Mom Tip: Always Say the 2nd Thing





There was a week where I felt like every single sentence I said started in one of these ways.

Between the toddler, the almost walking baby and the two older kids I feel like a lot of my job right now is to keep order and maybe even create some real peace!

Having come from a business background it seems simple to give a command with a specific follow up.

“Don’t hit your sister. Let’s practice being kind with our hands.”

It’s really a no-brainer and is both polite and guiding. Except it doesn’t work.

It appears that every time I start a sentence with a negative directive I’m automatically ignored. When the person keeping the peace gets ignored peace becomes harder to keep!

Additionally, when every sentence directed at my kids begins with a negative assumption, I’ve already lost. I spend the day feeling negative, empty and frustrated.

By now the older two know the house rules and the consequences for not following them. Even my 3 year old is well aware of what she can and can’t do. As our kids grow out of the baby stage we need to grow with them. How and what we say to them needs to change.

So I decided to try an experiment with my kids who are 7, 5 and almost 3. What if I dropped the negative assumption and just started with my follow up?

“Norah, let’s practice being gentle with our hands.”

3 things happened…

1. I am more prone to acknowledge the child by name instead of giving a general decree to “quit” “stop” “no”. Because I am thinking about what I’m saying I am also more aware of which child I am speaking to. In turn they become more aware of me.

2. I am automatically assuming a positive position. By giving a command that requires a next step I am assuming that they know the household rules. I am acknowledging that they are part of the family system and that I believe they can handle that role.

3. I am giving the child a choice. Kids are kids and at this stage are exploring their independence. By providing them with a suggestion instead of a negative command, I am challenging them to make a choice. If I believe they know the rules then I believe they know how to follow them. Saying something like “let’s practice being gentle with our hands” gives my daughter the chance to stop her own behavior and redirect herself. She has the opportunity to choose self control and obedience.

The kids seem to like this system and respond to it so much better. They are demonstrating they know the rules and redirecting themselves.When needed, I am also able to administer consequences from a place of true correction and not just frustration. I am also feeling less like a school marm with a ruler and more like a parent training her children.

We want our kids to know the rules and follow them. That means we have to provide opportunities for them to practice the things we have taught them from infancy.

There-in lies the key. This doesn’t work if the boundaries and expectations of the home have not been established and/or understood. If you haven’t done that yet – do it! Figure out what your house rules are, how you expect them to be followed and then make sure your kids understand them.

When your family is all on the same page, spare yourself the grief of saying “No!” “Don’t” and “Stop!” all the time. Skip the command and go straight to the second thing – the follow up.

Give your kids the chance and challenge to be the gracious, obedient people they are growing into!

Often I’m talking to other moms and mention a tip or trick we’ve tried or are trying. I’ve decided to keep a running list here on the blog. I’m hoping on Thursdays to offer a “Mom Tip”! Maybe one of them will inspire something positive in your own home.


Financial Friday: Your Story, My Story

We all have a story.  I have one, you have one.  Sometimes our stories intersect. How we choose to respond is so important.

Today, I want you to consider supporting another woman’s story by shopping on Etsy.  Here are some stories of ladies near and dear to me. How will your story and their story intersect?

Alicia: Alicia Sturdy/Cursive Paper Style, Martha Stewart, Simplicity all in one.  I met Alicia when she was a newlywed and they were putting her husband through graduate school. I have been taken in by her personal journey to find out who she really is.  There have been ups and downs but in the last year I think she’s nailed it.  Creativity isn’t just something she has, it is who she is.  Check out her amazing holiday cards!

April: Freddie and Jane April is my new neighbor.  She moved down the street from me just this summer. She has 3 adorable little ones just around the same ages as my own. She hails from Canada and before moving here lived in a Residence Hall for guys (God Bless Her!). As she settles into life in this small town she shares her talents for creating sweet clothes and fun home adventures.

Liz: Mommy Said Sew Liz was also my neighbor. She is also a personal hero.  She and her husband have committed to raising their two beautiful girls in the city of Chicago. They are committed to their neighborhood, their public school and just loving on anyone that crosses their path. Their light shines so bright.  Liz is AMAZINGLY creative.  She literally “whips something up” in her sewing room that would take me all year to finish!

Nicole: Token Blonde Nicole is blonde and hilarious (obviously!). We met when we both lived in Chicago. Nicole is an amazing woman.  She is the mom of one stylish little guy and a Navy Chief.  This is why Nicole is amazing.  She does a lot of the parenting, life stuff and marriage stuff alone.  She sacrifices a lot of life’s comforts for families like mine to have the security her husband provides. Her creativity is her outlet and it is endless.

Susan (Sue): Blooming Artichoke Sue and her fun family lived in the same Chicago neighborhood we did.  We were total strangers but we had our kids in common.  The more we got to know each other the more fun I had living there. Sue is a GREAT cook, she has a sweet boy, beautiful new girl and fun loving husband. Sue and her family just bought their first home (and are getting ready to move), Sue’s husband recently graduated in the last year and they welcomed their sweet little girl.  In the midst of all that she has managed to pass on her love of nursing and her creativity to us!

Honorable Mention: These are ladies I don’t know personally but are connected to a few of the ladies above.

Alisia: Alisia Domer.  Handmade bags.  So cute!

Bethani: Clementine & Eisley. Re-purposed clothes for kids.

Charli: Twinning With A Toddler. Tutus and More!

Whose story will you be a part of today?

Thoughtful Thursday: Mountain Tops

Ever have one of those days, or weeks, when you want to stand on the top of a mountain and shout out something wonderful?

This past week or so has been one of those kind of weeks for me.  A tidbit here and a little bit there, I feel full and overflowing with things I just want to shout out. Funny though how often times I don’t.

Why? What if someone thinks I’m crazy? (I mean, I know I am a little nuts but what if someone thinks I’m actually crazy!) What if someone disagrees with my joyous shouts? Worst of all, what if someone misjudges what I am trying to say and the heart of my joyous proclamation gets lost in translation?

Can I just say in all honesty to any of these things, SO WHAT! Is my life going to change if people think I’m crazy, or disagree with me or even mangle my thoughts and joy into something I did not intend? No.  The answer is no. My life will generally not be greatly altered.

Why? Because I don’t stand on the mountain and shout just because.  I only make the journey, take the time, have to energy, to get really loud when it matters most.

But what happens if I hold back? What happens if I keep joy to myself? Nothing. I can not pass on an encouraging word to the friend that needs to hear it.  I can’t shine my light of love to those who need to see it. I can’t pay it forward to those who might be living in the same joy and are willing to pass it on.

The greater risk in life is keeping the good to ourselves because of fear. 

So take the risk.  If you have something good to share, SHARE IT!  A good story, a moving song, a sweet moment. In the midst of the heaviness of every day life in the dark world we live in, be the light.

Toddler Tuesday: Work Can Be Fun!

I hope you all had a great Labor Day yesterday.  We definitely labored at our house! 

I was recently reminded by my own mom that my 4yr old was plenty old enough to have some responsabilities around our house.  With that reminder and the fact that my son does very well on a planned schedule, I finally took matters into my own hands and made a job chart!

Job Chart!

This chart does look very busy but it has a lot of our ‘normal’ day to day activities such as putting on our own clothes and using the restroom included.  I am really hoping my little guy sees that not only is he part of the family but he is responsible for himself too and sometimes that takes work!

We have been a week on our new ‘job’ schedule and really like it but what I find most interesting is that my son has been asking if he can help with more things.

Sometimes this is a little tough when you are cooking dinner on a hot stove or trying to use a lawn mower. However I have been challenged to find ways to include him whenever he asks to help out.

I want to be supportive of his willingness to serve!

Yesterday, Labor Day, we were making home  made pear sauce.  It is rather laborious to peel, core, cut, simmer, flavor and jar your own food but I was willing to try it!

Right as I began my son immediately pulled up his stool and asked if he could help.  Obviously he can’t use a knife but I was using a slicer and all the slices needed pulled apart.  So, we situated him at the counter and let him pull apart pear slices.


My 2yr went down for a nap but I let my son stay up to work on this task.  It was one of the best 1.5hrs we’ve had in months.  As we both stood side by side working at a very mundane task, all sorts of fun things happened.

First, I was reminded of my sons creativity.  He was making up all kinds of stories about why the pears were in spirals and how they looked like slinkys but they couldn’t bounce.  He went on and on, I loved seeing him create so many stories out of a sliced piece of fruit.

Second, I was reminded that work can be fun.  Work done in community can be really fun.  We get to share our stories with one another, talk about our day and support one another in the small mundane things of life and ENJOY it!

Third, I was reminded that sometimes our kids need our one on one attention.  I try really hard to spend specific moments with each of my kids each day but it rarely happens in such large chunks without interruption. Nothing earth shattering happened during our time but we made memories and had some heart to heart time that I know I will always remember.

by googlisti

So this week your challenge is to do one of the following: 

  • Find a way to experience your child’s creative side.  Maybe it is just pulling out the playdoh (I know, it’s messy, but they love it!) or markers and doing something out of the ordinary.  Just enjoy listening to your child explore their world.
  • Find a way to work along side your child.  Maybe you already do household work together or have thought about doing it. Stop thinking about it and start doing it!  Think of all the small tasks you do in a day and invite your child to participate with you.
  • Find a large amount of time alone with your child.  Put your cell phone on silent, turn off the T.V., log out of Facebook and really just focus on your child.  You might be surprised at what you learn!

Above all remember that you are just one person.  These moments are not every day moments but maybe if we focus on them a little more we can make them happen every week or even every month!

Happy Toddler Tuesday!

Toddler Tuesday: Do your kids ask?

by Shahram Sharif

Question of the day:  Do your kids ask you to pray with them?  For them?  Around them? About them?

I’ve talked a bit about this in the past (A Child’s Heart or Can You Hear Me Now?)

As always, my 4yr old knows and sees more than I think. It is amazing that he doesn’t seem to miss a beat.

After a fun day of friends, Dairy Queen, playing in the hose and bedtime silliness all seemed quiet and calm.  As I sat at my computer answering emails I looked over to see the slow breath of my 4yr old at the office door.

“Mom, can you pray for me and can you pray that I only have good dreams.” Now, I’m not sure where he got the idea of good dreams and bad dreams but somehow it’s there. And right there in my office chair he crawled into my lap and I said a prayer over him. When all was said he hurried on up to bed as if nothing had happened.

I’m beyond thrilled that this little man knows somewhere in his heart that prayer changes things.  That prayer is a comfort and a quiet.

As I sat thinking about it and answering emails I began to turn my thoughts from him to me. Do I have someone that will pray over me, even in the little things? Am I someone that others can turn to for prayer?

If we want to demonstrate to our children the practice of prayer we must extend it beyond meal times and bed times.  We must reach outside of our home and practice the discipline of prayer with others, both corporately and independently. In all of our practices we should find time to include our children in the practice of prayer.

Some ways to start:

  • Pray at Meal Times.  At our house the child praying is responsible for praying for one thing they are thankful for that day.
  • Pray at Bed Time. This is a great time to reflect on the good and difficult things of the day and to teach our kids to ask for forgiveness for their difficult moments.
  • Pray Over Your Kids.  Find time maybe before or after school or a regular activity to pray out loud over your child.  The confidence and knowledge our children gain by hearing us pray in invaluable.
  • Pray With Others so Your Kids Can Hear.  If you are praying with a friend or small group check with them to see if it would be okay to include your child. Not everyone will be open to this and it should be done wisely but corporate prayer provides a beautiful picture to our children of the body of Christ in action.

If you would like to pray for your child here is a great way to get started: Prayer Calendar

by googlisti

Today’s Challenge: Make a new commitment to pray for or with your child this week. Start small, just choose one!  Leave a comment and let me know what you think about praying for your child and what is working for you!

Toddler Tuesday: Community Time

by blmurch

Every night when my son goes to bed I lay down with him and we talk about his day. It is a good way to help him unwind and it is a great way for me to understand what in our days at home are most important to him.

This past week we had a busy day where we had story time, played, swam, had a picnic lunch and  our Papaw Keith came and ate with us for dinner.

At bed time I asked Keller the usual question, “What was your favorite thing you did today?”  Sometimes I get a favorite food that we ate or favorite book that we read but this night was different. His response without hesitation was “Having dinner with Papaw Keith.”

I think my heart skipped a beat at that moment.

When life is busy, you’ve worked during the day, kept house, ran errands and dealt with the daily grind opening your home to family or friends may seem like just one more “job” to do.

But take a moment to consider how your hospitality might impact your children.

Our toddlers aren’t often involved in the decision making when it comes to who we have community with but the people we  choose to involve in our lives directly impacts our kids.

Grandpa taking an evening to come have dinner and just be a part of our family made a big impact on Keller.  Big enough to qualify as the FAVORITE part of his day.

By filling our homes with family and good friends our kids begin to understand the value of healthy community, something they can carry with them forever.

by googlisti

Today’s Challenge:

Look at your calendar and see where you are involving your kids in a community of family or friends.

If you are already there, consider asking your child who they would like to invite over in the coming weeks.

If you have a lot of open space consider who your community is and invite someone over.  Involve your child in the preparation to help them understand the value of what is happening around them!

Toddler Tuesday: Superheros!

by Randy Son Of Robert

Recently, my 4 yr old has been asking a lot of questions about superheros. Things like what they wear or if I know their “song”.

Now, I grew up as the oldest of 3 girls, superheros are not necessarily a part of my random repertoire of knowledge. I have no idea how my son even found out about superheros but as I’ve been thinking about it (and learning a TON about superheros this past week) I have been pondering what it would mean to be a superhero mom to my son.

When I think of superhero mom I think of a mom who can do it all.  Cook, clean, create, work, volunteer, have perfect kids, look great and always be happy doing it.

When my son thinks of a superhero mom it looks totally different. His idea of a superhero mom is someone that plays hide and seek, digs in the dirt, lays with him at bedtime, leaves him the last sip of juice and always appears happy doing it.

Since we are all human we won’t be the perfect superhero mom. BUT maybe if I can combine my ideas and my sons ideas I can get a little closer to being what is most important to my son (and daughter).

So I’m working on my super hero image…

Name: MOM The Defender

Theme Song: I Refuse… (

Super Power: Magic Ears. The ability to hear, listen and process what is going on with each child around me and then use that knowledge to respond in a way that champions that child.

Costume: Jeans, Sea Green cap sleeve t-shirt, black leather sandals and some mascara

Today’s Challenge:  Create your superhero image. Your name, theme song, costume and super power. Remember who you are conquering for!