Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Instilling Initiative Into Our Children

Getting kids to do their chores, or any work for that matter can often be a pain. We as their parents desire to see them want to help, want to learn, want to grow in maturity, selflessness and grace. We want them to take initiative and be intuitive. We want them to develop good habits. We want to raise willful children into caring, competent adults.

So when they're little, we give them chore lists according to their ages and abilities.  The list clearly states WHAT the chore is and WHEN the chore should be done.

They look at them, understand what's expected and everything is rosy. When they are little, moms tend to remind them when it's time to do a chore.

Even though this works, it's bad training.


Because the power of a law is only as strong as the penalty of the law. (Keep repeating that until it sinks in!)

If you give your child a list of chores with no deadlines or penalties, where is their motivation to remember to get their rear in gear? It's nonexistent. A nagging mom is not motivating. A nagging mom is a dripping faucet. And worse, it trains them to wait for mom's reminders.

Initiative cannot be exercised in the face of a reminder. It must come from an inner motivation to do right or pay the price.

And as any responsible adult knows, taking initiative is a BIG part of being an adult. So this is an extremely important part of training them up in the way that they should go.

The good news is that this problem can be remedied. :-)

If you train them when they are still little to be responsible for beginning their chores on their own initiative, you are saving yourself the trouble of doing that when they are teens. I wasn't as effective in enforcing the habit of initiative when mine were younger, even though they did do their work well and mostly with good attitudes.

But now that they are teens, I realized they are still dependent upon my reminding them — for far too many things. I decided I'm not going to remind them anymore so they will have to rise or fall on their own merits or pay the piper for their own good!

Last night I laid down one new rule. If the trash is not taken to the curb every Tuesday by 8am, the penalty is $5 payable to mom or dad.

This morning at 7:45am, all signs pointed to me being $5 richer. But then at 7:57am, I heard my younger son trudging in from the front door. He'd made it with only 3 minutes to spare, but he made it! I congratulated him, and my husband ribbed him.  This was a major victory and the first time the trash was taken out without any kind of reminder from me.

The weight of the penalty was motivator enough.

Both of my sons have part time jobs so a monetary penalty makes sense. If they were younger and had some money saved up, or maybe a way they are earning some extra money (I don't believe in giving children an allowance) I suppose I might still recommend a monetary penalty because it's very motivating. They will find the same principles in operation in real life (tickets for speeding, library late fees, late bill payment fees, etc) so they might as well learn it now.

I'm going to make a list of all the things that they need to do without being reminded and the penalty for not doing it by the specified deadline. I'm pretty excited about this. It means freedom for me and maturity for them - win-win!

Take out the trash by 8am every Tuesday or pay $5
Make your bed before coming out of your room in the morning or pay $1
Brush your teeth after breakfast and dinner or pay $1
Pick up your clothes from the bathroom floor or pay $1
Pick up your stuff at the end of the day or pay $1
Feed the cat every morning or pay $1
Feed the cat every evening or pay $1
Clean the cat litter every morning before breakfast or pay $1
Clear your dishes from the table and rinse them or pay $1
Change your bedsheets and trim your nails every Saturday morning or pay $1

If you have younger children, and can't or don't want to use the money penalty, then use an equally effective penalty.

Make your bed by 8am or go to bed 30 minutes earlier that night.
Sweep the kitchen after dinner or miss the next dessert.
Clean up your room before bed or get an extra chore the next day.
Pick up your toys each night before bedtime or no tv the next day.

If the penalty is not strong enough, it will not motivate. If you write it into law, you MUST abide by it or you have made yourself out to be a liar and untrustworthy in the eyes of your child. They have to face the consequence or they will truly never learn.

I'm thinking about trying an alternate course of action for my sons just for fun — a reverse fee system. I would collect for the penalties at the start of the week ($14) and put that cash into a mason jar and label it with their name and the date. Then each evening, if they were successful and didn't "break any laws" they can retrieve that day's fees back into their wallets. Otherwise, the money stays put.

This will serve as a reward or "getting paid" for doing well, even though it's their own money. In real life, I don't get speeding tickets and the $110 fine that I don't have to shell out is a big reward and reminder for me to be a good driver.

I'm adding some bonus reward money to their jars for a perfect record for the week. This represents discounts and incentives that adults receive in real life adulthood as is the case with auto insurance and the bonuses that come with maintaining "good credit".

The other thing I like about this system is that THEY are responsible for retrieving their "fees". In other words, I don't have to say, did you clean the cat litter? Did you make your bed? Nope. They will have to come to me and tell me they did x, y and z and how much they can take out of the jar at the end of the week. More initiative training! I love it. :-)

How about you? Do you have a system that is working initiative into your children? Do share!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Fix a Sagging Mattress

Shopping around for a new mattress these days can be a pain. Literally. My husband and I both have trouble with back pain occasionally (and increasingly the older we get) and it's important to have a good mattress to sleep on. But the ridiculous price tags are daunting.

When it was time to buy a new mattress last August, we thought we'd give IKEA a try. We spent hours at the store lying on mattresses and studying the differences between the different models. They don't do normal money back returns for mattresses and instead give you a gift card for their store. But their prices were appealing and their claims for superior durability and comfort very alluring.

So after several hours of testing and deliberating in the store and thinking we found a good one we made the plunge and bought one. It was roughly $550. We got it home and within a month, it started sagging. The body grooving was causing us both increasing back pain and sleep loss. We knew that  returning it would only get us the dreaded gift card but it was either that or get no sleep in have increasing back pain. sigh. That was not money that we had planned on "losing" to IKEA. But that's a whole other post! :)

Before we returned it, we had to secure a replacement so we wouldn't be stuck sleeping on the couch. Our first stop was Costco. Amazingly, they happened to have mattresses in the warehouse AND they were on sale! We found a King size mattress and slid it onto the floor and tried it. It was nice and firm and $250 off so we only paid around $500 for it.

Well...after a month or two, THIS mattress started developing body grooves, too! We were pretty disappointed. But I was determined not to play ring around the rosy again with mattresses. The only alternative seemed to be to shell out major money - thousands! - to get a "top quality" mattress.  We couldn't afford to do that, so I scoured the internet for help.

Eureka! Not only did I discover how to fix the sags in our brand new mattress, I found that what we were experiencing is more common than we ever would have thought. Brand new mattresses just aren't made with durability in mind, yet manufacturers and retailers are charging as though they were.

I read literally hundreds of comments from people who have experienced the same problems we were having only with mattresses that were all over the price spectrum. From cheaper mattresses all the way up to three and four thousand dollar ones. Sagging mattresses! And who wants to just chuck their very costly investment? Not many of us!

So what is the solution? Simpler than I ever would have thought. By placing an old pillow underneath the mattress where it sags, you essentially "fill in" the sag and voila! Problem solved. We didn't have any old pillows, so I emptied our pillow shams and used those pillows. But they were a little too lofty, so next we tried using sleeping bags.  We kept adjusting and folding them just right until we felt comfortable. We've been sleeping like babies ever since.

I suppose any soft filler, like a blanket, would work for this. It's amazing that such a simple fix could be such an effective solution.

I also discovered some products sold on Amazon that are made specifically to fix a sagging mattress but they're a bit pricey and after finding such a viable solution at home, I found them unnecessary.

So there you have it! If you suffer from a sagging mattress, now you know the cure. :)

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Words of The Mouth

I wanted to write today about ways to express ourselves that bring honor, and not dishonor, to the Lord. The Bible says in Matthew 12:46, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment." SO we're each going to give an account of ourselves to the Lord one day.  So we need to be mindful of the words and expressions we use. There are many (professing) Christians are dishonoring God with their choice of words, making them very poor ambassadors for Christ.

A whole new generation of people are using God's name in vain, as though it were meaningless and they won't be held accountable. They use his holy name to express anything from surprise, joy and amazement to frustration, disappointment and sadness. Some insert filthy words along with it. Even though it has been reduced to initials (OMG) the intent is the same. They aren't trembling now, but they will one day. Such a frightening thought.
Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Exodus 20:7
What about those who say that when they use OMG, they really just mean "Oh my goodness". They might think God sees their heart so they're not worried about it.  But are they off the hook....because God sees their heart? For one thing, goodness is godliness. When the rich young ruler said "Good Master" Jesus said there is only ONE who is good — GOD (Jesus himself).  So even this is an inappropriate expression as well as unnecessary, because there are many other words available to use.
All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits. Proverbs 16:2
Human nature makes us all want to fit in. The Lord calls us sheep and that is a fitting description. But even though we're sheep, we can still honor the Lord. Loudly, quietly, steadfastly faithful to him. He gives us the strength to do so.

I suggest Christians start bucking that trend and using our freedom of speech to bring honor to the Lord and shame to the devil and his children. There are many words of exclamation to express our surprise, joy, frustration, etc.

You know the people who win the tv contests, game shows, and the people who open their eyes for a home improvement reveal? They all say OMG.

How about the next time someone near you says "OMG", you respond with, "Holy is his name!" I actually did this the other day in a store when a woman in the same aisle as me was on her cell phone. I overheard her say "OMG" to the person on the other end of the line. I had been thinking about responding this way for a long time and next thing I knew it just spilled right out of my mouth. (Out of the treasure of the heart the mouth speaks!) The woman didn't hear my response, but God did.

Many people use pseudo-cuss words (words derived from Holy names of God) and don't even realize it. Such as:

Gee (form of/short for Jesus)
Geez (form of/short for Jesus)
Gee-Whiz (form of/short/pseudo for Jesus)
Dagnabbit (mixes up sounds for d*mn and God)
Doggonit (mixes up sounds for d*mn and God)
Holy Cow (reference to Old Testament animal sacrifice for sin)
Oh my goodness (only God is good; at the very least, a description of God)

Do we need to use these stupid yet common forms of expression? Certainly with one voice at a time, we can stop the trend of dishonoring/blasphemous utterances and bring some dignity back to the English language. Let's communicate our emotions and reactions in an intelligent and God honoring way. :)

Here are just a few examples:

Isn't that something!?
Just brilliant!
Who'd have thought?
That's amazing
That's fantastic
How wonderful
I'm just amazed
What fabulous news
Wonders will never cease
Words fail me
That is disappointing
How sad
Oh dear
I'm so distraught
I'm sorry to hear that

I think that we as Christians should not remain silent anymore when others around us speak God's name in vain. To respond with "Holy is His Name" is neither a rebuke nor a comment. It's praising the Name of the Lord. If a stranger wants to inquire about it, it's an invitation to share the gospel with a lost soul. Let's be ready to Praise His Name. He's coming back soon! :-)

What do you think? Do you have any expressions to add to my list? Are you silent when you hear a casual OMG said around you?