Are You Being Unfair? 11 Things Your Child Needs From You

It’s not often I crack out something as sweet and delicious as gummy worms.

But, guys. Potty training.

And not just any-old potty training. No. Potty training a 3 year old boy who’d much rather hang out in a soggy pee diaper than stop playing Legos to sit on the boring old potty.

Potty training a 3 year old boy who doesn’t care about cool underwear. Or peeing like a super hero. Or watching movies on the throne.

A 3 year old cares about gummy worms.

When he sits on the pot, he gets a worm. When he pees, he gets a pair of them. And poop? Hallelujah! That deserves a whole handful.

But does that mean I want the entire family feasting on gummy worms every half-hour?

Heck no!

But my 5 year old disagrees. “But he gets so many gummy worms. It’s not fair, why do I only get one?”

Er, uh…let me fumble around for a moment. I could give the old “life’s not fair” comeback. But am I really not being fair?

I had to sit down and put my brain to work for a good solid half hour before I could answer that question.

And as I sat (not on the potty), I realized a few things.

Fair isn’t equal.

Being fair doesn’t mean giving my kids the same amount of everything

Fairness doesn’t result in the same treats, the same discipline, or even the same rules.

My 1 year old isn’t allowed to jump off the tall rock the big kids play on. My 5 year old loses sandbox privileges for the day when she flings sand, but the 1 year old gets a few warnings.

The 3 year old gets extra gummy worms to motivate him to use the potty. Everyone else gets one as a treat for the day.

Fair is making sure everyone gets what they need. What they deserve.

For moms, being fair is extra important. We make a lot of decisions for our kids. We have the final say on what they do and don’t get. With that power comes a whole heap of responsibility.

We’re responsible for teaching our kids the true meaning of fairness. We’re responsible for giving our kids everything they need. And for making sure they have what they deserve.

With fairness, we can help them have everything they need to feel safe, happy, and loved.

Kids need love and attention.

Everyone needs to feel cherished and loved. We need to care for our kids and want what’s best for them. Pay attention to them, listen to their stories, and spend time with them.

Kids need to have their physical needs met.

Kids need a place to live, clothes to wear, and food to eat. We need to take care of them when they’re hurt or sick. Make them meals when they’re hungry. Help them brush their teeth and comb their hair.

Kids deserve opportunities to learn and grow.

Kids deserve to be taught right from wrong, and they need help doing what’s right. They need to be disciplined. We need to guide them through life and help them grow. Teach them to care for others and themselves. Give them opportunities to learn, both in academics and in character.

Kids need forgiveness.

Every kid makes mistakes as a part of learning and growing. They need room to make mistakes and know we’ll forgive them and give them a second chance. And a third. And fourth…

Kids need healthy parents.

Kids need us. We need to take care our ourselves so we can take care of them. And we need to take care of our marriage to give them a healthy atmosphere to grow up in. Practice self care. Spend time with your spouse. Give your kids a peaceful environment and a happy home.

Kids deserve respect as an individual.

Our kids aren’t us. They’re not mini-me. They’re not their brother or their sister. Each child is an individual, with their own needs, their own opinions, and their own thoughts. We have to treat them like that.

Don’t make it your goal to give them exactly what their sister has, simply because they want to “be equal.” Look at them and strive to meet their needs, even if that looks different from how you treat their sibling. If they need extra snuggles, give them extra snuggles. If they need space, give them space.

Kids deserve innocence.

Our kids are innocent until that innocence is taken away. They shouldn’t be burdened with our money troubles, adult arguments, and relationship problems. Don’t take their innocence away. Give them space to be a kid. Not to be burdened by life’s troubles. Allow then to hold onto their innocence while they can.

Kids need kindness and patience.

Sometimes our kids get on our nerves. Kids are childish because they’re children. We need to let them be children. Calm yourself when you’re annoyed and talk to your kids with kindness and patience.

Kids need open conversations.

We’re our children’s teachers. We need to keep the conversation open. Let them talk to you. Answer their questions in age appropriate ways and let them ask more. Explain what you can and listen with all your heart. Keep calm and work through things together. Help them want to come to you (instead of Google) when they need to know something.

Kids need a good example.

The easiest way to learn is by following an example. If we give our kids a bad example, they’ll learn from it. We need to be a good example for our kids, because they’re always watching. Act how you want your kids to act. Practice what you want them to learn. Become who you want your kids to be.

Kids deserve apologies.

Kids need a lot from us, and we don’t always give it to them. We don’t always succeed. We fail and we fall short, and that’s ok- we’re only human. But when we do, we need to apologize. Give your kids a heartfelt plea for forgiveness and make a sincere effort to do better in the future.

Moms have a lot of responsibility to give our kids all these things they need and deserve. We evaluate what’s fair for our kids and figure out why and when we need to treat them differently.

Next time I dole out gummy worms and my 5 year old responds with, “It’s not fair,” I know exactly how to respond. I know why it really is fair that she gets one and her brother gets three.

He needs them. He needs the motivation to help him learn this crazy skill of peeing on the potty. She doesn’t need that, but she does deserve a treat every once in a while.

It’s not equal, but it’s fair. She may not like it, but it’s ok. Because I make sure to meet her needs, even when she gets things her brother doesn’t get. Even when I have to treat them differently.

Because that’s fair.

Love this!

4 Steps to Love Your Screen Free Life

4 steps to go unplugged and take your life back. Plus a free 10 day email course, Go Unplugged: Pro-Level.

As I turned my computer on in a crowded room, all the kids raced to it and hovered like moths. They abandoned their games, their snacks, and their entire surroundings to stare at my screen.

When I closed my computer and looked around, I noticed the adults in the room weren’t doing much better than the kids. Expressionless faces glowed in the blue light of cell phones and tablets.

We were all screen-time zombies. Continue reading “4 Steps to Love Your Screen Free Life”

37 Ways to Help Your Kids Feel Loved

25 Ways to to help your kids feel loved in less than 5 minutes. Plus mother-child date ideas and a free printable.

We had a zillion things to do before the dentist appointment. When the kids woke up, we got straight to work.

I washed dishes. Made the bed. Swept the floor. I nagged the kids to eat breakfast. Brush their teeth. Get dressed. I barely even said, “Good morning.”

And then it was time to leave.

I wrestled a wiggly baby, packed the diaper bag, and barked out more commands, “Get your shoes on. Get in the car.”

My son Freaked. Out.

He screamed like only a two-year-old can. We can’t go, he protested. He wanted to play with his dinosaurs or lie in bed with a sippy cup of milk. He wanted me to pick him up or snuggle. Anything but get in the car.

We didn’t have time for this. I didn’t have time to deal with snit fits and freak-outs.

So I didn’t deal with it. Not well, anyways. I scooped him up and strapped all the kids in their car seats, ignoring their protests. Ignoring the whole situation until it just went away.

As we pulled out of the driveway I saw tears in my rear-view mirror.

Their tears dried up but the disconnect lasted.

That morning, my kids didn’t feel loved.

When they feel powerless

I was too busy thinking about everything I needed to get done and I forgot to think about my kids.

Being a kid is hard.

Our little guys don’t know how to handle their big emotions. They struggle to communicate and feel understood. They want to play, but we constantly interrupt them, “Brush your teeth. Pick up your toys. Get in the car.”

We tell them how to walk, what to do with their hands, how they can and can’t play. We decide how much dinner they eat and when they use the bathroom.

As moms, we love our kids, so we do these things to keep them safe and healthy. But it doesn’t make them feel loved. Instead it makes them feel powerless.

We need to do more than love our kids. We need to show them we love them.

We need to make them feel loved.

Show them we love them

We need to stock up on positive interactions. Some call it “filling the tank.”

Healthy relationships need 5 positive interactions for every negative one. Tweet this.

We add extra positive exchanges whenever we can so the negative ones don’t tip the scale. It helps our kids feel valued and loved even in hard times.

There are 2 awesome ways to fill our relationship tanks.

The first is to do small things every day to show our kids we love them. Give your kids a little extra time, effort, or attention. Do little gestures that make them feel special. Use this list for ideas your kids will adore.

Little Gestures

  1. Look in their eyes and smile
  2. Share a high 5, fist bump, or secret handshake
  3. Hold hands
  4. Scratch or rub their back
  5. Play what they want- without your phone out
  6. Split a special treat
  7. Play a board game
  8. Give them spa treatment (face mask, paint their nails)
  9. Tell a story
  10. Read a book
  11. Listen to their stories
  12. Ask open-ended questions
  13. Compliment them
  14. Surprise them with a gift
  15. Get messy together
  16. Snuggle in bed with a short movie
  17. Create artwork
  18. Build Legos
  19. Cook a toddler-friendly recipe together
  20. Watch the birds and squirrels
  21. Build a fort
  22. Drink juice out of champagne glasses
  23. Go for a walk
  24. Draw with chalk
  25. Pick dandelions

These small things show our kids every day that we love them. That they are special to us.

But sometimes we need something bigger.

The second awesome way to fill our relationship tanks is to go on dates and have one-on-one time to talk and bond. A “mommy-daughter” or “mother-son” date is the perfect solution.

Be creative and do things your kids love. These are some of my favorites dates to get you started.

Mother-Child Dates

  1. Share a donut and iced coffee
  2. Go out to lunch (where kids eat free)
  3. Play arcade games
  4. Go window shopping
  5. Stop at the candy store for a special treat
  6. Take a walk or bike ride
  7. Go to the beach
  8. Shop at Goodwill- they can pick out whatever they want without worrying about the price
  9. Visit a local park
  10. Find ducks to feed
  11. Go to a farm
  12. Visit an aquarium or children’s museum

Do it now

Our kids need to feel loved. And we’re the ones who need to make that happen. Now is the perfect time to start!

  1. Print the list and brainstorm ideas to add.
  2. Every day, do at least 3 things from the “Little Gestures” list.
  3. Pull out your calendar and schedule a “Mother-Child Date” with each of your kids. Find a babysitter and mark it on the calendar.

So helpful! Love this reminder list of 5-minute ways to help our kids feel loved!

It makes a difference

This morning, I had a zillion things to do again. But this time, I made sure to think about my kids. I made sure to connect with them and help them feel loved.

They woke up and I snuggled in beside them and asked about their dreams. Then I prompted them to eat breakfast and surprised them with sprinkles in their yogurt. I asked them to get dressed and complimented their outfit choices.

We sat together to put our shoes on and talked about our plans to play outside after lunch. We finally piled into the car and I asked them what music we should listen to.

And as we pulled out of the driveway, I didn’t hear any crying. I didn’t see any tears. Instead, my kids felt loved and I saw smiles in my rear-view mirror.

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Love these easy ways to connect with the kids and help them feel loved!

Great date ideas! And a ton of easy ways to connect with the kids!Love these easy ways to connect with your kids and help them feel loved!

How to be the Parent You’ve Always Wanted to be

Take the challenge to learn to parent with kindness.

When someone’s mean to my kid, my heart pounds in my ears, my cheeks turn red, and my arms start to tingle. Mama bear comes out and I get mad.

Other times my kids test my patience. They push my buttons, and the protective mama bear is replaced by a sarcastic tone, biting words, and a selfish attitude. Why am I mean to my own kids?

I need to learn to be kind.

Continue reading “How to be the Parent You’ve Always Wanted to be”

How to be Calm in the Frenzy of Motherhood

Use a mindset check-in to turn weaknesses into strengths for a healthy attitude.

I wrote a mile-long to-do list, mentally mapped out my day, and pulled down the Legos to keep the kids happy. Then I started my real work.

I slipped my dish gloves on and dove elbow-deep into grease and suds. “Mom, I’m hungry,” interrupted me. I rolled my eyes and peeled off the gloves to plop a bowl of cereal on the table.

I finished the dishes and moved on to fold laundry. “Mom, I spilled my milk!” I frowned at the pile of clothes gathering wrinkles and stomped away to clean up the mess. Continue reading “How to be Calm in the Frenzy of Motherhood”

Love Your Family: How to Put Them First

A challenge to help you simplify and put your family first.

Sometimes it seems like the most important rule in our culture is “the busiest person wins.” Our society calls us valuable when we accomplish something in every single moment of every day.

This makes us think we need to do the same thing in our family to be a successful mom. We need to involve our kids in sports and music. Art and public speaking. We need to go to the library. Bring them to every children’s museum. We need to never stop.

We think our kids need to become the best soccer player, the smartest student. They need to practice 5 days a week and spend hours doing homework. Our culture glorifies putting all these other things first. Putting anything but our family first.

But I say we need to stop. Continue reading “Love Your Family: How to Put Them First”

How to Be Intentional and Accomplish Your Vision

An intentional parenting challenge. Let every action bring you closer to your goals and your visions for your family.

 “If I step on one more Lego, I’m throwing them in the garbage!” I shouted before I could stop myself. But I would never do that: throwing away Legos is like throwing away gold.

I’ve also hissed, “You better listen to me, or we’re going straight home.” But when we drove 45 minutes and spent $80 to get into the children’s museum, I wouldn’t leave after 5 minutes.

Or the ever-lovely, “Why can’t you guys sit quietly for once.” Like they owe it to me.

These empty threats are not my proudest parenting moments. Continue reading “How to Be Intentional and Accomplish Your Vision”