Your Time’s Up

There is a small kitchen appliance which can be purchased for under $10 that is a must have in an arsenal of parental tools. It comes in many colors and cute shapes.  Because of its size it can be carried and used in other rooms also.  I bet you have one, but are you fully using it?


I am talking about a timer.  Yes, it is useful when cooking a pan of brownies for 28-36 minutes or perfectly soft chocolate chip cookies for 8 minutes.  But it can also be used for many other things such as sharing, discipline, motivation, diligence, and reminders.

Are two or more children fighting over the same item, which doesn’t belong to any one of them?  One option would be to enter the craziness and try to sort it out.  Another option would be to confiscate the offensive item and everyone will be unhappy.  A third and better option is to use the timer to measure and limit each person’s turn with fairness and equality.  No one can/should argue with an objective, “ding, you turn is over.”  Now the only argument is who gets the first turn.  Roll the die.

bobberUsing a timer is much more reliable than using me to remember to tell a child that time is up. My attention cannot be relied upon to always be fair and equal when it comes to taking turns.   Sometimes it is also helpful to not directly be the one who ends someone’s fun.  It is better to be upset with an impersonal timer than with Mom or Dad.

The timer is also useful for helping children stay on task with homework or chores.  Challenge them to beat the timer by accomplishing a portion or the whole task before a set amount of time.  Many children will find some fun in this challenge making the task easier.

Have you ever sent a child to “time-out” and while enjoying the peaceful atmosphere conveniently forgotten to release them?  I have.  Setting the timer lets the child know there will be end to their isolation and holds you accountable too.

timerSome activities should be limited such as screen time and chores.  Yes, both.  The timer is helpful with both of these.  Many children will cheerfully work with you on a task if the timer is set and it is a race to see how much can be done together before it rings.  I often told my children their rooms would stay in decent condition if they would spend only 10 minutes every day picking up.

Because timers can be found in all shapes and sizes, why not get one for each child that matches their interests or which they think would be fun to use.  In just a few minutes on amazon, and I found not only a huge variety of digital and classic timers, but also timers in the following shapes; pig, ladybug, penguin, hen, rooster, tomato, carrot, egg, lemon, pineapple, cow, ice cream cone, hamburger, Christmas tree, snowman, Campbell’s soup can, robots in 3 colors, a time bomb, a chef, a granny and R2D2.

IMG_1770“Ding.”  Gotta go.  Time is up for this project.


9 to 5

Are you a parent employed outside the home?  Whether you work full time or part-time it can be a challenge with pros and cons.  Have you examined the real costs of employment?

Before having children I worked as a receptionist and bookkeeper at a doctor’s office.  I enjoyed working there but the plan was to be an at-home mom and fortunately we did not need my income.  My husband worked in the computerized medical instrumentation field.  He helped develop a CT (computerized tomography) scanner for G.D. Searle. D.D.H.

Just before our son turned one year old I happened upon my previous boss at a community event and learned that my former co-worker had suddenly quit, leaving the boss in a bind.  I agreed to return to part-time work for the summer months giving her time to acquire and train a new employee.  A high school student agreed to come to my home to babysit. (Thank you, Tracie.)  I rode my bike the 2.5 miles each way to the office and back home.   My travel and clothing expenses were nearly zero.  I think weather may have required me to drive a few times.  After paying taxes, my babysitter who worked 40  minutes longer than me each day actually made more money that summer.   However, I had the satisfaction of regular exercise and helping a friend.

Our family continued to expand and we continued on one income.  I was working 24/7 at home as a mom, teacher, and homemaker.  When our #1 son was 14 years old my husband began a business of building custom furniture and our income dropped by 75%.  Did I go out and find a job to supplement our income?  I did not.  I did not have a marketable skill that would have netted a worthwhile income after subtracting taxes and all the expenses of employment such as transportation, clothing, childcare, and increased meals not prepared at home.

IMG_1756We preferred to live on a lower income.  Employment for me was not desired primarily because we wanted to continue to homeschool and I volunteered many hours every week at our church as a youth director.  As our children became teens they were also involved in this youth ministry.  Eventually, I was hired at our church as a youth pastor.

Years later, when we had only one child at home, we enrolled him in a homeschool  co-op where he attended classes two days a week.  At first I volunteered at the co-op, but by the second year I was employed as the receptionist and later the dean of students.   Like many parents who understand the benefits of working at their child’s school, I only worked when he was there.

Not being employed does mean living with less income.   One may choose to deem that a problem or a challenge and opportunity.  I consider having more time with my children and spouse a wonderful benefit.   It also means having more time to do activities which help stretch one’s income such as couponing, gardening, canning, home cooking, garage sale and resale shopping.    There are tons of ways to stretch your money.  I recall being gifted with a book titled The Tightwad Gazette, from which I gleaned a few ideas.   Amazon carries it, cheap, and many others of that genre in print or digital format. Mary Hunt is a newspaper columnist with lots of money-saving tips, whose articles I enjoy reading.    Her website is:

Whether you choose to pursue a career, work part-time or full-time, do your best to get a clear picture of all the ways doing so will impact you and your family beyond just more income.   Sometimes you have more options than you think you do.   If you are a parent, you will be working somewhere all day every day, 24/7.

P.S.  Our nest is empty and I am working part-time with lots of flexibility and I am enjoying doing so.

Empty Nesting

An empty nest.  Is it an exciting thought or does it fill you with dread?  All parents will face it someday.  Generally it has a way of sneaking upon you.  Suddenly it happens.  All the birdies have flown the coop.

I think we are doing just fine.  It has only been two weeks. But if I compare the departure of our last born to the day our first born left in his car to drive 700 miles away to college . . . .  well . . .  there just is not any comparison.   The leaving of the first born was horrendous.    I wrote about it in my first blog;   Since that time, two other children also went away to college and eventually three sons married and moved away.  The departure of each one was a little easier than the previous one.

But we always had our bonus child with us.  He is the son born to us when our other children were 17, 14, 12, and 10 years old.  Like all bonuses, he was a very good surprise.   Now even he has graduated from the local community college and his career has relocated him 200 miles away.  On the day he filled his car and drove away I was sentimental and had tears in my eyes, but only for a minute then the four visiting grandchildren wanted my attention and I was distracted.IMG_1511

Life keeps changing. Now I am relearning how to cook for only two people.  The groceries last longer, as does the laundry soap, and all toiletries.  I expect to receive smaller electric and water bills.  Our Wi-Fi modem is no longer over worked.  We only have each other to blame when things are missing.  We have resorted to blaming the imaginary dog.  We no longer close our bedroom door or worry about what we wear at home.  The house stays cleaner.

We have been parents for 37 years, nearly all my adult years.  It is how we have done life.  It is a HUGE piece of my identity.  Done.   We are not really finished.  Parenting adult children is very different from dependent children and it is wonderful.  They are still our kids.  Just because they grow up and move out is not a guarantee that they will not return.  They may even return multiple times.  One of our children did this.  Just because they move out does not mean they take all their stuff with them.   It may be years, even a decade or more before they take it all (or I deliver it to their first house).   Physical proximity may and probably will change, but relationally there can be closeness.  Be ready to lend a hand or give advice when requested.  Let go and let them live the lives of their own choosing.  Hopefully, you have done a thorough job of preparing them and yourself for their independence.

BTW, child # 5 has already been back once to get more of his stuff.  It was a nice three hour visit.  I am still cleaning his old room and thinking about redecorating. 2009

Bedtime fears

Everyone is afraid of something. The reason or reasons behind the fear may not be understood or explainable. Sometimes someone else’s fear causes us to be fearful.

I do wonder if that is what happened to me when I was six or seven years old.  Our family moved from our one bedroom apartment in Chicago to a bi-level house on a quiet street in the suburbs.   In the city my sister and I shared the hide-a-bed sofa in the “dining” room while our little brother slept in the crib in our parents’ room.  In our new house sis and I had twin beds in our own room, little brother had the middle bedroom to himself and our parents were at the end of the hall.  My sister developed some irrational fears.  It became so serious our parents considered taking her to a psychologist.  Not that they knew any psychologists.  In the early- mid 1960’s children were never taken to psychologists, psychiatrists or counselors.   That was something only movie stars and the mentally ill did.  My sister was overwhelmed by the lack of city noises to which she was accustomed.  She eventually acclimated and adjusted without a psychologist.T & C

Not long after she adjusted, I developed a strange bedtime habit of which my parents never knew. It was my sleep posture to bend my legs at the knees tucking the lower half of my legs under my thighs and my feet under my bottom.   In this position I would then tuck the covers under my knees.  In my childhood mind I reasoned that if a burglar came into my room and saw that I was handicapped, he would take pity on me and leave.  Probably as soon as I fell asleep, my body readjusted to a more comfortable pose.  I am quite thankful to still have healthy knees and lower legs.

Children are not rational.  Their experiences and knowledge are limited, thus limiting their logic and reasoning capacities.  Children and even adults often have ridiculous fears.  Spiders, crickets, thunder, fireworks, bedbugs, snakes, water, tests, public speaking, birds and dark showers (thank you Alfred Hitchcock), diseases, funerals, nightmares, strangers, and violence, are just a few.

As a young adult, I had frequent nightmares.  I decided the best thing I could do to avoid nightmares was to fill my mind with good thoughts before going to sleep.   I memorized scripture, which in my mind I would repeat over and over while going to sleep. I focused on Psalms 23, The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-12), and the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11). I also would sing hymns and worship choruses in my mind.  These tools were a tremendous help to me.  Almost every night I still go to sleep singing a hymn.

When our children were young and had nightmares we taught them to sing  Jesus Loves Me to themselves either in their minds or quietly aloud.  This helped them to remember that God was with them, that He cared about them, and also that He is bigger than any boogie man.

I know a few people who literally or mentally make a list at bedtime of all the things for which they are thankful that day.  I think this is another great practice which helps our minds to be peaceful and invites sleep at bedtime.  A favorite blanket or stuffed animal can help, too.    DDTS

Everyone has their own fears.  Find out what yours is and try different methods to find comfort.  Maybe some of the suggestions here can help.