How to make the most out of time with Kids

My oldest daughter turning 10 this year and I am freaking out a bit. So, I want to make sure that I make the most out of the time I have with my kids. In this post, I will share 10 ways you can make the most out of your time with kids.

Picture of a girl who is lying down and  has blonde curly hair. She has a smile on her face and has her hands on the face with her elbows on the ground. Above her picture are the words: how to make the most out of the time you have with kids.

It seems impossible that she is 10. The time since her birth has flown by and every day I realize that we don’t have that much time with her.

We only have 8 more years before she is an adult.

That is not that much time!

The Solution

10 years may seem like a long time, but realistically they will fly by and before I know it we will be celebrating her 18th birthday and she will be going out into the world.

The idea makes me miss her already and makes me mourn the time I wasted and have not taken advantage of.

So, the only solution is to make the most out of the time we have left with her.

But making the most of the time can be hard, that is why I made a list of the things you can do to make the most of the time you have.

I have also created a free resource that will help you plan out your time.

10 Ways to Make the most out of the Time with Kids

1. Plan Ahead

I am not the biggest planner, but I find that blocking off certain days for activities in my week helps me be more productive and able to spend quality time with kids.

How I plan my week/month

To plan out my week and month I make a list of all the recurring things I want to do.

My list looks like this:

  • Date night/ 1 night a week
  • Husbands night out/ 1 night a week
  • Children program/ 1 night a week
  • Mother-daughter date with Meredith/ once a month
  • Mother-daughter date with Madeleine/ once a month
  • Daddy daughter date with Meredith/ once a month
  • Daddy daughter date with Madeleine/ once a month
  • Daddy son date with Seth/ once a month
  • Mother-son date with Seth/ once a month
  • Family fun night/ once a week

Putting it all together

Once I have my list, I then fill out my calendar.

So for us, our month may look something like this.

2. Put your Family First

When my husband and I make our calendars, we put our family first. That means that we will in our family time first and then if there are slots left then we add to what we want to do.

3. Make time with kids

When something is important to you, then time is not a factor.

Each of us has so much time, but we always think that we don’t have enough time.

The truth is that we have all the time we want for the things we like.

I never seem to lack time to blog, write or spend time with friends, but always use lack of time as an excuse to spend quality time with my kids or clean my house.

To make time with kids, I have to make that a priority and maybe say no to something else.

4. Don’t overcomplicate things

Quality time with your husband or time with kids does not need to be elaborate or complicated.

When I was younger, my dad would go grocery shopping every Saturday morning. One morning he invited me to come with him. We both enjoyed it so much that it became our ritual. Every Saturday morning I would go grocery shopping with my dad.

It was a great time together and I will never forget it.

So, it’s not so much what you do with each other, but that you spend time together and your child feels loved and paid attention to.

But time with your child can also be more planned out and special. These times may take a bit more planning but are always worth it.

There are so many things you can do with your kids.

Things to consider when planning a date with your child

  • What does your child enjoy?
  • How much energy do YOU have?
  • What will the weather be like?
  • How much money will you spend?
  • Do you have transportation
  • How will nap-time affect the activity?

5. Be Flexible

When planning time with Kids, it’s important to be flexible.

Life has a way of throwing curveballs and unexpected things. When that happened, then it’s important to be flexible.

When my children were younger- I would make plans to go to the park or something else. But then my child would be sick or need a nap when I had planned to go out. In those moments, we need to learn to take our cues from our children and have flexibility.

It’s OK to change your plans or even drop a date night. The most important factor is that you don’t make skipping quality time a habit.

6. Talk to your child

When spending time with kids, it’s important to take the time to talk to your child. This is a necessary step in getting to know your child.

When you talk to your child, you learn all sorts of things. This such as their likes, their dislikes, and what they enjoy doing.

You can also learn what type of time they want to spend with you and whether or not they feel like they are spending enough time with you or need more.

All 3 of my kids love spending time with me. But, my eldest likes to sit and chat, while my younger 2 just want uninterrupted mom snuggles.

When you know what they love to do, it’s easier to plan quality time with them.

7. Plan with your child

My oldest daughter loves to bake, draw and sow. I try to do one of those things with her once a week.

But before we do, we will sit down together and look for ideas to inspire us.

Even the planning time is quality time. It shows your child that you love them and that you are excited about the things they want to learn and do with you.

We love to bake together so I made a private Pinterest board with all the things we want to make together. Then, when shopping day comes around, we have lots of recipes to choose from and we don’t waste time looking for recipes when it’s time for us to start baking.

8. Don’t push your child too far

If you are doing something with your child and you notice that they are not enjoying it, stop doing it! It’s that simple.

Don’t feel bad either if it’s something you thought they would love – kids are unpredictable!

They may love something one day and be indifferent to it the next.

When you know your child, it will be easy for you to know when they feel angry or worried about an activity.

When that happens, you can make the call as to how long you want your child to try and learn something and when it’s time to stop and try again another time.

9. Try again

There have been many times as a mother that I have tried to do something with my children and it was a complete fail.

The activity either stressed me out as a mom or was too much for my kids.

But, the negative experience does not mean that we should never do that again.

It just means that maybe it’s something you don’t do for a while and try again when the kids are older or you are more rested.

For example: when my oldest daughter was younger, I took out the play dough. I was so excited for her to play with it, but it was a complete mess.

The stuff got stuck in the carpet, on her foot and all over the house.

It got too much for me.

It took me a few years, but eventually,I brought out playdough again.

The next time I tried, the kids were older and I was more rested so it went so much better.

It’s OK when things go badly. You know your limits and it’s important to listen to them. But, don’t let one negative experience keep you from trying again.

10. Take the time

I hope that by reading this post you have come to understand that what you do with your child does not matter as much as just spending time with your child.

Your children just want to spend time with you. They are going to love anything you do with them because it’s with you.

Free Resources

To help you make the most of your time with your child, I have made this free planning guide. Click here to get your free parenting resources.

Check it out and let it help you make the most of the time you have left.

How do you make the most out of the time you have with your kids?

Make sure to comment below. I would love to know what you have to say.

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4 Reasons why I fail at Dieting

I have never had any luck at sticking to a diet. I fail at dieting all the time.

For me, it’s the same thing. Any weight I lose on a diet, I easily gain back.

My parents go on a diet about 2-3 times a year. Each time, they lose 10 or more pounds and look great. The problem is, that after each diet, they go back to old habits and gain the weight back. That’s why they have to do diet again and again.

4 Reasons why I fail at Dieting. 
#thenewdiet, #healthyeating, #healthydinner, #dinnerplans, #menuplanning

4 Reasons why I fail at Dieting:

1. I love carbs

I grew up in France where every day we would go to the bakery and purchase fresh French bread. A meal was not complete without bread. To this day, I still love fresh French bread. Who wouldn’t!! It’s amazing.

But my obsession with carbs does not end there!

I love pasta too! When people ask me what food I could eat every day for my whole life, my answer is pasta.

The idea of not eating bread or pasta makes me so sad.

2. I love sugar

My idea of a perfect night includes sitting in front of the TV and eating candy.

I love candy and all types of sugar. My body is so used to sugar that when I do t consume large portions of it, I get headaches and feel like crap. I am seriously addicted.

3. I have no self-control

Every day I tell myself that I will not eat certain foods. But the problem is that if there is candy in the house, I will find it and eat it. When we get candy, I always tell myself that I will only eat half of what I normally do and then eat the whole bowl.

People might say, then don’t buy candy! That would be a good solution but my husband is also a sugar addict and will bring some home.

4. I set the bar too high

Every so often, I will look at myself in the mirror and think that it’s time to get in shape. I plan to eat right and exercise every day.

But I must be setting my goals too high since I have never been able to follow through.

Life gets in the way and I don’t know how to exercise with my kids around or when I just don’t want to move. I have other things I would rather do and it all gets pushed aside.

Once I stop it’s just easier to not start.

Similar Posts

2. Things I can do to be healthier

1. Give myself grace

Change takes time and it’s not easy changing years of bad habits. When my kids were small, I barely could consider cleaning the house when they happened, let alone working out. My head was not in a great space and I only knew one way to relax.

Now, I am in a much better space. It seems that sleep makes me such a better person. Funny how that works.

I have to stop beating myself up and give myself room to fail and try again. Room to live and have flexibility.

I seem to be an all-or-nothing girl. If I can’t do it to my expectation then what’s the point?

Maybe it’s time to stop thinking like that.

Maybe it’s time I give myself grace. If I fail, it does not mean I stop, it just means I try again.

2. Meal plan

I have always struggled with meal planning- read this blog to see why it’s so hard for me to do.

I know many people have had success with meal planning and meal prep but it’s never been something that I have been good at.

If you struggle with diets and you struggle with meal planning, I highly recommend you take the first step to a healthy life and get your free healthy . 

In the comments below share your struggles with diets and what steps you have taken to be healthier. Please share this blog post with others. Thank you.

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The Best Parenting Advice Ever

When you become a mom, you get lots of parenting advice.

In this post, I will share with you the2 best pieces of parenting advice I ever got.

When I had my first child, I was determined to not make any mistakes and to be the perfect parent.

I had an image in my head as to the type of parent I wanted to be and how I wanted my kids to turn out. Anything other than the picture I had meant that I was a  failure.

I was determined to find “the perfect” parenting formula and follow it. I had this idea that if I did things a certain way then my kids would turn out the way I wanted them too.

As I read this, I see the craziness of my thought process. But, at the time, I was so stressed out about finding the perfect way.

Thankfully, I had seasoned parents around me that gave me great advice. I would talk to them about discipline and parenting and got great wisdom from people who had gone down this path before me.

Along the way, I got lots of advice, but there are two things that I will never forget and that were the best pieces of advice I could have gotten.

2 Best Pieces of Parenting Advice

1. Perfection does not guarantee perfection

As a mother, I always want the best for my kids. I want to see them succeed and I want to have a close and loving relationship with them. Along with that, I really don’t want them to make bad choices or go down a path that will lead to pain for them.

When I was a young parent, I had this idea that if I was the perfect mother, then I would then have perfect children. If I loved them a certain way then I would guarantee a good outcome.

This idea stressed me out because I had yet to figure out what that way was. I also felt guilty for not being perfect and spent a lot of time afraid that my imperfections would hurt my children in the long run.

When my eldest daughter was one, I went to a ladies’ retreat. One of my friends was leading a session on teens. Since I did not have a teenager, I was not planning on going, but my friend suggested I come anyway.

I am so glad I did!!

What I learned

At that session, she said something that helped me so much.

She said: Jesus is the perfect father, yet look at His children.

This idea set me free. The burden of perfection was taken off my shoulder as I realized this amazing truth. If Jesus can live a perfect life and be the perfect father and His kids don’t follow, what chance do I have?

I had set this ridiculous standard in my mind! Now, I was able to see better. I knew that even if I could be a perfect parent, it would still not guarantee that my kids would not make mistakes.

I had this lightbulb moment where I realized that my children are their own people and their actions are not controlled or determined by my actions.

How I act might help or hinder what my kids do, but the end results do not lie on my shoulders.  I am not responsible for the decisions they make.

2. Focus on love

There are many types of parenting styles but they generally fall into 3 categories: Permissive, authoritative, and authoritarian.

In general, one allows everything, one is extremely strict and the other falls in between.

When I was doing some reading on parenting, I knew that I wanted to be an authoritative parent as it’s generally known to be best for the child.

I had a hard time trying to fit all my theories into any of the 3 categories and was stressing out about the type of parent I would be.

I had a friend come to my rescue, yet again, and give me a great perspective.

She said: It does not really matter what type of parent you are as long as you focus on loving your child.

At first, I thought that this idea seemed too simple. But then, the more I thought about it and the more I read, the more I realized the truth of it.

According to this article in aha parenting, “Children who feel loved and cherished thrive. That doesn’t mean kids who ARE loved – plenty of kids whose parents love them don’t thrive. The kids who thrive are the ones who FEEL loved, accepted and cherished for exactly who they are.” 

So, that’s what I started doing. I read books that helped me focus on loving my child in a way that made them feel loved.

The Best Parenting Books

As a parent, I love to read books. Over the years, I have read many books. There are 2 books that I love and recommend to every parent that helped me from these 2 lessons I learned.

These books include:

Parenting is hard! It’s full of hurdles and mistakes, love, and so much more. My mindset when I started off did not help me. Thankfully, I was able to change my mindset and focus on the things that really mattered and that would help my children grow.

My eldest is only 10, so I have no real proof that these things have helped her, but my mindset has helped me feel better about the way I parent. I am less stressed and don’t carry the guilt of my mistakes. I am able to seek forgiveness, move on and focus on loving my kids.

What is the best piece of parenting advice you ever got?

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the best parenting advice, parenting tips, parenting tips for teens, #parentingadvice, #parentingtips,
Parenting tips, Parenting Advice

How to teach your Kids to Love God

My biggest wish for all 3 of my kids is that they know and love God. My deepest desire is for them to have a relationship with Him. Therefore, I regularly ask myself, how do to teach your kids to love God?

In this post, I will share with you 5 things you can do to teach your kids to Love God.

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My Relationship with God

I love God because I know Him. I know who He is and understands what He has done for me. Our kids will learn to love God the same way.

Since I don’t want to get this wrong, I spend a lot of time praying about how I can teach my kids the love of God. Thankfully, the Bible has plenty of wisdom to guide our parenting. Through studying the Bible and prayer, I’ve come up with 5 ways to teach your kids the love of God.

One caveat before we dive in; you can do all these things and be a great parent but your children may still choose to not love God. You cannot force your children to love God, but you can make it easier for them to know Him.

5. Ways to Teach Your Kids to Love God

1. Read the Bible to them.

The best way to learn about God is to read His word—the story of His love for us. The bible is full of wisdom given directly from God. In today’s world, we get lots of advice. But, the best place to turn to is God’s word.

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 

(2 Timothy 3:14-17 NKJV)

If we continually turn to God’s word with our kids, it will teach them how they too can use God’s word in their lives.

There are many other ways to teach your kids to love God. I have partnered up with Kira who blogs at Joy Pursued and you can  read the rest  here 

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Free Resources

Do you have a hard time putting time aside to spend time with God? If so, fill in the form below and get access to free parenting resources.

8 Strategies to not let housework ruin your marriage

Have you ever let a dirty house or any other type of housework get the better of you and led you to fight with your spouse?

Me too!

Today, I am going to share 8 strategies I use that keep me from ruining my marriage over housework.

 

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My Weakness

I have a confession to make: I  hate housework.

I don’t enjoy cleaning and I wish I could leave it to someone else.

Since I have 3 kids, there is always a mess to clean up. They love to just up empty toy boxes for the sake of it and skater crumbs around the house.

I often feel like I am the only one in the house who cleans or who puts any effort into cleaning.

Since having kids, it has been harder to not let these issues become big barriers in my relationship with my husband.

When I am upset about the house and the mess, it is tempting to blame him for the mess and get upset.

What I am going to do to change

Getting mad at my husband has never solved the problem. If anything, it has made things worse. Because now, not only is my house still a mess but I have to mend fences with people in the house.

So, instead of letting housework get in the way of my marriage, I have tried to implement a few strategies.

8 Strategies to stop housework from ruining my marriage 

1. Work on your strengths

During the first month of our marriage, my husband and I bought a new dining room table and 8 chairs. We brought the furniture home and started putting things together.

Stereotypically, men are better at putting things together. We soon realized that in our case that was not true. We found that I was better at reading directions and knowing what parts fit together and my husband was better at doing the heavy lifting.

Since that discovery, we have never had an argument while trying to put together furniture.

We understand each other’s weaknesses and strengths and we work accordingly.

Workload should not be decided by the stereotypical gender lines. They should be decided on who is the best person on the team to do the job.

My husband has a hard time keeping track of our finances and paying bills, so I do that. But, my husband is the superior bathroom cleaner so he does that.

2. Let it be

When my husband did the dishes for the first time, I almost had a nervous breakdown.

In my eyes, he was doing it all wrong.

The way he was doing the dishes was so different than the way I would do them.

But, instead of making him change his ways or be frustrated over how he was doing the work, I let it go.

I chose to be thankful he was doing the dishes and let him do it his way.

Sometimes it’s best to just let it go instead of fighting or nagging or pestering.

Letting things go is better for your relationship and will build teamwork and respect between the two of you.

If you choose to nag and nitpick, his ego will be hurt and you will be creating distance between each other.

3. Communicate

My husband is not perfect and neither am I.

So when things don’t get done around the house I try not to get angry and I don’t seek to get even.

Over the years I have learned that the best thing to do is to calm down and talk about it.

So, when the time is right, I will look at my husband and ask: Hun, can you please wash the pots tonight?

When I speak gently, he is more likely to respond in a loving way than get angry himself.

4. Split up the work

Even though I am a stay-at-home mom, the household responsibilities don’t all fall to me.

As a couple, we decided early on what chores I would do and what he would do.

The split of work does not have to be 50/50, but it is important that you are both happy with the workload.

5. Be Flexible

Even though we did decide what we were each happy doing, our chores are not set in stone for the duration of our life.

If we are not happy with how things are being done then we talk about it and look to change our responsibilities and try something new.

6. Compromise

I have a long list of things that need to be done around the house.

I would love it if I could get all those things done in one day.

But I am the worst homemaker out there and I hate housework.

The chances of things getting done right away or all the time are slim.

So, I have to compromise with myself to change the list and make it smaller.

It’s easier for me to feel like I have achieved something if my list is broken up into manageable tasks.

Since I give myself a break, I think it’s best to also give my husband a break.

Sometimes he starts a task late at night and wants to finish, but I know he is tired and has had a long day.

Instead of expecting him to finish, I tell him he can finish the next day.

7. Choose love

There are so many ways to love your spouse in housework.

For me, coming home to a clean house is a recurring dream.

I would love to come home from a morning away and find the toys away and the floors clean.

When reality hits and I find the house in the worst state than I left, I choose love.

I thank my husband for taking care of the kids and for doing the best job that he could.

Another way I love my spouse is by doing his chores for him.

As I have said, his job is to clean the kitchen after dinner.

One of his least favourite tasks is cleaning the pots and pans.

Oftentimes, he leaves this task for last or does not do it at all.

Instead of getting mad, I love him by doing the pots and pans and expecting nothing in return.

He comes home and he sees the work I have done and knows that I have just done an act of love.

My actions is also a good way to tell my husband that I respect him for the work he does outside the home and that understand that he is tired from a long day.

8. Choose who your cleaning for

I often forget that I am not really doing this for my children or for my husband.

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.”

Colossians 3:23 NKJV

If I change my heart and work for The Lord, then chores become an opportunity to serve God, to worship Him and to thank Him for all that He has given us. It makes the chores *almost* enjoyable. 

Housework is never-ending but it does not need to be a battle or something that can ruin your relationships. Before you blow up at your kids or your husband for not doing something you want them to, go back and refer to these 8 strategies. I know they will help you. 

In the comments, share how you keep household duties from ruining your marriage. Please share this post with friends and family. Thank you. 

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Life Lessons from Kids: jealousy

Since becoming a parent, I have been learning some pretty awesome life lessons. This week, I learned about jealousy.

One of the things I love most about having kids is seeing them learn and watch them grow.

But, over the last seven years, my kids are not the only ones who have changed. I have too. Some change has come due to watching my children and seeing something in them that I am lacking.

Well, I learned something about myself watching my 4-year-old daughter.

life-lessons-from-kids

The scenario   

My eldest daughter has gone back to school. She just started second grade, and my husband wanted to have some special one on one time with her before she started. One Sunday after church they had a quick bite to eat and went on their way.

They left the house without much fanfare around 1:30. Since it was her showtime, my younger daughter did not even notice that her sister was gone. At around 4 pm, I called my husband to ask him if he was coming home for dinner and that’s when he informed me of their dinner plans.

He was in speakerphone so my 4-year-old heard the whole thing.

She had been missing her sister so she asked: where are you? What are you doing?

That is when my youngest daughter got the full report. She heard that her sister had seen a movie and was going to go to Wendy’s for dinner.

During the conversation, I was getting emotionally ready for a full-blown tantrum.

But it didn’t come.

Her response

When my eldest told her sister what she was going to have for dinner: a hamburger and fries, my youngest daughter’s response was: yeah!!

She was truly happy and excited for her older sister. Then, when she heard about the movie, she was still happy!

Her response blew me away.

My 4-year-old was excited and happy about somebody else’s good fortune.

My lesson:

Watching this happen made me ask a hard question.

How often am I truly happy for people when good things happen to them?

After spending some time thinking this over, the ugly truth hit me pretty hard. I am hardly ever truly happy for someone else’s good fortune.

When good things happen to people, my gut response is usually envy and jealousy.

Jealousy

As I thought about my daughter and started composing this blog post, I wanted to know: what is the opposite of jealousy? I wasn’t sure and actually had to look it up.

So I went to my favourite word sight word hippo and looked it up.

According to them, the opposite of jealousy is to be content.

Content: in a state of peaceful happiness, Satisfied with a certain level of achievement, good fortune, etc., and not wishing for more

When I saw the definition, I understood why my gut reaction is usually jealousy and envy. It’s because I don’t feel satisfied and I don’t feel like I have good fortune.

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Contentment?

Since this all just happened, I still don’t have all the answers.

I truly feel like The Lord used my child to show me that I am not naturally content and that I obviously have some work to do.

God wants us to be content.

Philippians 4:10-13 NKJV

“But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Ask yourself these questions:

  • When good things happen to people, am I truly happy for them? Why/Why not?
  • What steps can I take to be more content with my life?

I hope this challenges you as it did me.

In the comments, let me know what life lessons you have learned from your kids.

Please share this post with friends and family. Thank you.

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6 things You Can do To Create Memories

I love to create memories, but I hate getting my picture taken.

In this post, I want to share how I started becoming afraid and the 6 things I am doing to change my behaviour.

A mother holding her child. Both faces are facing the camera. The picture has text overlay that says: 6 things you can do to create memories

I am full of fear that I will look back and only see how fat and bad I look.

My continual negative thinking has kept me from creating and keeping memories for my kids.

Where did this fear come from?

As a Christian, I have been told that I should not think highly of myself.

This is thought using this verse:

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to
but to think soberly, as God has dealt  each
measure of faith.
Romans 12:3 (NKJV)

What does Humility mean?

When I have heard people preach this verse, I have always taken it to mean that I should think of myself as dumb, unworthy, low, small and so on.

But, as I have become older, I have come to realize that this verse is not telling us that we can’t think of ourselves as talented, beautiful, smart and so on.

What this verse is teaching us to consider ourselves next to God. The verse is a reminder to us.

People do often think of themselves as smart and they forget that they are not smarter than God.

The verse reminds us that we can think highly of ourselves but that we always need to remember that we are not better, bigger, or smarter than God.

I am slowly coming to understand that I can think of myself in positive terms, but it’s hard to change a mindset that I have had for so many years.

Consequences of low self-esteem

Having such low self-esteem comes with some consequences.

A years ago my mother turned 60. As a gift, my siblings and I  put together a book of memories and pictures of her.

As I was going through all the pictures I had of her, I realized that there were only a few pictures of just the two of us. We create memories but we have no evidence.

There were a dozen or so family shots and lots of pictures of us kids. But not many pictures of just me and my mom, or pictures of just her.

I love every single picture of my mom. In them, I see her love, her beauty, her character and so much more. The pictures bring back many of the memories we created and fill the memory blanks.

Why am I missing?

Today, we have cameras on our phones and carry them everywhere we go. We create memories of the food we have eaten and the flights we have taken. We take them out and document every aspect of our lives

But there seems to be a trend in the pictures I see: moms are mostly missing from the pictures. Moms are the ones taking the pictures and never in front of the cameras.

So I started to wonder why.

Every time I see a picture of myself I see my unruly hair, my makeup-free face. I see that my clothes are not in style and don’t make me look my best. The weight I have gained since having children is more evident.

I see so many other things that I don’t particularly like about myself.

The truth: I hate pictures of myself.

I am so used to not thinking highly of myself that my mindset keeps me from having my picture taken.

6 things you can do to create memories

1. Change my Mindset

When I think of the lack of pictures of my mom, I feel at a loss. As I get older, I don’t have easy access to my memories and I love looking at pictures and seeing things from the post.

Even though that’s how I feel about my mom: when the opportunity comes for me to have a picture taken, I shy away.

The exercise of looking through my old pictures showed me that I can’t let all my excuses keep me from having my picture taken.

I try to put myself in my daughter’s shoes 30 years from now and wonder if maybe she will wonder where all the photos of her mother are.

Maybe my children will want more pictures of me and pictures of me with them.

Instead of shying away from pictures, deliberately take pictures of yourself with your children and your spouse on a regular basis.

2. Remember the Truth

The first step to changing my mindset is to remember the truth.

I made a list of 3 truths I need to remember:

  1. Don’t let my fears stop me and to let pictures be taken of me.
  2. I have to remember that pictures of me are not for me. They are for my kids and other people who love me.
  3. I need to remember that my thoughts are ie: It’s all in my head. I might not like the way I look, but it’s a lie.

When my kids, or people who love me, look at pictures of me they find me beautiful and love me.

They love seeing pictures of me because it documents my presence in their lives and that I have loved them from the start.

Even bough I may hate most pictures I am in, one day, I will be thankful for them. Maybe not today, but 3,5,10 years from now I will look back at the picture and smile. I will forget that I thought of myself as fat or ugly, and the memory will make me smile.

As the saying goes: a picture is worth a 1000 words. For me, when I look at pictures of me as a kid or even pictures from yesterday, every one of those 1000 words is a story of that day or time. It’s a memory. One memory triggers another one and another and soon one picture has given me a treasure trove of memories.

So I choose to have my picture taken and I hope you do as well

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3. Set up for success

The best way to have your picture taken is to carry a camera with you.

If you’re like me, you have a smartphone with a camera on it. Take it with you. Not to use as a phone but as a camera.

If you can, purchase a hand-held camera. These will take higher quality pictures: ones you can print, frame and display in your house.

You also have to encourage your husband to take pictures of you. Hand off the camera and get in the shot.

4. Display pictures

Display pictures in your home or make a scrapbook.

Doing this will help you remember all the good memories and see how much you and the kids have changed over time. These pictures will also allow you to remember events together as a family.

Today there are so many options for printing and displaying pictures. Pick one option just do it.

5. Share the love

Share the pictures you have taken with family and friends.

If you love to create memories, then you should share them with others.

I have only made 2 scrapbooks, but my daughters love them.

They regularly ask me if we can look at them together and we then talk about the pictures.

6. Be Inspired by others:

I want to create memories and share them, but sometimes I don’t know where to start.

I am not always sure what I should share and how to share them. So, instead of trying to figure it out on my own, I look to others for inspiration.

Maybe you are the same.

If so, I have a few recommendations

Stop being afraid and start collecting memories. If not for yourself, for your children.

How do you create memories?

In the comments below, share your favourite picture of you and your kids.

Please share this post with friends and family

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My enormous struggle with meal planning

I love the idea of meal planning once a month and then just preparing the meals on the days of the week. I know that there are many benefits to meal planning.

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My struggle with meal planning

3 Benefits to meal planning

1. Save money

Making a plan saves you money. When you have a plan, you decide what you will make ahead of time and when you go to the store, you only purchase the things you need to make the emails for that week.

Not only doe it saves you money grocery shopping, but it also saves you from going out to eat last minute or getting a hot chicken and salad (my go-to lazy dinner).

2. Save time

My kids are always asking me what’s for dinner. And most nights, I’m not sure. I spend time looking in the freezer for what we have and then decide.

Meal planning cuts out the guesswork because I already have decided what’s for dinner and shopped accordingly.

3. Eat better

When you control the menu, you control what your family eats. So if you want to eat better then you plan for healthier meals.

Meal planning also helps decrease the amount of fast food you eat. We all know how unhealthy fast can be so cutting it out of our diet will always help us eat better,

When meal planning did work

The only time meal planning worked for me is when I was pregnant with each of my children.

Cooking while also trying to feed a newborn is extremely hard. I am not good at multitasking and I knew that I did not have much help when the baby came.

When my kids were born, my husband would come home at 6 pm. Having him cook dinner was not an option since our kids went to bed at 7 and they needed daddy time. So, the only option was to prep my meals before the babies came so that I only needed to heat them up and make pasta or rice.

I loved having all my meals ready and not having to decide what we were going to make for dinner.

3 Reasons why meal planning has not worked for me (yet)

1. Not organized

If you have not guessed it already, I am not the most organized person out there. When I am working on a project, I am extremely organized. I know the tasks I need to accomplish and do them. But for some reason, that same mentality alludes me when it comes to any household responsibilities.

I just can’t seem to get myself to sit down and look at the flyers and decide what I want to cook and plan it all out.

2. The Tupperware

Any meal prep takes Tupperware. I am not sure what happens in our house but we lose Tupperware. There seems to be a black hole where our Tupperware walk to and die. No matter what I do, I just can’t keep track of the Tupperware.

Last year, I decided I wanted to prep lunches. I went out and got Tupperware. Enough for me and my husband to have prepped lunches for the week. This worked really well for 2 weeks. That’s when the Tupperware started to go missing.

I love the idea of prepping food, I just need to stop the Tupperware from disappearing.

3. I never know what to cook

I have a few go-to meals that I know how to make, that are easy to make and that my family loves. The problem is, that you can’t have spaghetti every night and a varied menu is good for everyone.

When we first got married, I promised myself that I would try making one new recipe a week. This worked extremely nicely before I had kids. I was able to get comfortable making new meals and adding them to my regular rotation.

Once I had kids, that all stopped. So now, I never know what to cook and am afraid to try new things because I share wasting food and we may all hate it.

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Things I can do to make it work

1. Have a plan

The times when meal planning successful had one thing in common. I had a plan. I sat down and wrote out what meals I was going to make and what I needed to purchase to make them.

My plan included a deadline and a specific goal.

For meal planning to work for me again I need to set myself a deadline and make a plan.

I also need some go-to meals that my family will love.

2. Get some help

I am not the most organized person on the planet. I have come to the conclusion that to have success in this area, I need some help.

2 Places I can get the help

1. Friends:

Most of my friends like the idea of planning and prepping meals but don’t do it.

I think if we can encourage each other or even do it together we are all more likely to survive.

Get a few friends together and make some meals in bulk.

2. Free recipes

To get you started, I have gone ahead a searched the internet for meals. 

I have collected 100 recipes that you can make for your family that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to make and that the whole family can enjoy. 

In the comments below, share your struggles with meal planning and tell me what has worked for you. Please share this post with others. Thank you.

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My struggle  with meal planning. 
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6 Types of Books Children should read

My children love to read. But with all the options out there, it’s hard to know what types of books we should let our kids read. In this post, I will share 6 types of books children should read.

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One of the main reasons my children love to read so much is because we have hundreds of books in our house.

Making books available is the main cause that helps foster the love of reading in my children.

BUT, it’s not just about having any book available. Parents should have the right books available.

Because if children only have access to books they don’t like or can’t read then chances are they might develop an aversion to reading.

6 types of Books children should read

 

1. Books at their reading level:

When choosing a book for your child to read it is critical that it is at their reading level. If a child picks a book below their reading level, they might get bored with reading. On the other hand, if they pick a book that is too difficult, they might get discouraged and uninterested.

If you are not sure what level your child is reading, consider asking their teacher to access them. The assessment will help guide you in choosing books at the right level.

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2. Books on topics they find interesting

If your child loves spiders then get books about Spiders (Beginners)

“spiders, even if it is weird for you. Not only will your child show great joy in reading, but they will feel supported in their reading journey. This is even more important when you have a boy. Boys have a harder time reading so choosing books on topics that they are interested in will help them read more.

3. Different genres:

I am guilty of finding one genre and sticking to it. I am not the biggest fan of change. But, occasionally, I will pick out a book in a different genre.

I thought I was not a fan of fantasy but one day a friend suggested I read Eragon. I was not sure I would like it and I was bored with everything else I was reading so thought I would give it a try.

Once I picked up the book and read it, I loved it! I needed up reading the whole series.

By reading different genres, children (and adults) can discover new topics of interest and new authors.

4. Books that show daily life

There are so many books out there that depict children in real-life scenarios. These characters are dealing with the same stuff as your kids might be dealing with.

In today’s world, kids have to deal with a myriad of different issues. They might not believe you when you say you understand. But by reading books that show characters dealing with similar issues, children will feel understood.

Children will also feel like they are not alone. They may also get some ideas about how to handle certain situations.

5. Books that teach you something new

One of my favourite books that my kids bring home from the library are ones that not only teach my kids something new but where I learn something as well.

These books are usually encyclopedias or nature books. They usually have great graphics and lots of great information.

I love reading and saying: Wow, I never knew that. Each time I do, my daughter’s eyes grow bigger as if she thought adults knew everything.

Showing my kids that learning is a lifelong journey and knowledge can come from many different sources.

 6. A different format

Boys, typically, have a harder time reading than girls. To engage them in reading, consider a different format. I love reading fantasy books and historical function books.

My husband likes political books and books about business. My children love comic books and magazines. Some children will never like reading novels, but that does not mean that they don’t like to read.

If you are having a hard time getting your child to read a book, consider looking at other types of reading materials.

The best places to start when exploring different formats include Comics, magazines, e-books, graphic novels, Lego instructions and so on.

The possibilities are endless. Observe what your child enjoys doing and find an opportunity for them to read something related.

There are so many books to choose some. So many that you may not know where to start. If after reading this you are still not sure where to start then ask your child’s teacher or spend some time at the library.

Teachers and librarians know exactly what sorts of books different children like and can help you narrow your search.

Need More?

Do you need help with parenting? If so, click here and get free parenting resources that will make your life easier.

In the comments below, share the types of books your child loves. Please share this post with family and friends. Thank you.

How to make time for your marriage

How much time do you spend with your husband? Today I want to share with you how to make time for your marriage.

I know that for me, it never seems to be enough and I am always looking for ways to spend more time with my husband. 

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My younger years

When I was a teenager, I was attending a bible study with older married women. Some of the things they said, at the time, made no sense to me.

They said things about their marriage like:

  • We never spend any time together.
  • We never see each Other

It confused me because, at this point, I was dating and thought: How can two people who live in the same house never see each other?

I have now been married for ten years and completely understand.

Life is busy! Just being in the same living space does not make you close to one another.

It’s easy to let kids work, or even The Lord’s service gets you so busy you don’t have time or energy for your spouse.

If you neglect time with each other, soon enough you will become like roommates or just people who help each other raise the children.

According to W. Bradford Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew “People who spent quality time with their partner at least once a week were 3.5 times more likely to report being ‘very happy’ in their relationship compared to those who didn’t. Quality time can strengthen your relationship in several ways.”

The Right Type of Time

In over ten years of marriage I have discovered that it’s not the amount of time you spend together that matters, it’s the quality of the time you spend together that counts.

Quality time does not need to be some elaborate date or a rare experience. It can be at your kitchen table, or in the living room doing something you love.

During our busiest times in life, my husband and I will just sit at the kitchen table and drink tea together. This would maybe take 10-15 min, We just sit together at the table and talk about our days.

We discuss things that are coming up in our lives. Lately, we have taken more time to pray for each other, our children and the people we know.

Those times together have been the most special because we are having real and deep conversations. They sometimes don’t last long, but just spending those minutes together connects us in a meaningful way.

Other Marriage Blog Posts

4 ways to make time for your marriage  

1. Schedule a regular date

Once a year, my husband and I will sit down and think about the next year. We will talk about our commitments and everything we need to do.

We both understand that we each need family time, alone time, service time and guy/girl time and together time.

All these commitments are hard to juggle, but we make it work. We know that we won’t have time each week for all of those things. So, we schedule our days so that we can balance all these things.

One thing that we find important is having a regular date night. For us, that means that once a week we have no other commitments and it’s a  time for just the 2 of us. We often just stay in but it’s a night we can both count on having together.

2. Set a time

Maybe your schedule is insane or you have a hard time dedicating one night to date night. If that is the case, then consider having a set time each day when you can connect with each other.

For my husband and I, no matter what is going on in our days, we always try to call each other at lunch. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and we can’t talk so we will leave a message. I always look forward to a lunchtime call. It’s a great way to break up the day,  but to catch up on our day.

I am not a morning person, so my husband often leaves the house with only a kiss goodbye. Most days, our lunchtime phone call is the first time we have talked all day.

3. First things First

When my daughter was one my husband went back to school full-time. He was a dedicated student and was top of his class that year. That accomplishment took time.

But, no matter how much time he spent doing homework, he always spent time with us first.

He would spend all day at school, then come home and have dinner with us. After dinner, he would play with our daughter and put her to bed. After her bedtime, we would spend 10-15 min just chatting and then he would get to work.

I knew his schoolwork was important, but by spending time with me first, he showed me that I was more important and that he always had time for me.

Even now, my husband often will do work at home at night, but only after he has spent time with me first.

4. Say no

Your marriage should be at the top of your priority list. If your life is too busy with other things to have some regular quality time together, it may be time to reconsider everything you’re involved in.

My husband and I say no to many things to be able to have time with each other and with our kids. For us, our time together is more important so we regularly say no to many good things.  

Since our children are still small and we have to drive them we have decided to only do one extracurricular activity a week.

There are many good things that we could be doing or could be a part of. But for now, we have said no to many things so that we can focus on hanging a balanced life. One where we don’t hectic or overrun with responsibilities.

Each marriage is different so what may work for my husband and I may not work for you.

Some couples thrive on busy social lives. The most important thing to do is to make sure that what you are doing is strengthening your marriage.

In the comments below, share your tips on what you do to make time for your marriage. Please share this blog post with others. Thank you.

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4 ways to tame your tongue

Words can be used to build up or to destroy. They are extremely powerful. Today, I want to share 4 ways to tame your tongue.

Today, I am so happy to have worked with Amber, she shares with us something that we can all relate to.  Learn more about Amber at the bottom of this blog post. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.

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Her words hadn’t meant to hurt me but, in all actuality, they were like a knife cutting into all of my most vulnerable places. I had been silently grappling with the same questions and ponderings she was asking me for months – but somehow someone else asking me these same things threatened to break me in two. She, who was talking to me, has a beautiful heart. She wasn’t for a minute trying to break me – she was trying to understand me and encourage me.

James 3:5 The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes frear boasts. Cconsider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

We can all relate

We can all point to instances in our lives when our words tore someone down, or when someone’s words tore us down and we wanted to tame your tongue. Hopefully, we are more quick to recall times when other people have used their words to encourage us.

In today’s world, it may not be anything we say that hurts people, it may be the words we write. In an era of social media, it is a lot easier to say things we would never say to someone’s face because we can hide behind a screen.

When we read verses about the tongue, let’s use those same ideas and apply them to what we write.

4 ways to tame your tongue

1. Check our heart

Words need to be intentional before we even open our mouths (or put our fingers on the keys). We need to pray that what comes out would glorify God. We may have the best of intentions but if it is not subject to God’s glory, it will fail – every single time.

Something that may sound encouraging in our ears comes across as hurtful to the receiver. So then, how can we make sure we are using our words to truly build another up?

2. Pray

The most important thing we can do is to pray and ask God to use our words to help and not to hurt. We can pray that we would get out of the way and allow God to work.

I have had times where I was more concerned about being the person that gives my friend the perfect word, than praying and making sure what I was saying would actually be helpful.

God wants to work through us, but it’s important that we rid ourselves of pride first.

3. Listen

We are so quick to talk but the Bible actually tells us to be slow to speak

James 1:19

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry

 I strongly believe much of the above problem would be fixed if we just took the time to really listen to each other. Actively listening does not mean we are only halfway listening.

Instead of thinking about our response will be –listen to what they are saying. Practice not forming a response until your friend is done talking. It is only then that we will hear fully and be able to respond with wisdom.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 says

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.

Asking questions will help us to better understand where the friend is coming from. May I encourage you to ask questions that aren’t going to do further damage to that friend?

Say for instance your friend had a miscarriage. Asking her why it happened will only hurt her more. However, asking “I don’t understand the pain you are walking through, never have gone through it myself, can you help me to better understand how you are feeling and what (if anything) I can do to help?” will open up a healing door for your friend.  

4. Tame your tongue- Remember the golden rule

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭22:37, 39‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’…And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.

We must keep in mind how we would want to be talked to if we were going through the same circumstance.

Ask yourself “is what I am trying to say true, noble, helpful? Will it encourage or discourage?” These questions will further help our response to be given in wisdom.

A final thought I want to share is we need to be careful to avoid the “snare of offence”. It seems like everyone is offended by something these days. If our friend unintentionally hurts us with their words, let us not set up a tent in the land of offence.

There is no need to camp there. Forgive your friend just as Christ has forgiven you and move on. If you feel it would help you to talk to your friend and let them know their words hurt you, do so but please don’t stay offended.

Choose your words carefully, aim to bless and not to harm!

In the comments below, share ways that help you tame your tongue. Please share this post with others. Thank you.

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7 common problems toddlers face

As a mother, I want to know what is normal and what is not. In this post, I will share 7 common problems that toddlers face.

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Those nine months of pregnancy may have felt like years. But,  once your little one is in your arms (literally!), things can go pretty quickly.

In Fact, it may seem like just yesterday when you held your baby in your arms for the first time, and now, he/she is already learning to walk and talk.

The transition from being a baby who is dependent on a toddler that’s learning and picking up everything so fast can be quite beautiful, but yes, stressful too, especially for a first-time mom. If that sounds like something you can resonate with, here’s a little help!

This week, I am happy to be working with another guest blogger. Enozia Vakil is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She enjoys reading, writing and watching movies. You can connect with her on Facebook or read her blog. See her bio below.

We’ve listed down the top problems that most toddlers tend to develop in this phase, and some quick tips to help you deal with them better.

7 Common Problems Toddlers Face

1. Diaper Rashes

True, your baby’s skin is thinner than yours, and over time, as your little one grows up, the skin does get thicker and stronger, but it is during this age that he/she starts to develop diaper rashes more frequently. This is because your toddler will now dirty the diapers more frequently than before.

A good way to handle those nasty rashes and even prevent them is to swap those creams for the good old coconut oil. Using coconut oil for diaper rash is the way to go, especially if you’re into frugal living or just want to stick to natural baby essentials.

2. Social Skills Start to Develop (or not)

Now’s the time when you’ll probably start to take your little one on play dates, and if you find that most of the time, he/she just keeps to themselves and doesn’t really interact a lot with other toddlers, you may be worried that they may be antisocial.

While most pediatricians suggest that it takes up to 3 years for some kids to learn to interact and play with one another, most kids get together faster.

Give your little one some time and encourage him/her to explore and play together with other kids.

3. A Dentist Trip May be Needed

Just when you thought those teething issues were done, here’s a little biggie you must know. It is best to have your toddler visit the dentist for the first time when he/she is one year of age. This is the perfect time to look up and check for the best toothbrushes and toothpaste for toddlers.

It is best to start at the very beginning and care for your little one’s teeth even at an early age, and even when you know that they are milk teeth, and they’re going to eventually fall off.

4. Potty Training may be hard

The correct age to potty train your child may be different for everyone, but the best way to understand if your kid is ready is to go for it if your kid is able to understand what you say, communicate with you and when he/she can physically walk up to the potty and sit down on it without your help.

As a parent, your emotional support is a must during this time, because potty training isn’t just stressful for moms, it is the same for kids too.

Work on building a routine and start with having your little one fully clothed on the potty first and then move on to getting rid of the diapers completely. Don’t rush it.

5. Head Bumps Become Common

When your little one is first learning to crawl, then sit up, and then stand and finally walk, head bumps obviously become common. As a mom, you may be worried if there are any long-term effects involved if your kid has bumped his/her head a few times.

Well, for starters, most toddlers fall a lot of times during the transition, and if it is mild, you have no need to worry.

However, try to baby-proof your home if you haven’t done it already- round off all the sharp corners and try not to leave your kid to wander around unattended particularly when he’s awake and exploring.

6. Communication may not come easy

One of the problems toddlers face is the ability to communicate.

Some kids start speaking before their first birthdays. Other kids take much longer. When children can’t communicate what they want they try to tell you in other ways.

Most toddlers will scream and yell and cry. These fits are not a behaviour issue. Toddlers are frustrated because they want something and can’t ask for it. Kids also get frustrated when they try and speak but can’t.

When your child is acting out, try to be patient and understand what they are trying to say. An easy way to try and see what they want is by asking lots of yes and no questions. For example: do you want milk? Are you hungry?

Even children with low vocabulary will find a way to communicate yes or no to you. Also, try to stick to a routine so you know when they might be tired or hungry

7. Sleep regression

I have not done extensive research on the subject but from my own experience, I find that children experience sleep regression around 3 years old.

I like to sleep train my children at around 6 months old. Once they are trained, they sleep so well. But something happens at 3 that has kids back to waking up every couple of hours. It happened with both of my daughters and I am sure will happen when my son is around 3.

Know that this regression is normal and part of growth. Training older children to sleep takes a bit more time and some more creativity but it can be done and it’s well worth it. Create a great bedtime routine and stick to it. Make a plan and follow through. Soon enough your great sleeper will be back to normal.

The toddler stage is one of the hardest I have experienced so far. These are some of the problems toddlers face. My children tend to be independent and strong-willed.

They are determined to do things on their own even though they can’t and get frustrated when you try to help them but also frustrated when they can’t do it themselves.

This stage takes lots of patience. Try to be understanding and build in extra transition time so you have time for them to try to do things for themselves.

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The transition from being a baby to toddler is stressful. If you need help figuring out what is going on with your toddler here’s a little help! #parentingtips, #parenting, #toddler
The transition from being a baby to toddler is stressful. If you need help figuring out what is going on with your toddler here’s a little help! #parentingtips, #parenting, #toddler
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