February 15, 2014

Discipline: It’s Never the Same with Kids

I’ve only been a mom for 6 ½ years and one thing I’ve learned is that consistent discipline is necessary for those of us who want to raise well-mannered children who will grow to be a value to the communities they live in. While consistent discipline is necessary, that doesn’t mean it’s easy and it especially doesn’t mean that it’s a “one-size fits all” kind of thing either. Every child is different.

They have different personalities and therefore, what motivates one child to follow the rules may have no effect on another child. In addition, while a stern lecture or even a spanking may work one week doesn’t necessarily mean the same will work next week when the child acts up again. Probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned from my 6 ½ year old regarding discipline is that it is ever-changing.
My husband and I are constantly thinking up different consequences for bad behavior because just when it seems like we have figured out the perfect form of discipline it seems to lose its effect on our son. I know I’m not the only parent out there who has had this issue, right? In fact, I’m willing to bet that most kids are this way. They seem to adapt to various types of punishments and eventually aren’t as worried about these consequences as they once were.

For me, at this particular stage in parenting (I know my view will change as my kids get older), staying on top of the discipline game is the hardest part of parenting. The reason it’s so dang hard is because I know it needs to be done (when I don’t want to), I have to be consistent in it (I can’t let things “slide” or the behavior will get worse, and I have to keep up-to-date on which particular type of discipline is working for my son on this particular day/week.
Of course, like I said above, after a while of the same discipline tactics, my son begins to slack off a bit because he isn’t worried about the consequences. After all, he’s been through it before, right? Therefore, I’m constantly trying to keep a short list of unique forms of discipline to fall back on when the discipline of choice stops working.

Below are just a few creative discipline strategies I’ve come up with that seem to work (for a while).

1. Bedroom Grounding – As my son is only 6, we don’t ever “ground” him for longer than one evening and generally this is reserved for when he misbehaves at school and the teacher sends a note home. My son loves to be where all the action is so he hates being confined to his room for the evening. When he is in his room for the evening, the only time we allow him to come out is to take a shower, work on homework and eat dinner. And there have been times when we have had to bring him dinner to his room because he didn’t seem to be taking his punishment very seriously. (He hates eating dinner in his room) As I said, this is probably our most severe punishment for the little guy, and since it isn’t used much, it is one of the most effective.

2. Cleaning the Backyard - Usually my husband and I help our son pick up the backyard as it gets littered with toys quite often. However, when he has a bad day, we will have him go and clean the backyard by himself – this includes using the pooper-scooper to pick up our dog’s weekly deposits. It will take him about 30-45 minutes to clean the entire back yard, and for his age, I think this is an appropriate punishment.

3. Cleaning his Bathroom - Okay, now this is one that obviously I can’t let him do alone, but it is very effective because he hates cleaning the toilet (typical boy thing, right?). Obviously I stand right there and watch him do it (while he’s wearing rubber gloves) as I wouldn’t let a child that age use cleaning supplies without supervision. I also don’t expect perfection because he is only 6, but I expect him to do it with a good attitude. Once the stool is clean, I have him clean the countertop and sink. I leave the mirrors and floor for me to do (and I usually go back over the toilet once he’s in bed too). This may sound a little harsh, but it is another effective punishment.

Above are just a few of the creative discipline techniques I have used, but there are plenty more. For me, it’s not so much the type of discipline that is important, but that we stay consistent in our disciplining that is the most important. If we let our kids get by with one thing today, then they will probably do it again tomorrow…and eventually it will morph into something different altogether.

Therefore, staying consistent is really the most important thing. Not only will it ensure that our kids grow up to be men/women who are respectful, have good character and are a value to their respective communities, but when we discipline our children (in a loving manner), we reinforce the fact that we love them very deeply, which is something every child should know.

February 11, 2014

Saving Money in the New Year

I’m not sure about you, but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get serious about my family’s finances and get the little “piddly” things paid off. In fact, it is my goal to by the end of the year only have my mortgage and vehicle payments left…everything else needs to get paid off. If I can do this, which I know I can, then my family will have a lot of extra money freed up every month.

One of the ways that I am going to accomplish this is by cutting unnecessary costs and applying the money I save to the monthly payments I’m making for those pesky bills. Once I start doing that, things will get paid off rather quickly as money saved adds up quickly. So, what types of cuts can I make to save money this year? Here’s my plan…and maybe you can even benefit from it!

1.  Change my grocery shopping strategy. The first thing I’m going to modify is my grocery shopping strategy. I’ve gotten a little lazy when I buy groceries and have bought more repackaged/frozen foods than what I should be. Prepackaged/frozen foods add a lot of money to the total grocery bill when you take the time to figure out what the ingredients would cost you separately…especially when you consider that a lot of times those same ingredients can be used to create another dish. Therefore, as of right now, I am going to start buying more fresh foods and preparing my own dinners at home. Yes, that means I will spend a little extra time in the kitchen, but the extra money I will save as a result will be worth it.

2.  Start hand-making certain products. I used to make my own laundry soap. In fact, I did this just a few months ago and still have about 2.5 gallons left of it. I figured it up once and making my own laundry soap actually saves me at least $500 a year, if not more. While that is great, I’m going to expand the products  make on my own this year. Some of the products I plan to make include shampoo/conditioner, hand soap and deodorant. Think about the amount of money you spend every year on just these three products. If you could make them yourself for next to nothing, then doesn’t it make sense to save your hard earned money in these particular areas.

3.  Get creative with clothing. Like most women, it is totally possible for me to go out and spend money on new clothes when I have a ton of really great pieces at home. Therefore, this year I plan to use my old clothing and make new outfits by either changing them up entirely or mix and matching for a new look…or swapping with a friend! The same is true for my kids’ clothes too.

4.  Cut back on the “extras.” I admit, I like a good manicure and pedicure just as much as the next woman…in fact, I may like them a little too much. It isn’t a rarity for me to go at least once or twice  a month for my hair and nails. I have highlights in my hair, which costs me $100 every six weeks to redo and get a haircut. My manicures and pedicures are another $80-$100 per month  (if I go twice a month) and my monthly massages add up too. These are all things that I am choosing to go without until we get everything paid off except our vehicles and mortgage payment. I figure this will save me at least $250-$300 a month.

It’s not that saving money in the new year is going to be hard, it’s enforcing the willpower to refrain is what will be the hard part. So, what about you? How do you plan to save money this year?