Thursday, 11. March 2010 by Renee Ellison
The beautiful thing about children is that you can INFLUENCE them, instead of dealing with stuffy old adults who are already set in their ways. Send these tips to as many moms as you can—mothers who want to massively
INCREASE their influence in the world!
Parenting Tip: What do you DO with a child?
From the day that each child is born, you begin to progressively and incrementally grow him into an awesome adult!
God grows the child, but you trim and prune and water and tweak the child. God is the seed giver, but you are the gardener. And make no mistake: the gardener has an enormous influence on outcomes. Take two gardeners: one is scattered, unfocused, preoccupied, lazy. The other is focused, industrious, careful and attentive. Both are responsible for rose bushes. One garden is left to grow wild; the other is tamed into a world-famous rose garden. Roses bloom in both gardens, but those in the untended garden are covered over with thorns and weeds. God ALWAYS does His part (the rose/child WILL grow up)... but what about your part? What SORT of garden/rosebush will this child become? (Even though ALL the dynamics won’t be within your hands – you can’t control all of the effects of original DNA, convoluted circumstances, health issues, accidents and injuries, and counter-productive input from friends, neighbors and relatives—you can go for the dynamics that ARE within your reach.)
Begin with the end in view. Where are you HEADED with your child? Are you and the children flopping around the living room, taken up with every novel idea that comes around and OTHER people’s agendas for your day, or do you have some strong plans of your OWN to implement with your children? Where are you headed? Protect those plans from outsiders’ distractions and from your own lesser matters and endless errands.
This is how parenting works in every area of a child’s life: if you intend for your child to someday live in a clean, orderly home as an adult, not in a pigsty, you begin by teaching your two-year-old how to empty the trash, using a tiny trashcan that is just his size. By the time he is ten years old he ought to know how to vacuum and fix a meal or two by himself.
If you intend for your child to become articulate, have a large vocabulary, and charm people in any conversation, you begin by talking to your baby as if he were an adult, reading Isaac Watt’s hymns aloud to him while you nurse. By the time he is ten, you’re making sure he has read a good 500 wholesome books or so (and can talk about them to you)...books that are full of real history—missionary biographies—how-to books. Skimp over much of the fantasy/twaddle. Then increase it to a thousand more books. (At our website, download Melanie Ellison’s Favorite Books for Godly Children – a free list of over 100 best-of-the-best books for children.) Then borrow them for free through inter-library loan or buy them used and inexpensively from AbeBooks.com and other sources suggested on that list).
If you don’t want your child to be a sluggard as an adult, you progressively and incrementally put the bee on him to “work” when he is four.
If you want him to have a chance at becoming a good musician, have him listen to classical music everyday while he is still in diapers, take him to symphony orchestra rehearsals, and gently tap out rhythms on his back. (Make sure he never gets near rock music; as sadly happens in countless families. This music is now conclusively known to become progressively addictive and can completely dive-bomb all your best efforts at parenting.)
If you want him to be at ease eventually while eating international and gourmet dishes, you give him little amounts of a wide variety of foods and tastes when he is three years old. Set a small portion of these on his plate at each dinner and require him to eat them before having more of his favorite foods. Particularly introduce him to a wide variety of steamed vegetables, slathered with lemon and butter/coconut oil. Incrementally develop his palette. Grow a healthy child by insisting upon healthy habits/choices from the get-go. Make junk food unavailable.
If you want him to reverence God, begin reading Scripture to your child when he is still in utero. (There is only a thin wall of skin between you.) When he’s born, replace airhead nursery rhymes and twaddle with substance, and start reading to him from easy versions. Teach him to know all the books of the Bible in order so he can flip to them easily. Conquer and review two or three book names a day. Teach the key people and the key events. Then progress to looking for the high voltage underneath specific verses, together. Start today with your six-month-old. Outline the cover with his little finger, while saying “This is God’s love letter to YOU! Isn’t that exciting that He wrote to YOU!”
While you’re scrubbing the kitchen floor, set Egypt on one side and Canaan on the other, and scrub your way across the Wilderness! Say a Scripture verse over your child every time you change his diapers; if you say the same verse all week, in a year he will know 52 verses by osmosis. Likewise, sing a hymn a week, and by the end of the year he will know 52 hymns! When you rise up and when you sit down, grow a spiritual child (Deut. 4-6). If you only concentrate on academics or talents, or sports, you could raise a brilliant murderer! Life must have a WHY, not just a how.
If you want him to know how to manage money and make a living, help him start his home-based business when he is five years old. Teach him how to wade into an income stream whenever it is flowing. If the lady next door wants her chickens watched and she will pay him money, then drop everything and go do it, because tomorrow maybe no one wants their chickens watched. And then teach him how to make a few income streams of his own. Make something that is irresistible to others, such as brownies, or improved small gardening equipment. Every entrepreneur starts with baby steps…producing brownies may eventually be replaced with producing computer micro-chips, or growing lettuce with sound waves.
Begin by paying him ten cents to collect ten rocks for your new garden rock walkway or to iron his sister’s shirts. Teach him to be on the look-out to provide services to others in some better way. Hard-working immigrants do this. They raise their children in and around the work ethic, and thereby out-produce many who have lived in American ghettos for generations. Jews did this when they established the nation of Israel from scratch, and vaulted to the top of European exports—out of barren rocky ground. Begin to train your children in economics when they are one year old. “This is a nickel; this is a dime.” Then a few years later, add the thought: “If you do this EXTRA job, you hear this dime clink in your jar.”
If you want him to be meticulously honest as an adult, strongly land on his first lie, and spin his head at the consequences of having told it.
If you want to grow a winsome adult, teach the child a hearty handshake, a broad smile, and the habit of looking in people’s eyes while listening to them.
If you want to grow a very capable, confident adult, grow as many life skills as possible, incrementally and progressively, all through the years. These could include barbering, elk hunting, sewing alterations, car mechanics, speed-typing 90 wpm, bread-making, carpentry, piano accompaniment, and electricians’ skills. Grow these, and many more, developing ever-deeper levels of competence. The more an individual knows how to do, the less dependent he is upon experts and the more helpful he becomes to others in nearly every situation or emergency, to say nothing of the money he’ll save. To grow a broadly skilled child, deliberately take this ground inch by inch.
The gardener bends the tree and ties it to the fence, tilts the plant to get the most sun, protects it from tornadoes when young, sets it out IN the storms when it’s older, hardens off the top, and strengthens the root. Parenting is a full-time job with no pay raises, but if you do it well, your future reward could well bowl you over with joy. Parent with everything you’ve got, because it is a hundred yard dash across time and then it is over. Parent NOW like there is no tomorrow.
Home Management: Corralling domestic spaces
Too Little Space
Some of you are raising large families in very cramped quarters. Others of you are living in huge areas, veritable barns, but they seem cold and uninviting. Let’s talk about conquering spaces…not outer space, but inner space…creating homey spaces!
If you only have a dinky kitchen to work in, think of French chefs. They have historically worked in dinky spaces, too. Think of the wonderful cuisine they were able to produce in such tight places. That is where the idea of hanging all your kitchen equipment from the ceiling came from. The advantage of small kitchens is that you can grab everything by pivoting only on one foot. Learn to be grateful for that! Attitude is everything.
In addition to that splendid idea of hanging pots and pans, if you need to achieve more counter space, place boards on open kitchen drawers. Cut Plexiglas or 1/4 inch plywood into rectangles to lay on top of these drawers when needed and opened. Store these thin boards standing up in the crack between your fridge and cupboard, to have them close by and ready to retrieve at a moment’s notice to give you more production space. Cut the wood or Plexiglas exactly the size to fit the top of each drawer that you want to double-use in this manner. To get the size exactly right, try cutting each one out of cardboard first, so that each final board sits on top and doesn’t fall down into its drawer.
If your kitchen EATING area is too small, turn your kitchen table into permanent additional COUNTER space—creating a larger work area—and move your actual eating into the dining room or double use your living room space for meals.
To achieve more space in the rest of your house, you have to think like an inch-engineer. Consider affixing tiny narrow shelves on the walls behind all of your doors. Raise all of your beds on plastic bed leg risers (available at Wal-Mart), using the space underneath for boxes or plastic containers. Make all desks only 18 inches deep and use the wall in front of and above each desk for all the stuff that you normally stash on the back half of any desk. Go UP. If you think about it, people only actually work on the front half of their desks. If you have to go really far up to gain enough space, hang a lightweight two-step ladder close by.
Too Much Space
Group your seating arrangements into cozy little areas around smaller area rugs. Have various areas designated for specific different activities, with large hallways/ or passageways in between, even going right through the center of a room. Cultivate CLOSENESS for your family. When arranging chairs, try out a real conversation. Does it feel close and stress free, or do you find yourselves yelling to communicate or stretching to share a book’s pictures?
When you have lots of space, use it all! Set up a home-made massage table, a ping-pong table, chess sets, an indoor bowling area with beach balls, an easel and painting center, exercise equipment, charts on the walls, world maps, white boards, etc.
In large spaces, liberally place end tables near all chairs and couches to set books and lamps upon, even if you can only afford to toss a pretty piece of fabric over several stacked cardboard boxes. Remember, your home will be hallmarked with books. Take a child who has read 500 profound books and stand him next to a child who has seen 500 trite movies and the difference between those two children is staggering…like two different creatures from two different planets.
Whether your living space is provokingly small or bizarrely large, as an innovative flexible mother you can say along with the Apostle Paul, “I’ve learned in whatsoever state I’m in, therewith to make my family content!” (paraphrased very loosely).
Kitchen Tip: How to hand-wash dishes better
Some women have washed dishes for nearly sixty, seventy, eighty years and still are “winging it” in their old age! How could we, as women, do something three times a day and know so little about it? Let’s think it through thoroughly once and for all and get the best system down pat.
First, what’s the attitude? Do you dread doing dishes? What can you THINK to make the whole relentlessly repetitive affair more tolerable? To begin with, to overcome inertia, think about the hot sudsy water, not the dirty dishes. Then lead with your hands: just begin doing it. Think about whether you want to do it or not AFTERWARDS ...after it is all done! And then think about getting through the chore in record speed. You don’t want to spend forever in the kitchen doing dishes. You want to do them FAST and get out of there!
Let’s conquer doing the dishes by hand for those of you who don’t have a dishwasher, and to mentally equip the rest of you for when you attend potlucks, or your dishwasher breaks, or you are at someone else’s home who doesn’t have one. You’ve got to know how to do dishes quickly and efficiently.
Ideally, you need two large plastic dishpans that fill your sink space…one for washing and one for rinsing. You want to use these plastic tubs, simply because you can go faster! You don’t have to worry about chipping your sink or your dishes if they are surrounded with plastic. When your washing tub gets dirty, empty it, then pour your rinse water from the other tub into your dish tub, add a little more dishwashing soap, and start all over. Refresh your water frequently. To save space under your sink for more important things, when you’ve finished, shake the excess water off of both your plastic tubs and fling them on top of your refrigerator to store them there to air dry. Set the top one in perpendicular to the bottom one so they don’t get stuck together.
You’ll need four tools: a 12” bottle brush, an 8” scrubber brush with a tilted handle, a mild blue scrubber square (not a heavy-duty rough green one; those are rarely if ever needed), and a separate sponge. Because you want to be able to use BOTH sides of your sponge to endlessly mop up counter top water in and around the sink, don’t get the kind that has the scrubbie on the back side. Keep them separate.
Primarily use the tilted handled brush to clean most every dish and pan, aided by your blue scrubbie square for harder spots, reserving your sponge for primarily wiping counter tops and cleaning silverware. This keeps your sponge less gummed up and bacteria-laden from food particles. The brush is far easier to clean, and absorbs less long range crud.
Do not use dish rags. Only a small portion of a dish rag is used on a job, leaving a huge tail to drag around on your countertops and plates. It is the most inefficient of kitchen wannabees/inventions. Keep them in the linen closet and bathtub.
First, dry-clean all your dishes by scraping them with a spatula into the trash. Toss all your dirty silverware into a flat-bottomed plastic shoebox-sized container. (GET one of these; you’ll use it EVERY DAY.) If you toss your silverware into a bowl, the bowl invariably tips over spilling the heavy silverware all over the counter. If you toss the silverware onto a plate, it nearly always overruns the plate, falling off on all sides.
Wipe all grease with a facial tissue (far cheaper than a paper towel, and far less messy than coating all your other dishes in greasy water, as we discussed before).
You need three detergents: 1) NON-TOXIC liquid dish soap, 2) WHITE vinegar. (Never use white vinegar as food, but it makes a great cleaning agent to squirt in dirty pans. Use apple cider vinegar to eat, but use white vinegar to soak stains and stubborn stuck-on food, to wipe mirrors and windows and to clean your iron), and 3) Borax (a non toxic abrasive) for when needed (keep it available close by in a small dish or in a large-holed shaker).
If you are doing scores of pots and pans after a big Thanksgiving dinner, for example, spread a bath towel on your counter, take out your lower dishwasher drainer, and set it on the towel next to your little everyday dish drainer. This will provide ample extra room for a lot of things to air dry at once, allowing you to finish the overall job in half the time.
Take time to wash your blender/Vita-Mix™ and all pots and pans as soon as you empty the food out of them. If you have some food left over in the pan/blender, immediately empty it, too, into a jar or bowl so that you can plunge those big pieces into water right away. This produces far less work than scouring off all the stuck-on food later. Use the long tall brush to wash the blender, and use your little blue pad to scour the pans—and do it before you sit down to eat (wearing your rubber gloves).
Soak stubborn spots on the counter and stove top with soapy water dribbled over the spot with your sponge. Then go wash a few dishes…then return to those soaked spots and quickly wipe them up…this eliminates all necessity for elbow grease. Since water is a solvent, let it do your work for you. Soak each little grouping of dishes, too, while you are rinsing the prior group which you have let stack up in the second sink. Soak, clean, rinse. Multitask. If company is coming at any minute, wash the biggest things first. If time is on your side, wash the cleanest things first. Done.
When your children do dishes, teach them to hustle, not dilly-dally. Set the timer; shave their time; give rewards. A listless child at work is a drain on the entire atmosphere. Let them relax later, but not while doing a chore.
Sewing Tip: Alteration: Lengthening with a flair
If you have a shirt or dress to lengthen, don’t add the new piece to the very bottom. Instead, cut off the original bottom (about six inches of it), and put your added new piece there, replacing the other piece. Then attach the original skirt or dress piece that you JUST cut off, to the very bottom. If you’ll do the same to the sleeves you’ll make it all look deliberate, as if you didn’t need to lengthen a thing.
Marriage Tip: A charge to keep
Imagine that you were created to be a guardian angel—that you’ve been milling around Heaven, waiting for your call. Imagine that when the next child is born, God will assign you to that one child and give you detailed instructions to keep that child out of electrical sockets, mitigate his sufferings of all kinds, encourage his spirit, help him over all manner of mud puddles and influence him in righteousness for years and years with no let up. Now just apply that to your marriage and you’ll about have the perspective right on!
Think back to your wedding day and redo it. Instead of driving off into the sunset full of happy dreams about how all of your OWN needs will now be met, think instead that you were ASSIGNED to escort this one struggling man through life, to stay in the boat with him through ALL the rapids. When you think of it, no one ELSE will ever bother to pray for your husband as much as you will. No one else will ever strive as much to love him, understand him, sensitively confront him, adapt to him, or mega-influence him like you will. It is a tall job to escort an imperfect man through a long life. (And HE to escort an imperfect YOU!)
There are many aspects to loving with REAL love. An important one is simply LONGEVITY. The Father loves us with EVERLASTING love. If we are to be like Him, then it stands to reason that we would want to know something about this kind of steadfastness. This is your one chance in life to show to one human being the steady, undiminishing love of the Father, thoroughly, year in and year out. Set your unwavering commitment upon your spouse and you’ll find, in the end, to your great surprise, that it made a great woman of you at the same time. Marriage is all about discovering what YOU are made of, not your spouse.
We think: I can’t possibly get serious about having devotions because God will keep me praying/reading forever. We think, I’ll never get anything PRACTICAL done. But it was said of Daniel, who DID take devotions seriously, doing it not once but three times a day, “and after praying, Daniel rose up to go about the king’s business” (Daniel 8:27). God knows that you have business with the world. Do business with Him first. You’ll never regret it, in this life or in the next.
To browse the descriptions of scores of quick, inexpensive, practical boosts like these, click on the subject category tabs on the top of this page to see our homeschool resources.