Friday, November 26, 2010

A Sneak Peek....

It's been a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  I've had lots of opportunities to enjoy my husband and children, and I am realizing more than ever how important it is to savor the moments (even the ones where three-year-old Spencer thinks he's in charge of everyone and proceeds to boss us around all day).

Before I get back to my computer work tonight, I wanted to post a quick "sneak peek" regarding the new Power of Moms blog that will be featured on Deseret News starting this Sunday.  They made us this darling header, and I can't look at it without smiling.  Join us in the conversation there three times a week.  We'd love to learn from you!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Here's What My Mom (April) Is Up To

My mom is getting ready for dinner guests, so she asked me (Alia, age 10) to update her blog.  The Power of Moms Writing Contest is going really well.  I wrote an update on it HERE.

Her friend Alisha Gale is helping her get all the entries sorted (I helped a little bit too).  It's taking a lot of time but they are very excited about it.  Saren is moving this week, so it is a busy time at The Power of Moms.

That's all for now!  Get ready for a surprise ending if you click on the writing contest link above.        

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Simple Steps for Helping Children "See Need"

A few months ago, I was lifting a watermelon from the trunk of our minivan when our twelve-year-old neighbor called out, "Hi Miss April!  Do you need some help carrying in your groceries?"

"Sure!"  I responded.  It's not easy to unload the car with a two-year-old running loose, and I welcomed the help.  Within minutes, my kitchen counters were loaded with crackers, milk, salad dressing--you name it--and my cute neighbor headed back to her house.  

"Wow,"  I thought, "Would my children have offered to help someone like that?"  I'd like to think so, but to be quite honest, unless children are taught to see need, it isn't always a natural thing.  As I've spoken with a variety of mothers at our Power of Moms Retreats, it's become clear that we all want our children to be "that" person--the one who's quick to act when a service opportunity presents itself.

Here's a three-step process that has worked wonders in our home: 

Step 1: When you're standing in the middle of a pigsty, give your children the chance to identify what the room needs.

I have a little dry-erase board hanging in my kitchen that makes this into a fun activity.  The children gather by the board, and I ask, "What do we need to do to make our house feel clean?"  Everyone looks around and starts listing things:
  • Wipe the banister
  • Pick up the toys
  • Vacuum the carpet, etc.
I offer some prompts to help them out, and then each child initials which tasks he/she would like to do.  Here's a photo of our "See Need" board...taken as my two-year-old was signing up for his task.


This has been a wonderful way for us to work together--not every single day, but maybe once a week.

Step 2: Offer "Seeing Need" Points when your children take initiative.

I don't always want to be the one dishing out the jobs, so I told my children that if they independently see and act on a need, they can earn special points (one point for taking out the trash, two points for cleaning up a bathroom...they tell me what they did and then we decide on a fair point value).  We then track the points on the dry erase board. 

Sometimes I'll purposely leave out some grocery sacks (minus the refrigerated stuff)...just to see if anyone will notice.


 Step 3: Offer rewards that don't cost a thing.

I think it's important for children to help out around the house simply because they're part of the family.  They don't need to be paid for every little chore, wouldn't you agree?  We brainstormed a list of basically-free items that can be "purchased" with the Seeing Need points. Here are a few:
  • 10 Points = 10 Minutes of "screen time"
  • 15 Points = A can of soda
  • 35 Points = King or Queen for a day
  • 100 Points = Pizza-making party with friends
Here are some results that have come from this process:

One afternoon, my son asked if I needed a shoulder massage (which I always do).  Afterward, he brought me a little cup of water, just in case I was thirsty.  SO sweet.

My daughter earned some points in her church class (they can earn points outside the home).  Her teacher was giving a lesson about service, so she intentionally dropped some crayons on the floor to see if any of the students would pick them up.  My daughter said, "Mom, I saw that there was a need, and I was the first one down on the floor to clean up the mess."


My other daughter put away all her brother's laundry because she saw the full basket in his room.  Another day, she cleaned up a pack of cards at the library that had spilled all over the floor.  To see the look on their faces when they see a need is amazing, and really, the points aren't the main motivation.  They're just "extra."

This isn't a fool-proof method.  My house still gets messy, my children "forget" to pick up after themselves, and often they'd rather play basketball or read a book instead of earning Seeing Need Points, but I think this process is laying the foundation for important life lessons. Someday, if you're my neighbor, I hope my children will be the ones to say, "Can we give you a hand with those groceries?"


Do you have any experiences or tips for helping children see need?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Trigger List for Moms and Dads

This is a guest blog post I've put together for GTD Times...the majority of the posts there are for business professionals, but I think moms need the system even more.  
 

A friend of mine came to visit when my first child was three months old.  Noticing I was still actively using my day planner, she joked, "What do you write on your task list, 'Cook and Clean?'"
She wasn't trying to hurt my feelings, but her question reflected an assumption that many people have about those who spend the majority of their waking hours taking care of little ones...that they're not actually "doing" anything.
I've spent 10 years as a full-time mom, and let me assure you that taking care of a family is a huge responsibility.  It's a party some days, a train wreck other days, but it's the most important thing I've ever done.  I've created a Mom-and-Dad-friendly "Trigger List" to help parents see what types of things they can organize with GTD. 
Let the fun begin:
  • Books to read together as a family
  • Holiday traditions to create more unity
  • Recipes that can be made with lots of "help"
  • Lullabies to learn on the guitar
  • Parent/Child date night ideas
  • Promises I've made to my children
  • Promises I've made to my spouse
  • Family service projects
  • Neighbors we'd like to know better
  • Family Vacations
  • "Quiet Time," family-friendly websites
  • Free community events
  • Family day-trips
  • Errands to run when I'm by myself
  • Errands to run when I've got lots of company
  • Volunteer opportunities with the PTA
  • Birthday party gifts to keep on hand
  • Fun birthday party games and ideas
  • Good behavior incentive programs for my children
  • Job charts/housework plans
  • Shopping lists (pre-printed, organized by store)
  • Sports for my children
  • Home de-junking plans
  • Cultural experiences to calendar
  • Great mentors for my children
  • Items to discuss with my children's school teachers
  • Holes in the wall to repair
  • Family fitness goals
  • Clothing to mend
  • Clothing needs (did they grow out of that already?)
  • Ideas to make nap time happen regularly
  • Parenting books to read or classes to take
  • Journal entries to record (so I don't forget how cute my children are)
  • Doctor and dental appointments to make
  • Character traits I want to develop as a parent
  • Character traits I want my children to develop
  • Home decor ideas
  • Play date ideas
  • Crafts that won't leave my kitchen sparkling with glitter
  • Family memories to create so my children will always remember how much I loved them
The list can go on and on, but way I see it, I have two options:

Option 1:  When my children turn two, I can say, "Look, Honey!  This is called a TV.  It's going to take care of you for the next 16 years!"

or

Option 2
:  I can be an involved parent.  I'll certainly take time, occasionally, to watch great programs on television, but I want more than that for my children. 

I want to be the kind of parent who thinks big.  I want to bring inspiring books into our home, bake 23 different kinds of bread, visit historical landmarks, tour the world's museums, help families living in poverty, teach my children about history and politics, create a family of incredible photographers, and bike 12 miles together on Saturdays. 

All of this used to overwhelm me.  Of course I can't do everything I imagine, but I can do a lot of those things--if I'm organized. 

Getting Things Done isn't just about "things."  It's about people, about relationships, and about creating a lifestyle that most people think they can't achieve. 

Our family has improved dramatically since I implemented GTD into my life--not just because I'm less stressed about running my business and managing the home, but because I now see a clear path to turning my dreams of a strong, healthy family into my reality.  
(For my mom-friendly version of GTD, please check out our Mind Organization for Moms program at The Power of Moms.) 




What kinds of things would you like to organize into your life?  Can you help me add to this list?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I Just Scribble

A few years ago, my three-year-old son and I were sitting in a meeting, and I was trying to keep him happy with a coloring book and crayons. 


"Come on, honey.  Why don't you color something nice?"  I whispered.

Resting his chin in his hands, he sighed, "I can't.  I just scribble."

He was right.  His drawings did basically look like scribbles, but that was okay with me--that's how every artist begins.  My son didn't see it that way, though.  His older sisters could stay in the lines.  Their pictures actually looked like something.  When they finished a masterpiece, they felt a sense of accomplishment at having created a colorful garden, a family portrait, or a series of rainbows and fluffy clouds.

My son could only make scribbles. 

It hurt my heart to see him discouraged, so I picked up a green crayon, placed it in his grip, and then guided his hand around the coloring book, helping him create the picture he could see in his mind's eye.  

I remember that moment clearly because the Lord used that experience to teach me a powerful lesson.

I often look at my life and think, "I just scribble."  I burn the pancakes, I miss half the stains that enter our washing machine, I don't create perfect web pages for The Power of Moms, I struggle to find the "right" way to teach my children how to behave, I cry too easily, and I'm lacking in patience. 

These are little things, for the most part, and I know that I do many things well, but I still get discouraged.  Sometimes I don't even want to try to create that masterpiece I can see in my head.

The Lord knows that.  Every successful person has started out with "scribbles."  It might look like everyone else can stay in the lines, but if that's the case, it's only because they first started out with a mish-mash of indecipherable lines and squiggles. 

It's when we're feeling discouraged--when we're convinced that our efforts will yield nothing but failure--that the Lord takes us by the hand and helps us to create something more beautiful than we ever imagined. 

A scripture I love from church says, "Be thou humble; and the Lord thy God shall lead thee by the hand, and give thee answer to thy prayers."

I know this is true.  I've seen it happen in my own family.  We'll have a really hard day, one that is full of sickness, quarrels, and messes, but then everything will turn around, and suddenly I'm sitting in the middle of a masterpiece I did not have the strength or ability to create.

It's all because of Him. 

When we start to question ourselves, and when we feel convinced that our scribbles will never be enough, let's remember to rely on Him.  Rely on Him heavily.  Rely on Him forever. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Publishing Our First Book...

I've spent dozens of hours over the past couple of weeks on our Writing Contest at The Power of Moms.  To say I'm thrilled about this project would be an understatement.  I've wanted to publish a book since I was 9, and this is literally a dream come true (and to be writing with four members of the Eyre family is even more of a dream come true).

What's great about this book is that it's going to have more than 20 authors.  We're all working together to create an uplifting resource for mothers, and we would love for you to be a part of it!

I've got so many things I want to write about and so many things I want to do, but sometimes it's best just to get to bed. 

My day with cute little Spencer has been full of tantrums and whining.  Someday I won't be exhausted at 7:20 p.m. (Just thought you'd like to know that I get tired, too).

Goodnight!

Love,
April

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

What Do You Do when Life Gets You Down?

This is my husband's favorite scene from "Finding Nemo."  Whenever we start to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, etc., we start singing this:



Now didn't that put a smile on your face?
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