Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label parenting. Show all posts

Monday, June 19, 2017

Five Ways To Teach Your Kids Situational Awareness


Kids are naturally observant and often notice things we would not expect them to or want them to notice. They often say what is on their minds and ask questions we would never have thought to ask. You can take advantage of this for their safety.

While kids are young is a perfect time to teach them situational awareness. Teaching them to be aware of their surroundings can stop a potential kidnapping or may help someone else in need. Too many kids have their heads down nowadays whether they are playing on their phones or other devices or they are just not paying attention to anything.

Five Ways To Teach Your Kids Situational Awareness:


1. Play games with them. We would play a lot of "I Spy With My Little Eye Something..." passing the time at restaurants, doctor's offices, and ball games. I would start with the game with picking out a color of something. This game has the benefit of teaching kids to look around and notice things that wouldn't normally notice. I would also make up games like "Name 5 Things That Are (Color)" or Name 3 Things That Start With (Letter)".

2. Leave the electronic devices at home. When you are running errands or taking short trips, leave them at home. Instead of looking down at a device, kids will be looking up and around and probably noticing a lot more than you want them to. However, they are looking up and being aware of what is around them and that is a good thing. If they are walking to a friend's house, school, or the park, teach them to stay off the devices too. They need to be looking up, not down.

3. Teach them to be wary of strangers. I know there has been some debate on this, but the truth is that kids need to wary of anyone who they or you do not know. They need to be taught what to do in those situations also. If they are approached by a stranger and you are near by, they should be yelling for you immediately and running towards you. If they are approached by a stranger alone, they need to keep walking or start running for home or the nearest safe place. You should also teach them some basic self-defense in case they are grabbed.


4. Teach them to look for the good people. They should know to look for the good people or the "helpers". Just like they need to be wary of strangers and people who might harm them, they need to know that they can run to a teacher, police officer, pastor, or fireman for help or to get help.

5. Teach them to be confident. If kids are confident and look like they are in control of themselves and their environment, they will less likely become a target. There is a difference in being cocky versus being confident. You should teach them to look everyone in the eye, be assertive in their body language, and be vocal if someone is bothering them in a displeasing way. When they walk into a room, teach them to enter with confidence, looking around at their surroundings, and taking notice of everyone in the room. This will take practice and encouragement from parents. You should practice this at home as well as away from home. You can ask them questions about what they noticed and what problems could have occurred.

In what ways would you teach your kids situational awareness?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Friday, May 26, 2017

We forget to live life


Today is my kids' last day of school. They will be out at 11:30 am today and will have the whole summer to do what they want without the restrictions of school (for the most part). Yes, they will have daily and weekly chores to do. They will also have camps to go to, swimming to do, life guarding to do, 4-H fair to be apart of, and so much more.

Life is always a little crazy during the summer too, but life during the summer for a kid is mostly about living life. They don't have a strict schedule with many commitments on their plates. They aren't worrying about grades and papers. They can relax with their friends and do nothing if they want to until school starts again on August 23rd.

As adults, I think we forget that. We forget that life is about living. We get caught up in the work at a job, work at home, sleep, eat, and repeat. We forget to experience life and just live life. We don't go for a hike or go camping due to "time restraints". We don't go to a concert of a band from our high school days because we just don't think we have time. We don't go on dates with our significant other because of time and expense.

You want to know something? We do have the time, but we just don't take the time to do those things. Not having time is a pretty rare thing. We often have a million and one excuses about why we can't do things that would help us relax and enjoy life for awhile. We usually do have the time. Sometimes money and babysitting can be a legitimate problems, but there is so much else to do too.

We forget to live life.

It is so easy to caught up with prepping, homesteading, gardening, taking care of the animals, taking care of the kids, saving money, and a myriad of other things. Our to-do lists are mammoth on a normal day and some days are not normal. We work away from home and come home to work more. We can't see the light at the end of the tunnel and we keep working harder and harder to do so.

We forget to have fun.

No, life is not all about having fun. I have understood that for a very long time. However, life is not all about working either. We are meant to relax and have fun once in a while. To have a day that is not structured and filled by the never-ending to-do list. A day to be lazy, watch movies, and hang out with the family. A night to invite friends over for a picnic and a camp fire.

We need to remember what summer vacation time was like for us as kids. Yes, it was busy for some. Most of us though remember what it was like to be kids in the summer. We swam, rode bikes, explored, looked at the sky, looked at the stars, and just enjoyed life as a kid. We slept in tents in the back yard, hung out at the lake for the day, read books in a makeshift fort, and went on adventures. Sometimes we were with our family and sometimes we were with our friends. Sometimes we explored on our own. No matter which way you look at it, we have had fun.

Just because we are adults now doesn't mean we can't keep experiencing this and more. We forget to live life and have fun. Maybe if we started doing more to relax, our lives and health would be better too.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Monday, May 15, 2017

Have You Trained Your Kids To Work? What Will They Do When A SHTF Happens?


Kids are natural helpers. Especially when they are younger and they want to "help" with everything. Many parents take advantage of that help and let the kids help them. That is the start of training your kids to be good helpers and workers around the house and the yard.

Doing chores and being expected to help inside and outside the house helps develop skills. Kids become contributing members of the household which helps lighten the load for the parents. Kids who are expected to help and do chores learn a better work ethic and become valuable members of the workforce and society after they leave home. They also learn responsibility and manage their home and work lives better.

However, there are parents who believe "that kids should be kids". They have no chores, no responsibilities beyond school, and no expectations besides getting good grades and being a good person. They are coddled and spoiled. They do not learn responsibility beyond school. They do not learn skills or accountability. The parents do everything for them.

What is going to happen to those households when the SHTF happens?

They are going to self-implode. The parents will be doing everything they can to survive and their dependent children will not know what to do. Instead of pitching in and helping to clean the mess or secure food and water, they will want to know why they can't eat right now! Instead of working to make the situation better or at least tolerable, they will be in a tizzy because their cellphones and smart devices are not entertaining them!

We would all like to believe that kids will naturally just step in and help because the need has arose. We would like to believe that they will just instinctively know that they are needed and will rise to the occasion. Some kids will do this, I am sure. However, in this day and age, I do not believe that most will do anything. That would be work and they know nothing of work.

We are seeing a rise in an entitled, selfish culture that is being fostered by parents who believe that their precious darlings should have and do whatever they want. They are overly involved at school, not involved at all, or they are considered special because they are really smart. They go to college and think they are special because they are enlightened with their college education. They get degrees in areas that will not really transfer into a career that will actually support them. And, for some reason, they get some really crazy ideas about life while they are in college.

Can you imagine what will happen when a SHTF happens to them?

I am not saying all kids and young adults are like this, but I am seeing a really disturbing trend. This trend that says this kids do not know any life skills, were taught very little responsibility, and would not survive at all when a SHTF happens. They will expect and demand that someone else takes care of them and this situation. They will be crazy when they find out no help may be coming.

That is why kids need to be trained to work. This training starts early when they want to "help". You are teaching them early that their help is a valuable contribution to the household. When they get a little older, daily and weekly chores teaches them responsibility and accountability. When they are preteens, they should be expected to help whenever asked in addition to their regular chores. By the time they are teenagers, they know what needs to be done inside and outside the home.

You are teaching your kids to work. You are teaching them to be valuable, contributing members of the family. Kids are not perfect. They may need reminders and lists about what needs to be done. You will have to teach them what to do and how to do it. There is always going to be a right way and a wrong way to do things. You will have to teach them safety. You will have to teach them the skills they need to know like cooking, gardening, keeping a home, and taking care of animals.

However, when a SHTF happens, the kids will know that they are expected to help you. They may not know exactly what to do, but they know to listen to you and to take your direction. When you ask them to grab a broom or shovel to clean up the mess, they will do it. When you tell them to cook supper, they will do it. 

Should kids still have fun? You bet, but you are teaching them that life is about getting the necessary things done so they can have fun. Parents should not be shouldering the burden by themselves. Kids need to learn that they are living under the roof provided by the parents and can help to take care of the house. Sometimes they will argue and whine, but you as parents need to be firm, insist on the chore being done right, and not to be afraid to give consequences if not done.

You are raising adults. They may be kids now, but they will be adults that the rest of the world will have to deal with later. Just like they need to be trained to work now, they will be ready to work later as an adult because they know that is expected of them. So whether they are living at home or on their own, when a SHTF hits, they will be ready to help in anyway they can and they can take care of themselves.

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Birth and Baby Preparedness: 20 Things You Need To Have!


Getting ready for a baby can be difficult in normal circumstances. Add in a crisis or a disaster and you have to be even more ready! Even if you don't have a baby in the house, I recommend having a basic birth kit and a baby kit just in case. You never know who could be coming over or stranded at your home and will need these items!

Most of this list is very basic. I recommend keeping, if not all, most of this on hand. However, I can understand not wanting to keep a breast pump or a car seat in your storage. I had no use for a breast pump, but you never know. If a new mother has trouble with breast feeding, you might want one on hand and/or keep a small can of formula to help supplement.


20 Things You Need To Have To Be Ready For The Baby! 


1. A Birth Kit. I would specifically look for a home birth kit so you can have the basics on hand. A tape measure and a hanging weight scale would also be handy for getting the baby's measurements and to keep track of the weight for the first few weeks. I would also keep some sanitary pads and some pain reliever for the new mother. 

2. Diapers - cloth or disposable. A small pack of newborn and size 1 diapers should be fine.

3. Breast Pump and Pads.

4. Formula and Bottles. I recommend keeping a small can and a pack of bottles. 

5. Blankets. 3-4 receiving blankets and 2-3 warm blankets work great. 

6. Baby Food and/or a Food Mill. Babies typically do not start eating food until six months, but I still recommend having some in your food storage

7. Baby Wipes. A box or two will suffice although these are great to have on hand if the power goes out and you need to clean your face and hands.

8. Clothing Including Hats. 1-2 hats, a package of onesies, 3-4 sleepers, and a few socks will keep the baby warm and toasty. A sleep sack will also help at bedtime and naptime.

9. Soap to Wash and Sanitize.

10. Baby pain reliever and fever reducer.

11. Teething rings. Again, this will not be needed for a few months, but they are handy to have on hand when the baby is teething or needing to gum something to death.

12. Bibs and Burping Cloths.

13. Diaper Rash Ointment and/or Baby Powder.

14. Crib or someplace for a baby to sleep.

15. Car Seat.

16. Toys and Books.

17. Baby Fingernail Clippers.

18. Nose Syringe.


20. Digital Thermometer designed for babies.

Other ideas to make a new mother's life easier:

1. Some form of baby wearing carrier - sometimes it is handy to have a way to be hands free while still holding the baby.

2. Pacifiers or something for self soothing

3. A bouncy seat or someplace safe for a baby to stay and be entertained.

4. Dreft or a gentle laundry detergent that can be used on babies

You don't need a lot to be ready for a baby, but these essentials will make welcoming the baby easier on you and the new parents! In case of emergency, you will be ready for it anytime. I recommend storing these essentials (except the crib and car seat) in a five gallon bucket or a storage tote. You can find many of these things at garage sales and thrift shops, making your cost for this low. 

What would you add to this list? 

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Want to Make America Great Again? Here Are 12 Ways You Can Do Just That!


A lot of my Facebook news feed this morning has been how the country has been let down by our newly elected President. This is a guy who promised to make America great again. However, he is not who is going to make America great again. You know who is going to make America great again? 

You and I are. 

The American people are what make America great. However, we have forgotten this. We have forgotten that we, the people, are the ones who make this great country what it is. Our elected leaders set the policies and laws for which we live under and follow, but they are not entirely responsible for making America great. We, however, are the representatives of this country and we are the ones responsible for making America great. 

So how can we make America great again?

1. Treat others how you would like to be treated. 

2. Smile at everyone and say hello to all you meet.

3. Be polite to everyone even if they do not deserve it.

4. Offer to help your family, friends, and neighbors. Take care of each other. Take a meal to the sick. Mow the lawn for the injured. Take care of our military families and veterans. Feed the homeless. 

5. Take care of your surroundings. Do not litter. Recycle.

6. Learn to rely on yourself to take care of yourself. Do not depend upon the government or other agencies to save you. While help is great, sometimes you will not get help. 

7. Raise your children to honor and respect our flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, sing The Star Spangled Banner, and to be proud to be an American. 

8. Remember that no one is better than you and you are not better than anyone else regardless of anything. 

9. Take care of the elderly, learn from them, and treat them like your grandparents. 

10. Honor and respect our traditions, our Constitution, our Declaration of Independence, and our history. 

11. Show respect for our military, veterans, and police officers who work diligently every day to protect you. 

12. Follow and obey the laws of our land. If you disagree, then respectfully disagree without causing a riot or massive damage to other peoples' properties and businesses. 

Seems pretty simple, right? Be a good citizen and ambassador of this great country and we will make America great again!

Thanks for reading, 
Erica


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Back To School Routine - How To Set Up Your Family For Success This School Year!


School has started for us! (Excuse me while I do a happy dance!)

Starting school is an excellent time to start new routines in your household. I find being organized in the morning starts our day off well. We are on time for work and school. The kids are rarely rushing around to get their things together. 

This school year we have had some additional changes from last school year. We are taking cold lunches to school almost every day. We are no longer eating breakfast at school. (The school raised the rates and we no longer qualify for free or reduced lunches.) We are no longer allowing electronics and phones to be in their rooms overnight. 

We also had some changes to make from last school year. We needed to get more organized at night. We were not getting clothes picked out the night before which caused some chaos in the morning looking for a certain shirt. Bags were not ready to go in the mornings. Things were scattered everywhere and certainly lost by the time we were ready to leave. We needed one place for electronics and phones so we can grab and go. 

All this? Just about drove me bonkers!

I realized being organized is not just a kid thing, it is a parent thing too. I couldn't remember everything that needed to be done by my kids. How were my kids going to remember? Simple habits that were second nature to me were habits they are still learning. 

So I made up a list of what they need to do every morning and evening. This list helps me and them to remember what they need to do. And guess what? I wanted to pass it on to you! 

This is a pretty simple list. I am not a fancy person although I enjoy others' efforts to be fancy! (Yes, I love printables!) And just a disclaimer: we are public school goers. We fully respect other families' choices in schooling, but this is what works for us. This may mean your morning and evening routines will look a little different. That is okay! 

Here is our routines:

Morning Routine:
Wake up, shower if needed, and get dressed
Morning chores
Finish packing lunch for school
Get laptops packed into backpacks
Put bags into the car
Eat breakfast
Night Routine:
Evening chores
Get school lunch ready for the next day
Pick out clothes for next day
Get backpacks and gym bags ready the next day
Homework!
Shower
Plug in electronics and phones at charging station
Put backpacks and gym bags by your bedroom door

Because I try to make life easier for all of you, I also have it available to print here: Kids Routines!

Like I said, this is nothing fancy. Just a good list of reminders about what we need to do every morning and evening. I have it hanging on the refrigerator door for every one to see.


And you know what? This is already worked with success. The kids appreciate having a list to refer to. They know what is expected of them. That alone will reduce every one's stress levels.


What do you do for back to school success?


Thanks for reading,

Erica


Thursday, August 11, 2016

What Does Your College Student Really Need?


I have had two kids in college for over three years now. I know there are things they need and don't need. We have experienced dorm life and apartment life. While both are very different, the college student needs are very similar in dorm life and apartment life. 

Basically, this is home away from home! Your student needs to feel at home where he is at while being very independent. 

While I had a pretty good idea on what a college needs, I polled some of my favorite college students, mainly my daughters and their roommates/best friends. They had some great insight on what a college student really needs and what makes life easier. Three of them have been in college for three years now so they have a pretty good handle on things that are needed. 

You might read some of this list and think "My kid doesn't need that". Some of these things are more comfort items than needs, but your kid needs to feel comfortable at college or you are going to get some really sad phone calls. Your college student also needs to be independent and not running home every weekend for you to do their laundry!

What Does Your College Student Really Need?

1. Food, water, kitchen supplies, dorm fridge, and a toaster oven/microwave.

2. A tool kit with a small selection of screws and fasteners. Teach them how to use it too. 

3. School Supplies and Tape. Just like high school, they will need notebooks, binders, pens, pencils, paper clips, a calculator, etc. They will also need tape like scotch, masking, packaging, and duct tape.

4. Paper products - toliet paper, facial tissue, and paper towels. This should go without saying. 

5. Cleaners - dusting spray, all-purpose spray cleaner or wipes, glass cleaner, dish soap. Depending on your college student, you might need to show them how to use them. You may also need to remind them to use the cleaning supplies. In addition, for apartment living - toliet bowl cleaner, floor cleaner or a good all-purpose cleaner. Also, they may need a vacuum, broom, or a floor sweeper.

6. Laundry supplies. Most dorms have laundry facilities that will let you use a debit card or your student account card. However, the college student might still need quarters as well as laundry detergent, stain remover, and maybe fabric softener. They might also need instructions on how to run the machines and how to wash the clothes. 

7. A vehicle emergency kit - tire pressure gauge, a quart of oil, flares, flashlight, battery jumper cables, rags, tire repair kit, vehicle maintenance manual, small tool kit, and a jack and tire iron. Also teach them how to use this, check their oil, and change their own tires. 

8. Towels and Bedding. Wash cloths, kitchen towels, bath towels, and rags. Whatever they like to sleep on and underneath. They will need them all. You might also want to look into getting a memory foam topper for the uncomfortable mattress. Trust me on this. 

9. Personal items like clothes, personal grooming, etc. For dorm life, a shower caddy and shower shoes or flip flops for the trips to the community showers. Also, a first aid kit would be a very, very good idea too!

10. Organizing items like tubs, cubes, under bed storage, totes, whatever it takes to make the space livable and keep your items from taking over your space.

11. Decorating items. Your college student is going to spend time in his dorm room or apartment. Use banners, wall decorations, posters, and pictures to decorate the room and make the space their own. 

12. Entertainment. Again your college student is going to spend time at college in his dorm room or apartment. They need to be able to entertain themselves and their friends. Think movies, books, card games, board games, video games, etc. These are good things to help manage the stress level, bond with new friends, and spend time with old friends. Also, having these things may keep them out of the kind of trouble that will give you phone calls you don't want. Just saying. 

13. Good time organization tools. They will need a clock, alarm clock, planner, and/or calendar. Being on their own for the first time, they will need things to help them be responsible. Getting up on time, knowing when to be a class and work, and what their assignments are is crucial. They need a good tool to manage it all. I know they all have smartphones, but I liked have things down on paper then and nothing has changed. Having a visual reminder will help them too.

14. A good pair of headphones. Before you think this is crazy, it isn't. It is your college student being considerate. No one wants to listen to what they are listening to, plus it helps them tune out the other people in the dorm, apartment, commons, or library when they are studying. The college students were adamant about this. 

15. A Computer or Laptop. Yes, this is a necessity in college. Yes, the school library also may have them. However, more and more colleges (if not all) are requiring the student to have them. Along with this, they will need a mouse, printer, printer ink, printer paper, and possibly a wireless router.

Most of this list is just the basics. Your college will have rules for their dorms/apartments and you need to look into that. Some do not allow candles. Some do not allow single burners to cook food or even microwaves. Some may not allow you to nail or screw anything into the walls. Some may not have carpet in the room and the student may need a good size area rug. 

Some dorms and apartments do not have air conditioning and your student will need fans. Case in point, my oldest daughter moved into a dorm in August when Iowa had record breaking temperatures. It was 95 degrees F with a heat index of 105 degrees F when we moved her in. She and her roommate had no air conditioning. They had four fans running before we left. 

You might think your student needs a car at college. Again, every college is different. Some colleges do not allow freshman to have vehicles at college. If there is 2-3 kids from the same town at the same college, maybe they can work out a carpool solution. Having a vehicle at college is at the discretion of the parents and the college. 

Parents of college students, what else would you add to this list?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday Update From The Homestead - July 11


Whew! Another week gone! I swear I am going to figure out how to slow down time...

The kids were a busy bunch this last week. They went to their dad's house for two days. Paige drove some more Driver's Ed and worked at the pool (she is a life guard). Dane went to his aunt and uncle's house on Saturday with his grandparents.

On Sunday, the kids and I went to my parents' house to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary! Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! A lot has happened in forty years and I am sure more will happen in the future!

This week, Dane has basketball camp from today to Thursday. Paige is on her second to last week of Driver's Ed. Both kids are frantically getting ready for county fair that is the first week in August!

And we have family coming Friday to stay with us this weekend! Whew!

So what happened last week?

I weeded the garden. Amazingly, it needs weeding again.

We got some much, much needed rain after being dry for almost three weeks. I had started to water the garden because the tomatoes were starting to wilt and the peppers were not growing. I think both are starting to come out of it now. The peas are definitely ready to pick and I hope to get that done tonight yet.


I dug up all my garlic. The plants had dried back so it was time. The bulbs were pretty decent sized and I am pretty happy with the harvest. I got thirty bulbs which is what I planted. I also got some bulbits. I had planted the garlic last fall about an inch into the soil. The bulbs must have sunk further down because I had bulbits which are a second forming on the bulb above the surface. They are still edible and I learned a lot about planting garlic this year!

We cleaned up more of the shop and worked on the barn. Rob got another wall of the shop painted which he is happy about. He also cleaned the front of the house, front porch, the front doors, and the sidewalk! The house looks brand new!


We also had two date nights at the tractor pulls in Rockwell! I love watching them every year. Rob got me into tractor pulling and I am so happy he did!

I am also trying to get back into cooking more from scratch and planning ahead for the week. This is my goal almost every weekend, but the weekends just seem to fly by. Saturday morning, I made two loaves of bread, two batches of granola bars, and a double batch of egg muffins. We ate some of the egg muffins for lunch Saturday, but the rest have been for breakfasts this week. I also diced up a canned ham we were given and will use that for scrambled eggs, omelets, pizza, and pasta salad.

How was your week?

Thanks for reading,
Erica


Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Single Parent Needs These 10 Things!


Some people are single parents right away. Some people become single parents after being married for a while then becoming divorced or widowed. Either way you become a single parent, you have to make big adjustments. 

You need certain things in your single parent arsenal to be a better one. Because, let's face it, being one isn't easy. Some days go really well. Some days go really bad. An unexpected bill, a misbehaving child, a broken washer, or that phone call from the school can just make you want to pull the covers over your head! 

After being a single parent for almost ten years, these ten things are completely necessary for me to survive and thrive as a single parent. I am not offering these ten pieces of advice out of arrogance. I have learned all ten of these things the hard way which is how I learn most of the time. 

10 Things A Single Parent Needs

1. A way to keep your sanity in a healthy way. Develop some hobbies. Get some exercise. Find something that calms you, helps you blow off steam, and is healthy for you. Being a parent is wonderful, but sometimes you just need to clear your mind for a few minutes. 

2. A planner/calendar. Or both. I write down what is coming up and I write down what I did. I do not remember when I cleaned out the gutters last time or cleaned out the chicken coop. I need some thing that I can go back and look at. I have tried to live without a planner for a year. It wasn't pretty.  

Write down every event that is happening on your calendar for you and your family to look at. You will have a much better time keeping your sanity if your family and you know what is going on at all times!

3. Reliable transportation. Having a good vehicle that gets you to where you need to go is crucial. I used to live in an apartment complex in a small town almost 20 years ago. Some of the apartments had single mothers living there with no transportation. I couldn't even imagine. They were dependent on their families and friends for rides to next town for groceries and whatnot. That just baffled me and drove home the lesson that a dependable, decent car is a necessity. 

4. Food storage. Having a full and complete pantry with some food storage on the side will make your life easier. Supper times will be less of a struggle. That last minute request for cookies will not seem so bad. When you aren't able to get groceries for a week, that food storage will save you. 

5. A budget and savings. You need to know where your money is going and why. You need to set limits and think of the future at the same time. You need to make sure you have money for the whole month, not just the first two weeks. A budget is crucial. Having money in savings is important for those future unexpected and expected expenses. Sit down and starting being honest about your money and where it is going.

6. A community of people to help you. Being a martyr and trying to do it all yourself is silly. Gather yourself a group of people that you can absolutely depend on and start asking for help when you need it. Have two kids going in two directions? Ask a friend or grandparent to help get one kid to their destination. It isn't a bad thing to ask for help. 

7. A job. You need to make your own money. Do not rely on child support, the government, or alimony to take care of you and your kids. It could all be gone tomorrow. You can work at home or away from home, but find some way to make your own money if you are not already. 

8. Ability to be frugal. Now is the time to choke your pride and start living the frugal good life. You don't need to buy new everything. Your kids and you do not need every little thing you want. Learn to say no to yourself and get some self-discipline. 

You will thank yourself when you still have money at the end of the month. 

9. A toolbox and tools. You will need these more than you will ever know. You will find it easier to fix your own stuff than to pay the handyman to fix your things. YouTube videos show a lot of useful information on how to fix your stuff as well as the library having some great DIY resources. It is time to learn some skills and fix your own stuff.

10. A working relationship with the other parent and/or grandparents. I know this is hard because I didn't have this for several years. He and I are still not really good in this area. I wish we were because this would make my kids' lives so much easier. 

For your kids' sakes, you need to put aside the anger, the hurt feelings, the frustrations, the accusations, and the sadness. Your kids need you both to be in their lives (unless they would be in danger) and you both need to put aside your selfishness for that reason. The kids really do suffer without both parents in their lives and that can lead to other problems. Try to put aside your differences and get along for them. 

Being a single parent can be hard, but these ten things can life as one a lot easier. If you are one, what would you add to the list?

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Thoughts - Week of August 7


The Friday Thoughts might give you the impression I am obsessed with certain things, but then again maybe not. Many people ask what I think about things and I am not a very good talker. I will start trying to put my thoughts here every week and see what happens. I am going to keep it to five things that have been on my mind or heart, but I am not making any promises. 

1. I did not watch the presidential debates last night. I could care less about the debates unless they are really going to talk about the real issues. And although I think Donald Trump could contribute a lot to this country, I really don't think he is presidential material. I like a few other candidates and will just wait to see how they do.

2. In a couple short weeks, I will have two kids in their own apartment at college and two kids at home. That just seems so strange. I love them so much, but life has more in store for them and I can't wait to see the adventures they go on in their lives.

3. In relation to #2, I was doing laundry last night and remembering the good old days when I had to do a load every morning and night along with several loads on the weekends just to keep up with the laundry. With four kids at home, I had a lot of laundry to do! Now I am down to once a day, maybe, with a couple loads on the weekends. Jordan has been doing her own laundry this summer so I haven't needed to worry about hers. That seems strange too, but I do enjoy doing less laundry!

4. We need rain. I want to get a fall garden in, but the ground is so hard. I can't get the tiller in the garden to do a decent job breaking up the dirt. The ground is cracking around my onions. However, the tomatoes are doing well with lots of green tomatoes. Hopefully soon, I will have lots of red tomatoes!

5. The chickens have been molting. I think they are mostly done molting now. I was only getting 1-2 eggs a day for two weeks and now we are back to 7-8 eggs a day. Hopefully we will be getting a dozen a day again soon.

6. I have been more driven lately to be organized. So much so that I am going to clean out and organize my freezers. Yikes. (I will be putting up a post about that later!) I am getting so cluttered in my mind that I need my surroundings clean and decluttered. I want to know where everything is and I want to be able to find it immediately. I have not gotten everything done yet, but I will!

This week's blog post: Is It A NEED or a WANT? What Should You Spend Your Money On?

What I bought on Amazon this week: Sterlite Deep Ultra Basket with Titanium Inserts, White, 6-pack (for organizing the freezer)

Thanks for reading,
Erica

This does contain affiliate links, but I only share my favorites with you!)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

9 Things I Have Learned As A Single Mom Prepper/Homesteader

(Circa 2007 when this journey began)

I am the only one who can do for myself and my kids. Of course I have a great support group of family and friends who help, but at the end of the day I am still the only one for for my kids. I have to do the work required to keep up the home, bring in the money, and to do for ourselves. I have to do the canning, be worried about security, working to stay of debt, keep buying groceries to eat and to store, and be creative.

I learned really fast that being a single mom, after being married for eleven years, came with a steep learning curve. Suddenly I had to do two parents' worth of work as one person. I had to figure out a lot of things for myself. I had to change my ways, look further down the road, and prepare for it. Preparedness became extremely important to me because I never knew when the child support would or would not come. I might have $700 in child support one month and none the next month. 

Now cchild support isn't an issue, but then it was. Having food storage and extras have literally saved us some months before I had to apply for food assistance. I only had that for a year and used it to my advantage. I built up my food storage even more.  Having a garden has fed us in the leaner summer months. Being willing to work harder at home made a huge difference.

These are some of the things I have learned from being a single mom prepper/homesteader:

1. Self-reliance is not an issue most of the time. It is so necessary that it becomes ingrained into you. I am not one of those who is going to cry on social media that I need help and money and how I have nothing. I actually have trouble understanding people like that. I like knowing that I have done what I did with my own two hands. I have trouble asking for help on the best of days, but I know I am the one who can do the work at home. However...

2. Make your kids help around the house and homestead! They aren't helpless. They can do chores. They can make supper. They can tidy up after themselves. They do not have to become a burden and more work for you. Start working with them when they are young and they will be great when they are older. 

3. You will raise better adults because you will have taught your kids how to run a house, do chores, do laundry, and raise livestock. You will teach your kids how to be responsible. Society needs you to do this. Please do if you don't already! My older two daughters are in college, self-supporting for the most part, maintain their own apartment, and decent grades. Teaching them young to work has benefits down the road.

4. Creativity is a must. An absolute must. Whether it is making supper, fixing broken things again, trying to get everything accomplished in a day, or whatever, you need to be creative. Learning skills helps you to become more creative. 

5. Having a fully stocked pantry and lots of food storage will literally save you. When you don't have enough money for groceries, you can eat from the pantry. You might have to get creative, but you won't go hungry.

6. Staying out of debt is so, so crucial. I have learned this lesson over and over again. I still get into pickles once in a while, but for the most part I avoid debt.

7. Having a reliable vehicle is a necessity and not just for bugging out. Vehicle maintenance is a must and should be a line item in your budget. I drive the wheels off my vehicles. I try to make sure all preventative maintenance is done within reason. I usually get at 200,000 miles plus on each vehicle before they become totalled by a teenager or become unfixable. 

8. You still have to push through the fatigue and get the stuff done. The garden needs to be planted, weeded, and harvested. Canning will still need to be done. Some nights, midnight is an early bed time. You still have the kids to help while doing all that. In some ways it is lucky that I have insomnia and take advantage of that, but I also struggle with fatigue and have to really push through it. I figure winter is for resting and getting caught up. 

9. You will accomplish more than you can ever imagine. You are the only one, remember? You have to get it accomplished. I thought I would never be able to raise chickens, but I did. I never thought I could have the satisfying life I do now, but I do. Life gets better and you stop surprising yourself because you know you can tackle whatever life throws at you!

Life is what you make of it, but I have learned so much about self-reliance by being a prepper, homesteader, and single parent. For those of you who think you can't do all of this, now is the time to find out if you can or not. But I bet you can.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

12 Safety Tips For College Students


This August I will be sending my second child to college. I have sat through two college orientations and my favorite session is the personal safety session for parents. I have learned a lot about how to help my college age kids safe while at college. I have a lot of confidence in my girls being able to protect themselves and being aware of their surroundings while at college. 

However, let's be real here. There are some potential situations that girls or any kids can face at college (or even high school). Some situations may be unavoidable, bad decisions may be made, or small problems can become big problems. Drinking, drugs, sexual assaults, bad roommates, thefts, and fights can be situations they could face.

In light of this, here are twelve safety tips for college students and young adults. These are tips that have been given by safety officers, campus police officers, and some common sense tips from myself. These are tips that can be used to avoid or prevent a bad situation from happening.

1. Have your college student put the phone number of the campus police department in their phones. They will then have it in case of emergencies. Yes, they can still call 911, but they might get a faster response calling the campus police directly. Most campus police departments are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. At the college my daughters go to, they will also provide a safe escort home at any time during the day. 

2. Write down all serial numbers to any electronics they will be taking with them. Keep a copy in their dorm and at home. In case of theft or damage, you will be able to provide that information to the police and the insurance company.

3. If your kids are taking a bicycle or moped to college, write down the serial number to them. Also, you should take a picture of the bicycle or moped and keep the information in the dorm room as well as at home. I was surprised to learn how many bicycles they said were stolen every year and never recovered. They also recommended using a U-shaped bike lock to keep the bicycles safe.

4. Talk to your kids about issues and situations they may face while at college. You should sit down and talk to your kids about dealing with other people in non-confrontational way, not engaging in fights unless they need to defend themselves, drinking and drugs, protecting themselves from date rape/sexual assaults, and protecting their things. I know you might have had these conversations with them already, but a refresher would not hurt.

5. Enroll your kids, especially your daughters, in self-defense classes. Most colleges offer these classes, either as a class or through the gym/wellness center. Make sure your daughters especially take this as it could save their lives. 

6. Teach your kids about staying safe, the college edition. Teach them to walk with another person when they go out at night. Teach them about going out in groups. Talk to them about getting a safe ride if they need a ride home instead of walking by themselves. Talk to them about letting a roommate or a friend know if they are going out on a date or out with other friends so someone knows where they are at. 

7. Teach your kids about situational awareness. If an area or place does not look safe, they should avoid it. If something seems off about a person or persons, teach them to trust their instincts and get away as soon as possible. Teach them that saying no is okay and they need to do it if they don't want to be in a potentially bad situation.

8. Give your kids the tools to protect themselves. Provide them with pepper spray or mace. Teach them about using a small knife to defend themselves and get away. Teach them to use a tactical pen. Enroll them in self-defense class or show them yourself where to hit an attacker to disable them enough to get away. If they are about to be attacked in any way, teach them to yell or scream for help. 

9. Teach your kids to not engage someone on social media in a negative way. Social media can be a great thing, but bullying and harrassment are very, very common on social media. Teach your kids to not engage someone who may be trying to engage them in negative ways. Teach them to also not start anything negative on social media. If someone is doing this to them and it does not cease, they should tell their resident assistant or the campus police. These situations can escalate out of control quickly. Harrassment is a tough thing to prove, but the charges are very serious. 

10. Find out the chain on command for their dorm or apartment and make sure your kids know it. Find out who your kid should go to if they are having problems with roommates or fellow college students. While I believe in kids settling problems directly with the person they are having trouble with, we all know that sometimes a peaceful solution may not be had. Then your kid needs to talk to someone to get a situation resolved.

11. Teach your kids to keep their rooms or apartments and vehicles locked at all times, but especially when they are gone from them. You would not believe how many kids do not lock up behind them. They believe they are invincible and no one would want their things. They would be so very wrong. They need to keep their rooms and vehicles locked up unless they are there. The campus police or regular police have less sympathy when they find out things have been stolen from unlocked places. The insurance company has even less sympathy.

12. Teach your kids to become friendly to their neighbors, roommates, and others. The friendlier your kids is to others, the less likely they will be a target for anything. People watch out for people they like and are nice to them. Proven fact. Kids should be cautious, but being friendly can pay off in big dividends too. 

College is not a scary place, but scary things can happen if college kids are not careful. They are out on their own for the first time and feel invincible. Parents, it is your job to help them understand they aren't and what they can do to protect themselves. 

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Parents, Life Is Meant To Be Simpler (And Not So BUSY!)


Life gets so crazy sometimes. We run and run and run. The kids are involved in several things at once, we can't say no to the latest commitment, and home is only a place to rest your head. Does this sound familiar?

Life shouldn't be like that. Yes, I know. I can hear y'all now. Kids are only young once. They need to experience all these things. They need to find out their potential. We need to be involved in their things. We need to be active in everything. The kids need to know what it is like to be involved and learn to get along with others.

Stop it.

Life is meant to be simpler.

Kids need to know that their family is also their best companions. Kids also need to know what it is like to hang out at home and be a contributor to the household. Kids need to learn how to keep a home, be content with what they have, be content being home with family, and live a simpler life. Kids need to learn how to work and develop a work ethic. Kids need to learn to entertain themselves instead of their parents doing it for them. We have to model that for them.

Does it hurt them to be involved in activities? No, but kids are in so many things that their activities become the universe in which the family spins around. That is crazy! We have lived this life. It makes every one exhausted, frustrated, and discontented. This isn't healthy for the parents and for the kids.

At one point in time, Shali was in four sports plus the dance squad, speech, theater, and choir for almost four years. In the fall of Jordan's junior year of high school, she was in volleyball, football cheerleading, and dance squad. She ended up being a very sick kid by November from the stress and lack of sleep as well her grades suffered a bit. Shali has two injuries that will haunt her the rest of her life because she couldn't rest them like she should have. The pressure to play was too great for her. The kids went to a small school that needed people just to have teams and my kids did what they could. The stress on our family was very great.

I have learned this lesson the hard way and am very happy we are now in a school district that only allows one sport at a time. However, that rule does not stop the endless weekend tournaments, open gyms, weightlifting, and camps. Parents wonder why their kids get burned out or, as they find out later in life, the kids kept playing to make their parents happy.

What are you really teaching them? To over-commit? To live for a sport that may have no meaning to them after high school? That home is only a place to lay their head at night and not a place to live?

This summer, my son decided he no longer wants to play little league baseball. I am perfectly content with his decision. We have a busy summer the way it is. I did ask him a few times to make sure he was certain. He is. However, I have family who thought I should have made him. Why? He clearly did not enjoy baseball by the end of the season last year. He plays basketball on a traveling team in the winter so he is active in something and he loves it.

We actually like to be home at night. I look forward to having a summer without nightly ball games. Next summer, Paige will be playing junior varsity softball and those games will be at night.We have one summer to rest and relax.  I want to rest and relax and so does my family. We want to have a summer of projects and fun. We don't want to be so tired that all we do is veg out in front of the television.

We as parents can stop the crazy train. We can say no. I didn't think I could, but I found out that saying no to being over-committed, stressed-out, and frustrated is very easy to do. Will other people be mad at you? You bet. Should other people's opinions matter where your family is concerned? No it should not.

You as parents are in charge of your family and the decisions that your family makes. You should decide how your family spends its time outside of the house. If you want your child in a sport or an activity, that is your choice. We still have sports and activities going on in our house, but I will not make my kids do something that they have already tried. I do want them to try sports when they are in junior high before deciding they like it or if it is worth sticking with. I also want them to be in either band or chorus in high school because I feel a music education is important.

Other than that, I don't expect my kids to be in anything. If they want to be and I don't feel like they are overextended, then they will be. I made some mistakes early on with my older two children that I won't make again. I feel that other things like being home and having a part time job to be more important for my kids and their futures.

We can make life simpler for our families. We can say no to the busyness, the constant running, and tiredness. We can do this and make life better for ourselves and our families.

Thanks for reading,
Erica

Friday, November 28, 2014

Yes, Your Kids Do See What You Do!

This week's weather in northern Iowa has been less than ideal. We never really appreciate a day before Thanksgiving snowstorm. Those have a tendency to make travel a bit difficult.


School was cancelled on Wednesday due to several inches of snow being on the ground already and more coming down. The kids were to go down to their dad's house to have Thanksgiving with him on Wednesday. We already had the day planned, had moved Dane's doctor appointment earlier in the day so they could leave earlier, and Shali had some food made and ready to go.

My kids do not let weather stop them unless it is really bad. I think they get that from their mother. Shali is 19 and Jordan is 18. While they are young drivers yet, they are very experienced in winter weather driving. They both have been through some difficult driving conditions and made it home in one piece.

They decided to leave a bit later than planned and their dad knew they were coming. They as well as him and I kept a close eye on the weather and road conditions.

Here is where I know my kids have been watching what I do and did accordingly.

Jordan made sure everyone had a set of clothes packed in case they needed to spend the night (which they did). She also grabbed water, food, and a gallon of Sunny Delight (why that I don't know, but it is liquids!). She made sure boots and snow gear was packed for everyone. She also made sure everyone grabbed a blanket in case of an accident or car troubles. The two drivers always have a blanket in the car. but more is always welcome.

I do all these same things when I plan to go anywhere farther than 30 miles from home. Most of the time, these things are already in my car except fluids. We have been very cold lately and those things freeze so I grab them when I leave the house.

The drive was not bad due to them sticking to main roads even though that added miles to the trip. They made the drive in daylight. They stayed in touch with both of us parents to make sure they were safe. I texted Paige who was the non-driver in the car to make they were fine. Which they were.

They ended up spending the night to spend more time with their dad as well as the temperatures and wind chill dropping below zero. They filled up with gas before they left their dad's house next morning to get to the next Thanksgiving which was at my parents.

They did all the same things I would have done. I know many parents may not have let their kids go at all, but I think sometimes we let our fear rule our decisions.

And it was just snow.

Thanks for reading!
Erica

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How Will You Entertain Your Older Kids When The Power Goes Out?


Let's face a fact: most kids are very happy playing with something that is electronic. They would play them all the time if they could. I know the pain of that statement because I have a ten year son who is the same way.

I worried about how he would entertain himself if the power went out and the batteries on his Nintendo 3DS died. I worried about how my two daughters at home would entertain themselves without cell phones, computers, Kindles, and Netflix. I worried about all of us dealing without Wi-Fi.

However, we have had a few times of dealing with this now and they dealt just fine. Why? How?

1. The batteries on various electronic things take a while to die. We also have a few solar chargers.

2. I had the foresight to give them a love of reading. With a flashlight or candle, they can read forever.

3. I never wanted to be the parent that had to constantly entertain her kids. I had them entertain themselves and play with each other (the joys of living on the farm with a homebody mother). They learned to play together. We have disagreements, but they get them worked out quickly without too much parental interference.

What can kids do to entertain themselves without using electricity or power? Realize that I have a 10, 13.5, and 18 year old at home. This list is geared for older kids. When my kids were little, entertaining themselves was much, much easier.


Things To Do When You Have No Power!

1. Books and magazines (Start a library with a variety of books that might spark their interest)
2. Board and card games
3. Legos (My son is quite the fan! He has books and several sets.)
4. Drawing paper and pencils/chalks
5. Painting supplies
6. Crafts
7. Clean their bedrooms - a good lantern or oil lamp carefully used will provide enough light.
8. Clean out school bags
9. Tell stories or read out loud
10. Scrapbooking or organizing pictures - we get a lot of trips down memory lane doing this!
11. Set up the ultimate car track and race the little Matchbox cars
12. Set up a Rube Goldberg contraption
13. Perform some science experiments
14. Teach them to cook without power
15. Play outside if the weather is not bad.
16. Play flashlight tag indoors
17. Put together a puzzle or puzzles. 
18. Play with the pets
19. Take a nap
20. Put on a family play and/or puppet show

Just in case you were all wondering, these ideas were supplemented by my children. They came up with most of them!

What does your kids like to do when the power is out or the batteries have died in their various electronic devices?

Thanks for reading!
Erica

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