Co-Parenting, Friendship, Mom Life, Parenting, Single Mom, Single Mom

To the Married Mom: What Your Divorced Mom Friends Want You To Know

Dear Married Mom:

We were all once like you.  We once had a husband and kids.  We had a family.  Maybe it was picture-perfect, but was wrecked by an affair or betrayal.  Maybe it was never as perfect behind closed doors as it looked on Instagram.  Maybe it was always a hot mess and everyone knew it.

But regardless, we had what you have and now our family is no longer the same.  It has changed.  Our lives have changed.

One of the hardest things about joining the Divorced Wives Club is that it can be isolating.  Whether our old friends just feel like they can’t relate, if they think divorce is contagious (it’s not), or if they think all newly single women want their husbands (we don’t), many of our married friends seem to disappear.

I choose to think that it’s just hard for some of our married friends to understand this new phase in our lives.  Maybe they have questions that they are afraid will be uncomfortable for us to answer.  Maybe they don’t understand why we are only available at odd times (every other weekend we are all in, but the once perfect Thursday nights are now out).  Maybe they think that they are hurting us by talking about their husbands or being invited to family events.

Anyhow, I’m hoping this list may clear a few things up.

  1. We are worried that our kids will be treated differently.

Our kids have been through a lot and we know it.  Many of us carry guilt about not making our relationship work, even if we did all that we could.  We have to answer questions that our kids have, hear them complain about going back and forth between parents, and see them miss out on events because they are with the other parent on that weekend.

We, just like all parents, just want for our kids to be healthy and happy.

Our kids know that a lot of their friends have parents who are married.  They know they are different.

Anything you could do to include our children, to treat them as you did before the divorce, would be so appreciated by us.

  1. Being divorced/separated is not the same thing as having a traveling husband.

While I personally have had a traveling husband, and I know how difficult that is, it is not the same as being divorced or a single mom.  If you happen to suggest as much or call yourself a “single mom” because your husband is gone for a few days or a week, just be aware that you are probably offending a single mom you know.  I know that you probably mean nothing by it, but while you may run the household alone, you do still have someone to do life with.  True single moms do not.

That being said, I personally think that being a divorced mom holding down the fort at home is a bit easier than having a traveling husband in some ways.  When I was married and my husband would come home on the weekends, he would kind of rock the boat of everything we had going on.  Sleep schedules, routines, meals, etc. would be thrown out of whack.  Also, I felt like I had to clean like a madwoman every Friday before he got home.  AND I still missed out on some girls nights, etc. when he was traveling because a sitter was so expensive.  So, while you aren’t a “single mom” while your man is out of town, that doesn’t mean that it is easy or that you have nothing to complain or be frustrated about.  Just know that particular phrase tends to get under some single moms’ skin.

  1. Unless you got married less than 5 years ago, your dating advice is old school. But we still love it when you try to talk girl-talk with us.

We LOVE that you care about our dating life (if we are talking to you about it…unsolicited questions are not so welcome).  It is nice to have someone to talk to about that cute guy we met or the last date we went on.  But wow!  How times have changed!  Not only is dating in general totally different with dating apps galore, but dating with kids is light-years different than dating without them.

Just remember we are trying to figure out this new dating world too and may make some mistakes along the way.  If you can just reserve a bit of judgment and try to be encouraging, that would be great!  And, yes, we do appreciate all of your advice…we just might not take it.

Also, the phrase “I’m so glad I don’t have to date these days!” is probably meant as a way to relate, but it can kind of sting.  Most of us aren’t exactly thrilled to have to go out into the dating world the second time around.

Photo by Huy Phan
  1. Complaining about your husband to us may be a bad idea.

There are three types of divorced women:

TYPE ONE: The well-adjusted ones who are not bitter and who want to hear everything about your life.  You can have an occasional vent session with these girls and they are not offended or bothered in the least (I fall under this category).  But not every divorced woman is there yet.

TYPE TWO: The ones who are hurting.  Complaining to these friends about your husband is like complaining about your kids or pregnancy to someone who just had a miscarriage or is dealing with infertility.  Unless you know for sure your friend can handle your vent sesh, try to be sensitive to her feelings.  While you may be upset that your husband didn’t take out the trash last night, your divorced mom friend has been taking it out by herself every single time since her husband walked out.

TYPE THREE: The bitter ones.  These should be easier to spot.  If your friend is a little too gleeful of your irritation with your husband, and especially if she encourages separation or divorce, stay away from her.  She is toxic to your marriage.  A good friend (married or not) would suggest counseling or reconciliation if you are having issues.  I personally hope my married friends have life-long and happy marriages!  If your friend isn’t on your marriage’s team, drop them.

  1. Please don’t leave us out now that we are single.

We want to be invited on that girl’s trip or to the family cookout.  We miss you.  Our kids miss your kids.

I was so thankful for those friends who still invited me to things after I was divorced.  A few of my friends truly made me feel as if nothing had changed.  They still invited me to adult events where couples were, and to be honest, since the guys usually hang out with the guys and vice versa, I didn’t stick out like a sore thumb.  We were still invited to family parties and cookouts and events.  They made me feel normal.  They made my kids feel normal.

I also had other friends who no longer invited me.  It was as if since I was a little different, I wasn’t welcome.  Or maybe they thought that I would feel uncomfortable, so instead of leaving the decision of whether to attend up to me, they made the decision for me.  Either way, it hurt.  It made me feel weird, out of place, and alienated.

So, if you are on the fence about whether to invite us or not, please invite us.  We’ll make an excuse if it feels too uncomfortable, but we will appreciate the invite all the same.

Photo by Kelsey Chance

Oh, and another thing…if you go to church, invite us to sit beside you on Sunday.  It can be weird to get used to sitting alone at a service where almost everyone seems to have someone with them.

  1. We may have changed, but we still have things in common with you.

I know that having a husband is a big part of your life, and it used to be a big part of ours.  But even though we no longer have that in common, we still have other things that we share with you.

After all, we still have kids and all that comes with that.  Most of us probably originally became friends over our kids anyway…that’s what moms do.

Plus, even though we are no longer wives, we are still women.   We still love neighborhood ladies events, shopping, dancing, trying new restaurants, laughing with our girlfriends, weekends away, etc.  Whatever we did with you before, we still love now!  We can still be friends.

  1. We try to make the most of our “free weekends”.

For those of us who have our children every other weekend, that time is precious to us!!  I know that I personally have my kids 80% of the time.  That means that 80% of the time, I do it all.  I don’t have anyone to pick up the slack or to pass the kids off to if I need a break.  On the flipside, I’m totally alone 20% of the time.  No kids.  Not as many responsibilities.  So, in that 20% of the time, I try to do the majority of my socializing, dating, etc. as well as catch up on housework and my to-do list.  There is nothing worse to me than a wasted “free” weekend.

So, if you do have a weekend free when you would like to have some girl time: grab brunch, get a little pampering, etc., call up your divorced mom friend!  If it is her free weekend, she would probably love nothing more than to have some girl time with you!

  1. But when we are with our kids, we don’t want to leave them.

I cannot tell you how many times I have said no to a kid-free event on a weekday or a weekend when I have my kids.  Yes, I need a break.  Yes, the 12 days straight with my kids without having help can drive me insane.  But I work full-time.  I spend most of my evenings shuttling kids to afterschool activities.  When I have time to spend with my kids, I want to hang out with them.  I DO know I need time for myself and so once in awhile I will do something for me, but don’t get offended if I say no, even if I have someone to babysit.

The worst part of becoming a divorced mom is that almost every single MNO takes place on a Thursday, no matter what it is: Bunco, Book Clubs, etc.  It’s hard to justify getting a babysitter for a Thursday night when my kids are going to their dad’s for the weekend the next day.

Photo by Jordan Whitt
  1. Our kids are going to miss important events because they are with their dad, and we hate it.

My kids have missed out on a lot when they were with their dad.  Even though he and I co-parent very well together, he lives 3 hours away.  Which means that my girls miss a lot of birthday parties, sleepovers, playdates, and other events.

Our kids are sad to miss out and we are sad that they have to miss out.  But don’t stop inviting them!!  They may be able to make it next time!

  1. Our stress level is high.

Oh what I wouldn’t give sometimes to have someone to share the load with.  If anything, I think I miss that the most.

Just someone who could watch the kids while I ran to the store.  Or who could unload the dishwasher.  Or do the night time routine so I could just have a little break.  Someone who could help with taking the kids to their afterschool activities.  Someone who could be there with the kids so I could run out to a girls’ night without feeling guilty about it.  Someone to share paying the bills.  Someone to take over with discipline when I’m burned out.  Someone to back me up when the kids want to keep arguing with me.

It is stressful doing it all on our own.

And on top of that, we are the breadwinner in our family.  And we’re worried about our children’s well-being.  And we’re trying to make sure our kid doesn’t miss out, because they already miss out on having both mom and dad there in their home together like all of their friends whose parents are still married have.

And if we’re dating too….oh boy.  Have you seen the people on those dating apps??  Remember how stressful and nervous you were to go on a date in college when all of your girlfriends were there helping you get ready and sharing in the experience with you?

Well, now it’s just as nerve wracking, but you’re getting ready on your own, and most of your friends can’t really relate because they have been married for eons.  Plus, if you end up going on a date when the kids are with you, you’re trying to get your kids settled with a sitter and battling “mama guilt” before you head out.

So yeah, it’s stressful.  And it never ends.

Photo by Kevin Grieve
  1. We are exhausted.

Like I’m not 100% saying that I am “having a newborn at home” exhausted, but I’d say I’m pretty close to that most of the time.

Look at everything I listed in #10.

My days are spent:

  • Getting kids up for school, packing my child’s Gluten-free & dairy free lunch, getting myself ready for work
  • Going to work for 8 hours
  • Rushing (always rushing) to pick up my kids from daycare and the sitter’s to get them to dance (one of them dances or tumbles every day).
  • We get home. I cook dinner.  Because not only is it expensive to eat out all the time (and out of budget), but my oldest can’t have gluten or dairy, so I have to make special meals for her.
  • After dinner we: practice dance/stretch/sometimes watch a tv show/play basketball/walk to the park on our one early dance day.
  • We do bedtime routine/devotion/prayer/my youngest begs me to sleep with her. I try not to fall asleep and give myself a time-limit on how long I will stay.  I stay about 30 mins longer than I tell her I will.  She still cries when I leave.
  • I do dishes and laundry and clean if I can muster the energy. Or I fall asleep in bed with my clothes on.  Or I have already fallen asleep in bed with my youngest and stumble to my bed in the middle of the night.
  • I set my alarm to do the same thing the next day.

While not every divorced mom shares my exact schedule or circumstances, almost all of us have one thing in common: We are trying to be everything to everyone, while trying our best to support our kids and help them have the best childhood possible.  All with no partner to help.

And, yes, those of us who have every other weekend off can sometimes catch up on sleep on that off weekend.  But we’re also so busy making the most of the that time (we have so much to do to get caught up around the house) that if we DO catch up on sleep and rest, we are behind a day when the kids come back.

  1. When the kids come back after a weekend with dad, it is hard.

So, picture what it’s like when the kids spend the weekend with Grandma and then you get them back.  We all know about that “adjustment period” right?  Well, for many of us divorced moms, we deal with that every other week.

When kids see dad only every other weekend, they tend to get a little spoiled at his house.  I’m not faulting the dads for that.  It’s just that…when you don’t have to actually be a parent to your child every single day, you can let things slide.  You want to make the most of the time the child is with you, and you want for the visit to be a great experience.  It makes sense, and I would probably feel the same way if I were in an “every other weekend” dad’s position.

My kids definitely have different rules at their dads.  There’s more candy and sweets, a lot more screen time, and no responsibilities.  My youngest sleeps with her dad (she is very cuddly), which makes it SUPER fun when she comes home and wants me to lay with her until she falls asleep.

Very doable two weekends a month.  Not practical or feasible when I have to use the time after the kids are in bed to get the house in order.

  1. We are on a budget.

No matter what kind of lifestyle we had when we were married, no matter whether we have gone back to work or if we get child support, we are probably on a tighter budget than we were when we were married.

I had a sweet friend once who was trying to help me house hunt.  She told me that the house down the street from her (in our old neighborhood) was for sale.

While I could have afforded that house when I was married (and I do receive child support and have a great job), I couldn’t move in the same type of house that I had had before my divorce.  Some may be able to fund a similar lifestyle, but most of us have had our budget take a bit of a hit.

  1. We can do it all (almost). But sometimes we do need some help.

We are strong.  We can do almost anything.

Since my divorce, I have learned to kill bugs, conquered my fear of being in a house alone, started paying all the bills by myself, taken up every household chore…

But when you or your kids are sick with something major, you never wish you were still married more.

When I had the flu, my friends dropped off soup, crackers, tea, and medicine to me.  When my daughter had the stomach bug and I couldn’t leave, my friends dropped off Gatorade, Pedialyte, and saltines.

While we don’t want to be pitied, and we can do a lot on our own, there are just some times when we need some help.

There are also some household issues that I can’t tackle alone.  A friend sent her husband to help me hang a light in my house.  My brother-in-law checked out my car when it was acting funny to see what was wrong.

My dad and boyfriend helped me put the furniture together in my house.

Even though we have to do almost everything alone, it is nice to have a little help when we need it.

  1. Please don’t trash our ex-spouse or get involved in the drama of our divorce.

We all have our moments when we want to vent about our ex, but it isn’t healthy for us to dwell on the past or on his bad traits.

I know you may have things that you want to say about our former spouse, especially if you didn’t like him or the way he treated us, but please don’t use our time hanging out as a trash session. Also, please never say anything negative about our child’s dad in front of the children!  After all, no matter what you think of him, he is still the father of his children, they love him.  They don’t need to know everything that their father has done wrong, just as we don’t want them to know everything that we could have done differently.

If you get too involved in the divorce drama, you aren’t going to be able to be supportive of a healthy co-parenting relationship (which is best for the children and all involved).  Your negative behavior could even cause us issues in court as most custody agreements include a clause about disparaging remarks made about either parent in front of the children.

Instead of bashing, keep our mindset positive and help us find solutions to our problems.  Encourage us to make some time for us (maybe even offer to watch the kids for a bit so we can relax).  Remind us to keep our eye on the prize of a healthy co-parenting relationship so our kids can be healthy and happy!  That is what we really need…even if we don’t realize it!

As an added bonus, if you don’t get overly involved in the negativity, you can treat our ex kindly if you see him at a band concert or dance recital without feeling weird and awkward, which is a win-win!

The Verdict

Even though some things in our lives have changed, your friendship is still valuable to us!

Don’t give up on our friendship or shy away just because you don’t understand exactly what our lives are like now.  I hope this post helps those married mamas who are having a difficult time relating to their newly divorced friends, but if you are having a hard time connecting to an old friend who has gone through this huge life change, just ask her about her life now.  She may be dealing with the same things as me, or she may have other challenges, but either way, the path to understanding begins with open dialogue.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

I’d like to thank those friends of mine who have been there for me through all of the changes in my life, who have never ceased to include me, and who always made my kids and I feel like part of the group!  I love you!!!

Positive Mindset, Single Mom

You Can’t Be Pro-Life Without Being Pro-Single Mom

I have seen many Pro-Life posts and shares on my Facebook feed in the past couple of weeks, and we all know why:  New York signed a bill that made it possible for a baby to be aborted up until the moment of birth.

What I have NOT seen are posts that celebrate Single Moms.

It’s as if most people don’t see that the two go hand in hand.

Picture this:

You head into the check-out line at Wal-Mart, and the woman ahead of you pulls out an EBT to pay.  Like most moms with young children, she seems a bit frazzled, hair a mess. She’s alternating from sliding the card to keeping her two bouncing children in check.  You notice she has no ring on her left hand.  The man behind you makes a comment about how his taxes helped pay for her food, and you watch as a flush colors her cheeks.  What do you do?  How do you feel?

What if I told you that same man was sharing anti-abortion memes the day before?

Let’s think about this logically.  Some people 1) Do not support free birth control  2) Want to ban Plan B  3) Claim to be Pro-Life and 4) Complain when a single mom has to use government assistance.

That, my friend is NOT Pro-Life.

You can’t be Pro-Life and then complain about mothers who get government assistance.

You can’t be Pro-Life and want to ban Plan B (which is NOT an abortion pill.  It does not abort a baby).

You can’t be Pro-Life and not want to hand out free birth control to everyone.  (54% of those who had abortions in 2015 were not on Birth Control while 41% were using it inconsistently).

You can’t be Pro-Life and shame or look down on those who had the baby that they could have aborted.

The reality is that many people have sex.  Not all of them choose great partners. Sometimes this is because they are a bad judge of character, but many times, a person doesn’t reveal who he really is until it is too late.

Supporting single mothers and celebrating their choice to give life instead of looking down on them can only help the abortion rate continue to decline.

How can those who oppose abortion support single mothers?

Financially

According to a survey conducted in 2004, 23% of women who were having an abortion said they did so for financial reasons.

Babies are expensive.   If a single mother had more resources available to help her, maybe that would help her make a different decision.  After all, 86% of those women who choose to have abortions are unmarried, and 59% have had at least one child before.

So in theory, a woman may have decided not to abort in the past, but now she does not see how she can financially support another child.

Change the Narrative About Single Mothers

33% of the women who had abortions in 2015 did so because they did not want to be a single mother or were not ready for a child yet.

Some of the same people who scream that abortion is murder look down on those who chose to give their babies life.  How does that make sense?

According to waitingtillmarriage.org, only 3% of people waited until marriage to have sex between 1994-2003.  Between 1954-1963, only 11% waited until marriage to have sex.  That  means that a lot of the people who are looking down on single mothers should really be counting their blessings that they are not in the same predicament.

*While I think waiting until marriage is commendable and an attainable goal, if the Pro-Life Movement’s objective is to save more babies from abortion, we must all be realistic about the facts.*

As a single woman with an unplanned pregnancy, one would think that part of the appeal for abortion would be that no one would know.  If she keeps the baby, there would be no way to hide that the pregnancy exists.  In my opinion, this is what makes the option of adoption a less attractive choice than abortion for some.

An interesting statistic was that 54% of the abortions performed in 2014 were done on women who had affiliation with the Church (either Protestant or Catholic).  Could it be that the demoralization of unwed mothers has led to more abortions from those who identify as Christian?  After all, if one sin has already been committed, maybe committing a subsequent sin to cover up the first seems like the best option.  If a woman is a “sinner” no matter what, why not commit an additional sin to save face or her reputation?  This is just speculation on my part, but food for thought.

If being a single mom could be easier, and seen in a more favorable light, maybe more mothers would choose to walk down that road instead of taking the quick and quiet way out.

Support Programs that Support Single Mothers

While there are some government programs that provide assistance, you may also have local ministries or programs that provide some type of additional help.  Actively look for those programs and support them financially, as a volunteer, and by sharing them on social media.  That may make a bigger difference than sharing about how abortion is murder.  At this point, I don’t think many people in America are in the dark about abortion.  They may, however, not know about the programs that can help out single moms during and after the unplanned pregnancy.

Take the Time to Listen to Single Moms

Many single moms have heartbreaking stories.  Their boyfriend broke up with them after they got pregnant.  A guy who was supposed to be there went MIA.  Some are survivors of abusive relationships.

Many single moms are trying the best they can.  They work full-time, and then they spend the evenings and weekends parenting alone.  Some do have some government assistance, but some make just enough money with their job not to qualify.  Many receive no child support, or their previous partner is thousands of dollars in arrears.  The majority are just trying to raise their children the best they can just like most moms.

But the best thing about single moms is that they are survivors and fighters.  They are proud about what they have accomplished.  Tell them that you have noticed.  Tell them that they are good moms.  They probably don’t hear it often enough.

Be a Friend

“The physical difficulties of only being one person who has to be responsible for so much isn’t the hardest part. Yeah, I’m sleep deprived and stressed and constantly on the go or looking for something that someone lost. The hardest part for me has always been the lack of a partner to support me in being a mom. The absence of someone standing there lovingly admiring my kids when they say silly stuff or do something special for the first time. And when my kids are hurting and it breaks my heart, there’s no one there feeling that with me to console me. For me it’s always been the lack of emotional support that makes it so incredibly difficult.” – Karen

Being a single mom can be lonely and isolating, especially if the mom has no one to help her with childcare.  Be there for her.  Listen to her stories and watch her videos of her kids.  She may not have anyone else to share those special moments with.

Give Her A Break

One of the things a single mom craves is rest! If you like children, offer to babysit for her while she does something for herself or even just takes a nap. If you aren’t a kid person, you can offer to help in another way, such as helping with dishes, laundry, or bringing a meal. Many single moms are used to doing everything by themselves, and while they may be rocking it, everyone deserves a break now and then!

Pray

Pray for the single moms in your life and community.  Pray for their children.  Pray for our society.  Pray for compassion.

I don’t know all of the answers.  I DO know that being Pro-Life only makes sense if you also support the mothers who give their babies life.

Let’s use this opportunity to celebrate those who gave life to their children when faced with a difficult decision.

Celebrate and support the single mom.

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!