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

Five Tips To Overcome Procrastination

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

I recently shared in this post how procrastination almost cost the life of one of our chickens.  Even though procrastinating doesn’t always result in such obvious problems, it always costs us something.  Many times it is unnecessary stress, wasted mental energy, or strained relationships.  We’ve all spent days with that feeling of dread looming over our heads or snapped at our kids because we were in a time-crunch to do something we should have completed weeks ago.  That’s why it’s essential that we overcome procrastination.

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

Disclosure:  This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

I get it.  We’re all busy.  We always have more stuff to do than time to do it.  But, if we would just take the extra time to do that stuff, it would relieve a lot of the stress in our lives.  

Here are my favorite tips for overcoming procrastination:  

  1. Consider the cost.  What problems could be caused by putting this off?  What can be gained by doing it immediately?
  2. Avoid committing to stuff that you know you will dread.  Yes, we all have to do some things that we don’t like, but how many times do you commit yourself to something simply because you are afraid to say no?  Consider how much time and energy a project will take before you give it your “yes.”  Jon Acuff says it like this:  “The word yes is very expensive.  You only have a few opportunities to spend it every day.  Don’t waste it on situations that deserve to hear the word no.”
  3. Practice “doing it now.”  We are constantly teaching our kids (and ourselves) to not walk past something that needs to be done.  No, that piece of trash left on the ground will not end in tragedy.  However, by picking it up immediately, you are developing the good habit of not putting stuff off until later.
  4. Be honest with yourself about how long something will take.  So many times, I put something off for WEEKS–only to find out that once I got started, it only took me 10 minutes.  I could have saved myself a lot of stress and mental energy if I had just done it!
  5. Just get started!  Getting started is usually the hardest step.  

I hope these tips help you overcome procrastination and get stuff done!  Do you struggle with procrastination?  What are your favorite ways to overcome procrastination?

Are you striving to teach your kids these life lessons early?  Read about another life lesson your kid needs to learn:

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

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The reason behind Mommy Wars and what we should do about them. #mommywars 2

Mom Sets The Tone For The Whole Family

AHA mom

This post brought to you by American Heart Association. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Our Life Out Here.

We’ve all heard the phrases “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” and “Happy wife, happy life.” For me, they have always brought up images of a spoiled, bratty woman who demanded clothes, a nicer car, and countless other material possessions, then made everyone’s life miserable if she didn’t get them. Of course, I’m not THAT woman. But, I think the meaning of those phrases goes a lot deeper.

As a mom, I know that I set the tone for my families health! That's why it's important that I take care of myself. Read these tips for making healthy changes for you and your family. #familyiswhy #lifeiswhy #ad

Through the years, I have noticed that, as a mom, I have an incredible power to set the tone for our entire family. In the morning, I am the one they depend on to get their day started off on the right foot. I’m the one they look to for a solution when things don’t go as planned. I’m the one that plans, buys, and prepares the food that nourishes their bodies. I’m the one that creates the atmosphere they come home to. I’m the one they want by their side during those special moments in their lives. I’m the one that shows them how to use their free time, whether it’s hours in front of the television or getting outside and taking a walk. I’m the one they come to when they are hurting.

That’s why it’s essential that I take care of myself. Not only so that I will be there when my family needs me, but because the habits that I model for my family will determine the habits they develop for life. Since February is American Heart Month, I am taking some time out of my busy days to improve our health by:

  • Adding more fresh fruits and veggies to our plates
  • Finding healthy, tasty alternatives to high-sodium foods and sugary sweetened drinks
  • Making sure that we are all getting plenty of physical activity through both outdoor work and play
  • Being proactive about listening to our bodies by monitoring our blood pressure, level of fatigue, and stamina

As moms, it’s important that we all take the time to evaluate the habits we are modeling for our children. Will you join me?

As a mom, I know that I set the tone for my families health! That's why it's important that I take care of myself. Read these tips for making healthy changes for you and your family. #familyiswhy #lifeiswhy #ad

Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Consider planting a garden with your family. Growing your own food gives you control of what is in it, plus kids are more willing to eat something that they grew! It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, even a small container garden can produce a surprising amount of food.
  2. Commit to trying a new, healthy recipe each week. If you don’t know where to start, The American Heart Association’s Pinterest Page is a wonderful resource.
  3. Set aside a time each day to be active as a family. On busy days, it can be as simple as a walk around the block or a game of catch in the back yard. For days that you have more time, explore your local parks, hiking trails, and bicycle paths. Not only will you become healthier, but the time together makes for great family bonding.

I know that sometimes change can be hard, but you are worth it. Your family is worth it. Life Is Why!

Everyone has a reason to live a healthier, longer life. What’s yours?

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I Don’t MAKE My Kids Share. Here’s Why.

Here's why I don't make my kids share and what I do instead. #parenting

Imagine one of your best friends comes over to share a late lunch. You greet her enthusiastically at the door and offer her a seat in the dining room as you scoop your chicken salad into a pretty bowl. You return, bowl in hand, and join her at the table you’ve adorned with a pretty tablecloth, tea cups, sweet tea, and cute little baguettes.  You can already feel yourself relaxing as you settle into kid-free, adult conversation.  

We don't make our kids share, but we still want to teach them generosity. Read how. #parenting #momhacks www.ourlifeouthere.com

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, and you pour your heart out as she listens intently.  Yes, this is exactly what you’ve been needing.  You finish off your meal with coffee and homemade zucchini bread, then she slips away as you carry the plates to the kitchen.  You assume she went down the hall to the bathroom.  However, you’ve finished the dishes, put the leftovers away, and tidied the dining room, and she still hasn’t returned.  You wander down the hall to check on her.

What you find stops you in your tracks!  There, in the middle of your bedroom, stands your best friend, adorned in your brand new dress.  She’s accessorized her new outfit with your favorite red heels and small clutch from your closet.  As she gazes in the mirror, she twirls the pearls that your husband bought you for your tenth anniversary around her fingers.  As you approach, you wonder if that is the lipstick you got at the mall last weekend.  

You struggle with the words to express your feelings.  After all, she is your one of your best friends.  You’ve shared not only clothes, but your heart and soul with her.  In fact, you may have shared the things she was now wearing if she had only asked.  On the other hand, you remember how your husband emptied out his boat savings account to buy you those pearls.  There are some things that you just want to have all to yourself.  You remind yourself that people are more important than things.  But, right now you feel hurt, betrayed, and angry.  

She turns to you and announces that she’s going to take your car out for a spin.  She’s always wanted to drive it.  Suddenly, you’ve had more than you can take…

Obviously, if this situation really happened, we would know that your friend has some major boundary issues.  However, have you ever considered that we often put our kids in this situation.  We invite other kids into our homes and then direct them to our kid’s rooms to play.  Inevitably, our kid comes out crying because their latest LEGO creation has been destroyed or their guests won’t return their favorite doll.  

I used to pull my kid aside and remind them that they have to share.  However, forced sharing is not sharing at all!  I want to teach my kids generosity, not simply to comply to the demands of another.  It is important that we teach our kids boundaries.  In order to respect the boundaries of others, their boundaries must be respected also.  So, now we have a different approach.

Before friends come over, I remind my kids that other kids are coming over, and they will want to play with toys, too.  I help them put away anything that is special to them that they don’t want to share.  They know that if they take those items out while company is over, all bets are off.  I also make sure that there are plenty of shared toys to go around.  This is a little more challenging now that we live in a smaller house but was super easy when we had play room.  All special toys were locked in their rooms and all shared toys were in the play room.

This has saved so many tears at our house!  If something does get broken, it’s not a favorite toy.  And, I’ve been so impressed with how my kids have freely shared when they are allowed to take ownership of the situation beforehand.  I hope it can help you, too!

Do you make your kids share?  Or, do you have allow them to set aside special or new toys?

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Mealtime Mom Hack: How Kitchen Scissors Changed My Life

This one tip made mealtimes with our four kids so much smoother. #momhack #mealtimehack

Mealtimes with little ones are always a circus full of surprises (some pleasant and some–well, not so much).  But, the thing that always gets to me the most is HOW LONG it takes to make everyone’s plates.  One day, as a friend was watching me make four little plates, she mentioned this “mealtime mom hack” that changed it all.This one tip made mealtimes with our four kids so much smoother. #momhack #mealtimehack

“I use kitchen scissors for everything,” she stated non-nonchalantly.  I doubt she even realized it, but those six words changed how I prepped for mealtime forever.  You see, we had four kids over a six year span.  So, a large portion my life consists of avoiding choking hazards.  Everything from the healthy snack of grapes to the supposed-to-be quick hot dog invokes images of Heimlich Maneuvers and panicked 911 calls… Why didn’t I pay more attention in that CPR class during my working days?  I really should take it again, but, with four little ones, where do I find a whole day free?  So, I resigned myself to ten minutes of sawing away at my impatient, hungry kids’ food four times a day.  And, that didn’t even count FEEDING myself!

But, that day, I dropped the knife on the counter, grabbed my kitchen shears, and in ten seconds flat that slice of pizza was in 20 bite-sized pieces!  To make quicker work of it, cut everything length-wise first, then, while holding the pieces together, make perpendicular cuts to make bite-sized pieces.  

Like this:

Check out this quick tip for cutting up your kid's food to avoid choking hazards. #momhack #parentinghack

And, this mealtime mom hack works for everything–hot dogs, baked chicken, hamburger patties, you name it!  It also comes in really handy for prepping raw meat to cook or freeze in smaller portions.  Just be sure to wash your scissors thoroughly with hot, soapy water after using them on raw meat.  

Do yourself a favor.  If you don’t have a pair of these, get some.  It’s the best $16 you’ll ever spend.  🙂

What about you?  Do you have any mealtime mom hacks that make mealtime easier?  At what age do you quit cutting up foods that have a high choking risk?

Here’s a recipe where my kitchen shears come in handy:

This chicken salad is easy to make and it's always a hit! #chickenrecipes

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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

Lost In The Woods? What Your Child Needs To Know

Have you taught your child what to do if they get lost in the woods.

I recently saw it again.  The tragic story that strikes fear in the heart of every mom–a young child lost in the woods.  I think of a toddler scared, tired, and hungry crying and calling out for their momma.  I struggle to grasp the shear terror in the hearts of the mom and dad.  I imagine the guilt and the “what ifs”.  Then, I purpose–yet again–to hold my kids even closer, to never let them out of my sight.  But, I know that’s not possible even for the best of parents.  

Have you talked to your kids about what to do if they get lost in the woods? This one tip can make a world of difference. #parenting

We spend a lot of time enjoying nature, tent camping, hiking, and RVing.  I like to think my kids can navigate the outdoors pretty well.  However, a few weeks ago, we took a Search and Rescue class, and I found out that my kids had never been taught what to do if they get lost in the woods.

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 Experienced Search and Rescue teams use a lost person’s last location to organize their search.   Trained teams have years of research based on the common behaviors of various age groups.  Teaching your kid how to react to the situation increases their chances of being found quickly.

When your child discovers they are lost, the number one thing for them to remember is to STAY RIGHT THERE.  Explain that if they are lost, help will come to the last place they were seen.  Remind them that you want them back home, and they are NOT in trouble for getting lost.  It is not uncommon for young children to hide if they think they are in trouble.  Children will also hide from or not answer rescuers because they have been taught “Stranger Danger”.  Tell your child that you will find some nice people to help look for them if they are lost in the woods, and it is okay to come to them.

There are additional tips that you can share with your child as they mature.  But, from the time they are able to walk, tell them that if they get lost in the woods to stay where they are.  

Have you discussed the possibility of getting lost in nature with your kids?  Do they know what to do?  

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You may also like this post:Is your water safe? How and why we filter our water.

Canvas Art Project For Kids

Kid craft

We’ve gotten a little rain here in Oklahoma over the last few weeks…  Who am I kidding?  I keep waiting for the animals to start pairing up in twos!  Anyway, while my kids have no problems playing in the mud holes, I was starting to get a little tired of cleaning up the mess!  (Mud starched jeans, anyone?)

Muddy jeans

So, I put together a little indoor art project for them, and, even though I did end up cleaning up the paint mess, at least it was a colorful change of scenery from boring brown mud.

I picked up of of the economy canvases, an assortment of acrylic paints, paintbrushes, and masking tape at the craft store.  Then, I used the masking tape to make designs on the canvas.  I did abstract letters with lines that continued from one canvas to another.  (Make sure that you have your canvases spaced the same distance apart that you plan to hang them so you have continuous lines.)  

Kids Canvas Art

Next, I let them paint to their hearts content!

Kids canvas art project.  www.ourlifeouthere.com

Once the paint was thoroughly dry, I simply removed the tape!

This canvas art project is easy enough for any age!  #kidart #kidactivities #artproject www.ourlifeouthere.com

They were all proud of their artwork, and I was proud to display it on my wall!

This canvas art project is easy enough for all ages to enjoy.  And, you'll love to hang the final product on your wall!  #kidcrafts #kidactivities #artproject www.ourlifeouthere.com

 
Of course, then they all headed back to the mud puddle!

 Summer art projects.

 
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s really like to be the mom of farm kids, check out this post!

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

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

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

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