Mom Can I Help? — 4 Tips For Saying “Yes” Without Stress

kids chores

It was 2:00 on a busy Saturday afternoon, and we had spent the day knee and elbow deep in the mud as we worked to install a new water line to the animal shed.  We hadn’t even had lunch yet, so I was in the kitchen trying to quickly shred some turkey for sandwiches.  As I worked, my daughter pulled up a stool to watch.  I felt myself getting annoyed as she inched closer and closer.  I was hot, tired, trying to hurry, and I had almost tripped over her several times as I moved about.  But, suddenly, oblivious to my frustration, she asked, “Mom, can I help?” 

Mom, can I help?  That question always makes me tense up a little, because, like any mom of little ones, I know that “help” will slow me down and more than likely create a few additional messes for me to clean up.  “Help” washing the dishes results in water all over the floor.  “Help” baking means flour all over the counter tops and cabinets.  “Help” folding the laundry creates wrinkled clothes.

As moms, our lives are busy and the messes are endless, but we can’t let our busyness keep us from doing the important work of teaching our kids life skills.  No matter what our kids do when they grow up, they are going to need to be able to do laundry, cook, keep a house reasonably clean, and manage their finances.  

When our kids are little, they want to be by our side doing whatever we are doing.  They love to help.  However, we tend to push them away because stuff takes longer with their help. In our busyness, we miss an opportunity to train them to develop good habits.  We miss the opportunity to teach them that it’s worthwhile to do something poorly so that we can learn to do it well–that there’s value in slowing down to learn something new.

Do you cringe when your toddler wants to "help" you around the house? Read why you should let them help and how to deal with the messiness. #parenting #momhacks #toddlers
Honestly, between my perfectionism and being very goal-oriented, I still struggle to remember the importance of letting my kids help on a day-to-day basis.  

So, here are a few tips I use to help keep things in perspective:

1.  Change my goals.  Every day I have goals–things I want to accomplish that day.  When my kids get between me and accomplishing those goals, it’s easy to get frustrated and see them as an interruption.  However, if I put training my kids in the number one spot on my to-do list, it helps me remember my number one priority!

2. Be flexible.  I have tried various schedules over the years, and I have learned that sticking strictly to a schedule causes stress.  I get frustrated because one of my kids isn’t keeping up and we’re getting behind, then I get cranky which makes them cranky and it all goes downhill from there.  However, writing down the ORDER of our day keeps us on track without creating unnecessary stress.  (This also forces me to be very intentional about not over-committing us.)

3. Let them do it poorly.  Of course, they are not going to do things as well as I do, but I try to focus on if they are putting forth their best effort and listening to advice.  They will improve with practice, and, if it bothers me too much, I can always redo it when they are outside playing.  🙂

4. Remember that I am making an investment.  It’s always hard to stop and learn a new skill. Many times I will waste countless hours doing something less efficiently than if I had invested a little time up front to learn a better way.  It’s the same with training our kids.  It slows us down in the beginning, but when they master a skill, they can be a great help!  This is a win/win!  They get the pride of mastering new skills and contributing to the family.  And, I get more free time to spend with them!

Do you allow your kids to help around the house?  What chores do you assign at what ages?

By the way, if you are concerned about your little ones handling the toxic chemicals in cleaning products, check out this easy, completely safe, homemade all-purpose cleaner!

This citrus All Purpose Cleaner is completely non-toxic and costs only pennies to make! #homemadecleaners
I also have a post on allowing our kids to struggle in order to grow their skills and confidence.   Check it out!

Sometimes in order to build confidence, we have to let kids struggle with the hard things in life. #parenting #dohardthings

Do Over: When Things Don’t Go Quite As Planned

Has a short cut ever turned a simple task into a much bigger ordeal? It can leave you wanting a do over. Read how one decision resulted in my family chasing a chicken through somebody else's neighborhood. #doover #perspective #secondchances

Disclosure:  If you click on links in this post and make a purchase, I may (at no additional cost to you) receive an advertising commission.  I will use the money to buy more chickens.  😉

Have you ever started to do something and suddenly realized that if it went wrong, it could go very, very wrong?  Then, you did it anyway.  Yeah.  Me too.  And, usually it turns out okay.  But, every once in a while, the whole experience leaves you wishing for a do over!

Has a short cut ever turned a simple task into a much bigger ordeal? It can leave you wanting a do over. Read how one decision resulted in my family chasing a chicken through somebody else's neighborhood. #doover #perspective #secondchances

It should have been easy, really.  We were going to town for a birthday party, so I decided to drop a rooster off at a friend’s house on the way.  She wasn’t home so she left a cage inside her chicken run for me to put him in until she got back.  I pulled into the driveway, told the kids to stay put, and Mr. Rooster and I headed back to his new home.  

When I arrived at the chicken run, I sat Mr. Rooster’s carrier on the ground by the gate.  As I reached for the latch, I paused and looked around.  To my left was a barbed wire fence.  In front of me was the a treed area and the back fence.  And, to my right and behind me was nice and open.  If Mr. Rooster got away, he could be a real pain to catch.  But, hey, I’m an experienced chicken person, right?  He was bound to be huddled against the back of the carrier wondering what was going on.  

So, I opened the door, and… whoosh!  Mr. Rooster made a run for it.  I grabbed him, but he wasn’t giving up without a fight.  The next 30 seconds consisted of flapping and grabbing and yelling and scratching.  And, then, he was gone.  

Panic-stricken, I looked around until I spotted him on the other side of the run.  I backed up slowly, keeping my eyes on him until I reached the corner of the house and made a break for the car, waving my arms like a crazy person and yelling for the kids to come help.  They came to my rescue, and we returned to Mr. Rooster with a game plan.  I opened the gate, and we slowly herded Mr. Rooster toward the chicken run.  All was going well until, at the last minute, he darted the other direction, ran under the neighbor’s barbed-wire fence, and took up residence near their back door.  

So, there I stood, wondering if anyone was home and if they would shoot me for chasing a chicken around their back yard.  Finally, I hopped the fence, knocked on the door, and got the sweet lady’s permission to chase our chicken.  After crawling through two more barbed wire fences, I had him back on the right property, where I found two hens that had taken advantage of me leaving the gate open.  I shut the gate, and we repeated different versions of the previous scenario for the next 30 minutes.  

Eventually, we caught one of the escaped hens and slowly worked Mr. Rooster into the chicken run–only to discover that the second escaped hen was hiding somewhere in the trees.  I still needed to catch Mr. Rooster (who was now inside the coop) to put him in the cage, so Farm Boy and I crawled into the coop, cornered Mr. Rooster, and, despite much flapping and squawking, put him in the cage.

Meanwhile, Towhead and Farm Girl searched the wooded area for the second hen.  She was nowhere to be found, but we did get to meet the neighbor to the back, who I’m sure was wondering what-on-earth was going on.  

Dejected, we returned to the yard, only to find… the second hen!!!  After a few laps around the yard, and under the porch, she decided to return to the coop!  I secured the gate, and we whooped and hollered like the bunch of rednecks that we are!

As we pulled out of the driveway, I chided myself for making such a rookie mistake.  I knew better–really, I did.  I just took an unnecessary short cut.  And that short cut cost us an hour and a lot of frustration…  I was jarred from my thoughts by Towhead exclaiming, “It’s never this much fun when things don’t go wrong.”

Maybe I don’t need a do over after all…

Do you ever take short cuts even though you know you shouldn’t?  Did it go wrong?  I’d love to hear your story!  How have your kids changed your perspective on a “bad” situation?

You may also like:

As parents, we worry about giving our kids the latest and greatest of everything. But, our kids have a completely different perspective! Learn what my kids taught me about contentment. #parenting #minimalism #simpleliving

 

13 Things I never said before I had farm kids! #farmlife #countrylife #farmkids www.ourlifeouthere.com

Procrastination. What Does It Really Cost Us?

We all procrastinate from time to time. Find out how we learned how much procrastination can cost. #homesteading #overcomeprocrastination #simpleliving

I think we all struggle with procrastination from time to time, but some people seem to be extra prone to it. I am one of those people. I think for me it’s actually a symptom of perfectionism. I will spend days, or even weeks, delaying the start of a project while I attempt to think of the perfect, most efficient way to accomplish the task. Basically, I have your classic case of “analysis paralysis”–over-thinking a situation so that a decision or action is never taken. However, we recently got a picture of what procrastination can cost.

Do you feel like you're always running out of time?  Procrastination may be the culprit.  Find out here what procrastination is really costing you.

We were cleaning out and re-arranging the chicken coop before winter hit, and I decided to remove one of the hanging waterers.  I took the waterer down from it’s strap and headed to the barn.  As I left, I made a mental note that I should come back and remove the strap.  But, life happened, something else caught my attention, and I put it off until another day.  

The next day Towhead came back from gathering the eggs and told me that “Snowy Owl” (one of our Americauna hens) was hanging up-side down in the coop!  She had apparently tried to roost on the loop at the end of the strap, but her body had slipped through.  She got caught under her wings, and, as she struggled to get free, she ended up tangled and up-side down.  

We quickly removed her, but she was extremely weak.  The poor girl could have been there, struggling, for several hours.  The only thing we knew to do was isolate her, get her started on some electrolytes, and pray for the best.  Within a few days, she was scratching and pecking around!  But, the tips of her wings still drug the ground.  Since she was otherwise normal, and chickens are social animals, we returned her to the flock.  She continued living her normal chicken life, and, after a month, her wings returned to normal.  In fact, this spring she surprised us with a brood of chicks!

We all procrastinate from time to time. Find out how we learned how much procrastination can cost. #homesteading #overcomeprocrastination #lessonsfromthefarm

This story had a happy ending, but it very easily could have ended tragically for Snowy Owl.  I wish it hadn’t happened, but we all make mistakes.  And, the best we can do after-the-fact is forgive ourselves and learn from the experience.  How many times do I walk by something that needs to be done?  How many times do I let distractions pull me away from a task that needs to be completed?  That day, my distraction almost cost us a chicken.  What if it had been one of my kids?

Do you struggle with procrastination?  One thing that has helped me overcome procrastination is to consider what it could cost.  Check out these other tips for overcoming procrastination!

Stressed out? Procrastination could be the cause. Check out these 5 tips to overcome procrastination! #stress #simplify #simpleliving

You may also like:

We all need a mantra--a simple phrase that reminds us why we do what we do. It can get it through the tough times when we want to give up on our goals. Read what "Empty The Bucket" means for your goals. #goalsetting #dreams #chaseyourdreams

photo credit: Weinlese via photopin (license)

A Tribute To The Farm Guy From The Farm Girl Who Loves Him

The farm guy is not like other guys, but that's okay. The farm girl who loves him is not like other girls. #farmguy #farmgirl #farm

My farm guy

This Valentine’s Day there’s a lot of talk about grand romantic gestures and movies.  And, I’m okay with all of that, but I’m blessed to be loved by my Farm Guy every day.  A farm guy doesn’t always show his love like other guys, but that’s okay.  Because his girl isn’t like other girls.  I mean, she loves flowers and all, but if you really want to make her happy, bring vegetable seeds or fruit trees… And throw in some new Carhart bibs, baby chicks, and maybe a new coop while you’re at it.  🙂  So, today, I’d like to take a minute to thank Mister for being my Farm Guy.  Here’s a little of what he does for me all year.

 

farm guy siding our house

 

 

A Farm Guy is a master of “redneck ingenuity.”  After all, a trip into town costs time and money, so, he will dig through one of his many “material piles” and find a way to make it work.

 

 

 

My farm guy chicken coop

 

A Farm Guy will show his love to his woman by building her that new chicken coop or goat pen that she’s always dreamed of, then moving it when she changes her mind.

 

 

 

Farm guy duct taping the rv window

 

 

A Farm Guy can do anything with duct tape.

 

 

 

 

 chicken coop flip

 

A Farm Guy is the kind of guy who will work a 15 hour day, then come home and turn your chicken coop right side up after a wind storm.

 

 

 

 

Farm guy putting on roof

 

 

A Farm Guy doesn’t shy away from doing a job just because he hasn’t done it before.  He will draw from his vast experiences of fixing things and figure it out.

 

 

 

 A Farm Guy may not take his girl on elaborate dates to hoity-toity restaurants, but he knows the power of a sunset.

amazing sunset

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!  I hope you are blessed with a Farm Guy of your own.  🙂

You may also like:

As parents, we worry about giving our kids the latest and greatest of everything. But, our kids have a completely different perspective! Learn what my kids taught me about contentment. #parenting #minimalism #simpleliving

But What About The Kids? What My Kids Taught Me About Contentment.

So many times, we worry about giving our kids THINGS. Find out how my kids...yet again... taught me what was really important! #parenting #minimalism #simpleliving

Anytime we make life decisions, our kids and how they will be affected is a big consideration–as it should be. Our great escape to “the middle of nowhere” was no exception. We knew that in the long run, moving to the country would give our kids amazing childhood memories and help them learn responsibility sooner. However, from our perspective they had a much more comfortable life in our city house. They had their rooms, a playroom, the oversized backyard jungle gym, their friends, their video games, a neighborhood pool, frequent trips to restaurants and other fun kid places, and way too many toys. Even though we tried to enjoy the simple things in life, we were the typical overindulged American family. And, honestly, we still are. But, we’re getting better…

As parents, we worry about giving our kids the latest and greatest of everything. But, our kids have a completely different perspective! Learn what my kids taught me about contentment. #parenting #minimalism #simpleliving

Our move into the garage-house required them to share sleeping areas. Many of their toys have been put into storage. There is no playroom. We often trip over each other. We wait for our turn in the one bathtub, and taking a long, hot shower is a treat. We limit our trips to restaurants and other entertainment. There is no jungle gym. Seeing friends, or anyone for that matter, requires planning.

 

Like any momma, I worried that they would have trouble with the adjustment and miss the things they previously had. I was concerned that going from spending their days in decorated rooms and landscaped yards to a living space designed with functionality in mind would be too much. I fretted about them feeling isolated or bored, especially since we were ditching video games and most t.v.  I wondered if they would grow up deprived because we wouldn’t have time for all of those cool crafts in my “For The Kids” folder on Pinterest.

Despite any misgivings, inside we knew that this would be the best move for our family. I figured that we would survive our temporary arrangements–sacrificing now so that we could have so much more later. But, how well do kids grasp the concept of delayed gratification? A month is forever in a young child’s mind. Can we help them keep their eye on the prize for months… Or even years? Those were the things running through my head–yet again–on that fateful day when we walked away from our old home for the last time, then again as I assembled our beds and lined them up along our South wall in the garage-house.

But, the next morning, as the sun roused me from my semi-conscious state, I awoke to giggles… Then all out laughing. I looked over at my oldest child, who was stretched across his bed, gazing across the prairie to the adjoining ranch and asked what was so funny. “Cows.” he responded, “There are cows out there.” And, for millionth time in my kids’ short lives, they taught me something… PERSPECTIVE.

Happiness has little to do with our circumstances, and everything to do with us. <Tweet that!

 

We know this intellectually, but our kids live it. Because, where I see a tight living space, they see togetherness. Where I see land that needs landscaping, they see hours in the dirt–or mud–with their favorite dump trucks. Where I see no video games, they see a life-sized Angry Bird game made from a leftover lumber tower, pvc pipe and bungie cord slingshot, and $1 grocery store balls. Where I see the loss of a neighborhood pool, the see a water trough and a garden hose. Where I see the loss of their own rooms, they see the opportunity to chat and giggle late into the night. Where I see no jungle gym, they see a great climbing tree with the perfect branch for a tire swing. Where I see fewer trips to the restaurant, they see more time to play. Where I see less time with friends, they see each other…

Have your kids surprised you with their reaction to a major life change?  When was the last time you took slowed down and enjoyed life through your kids’ eyes?

My kids have taught me so much.  Here’s what I learned the day I found them making Bucket Lists and why I think every kids needs one.

goal setting for kids

You may also like:

So many times we want to rescue our kids from doing the hard things in life. Find out why this isn't always a good idea! #parenting

13 Things I Never Said Before I Had Farm Kids

Things moms say

We all have our ideals of what it will be like when we finally move to the country. We dream about our kids running free, making mud pies, and playing with the farm animals. But, there are some things that no amount of dreaming can prepare us for. Today, I want to share with you thirteen things I never said before I had farm kids.

 

Things moms say

 

 13 Things I Never Said Before I Had Farm Kids:

1.  Get that chicken off of my couch!

2.  Why is there a rabbit in my bathtub?

3.  Quit eating after the donkey.

4.  It’s hot! Why don’t you’all fill up the water trough and go swimming?

5.  How did you get horse poop in your hair?

6.  Why is there a chicken in my bathtub?

7.  Don’t slide down the hay bales in your skirt.

8.  Don’t drink out of the rabbit’s water bottle.

9.  Who put this egg in my coat pocket?

10. Why is there a turkey in my bathtub?

11. No, you can’t play with the chicken feet. I need them for my bone broth.

12. Don’t drink out of the water trough.

13. Don’t pull the donkey’s tail.

mom of farm kids

 

What about you?  What have you said that you never said before you had farm kids?

Shared on: Farmgirl Friday

Let Them Struggle

Struggling to achieve a goal or working toward a purpose builds important character traits. Sometimes it's important to let our kids struggle. www.ourlifeouthere.com

chicken feed haulersI watched from across the field as my 11-year-old tried to wrestle the 50 pound bag of chicken feed out of the wagon and into the chicken house.  The mom in me wanted to run over and help him.  After all, I hate to see him struggle and it would only take me a minute to lift the bag and dump it into our automatic feeder.  But, I knew that it would be best to give him a chance to figure it out–to do the hard thing.  

A little while later, he came to me and told me that he had figured out an easier way to fill the chicken feeder.  He sat the bag on the ground, opened it, then scooped out bucket loads of feed and dumped them into the feeder until the bag was light enough for him to handle.  Then, he simply poured the remaining feed into the feeder.  He has successfully repeated this process weekly for the last year.

This experience is one of many that has taught me to allow my kids to struggle.  Because, as he told me how he overcame that challenge, I saw a change in his countenance–a growing confidence in his abilities.  With each success, he holds his head a little higher and walks a little taller.  He trusts his problem solving skills more.  He grows in his knowledge of who he is and what he is capable of.

Sometimes in order to build confidence, we have to let kids struggle with the hard things in life. #parenting #dohardthings  Now, I don’t purposefully assign my kids jobs just for the sake of making them struggle, but, I do give them tasks that are at the top of their abilities.  And, I always make sure that they understand how their work benefits our family, our homestead, others, and themselves.  Loading the washing machine gives our family clean clothes to wear.  Planting trees will give us shade and fruit in a few years.  Helping build a fence at church keeps younger kids safely away from the parking lot when they play outside.  Feeding and watering our chickens keeps them alive, healthy, and laying eggs (which I allow the kids to sell for spending money).  Because, work that has purpose is fulfilling.  Busywork is drudgery. 

tilling mason dadStruggling towards a goal gives us the opportunity to develop intellectually and to build important character traits such as independence, confidence, perseverance, and problem solving skills.  So, when we don’t rescue our kids at the slightest hint of difficulty, we give the the gift of character traits that will benefit them throughout their lives.  We teach them that failure isn’t final or even a bad thing, but simply an opportunity to try a different approach.  We help them see struggle not as weakness, but an opportunity for growth.  And, most of all, we help them take another step toward becoming a successful adult.

Here’s how I learned to let go of perfectionism and let my kids “help”.

kid chores

You may also like:

Stressed out? Procrastination could be the cause. Check out these 5 tips to overcome procrastination! #stress #simplify #simpleliving

As parents, we worry about giving our kids the latest and greatest of everything. But, our kids have a completely different perspective! Learn what my kids taught me about contentment. #parenting #minimalism #simpleliving

Sometimes Things Don’t Go As Planned… And That’s Okay

Push Through - Pond

Push Through - PondWhen working toward a goal, there will always be setbacks, frustrations, and periods of wondering what on earth you were thinking.  I’ve had at least a thousand on our journey to a debt free homestead.  And, I’m sure I will have at least a thousand more.  Because, many times things don’t go as planned.  However, it’s not our setbacks that define us, but our ability to push through and keep moving forward. 

  Last weekend, I let my circumstances cause me to question our path once again.  But, when it was all said and done, the things that were upsetting me were actually no big deal.  So, I sat down with the camera to share about our day and remind you (and me) not to let circumstances get you down.  It will all be worth it in the end.

P.S. – Please excuse my rambling and lack of make-up.  At this point, I feel like we can just sit down, be real, and have a little chat.  🙂

The Forest of Lost Dreams–The Story of the Dunstan Chestnut

Landscape with trees near Stuugart / Germany

It was a normal morning of feeding animals, doing math, and washing dishes when Mister called to tell me about the trees that his co-worker bought.  There is a limited supply of this particular tree, and they are only shipped out to certain stores across the U.S. once a year.  Fascinated by their story, I began to do some research on the Dunstan Chestnut tree.

plant dunstan chestnut trees

The American Chestnut Tree has been called the most important tree in American history.  Residing in the Eastern Hardwood forest, every part was valuable in early America.  It’s plentiful, high carbohydrate nuts provided food for North American settlers and wildlife alike.  It’s wood is rot-resistant, which made it a popular choice for everything from fence posts to furniture.  And, its tannin was used in the tanning industry.

Sadly, in 1904, a bark fungus (which causes chestnut blight) was accidentally introduced from the Orient, and, over the next few decades, up to 3 billion American Chestnut Trees succumbed to the disease.  The American Chestnut Tree seemed to be lost forever.  However, in the 1950s, a blight-free chestnut tree was found amongst a grove of infected trees.  Through grafting and cross-pollination, plant breeder, Dr. Robert T. Dunstan, was able to breed a blight-resistant chestnut tree–the Dunstan Chestnut.  These trees have now been growing and producing nuts every year for over 50 years and are the first chestnut trees to receive U.S. Plant Patents.  Every year, when they arrive in stores, there is a waiting list, or they are gone within a couple of days.  And, yes, by the way, I now have 5 of these beauties! (Bucket List #45–Grow some sort of orchard.)  Oh, and special thanks to my mom for loading them in her car in a torrential downpour because her hometown was the only place that had any within 3 hours of me.

As I spent my Saturday afternoon on the business end of our post hole diggers, I couldn’t help but think about that healthy American Chestnut tree hopelessly lost in a forest of death.  So much time had passed that no one even looked for it anymore.  Tragically, our dreams are often the same way–lost and dying in a forest of stress, fear, the trials of life, and monotony.  But, there is hope. 

The American Chestnut was found and shaped into something stronger than it ever could have been without going through trials and almost certain death.  In the same way, we can let the pain, heartache, and rejections we have experienced force our dreams into extinction.  Or, we can rise above and allow our hard experiences to propel us forward with more passion, drive, tenacity, and hustle than ever before. 

Myles Munroe said it like this:  “The wealthiest places in the world are not gold mines, oil fields, diamond mines or banks.  The wealthiest place is the cemetery.  There lies companies that were never started, masterpieces that were never painted…  In the cemetery there is buried the greatest treasure of untapped potential.  There is a treasure within you that must come out.  Don’t go to the grave with your treasure still within YOU.”

Shared on:  Homestead Blog Hop

Farm Girls Versus Princesses

farm girls princesses

farm girls princessesAfter three boys, having my daughter opened my eyes to a lot of things, many of which left me scratching my head in confusion.  I know, I know…  I’m a girl.  However, I have more memories of fishing, riding horses, and climbing trees than I do of dressing up as a princess. 

Now, it seems almost impossible to clothe my young daughter without at least one article of clothing featuring Disney princesses.  Personally, I guess princesses are okay, but in a time of crisis, I’d much rather be a farm girl.  We do have the best of both worlds, after all.  So, I loved this hilarious look at Why Farm Girls Outclass Princesses by Jamie Cearley, PhD.

Give it a read, and tell me what you think!