Motherhood Archives - Page 2 of 20 - Sarah Mae
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Category Archives: Motherhood

Never Fear Asking Your Kids for Forgiveness

I blew up at her.

I was already on my last nerve with her not listening to me. Oh, she obeyed, kind of.

“Did you do what I asked?” “Yes.” You did this, this, and this?” “Yes.”

And then I check and she didn’t actually do the thing. She meant well, but she wasn’t tuning her ear to my instruction. She was distracted by what she wanted to do.

I was mad.

I yelled at her and I was harsh and I was just so mad.

I hadn’t been feeling well, plus I was irritated in general, and her not listening tipped me over. But really, my anger had been building. She just happened to be the one to get my wrath.

I went and sat and calmed down and felt kinda awful for losing it on her. “Lord, help me.”

I thought the situation over in my mind and it occurred to me that I showed her zero grace. Yes, she did something wrong, and that needed to be addressed, but I was too harsh. I could have handled it better. Do I ask forgiveness so quickly after being the yelling mom?

Yes, because it is grace that always changes me and gentleness that encourages me to be better and to keep on.

I called her to me after she was finished doing a job I had set her to do as a consequence for her not listening. I asked her if she would sit with me. She did. I wrapped my arms around her and I said, “What you did, not listening to me, was wrong, but I shouldn’t have yelled at you; I was too harsh. I hated being yelled at as a girl and it never helped me or made me want to change. You know what helps me? Grace and gentleness. In fact King David said to God in a psalm, “It’s your gentleness that makes me great.” Will you forgive me for yelling and over-reacting?”

“Yes, and I was wrong and I’m sorry too. Will you forgive me?” Her big grew wide and sweet, and then she squeezed me. “I’ll be right back!” She hopped off me and a minute later I got this:

It was the most perfect thing, and when I say perfect, I mean the most complete. We forgave each other and all was well.

I love these moments and I don’t know why I ever doubt them. When I obey God, when I tune my ear to His ways and His instruction, good comes. He’s right!

Sometimes I think, “I can’t possibly ask forgiveness again. Especially when they did do something wrong, and yea, I did too but again? Really? Won’t they get sick of it, mom asking again?”

No. No they don’t. Because I mean it when I say it and we all work together to be better…to treat each other with love and respect. We don’t ask for forgiveness just to move along and say the right thing. Our spirits compel us to love and forgive and be gracious and gentle because God is that way with us, and His Spirit is in us. We change, we mature and get better at loving because He is doing that good work inside us.

Thank you Jesus.

So if you’re wondering if you can ask forgiveness, again, yea, you can. Reconciliation is so sweet.

Love, Sarah Mae

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When Motherhood is Traumatic (You’re not crazy and you’re not alone)

Recently I was asked if I would watch a friends kiddos for a half a day plus an over night – an 11 year old, 9 year old, 7 year old, 3 year old, and a one year old. Plus my kids.

I thought back to my desperate days and told them I would do it. I knew they needed a break. But after saying yes I began feeling extreme anxiety. It crept up my shoulders and latched into my heart and all I could think about is how much I was dreading watching all their kids plus mine plus an overnight.

Why?

Why was I so fearful and anxious about helping my friend? What was wrong with me? I kept thinking, I’m so stupid, this is silly, people watch kids all the time and don’t panic about it! I’m just being ridiculous.

As I went to bed with all this on my mind, I asked the Lord to untangle my anxiety and help me understand my physical reaction to the upcoming situation. And as I thought and prayed, the Lord spoke to my spirit and I remembered.

I immediately was back to the days when I had two toddlers and a baby and felt so alone. I was desperate for a break, for some help, for something and I didn’t think I could face my days. I was jealous of others who had a mom to help them. I was envious of people who had help period. I felt like I was drowning and I didn’t know how to catch my breath.

Perhaps I had some postpartum stuff going on, I don’t know, maybe I’m just prone to depression and anxiety, but there were days I didn’t think I was going to make it.

Yet, here I am. I’m through those desperate days and I’m delighting in my children. But it’s interesting to me that just knowing I was going to be back with a toddler and a baby plus other kids, alone, overnight, triggered all my anxiety. I mean I physically felt it. Is there such thing as post traumatic stress disorder for those who had babies and toddlers? I’m thinking yes, because I can’t explain the fear and stress one babysitting job gave me. I’ll tell you what I do know: mothering can be traumatic.

Just recently I received an email from a mom who is carrying the weight of guilt that she is failing her kids because she is so overwhelmed. Here’s a portion:

I feel like I can barely keep my head above water most of the time. I am angry, short-tempered, anxious, depressed, and completely overwhelmed… I just find that I don’t even have the energy or willpower to love them, at least in ways that seem tangible to them, most days. How’s that for terrible? I just feel like I’m screwing them up for life. I don’t even know what to do…I’m feeling heartbroken and awful, but it seems like I feel this way every evening, and then the morning comes, and all the ugly and awful just starts all over again.”

These are the kinds of letters I get and they bring me to tears. Because I know how hard and lonely motherhood can be. I know how you can feel so boxed in and heavy and you’re scratching for a way out just so you can breathe and then you feel guilty all the while because you think you’re ruining your kids. It’s an awful burden to carry.

And as your sweet kiddos grow up (time will actually move on and they will grow up), you’ll be surprised at the triggers.

So for all the moms out there who are drowning, for all the moms who don’t know why they have anxiety around small children or RUN LIKE CRAZY when they are asked to watch the toddler room at church, I have some words for you.

First of all, you’re not crazy and you’re not a bad mom.

You are (or were) an overworked, legitimately exhausted woman who is caring for little people who are uncivilized. Yes, uncivilized sin-natured sweet-as-pie-but-also-crazy little people who don’t even have their brains formed yet. Cut yourself some slack in the guilt department unless you are abusing your children. If you are, you need to send out an SOS stat. Call someone. Tell your husband. Reach out to your doctor. GET HELP. If you’re not abusive but just feeling so overwhelmed and confused (you want these kids!) and depressed, CALL SOMEONE. Tell your husband. Reach out to your friends. Get out of the house (library, Fast food kids area, etc. – free or cheap). Read encouraging articles and books and blogs. I heard of a woman who kept her bible open on the counter just so she could get snippets in the throes of motherhood. TALK TO GOD. He hears your cry. And also, snuggle and kiss and smell their little heads because I promise you, they will grow up. And those sweet little feet that you kiss now will be so stinky there will be no kissing them.

I barely even remember her at this age! Oh but she’s so cute, my little Caroline!

Here’s another thing: You can face this. 

A counselor friend of mine told me that anxiety is believing that you can’t face reality, like it’s just too much. You can’t handle it. You won’t make it. You feel like you might die.

That is pretty much how I’ve felt as the approaching date for my babysitting loomed and that’s how many of you feel right now, like you just can’t do it.

But then she told me that you actually can face reality and you aren’t going to die. And that’s the truth: You can handle it. You will be okay. You’re going to make it. You have what it takes because God made you a mother, and when you don’t have it, He will help you.

One day at a time. Slow and steady. Deep breath.

My friend Amy says that when you get anxious feelings, don’t push them away, but listen to them for they are a window into the deeper parts of your heart. What is going on in there? Say to those feelings and anxious thoughts:

Come here.

I won’t push you away, I will get curious.

I won’t say my feelings are stupid, I will ask why I have them.

I will listen to the Lord and take into account my life and pay attention to what my body is telling me.

I will bring the truth to the light, honor it, and not stuff it.

I will not let my anxiety rule me. I will go forward in the truth.

How you are feeling as a mom is real and valid. Listen to it. And then wash your face (as a dear older woman once told me), and go forward.

And one more thing, tell your husband how you’re feeling. Tell him all of it. Tell him you’re drowning and need him to throw you a rope instead of you swimming harder. Work something out so you can get out or stay in while he takes his kiddos out for awhile. You’re in this together, so tell him your needs.

By the way, that babysitting job for my friends, it happened, and I was fine. I didn’t die.

We can do hard things, and we can keep on and we can know we aren’t alone.

Much love, Sarah Mae

P.S. I’m giving away THREE copies of my book Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe. And some chocolate, because moms need chocolate. Just leave a comment to enter. Share this post on FB so other moms can see it and let me know if your comment and I’ll enter you three more times. Just want to get the book and get with other women and read it? Get it HERE for under $10.

 

 

 

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For all the moms who are about to lose their ever-loving minds

Apparently, parental burn-out is a thing.

And let me tell you, I HAVE HAD IT. How do you know you’ve had it or are in it? Well…

You find yourself swearing more (even if just in your head), and this isn’t your normal self.

You lack motivation, in pretty much everything.

You really, really, really care about mothering, but still just can’t.

You feel like you’ve given up. IT’S ALL TOO MUCH.

You LOVE your kids cuddles, but don’t want to be touched. BY ANYONE.

You want a vacation away BY YOURSELF for a whole week. ALONE. Did I mention alone? Doesn’t matter if you’re an extrovert. ALONE.

You have the “don’t give a what’s”

T.V. feels like a saving grace and even though you don’t want them on a screen, you don’t a give a what.

You know this is a mental game and you have the Holy Spirit and you know your parenting matters, but…you don’t give a what. IN THIS MOMENT, you don’t. You can’t. Because you are done.

The white flag has been raised.

Desperate texts have been sent.

YOU ARE DONE.

You don’t even know what that means exactly, you just know you are.

We’re going to go ahead and have a safe space right here right now because THIS IS REAL AND TRUE AND NOT WHAT YOU WANT. We must bring this mother burn-out to the light if we want to get better.

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Me at the end of the summer, feelin’ IT

Real Answers, Real Help

Bring the Truth to the Light

We must be being willing to be honest about the FACT that mother burn-out is real. It’s real and normal and it kind of makes you crazy. Except that you’re not crazy because it’s ACTUALLY NORMAL TO EXPERIENCE THIS. Everyone understands getting burned out with a job or a test or a paper due or project deadline, but seem to forget that motherhood is ongoing and demanding and exhausting and WONDERFUL and beautiful and painful and ALL THE TIME. Therefore, it’s so NORMAL to get burned out by the constant-ness of it. But if we’re going to come out of it and keep on, we need to bring the truth to the light.

“…everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,
    rise from the dead,
    and Christ will shine on you.”

Ephesians 5:13,14

If you are burned out, done, dying, feeling crazy or alone or ALL OF THE ABOVE, admit it. It’s okay. It doesn’t make you a bad mom, it just makes you honest. And when you’re honest, you can get better. It all starts with the truth.

Know the Difference Between Guilt and Shame

I read a fantastic article on showing children the difference between shame-parenting and guilt-exposure, but I think some of us could use the lesson for ourselves.

“Guilt’s message is, “I did something bad,” and needs justification and forgiveness. Shame’s message is, “I am bad,” and needs an identity shift and relational connection. Sin leaves both in its wake, and shame is what lingers even after forgiveness has been sought and granted. Shame feels like it’s welded onto you, but guilt feels like something outside of you.” -Heather Davis Nelson, 10 Things You Should Know About Shame

Push off condemnation and accusation and be gentle with yourself. Really, be gentle with yourself. Your heart will accuse you, the voices in your head from over the years will accuse you, and the enemy will accuse you. But God is greater than your heart, the voices of condemnation, and the enemy. He doesn’t shame us, He teaches us, guides us, allows us to feel pain, and leads us as we mother. If you are feeling overwhelmed with feelings of failure, go to His throne of grace where He will give you mercy and help if you ask.

“…let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Know Your Needs

When I was feeling crazy at the end of the summer my husband asked me, “What do you need?” Well, I said, a maid and a weekend away by myself at a hotel.

Those were the things I really wanted, and they felt like needs. The helpful thing was to get away and have some help with the house. My husband told me to leave (in the nicest, pushiest way), and so I left for a couple of hours. When I came home, he had WASHED THE SHEETS (that was a new one!) and cleaned our bedroom. He said, “I know we can’t afford you going away or getting a maid, but I wanted you to feel like you had a clean, relaxing space to be in. Also, I’m going to take the kids out for the day so you can have the house to yourself.” GLORY HALLELUJAH. Revival was about to take place.

What I learned in this was to be honest with my needs (or what would really help), knowing that they might not all get met, but to ask and say them anyway.

Have a “Horn of Gondor”

In the Lord of the Rings there is a scene where Frodo and his friends are in trouble. One of the men blows a loud horn, the Horn of Gondor, and it is a call for help. When it’s used you know that help is on the way.

That is how I feel about my friends. When one of us calls, when we feel downcast or worried or unsure or just need a night out, they rally. Help is on the way.

We don’t always need fixed but we do need to know we aren’t alone and that help is on the way.

Reach out to your friends. Let yourself be vulnerable enough to let them in. Don’t hide. And if you don’t have close friends, ask God for them. I have made the best of friends in my 30’s. If you’re still looking for deep, honest, safe, grace-filled, fun friendship, don’t give up. Keep praying, keep looking, keep asking. It’s all worth it. It’s all a gift.

(Looking for some time away with women who GET IT? Check out A Night to Breathe.)

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These are the women I do battle with. They are my sisters, dear friends, and I know when I call HELP IS ON THE WAY.

Use Other Words with Your Kids But Also Be Honest

When talking to your kids in the midst of losing your mind, replace “OH MY GRACIOUS OF ALL HOLY THINGS LEAVE NOW OR I’M GOING TO I DON’T EVEN KNOW!” to, “YOU ARE A GREAT KID! I LOVE YOU SO MUCH!” 🙂 🙂 🙂 You know what I’m sayin’. K. Don’t put your crazy on them. At least try not to. When/if you do, ask forgiveness.

Be honest with the fact that you do NOT have your stuff together, but that it’s not them, it’s you, because really, IT IS. Kind of. Mostly. Point being, YOU NEED JESUS. Tell them. Show them. DESPERATE FOR JESUS. They are watching real life unfold. If we’re honest, we can show them that life might be hard sometimes, but we can overcome with Jesus…He is our help, our strength, and our gentle Father. He listens to us and He cares. Let your kids see this.

And lastly, for now…

Get Out and Make Some Fun

Sometimes, in the midst of the crazy, you just have to get out and make some fun.

On October 5th I loaded my kids in my mini-van and drove 40 minutes to get free coffee at a Pop-up Luke’s Diner for a Gilmore Girls event. Did my kids have any idea about the Gilmore Girls? Not really. They’re too young, but you know what, WE HAD FUN. I made a spur of the moment decision to go when I couldn’t find anyone to go with. It broke up the monotony of the day (of the month?) and it was a memory made.

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Sometimes you just gotta go for it!

Here’s the thing, all of us moms will have those days, those weeks, those months. But we will make it. We will keep on.

If you are feelin’ it, the burn-out, you are not crazy and you are not alone. You are normal. You will get through this. You just might need a horn of Gondor and some coffee. All your work as a mom, loving, nurturing, teaching, dealing with conflict, and “one more kiss goodnight”? It’s totally worth it.

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Keep on sister.

Love, Sarah Mae

P.S. You might also need A NIGHT TO BREATHE. It’s an event I’m hosting with my dear friend Amy Smoker. It’s a time to get away, relax, enjoy, eat, drink, and be filled up so you can go home refreshed Also, cupcakes and clean sheets. Check out the details HERE.

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Getting Truth Into Our Children

I feel like I am in the golden age of parenting.

My kids are 7, 9, and 11 and they are not only a delight to be around, but they are so moldable and teachable and willing to listen and learn and yet still cuddle. They haven’t reached an age where they are pulling away from me (I hope this never happens), and yet they aren’t so little I can’t hold their attention for more than a few minutes. I am loving parenting right now.

I love watching their personalities come out and how they interact with the world.

I love that I get to be on the front lines with them as we navigate their fears, strengths, weaknesses, and all the tangles of life.

There are hard, crazy days for sure, but overall, right now, we are in a sweet spot. And I’m going to take advantage of that with all I’ve got.

I feel a tremendous sense of responsibility and joy in teaching my children about truth and grace and the God who gave His life so that we may be free and holy and new.

Here are some ways I’m filling the treasure chests of their soul with goodness and beauty and truth:

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Get the Word In

I don’t make my children read the Bible, although I do encourage them to do it. What I do do however is have a morning time with them in the living room where we go over spiritual truths and then I read from the Bible.

Currently we are using The-Ology: Ancient Truths, Ever New, but not as a quick read. On a white board I write out the spiritual truth from the page we’re on and we memorize it. We don’t go on until we all have it memorized. We began in September and we only have these four done:

God always was and always will be.

God is three in one: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

God created everything out of nothing at all.

God is all-powerful.

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We also work on a simple Scripture to memorize and we don’t move on until everyone has it. IMPORTANT SIDE-NOTE: If you’re anything like me, you might get discouraged reading about Scripture memory and your kids. I read blogs where moms have their kids memorize whole Psalms or portions of Scripture and then I feel like a failure as a mom and a teacher. PLEASE DON’T DO THIS. Do what works for your family. If short, simple Scriptures are what you do right now, than do that. We are memorizing one-sentence Scriptures at this point and it is good.

And then I read to them right from the Bible. This morning we read and talked about John 1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind…he world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God…”

I’m also doing this wonderful devotional with my oldest daughter.

Read Classic Christian Allegories

We are currently reading the modern-language version of The Pilgrim’s Progress. We began first though with reading a children’s version called, The Dangerous Journey, which is beautiful and interesting and my son in particular loved it (and still does). Now that we’re reading the “grown-up” version, my kids open The Dangerous Journey book up to follow along with the pictures (which are fantastic and not all cartoonish).

We have read Hinds’ Feet on High Places (the children’s version), we’re currently listening to A Wrinkle in Time (which the second half of is blowing my mind and also reminds me of C.S. Lewis’ The Hideous Strength), and when they get to be teens they will have to read C.S. Lewis’ The Space Trilogy (which is profound and fantastic beyond words).

SIDE-NOTE: I never heard of or read any of these books growing up, so don’t be discouraged if you haven’t either and are feeling like you don’t know where to begin. I was not raised a Christian and I am learning right along with my kids, which has been a wonder. If you feel lost over resources or what to read or where to begin, begin with the resources I’m mentioning. Just start with one thing.

Tell the Story of Our Lives

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Psalm 40:1-3

The story of our lives is a testimony to our God.

I will never forget when Jesus changed my life.

I was at a Christian retreat my Freshman year of college and a speaker asked this question:  “What would you do if Jesus walked into the room right now?”

Sitting there as 19 year old confused girl and baby believer, I thought “I would hide.”

If Jesus came into the room, I would hide. I would go and bend down behind one of the worn couches and make sure He couldn’t see me. Because He wouldn’t want to see me. He, being holy and good, and me being filthy and having done awful things. I was not clean. I was dirty. A holy God shouldn’t see a dirty girl.

I shared my thoughts with the small group I had been put in, thinking they were obvious and made sense, and someone from the group spoke life to me:

“You wouldn’t have to hide,” she said. “Jesus knows everything you’ve done and everything you’re going to do and He loves you anyway. If He were to come into this room, He would embrace you and put His hands on your face and call you ‘daughter’.”

That night changed everything.

All of us who know Him have cried out to Him and He turned to us…He saw us and listened and inclined to us because He loves us so. And when we bend a knee to Him, He lifts us out of our pits, out of our sin and muck and He gives us a rock to stand on – Jesus Christ. We get steady on a firm foundation. And then He puts a new song in our mouth; one of praise and not lament. We say, “This is what the Lord has done! He is so good and so kind and I am no longer alone. I belong. I am loved. I am His daughter. He makes me new!” And people see and they hear and their hearts get tender and put their trust in Him.

This is the story, the human story, of how God changes the world through changing one person. This is how a flame catches until there is a fire ablaze for Him.

And that fire touches the very people God has put in our care: our children.

My kids hear the stories of what God has done in our lives. We tell of Him and where we were and what He’s done. We talk about our muck and our sin and how Jesus alone takes our sin to the cross so that we are now holy and righteous before Him.

The truth is that there is sin in all of us. It’s a part of our human DNA, and we can’t get it out or make it better, but He makes a way. We can’t bleed it out, so He bled for us that we would be new and have new DNA, holy DNA.

We tell our children that everyone of us will die, and then face the judgement of our holy, good, gentle, just, tender God, and we will give an account because we have all sinned. But if we know Him, if we have believed in Him and received Him as our everything and given our lives to Him in full trust, than we become His children and He gives us life to the full. We will never be condemned and instead He will change us from the inside out with gentleness and care if we are humble and submit to His molding. What a good God we have!

So tell them. Tell your children the stories of what God has done. And when you’re in the middle of a story, in the middle of a storm, tell them to hang because God won’t leave or forsake His children, not ever.

Give Meaningful (but still fun) Entertainment

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for creators like Phil Vischer and the whole team at JellyTelly.

They have managed to get truth and theological concepts into kids through fun characters and stories, and my kids love them! They are funny and clever and so enjoyable. And the library is stacked with not just fun shows, but resources that help me teach my kids Biblical concepts. Just take a look at some of the options:

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My kids love 3-2-1 Penguins, The Last Chance Detectives, Hermie and Wormie (OH MY WORD THE MEMORIES OF WHEN THEY WERE LITTLES!), Clive and Ian, Davey and Goliath, Hillsong Kids, and The Sugar Creek Gang, and we are still exploring! I personally love the series, “Why Do We Call It Christmas?” Mature theological truth about all things Christmas. I promise YOU will learn right along with your children.

JellyTelly is a partner for parents in our media-drenched culture. It provides safe screen time for kids, but more than that – it allows kids to enter a media world where God is real and His Word is true. It can be a powerful tool for parents and kids to spend time together watching and learning, and then talking about Jesus and their faith.” -Phil Vischer

I choose only a few paid subscriptions to be a part of, and JellyTelly is one of them. Because for only $4.99 a month I have access to tons of wonderful, helpful, entertaining resources and movies and shows for my kids that I don’t have to worry about. Also, the five-minute devos are awesome. I can teach my kids what a prophet is, how God is redeemer and protector, what we can learn from Adam, and more in just 5 minutes.

To get a week free (try it out, you’ll be glad you did), or to go ahead and subscribe for only $4.99, just head HERE!

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My dear friend and mentor Sally Clarkson always says, “If you don’t have biblical conviction, you will go the way of the culture.” As Christians, as lovers and followers of Jesus (who is God), we hold fast to our faith no matter what comes down the pike. We believe because we have been changed, because His Word is true and good and He is true and good. And this we pass onto our children, this faith that we pray they take on for themselves.

I will do everything I can to fill my children with the truth. I can’t save them, but I can lead them and teach them. And I will. I will use His Word and His tracing of my life and the stories and good books and good entertainment while I can. I encourage you to keep on doing the same. As I’m sure you are.

Keep on out there. You are doing good, faithful work.

Love, Sarah Mae

With much thanks to the wonderful folks at JellyTelly for sponsoring this post. You all are impacting lives for His Kingdom and I am grateful.

There are affiliate posts in this post. See my disclosure policy here

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7 Ways to Get Great Stories into Your Kids

It all started when we decided to take the plunge and get rid of our T.V.

Yes, I know, crazy. But, at the time, I felt so convicted that if I kept it, I might somehow be depriving my children of becoming the next Beethoven! You know, what if instead of being bored and discovering some hidden talent, they were in front of a screen?! Anyway, we have our T.V. back now because it got a little weird when we’d invite the neighbor kids over for a special movie night and we’d bring out the iPad.

I kid you not. You should have seen their little confused faces. Not my finest moment.

All to say, I don’t regret the time we spent not having a T.V., because it was during that time that we developed a love for reading and listening to audio books and adventures. I began to watch as my children used their imaginations to act out the stories they were hearing. I’ve seen their vocabulary grow. I watch as they read aloud with great fervor, using different voices and inflection and accents. And most recently, two of my children have joined theatre and will be auditioning for a part in a musical in a week! They’ve been practicing practically all their lives!

And what a joy it has been reading and listening along with them, introducing myself to great stories I had never been exposed to growing up (Anne of Green Gables anyone? Yea, never had read it!). I am delighting in and learning right along with my kiddos!

Which brings me to today’s post. For those of you who could use some good ideas for getting good stories into your children’s brains, I offer you this:

7 Ways to Get Great Stories into Your Kids

1. Grocery Trips to Road Trips – I’m telling you, this is THE secret

The number one way I get great stories into my kids is listening to audio books and adventures in the car.

We listen everywhere we go! Grocery trips, on the way to their Academy, to my son’s reading tutor, road trips, EVERYWHERE, and we have logged hundreds of hours getting stories into our brains this way. Anne of Green Gables, Wonder, Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, To Kill a Mockingbird…the list goes on and on. Right now we are HOOKED on Family Audio Adventures (history plus great stories? Yes please! See the end of the post for deets on getting a discount!).

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Road trip? Who needs movies when there are great audio books and audio adventures to listen to?! We pick stories the whole family can get into!

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The van basket…messy but effective!

2. Don’t Hide The Good Stuff

Putting books on display around your house is a sure way to get your kids to pick it up, plop down on the couch, and engage.

Every week or so I change out the books we put on display, books I want my children to pick up and check out. I can’t remember a time they didn’t take the bait! 😉

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3. Tea and Treats Leads to Keats (you know, the poet)

A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” –Keats (Read the whole poem here.)

Next to keeping audio books and adventures in the car is our reading and tea time.

This is the time of day when we all gather to hear a story, either me reading it or us all listening to an audio book. We head to the living room or the table where they are allowed to do something quiet while they listen. They also get tea and a treat, which is the real trick. I know I can put almost anything in my kids heads if they first have something yummy to eat! Poetry? No problem! Classic literature? Done! I’m telling you, if you want to get great stories into your kids, just feed them something while you’re doing it!

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4. The Magic of the Book Basket

Struggle with getting your kids to read more than “candy” books? I’ve been there!

My oldest, avid reader that she is, was always picking books at the library that were of the Geronimo Stilton sort. Fun, but in a candy-appetite sort of way. Sure, she was reading, and I always encourage reading, but Sally pointed out to me that just like our diets, what we feed our minds daily is important in being healthy. If my girl always reads “candy books”, her mind would be engaged, but not necessarily strong. Plus, what we consume frequently we tend to have an appetite for. I want my children to crave good, delightful, meaningful stories. I also want her to learn about history and interesting people and science and so much more through “living books” and the wide world around us. Which brings me to the book basket…

Specifically, it looks like this:

A basket by the bed filled with a biography, a history (can be historical fiction), a science/nature, a classic literature, and a fun book.

Bada bing bada boom!

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We go to the library, my kids pick the books based on the book basket rotation (that takes away the struggle), and I know they are going to learn! Simple, easy, THANK YOU SALLY CLARKSON for this idea!

5. Don’t Be Above Paying Your Kids…Or Giving Them an Awesome Experience

Some of you are wondering, “But how do you get your children to read the five books?”

Rewards of course! 😉 My children get to pick a special experience if they read a certain number of books (although I haven’t been above paying my kids a few bucks here and there to read something I really want them to read). Last year (and this year) my daughter chose Hershey park with her dad as her reward! My son chose a night out with me in a hotel. Yes, these are expensive items, but they have to read quite a bit to earn the reward, and it’s a once a year thing. They keep track by keeping a poster in their room and they put a sticker on it for each book they read. It has been a great success!

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My son went with me to a T.V. interview where we got put up in a hotel. Since he had read his books, he got to go with me as his reward. We stayed in the hotel and ate pizza in bed while watching a movie! So fun!

6. Read (or listen) Before They Watch

My oldest two really want to watch The Lord of the Rings. They know that they don’t get to watch until they have read (or listened) to the books. I know, harsh, eh? They are tough books to read (I tried reading the Hobbit to them and gave up because it was so difficult! We got it on audio book instead)! But I have found that it motivates them to read and get into the story before seeing it visually. We now do this with almost every book-to-screen story they want to see.

7. Make Stories Come Alive and Your Children Will Get a Great Education (Plus, an AMAZING deal)

When we listen to exciting stories that come alive through wonderful acting, music, and sound effects, we are transported into the story where we can almost taste it. We love these kinds of stories.

I have found that when I want my children to really grasp a concept or an event or a philosophy, listening to living stories makes in impression into my children’s minds and hearts. A good story, a thrilling story, opens my children wide for learning, and because of this, right now we are all enthralled with the historical adventures from Family Audio Adventures.
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These top-notch audio adventures are filled with stories about courage, conviction and character, and they are all wrapped in a Christian worldview.

We just finished up With Lee in Virginia which led to several conversations about the Civil War, State’s rights, slavery, and the complicated hearts of those who love God in the midst of complicated choices. I am relishing in these conversations.

Just this morning we began listening to the audio adventure about William Wallace (In Freedom’s Cause) and let me tell you, aside from the fact that my son is already talking in a Scottish accent, we are all fascinated by the history and legend and want to know more. These stories are pushing all of us to dig into history and learn.

And of course as soon as we finish one adventure, my kids want to hear another one, and I have a feeling we’ll be listening to these over and over again. Which is a good thing!

“Studies show that “listening and learning” with audio actually improves how a child’s brain works. It’s true. With audio learning, the left hemisphere of the brain gets stimulated in a way that no other learning method can stimulate. This is an education breakthrough!

And, once the left hemisphere is activated, research from Carnegie Mellon shows dramatic increases in verbal memory and fluency. Other studies show profound increases in the ability to use imagination. Lastly, researchers also discovered that even the ability to focus gets improved with audio learning.”

If you want to invest in good stories, hero stories, that enlighten and delight, I highly recommend Family Audio Adventures.

Story has a way of forming us, particularly hero stories.

Get a Discount on the Adventures We’re Hooked On!

To get 67% off of the four introductory adventures, The Dragon and the Raven, With Lee in Virginia, In Freedom’s Cause, and Under Drake’s Flag (so far, Under Drake’s Flag is my kids favorite), go HERE and use code: MAE1

To learn more about Family Audio Adventures, head HERE.

To go ahead and use your discount code to get the 4 audio adventures (MAE1), head HERE.

Just think of all the delicious stories you can eat up by just putting a little creativity into your day!

Love and happy listening,

SM

So very grateful to Family Audio Adventures for sponsoring this post.

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