Since everything appears to be in retrograde (and I have no actual clue what that means), I’m finding my blended family as a serious source of stress these days. Being in a blended family brings about a set of challenges no one can prepare you for. As women, we always want to hold down the fort, not complain, and work through our issues in our own heads. It’s not the best solution, but it’s one we hold hands with time and time again. Just like all the internet meme’s are suggesting, “Check on your friends who______”. Check on your friends with blended families, they are not okay!
If you’re thinking, “well you chose that life”, STOP! STOP! That is not how you check on your friends and support them. That is the complete opposite. We blended mama’s need support from our tribe to help press on towards great things for ourselves and our family. Here are some ways you can check on your friends (especially your blended family friends):
Be a supportive shoulder
Stepmoms are especially in need of a supportive shoulder to lean on. Not only are some of us biological moms, but we are also bonus moms that get to deal with bio and bonus issues. We don’t need the “girl that could never be me” friends rather the “I understand, you can do this” friends. The key is to be a positive support system when we don’t feel so positive. We genuinely love our girlfriends that are down to ride but in this case, we need you to talk us off the ledge, not stand on the ledge with us. So in other words, check on your friend by letting her vent, cry, scream and then give her some sound advice.
Encourage a positive outlet
Check on your friend by encouraging her to find a positive outlet. Many times when we get in a funk, we like to indulge in things that aren’t so positive (cue all the college stereotypes you can think of). But some of those activities give us the opportunity to revel in the funk rather than rid ourselves of it. Since we are someone’s mama, we need positive ways to blow off steam. Whatever you and your girlfriend are into, do that. I personally enjoy anything that involves water or logic puzzles. So some of these beautiful Florida beaches or any escape room in town would do it for me. In these stressful instances, it is OKAY not to hype your friend up.
So this year, keep your blended family friends uplifted in love, support, and encouragement. It only takes a moment to send a text message or call to check on your friends!
In today’s world raising confident kids is difficult. Everywhere they look, there is something or someone telling them they are less than. Now, there are a lot of great people and places that are helping to build our children up, but we all know the negative takes hold much quicker than the positive. As parents, it is our responsibility to make sure we are those people. The people raising confident kids.
Lately, in our household, our kids have been adopting a defeatist attitude. As they are getting older, things are getting more difficult. Tasks that were once easy now need extra work to accomplish. My husband and I have noted that their frustration level and willingness to call it quits has increased. As two hardworking, go-getters, we decided that this attitude is not going to work in our household. So we sat down and talked about what we wanted to do to help our kids become more confident in themselves, and increase their perseverance.
Positive Mantras and Affirmations
Speaking positivity over your life does wonders for us as adults to help change our circumstances. The same translates over to the littlest versions of ourselves. Saying these words aloud moves positivity to your brain, and then your heart. Although we believe in our children’s abilities, we cannot believe for them. They must believe for themselves even when no one else does in order to be successful in life. We have implemented written affirmations in our homeschool morning binder and this awesome youtube video for daily affirmations. If you are just starting this practice, it will be odd for your children but after a few days, they will be reminding you that they didn’t complete their positive mantras. This is a quick and easy way to ensure you are raising confident kids.
Family Crest and Creed
Another method we are using to raise confident kids is to create a family crest and creed. After attending a marriage conference at our church, this idea stuck with us, after being mentioned by one of the speakers. We are still in the infancy of this idea, but it will look something like this… as a family unit, we will create a crest and write our own creed. We will encourage each child to add an item to the crest that represents who they are. We’ll allow them to brainstorm the colors and overall design as a team. Then we will get the crest created and the creed printed to hang in the house. Our vision is to put this in a visible area, recite it as a family as often as possible, and redirect our kids to it when their attitudes don’t align to our expectations.
Compliments = Confident Kids
As parents, we often focus on the corrections our children need to make, or showing them the proper way to do things (myself included). So, making a conscious effort to compliment your child on something they do well can go a long way. It does not have to be a large task or accomplishment, but take notice and make it known. Think of yourself at work, when your boss notices that you have done something (no matter how small), it makes you feel confident in yourself and more likely to complete other goals. Compliments work the same for kids. The give them a moment to proud of themselves and encourages them to behave in ways that will warrant more compliments. Compliments create confident kids.
What are you doing to help create confident kids in your household?
It’s time for summer planning. The count down is on and school will be out for summer. If you are like me you are thankful to spend more time with your kids but you are also tired at the thought already.
How will I entertain my kids this summer?
How will I be able to feed my kids this summer without them eating the entire month’s groceries in a few days? Because… “can I have a snack?”
How will I keep my kids occupied this summer while maintaining my sanity?
Honestly, I don’t have all of the answers for you because I’m still attempting to figure out our summer life. This year I am making a conscious effort to focus on summer planning. One major thing I am going to implement this summer is a summer schedule. This will be my first year implementing such structure and I’m hoping it will go well.
As a blended family, schedules and routines can become super complicated super quickly. To help us ease into our summer schedule, we started with a “soft launch” by utilizing a morning “to-do” list. Each child has a list that is specific to them. I used this freebie template from another mom blogger. We’re still working on each kid following their list to fidelity, but it has already changed the game in our household.
Our summer schedule will be based on a “theme” for each day. This will allow both adults and children to know what is coming. These ideas are budget friendly and exactly what my family of 5 (family of 6 in the summer) needs! Some people think that schedules are rigid and set in stone. Our summer schedule is flexible and things will shift as necessary.
For example, our summer schedule may change because the library is hosting an event that we want to attend. But, I know we will visit the library each week to switch out books and to attend a program that my kids will enjoy. So, don’t be afraid to switch up the schedule from week to week or as necessary. Here is a look at one week of our activity schedule for the summer.
I am excited to see the change planning out our summer has. In the past we have just let summer happen and it has weighed heavily on my sanity. You can download this cute little weekly schedule template (along with some other fruit template) in my TpT store for free to help you get started and stay organized.
Happy Summer planning 🙂
Keep doing (the best) you boo!
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As a kid, I loved opening up a good book and getting lost in the tangled web of the characters. I definitely was a well-read black girl. My mother did a good job of making a point to ensure I had books with characters from all walks of life. Fortunately for me, I was a black child reading books with black characters. One of my favorite childhood books was “Amazing Grace” by Mary Hoffman. I loved how Grace was faced with a challenge and chose that others’ doubts were none of her business. She would do what she had set her mind to, regardless of naysayers. That speaks to so many of our lives, doesn’t it?
As a mama of three little black children, it is important that I help them paint the same positive narratives that I had dancing in my head as a child. In today’s society, it’s easy to get caught up in the negative imagines and the loud “whisper” of what you are and are not supposed to be.
Black children need books with Black characters because…
It helps them develop a positive self-image
It makes them more aware of the difficulties they will face in a child-friendly way
It helps them to learn about the awesome Black people who have impacted this world
It gives them hope
It helps them build self-confidence
Here are some of the books with black characters that are currently in heavy rotation with my crew:
My children are in love with these books. Allowing them to see and hear from characters that look like them has increased their reading engagement, opened up some candid conversations, and makes doing homework easier.
No matter your family’s background, you have to help your children to understand the diversity of our world through reading and experience. Wethers its books, television, or urban cosplay, we have to find ways to expose our children to things that represent their culture. I love to read and hope my children develop and keep the same love of reading I have carried throughout my life.
What are the “must reads” on your mama reading list and your kids’ reading list?
“As soon as we get in the house, sit down and start your homework,” is a sentence I’ve said countless times to my trio. As each child moves up the educational ladder, the homework assignments become more difficult and more tedious. Just like any other household, completing homework doesn’t come without its woes. One child is doing their best to get a “snack” instead of homework, another is trying really hard and can’t get it, and the third insist on doing their homework before they get home and turning it in before you can check the quality. Because after all, the homework represents your effort as a parent. Right? Wrong! As a mama (and a teacher), I know that teachers’ intent is not to frustrate you or your precious saplings. Simply, there are not enough hours in the school day and we want to use homework to reinforce ideas learned in class, review topics already learned, or to preview ideas we will learn in the future. Honestly, teacher’s aren’t so caught up in the idea of homework that we’ll fail your child for not completing their homework (we probably will give you a call to see what’s going on though).
As my mama friends were expressing their angst with their littles and homework, I offered up a few tips to make homework with your kids easier.
Making homework easier
Stamina is the ability to do a task for an extended amount of time without getting distracted. Just like with anything in life, we have to help our kids increase their ability to do something for an extended period of time. Honestly, as an adult, who can sit for three hours and focus on a task? Both hands raised, not this girl. So, start slow. If you have a really reluctant child, building stamina will be their best friend. Start with 5 focused minutes, then take a brain break. Slowly increase their time on task, until they are up to an amount of time that will allow a good chunk of homework to be done. 25-30 minutes is adequate before they will need to and want to take a small break or be complete with the nights’ assignments. Sure, as children get older the stamina can increase. But please, don’t try to make your six-year-old sit down for an hour and do their homework. You both are going to end up exhausted, frustrated, and in need of some alone time.
Rewards can range from stickers to free time, to an episode of their favorite show. In our family, we use a sticker chart for each kiddo. For example, we use summer bridge workbooks during any break from school. For every 2 pages they complete, a sticker is added to the sticker chart. Once the chart is full (20 stickers), we take a trip to get a sweet treat of their choice. Rewards can also be used in conjunction with building stamina in order to make doing homework with your kids easier.
Set stamina milestones. When your child increases from 5 to 10 minutes focused and on task, reward them with a sticker. If your child is into shopkins, bayblades, or slime, use that as a reward! My littles are fairly young and the rewards are very simple at this point. As they get older, I will adjust their rewards.
You can use some of these as rewards to make homework easier…
Take a Break
If you’re anything like me, you just want to get it done so you can move on to the next task on your list. Unfortunately, this can lead to excess frustrations when it comes to completing homework with your kids. To save the sanity of the entire family, take a break! Once you sense a hint of frustration from either parents or the kids, everyone should step back and take a break. Keep the breaks short enough to not lose momentum, but long enough to allow everyone time to regain their umph. What do you do during the breaks? Anything you want that is not related to homework. Walk to the mailbox, take a 5-minute dance break, say a prayer, lay on the floor, or color. Whatever you do, don’t do homework during the break, and don’t allow the breaks to become too frequent or so long that you put the work off.
Confession time, this was me! Don’t judge me, I am still a work in progress. What I’ve learned from yelling at my precious kids during homework time…it doesn’t help! So mama, daddy, sister, grandma, save your yells for outside on the playground. Yelling confirms that you are upset and in turn, you get more upset. It lets your kids know that you are upset and they either shut down completely or become a crying heap on the floor. What do I do now? I count and breath. If I feel myself reaching the point of yelling, I stop and breathe and ask myself if it is time to take a break.
If it is not the time for a break, I quickly recover and reexplain the tasks and I ask my children what part they are having trouble with. This is a mistake I have made, and will probably continue to make every now and again, but I don’t want to teach my children that they should be yelled at for lack of understanding. I was chosen to be their mom to teach them and help them learn about the things they don’t understand. Allow them the courtesy of learning from a person who is not visibility irritated (you are free to be irritated inside all you wish). If you remember nothing else, remember that not yelling will make doing homework with your kids much easier.
Set a Timer to build independence
As you build stamina and your children grow in their understanding, it is time to implement more independence. The more independent your child can be, the easier it will be to do their homework. This is something we have implemented with even our youngest child.
When you are beginning the assignment, set a timer. For the first 5-7 minutes, don’t allow your children to ask any questions about the assignment. This encourages them to read the directions and reread the direction if they are not quite sure. When children are in the classroom, they are often completing tasks independently. They cannot rely on the teacher or the parent as a crutch, so they have to practice building their independence. A timer is a great visual reminder that they are not alone “forever”, but it also reminds them they have to try their best to figure it out during this time.
An egg timer is pretty easy to use and kids can even set it themselves. You can also use this same timer to help build homework stamina.
Don’t do all the homework
Yes, I am a teacher. Yes, I said do not do all the homework. Honestly, if the homework packet is stressing you and your child out, just do what you can. Homework is not worth a child losing their love of learning. Homework is a tool meant to help, not hinder. If not completing a couple pages in their packet will make doing homework with your kids easier, do that! Again, you can build up your child’s stamina to complete the entire weeks’ assignment. But, as a teacher, I’d rather a child get a good night’s rest and be ready to rock the next day than complete 282 pages (slight exaggeration) of homework and be exhausted. And as a parent, I am free to choose what is best for my child.
This is what has worked in my household and we are on the road to stress-free homework time, (if there is such a thing). What are you doing to make homework time easier for the whole family?
Keep doing (the best) you boo!
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Hey beauties, I am Lani. The creator of Lani on Life. On this blog you will find all the things that make our lives interesting. My life is not perfect but I am here for it all: Moming. Teaching. Lifeing. Enjoy your stay :)