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Posts Tagged ‘Single Parents’

Everyone wants to be a good parent, right?  But how many really think they are?  How many single parents really think they’re doing a good job at parenting?

I’m always looking for ways to be a better mom to Grace.  Twice in the last few weeks I’ve heard “Beth, you’re such a great mom.” from friends of mine.  When I hear that, my brain kinda goes “huh?” Don’t get me wrong,  It’s not that I think I’m a bad parent, but do I think I’m a really good parent?

I always feel guilty that I don’t have as much time to spend with Grace as I’d like to.  I feel guilty because I don’t do as many activities with her as I’d like to.  Here are some of the things we do together:

*Walk the dog.  I really like this one because not only do we get to spend time together, but I get in some much needed exercise.

*Go to lunch together.  This is so much fun.  Grace picks the place and we have a great time just eating lunch together.

*Play games.  She loves activity books and games.  Last week at dinner, I got out some addition flash cards and told her it was a “mystery game” and that we had to use the clues to figure out the answers.  We used a box of colored pencils to help us with the clues.  So if the card said 8+3, she counted out 8 colored pencils and then counted out 3 more and then counted all of them together.  She LOVED this “game”

*Bake together.  Grace is an EXPERT egg cracker.  Whenever we make something, she gets to crack the eggs.  She loves stirring and pouring things in, plus it’s just tons of fun to bake together.

*Watch a movie.  I’m not a big TV person, but once in awhile, Grace and I will get ready for bed and snuggle up to watch a movie before going to sleep.  She loves it when I’m doing nothing else but rubbing her back and paying attention to her.

Good parenting isn’t just the things you do together, but it’s also how you handle situations the require discipline.

I have to tell you that this stage is the best one yet.  I didn’t think I’d make it through the twos.  The threes were rough, but MUCH better than the twos.  The fours are just so much fun.  I’m finding that with each stage, I have less discipline to take care of.  I think it’s because I had to do SO much work during the twos stage, it’s starting to pay off.

I think one of the biggest things were working on right now is her attitude.  Grace can get a bad attitude in a split second.  I told her yesterday that she had to the count of three to change her attitude or she’d have to go to her room…..amazing, the attitude changed.

A few months ago, her room was becoming unbearable.  I was cleaning it at least three times a day.  I know she’s still little, but I told her that she had to start keeping her room clean, so we made a “clean room chart”  that had the days of the week on it and a spot for a sticker by each day.  I told her that if her room was clean at night before she went to bed, she’d get a sticker for the day and then once she had 7 stickers, I’d take her to Kid’s Fun Center.  (It’s a kids dream come true.  Lots of slides, trampolines, ball pits, climbing stuff.  Basically an indoor playland.)   Well guess what?  The girl who couldn’t keep her room clean had it cleaned up every night for 7 nights THE FIRST WEEK we used the chart!!!!  She still keeps it much cleaner than it was before we implemented the chart.  Now instead of cleaning it 3-4 times a day, I only have to do a once a week clean up in there to really straighten everything up.  Other than that, she keeps it clean 🙂

The other thing I’m working on diligently this year is not yelling.  I began to see that yelling is a vicious cycle.  You child pushes you until you yell at them, then they react.  Pretty soon, they only act when you yell at them, and beside that, it’s just not worth it to get all riled up and get your child upset too.  So, I’m trying very hard to be patient, take a deep breath, and make things fun instead of a battle.  The other day, she was really, really pushing me.  I asked her to do something and she was being very sassy.  I asked her again and again, she was sassy.  I looked at her and said in a calm voice “Grace, you are making mommy very angry right now.  I’ve asked you to put your jacket away. You’re not doing it and you’re being sassy about it.  I’m about to yell at you and I don’t want to, so please go put your jacket away.”  She just looked at me and said “oh, ok Mama, I’ll go do it.”  And she did!  It made me very happy that I maintained my calm, and that she didn’t want to make me angry, didn’t want me to yell, so she obeyed.  Those moments are priceless.

Parenting to me is a constant analyzing process.  I’m constantly analyzing her behavior.  What is it that we need to work on?  I don’t expect her to be perfect or to work on it all at one time, but I also know my child isn’t a complete angel.  She has areas that she needs to work on.  I also analyze how to work on her behavior.  What worked or didn’t work in the past?  What can we do differently so that I’m not using the same methods over and over?  Grace loves rewards.  Whether it’s a day at Kid’s Fun Center, a dollar, picking where we get to eat lunch, choosing an inexpensive item when we go to the store, she just loves rewards.

Honestly, I see her behavior improve the most when I take time out of my schedule and we spend time together.  I think that sometimes she gets sassy or acts up because what she really wants is my attention, she wants to spend time together.

I also pray and ask God to show me how to be a better parent.  I ask Him for wisdom, ideas, solutions.  He is the Master when it comes to parenting, who better is there to ask for parenting advice from?

So, if your child pushes you to the limit, or acts up…..don’t worry, you’re not alone.  Being a single parent is tough stuff, but with a little creativity, analyzing, prayer, and patience, you can do it.

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Well, 2010 is off to a good start so far.  Here’s what’s happening around here……

I’m as busy as ever teaching piano lessons, cleaning out closets (and selling what I’m getting rid of on ebay 🙂

Grace is doing FANTASTIC in preschool this year and in piano lessons.  She LOVES piano lessons, and picks up on it quickly which is a real relief for me.  (We’re using the “Music for Little Mozart’s” series from Alfred’s and she’s just moving right along!)

I’m about to add to my lengthy to do list…….drum roll please……..

I’m going to take Violin lessons!!!  I told the teacher that I can only do a lesson every other week so that I actually have TIME to practice.  I’m not exactly sure HOW or WHERE that’s going to fit into our schedule, but I really want to learn to play another instrument.

As of this morning I have 9 LBS left to go…..I can hardly believe it!  It seems like I’ve been trying to lose this baby weight FOREVER.  I’ve only been working on it seriously for the last year and a half and the end is in sight!!!

We’ve added taking a walk on Saturday mornings to our routine and we’re having a lot of fun with it.  I don’t like to exercise, but I always tell myself that a little bit of exercise is better than none!

On a side note, I bought a label maker a few weeks ago, and Grace just LOVES it.  She wants a label maker of her own and only told me that like 300 times last Saturday, so I told her that I will buy her a label maker of her own when she can spell 100 words that are 4 letters long or longer 😉

She is so strong willed that she’s taking me up on the challenge!  She has to come up with 92 more words she can spell and the label maker is hers.  This is what happens when you speak before you think about the fact that you’re sending your child to a preschool where they work on the sounds of letters…You end up buying a label maker……..she amazes me.  Here is her list so far:

*Sock
*Great
*Plan
*Plane (She spelled plan and I told her if she added an “e” it would be plane, so she said, “OK, I’ll add an “e” and she spelled it again with an “e” on the end!)
*Clock
*Love
*Stop
*Soup

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I wish my voice was as beautiful as Susan Boyle’s.

I wish I knew as much about the Bible as my friend Loren.

I wish I was as beautiful as my friend Carissa.

I wish I was as skinny as my sister in law.

I wish I was 5′ 7″

I wish my hair turned out good everyday.

I wish I could play the piano as good as several of my piano playing friends do.

I wish I could sing tenor like my friend Donna does.

I wish I always had the right words to say like my friend Patty does.

I wish I was as patient with Grace as my friend Star is with her 5 children.

But I am not any of those things, nor can I ever make myself be like anyone else.

I am Beth.  I have the voice that God gave me.  I am as tall as God made me.  I am as thin as I can be at this point in my life.  I don’t always have time to make my hair perfect in the morning.  I look exactly the way God intended me to look.  Things don’t always come out of my mouth the way I intend them to.  I am human, sometimes I yell at my child.  I work as hard as I can to take care of my little family, and sometimes that means I have dark circles under my eyes and my hair is thrown up in a pony tail.  I don’t have as much time to practice on the piano as I’d like to.  I am Beth.  I have to live my life, not Patty’s, Lorens, Carissa’s,  or any other of my friends’ lives. 

I cannot spend time or energy trying to be like someone else.  I can admire the gifts and the talents God gave them, but I can’t beat myself up because my voice isn’t like someone else’s, my hair isn’t like someone else’s, or I’m not as thin as someone else.  I have to be who God made me to be.  I have to use the talents that God gave me……I can work to improve them, but I can’t try to be like someone else.

I’ve found that when I listen to someone sing and think “I wish I could sing like they do.” or I look at someone I know and think “I wish my hair always looked as nice as their’s does.” I start beating myself up………every day that week I look at myself and think I’m having a bad hair day.  Everytime I sing during music practice, I cringe when I hear my voice comes out, I look in the mirror and think about how much more wieght that needs to come off (15 lbs).

Satan has a way of distracting us, making us our own worst enemy.  Giving us thoughts that we’re not good enough to serve God, not thin enough or pretty enough to find someone to marry, that we’re not good parents to our children, and on and on.  He will find ANYTHING he can to distract us and mess with our thoughts.

Paul said it best:

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.”
II Corinthians 10:12

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Sometimes it’s hard for me to be patient.  I’m always searching for a solution, always trying to have things planned out.

I was getting a little bit frustrated because I’m still working on losing the last of the “baby” weight, but other than drinking lots of water, making healthy choices and taking my green tea pills (which are working!), I wasn’t able to do anything else to help my weight loss progress. 

I was talking to a friend of mine about this a few weeks ago, and she said……”Stop stressing out about it.  You’re a single mom……when are you supposed to find time to work out?  Are you supposed to pay someone to watch Grace, and pay to go swimming?  You can’t afford that……just do what you can do for now and don’t be too hard on yourself.” 

That was nice to hear, but it was coming from a friend who’s a size 4……….so I stopped stressing about it, and started praying about it.

A few weeks later, a former piano student’s mom got in touch with me about two of her daughter’s taking lessons again and said that her husband wanted me to stop by and talk to them about the financial side of things since my rates have increased in the year they haven’t taken lessons…….

Guess what?  God worked it out for BOTH of us.  They are paying for half of the girl’s tuition, and then they are watching Grace for the other half of the tuition, which means that I now have someone to watch her for FREE while I go swimming!!!  I cannot even begin to tell you how overjoyed I was to see God bring together two people who had situations that they were stressed out about that worked out for what we BOTH needed.

Even though, it seems like a small thing, it is a HUGE blessing for me, and another lesson in letting go of my concerns and letting God do the work.

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