To Spank or Not to Spank


Our children weren’t perfect and they didn’t come with an instruction manual. I longed to be Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and discipline my children with her flair, but alas I wasn’t quite as creative. If you have children or grandchildren or work with children, you should read Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle as she has a magical way to help children behave.

Our kids offered all levels of naughtiness in our home and away from home. Thankfully they came one at a time and hopefully we grew in our skill of discipline as our numbers grew. We started with a classic strong-willed child and I wore out my James Dobson book, The Strong-Willed Child. It was very helpful with this particular little person. My all-time favorite book on discipline is Kevin Leman’s Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. His practical and varied suggestions for discipline fit our family.

We did spank with specific boundaries, though we preferred consequences that fit the offense. If a toy was thrown or mistreated, it was put away; if one was verbally unkind, their mouth was washed out with soap; if someone stuck their tongue out at someone else or made a mean face, they stood (on a step-stool if needed) and were required to make that face into the bathroom mirror for an amount of time set on a timer. For some a time out was costly, for others it was a perk. We had to know what cost whom and what didn’t. As adults when we disobey authority we get applicable life consequences. Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours emphasizes this approach. Leman is not opposed to spanking, but for children with reasoning skills he gives other helpful ideas for discipline as well.

The spanky-spoon proved to be our instrument of choice. It was a flat, wooden spoon and it went everywhere with us. It was visible in the front pocket of the diaper bag – on purpose. Sometimes I only had to point to it to adjust behavior; other events called for full usage. We committed to not spank in anger. To succeed in this we didn’t swat at them like flies. When the kids were old enough we would tell them to meet us in the bathroom. This accomplished 2 purposes: the misbehaving child had an opportunity to think about their actions and the parent had time to cool off before spanking.

Every child is different and needs discipline according to their bent, so you need to study them to know what works. Some children just need a stern look or verbal warning, while others need a more complete package. You have to discover what costs them – what works to correct behavior. Your children are the best investment you’ll ever make: relationally, emotionally, and financially. Make it a priority to learn about disciplining skills and each child’s bent and personality. Help your children understand that obedience brings blessing.

I’m not trying to be all June Cleaver-ish and say we never blew it with our kids. We did. I can only hope and pray they won’t need to attend a support group due to our discipline techniques. My only disclaimer on discipline: Do not spank in anger. If you can’t spank without anger – don’t spank.

It’s Your Day!


I am all about avoiding conflict. There were chronic hot-buttons with our kids – the coveted favorite seat in the car, the first position for every occasion, and on and on. Every imaginable opportunity for conflict existed with 4 children. More times than not, I was sporting an invisible black and white striped referee shirt to deal with day-to-day events.

We came up with “it’s your day” to help eliminate conflict. Monday through Friday we rotated children; Saturday was my day and Sunday was my husband’s day. When it was “your day” you got to sit in the front seat of the car, be first for everything, and basically be royalty for the day. “It’s your day” also came with service opportunities, like setting the table.

The most meaningful use for “it’s your day” was prayer times. When it was “your day” you prayed at meals and at the end of the day came my all-time favorite family tradition – night-time prayers. We all gathered, usually on our bed, and prayed together at bedtime. If it was “your day” you chose the order of who prayed and then each person prayed a blessing over the “your day” person, who went last in the prayer line-up. It’s harder to go to bed angry when you’ve just prayed for each other.

“It’s your day” became routine, but remained meaningful. What started as a way to avoid conflict and assign some order turned into a stabilizer for our family. Although it’s been over 5 years since we enjoyed the practice of “it’s your day”, my heart will treasure the memories for life.

Let Them Leave and Cleave


Leave = go away from.  Leaving your parents means recognizing that your marriage created a new family and that this new family must be a higher priority than your previous family. This is less about proximity and more about apron strings.

Cleave = to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly. Cleaving is key in building a marriage that will endure hard times and be the beautiful relationship that God intends it to be.

Two of our children are married and they are sons. This is our experience to date so I will write from that perspective. Marrying off daughters will have to wait for a future writing. My mom-role changed when our sons married. I believe my job now is to be a champion for their marriage.   My work is not done – my role as a mom hardly finished. I now have the added privilege of loving two wonderful, amazing women who have joined our family. This includes exploring and studying who they are and learning how I can love and bless them.

My married sons are now in a covenant relationship, which takes precedence over any other earthly relationship. This requires a purposed mind shift for moms. We change position in our sons’ lives when they marry. This is normal and right and healthy. I didn’t say easy. It is not a competition. We are no longer “on the field” of our sons’ lives, but we are on the sidelines cheering.

We taught our sons from a young age to love and cherish their (future) wives above all others. We emphasized marriage is not 50/50 but 100/100. If each person gives 100% to the relationship, then even on days when one is lacking there will still be enough. We told them we would be flexible when it came to holidays and other special events. We would work around their wives’ family schedule, as she would come first. Ouch! Not always easy to live out.

As with any skill, this mindset must be practiced. I suggest starting early in your son’s life preparing for that day he will become a husband. Begin now praying for his future wife and her family. It is never too late to grasp this concept as well. May we be women of grace who love our sons by loving their wives, even during seasons when it might not be reciprocated. “…and the greatest of these is love”.

So Much to Do ~ So Little Time


When raising children there is so much to do with so little time it’s hard to keep up with daily chores. As I see it you have three options for accomplishing chores: hire someone; do it yourself; or my preferred choice – delegate! Ease factor falls in line with the order listed. Overall and over time, though, you will get the best ROI (return on investment) if you will train your children in the way they should go and delegate, even though it’s not the easiest option.

Years ago I was struggling with the whole chore thing and trying to get my kids motivated. Friends in the same season of life had created elaborate chore charts I admired but couldn’t duplicate due to my lack of creativity. Plus, I knew I needed a flexible system. Our life had too many variables to count on doing certain chores on the same day each week. I needed to be able to randomly choose chores according to what most needed accomplishing.

One day in frustration from nagging my children to accomplish household jobs, I came up with a brilliant invention. I was angry at their lack of motivation and was driven to destroy something, plus I realized I needed some type of pocket system to hold index cards on which I could write the delegated chores. No more nagging and begging! What has pockets? Pants have pockets! So I went to the closet and found a perfectly good pair of little boy jeans – with pockets just the right size for index cards. I started at the hem and slowly cut up the legs until I had Chore Shorts…aha! I then nailed them to the wall in the blessings from the Lord’s bedroom and explained my system to them: the right-handed child would find their daily chores in the right pocket. The left-handed child’s would be in the left. No picture cards for me – if they couldn’t read it they could ask an older sibling. A daily time was set to accomplish the chores. For every 15 minutes delay they would gain one of my own chores in addition. It worked beautifully and I rarely got any reprieve from my chores. When I heard the “you treat me like a slave” speech, I reminded them they were actually meeting their own needs.

Delegating didn’t come naturally for me. It was easier and faster to just do it myself. But we wanted our children to be equipped to care for a home and to have a good work ethic. Delegating and training taught me patience and flexibility. I learned to accept an adjustable standard and I discovered I could live with a little less perfection. We tried to make it fun and age-appropriate. Even a preschool child can sort clothes…making light/dark piles; dust the top of a table; windex a glass door. The possibilities are endless.

For those days when nothing gets done and you feel overwhelmed, I leave you with encouragement from a treasured poem below. Oh, and our empty nest is indeed well-kept and tidy – but not nearly as fun.

This is a Home Where Children Live

You may not find things all in place,
Friend, when you enter here.
But we’re a home where children live,
We hold them very dear.

And you may find small fingerprints
And smudges on the wall.
When the kids are gone, we’ll clean them up,
Right now we’re playing ball.

For there’s one thing of which we’re sure,
These children are on loan.
One day they’re always underfoot,
Next thing you know, they’re gone.

That’s when we’ll have a well-kept house,
When they’re off on their own.
Right now, this is where children live,
A loved and lived-in home.

~ Judith Bond @1986

College Years and the Laundry Room


The most important room in the house for returning college students turned out to be the laundry room. I learned to make it an inviting, welcoming, fully supplied space for washing clothes. When our college kids returned home their first haul in was stuffed bags of dirty clothes headed straight for the washer/dryer. I made sure the machines were empty, clean and ready for use. I loved to watch and hear the buzz of sorting (or not) clothes and machines running. Somehow it was nurturing to my soul to provide for this need and make them feel wanted and welcome.

Yes, a stocked pantry and freezer were a close second, but something about the laundry room holds a special place in my heart. We try to keep the freezer filled with pizza and pizza rolls and keep large packs of soda and a variety of k-cups on hand for those always starving college students and their friends.

I was sad when our oldest son and his wife came over after they were married with no dirty clothes. I pointed to the laundry room and my daughter-in-law sweetly replied they were grown-ups now and would do their laundry at their apartment. Life does go on and now that they live out of state I again get to enjoy them doing laundry when they are with us.

So find a special way in your own home to welcome the young adults of your family and extended circle. Consider how your house can be a welcoming oasis and lure in those treasures of your heart who you long to spend time with and experience a sampling of their lives. Make it fit the needs of those you love and make it fun! Life is short and each season as fleeting as a breath – make the most of it.

Revolving Door with 30 Day No Return Policy


We have enjoyed every season with our kids, but I am not ashamed to admit the empty nest is our favorite. Our offspring are all strong leaders. It was like living with a bunch of chiefs – there were no little indians! Yes, we disciplined our children – with both success and failure – but they were what they were and parenting was not an easy task.

Our children came in little sets. The first two were seventeen months apart. Five years later another set arrived at 16 months apart. So we had all types of stages and phases going on at once. I’m not sure if I felt more like a circus ringmaster or a conductor of a fine orchestra. But it was an amazing experience I wouldn’t trade for anything…I am forever grateful.

However, we find relationships to be easier to navigate after our children have moved into their own lives; making their own life decisions; succeeding and failing of their own accord. Each adult child is unique and living an adventure we love to watch and share. The bottom line is we get along better when they live away from home – there, I said it!

Our door is revolving and our children are welcome here any time. We love to spend time with them whether it’s an hour, a day, or a week. Catching up and experiencing their lives is a great joy. If any of our kids ever needed to come back and live at home I’m sure we would have grace and welcome them for a (short) time. That hasn’t happened yet and we have helped our kids as we could afford during the college years to make living on their own possible. It has been different with each adult child, but we try to be flexible and we’d rather help out a little more for a chapter of life than have them move home. It just works better for us.

So, as the door revolves we love to see them come.   We plan fun food and events and try to set regular life aside to focus on the priority of family and invest in our most important relationships. We look forward to their company for weeks, even months before they arrive. When family is here we try to enjoy them to the fullest. Then, when it is time for them to go, even though we know we will miss them terribly, we are glad to see them return to their own lives and for our own to return to normal.

Are You My Mother?


Are You My Mother?

…or my friend…or both?!

At some point, I’m not sure when, my daughter became my friend.  Like a caterpillar to a butterfly it was a mysterious transformation into a beautiful, new relationship. Yes, I’m still her mother, but she needs less “mothering” now and more “friending”.  I enjoy the amazing, unique person she is…more her dad than me.  She is brave, adventurous, big-thinking, fun, and so much more.  Watching her life is a great adventure!

When she moved away from home I was concerned about my fashion status.  She was my fashion consultant and gave helpful advice on “what not to wear”! She helped me choose between outfits and shoes, tied my scarves, loaned me jewelry, and made me feel confident in fashion choices. I wondered how I would get ready for church without her?

I spent some time with my daughter recently and she mentioned how she misses getting ready with me and helping each other with fashion ideas.  I told her I was currently working on a blog post about just such a topic.  She suggested I write about an important issue for moms with daughters: don’t pass on poor body image issues to your daughter. She applauded me for being successful in this, but said she frequently sees the struggle passed on in the lives of young women. Important to her was my honesty in sharing what I thought were my physical faults, but learning to dress and camouflage accordingly. She said to remember little girl eyes are watching their moms and when we talk poorly about ourselves more times than not girls pick up the same insecurities. She emphasized important to her was that I never shared my image issues until she asked if I had any. Body flaws shouldn’t control us as women – we should find ways to control them.

One thing I shared with my daughter through the years was to avoid comparing herself with other women or with media images. No one looks like the women in those pictures – they don’t even look like that, but in reality are airbrushed and edited to look perfect. Comparison usually only serves to make us feel bad about ourselves or better than others. As women we must seek to be comfortable in how we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” and find our significance in our strengths, rather than our weaknesses.

So there you have it…from the mouth of a 20-something woman. As we mentor our daughters may we remember this important issue. May we help them learn to celebrate who and what they are and focus on the positives and improve the negatives where possible.

Watch Me, Momma!


From the time they are toddling and talking the male gender craves admiration and cheering-on from the important female in their life. So they say it – every day and every event – “Watch me, Momma, watch me!” It’s in their DNA. It doesn’t mean they’re insecure or flawed. Girls share the need, but to a different degree.

Until my three sons have/had a better half I make an effort to “be there” for important and not-so-important events. I pull out those exclamatory adjectives and my imaginary pom-poms and become their biggest fan. If we don’t tell them how amazing they are, who will?

I’m not suggesting we should lie if our guys are bad at something, but we should maximize or magnify their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. If we are students of our sons from birth we will know what makes them tick and what helps them feel loved and important. It will be different for each one. As long as we’re allowed input into their life we should be a positive influence.

If men believe the women in their life think they’re awesome, they can conquer anything. What a privileged role for us!

So…be a paparazzi mom – take pictures and videos – make them feel successful and good about themselves. Get in front of the world standing in line to tear them down. Start now – it’s never too late!

Need suggestions for your cheer routine? Here are just a few:

That was amazing!

You’re so good at that!

Do it again!

That was a 10!

Good job!

I love to watch you!

The Best Nest

What!  You got cable?!  One of the first changes we made when our last birdie flew was to move to a new home.  It wasn’t really sudden as we had been looking for 5 ish years.  While the kids grew up, we had spent 13 years in a simple, affordable, one bathroom house that met our needs and afforded us the lifestyle we chose.  However, this nest wasn’t optimal when our daughters-in-law started sleeping over.  This was the best decision we have made so far for our empty nest living!

Finding the best nest has freshened up our lives daily and transformed our time spent together when the kids come home to visit.  This transformation can happen without moving and will be different for everyone based on whether or not your children live away.  Your current home can be reworked to make it a fresh, empty, best nest!

I wanted our home to have a Bed and Breakfast feel for any and all guests.  We have set-up the extra bedrooms to be sparsely furnished with comfortable beds, which allows plenty of room for luggage, pop-up baby beds, and anything else these people-types might need.  The rooms have dual phone charging plugs, fluffy white robes in the almost empty closets with available hangers, empty drawers in dressers, and quality towels stacked in the linen closet.  Each room has a fun theme and is named accordingly.  This makes me happy and communicates that our family is wanted and welcome here and we desire them to be comfortable and to want to visit our home.

It may be different for you…your children may live close and you may not need guest rooms.  But I do encourage changing up the kid rooms when they fly.  Instead of leaving the rooms as a shrine to remind you of the sadness of change and what once was, freshen them up with a new theme.  Maybe you need a grandbaby napping room or grandkids play room; maybe you are crafty and need a craft room; maybe it’s time for an exercise room or office for that new empty-nest career, hobby, or volunteer adventure.  Whatever it is, make it fun and workable for your new life.  Change is good, even for those of us who don’t like it!

…and yes, after 35 years of marriage we got cable for the first time!