The Fantasia Effect: Training Our Kids To Cheerfully Clean Up

Dear Groovy Mama,
How do I get my little ones to pick up with a cheerful spirit? And do you have any tips on minimizing the messes they can make? –Tiffany

Dear Tiffany,

Your question reminds me of a lesson I learned in my child’s preschool classroom. It was the end of play time and the teachers began clapping and singing ‘the clean up song’. Like the sorcerer in Fantasia, commanding an army of brooms to do his work, these women had magically turned a switch on in these children.

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A Fitting Treasure

Stabbing the end button with her finger, my friend erupted. “I’m so stupid!”  Shoving the phone into her purse, her face was flushed and angry. “I can’t believe I did that!” Apparently she had forgotten to pick something up earlier that day and the phone call she just ended was the reminder of her lapse.

She rushed about, muttering more self-condemnation under her breath as she gathered her things and snatched up her keys. Still fuming at herself, she gave me a distracted hug and left.

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How To Carve Out Quality Time

Dear Groovy Mama,
How do I carve out quality time with each child when I’m training a toddler? (Angela)

Dear Angela,

The first question to ask yourself is, what constitutes ‘quality time’? Each child has a unique love language and will experience this differently. I know that I often forget this and need frequent reminders of the different ways my kids might feel cherished by me. (Here’s a great, free printable I found over at Busy Kids Happy Mom!

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A Display of the Divine

Nature is the art of God.” —Dante Alghieri

The Bible study group I belong to is currently diving into the book of Ephesians. This ancient letter has long been a favorite of mine and I’ve been eager to dig a bit deeper into it. As I sat down to study, one verse from our week’s passage stood out to me.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV)

I’ve read this verse a gajillion times since childhood and it’s a good one to be sure, but it wasn’t until I dug into a commentary that something new grabbed hold of me.

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Taming the Whirlwind: Tips For Training Boys

Dear Groovy Mama,
Do you have any tips on how to parent wild boys?   –Melissa

Dear Melissa,

As a mother of three girls and one boy, I can attest to the fact that boys are altogether different creatures! Now having said that, I will confess that my boy is a very gentle sort, not a wild child like so many boys I meet. He is, however, ADD so I think I have a few suggestions to offer that might be of value.

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The Magical Power of Carrots

“Have you ever thought about trying some positive motivation?”

My friend’s words were spoken gently, with a hint of hesitation. Even so, I bristled. Spouting off some lame excuse, I ended the conversation, hung up the phone, and nursed my stinging pride. Positive motivation? What did she think I was, some screeching harridan, oppressing my children with my negative parenting? Harrumph!

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Handling Sibling Conflict Without Eating Your Young

Dear Groovy Mama,
How do I resolve conflict between young children (5-6) when you weren’t there to see it happen and when you try to ask questions you just get blank stares or “I don’t know”, or you just know you don’t have all the information necessary? Especially when you were personally severely punished as a child for things you didn’t actually do…and told yourself you would never make that mistake. (Angie)

Dear Angie,
One of my least favorite mama hats to wear was that of referee.  I wish I could say I handled it with grace and wisdom, but the whole ‘he said’, ‘she said’ game could turn me into a shrieking harpy faster than you can say ‘spitting mad’.  I hated it.  In order to save the children’s’ lives, and my sanity, we came up with a couple of solutions.

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