He fills the longing soul with good things. Ps. 107:9


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Parental Problem Solving

This parenting thing is a lot of mental work! I've been thinking recently about some of the problem-solving we've had to do. There are so many, many times in parenting when the very hardest thing is NOT having a sure solution. So I love to compare notes with other parents - to hear what works for them and what doesn't. I think that's why I love reading so much. I am inspired, challenged, encouraged and motivated to hear someone else's ideas. Here are some of ours:

Problem: Nightly arguing over who's book gets to be read first during story time (Duh - of all the things to stress over. They don't know how good they have it.) They were also fussing over who gets to get out of their carseat first. I have THREE carseats to unbuckle, and don't need the extra stress.
Ideas: We now have a different "book leader" every day. This person gets to choose the first book to be read, they get to be first to get out of their carseat, they get to choose which video, they get to choose their favorite chair. Kindof like queen for the day. Also good practice for the other kid....they get to "serve" the other person every other day.

Problem: And ungrateful, negative attitude has just crept up in one of our kids.
Ideas:Memorizing together Scriptures on gratitude. (Parenting with Scripture and Teach them Diligently have already done the work.) Focus on thankfulness (isn't it great that this problem arose in November?) Child has to say one thing they're thankful for in the morning and evening. And of course, not getting the item which was grumbled over.

Problem: A kid prone to frequent carsickness
Ideas: Never brush her off again when she says she's feeling bad in the car! The handy-dandy handled tote conatining: A complete outfit, Plenty of wipes, A "sick" bag, Bags for dirty clothes and wipes, and odor eliminator. Oh yeah - and removal of the headrest from the seat in front of her to allow a better front view.

Problem: A new scedule involving 2 parents working outside the home and a daddy doing PhD work makes it tough to have time for dates and family nights.
Ideas: A committment to alternate weeks. Date one week, family night the next. And being willing to grab whatever time we have - a quick lunch, a short walk - and make it count.

Problem: An asthma kid who ends up in the ER a lot. The medical field's answer to chronic asthma? Steriods. Her nervous system does not handle steroids well (nor does her mother!)
Ideas: Made the committment to invest in herbs. Theydon't solve all problems, but seem to boost her system enough help get her through the attacks with regular nebulizer treatments.

Problem: Kids who do not play with toys that are piled in a toybox.
Ideas: Cheap organizer bins from Walmart. One for art supplies, one for baby dolls, one for animals, one for doctor stuff. The rule is, only 2 bins out at a time. Those must be cleaned up before getting out another. Since the bins are high on shelves, random or orphaned toys are put in a larger bin to be sorted into the smaller bins later.

Problem: The constant work of training kids to clean up after themselves. I am so serious about it, I actually feel very guilty if I carry their bowl to the table for them or pick up something they've tossed aside. But it can be exhausting work. And did you know it actually makes for a temporarily MORE messy house while you're in the training process? It's tons easier to buzz through the house cleaning up all their toys, picking up their shoes than it is to try to motivate them in a positive way to do it themselves - hopefully without having to resort to discipline.

Ideas: Enter: The Housefairy. She's a good friend of my hero, the Flylady. She's also Santa Clause's sister. She flies in for a visit now and then when the kids aren't looking - leaving fairy dust behind as she checks over their room. If it is tidy, she leaves prizes. (A small toy, a quarter, a borrowed video, a "no chores" coupon, etc.) If it isn't clean, the kids know she was there because of the fairy dust (confetti sparkles) but NO PRIZE. The kids actually woke me up the other morning around 6:00 am because they were so excited that the housefairy left them a (borrowed) Strawberry Shortcake video. The kids, of course, know it's makebelieve. Just like Santa Clause - but lots of fun!

Please don't mistake this for a "Hey-baby... Look how with it I am!" attitude. Those who know and love me most can please turn the volume down on their cackling. Some of us have to work harder than others for with-it-ness. Besides, it's actually just writing down a few of the hundreds of decisions we all make every day. What are some of your solution ideas?
Liz said...

One family we heard speak had a problem with all seven kids wanting this or that first or whatever. Their solution example was this: whoever got to ride "shotgun" to the store had to first be offered it by another kid - "John, would you like to" . . creative. The guy said soon the kids were dealing about who would offer this time, if the other one would offer next time, etc. but I think the mission was probably accomplished. Also older kids in this scenario.

Enjoying your posts. I've got to re-commit to training helpers around here . . . Thanks for the encouraging ideas.

Love, Liz

Regina said...

Thanks so much for the house fairy idea! Devon is scrambling around "tidying up" even as I type this! It's so much more fun than standing over him "cracking the whip!":)

Jerri Ann said...

Hey Sara,
You are doing good. Keep up the good work. You might want to inculde a Sand bucket in your carsickness kit. You could put a walmart bag in it. Then she could hold it better and clean up might be a little less. My youngest is asthmaic too, it is a very slight case which i'm gratful for. SHe is about to turn two this week. I think it's a great idea to put down the problems and solutions. It helps to have the sounding board

Jerri Ann said...

Hey Sara,
You are doing good. Keep up the good work. You might want to inculde a Sand bucket in your carsickness kit. You could put a walmart bag in it. Then she could hold it better and clean up might be a little less. My youngest is asthmaic too, it is a very slight case which i'm gratful for. SHe is about to turn two this week. I think it's a great idea to put down the problems and solutions. It helps to have the sounding board

Deanna said...

I wish there was a housefairy at my house to reward me for keeping things clean! I think that would really help me! No fair! Your kids get all the cool stuff!
Love ya,de

Carrie said...

Ha! I was thinking the same thing as Deanna!

One thing I've had to implement recently (with the brainstorming of my mother) is that for every mean thing you do to your sibling, you have to do something nice. Last week, Jared had to clean Brennan's room for him because he was teasing him mercilessly. Of course, I had to supervise (when he threatened to throw everything under the bed), but it got the point across (for now).

Yep, learned the carsickness tidbit a while back. NEVER EVER take lightly a child who says their stomach or mouth feels funny. It doesn't matter whether you find out later they're lying to you or not!

The arguing over books being read is only slightly funny to me. With my boys, it's, "Who gets the middle cinnamon roll on Sunday morning?" I think I need to pick a different day of the week to make cinnamon rolls.

Anonymous said...

Hi - I had a question....do you use the site for The House Fairy or do you just do it yourself? Trying to figure out if I should invest in it or not. Sounds like a good tool.

tacomom said...

Great ideas, Sarah. I might have to implement a couple! Our girls are older (6, 9 and 12) but still have our own kind of "first" fights. Computer time and who gets to sit alone at the table is a big one. We have recently started a rotation for both. B/c of age, ours lasts a week before changing. Kerri gets first 30 mins/day on the computer, then Janae then Britnee. The next week it's Janae, Britnee, Kerrigan. The third week it's Britnee, Kerrigan, Janae. The person who has first dibs also sits alone on the one side of the table and says the blessing. So far, so good. It sure helps me not have to get involved in little decisions that can turn into big fights.

Julie W said...

Sara, Could you come to my house and figure out all of my kids fights for me???? I'm so not good and coming up with good ideas??? I think it must be your gift!
Julie W
P.S. Carrie---you were always so good at it too!!! I remember that you kept a calendar or something in your van when you took J and J to school so you knew whose turn it was to sit up front!!! now that's commitment!(or was it just trying to keep your sanity with my stinkers???)

Julie W said...

I guess I could mention that we have figured out one fight---they each feed the dog one week at a time and whoever does the feeding also gets to sit up front in the van that week----that's the extent of my problem solving and believe me there's alot more that could be done! ha!
Julie W

Carrie said...

Ha! Julie, I was very good at it until my kids got to be that age!! I guess I had more energy and better mental capacities back then!

Ratcliff Bunch said...

I love how down to earth you are!

Juwah said...


I enjoyed this post and got some great ideas. The fussing over who gets their way can be tough.(ok, tough isn't quite the word. Perhaps wrap-me-in-a-white-coat-and-take-me-away is better.) I understand that a practical solution is smart and easy. However, something I learned from Ted Tripp (Shepherding a Child's Heart)is to not forget to deal with the heart of the issue as well. (which I'm sure you do) Even as young as my guys are, we talk about what's going on in their hearts when they demand their rights to be first and have their own way. Sure it's a lecture that gets repeated often, but I think it starts laying the ground work for being Christ-like and thinking of others. When a "me" fight (it's always two sided they both are demanding their desire) starts I can say, "Are you thinking of your brother or yourself?" Then usually nobody gets to be first or get's the desired thing. Then I ask, "Next time what do you think the right thing to do will be?" It's amazing how fast they learn to negotiate so as not to lose the privilege. Sure, now we have to deal with motive and manipulation, but all in good time. :)
Hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

David and Sarah Fry said...

Very well said....

julie f said...

You do not know me; I found your blog through my sis-in-law, Jenny McCall's blog (Tom is my brother). I have greatly enjoyed your ideas and will check back often. Your "commentators" have made great points, as well.

We do the taking-turns-thing for our kids, but we call it their "special day" and we do practice serving them for the day. They get to eat on the "special day" plate and each person at the table says what they appreciated about them that day. The children really look forward to it, and with a little practice, they become very good at verbalizing the traits they admire.

We have a little guy with asthma in our family, and Robb has done quite a bit of research concerning herbs. The picture on your blog looked like you are using Nature's Sunshine products....that is what we use and it really does seem to help a lot!

We also do the night of sleeping under the Christmas tree...you are right, though. It does get a little uncomfortable. I have to admit...last year I climbed in my own bed sometime after everyone else was asleep (I was pregnant, is that an excuse?):)

Thanks for sharing all your wonderful ideas! You never know who is out there reading, do you?

Blessings on your Thanksgiving!
Julie French

David and Sarah Fry said...

Julie - How funny! I just visited your blog yesterday from Jenny's link. I enjoyed your blog. Sounds like we have some of the same traditions/solutions. I have wanted so much to get a special day plate - I found one at the Christian book store once and wish now I would have bought it. I'm curious if you do a constant special day rotation, or just do the special day periodically. We also read about using a special spoon...whoever gets the special spoon at a meal gets complimented, etc.

By the way - being pregnant is TOTALLY an excuse for sneaking to your own bed. I have some roly-poly memories of trying to sleep in a tent with my round belly fighting with the air mattress. Not fun.

So great to meet you.

David and Sarah Fry said...

By the way - Liz, I've also heard about making the kids offer first place to one another. I love it!

And Anonymous: About Flylady....I just did the $10.00 online access awhile ago so that the kids (just Kayla at the time) could "meet" the House Fairy. I think it was worth it, because the girls think her white hair is hilarious. Plus, you get all of her letters to the kids pre-done, all you have to do is print them. You also get certificates, clean room club cards, and other little goodies that make it a WHOLE lot easier to use the system. I recently purchased the "gold wing" upgrade with some of the kid's birthday money. It is really cool...even worth the money, in my miserly opinion. There is a game to play where you catch each other leaving stuff out and little extra chore tickets you can give out for whining and other yucky habits. And the music CD is a hoot - especially Mr. Toots.

I love to have someone else do the thinking and work for me, and I have gotten so many ideas from her system.

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