My 10-Step, Zero Meltdown Plan for Grocery Shopping With Children

My 10 Step Zero Meltdown Plan for Grocery Shopping With Children

My heart went out to the poor thing.

The little dear was crying.

Screaming, really.

A total meltdown.

And I didn’t know who I felt more sorry for – the young child? Or his struggling mom?

It was a toss-up. They were both so miserable.

My husband and I were at the Costco check-out and I could hear him wailing all the way down the aisle. I think we all could hear him.

I knew what the mother felt like. You see, I’ve been there. Except that I didn’t just have one child.  I had three, maybe four, and it wasn’t any fun.

In truth, I’m not an enthusiastic grocery shopper in the first place, but then to add a crying kid or two?

Well, I think I’d rather we went without food.

But as the rest of my family had a different opinion, I figured I’d better come up with a plan that worked for all of us.

A Zero Meltdown Plan.

And I’m going to share it with you today.

You know, just in case you ever need it . . . or know someone else who might.

My 10-Step, Zero Meltdown Plan for Grocery Shopping With Young Children

1.   Feed your children first . And then yourself. Never go shopping when you’re hungry. Never, ever.

2.  Leave when you’re all well-rested. Your kids. And yourself. (You knew I was going to add that, didn’t you.) Go in the morning, or after naps, but avoid going right before naps or close to bedtime.

3.   Write up your grocery list before you ever go out the door. This list is your strategy plan and you have to stick to it. Take care of all the decision-making before you even get there.

4.   Decide on your expectations for your children (does not apply to babies). Come up with a policy that you believe is reasonable and clear. Things like, No grabbing items off the shelves and No begging for particular food items. No whining (goes for mommy too) and Always stick close to mom. That kind of stuff.

5.   Explain instructions before you leave the house. Sit your children down and slowly and lovingly walk through your expectations with them. Don’t be in a rush. This is important.

6.  Outline the consequences of not following the Grocery Store Policy. Again, slowly and lovingly. The consequences will vary from family to family (and I highly recommend getting your husband’s input, if that’s an option).

7.   Review instructions again before leaving the vehicle. Yes, even if the grocery store is only 15 minutes from the house. Children can have such short memories with these things.

*Let me add that it’s easy to assume that our kids know what is expected from them, but this is not always the case. We have to spell it out to them. And repeat it. And repeat. And . . . :)

8.  Get your shopping done as quickly as possible. Not necessarily rushing, but this is not the time to browse or meander. If you want a leisurely time of it, then arrange to go sometime without your young children.

9.   Be willing to follow through on consequences. Seriously. If you miss #9? Well, it kind of defeats the purpose of #4, #5, and #6.

10.  Reward your children for behaving. Personally, I’m a big fan of rewards! Not bribes, not spoiling, just a simple celebration of a job well done. Maybe a treat, a special privilege, or even just an excited phone-call to daddy telling him, We did it! Yay!!

Real-Life Homemaking Series*Bonus: Reward yourself.  Highly recommended. Your celebration may vary a bit from your child’s, but a mommy could use a little treat now and then too.

*Extra, extra bonus:  Teach your children about shopping as you go along. Talk to them and explain what you’re doing and why.

And before you know it, they’ll be doing the shopping for you. I say this because I’ve basically worked myself out of that job.

And that’s a reward in and of itself! Big yay!!

*Any tips you’d add here? Questions or concerns? I always love hearing from you!

In His grace,
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Teaching Our Children The 10 Habits of Happiness

Teaching Our Children the 10 Habits of Happiness

The goal of parenting is not a happy child, but to turn out a successful adult.

That ‘s what our friend informed us as we all sat around the dinner table together. Two couples enjoying a fine meal and fine china. Two couples without children.

And you know something? At first, it seemed to make sense.

Our friend expounded on his theory. I mean, what makes a child happy? If you give a kid a piece of candy, then he’s happy. If you don’t, then he’s not. You can’t build a life around that.

Now isn’t that the truth!

Never mind that the gentleman didn’t actually have any children of his own. He was older and wiser. A sage looking on from a distance.

But then Matthew and I went on to have children ourselves and our view changed a bit. Quite a bit. Suddenly we didn’t see anything wrong with wanting our child to be happy.

And, tell me again, how does happiness conflict with being a successful adult?

Maybe we wanted too much.

But my husband and I wanted our children to enjoy both a happy childhood and a successful adulthood.

We started to consider the possibility that the two of these went together – even went hand-in-hand. We began to suspect that learning how to be happy could be a very important skill to take into adulthood.

What if we were to  pass on to our children the habits of happiness as a gift? Something  that they could carry with them wherever God took them in life.

The 10 Habit of Happiness to Teach Our Children

1.   Happiness is not found in things. Things will never make you happy. Never. Stuff will always remain just that: stuff. So don’t get drawn into the Stuff Game – it’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds.

2.   Happiness is a choice. Here’s the deal: happiness is not something you “find” or that “happens to you”. The beauty of happiness is that it is a choice you get to make. Every day. So why not choose to be happy?

3.   Happiness is not about getting your way. We think we’ll be content if we finally get what we want, or if things go our way. But that’s not how it works. Getting our way all the time is rarely as satisfying as we think it will be.

4.   Happiness grows out of thankfulness. If you make it your habit to be grateful each day for the blessings around you – whether big or small – you will find that you’ll become a happier person. The secret  is simply being  thankful for what you have right now.

5.   Happiness is found in looking after others. Surprised? Often, we assume that happiness is found in looking after ourselves, but the irony is that we are the ones who are blessed . . . when we are blessing others.

But he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he. ~ Prov. 14:21

6.   Happiness isn’t a personality trait, but a character quality. Some people seem happy as if that’s just the way they were made. Not so. Happiness is available to all for the taking. You can learn to be happy –  much like you learn to be honest, kind, and thoughtful.

7.   Happiness is found more in relationship, than in achievement.  While there’s nothing wrong with achieving goals, never let those goals come before the people you love.  Always invest in relationships more than fame or fortune.

8.   Happiness means giving it your best. And resting in that. Doesn’t have to be perfect.

9.   Happiness doesn’t depend on circumstances.  You don’t have to let your situation determine your happiness. For inspiration, read about people like Corrie Ten Boom or Darlene Deibler Rose and you’ll see what I mean.

10.   True happiness is always grounded in the God of Hope.  He is the only real source of true joy.

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God.  ~ Psalm 146:5

The Jacobson Family Having Fun

So now we’re enjoying raising a bunch of happy kids.

And aiming those happy kids toward a successful adulthood.

Looking to the God of Hope together.

In His grace,
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How to Help Your Fall-Apart Child…Pull It Together

How to Help Your Fall Apart Child Pull It Together
Any advice for this weary mom?

She was tired, discouraged, and a little disappointed. Wondered if she was doing it right.

My friend went on to explain. Her 12-year-old daughter had been helping with the dishes since she was about three. But as their family size grew, she now had to handwash a few extra dishes, mainly pots and pans. Not too difficult of a chore.

Except that she kept forgetting. And had to be called back to the sink to do them.

And 100% of the time she threw a crying fit about it.

My friend nearly despaired.

The last thing I ever wanted was to raise kids who are spoiled – too good or too lazy to put in some work. Is this normal, kid behavior? I mean, I can understand not being thrilled with doing chores. *I* don’t love doing chores. But to scream and cry about it?

I feel like a horrible mom. Am I expecting too much from her? I know she is capable of washing the dishes, but her attitude . . . ?

Any advice for this weary mom?

Ah yes, the Fall-Apart Child.

While this can be frustrating to just about any parent, it can be especially so to the more no-nonsense mom.

Downright exasperating to a mom like me.

Yet God saw fit to give me a Fall-Apart Child. Probably so I’d be more sympathetic to all the parents out there with fall-apart children—very sympathetic.

The short answer?

Yes, it is normal. At least for the fall-apart child.

Are you expecting too much?

No, your expectations aren’t too high,  but it might take more time and effort to help this child learn to pull it together.

So if a child is struggling with cheerfully responding, the first thing I’d do  is examine the possible reasons.

*Because the original question was in regards to a daughter, I will refer to the child as “she”, but recognize the same holds equally true for a son.

Here are some possibilities:

1. She is working too much. She’s expected to do too much around the house for a child her age. It’s a burden for her. In that case, lighten her load.

2. She is not working enough. She’s become “spoiled” so that work is cramping her style. In that case, I’d cheerfully add jobs to her list. Not only does she have to do the extra pots, she can do the next meal’s dishes all by herself.

3. She doesn’t understand. She doesn’t understand or embrace the connection between her contribution to the home and the blessing it is to you and her family. You might need to help her grasp the gift that it is to her family.

Helping the Fall Apart Child Pull It Together

Some Ways to Help Your Fall-Apart Child . . . Learn to Pull It Together:

Tie her to your apron strings. Which is to say pull her in closely by your side. Work together, play together, spend time together. I have one daughter in particular that I’ve had to do this with at age 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15. Umm…you get the idea. She just seemed to need more tying than the others.

For her, Relationship speaks more strongly than responsibility.

Take time to SLOW down. I’ve even put a halt to all extra activities and focus solely on attitudes for a period of time. Because rather than rushing off to the next event or appointment, I have the time (and patience) to get to the bottom of the attitude issue. It makes for a slow week or two, but it can sure pay off.

Get creative. Sometimes I’ll try something unusual and do things like offer to wash the dishes with her. Or even for her. Remaining calm, kind, and simply offering a gift of grace.

Communicate confidence. My daughter later confided in me that it really mattered whether I communicated if I thought she would conquer…or if I doubted if she’d ever really make it.

Confession: I had no idea that it was obvious to her how weary she made me and I certainly underestimated how strong the impact would be. She needed to know that I believed in her.

So if you have a Fall-Apart Child?

Look her in the  eyes – ignore the tears and fussing – and communicate that you are confident that she can to this and that she is stronger than she knows. Be that powerful voice in the heart and mind of your child.

And now for a word of hope to the weary mom.

Just because she’s this way at 12 (or 5 or 15 or whatever) doesn’t mean she’ll be like this forever.

I know because I’ve watched my Fall-Apart Child grow tremendously since she was 12. In fact, you’d never guess now that she fell apart. Ever. What was once her weakness has become her strength.  She can climb mountains and suffer severe trials  - without throwing a single crying fit.

And the same with your Fall-Apart Child.

She will grow and she will conquer.

She just needs your patient, steady instruction to help her find her strength.

She’ll pull it together.

With you by her side.

*Do you have a Fall-Apart Child? Or maybe you were one yourself? Please share any insights you have on what encourages you and/or your child!

In His grace,
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6 Things Every Sister is Really Hoping to Hear from Her Brother

6 Things Every Sister is Really Hoping to Hear from Her Brother

I am a middle child.

The only sister between two brothers.

And we grew up the way most families grew up in our neighborhood. Sometimes we fought and sometimes we had fun. We played board games together, rode the bus to school, went on camping trips, and launched huge pillow fights when our parents weren’t home (sorry about that, mom!).

I don’t remember my brothers every being truly mean to me and I knew, deep down, that they loved me.

But we didn’t really talk much about that.

Okay, we didn’t talk about it at all. It just wasn’t cool or comfortable for brothers and sisters to say that kind of stuff to each other.

So I had to wait until we were older – as in, grown-up, married-with-families-of-our-own, older – to hear that they loved and appreciated me.

And by then I was glad to hear it. Really, really glad.

But I don’t want our daughters to have to wait until they’re married and moved out to hear from their brothers. I want our sons to say what should be said now, while they’re still living in the same house together.

Because although he might not realize it, a good brother can make all the difference in a girl’s life.

Why wait until years down the road – if ever – to tell your sister what she needs to hear?

So, for all you dear brothers out there, this is for you . . . . 

6 Things Every Sister is Really Hoping to Hear from Her Brother

You are valued. You mean a lot to me and, if I’ve never told you this before, I’m thankful to have you as my sister. You’re the best!

You are lovely. And I don’t only mean “pretty” (although I think you’re that too), but that you’re a really lovely person. You bring beauty into all our lives.

You are smart. I know we don’t always see things the same way, but I like how you think and appreciate hearing your thoughts about life and ideas and adventures.

You are protected. Because I’ll do all I can to look after you. I’m watching out for you, Sis.

You are gifted. You are one talented lady and I admire your many strengths. You’re so good at whatever you set out to do and I believe you’ll go and do great things some day.

You are loved. In case you’ve been wondering, yes, I love you. And always will. No matter where life takes us and what God has planned for our future.

I will always love you, Sis.

Then you just might prepare yourself for the big hug that will probably come your way.

Because sisters can be like that.

And then you might want to hug her back.

Because you can almost bet that she’s really hoping for that too.

So go ahead and say it. A brother can make all the difference in a girl’s heart. 

What Every Sister is Really Hoping to Hear From Her Brother
*This is the companion post to 6 Things Every Brother Needs to Hear from His Sister which was in response to a young reader’s original question:  What does my brother need to hear from me?

In His grace,
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100 Ways to Love eBooks Tiny*Our books are now available:  100 Ways to Love Your Husband by Lisa Jacobson and 100 Ways to Love Your Wife by Matthew L. Jacobson

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