What I should be doing about right now?


photo credit: Celeste Lindell via Flickr

Yup.  Laundry.  I know it needs to be done and yet here I sit.  I haven’t even made the bed today if you must know.  I did run a couple of errands though–does that count?  I also looked at some lovely bedrooms on Pinterest where the beds were made.  My pretend Pinterest house is looking amazing these days!  Wait, where was I?  Oh yeah, the laundry that seems to get lost in the land of Pinterest and really for me, the Internet in general.  I’ll go tend to the laundry in 5 more minutes, I think.

The next thing I know it’s the next morning with my oldest son telling me that the reason he still isn’t dressed is because he doesn’t have any clean underwear, or socks, or shirts, or…you get the idea.  Does that ever happen at your house?  Honestly, I have even had the same issues with my own clothes.  You’d think I’d be smart enough to at least get my OWN laundry done.

I guess because it is part of taking care of our family to make sure they have clean clothing that fit.  Do I ever apologize when those mornings happen where all the clean clothes are not in their proper locations?  I should have taken care of this and I’m sorry.  Nope, it’s more like SIGH…stomp downstairs to open the dryer (sometimes praying for there to be some clothes inside the machine) and search.   My solution has not been the simple just make sure the laundry is done approach.  It’s been the “check before you go to bed that you have clothes” approach.  That does give me time at least to throw in a quick load if needed but wouldn’t it be more peaceful for us all if the laundry was simply done so the stress didn’t have to happen in the first place.

Putting my family first means that I need to find a way to give as much loving attention to completing my family’s very real pile of laundry as I do to my maintenance-free Pinterest home.

(You can read other posts in the 31 Days of Putting My Family First series here)

Clearing the Noise and Listening

Sometimes I hear my family but I’m not listening to them.  I hear the noise.  The noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!  That Grinch knew what he was talking about.  The noise my family makes sometimes reminds me of crickets or cicadas on a late summer night.  I’m sure those cicadas know what they are singing about but to me it is just musical “noise” that has J requesting me to shut his window so he doesn’t have to hear it.  I do the same thing with my family sometimes.  I don’t shut the window but I surely block out that annoying noise.

fall2011 036

Watch out for the corn!

On Saturday morning (okay, early afternoon), I was trying to finish up my Saturday Success Stories blog post and the boys were arguing.  Instead of listening to see why they were arguing or asking myself about what either one of them might be needing, I choose to “shut the window” and finish what I was doing.

Then once again instead of listening, I announced that they were annoying me so much with their behavior that they had earned a fall hike.  Yes, I punish my kids with the great outdoors.  What?  Sad but basically true and just going in the backyard wasn’t good enough this time.   I was annoyed that my original plan to leave them here while I ran a bag of clothes over to the donation site was now ruined.  I couldn’t leave them alone with their getting along status at a red level so my 5 minute trip was now going to take twice as long since it suddenly involved getting everyone dressed and in the car.  SIGH.  Grumble.  Grumble.  SIGH.  I thought I would salvage my inconvenience by making them take that hike and giving me a chance to get some fall photos for the blog.   I never did get those photos because we didn’t end up going on that nature hike.

Guess what happened when I stopped to actually listen to the noise instead of tuning it out?  I discovered my children were hungry!  If I had looked at the clock and put two thoughts together, I would have realized this a lot sooner.   We ended up having a pleasant lunch together at Burger King and regrouping.  I realized that not only did they not really want to go on a nature hike, neither did I and it really wasn’t quite warm enough.  We ended up at Toys R Us walking around and looking at things.  It was fun to see what they are interested in now versus what they were interested in just a few short years ago.  No long “I am not BUYING today” discussions since they already knew.  No long stops at the train table wondering if time was actually moving backwards.  No being stuck reading the back of the boxes to fend off boredom in the action figure aisle. A few  “Mom, look at this!” and “We would like this!” along with an occasional “Would you like this?” thrown in from me.  Seriously, who would want a large $50 Gollum figurine.  G and I both concluded it was creepy.

When I took the time to actually listen to the noise instead of blocking it out, I put my family first.  Know what else happened after I listened?  I gained a little peace and quiet later in the afternoon.  For about 5 minutes anyway 😉

*This post is part of the 31 Days of Putting My Family First Series.  You can read the rest about the series and check out the previous posts by clicking here.


Family Night Flexibility

Enjoying the fall foliage.

Enjoying the fall foliage.

Plan a family outing, plan a family movie night, plan some family time spent together.

I love this concept but it sure can lead to a bit of frustration.  I’ll read how I “should” do all these things in a magazine or in a blog post and have visions of all of us cuddled together under blankets on the couch, eating popcorn, and watching a movie.  I see us playing games around the table with smiling faces, perfect snacks, and ready to pose for a Norman Rockwell print.  I think we’ll all go frolic in the fall leaves or pick out pumpkins.

Then reality hits, first we won’t all fit (comfortably) on one couch, some of us would be cold and others tugging on the blanket probably spilling the popcorn in the process.  Agreeing on a movie to view is enough of a challenge on its own.  Board games equal bored games for one family member, perfect snacks would mean more time in the kitchen making four different things, and seriously getting those boys to pose for any picture?  Ha!  Fall is hunting season so that means family outings of that nature are a tall order (although I’m not giving up!).

These things could (and have at times) really leave me frustrated and throwing up my hands in despair.  However, I am learning that we can have family time without all four of us present.   The boys watched a movie on Friday night when they had a friend spend the night that I had originally thought would be our “family” night movie.  However, I wanted to be flexible and let them have the fun of having a friend over and they decided to watch the movie then.   The following night, I watched the movie with my oldest son who was willing to watch it again when I mentioned I had sort of wanted to see it.  My youngest son wandered in the room for a bit and watched some of it again.   Tonight as I put together this post, my oldest son and husband are watching the movie and I’m glancing at it occasionally.  J is in a different room watching episodes of Ninjago.  By the way, the movie that has intrigued G enough to view it 3 times and that I was willing to watch a second time is Megamind. 

If I’m going to put family first, I need to be flexible enough to give up the frustration of trying to plan some idea of a perfect family nights and accept that this works for us.  We may not have had a “family night” this weekend but we did have family time throughout the week.  My favorite family time from the past week was actually the time we spent sitting in the parking lot waiting for the rest of the family to arrive for my father in law’s birthday celebration.  My husband has this hang-up with leaving early to get places and so we arrived rather early and had time to simply be together with no distractions.

Sometimes the best family time is spontaneous rather than forced.  I need to remember every family is different and having a family night does not have to mean for our family the same thing that it does for your family.  What do you do on your planned (or spontaneous) family nights?

If you enjoyed this post, please check out the rest of the 31 Days of Putting My Family First Series.





Benefit of the Doubt

Both boys stayed home from school sick today.  One child was running a mild fever Saturday night into Sunday and woke up sounding the same.  The other woke up looking fine but said he had been coughing very hard.   I knew one child would likely be staying home today but I had my doubts about how sick the other, older child really felt.   However, I think it is important to give the boys the benefit of the doubt.  I don’t like it when I say I don’t feel well and get ignored.

I knew that he was not feeling all that bad and probably could have pushed through the day.  Honestly, they both could have probably pushed through the day and there are days when I’ve made them do just that.   I didn’t get much done today with them home although we did spend that 15 minutes cleaning in each bedroom!  However,  I thought it was important that they knew I believed them when they said they didn’t feel good.  Don’t worry I also let them know that I knew they could have made it through the day as well!

I think they both just needed a break today and so I wanted to make sure I met that need for them.  We’ll be back to our normal schedule tomorrow and hopefully, I’ll get just a tiny bit more accomplished and perhaps a prettier post in this series put together (you know one with actual photos of some sort).  On a side note, I did not appreciate my youngest son telling his dad that I did “nothing” all day today.  I didn’t do much today but it was certainly a little more than nothing.

I suppose I’m a bit of a pushover when it comes to sick days but I have fond memories of convincing my parents to let me take the occasional sick day (silly me, I thought I was getting away with it but now I’m realizing they probably knew I could have made it through the day).   I think I turned out okay despite missing a few school days when I probably could have pushed through it all.

I think it is important to let my kids know I believe them when they say they don’t feel well even if I know what they are saying is they simply need a break.

This is the next post in my 31 Days of Putting My Family First Series that you can find by clicking here.


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