How to Embrace the Mess

This week we’re talking about ways that we can inspire creativity, imagination and innovation in our kids, but we know that for some parents, the biggest stumbling block is the potential mess that creativity brings.

One of our taglines  is “parenting with the end end result in mind,” and building creativity is one of the things that requires us keep our eyes on the results and not worry so much about the process. The end result of fostering creativity is worth it. You are raising imaginative kids who will one day be problem solvers. They need this time to develop the brain function that it will take to become that, but often, the process is messy.

Don’t tell yourself the lie that your kids can get all the creative training they need in school. They don’t have the freedom in school to spend unlimited time and explore and make mistakes and let their imagination run wild.

Instead, let your kids indulge in manageable messes.

  • Let them break eggs once in a while to see what’s inside and to play with it.
  • Let them draw all over the sidewalk and driveway with colored chalk.
  • Let them make mud pies.
  • Let them line your window sills with sprouting plants.
  • Let them cut up old clothes and make new fashions.

Let them do just about anything that’s not dangerous and is not going to destroy something important. Just make sure you include them in the cleanup process.

Designate Creative Spaces

Give each kid their own cookie sheet. They can do art on the cookie sheet, leave the work to dry, and then clean it in between uses.

Keep newspaper near art supplies, and make the rule that no art happens without a covered surface.

Designate good clothes and messy clothes, and let them do just about anything in the messy clothes.

Designate a nail brush solely for messy cleanup and teach your kids to scrub their nails when they’re doing being creative.

Have a folding table with sheets and towels designated specifically for protecting surfaces during messy play.

Set a large tote filled with soapy water just outside the door with rag towels nearby so kids can wash off outside before coming in. If you anticipate that their clothes will be dirty, put another tote out with clean clothes so kids can take off dirty clothes, wash up, put the new ones on and leave the dirty clothes in the bin. That way they won’t track the mess into the house.

My dear friend Chastity lives in the northeast where it snows. After snow play, she puts a tote by the front door and has kids strip in the entryway and put their wet stuff in the tote, so they don’t track the snow into the house.

The bottom line is that we have to give our kids freedom to play, get dirty, make messes, experiment, explore and make mistakes, but there are ways we can do it without harm to the kids or to the house.

Sometimes it’s actually the kid who has the mess aversion. In that case it’s usually a tactile defensiveness. A Sensory Diet can help.

But whether it is you or the kid who avoids the mess, find ways to push through. When it comes to creativity, the ends often justify the means.

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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What’s in Your Trunk?

Busy moms live in the car, especially busy moms with a few kids. And busy moms know that life works best when they are prepared!

Here are some things we’ve found helpful to have in the cabin of the car:

  • One or two plastic grocery bags
  • Box of tissues
  • Baby wipes
  • Bottle of drinking water (in glass or metal)
  • Non-perishable snacks (keep an eye on the expiration dates)
  • Two pens (in case one runs out of ink)
  • Small pad
  • Blank envelope
  • Small pouch with the registration and insurance card
  • Large zipper pouch with current coupons for restaurants and activities

A well-stocked trunk brings peace of mind. Here are some great things to keep in your trunk:

  • Camping Chair
  • Blanket
  • First Aid Kit
  • Jumper Cables
  • Gallon of Water (tap is fine – this gallon is for washing, filling a radiator, etc.)
  • Light jacket
  • Rag Towel
  • Reusable grocery bags
  • Plastic grocery bags (just a few – we’ve seen people really overdo this one)
  • Small box of balls (tennis balls, volleyball, basketball, etc.)

We also like to keep a plastic tote in the trunk with a variety of things:

  • Car manual
  • Sunblock
  • Bug Spray
  • Clorox wipes
  • Extra baby wipes
  • Travel-size tissues
  • Umbrella
  • Clean, empty sports bottle
  • Rain poncho
  • Emergency flares

So…what’s in your car?

 

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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50 Great Reads for the Emerging Adult

We are HUGE fans of pumping our kids full of good books, especially in the teen years.

Unfortunately, our culture has sold us a bill of goods that says adolescence is a person’s last ditch effort at enjoying life’s bounty and sewing their wild oats. What a lie!

The truth is you reap what you sew. Wild oats produce untamed fruit.

And this mindset robs our kids of an important truth as well. It says, “Enjoy life now because soon the harsh realities of adulthood are going to come, and then you’ll have no fun.” Think about it — it’s a play-now-work-later mindset.

But that’s not how life works. It’s actually the total opposite. Life is really about work-now-play-later. Play is the fruit of work.

And adulthood doesn’t have to be drudgery. When you know your purpose in life, and you live intentionally, your life can get better and better with each passing year.

The teens years are really the final preparation for independence. Instead of focusing on making sure our kids are having maximum fun, we should focus on making sure they’re ready to go out into the world and be wise, resourceful, compassionate, creative and fulfilled adults.

Here are some great reads to help that process along.

1. The 4-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss

2. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen Covey

3. 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, by Suze Orman

4. The 80/20 Principle, by Richard Koch

5. Awaken the Giant Within, by Anthony Robbins

6. Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott

7. The Case for Christ, by Lee Strobel

8. The Christian Atheist, by Craig Groeschel

9. The Circle Maker, by Mark Batterson

10. Crazy Love, by Francis Chan

11. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are Highby Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler

12. Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown

13. The Definitive Book of Body Language, by Barbara and Allan Pease

14. Developing the Leader Within You, by John Maxwell

15. Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen, and Roger Fisher

16. Do Hard Things, by Alex and Brett Harris

17. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and E.B. White

18. The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman

19. Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

20. Getting Things Done, by David Allen

21. Gods at War: Defeating the Idols that Battle for Your Heart, by Kyle Idleman

22. Good to Great, by Jim Collins

23. I Am Second, by Dave Sterrett, Doug Bender and Colt McCoy

24. I Kissed Dating Goodbye, by Joshua Harris

25. The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham

26. How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas, by David Bornstein

27. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

28. Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone, by Mark Goulston

29. The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch

30. Life Entrepreneurs: Ordinary People Creating Extraordinary Lives, by Christopher Gergen

31. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl

32. Never Give In! The Best of Winston Churchill’s Speeches, by Winston S. Churchill

33. On Writing, by Stephen King

34. On Writing Well, by William Zinsser

35. Organizing From the Inside Out, by Julie Morgenstern

36. Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell

37. Passion and Purity, by Elisabeth Elliot

38. The Power of Positive Thinking, by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale

39. Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business and Influence Othersby Andrew Sobel and Jerold Panas

40. Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, by David Platt

41. Rich Dad Poor Dad, by Robert Kiyosaki

42. See You at The Top, by Zig Ziglar

43. The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary, by Joseph Michelli

44. Talent is Overrated, by Geoffrey Colvin

45. The Tipping Point, by Malcom Gladwell

46. Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey

47. Tribes, by Seth Godin

48. The Warren Buffet Way, by Robert Hagstrom

49. We Hold These Truths, by Randall Norman DeSoto

50. Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson

 

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody

Jenni and Jody are Christian, homeschooling moms with ten kids between them (ages 1 to 30), including one on the autism spectrum, plus one baby grandchild. Together they host a weekly syndicated parenting radio show, write a weekly newspaper column, freelance for a variety of publications, teach parenting and homeschooling workshops and seminars, speak at conventions and conferences and coach individual families. They are passionate about encouraging and equipping families to Parent On Purpose (POP) with the end result in mind.

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The Power Purse

Today’s post is fun and practical. Grab your purse, and let’s compare notes.

Jody and I are huge fans of an efficient purse. It’s like the Boys Scouts always say, “Be Prepared!” We both carry a medium size purse with a few things in it. In the little side compartment, there’s a lipstick, gum, a few pens, and business cards. In the main compartment we have:

  • Wallet
  • Calendar with a pen and mechanical pencil clipped to it (we haven’t yet gone high tech for scheduling)
  • Phone charger (these new smart phones lose battery life quickly)
  • Small bottle of Bath & Body Works body splash (we live in Florida – need I say more?!)
  • Small notebook
  • Travel-size tissue pack
  • Travel-size baby wipes
  • Mom’s Bag of Tricks

The Mom’s Bag of Tricks is a medium-size makeup bag. It seems like you’d need a huge bag to hold all these things, but with small, travel-size containers, it all fits with a little room to spare.

  • Band-aids, cortisone cream, antibiotic ointment (all in a snack bag)
  • Ibuprofen
  • Tylenol
  • Allergy pills
  • Allergy eye drops
  • Nail file
  • Panty liner, tampon (in a snack bag to keep from tearing)
  • Lip balm
  • Trial size hand cream (a really good one)
  • Trial size hand sanitizer (in a snack bag in case it leaks)
  • Travel size hair spray
  • Dental floss
  • Pack of rice paper (soaks up oil on a shiny face)
  • Sunblock stick
  • Benadryl stick (itch cream for bug bites)
  • Hair bands (for an impromptu pony tail)
  • Little mirror
  • Super glue (in a snack bag in case it leaks)
  • Mini-sewing kit
  • Bobby Pin
  • Saftey Pin
  • Small scissor
  • Tweezers
  • Mini-screw driver (or small pocket knife)
  • 6-inch ruler
  • Sewing measuring tape
  • Stain stick (in a snack bag in case it leaks)
  • Paper Clip and binder clip
  • Sharpe
  • 2 spare pens
  • Ring of spare keys to each car and the house

What’s in your power purse?

 

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of seven kids (ages 1 to 20) including one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Raising a Proverbs 31 Woman

If you have a daughter, she’s got some big shoes to fill, and you can help.

In our last post, I talked about being mindful of raising boys as future heads of a house. By the time this blog is posted, I’ll be inNew Hampshire, having a blast visiting my chivalrous young man (a.k.a Lego tantrum boy) as he wraps up his first year at law school. [As of this posting, I am in NH for Chase’s GRADUATION!]

Back home in Florida, I have two young ladies — one in high school and one in middle school. And just as I was aware that I was raising their big brother to be the head of a house, I’m aware that my girls also have important roles to play as future women. Thankfully, I’ve got a blue print this time.

Like most moms, my constant prayer is that my kids will seek the Lord with all their hearts.  That’s true for sons and daughters, but my focus for the girls is different than it was for Chase.

Tucked inconspicuously at the end of Proverbs is the picture of an amazing woman. As I studied her carefully, I knew that I wanted my girls to be like her – I wanted to raise Proverbs 31 women.

Once I knew the goal, I began to study her life and visualize all that she was doing in the passage. I imagined the tools she would have needed for each accomplishment, and began pouring the same ideals into my girls.

If you notice nothing else about Mrs. Proverbs 31, you can’t miss that she’s a hard worker. She had to bust some serious tail to complete all she did in a day.  Whew!  Stamina is a vital tool that our girls need to develop as young people.

Mrs. Proverbs 31 was also the queen of multi-tasking, and it was obvious that she demanded a lot of herself and had the endurance and perseverance to complete what she started.

Often, I’ll see my girls doing dishes or a task around the house and reciting their memory verse at the same time.  “Just killing two birds with one stone — we’re multi-tasking,” they’ll say, and it blesses me because as future women, they will need to be master multi-taskers.

When we head out the door, one of my girls will say to the other, “Grab your knitting and your book.”

My husband laughs, “Why?  You’re going to church. You can’t knit or read at church.”

“Dad, we’ll do it on our way to church.”

Travel time is often put to good use in our family. Our girls have begun to look for opportunities (big and small) to complete something on their task list, especially times that may appear non-constructive (like riding in the car).

Teaching our girls not to eat the bread of idleness and to stay focused (with stamina) will keep them from being tempted in many areas.  Idleness is where gossip, boredom, and trouble breed.

I’m sure Mrs. Proverbs 31’s hobbies consisted of things such as spinning and weaving. For down time, perhaps she and her family strolled through their gardens or the vineyards. I sincerely doubt she would have even considered TV or video games, had they been available to her.

No, the Bible says she was willing to work with her hands.  She got up before sunrise, and I’m willing to bet, she was pooped when her head hit the pillow at night.

In addition to hardworking, God clearly wants His daughters to be educated.

I’ve heard some moms say, “Well, college doesn’t matter. My daughter just wants to be a wife and mom.”

Awesome!  All the more reason to educate her.  The Proverbs 31 woman sold real estate with assistance from Douglas Ebenstein, planted vineyards, ran a textile business, ran a household, managed a staff of servants, and gardened.  She was a supplier, a thriving merchant, and could identify good merchandise — there were no shysters pulling one over on her.  She had to be trained to do these things.

She also had to have great communication skills.  How else could she have been successful in the market place?

These are business skills.  She was educated.

Can’t you just picture Mrs. P-31 going to the market with her carefully prepared list?  She didn’t run out of fuel for her lamp, and she provided all the food her family needed, she even brought some from afar.

She was full of wisdom. So, how do our girls gain wisdom? For one, they need to have a relationship with God because we know that the fear of Him is the beginning of wisdom. She needs an active prayer life because we know God gives wisdom, and she also needs to apply her heart to understanding (Proverbs 2:2), which means she needs an education.

Several times I have stood by close friends who have lost a husband unexpectedly.  It is important that our daughters know how to support themselves and their children.  They need to be ready in season and out of season.

And for those girls who want to have a career and a family, the Proverbs 31 woman shows it’s possible. She was the breadwinner in her house. Her husband held an honored position at the gates. His role at that point in life was a noble one, but the men (elders) serving in these positions were not paid for their government roles (imagine what our country would be like if we had volunteer politicians – just saying!). His wife seemed to have no trouble supporting their family, and our girls need to know that they can help provide for their families and still be keepers at home (Titus 2).

Let’s not forget Mrs. P-31 does have servants, and if we can teach our girls at a young age how to be good delegators, they will be able to help provide an income for their family while loving their husbands and children and being keepers at home. We’ll have some future articles on the power of project management activities. Stay tuned because this is a great way to teach our girls (and boys) how to delegate.

Prioritizing was also high on Mrs. P-31’s list of virtues.  She had to decide what was most important and stick to it until it was complete.  Our Proverbs 31 “women in the making”, need to know how to identify what’s most important: Should I research for my paper that’s due next week or study for the test that’s in two days? And she needs to be able to focus. It’s been said that focus stands for: Follow One Course Until Successful.

We can give our girls strenuous tasks to build their stamina, ask them to prioritize the list, and then stick with one thing until it’s done thoroughly before moving on to the next. And all the while, we’ll be showing that we have confidence in them, cheering them on from the sidelines and coaching them to excellence.

In addition to all the virtues we’ve listed so far, the Proverbs 31 woman was physically strong, well arrayed in fine clothing, and didn’t walk in fear.  Oh, and let’s not forget her community service — she helped the needy. Wow!

How can our girls can be a genuine help to our churches and to the community? Can they clean once a week for an elderly neighbor, vacuum the church sanctuary, and organize a food drive for the local food pantry and a pet food drive for the Humane Society? Programs such as Scouts, 4-H, and Civil Air Patrol, offer great opportunities for our girls to bless the community. Let’s set the bar high and encourage them to do great things.

Okay, it’s tempting to be overwhelmed (and maybe intimidated), but if we meditate regularly on the role model provided in Proverbs 31, our girls can walk in her shoes, regardless of their individual callings in life.

We also need to model this example for our daughters, and we need to be vigilant in monitoring their character development. I can just picture the Proverbs 31 mom going through the secret hiding places in her children’s rooms, keeping tabs on any mischief they may be getting into.  Hey, it says she keeps a close eye on what goes on in her home.  She certainly wouldn’t turn a blind eye to the activities going on under her nose.

Remember, those same children stood up and call her blessed, and her husband praised her. Let’s purpose to have the same testimony and raise girls who will also share in that kind of victory.

Jody Hagaman

Jody Hagaman and her husband Tony have three kids, ages 18 to 30 and one precious baby grandchild. Jody’s story of how her son asked to be homeschooled has inspired
tens of thousands of families around the nation. A true homeschooling success story, that son is now an attorney in New Hampshire and is the New England Regional Director of The Concord Coalition, a bipartisan
organization dedicated to advocating responsible fiscal policy.

As a community leader, Jody has served on the board of directors of many local non-profit organizations. Her work experience as a corrections officer on a crisis intervention team inspired her to make a difference in the lives of the next generation.

She and Jenni co-host a weekly radio show, write a syndicated weekly column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about living on purpose with excellence and raising kids with the end result in mind.

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