I took the Entrusted with a Child’s Heart class when my firstborn (and only at the time) was 18 months old. How I stumbled into the class I’ll never remember, but this I know for sure: God had been saving my seat.
Before I became a parent, I thought babies were like accessories. Sweet, cuddly little accessories. Once I had a baby, of course, I quickly figured out they were a little more complicated!
Remember the first time, just around when your baby starts crawling, when you tell them “no no” in a gentle coo as they’re heading for the edge of a stair cliff? They pause thoughtfully in their path. Then they look you in the eye, flash you a drooly grin, and start crawling again straight for the very thing you just told them not to!
I took the Entrusted class at a pivotal time when my focus as a mom had to shift from snuggles and story books to the hard work of loving discipline and character building. There is so much I could say about how Betsy’s curriculum changed my thinking about my role as a mother and encouraged me in the job I had to do.
But on the lighter side of the class, there was a ton of practical advice! One of my favorite days in the class were “Betsy’s Tips” - specific, attainable ideas for having an intentional and joyful home.
I put several in my pocket as a young mom, which are all in practice today at our house. Here are 5 favorites I took to heart:
1. Make a big deal of birthdays and holidays
When I feel tired or overwhelmed, it’s easy to want to skip some of the balloons or hoopla of an occasion. But I think Betsy was right about this one. These are our kids’ memories, and they only get one childhood. I want them to remember that we celebrated them, and I want them to want to come home for holidays as adults because they’re so special. That does NOT mean expensive. But whatever I can do to mark an occasion, I believe it’s worthy of the effort. Betsy’s tips say:
- Decorate the house; sometimes put something special on their bedroom door or a garland of lights in their room at Christmas.
- Have lots of family traditions: “white elephant bingo,” “egg cracking,” gingerbread houses, etc.
2. Thank-you notes
It’s important to me to teach my kids the value of saying thank you. To do so is to obey the golden rule of treating others the way you would want to be treated. How crummy does it feel when you give a gift that goes unacknowledged? Betsy had clear expectations for her kids, to teach them the responsibility of gratefulness:
- If someone was kind enough to give a gift or do a service for us, the least we can do is take the small effort to write a note to them.
- Includes birthday party gifts (Family saying: “It’s not yours until you have properly thanked the person”); not allowed to use the gift until the note is written.
If your child struggles with writing, you can still teach them to show they are thankful. Why not try a video thank you?
3. Hugs and Kisses
Non-negotiable in our house (among our immediate family). My son went through a phase recently where he didn’t want his brother or sister to be allowed to hug him. Nope.
- Hug and kiss your kids every day so that it becomes second-nature to them. Don’t let up even during the Junior High years. Train them to hug and kiss you too, every day!
4. Scripture Memorials
- Mark meaningful verses with names and dates of friends and relatives, for a promise claimed, a prayer, or especially someone’s testimony verse, which is the verse that made them first believe the gospel.
Our version of this, at our house, is a prayer jar filled with popsicle sticks. Each stick in the jar has something specific written on it that we are trusting the Lord to answer. We keep it on the kitchen table so the kids can choose a stick to pray out loud at meal times. When the prayer is answered (even if the answer is no!) we write the date on the back and it moves to the Answered Prayer Jar in my office. And then we celebrate the Lord’s faithfulness by eating a popsicle!
5. Mission Trips
Hopefully writing this on the internet will give me accountability for the goal! My kids are all under 10, so it isn’t quite time yet. But I firmly believe that there is great wisdom in this advice from Betsy:
- Make it a goal to have each child go on a mission trip before they graduate from high school. It will forever change their perspective on the world and help them develop a love for people.
Thanks, Betsy, for these and so many more!