Positive Mindset, Single Mom

Why I, A Single Mom, Take Pictures With My Kids and Their Dad

Why I, a Single Mom, Take Pics with my Kids and Their Dad

Why Involve Him at All?

How involved should a single mom allow her kids’ dad to be in her life?  And why take pictures with someone you used to be romantically involved with? Since my divorce, I have joined several single mom’s groups, and each one has countless questions (or rants) about this very issue.

Some moms go to the extreme.  If their kids’ dad doesn’t want them, then they will do everything possible to make sure that the dad has little or no relationship with his kids.  Some women go the other extreme and live in the same house with their exes so that their kids can have as much access to both mom and dad as possible.

But most of us are just trying to find that perfect balance in between.

My children have always loved their dad, and he was an involved father.  We used to spend a lot of family time together, so that was a hard adjustment when things ended with us.  We still even ate lunch together for awhile after church every week, although it was a little painful for me to be honest.

With time, however, the awkwardness and pain ended.  We each have our own spaces and lives now (we actually live 3 hours apart), but we do still have the occasional meal together with the kids, usually revolving around pick up/drop off or a school or dance event.  He joins us on Christmas morning to see what Santa brought the kids, and we all eat breakfast together.   We sit beside each other at school events and dance recitals.  We celebrate the kids’ birthdays together.  I can only speak for myself, but it feels comfortable for me now, and I hope it’s the same way for him.

I do know that there is no one who I want to be at those events in my kids’ lives more than him.  He is their dad, and even though things didn’t work out the way I wanted between us, that doesn’t mean that I want to ruin things between them.

I don’t want for my kids to have two birthday parties, or to celebrate and not have one of their favorite people, their dad, in attendance because I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable.

I don’t want for my kids to run down and see what Santa got them without having their dad there the way that my dad was.

But Why Take Pictures With Your Ex?

I’m not sure when we started taking family photos at some of these events.  Usually, someone else asks if we want a photo together (sometimes they don’t even realize that we are no longer married), and we take one.  Every time, I am so happy to have that moment preserved for my children.  It is a moment captured in time when they are with the two people who made them.  And they always look so happy.

The issue of pictures as a “family” came up in one of the single mom groups that I am in and one girl commented that she has always made the point to take family photos with her daughter and her daughter’s dad so that her daughter would always have them when she grew up.  She said that she only has one photo of her with both of her parents, because her parents were not together when she was growing up, and she said that she always treasured that photo.

After she made that comment, several other children of divorced, or never together parents agreed that they also would have loved a picture of their parents together with them, but they never had that.

Even though I am no longer with my kids’ dad, that does not mean that he is no longer a part of their family.  They still have only two parents: him and me.

Every time we take a photo together, my daughter has a photo that she can put on a poster at school of her family like everyone else in her class.

Every time we sit together at her dance recital, she only has to look one place to see the people she loves.

Every time we eat a meal together or experience a special event together (like getting ears pierced or dying hair for a birthday present), she will remember that BOTH of her parents were there.

We have a lifetime of family events to attend together.

She has a lifetime of memories to create.

My hope is that she will remember all of those memories fondly, and that she won’t feel like anyone is missing.

And she’ll have the photo to prove it.

I know that not every mom has this option.  Not every dad wants to be involved.  But for those who do, why not embrace it and give the gift of two parents to your children?

But Won’t Other People Think That’s Weird?

If you choose to let your kids’ dad be involved, you may get some backlash.  Friends or family may not want to be around your ex.  The thing is…your ex is your kids’ dad.  If it is your kids’ recital, school event, birthday, etc. your friends and family should be able to suck it up like both of you are and put on a happy face for the kid they love.

Significant others can make things messy as well.  So far, we have not had this problem.  I told my boyfriend from the beginning that my goal was to have a friendly relationship with my kids’ dad.  Instead of feeling threatened, he admired that.  He joined us on Christmas morning and at other events, and made an effort to get to know my ex.

That is what adults do.  They look for the good in those people who their kids’ love so that they can be friendly and kind and actually enjoy them.

And, let me tell you…it gets easier.

At first, your smile in that photo may be a little forced, but after some time, you’ll find that it is more relaxed.  Just like that first time you sit beside each other at an event may feel uncomfortable, but after a few, you’ll find yourself laughing together about something your child did.

So, Is Taking Pictures With Your Kids’ Dad Worth It?

Yes.  It is absolutely worth it.  Share the moments.  Take the pictures.  It’s worth it for your kids, and it’s worth it for you.

Holidays & Parties, Parenting

7 Exciting Ways to Keep Christ at the Center of Easter

As a Christian mom, I want to be sure that my kids understand what Easter is and what Jesus sacrificed for us, but I want to do it in a fun way!  The last thing I want is for the Easter Bunny to be more important to them than Jesus.

Over the past few years, I have assembled a few traditions we do every year to recognize the amazing power of Jesus Christ and to celebrate the resurrection!

First, the food.  Because I love food.

This photo is not the best as it was just taken for fun a couple of years ago, but this is our traditional Easter morning breakfast.  Easter Eggs, Resurrection Cookies, Resurrection Rolls and fruit.  You can see the Resurrection rolls on the right and the Resurrection cookies at the top!

Resurrection Rolls

These are not only fun to make, they are also meaningful as they tell the story of the burial and resurrection of Jesus! They are also so good that my kids have asked to make them other times than just Easter (we don’t though…I want to keep this as a special once-a-year tradition!).  Check out this recipe to add to your collection and enjoy them before heading out to church!

Resurrection Cookies

One of my favorite parts of Easter since I was a child was making and eating Resurrection Cookies.  They are some of the very best cookies I have ever had, and they are fun!  The kids really enjoy taking turns adding the ingredients (which all have a meaning and go along with the Easter story).  Their favorite part is always beating the pecans with a wooden spoon!  Once you are finished making them, you put them in the oven and seal it with tape (just as Jesus was sealed in the tomb).  It is so much fun to take off the tape on Easter morning to get to the cookies!  Wendy at Around My Family Table has the recipe, as well as some activities for the kids to go along with it!

 

Resurrection Eggs 

Resurrection Eggs are our newest tradition!  I purchased a set last year from Barnes and Nobel and they are so cool!  There are a dozen Easter eggs that open up to reveal a symbol that relates to the Easter story!  A little booklet that comes with it that tells you which order to open the eggs.  My kids loved taking turns opening the eggs to see what was inside!

You can get the one I have HERE.

If you want a less expensive option, Oriental Trading has a set that your kids can color!

You can even make your own Resurrection Eggs!  There are several different ways to make them:

  • You can buy plastic Easter eggs and fill them with items that represent the Easter story.  Amy from Wildflower Ramblings posted about her homemade Resurrection Eggs and even includes a free printable that you can use for your own set!
  • If you don’t want to go searching for items to fill the eggs, you can print a coloring sheet for your kids with the items on it!  All you have to do is cut out the pictures when they are done and put them inside the eggs!  This one is free!
  • For another, more creative option, Sarah from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls made some awesome wooden eggs with symbols burned onto them!  If you are super crafty, you can try her method!

No matter which Resurrection Egg set you purchase or make, it is a great way to teach the Easter story to your kids!

 

Resurrection Garden

Until this year, I had never heard of a Resurrection Garden, but it is a neat concept, especially if you are into gardening and the outdoors!  Basically, you set up a little gardening pot and use it to remember the Easter story.  You can purchase a Resurrection Garden Set at Oriental Trading (and there is free shipping through tomorrow by the way) for $19.99.

If you want to build your own DIY version, you can do that too!  Molly from Sweet Lilac shared her garden as a means to keep Christ at the forefront of Easter.

 

Passover Meal

When I was in high school, our church had a Seder meal.  My parents (and my sisters and I) loved it so much that we did it the following year just for our family.  This is not something that would be as fun for younger children, but if you have older children or teenagers, this tradition is a great way to get to know God and Christ in a new way.  By celebrating Passover, we celebrate God and his provision and plan.  We recognize his power and holiness, and remember how he continued to show love for us by sending Jesus to die as a sacrifice for our sins.  This meal is both a worshipful time and an educational one that I would like to incorporate in our home once my children get a little older.

You can do a Seder meal all sorts of ways, but this post has a great outline of the events, foods, and what all should take place.  You will want to block out a significant amount of time as it is not a quick activity, but as I said before, it is definitely a meaningful one.

 

Flower Experiment to teach Atonement

All in all, the Easter story is full of hard concepts.  The idea of Jesus taking on the sins of the world when he was on the cross…that is difficult even for adults to grasp, much less children.  But it is important to understand that Christ became sin for us so he could be the sacrifice we needed in order to be reconciled with God.  I just found a wonderful experiment to explain this concept, and I am so excited to try it this year with my girls!  Basically, you buy white flowers.  You trim the stems, place them in water, and put food dye into the water.  By the next day, the flowers will take on the color of the water.  You can find all of the specifics for the experiment here.

 

Sin Washing Experiment

Speaking of Easter concepts, the most important part of Easter is the “Why”.  Why did God send Jesus to Earth?  Why did he die on the Cross?  Why was he resurrected again?

The Answer: To cleanse us from our sin so we could be reconciled with God and have a relationship with Him because he loves us.

To demonstrate this concept, you only need a few items to perform an experiment you may remember from youth group or Sunday School.  Some of the ingredients are harsh though, so you won’t want to let your children handle them!

 

I hope you found some activities that you can incorporate into your Easter traditions!  What do you do to remember Christ during Easter?

Parenting

2 Games to Make Cleaning Fun For Kids

It is amazing how big of a mess two little people can make in such a short amount of time.

My youngest finds great joy in taking every single individual toy bin and dumping it out on the floor.  WHY!?!

But luckily kids also love to clean up their messes when they’re done.  Oh, wait.  Yours don’t either?

At my house, getting my kids to clean up their room is like WWIII.  For the last two weeks, I have been at my wits end trying to get my kids to clean up.  I even told them that they couldn’t do anything fun until their room was clean.  I went up to check on their progress, and they were cheerfully playing amongst the mess.

Of course they were.

But then my daughter asked me if we could play the 10 Things Game, and I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it earlier.  I happily said yes, and the kids excitedly  went to work on their messy room and actually cleaned it.

What is the 10 Things Game, you ask?  Well, when my oldest was around 5 years old, I made up a cleaning up game to make picking up a messy room more fun.  After all, who doesn’t love a good game?  It was a hit at the time, but then somehow, I forgot about it, and we hadn’t played it in years until she asked a few days ago.

Basically, the 10 Things Game solves the hardest hurdle of picking up:  Where to Start.  There is nothing worse than staring at an incredibly messy room and feeling the overwhelming feeling of hopelessness.  Instead of just starting somewhere, we anxiously think about how we will never get done.

Secondly, the 10 Things Game sets small goals and rewards the small accomplishments.  We all know how much easier it is to tackle a little project than a big one, and how amazing it feels to have completed a goal!

Lastly, it is competitive (for kids who thrive with contests).  If your kiddo doesn’t do well with competing, you can take turns instead of having the winner get to go next every time.

So, without further ado, the 10 Things Game:

10 Things Game

  1. Always start with the number 10. (Hence the name).
  2. Yell GO. All kids (and adults if they want to help), begin picking up items in the room. It can be ANY item as long as it is put in the correct spot when it is picked up.
  3. The person who picks up their 10 items the fastest is the winner. He/she gets to pick some type of exercise/dance/etc move for the group to do. The group will do the same number of moves as the number of items.  So, if the winner picks kicks, the group will do 10 kicks.  (Other suggestions: touching toes, jumping jacks, twirls, stretches, running back and forth in the hallway, leaps, etc).
  4. When the group has completed the dance/exercise moves, the winner from picking up will pick a new number. (I always say no less than 5, but really the kids don’t like low numbers anyway…it isn’t as fun).
  5. Repeat the game with the new number. The winner of that round gets to pick the next dance/exercise move and number and so on.

Pro Tip: I usually play with my kids for several reasons: 1) It helps them stay focused 2) It is actually kind of fun 3) I get some exercise 4) It’s fun bonding time.

It is amazing how fast the room will get clean when everyone is staying focused and working together.

Wanting some official “Game Rules” to show the kids?  I’ve got you covered! Just click HERE  to download the game instructions!  There are two different color options to choose from!

If your kids get tired of that game, or if you want to mix it up, I have another game for you!

The Bucket Game

Another game my kiddos love is the Bucket Game.  This game takes a little more prep the first time, but it is reusable.  Write down every item that your kids have in their room on a piece of paper.  Cut up the strips of paper and put them in a bucket or jar.  The child reaches in the bucket to get a slip of paper, and then they pick up all of the items in the room that match that slip of paper.  Then they choose another piece of paper and so on and so forth until the room is clean.

My kids love this game, and it also does a good job of tackling the “Where to begin?” question when looking at an overwhelming mess.  Instead of facing a huge project, it breaks the items down into small categories.  Since the kids have to search through the mess for the correct items, cleaning becomes a fun hunting game.

To save you some time, I have a FREE printable with strips of paper all ready to go!  There are many common kids toys and items on them already, but you can add any additional items on the blank strips!  Just print, cut, fold, and place in a bucket or jar, and you’ll be all ready to go!   Just click HERE to download!

Looking for ways to make it more fun to actually clean the house once all the toys are put away?  Cornerstone Confessions has some ideas here.

How do you get your kids excited to clean up?  Let us know in the comments!

Download Both Games Here!