Posts filed under Building Your Family

That Takes the Cake: learning what your child truly values

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“Ryder, what was your favorite birthday cake Mom ever made you?” Lincoln inquired as we were looking for ideas for his coming celebration. Each child only has a party every five years, but they are allowed to pick out a cool cake for their special day even if it will only be enjoyed by family.

“The sprinkle donuts! They were awesome!”
My jaw dropped. “Oh really? Better than the Paw Patrol or Transformer cakes?”

“Yep. I loved the sprinkles.” Ryder replied.

“I’m glad you liked them, Sweetie.” Inside, I was stunned. I am not a professional baker; I am just a mom. That means I have bent over backwards and traded many hours of sleep for some of the elaborate cake requests my kids have given me. I don’t usually like to post pictures of these things because I’m not trying to be a Supermom. I am just trying to make my kids feel special and loved. Anyway, to get the irony of his response, you have to see the cake line-up...

For Ryder’s first birthday, I ended up making three cakes in honor of my little guy’s party because he was always hungry and he scooted like a caterpillar…

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There was the year that every cake picture was met with a “No!” until the minion picture made him throw back his head and laugh… how could I resist?

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And the next year Paw Patrol was his absolute favorite, so he thought the lookout tower was pretty epic.

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Then Transformers became the new craze, so I labored to make that one happen too.

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Hearing that a funfetti cake mix poured into a donut baking pan beat out all my fondant handiwork was a little hard to swallow. This year Ryder’s birthday fell in the middle of a chaos storm for our family. Treats are his love language, and I felt awful that I wasn’t able to make his dessert more special. The result was so lackluster that neither his dad nor I thought to get a great picture of the donut tower, just a video of the birthday boy blowing out his candles. And here he was saying it didn’t matter to him…

It got me thinking. Why were these donuts so special to him? I didn’t even waste any calories finishing one, so it certainly wasn’t the taste! Perhaps it was because he helped me make them from start to finish. He made the donuts, and the glaze, and he poured the sprinkles. He has helped me make cakes in the past, but since I stay up way past his bedtime making them, I have opted for the morning grand reveal. Perhaps the process, and time spent with mom, is more important than the result for this kiddo--especially if there are taste tests!

A few days later was my youngest son’s birthday. He loves anything Cars and has food allergies, so I made him a homemade cake and put some of his plastic cars and sprinkles on it. He was thrilled with the results!

“Wow, Mom! Thank you! It looks great!”

Even my six-year-old, whose response to the Paw Patrol cake is still, “But where is the slide for the Lookout Tower?!”, was satisfied.

This was interesting for sure. Everett hadn’t helped, but because it had his favorite characters he was thrilled. (But don’t the fondant characters count too?!? Apparently not… ) After we went to a matinee with Grandma, and had a nice dinner at home, we opened presents. We had purchased him a large Lego creative set, so I suggested a family building time. We spend the better part of an hour all building what we could with our pieces and sharing them. It was so simple, but it was a special time as a family and my little guy was happy as pie. His birthday was a success in his eyes.

A few days later we had dinner with friends, and I had my sons create some cake decorations. We bought a little cake--something I never would have done in the past--taped their handmade drawings to popsicle sticks, and stuck them in the cake with a few toys. They were so proud of their hard work. Once again, I realized how much joy it brought my kids to be a part of the process/decision-making aspect of the birthday cake. And in the end it probably is more about spending quality time together than having sugar art that will be destroyed instantaneously. This may differ from child to child. I really do believe personalities affect what we appreciate most. However, listening to our kids about what is important to them is the key.

In the future, I still plan on making some elaborate cakes and desserts, but I don’t think I will hold myself to that standard every year. Instead I plan on creating a birthday experience in which my child’s input and values are key. And this is not just a concept for birthdays. It is for the everyday. Not creating a child-centered home, but creating an environment in which the child knows they are valued and loved is a worthy goal. Just as Betsy has always emphasized with the “Fifteen Minutes a Day” approach, we need to realize that having US is better than any treat or experience. Being present is what our kids long for, especially when we are in busy seasons of life. Simply do whatever you can, so you can lie down on the carpet and drive cars or sit down on that tiny chair and have a tea party. THAT is what they will remember.

I realized something else through this too. It isn’t about my kids. It’s about God. God knew I was at max capacity. He knew that phoning in a donut cake mix was the best I could do at the time. And somehow, He helped my little boy see the fun in it. Ryder wasn’t meditating on what he missed out, he was thankful for what he had. I believe it is evidence of God swooping in--yet again--to bring good out of hard times. As I strive to follow Him in my parenting in the future, I will trust He knows where my efforts are best spent. Seeking Him and being there are sure to top the list.

Posted on April 18, 2018 and filed under Building Your Family.

How to Prepare Financially to be a Stay-at-Home Mom

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When you have a baby, there will be plenty of changes to cope with...lack of sleep, a completely new body, emotions, lack of sleep, figuring out how to change a diaper...lack of sleep. Not to mention that you’ll be responsible for raising a human being! The last thing you want to worry about is finances, so planning now will help that to be less of a concern when the time comes.

Every family will need to decide whether they are going to have one parent stay home, or whether they will need to afford childcare. Either way, caring for your new baby is going to be a large financial hit. I always knew that I wanted to stay home with my kids, but even if you aren’t sure yet, planning now will allow you the freedom of choice when you finally become a mom. Here are 5 things you can do, starting today, to prepare financially for full-time motherhood:

1.             Start Living on One Salary (As Soon as Possible)

My husband and I began living exclusively on his salary from Day One of our marriage. Having talked about our goals for me to stay home when we had kids, we knew right away that this strategy was going to ease the pain of transition when that change came. And it’s certainly a huge financial change! You will go from being a 2-income-0-kids household to being a 1-income-1-kid household overnight when you decide to stay home. It is best to get used to living on that one income now so it won’t be painful after baby comes.

If you haven’t yet begun to live on one salary, make the transition as soon as possible. Take a hard look at your budget and see what discretionary expenses can be cut. Make the lifestyle changes that are necessary and make a plan if you can’t start immediately. Again, even if you aren’t sure that you want to stay home with your baby, you’ll simply be allowing yourself the freedom to choose to do so, if and when the time comes.

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2.            Bank Your Salary While You Have It

Now that you’ve figured out how to live and cover your expenses on one salary, begin saving the other spouse’s salary in the bank (assuming your debts are paid off first. Most financial experts will probably advise you to start there, but consult your financial planner if you have a lot of debt to address).

You’ll be amazed at how quickly it will accumulate, and believe me, you’re going to need it! This will become your all-important emergency fund, so that when your furnace goes out or another unforeseen expense arises, you can stick to the plan. If you’re able to save enough of a cushion, it can also be the account you draw from for an occasional splurge, like Disney World or a new minivan. (I know, I know, you’ll never drive a minivan. That’s what we all said.)

If you’re committed to staying home for the long haul, it could easily be 10 years or more before you are ready to re-enter the workforce. Your youngest child won’t be in school full time for 5 or 6 years, so having a savings account with a large enough cushion to last that much time will be ideal. It could only take 1-2 years to save a very large chunk if you’re banking your entire salary.

3.              Keep Some Money Just for You

When you decide to give up your job, it is interesting how you’ll feel like the balance of power has shifted. No matter how much both spouses are on board or how supportive they are of each other, it really feels bad not to have “your own” money. I was surprised how affected I was by the loss of my income. I felt like I wasn’t contributing, even though as a stay-at-home mom we definitely carry our share of the load. I also felt like I shouldn’t buy things for myself, like new jeans or a pair of Spring flats. So, I think it’s important to have a small amount of fun-money set aside, within your savings account, that is all yours. Maybe it’s only $2,000, and maybe your husband can have his own slush fund as well to keep things fair. But the rule is that it’s for you to do what you want with. Trust me, it’ll feel good to have that.

4.              Keep Retirement in Mind

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I’m certainly not a financial expert, so please consult one on this point. But one of the things we made sure to do when I left the workforce was to keep my retirement account active and receiving contributions. Don’t let your spouse’s be the only IRA to keep accumulating, because 10 years is a long time to be losing compound interest. Again, ask the expert, but I’ll caution you to not neglect your own retirement.

5.              Choose a Mortgage Carefully

When couples are ready to begin a family, they often start by buying a bigger house. Be careful that you stick to the one-salary rule when you make this choice! Only purchase a house that you can comfortably afford on one salary. There is nothing worse than being forced to go back to work when all you want to do is stay home and hold your baby. This is one of the most critical decisions that you’ll make to allow yourself the freedom to choose to stay home. So don’t get caught up in what is bigger and prettier. Choose a good house for your family, but be practical and don’t say yes if you can’t afford it on one salary.

I hope these tips will be helpful as you consider how to set yourself up financially to be a stay-at-home mom. I know that not everyone plans to make that choice, but the idea is to give yourself a choice in the first place. Good financial planning will give you that freedom.

Posted on April 11, 2018 and filed under Building Your Family.

Family Fun For Homebodies

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I asked my daughter, who is 9, the other day, “What do we do as a family to have fun?” Blank stare. “I know!” I said, “I couldn’t think of anything either!”

Sometimes I think that if “The Annual Most Boring Family Award” was a thing, my family of 5 would win it every year. We do really enjoy each other’s company...it’s just not in a splashy or exciting way.

All of us (with the exception of our adventurous 5 year old, poor guy) are homebodies of varying degrees. My husband and I are content at home, and increasingly so the older we get. Every time I go out, there’s a part of me that wishes I could just stay in. My oldest is the most extreme. He utterly hates leaving the house for almost every reason, and must be coaxed to even go for a bike ride. My middle child is happy to go out but just as happy to stay in. The youngest is just biding his time until he can escape the hostage situation.

I was convicted to make a list of the ways we do have fun (do we??) and then to think of some more things that we can do to spend intentional time, and create happy memories, together…even if we don’t leave the house.

And yes, I am resolving to start doing a better job of getting that little guy to the playground and the laser tag zone (ugh) more often. Promise!

Here’s a list of ways that those of us who are, or who are raising, homebodies, can still have fun together as a family:

Play Dress Up
This is surprisingly fun. Raid your closet and old Halloween costumes, break out the face paint and the make-up, and play dress up. Take some selfies (essential!) and do it again. You’ll feel like you’re a 9-year-old, and it’s wonderful.

Crescent Roll Bake-Off
I have a theory that absolutely anything will taste delicious when wrapped and baked in a Pillsbury Crescent Roll. Host a family bake-off where everyone chooses a different filling and you vote on a winning treat. We’ve tried apple slices with cinnamon and sugar, cherry pie filling, and of course, little sausages. (Tip: Serve the dessert varieties with vanilla ice cream. Ohhh yes.)

Movie Night
I embrace that I’m boring. And this is my favorite thing to do with the kids. We love to make a big deal out of movie nights, so we really don’t have them too often. (Plus, it’s hard to find good movies!) When we do it, we pull out ALL the blankets. Popcorn and candy are must-haves. And we turn out all the lights and turn up the sound bar so it’s truly an experience. (Tip: Check movie reviews at Plugged In before you commit. I can’t tell you how many times that wonderful ministry has saved us from watching something that no one should!)

Read Aloud
There are a handful of great books that every family should read together. The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe was the start of it for us. Snuggles and coziness and Mom reading...it’s like going back in time, and it’s just the sweetest.

Play Games
I’m not really a fan of board games, but we’ve really gotten into charades recently. We’ve never laughed so much! We also like cards. With my 5-year old, we make an entire game out of seeing who draws the highest card, over and over again, until the deck is gone. Whoever has the most cards in their pile at the end wins. He’s obsessed.

DIY Ice Cream Sundae Bar
You can do this with any assemble-your-own food, like pizza or tacos, as well. But since we’re partial to ice cream, we like to break out the sundae bar from time to time. Sprinkles and toppings have a long shelf-life, so they can stand at the ready in the pantry for spur-of-the-moment treats. Or you can really do this up, with crumbled brownies, syrups, whipped cream, chopped nuts, fruit topping...the sky's the limit. Just make sure the kids help you clean up before they run away to jump on the furniture and scream like banshees on a sugar high.

Camp Out in the Living Room
Easiest camping ever, and you can cook in your own stove. Set up a tent in the family room, pull out every blanket and pillow you own, and have a sleepover complete with flashlights.

Make a Time Capsule
I saw this idea recently and my kids would LOVE it. Make your own time capsule! Gather photos, handwritten notes, schoolwork, artwork, and some newsworthy items of the time, and seal it in a waterproof, durable container. Set a date 20 years in the future to reunite and open it! (My only conundrum is where to bury it...since I’m not sure we’ll be in the same house for 20 years and if I “bury” it in our basement it is sure to be lost forever…)

Dance
We dance. Alot. We have a bluetooth speaker in the kitchen and almost inevitably dinner clean-up becomes a dance party every night. Even the dog has been trained to do some moves when he sees us start up. I think this is a great thing for families. Who else can you bust a move in front of without worrying about looking like a goof?

Play Hide-and-Seek
My oldest is 11, and the days are coming soon when he’ll be too old for games like this. I need to capitalize on his youth while I still can and break out the old-fashioned fun a few more times. Plus, how fun is it to jump out from behind a shower curtain at someone? Hilarious every time.

Arm Wrestling Tournament (Spoiler: Dad always wins)
A friend of mine texted me this week that her daughter (now 8, and apparently freakishly strong) had somehow just beat her at arm wrestling. Baffled, I immediately challenged all of my children. I’m thankful to report that none of them could beat me, but they all had a blast trying. It’s now their goal in life to take down their parents in this sport, and my dedication to lifting weights has been renewed! Double win.

Posted on March 7, 2018 and filed under Building Your Family.

To my greatest hardest things

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I didn’t know about everything that would come with it. I knew about dirty diapers and doctor visits. I had an idea about science fairs and sleepovers. I looked forward to bedtime stories and notes tucked into lunchboxes. 

But I wasn’t prepared for you. Not really.

 

How can you ever be prepared for the raw, unadulterated excitement over dandelion wishes and lightning bugs and tooth fairies? Over mud puddles and empty cardboard boxes and cookies shaped like animals? Over blanket forts and snow days and taking off the training wheels?

You can’t. You might think you'll be prepared, but you won't be. You might think you know, like I thought I knew; but the truth is, you won’t know and can’t know until you are in it. This joy can't be described like what you had for dinner last night or what you bought on sale last week or what you wanted to be when you grew up when you were in kindergarten. It would be like trying to explain how you feel when you look at the stars and how small you feel in comparison and how big God seems in comparison and how you could almost reach up and stick one to your finger and pull it down from the sky and wipe it on your jeans.

It's indescribable.

But then there's SOMETHING ELSE. Something else that comes with the Valentine's boxes made from cereal boxes you had to empty into Tupperware because you forgot until the night before, and the ever-present bag of outgrown clothes you keep meaning to take to Goodwill and then you finally do but then there is another bag filled up already. There is something else, something you don't hear about at baby showers. That SOMETHING ELSE is the very hardest heartbreak of having to be the bad guy, make the tough call, be the better man, take the higher road, take the heat, bear the load, shoulder the burden, keep them safe, keep them healthy, but eventually LETTING THEM GO.

Nothing can prepare you for that.

Sure, you'll dream and you'll plan, but one day you'll find yourself IN DEEP, and you'll realize you didn't know anything before. You will learn as you go. You will get up and try again. Every. Single. Day. Some days it will come without effort, like soaking up sun while lying in the sand and listening to the ocean relentlessly roll towards your toes. Other days it will come with all the force of a bulldozer in a forgotten part of town, knocking you down and breaking you into crumbles to pave the way for something far better.

I knew my own life was going to be changed forever, but I had no idea it was going to be CHANGED FOREVER. I was totally unprepared for the task that was laid before me. I was completely incapable of doing things the way I had dreamed about doing them before. I realized this, and it was freeing and humbling and a little sad but mostly much better.

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So to my greatest hardest things - to you, my children - know that you are loved, that you are worthy, and that you have made me a better me by simply being you. And know that if you should ever find yourself looking down into eyes that look to you for everything, you will be totally unprepared for what you see.

You will see me, you will see yourself, you will see God. You will see the past they've only heard about, you will see the future they can't imagine, and you will see beauty even when they can't see it in themselves.

And they will become your greatest hardest things.

 
Posted on January 22, 2018 and filed under Building Your Family.

Cards Worth Keeping

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Sometimes the hardest situations bring the best ideas, don’t they? Bear with me as I describe some sadness to share a new tradition we just started in our family.

This summer our babysitter’s father passed away. It was heartbreakingly tragic and sudden. The funeral, however, was inspiring and beautiful.

Because her father had served as headmaster of a Christian school for years, they had excellent video footage of him. In it he described the best thing he could give his children: to set them up to have a solid walk with Christ. Seeing this godly man, hearing his humble, genuine voice… It was powerful. As tears filled my eyes I thanked God that his five children and his wife had that video to watch over and over and over.

If you’ve lost a loved one, you know that one of the things you miss most is hearing their voice. It has been seven years since I lost my own father and one of the things I miss most is hearing his comforting voice telling me everything’s going to be okay because I can trust the Lord. As I’ve also lost my father-in-law, I deeply regret that I can’t hear him call my baby girl “Pretty Girl” as he called his other granddaughters.

This Christmas, I sat with my husband in the ER, knowing that it is not a guarantee that we will grow old together. Thankfully he is okay, but the realization remains. As parents, we want to leave as much evidence of our love for our children.

My ponderings of this were interrupted with the fact that my son’s fifth birthday was quickly approaching. The collision of these resulted in the beginning of a new tradition for my family: video birthday cards. Travis and I have decided that for each child’s birthday, we will record a video pouring in identity and telling them how deeply we love them. We believe this will be a blessing to them while we walk this Earth, and beyond. Anyone who knows me well knows I am pretty MIA on social media. However, I have to admit, technology has some redeeming value for memorializing our lives, and this is a great way to do it!

Here are some tips:

  1. Before you start, make a bulleted list of the points you want to hit upon.
  2. It’s a clip, not a movie. Try to keep it between 1-2 minutes.
  3. Make sure you focus on the best qualities you see in your child. This should be mostly character traits--not just what they “do” that you love.
  4. Try to include a funny or important anecdote about them from this year.
  5. Include your husband if possible.The goal is for your child to feel as loved as possible!
  6. Perhaps mentioning their favorites (movies, games, foods, etc..) or activities at the time would be fun.
  7. Consider ending with a verse or hope you have for them for the coming year.
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Mostly I think it just needs to be natural and simple… otherwise it will be a tradition that is not followed through with. Share your heart and your love. That’s it.

I anticipate Everett looking back at his videotapes when he is a teenager and saying, “Mom and Dad, you really knew I was a comedian when I was three?!?”

And won’t Ryder’s future bride be interested to know that he could kiss me a hundred times a day and still want “one more!”?

I’m excited to play Lincoln’s “cards” for him when he is a new father. Will he remember that he has always been crazy for babies?

May this simple effort prove powerful for years to come, for my family and for yours!

Posted on January 10, 2018 and filed under Building Your Family.

Family Christmas Traditions

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Looking back at my childhood, some of my fondest memories of Christmas were the traditions we had as a family every year. Now that we have our own family and our girls are getting older, Mark and I have come to realize that the traditions we have started to set in place are an important value for us. Already, some of their favorite Christmas memories are the traditions we have, not the presents they receive. Presents can break and lay forgotten, but the traditions and memories that are made, are built for a lifetime.
 

Children love routine. Even when it comes to Christmas, they like routine. Whether you open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Day; or you have to eat breakfast before you open presents, make sure you try and do it the same way every year. What you do every year makes a fun memory for your child. They look forward to it and often times will talk non-stop about it☺… thus, creating your traditions.

There are so many different traditions you can have for your family, whether you take some from your childhood, create your own or adopt some traditions from another family. Anyway you go about it, just make them your own.

I’m going to share four Christmas traditions we have, one is from my childhood, one is from Mark’s childhood and the other two are ones we adopted and created for our girls.

My favorite tradition we had growing up was on Christmas Eve. Every year we gathered around the Christmas tree and lit candles around the living room and turned off all the lights. My dad would read the Christmas story from the Bible and then we would sing all the Christmas carols we could remember…I remember my dear Nana Pat would harmonize in her sweet alto voice every year. After we sang, my mom would place the different kinds of Christmas cookies we made out on the table. We would enjoy some Wassail that had been brewing on the stove with the aroma wafting through the house while we sang. (Wassail is a warm apple cider drink with fresh oranges, cloves and many other spices). This is a tradition we have carried on with our children and they look forward to it every year! They even were able to hear Nana Pat sing for several years before she passed away.The second tradition we have is from Mark’s childhood. His sweet grandma made homemade donuts every year called Cruellers. Mark grew up making them with his family and a couple years ago we decided that it would be a super fun tradition to carry on every Christmas Eve morning with our family. We make the dough from scratch and we have a donut cutter that even cuts out the donut holes! The girls help cut out the donuts and Mark is the official fryer. Yes, that’s correct, they are fried…and so worth every calorie! Then once they cool for a minute we fill one big ziploc bag with cinnamon and sugar and another with powdered sugar and the girls take turns shaking the donuts in the bags. They love this!

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The third tradition we have is picking out Christmas ornaments. I’m not sure what year we started this, but it has been several now. We take them to a store and they each get to choose their own ornament for the year. When we get home we write their initials and the year they bought it on the ornament and then hang it on our tree. The idea behind this tradition is that they will be able to take all of their ornaments they picked out over the years and add them to their own tree when they move out. More memories from their childhood! We also choose a special family ornament every year and date it as well. We usually try to pick one out that represents some significant event or time from our year as a family.

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The fourth tradition we have is our hot cocoa pajama run. After the girls are snug in their beds, we run down the hall yelling “pajama run, pajama run!” They scramble out in their pajamas and we all pile into the car! We go to a local coffee shop for some hot cocoa and then drive around and look at Christmas lights while sipping our hot chocolate.

Traditions are a wonderful way to create sweet memories that will last a lifetime for your children. Have fun creating and making your own or adding to the traditions you already have!

Merry Christmas and may your season be full of making memories and family and the most important gift of all, Jesus.

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Posted on December 21, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.

The Bored Jar

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As Christmas break approaches, some of you might be thinking “Oh no...what am I going to do with my kids for two whole weeks?!” (No? Just me?)

I don’t know about your house, but at ours, boredom tends to set in pretty quickly over breaks when we don’t travel.

The first day of lounging around in pajamas is fun, but after that the whining takes over. I came up with a solution over our recent Thanksgiving break that worked really well for the problem of too-much-boredom over a school holiday.

My philosophy is that it’s not my job as a mom to entertain my kids. We can debate that as I’m open to other viewpoints. But in general, I think kids today have so much entertainment they don’t know what to do with it, and they should be required to stretch their own brains to come up with activities to pass the time when necessary.

My kids definitely don’t agree with me on this. When they’re bored, I’m the first one they come to. (And sadly, if I don’t produce, they’ll just move on to fighting with a sibling.) I can start to feel like I’m in a hostage situation by hour 2 of a school break, and I have generally good kids!

So I invented The Bored Jar. Because of my philosophy (see above) it was intended to be a consequence for whining to me about boredom. But since I’m not officially trying to win the Meanest Mom Ever award this year, I decided to add in a few fun ideas too. But the vast majority were meant to be things they don’t really want to do. (Chess against yourself anyone?)

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Shockingly, my kids thought this jar was the most fun thing ever. I thought it would stop them from coming to me about their boredom, but the reverse happened. They started whining to me just so they could choose out of the bored jar! Well, whatever. My house has never been cleaner.

Here are the rules I established:

1- You shall choose from The Bored Jar immediately if overheard saying any variation of the phrases, “I’m bored,” or “I have nothing to do,” OR at the sole discretion of your mother or father should they even *sense* boredom in your demeanor.

2- You shall immediately perform whatever is instructed on the card you draw with a happy heart whether it is a chore, a bit of fun, or something much, much worse.

3- You may not draw another card, switch, or trade. You may only draw another card when your task has been completed. You shall return the card to the jar immediately after you have read it.

4- If you draw a task that you just did, you must do it again, unless granted a reprieve by your mother (reprieves will be issued based on degree of whininess that led to The Bored Jar drawing in the first place).

Weirdly, they just kept coming back for more. When I wrote the index cards, I tried to write them in a 1:1 ratio of chores to fun. As it became obvious that the jar was my kids’ new favorite game, I started adding more and more chores. After all, the point is to make them want to invent their own fun.

One last note on my card contents: NONE of the things inside the jar can require any involvement on my part. So no, at our house you won’t find “Fill up a kiddie pool in the kitchen with jello and splash around with the dog in it.” But that’s the beauty of this idea...how you customize it is entirely up to you.

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Ready to make your own Bored Jar?

All you need is a jar and some slips of paper. Make them all the same color or the kids will get wise as to which pieces have their favorite tasks and which ones they should avoid.

Then, write one task on each piece of paper. Fold them all the same way, and put them in the jar. Done! You can be as creative as you’d like. And if you’re a much nicer mom than me and you want to put all fun stuff in there, no judgment. It’s an idea that you can use as a consequence or as a fun bonding experience. Either way, no boredom = holiday break win.

Here are the full contents of our jar (our kids range in age from 5-11):

  • Clean your room
  • Wash the pots and pans
  • Workout of the Day: Run up and down the staircase 5 times (must time with a stopwatch)
  • Play piano for 15 minutes
  • Workout of the Day: 3 rounds of 10 burpees, 10 push ups, & 10 squats (must time with a stopwatch)
  • Make a list of 20 things you’re thankful for
  • Play chess against yourself
  • Clean off and/or wipe down the kitchen table
  • Write a loving note to one of your grandparents
  • Brush your teeth
  • Load or unload the dishwasher
  • Write down 3 things Mom and Dad could do to be better parents
  • FaceTime your grandparents
  • Get a piece of gum
  • Make sure everything is tidy and neat in the front entry closet
  • Write down all the first and middle names of all the stuffed animals in your room. (Give them middle names if they don’t already have them).
  • Make a Christmas present for Dad (maybe a coupon?)
  • Write a note to Jesus about why you love him
  • Walk through the house and write down how many things you can see that rhyme
  • Wash the dog’s placemat
  • Play hide and seek with the dog
  • Use paper and scissors to make paper Barbie dolls or army men
  • Play kinetic sand
  • Clean your bathroom mirror
  • Empty the upstairs garbage
  • Memorize Philippians 2:14 and recite to Mom when ready
  • Write down 5 things you love about your mom
  • Go tell Mom she’s beautiful
  • Vacuum your bathroom floor
  • Put away laundry
  • Make a drawing
  • Read for 15 minutes
  • Wash the back door windows
  • Make a drum set out of household objects, write a song, and perform it for a stuffed animal audience
  • Make a sculpture from straws and marshmallows
  • Clean the family room
  • Vacuum wood floors
  • Make sure your closet is neat and tidy
  • Clean the playroom
  • Take the dog for a walk around the house on the leash
  • Write a worship song
  • Construct a paper flower
  • Take a shower or bath
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Happy Christmas Break!

Posted on December 15, 2017 and filed under Building Your Family.