Tag Archives: parenting

Raising a Confident Child

 

Raising a Confident Child | Money Savvy Living

 

Do you ever wonder how you will ever possibly be able to teach your child everything that they need to know in order to successfully make it through life?  I can’t be the only one, overwhelmed at times, by this thought, can I? No… I’m sure you’ve thought this. I know that you have. Because, like me, you want the very best for your child.

 

So, how do we raise kids in a way that will enable them to make good decisions in life; to find their own path to success; to believe in themselves and their abilities; to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are special and wonderful and loved by God and by their family; to be kind and loving to others without being taken advantage of? Confidence. Instilling your child with confidence will help them to not only stand up for themselves to a bully on the playground at school now, but also enable them to make decisions with certainty and self-assurance throughout their lives. Here are a few ways to help build confidence in your children that any parent can do:

 

Offer praise more than punishment

While it may seem obvious that, as parents, we should positively reinforce the behaviors that we want to encourage, it is so easy to fall into the negative reinforcement trap. Some days, it feels like all I do is tell my kids “no.”

“Can I have ice cream?” It’s before dinner… “NO.”

“Can I dive into the pool?” It’s 4-feet deep… “NO.”

“Can I do flips on the trampoline?” You could fall and break your arm (or neck)… “NO.”

No, no, no… much more prevalent in my vocabulary than it should be. I really do try to focus on the good, but I feel that it only sometimes barely equals that amount of times they are hearing “no…. stop that….don’t do that…” So to counterbalance all of the no’s or negative reinforcements that they hear, it is important to intentionally set out to look for ways to offer praise:

“Thank you for hanging up your laundry.”

“Good job cleaning up your toys.”

“You are a good big brother, thank you for helping your little brother with ________________.”

“Awesome job sharing the Wii.”

Each time we offer a word of praise to our children, their self-worth is built up. They hear and understand that we value them—they know they are important to us. When a child hears their parent praising them for something, confidence is reinforced within them.

 

Allow your child to learn from mistakes

There is a fine line here between a hands-off parenting style and an actively-involved parenting style that allows children to gain independence through experience and choice. The hands-off parent simply allows their child to do anything and offers very little guidance before, during, or after a mistake is made. The actively involved parent offers advice and encourages the child to make proper decisions, without enforcing what the child should do.

This can be very hard to do. We want everything to be perfect for our kids. We want them to not have to make the mistakes that we made. However, if our children grow up never having to make a decision and then realize the consequences that go along with that decision, we really aren’t doing them any favors. Allowing children the freedom to make decisions still requires an actively involved parent.

When we allow our children to make mistakes and learn from failures, we teach them that they aren’t perfect—and that is okay. Some things require hard work and practice. Life still goes on. You learn what you can from your mistakes and move forward, armed with the knowledge gained from the experience. Taking the time to talk about the situation and how your child could make a different choice in the future will build their confidence for future decision making, knowing you are there to support them.

 

Don’t Overschedule Your Child  

While your child may want to be involved in every sport, club, workshop, or after-school activity that is offered, you will do your child a favor to limit the amount of extra-curricular activities in which they participate. Or maybe your child doesn’t want to do any of these things, but would rather come home and play video games, so you, as the parent, have set a strict agenda of activities for your child of the things that you want them to do, including music lessons (for example) that you find yourself having to fight with your child about and feel like you drag your child to… lest your child end up a couch potato. Either way, having your child involved in activities is great, but overscheduling your child is not.

Things can be hectic—at times, too hectic. Sometimes, we just need to take a step back and slow down. If we are too busy to eat meals together, something needs to change. In the attempt to give our children exposure to different experiences, opportunities, and activities, we still want to maintain a healthy balance and make sure that we are spending time together. When we allow our children, or ourselves, to be overscheduled, relationships can suffer, academic achievement can suffer, even health and well-being can suffer.

As children grow up, allow them to try new sports and activities, but limit the amount of activities in which they participate at any given time. Help to lead and guide them based on interest and ability. But most importantly, take the time to get to know your child as they grow up, don’t just simply take on the role of chauffer.

Leading and guiding our children in a way in which they can succeed will build up confidence. Allowing them to over-extend themselves and not be able to commit the proper amount of time to school or activities can end up hurting self-esteem.

 

Parenting is hard. There is no guide to tell you what to do in every situation. Or how best to handle each child’s unique personality. Or what the long-term effects will be of a particular decision. There is no, one right way to raise a child.  Being there for your child, and simply offering a loving environment, will go a long way in giving your child the foundation which they will need to succeed in life.

“…do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”—Ephesians 6:4

 

10 Reasons Why the Toddler Years are the Best (& Worst) Years of Your Life as a Parent

10 Reasons the Toddlers Years are the Best | Money Savvy Living

 

As a new parent, things seem overwhelming. You have to change the way that you do everything. EVERYTHING. You can no longer just roll out of bed and be ready to leave the house within 20 minutes. You no longer can go where you want, when you want. You no longer leave the house without a huge bag of stuff for the baby that will include anything that you could possibly ever need while not at home.

 

You probably don’t even recognize your life anymore—but in a good way.

 

Just wait a couple of years. Things change again. Your child hits their toddler years.

 

Yes, the toddler years come with some frustration and challenges. However, now that my third child is almost done with his toddler years and starting preschool, I find myself longing for the days when my kids were younger and all I had to worry about was the toddler stuff.

 

As a parent, those are the best—(and worst)—years of your life. Here’s why:

 

You get special snuggle and cuddle time with your toddler at bedtime. (Your child will not fall asleep unless you are right. there. by. them. Don’t move because they will wake up and you will have to start the process all over again.)

 

Your child wants to be with you all the time. (Going to the bathroom by yourself is not even possible anymore.)

 

Your toddler loves to learn and explore. (Your house is a constant mess for a few years—don’t even bother trying to keep it clean. It. Won’t. Happen.)

 

Reading books with your toddler is a daily occurrence. (It is inevitable that your child will decide that he or she likes ONE specific book and you will have to read it over, and over, and over, and over… again. You will probably memorize this book and will be able to recite it word for word without even looking at it.)

 

Your child is gaining independence and can get dressed by themselves. (Your child will end up wearing her favorite pajamas to the grocery store, or insist on wearing clothes that don’t match, but you will allow it because you don’t want to deal with the inevitable meltdown that would ensue otherwise.)

 

Toddlers LOVE to “help out” around the house. (It will now take you twice as long to do laundry and cook a meal because you have a “helper” who really doesn’t help, but actually makes more messes along the way for you to clean up.)

 

Toddlers are carefree, happy, and inquisitive. (You must watch your child like a hawk because if you don’t, they will be running out into traffic, playing with sharp objects, or trying to stick something into electrical outlets before you know it. You do not get to rest until you fall asleep at night—maybe not even then.)

 

Your child receives ample toys from everyone for their birthday and Christmas. (Your house has been taken over with kid stuff—it is pretty much unrecognizable to the way your house used to look before you had kids.)

 

Grocery shopping and dining out are an adventure with a toddler. (You will learn how to complete your grocery shopping within 15 minutes of entering the store because, after that, it all falls apart. Eating out…well, let’s just say that you had better bring something to entertain your little one and hope that the restaurant is not busy.)

 

Your little one puts his arms around your neck and says, “I wuv you, Mommy”—multiple times a day. (Sometimes you come to find out that he has made a huge mess and is just trying to charm you, but most of the time, he does it just because…)

 

And you realize that your life is just about perfect with these sweet little people, that God has entrusted you to raise, in it.

 

Even through the frustrating and challenging days, take the time to slow down and enjoy what you will surely look back on as some of the best days of your life.

 

10 Reasons Why the Toddler Years are the Best (and Worst) Years of Your Life as a Parent // Money Savvy Living

 
#momlife

The One Thing Every Mother Needs to Hear

The One Thing Every Mother Needs to Hear | Money Savvy Living

 

We went on what I like to think of as a “mini-vacation” this past weekend. We took the boys out of school a couple hours early and headed for Chicago.

 

Since the kids have been born, I have to admit that I am not much of a vacationer. It. Is. So. Much. Work. Yes, work… not relaxing. Work. It really seems like I need to take half of the house with me in order to be prepared for anything that we may even possibly think about needing. You know, like diapers, wipes, bottles, snacks, Band-Aids, extra clothing… now that they are getting bigger this is getting a little better…

 

We have gone on a few vacations though—to Disneyworld and the beach, and things went well. For the most part, the kids have always done well. Of course, we do hear the typical things that you would expect to come from the back seat: “Are we there yet?” “I need to use the bathroom!” “Mom, he’s touching my stuff!” Did I mention we have THREE boys?

 

Even though the kids do pretty well and are excited when we go on vacation, I still don’t really feel relaxed though. I mean, it’s a lot of pressure to make sure all three kids actually stay with us so that we don’t come home with only two… or just one…

 

The boys standing by a huge Lego giraffe at Legoland

The boys standing by a huge Lego giraffe at LEGOLAND

 

So on our mini-vacation, this past weekend, we went to Chicago and tried to make it fun for the kids—riding the train into downtown, going to Skydeck Ledge, visiting Legoland… even getting to try authentic Chicago-style deep dish pizza.

 

Yes, we were actually all brave enough to step out over the city at the Skydeck Ledge (photo via: theskydeckledge.com)

Yes, we were actually all brave enough to step out over the city at the Skydeck Ledge (photo via: theskydeckledge.com)

 

But the event that stood out to me this weekend was brunch at the hotel on Sunday morning. It was crowded. Really crowded. There was a long line for the waffle maker, and of course, the kids wanted waffles. There were no tables big enough for our party of five. But there was a table in the corner for two. So I asked an elderly couple sitting close by, if we could borrow a couple of chairs from their table. They indicated that no one was sitting there, so I scooted them over to our table. Ok. Now the kids could be seated while I worked on getting their breakfast and my husband could watch them to make sure no one got away. Whew. See what I mean, even just getting a table for breakfast was work. So I got the boys eggs and some cereal to be eating. Then went back up for extra plates, napkins and silverware. Work. Then back up for water and orange juice. Work. Everyone was happy—sort of, “Mom, can I please have a waffle?” Of course, the little guy only wanted pancakes. And there were no pancakes.

 

By this time, the line died down for waffles, so I put some batter in the waffle maker and even got my husband some eggs and juice to be eating while he made sure no one escaped. Finally, we had a waffle. So everyone was happy. Time to relax and eat my breakfast. Then the little guy spilled his water—and started to cry. I told him it was ok… And as I tried to make my way around the table (it was very crowded, so I had to go past that elderly couple again), that sweet elderly lady stopped me and said,

“You’re a good mom.”

The One Thing Every Mother Needs to Hear | Money Savvy Living

 

I thanked her. I should have hugged her. She will never know how much I needed to hear that. That little bit of encouragement made my day. It was all I needed to realize that this work was my life. My life with little kids that will soon be big.

 

If you see a Mom with little kids, give her a word of encouragement today. It may mean more than you know.

10 Ways for New Parents to Save Money

piggy bank

Finding out that you are expecting a baby is one of the most exciting and happy events in life! And even when you find out how much this little bundle of joy is going to cost you—the average cost of raising a child is about $245,000—it is still worth it because nothing compares to holding that sweet little baby in your arms. There are some things that you can do though, to save a bit of money:

1. Don’t buy a diaper bag. You won’t need to buy a diaper bag. Seriously, you won’t. Diaper bags can be very expensive, usually starting at about $30 and ranging up to several hundred dollars! And trust me, if you buy one, you are going to be sorry that you wasted your money. There are several places that will actually give you a diaper bag for FREE:

  • your obstetrician’s office often has free diaper bags (with formula samples inside!)
  • vendors at baby fairs hand out diaper bags, among other samples
  • the hospital also gives out free diaper bags and other samples

I learned about all of these free diaper bags after I had already purchases a diaper bag, which I ended up not liking as much as the free ones! If the doctor’s office or hospital are busy or forget to offer these to you, make sure you ask for samples, coupons, or a diaper bag.

2. Don’t stock up on diapers. Ok, if you are a planner, like me, this one is going to be tough. Yes, you will need some diapers to get you started the first few weeks, but don’t buy a bunch of size 1 and 2 diapers until you see what works best for you and your baby. Some brands of diapers that my friends said worked so well for them—never had a leaky diaper—just didn’t prove to be the same experience for me and my baby. You will probably want to test out a few brands until you see what works for you the best, and trust me, it isn’t always the name brand, sometimes store brands are just as good (maybe even better!).

3. Don’t stock up on formula either. Start out using just one type of formula, don’t test these out initially. But you should not buy several bulk cases of it until you know that your baby will be ok with it. You don’t want to find out that you’ve spent hundreds of dollars on a formula that your baby won’t be able to use because of lactose intolerance or acid reflux.

4. Sign up for baby food, formula, and diaper coupons. You can sign up for these easily online. Some of the main ones to check out: Pampers, Huggies, Similac, Gerber

5. Sign up for store rewards programs. Many stores offer rewards programs, such as Babies’ R Us. You earn points for each dollar spent that will earn you coupons for future use in the store, so you can save money on future purchases for your little one! You may also notice codes on products that you buy, such as Huggies and Pampers. Those points can be entered online to earn items, such as a free photobook from Shutterfly!

6. Use cloth diapers. If you really want to save money on diapers, you may want to opt for cloth diapers. Of course, there are some up-front costs for this, but considering that in one month’s time, a newborn will go through about 300 diaper changes (a bigger baby will probably use about 150 diapers a month), you will probably end up spending about $35-75 per month on disposable diapers!

7. Choose breast milk over formula. If you choose to nurse your baby, you will be taking advantage of a free source of food! Besides the antibodies and health benefits to your child, the money savings are a very nice benefit.

8. Use store apps or price matching. It can take a bit of planning to search for sale items ahead of time, but many stores will give you discounts on baby items. Target has created the “Cartwheel” application for smartphones, which offers different discount on items each week. You can typically save 5-10% on store brand baby items, including diapers, wipes, and baby food. Another great way to save is to price match; stores such as Walmart will accept competitor ads on any item in there store, including name brand baby products.

9. Utilize a flex spending account for medical bills or childcare. If your employer offers a Flex Spending account, take advantage of it for medical expenses or childcare for your baby. Money comes out of your paycheck, pre-tax—so you will reduce the amount of taxes withheld from each check, which will increase your spendable cash each month!  You should be able to find several free income tax calculators online that can take the guesswork out of the entire process.

10. Buy gender neutral items. As tempting as it is to run out and buy everything blue that you see as soon as you find out that you’re having a boy, try to restrain yourself if you plan on having more than one child. It can be very expensive to purchase everything that you will need for a baby when you are expecting your first child… and it doesn’t get any cheaper if you need to replace all of these items when your second child is a girl. Items such as strollers, receiving blankets, sleepers, even nursery decorations, can be gender neutral so that they could work whether you have a boy or girl. A little thinking ahead can save you big bucks!