How You Can Prepare Your Toddler To Become A Teenager

There are things you can do while you're kids are toddlers to prepare them (and you) for the teenage years.

There seems to be a stigma that goes with parenting teenagers. I mean, I get that teenagers have their moments just like anyone else would. But I have to say, so far my experience has been mostly positive. 

I currently have 2 teenagers in the house, with a 3rd joining the clan in July, when he turns 13. 

Now, I won't say teenagers don't come with their own set of challenges and sometimes they can act like toddlers...and so can some adults. But they haven't been what everyone has warned me of over the years. In fact, I find quite a delight in having teenagers.

When my teen girls take the initiative to clean the kitchen counters or consistently ask me if I need help with dinner or cleaning or anything else around the house, I feel so blessed.

Now, I'm not going to say that just happened over night. Nor will I say that will be the case for every teenager. 

Toddler Training

When my children were toddlers, they were in the thick of training. The terrible twos were not going to be a thing in my house. (Actually, age 3 was worse, ahem).

Toddlers are a challenge because they are learning their own independence and often use that knowledge to exert their will. This is a time to train them that tantrums and tears won't get them what they want. It's also a time for them to learn they can't always have what they want. 

The younger you instill this discipline into your children, the happier everyone will be. Honestly, a lot of the shaping of a child's will really begins at the toddler stage. If it doesn't begin here, it does get more difficult the longer you wait. 

But it's also a time to work with your toddler's natural curiosity. They are learning about the world around them, so of course, they want to touch everything. They don't have a clue as to what's okay to touch and what isn't. Lovingly training them in this can help them understand their boundaries---and believe me, despite their disputing, they love boundaries. 

Toddler Boundaries

Boundaries make children feel safe and secure. They won't ever be able to vocalize that to you directly. But they will communicate it through their behavior. 

This is also a great to begin to really have a regular Bible reading time. Teach your toddler the great stories of Bible and talk about Jesus regularly. Your walk with Christ should be a natural outpouring out on to your family. We love the New Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes.

Mamas, I want to encourage you. The toddler years are TOUGH. I know. Lord, don't I know it! I remember wondering how long it was going to be this hard or was it ever going to get any easier. It does!! It really does. Not only that, but if you take the time to train your children, not just right from wrong or safety first, but begin teaching them about Jesus; prioritizing Him in your life and in theirs, you will reap fruit in the teen years you may never have expected. 

Marg & Gab

The Fruit Will Come

After 9 years of being in the same dance studio, we are switching studios after this dance season. Since we moved last year, we're now about 45 minutes away from the studio and it has been hard for our family to drive that distance three nights a week. And since I'm the one doing the driving, I'm exhausted from it. 

Their current dance schedule leaves Wednesday nights open but the schedule at the new studio, for their level of dance, puts them in class on Wednesday night. That's the night of youth group. 

Gabriella, who's been dancing since she was 3 and Margaret who only came into dance at age 11 but learned she's gifted in tap, both decided to drop down a level in dance so they would not miss out on church. This decision, made on their own, was surprising to me, but it also delighted me. To see my teenagers prioritize their lives {and wanting to} was watching the fruit bloom from the seeds my husband and I had planted so long ago.

Keep planting those seeds mama, because the fruit will come and it will be such a sweet time!

For His Glory,
Christin Slade

When Homeschooling Doesn't Fit Your Mold

When we set out to homeschool, often we paint this picture in our head of how it will look. But reality sets in as we chase toddlers and have to fight bad attitudes.

When we set out to homeschool, often we paint this picture in our head of how it will look. But reality sets in as we chase toddlers and have to fight bad attitudes.

The Initial Picture

When I first began homeschooling back in 2004, I had the ideal picture in my head. I also had only 2 children, one of whom was actually doing any sort of "school work" by the age of 3.

In addition, my first born was (is) a very eager learner and quickly punched through any workbook I placed in front of her. So, by the time she turned 6, we switched to something more robust and challenging: Tapestry of Grace. She rose to the occasion.

Coming up behind her was her younger brother and a one-year-old tornado. Thankfully she started off as a rather independent learner.

The Reality of Homeschooling

When my children were young, I would often have the youngest children running around in the background as I try to teach my older children. They didn't stay engaged very long, and when they did, they made a rather large mess by the end of teaching my lesson.

There are just some things I cannot control and I have to be OK with that. As someone who came from public schools, it's all I have to go off of on how "school" is supposed to look and it has taken a long time for those walls to come down and realize that learning can be done in more than one way.

So, having said all that, the ideal I had in my head to teach my children the same things, at the same time, from the same curriculum just doesn't happen. My children have different needs, learn at different levels, and with different methods. That makes for a rather interesting day of school!

No two days look alike around here, despite my carefully planned out schedule.  The schedule simply cannot account for a child "not in the mood" to do their lessons, a child who gets sick, tired children who've had a long weekend, or distracted children. I mean, really, the list can go on. And with seven children, it's rare we have a smooth day of school.

Check Your Expectations

I think it's important, in order to set ourselves and our children up for success, to accept the fact that our expectations may be too high and to take things as they come. That's not to say we shouldn't plan, but the plans will get messed up and we can't just throw our hands up when that happens. We simply need to adjust ourselves to that reality and work from that place.

Today, I am getting over a cold that has knocked me down these last couple of days. I am still not feeling 100% myself, therefore I cannot perform optimally. In addition, I have not yet been to my friends to pick up our next set of books for the next unit in our Tapestry studies. In light of this, I am adjusting our week accordingly.

christin slade_When Homeschooling Doesn't Fit Your Mold

Thankfully, we just made a great library visit over the weekend, so the children have plenty of new, good quality books to dig into. And because I'm still lacking energy from being sick, I am only focusing on the most important things today. For example, since we aren't leaving the house today, I am not enforcing everyone to get dressed. We can declare today a "pajama day".

On top of all that, reading aloud is often a nightmare because I am always telling someone to "Shhhh". Math consistently puts someone in tears. (Including me at times). Writing, my own favorite subject, is a subject I struggle to teach--especially at varying levels.

Bad attitudes are a norm (I know, they shouldn't be, but I can only encourage good attitudes, not force them). Despite the fact that I've created a schedule and chore chart for each child, I am constantly telling them what they are supposed to be doing. This is all part of training which is an integral part of homeschooling. This is all the reality of homeschooling.

The sooner I accept the fact that homeschooling isn't perfect because people aren't perfect, the smoother our days will go. It's ok when everything doesn't go exactly the way I plan. The goal is to keep moving forward and pressing on.

Homeschooling isn't meant to look perfect, it's meant to serve a purpose, and that purpose will be defined by each family.

For more imperfect homeschool days, visit the iHomeschool Network bloggers.

Favorite Homeschool Resources

Five Simple Ways You Need to Nurture Your Children

While there are many activities we could do to help nurture our children, I'd like to share with you a handful of them that are easy enough to do just about every day. 

It's easy to allow yourself to get lost in the day to day chaos of life. We get lost in the consistent feeding, bathing, and clothing our children as well as doing laundry, dishes, changing diapers, etc. We get caught up in the robotic life of caring for the physical needs of our children, while nurturing our children becomes lost in all the daily necessities of living. While these are certainly important aspects of mothering and nurturing, they are the bare minimum. Mothering is so much more than that.

While there are many activities we could do to help nurture our children, I'd like to share with you a handful of them that are easy enough to do just about every day. 

I want to share 5 ways to help nurture your children’s minds and spirits.

1. Read quality books aloud.

Reading quality books is nurturing for the mind and for your relationship with your child. Sometimes it can be challenging to get your child to sit with you to read. But being consistent helps with making it a habit.  After getting over that initial “resistance hump”, reading time will be an enjoyed time with you and your children.  Some great character building books include fables, Beatrix Potter stories, books by author Thornton Burgess, and of course Bible stories.

2. Conversations–and lots of them.

Children ask a lot of questions. Many times I tend to push them off as insignificant. But I need to remember, though I know much of how the world works (as compared with a child) , my children don’t. They are trying to understand the world they live in by asking questions. This gives me an excellent opportunity to engage in conversation. It is time well spent and much is learned. Children will value our opinions and direction more when we take the time to listen to them and answer their curiosities.

Additionally, as we take the time to answer their one thousand "why" questions when they are little, they are more apt to come to us when they are older and life isn't so simple anymore.

My teenage daughter (who is nearly 16) isn't afraid to come to me with questions about social issues, love & boys (well, one boy), friend struggles, etc.  My 11-year old son shares some of the unacceptable, unidentifiable, or alarming behavior of other boys. He is curious about the world and people around him and is eager to learn about all of it.

Moms, can I just tell you that it's okay to tell your children when another child is behaving or acting in a way that is unacceptable? This isn't being hateful or judgmental, it's identifying a clear right and wrong for your child in the most tangible way possible. When my child hears another child swear, I make it clear that for my son, that is not okay and I explain why. I do not belittle or even dislike the boy doing the swearing. We are still to be loving toward those who have different values then us and I make sure to teach that to my children as well.  

ChristinSlade_Five Simple Ways You Need to Nurture Your Children

3. Share a hobby. 

This might be difficult to narrow down at first, but don't give up! Do you and your children enjoy the library? Swimming? Dancing? Playing cards or doing a puzzle? Building Lego creations or drawing?

Help them foster their talents. If you don’t know much about what they do like, search it out and learn! Or better yet, have your child teach you.  My eldest daughter has been in dance since she was 5 years old. I also have two other children in dance now. A few years ago, I started taking a dance class and each year we enjoy being a part of the recital together. 

The point is to take the time to be interested in the things they are interested in, too.

4. Special 1-on-1 time.

In addition to spending small bursts of 1-on-1 time with each child everyday, every week, my husband or I take one child out to breakfast for their own special time. We let each child decide who they want to go with because it gives us a bit of insight to that child’s greatest need. As a matter of fact, this opened my eyes quite a bit to how much my children needed me, even though I’m home with them all day. A couple of my children needed me to go to breakfast with them. I thought for certain they would choose their daddy. This has allowed me to adjust our time spent at home, to better fill their “tank”.

This is especially challenging but necessary for moms with many children. It's too easy to think of and work with our children as a collective bunch because that's what's easiest. But it's not best to always do that. Our children need to be seen and recognized as individual persons rather then a collective of children. 

5. Speak grace.

This may be one of the most crucial aspects of nurturing a child. Our words and our tone have such an impact on our children, you could not even imagine. Not only do they learn from us how to speak to others [by how we speak to them], but they learn our very hearts through our tone and words. Are we speaking in frustration? Anger? Annoyance? They know. Speaking words of grace is the best, and I mean the best way to diffuse anger and create an environment of peace. 

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

I cannot even begin to tell you how true those words are. And it helps to get to the root of our frustrations, and deal with them.

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. Proverbs 15:13

And it isn’t just our face it makes cheerful, but the face of our children. It isn’t just our spirits that would be crushed, but our childrens.

This list is by no means exhaustive. There are many ways to nurture our children, but they do all have one thing in common: our time.

Our children see what’s most valuable to us by how we spend our time.

What are some ways you nurture your children? 

 

For His Glory,

Christin

 

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A Marriage Grows Strong in the Every Day Moments of Life

Every couple has their ups and downs and seasons of struggle, but you can get through them when you are willing to fight for your marriage.

A marriage isn't built on merely the words we vowed on our wedding day. It is built in the day-to-day moments of life that have the potential to strengthen our marriage or weaken it. ~Christin Slade

A marriage isn't built on merely the words we vowed on our wedding day. It is built in the day-to-day moments of life that have the potential to strengthen our marriage or weaken it.

Something you should know about my husband and I is that when we have disagreements or "fights", we aren't all-out mud-slingers. We don't name call or threaten with the D word. But recently we learned we need to be careful and clear how we communicate. 

We've been married more than 17 years and the majority of those years have been spent navigating major life events. When one of us snapped at the other, we chalked it up to being stressed about whatever "life event" we happened to be going through at the time. And while that may have been true, many things never got fully resolved by brushing it aside as such.

Marriage is sacred and when a marriage is healthy, it should be nurtured and tended to every single day. 

Stress

Stress is a normal part of life--I don't know that it should be, but it is. What we do with that stress plays a big role in our marriage every day. There are seasons when we experience more stress than others and eventually, it can take its toll on a marriage if not handled properly.

When you are feeling extra stressed, what helps bring those levels down? Do you need an hour or two out of the house? Do you need some extra support from your spouse? Communicate those needs and how you're feeling so your spouse knows. It's better than trying to manage it on your own and leaving your other half in the dark about your struggles. 

What if your spouse is the one who is stressed? Is there anything you can do to help ease the burden? If you're not sure, ask! So many of the little things can be resolved easily simply by communicating.

When my husband comes home after a stressful day at work, often all he needs is a good hour to himself to decompress. I'll bring him a cup of coffee and acknowledge his need, give him a kiss, and give him some space. Other times he'll want to talk through his stressful day to help relieve some of the pressure, and I simply listen. 

In our early years, when I were to get grumpy and silent because he's not meeting my needs after I've worked hard all day, the stress would just escalate for both of us and create a bigger problem in our marriage. 

Communication

How each spouse responds to the other every single day matters. Everyday life is the making or breaking of a marriage. Marriages aren't broken or destroyed in a day. Neither do they strengthen in a day. It takes purpose and intention to build a strong marriage while it merely takes neglect and carelessness to destroy it. 

Not only do we need to be mindful of what we are communicating, but how we are communicating it. Facial expressions and body language often speak louder than words alone. It's important to learn how to communicate effectively in order to avoid a lot of unnecessary conflicts. 

What does this look like in everyday life? 

If you're a wife in need of something from your husband, simply ask! There is no need to make him play the guessing game or expect him to know what you're thinking. He doesn't. If you need help with the housework, simply ask for help. If you are wanting to spend quality time together, communicate that with him. Don't expect him to automatically know.

Speaking kindly and with respect, even (especially) when you are tired, overwhelmed, stressed, or irritated should be something we practice. Because the reality is, we will spend a lot of time dealing with a lot of negative emotions and learning how to control them. Flinging careless words and rude tones at our spouse will not make us feel better, it will only damage the marriage, especially when done on a habitual basis. 

Even after 17 years of marriage, my husband and I are learning how to better communicate with one another.  We will never stop growing and learning and that's the point. As a couple, we need to be open to constantly evolving and growing as individuals as well as a couple, and adapting to those changes together

christinslade_A Marriage Grows Strong in the Every Day Moments of Life

 

Spiritual Growth

For Christian couples, spiritual growth as individuals is imperative if you're going to grow in your marriage.  Doing devotions as a couple doesn't work for everyone and that's okay! The important thing is that each of you is individually seeking the Lord and taking the steps to grow in your faith every day.

Communicating with each other about what God is teaching you about yourself and how He's working in your heart is important to continue to grow as a couple. That's not to say we are the gauge for where our spouse should be in their walk, but that we encourage and support them. Only the Holy Spirit can convict of sin and lead a person to repentance. Hinting or nagging our husband's into "spiritual submission" will not help them grow. Yet prayer, love, encouragement, and patience can help. 

Right now, my husband is reading through the Bible in 90 Days, while I'm working through an Armor of God study by Priscilla Shirer as well as a study called Learning to Tell Myself the Truth.

Fun

It's important to have fun! Life is hard work and we spend a lot of our time pouring out emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Having regular fun together is necessary to help keep that fire of passion lit.

Having fun doesn't mean you have to go out all the time. You can have fun right at home. We have always been very adamant about our children having a regular bedtime. Not only is this beneficial for them in many ways, it is also beneficial to us as a couple. It allows us to have some time together every evening, without children

We love our children to pieces! They are the most wonderful kids. That doesn't mean we aren't allowed to have our own time together as husband and wife---and have it regularly. Children are takers by nature. An early bedtime is a great time to give everyone a rest. Most nights, that means 9 PM.

Our evenings together often consist of watching TV together, reading, or playing a card game. That's it. But it's fun and we are together, alone. It is a time that has fueled our marriage over the years in ways I cannot even explain. Maybe evenings won't work for you? What about mornings? Choose a time of day when the two of you can connect and have a little fun. 

...

Marriage must be nurtured and cared for in all the events of every day life. I have only listed a few ways here, but consider what other areas your marriage can be intentionally tended to. Cooking: cook something he loves to show him you love him.  Cleaning: a quick, daily tidy can be greatly appreciated by a husband who comes home after a long day at work and just needs a reprieve. My husband has often said our home is his safe haven.  He looks forward to it! I've spent time over the years making certain our home is one of welcome and peace and it's worth every effort. 

For His Glory,

Christin

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