6 Tips to Survive Blended Family Holidays
Christmas, Family, Family Dynamics, Guest Post

6 Tips to Survive Blended Family Holidays

6 Tips to Survive Blended Family Holidays

I can’t think of any person that gets married and has children with the intention of getting a divorce. Consequently, the shear idea of breaking a family a part and having “yours, mine, and ours” kids is not something anyone sees coming. Other times, children are born into a family where their parents are not married and over time one, or both parents, marry someone else. Unfortunately, blended families are real and is happens frequently, even among Christ followers.

As a remarried mommy of 8 children, the holidays are an extremely interesting and sometimes stressful time of year. After the initial tension, anger, and sadness of the divorce and my remarriage settled, it became obvious of one thing. Our children were the ones who were really bearing the weight of being in a blended family. It took countless tears from my children for myself, husband, and my ex-husband, to realize that something had to change. We needed to make an adjustment to “how” we were handling the holidays. After family meetings and extensive conversations, we came up with 6 Tips to Survive Blended Family Holidays.

6 Tips to Survive Blended Family Holidays

It’s Not About You

This first tip is probably the most important. When a parent decides to remarry, they are so over the moon with finding a new love and being able to move on from the past. Children’s feelings are many times overlooked. The parents don’t take time check in with the vast emotions their children are dealing with. During the holidays, children are told (either by courts or their parents) where they will be spending the holidays. Depending on the circumstances, children should have a voice in this decision. Children in blended families are the innocent bystanders of the failed relationship. No matter the dynamics between adults, the best interest of  children should be considered when making decisions. Their voice should be heard and validated.

Don’t Insist of Having Control

As someone who LOVES being in control, this is probably my greatest struggle. I want things they way I want them because I feel it is the best solution. After becoming a blended family, I had to learn to acknowledge and validate the feelings and opinions of my children and my ex-husband. All adults involved, who truly feel the best interest of the children is the most important thing, will humble themselves and be willing to relinquish control. This tip doesn’t mean you have to be miserable or only agreeable. It just means, you are willing to accept that your solution my not be the best or most practical solution for the holidays.

Be Respectful

Have you ever found yourself arguing with your ex or the new spouse of your ex in front of your children? Do you find yourself bad mouthing your ex or their spouse in front of your children? Both scenarios are detrimental to the overall health and well being of your children. Being in a blended family is already difficult. Children are shifted back and forth between homes, constantly readjusting to the norms and rules of each home, and even missing out on events or activities due to visitation schedules. Listening to parents verbally assault their other parent or step parent, being placed in the middle of an adult argument, or even asked to pick sides is unfair. Make a commitment to be respectful of your ex and/or their spouse, their family holiday traditions, and their gifts or lack of gifts. Children should not have to be little grownups.

Make a Plan

In many instances, during divorce proceedings or a separation, visitation and custody plans are addressed or determined. At times, weeks, weekends, holidays, and vacation time is haphazardly assigned without the consideration for children or the reality of the lives of children. In a blended family, taking time to touch base with all parties and making a realistic plan is essential to reducing stress and chaos. Are some holidays bigger experiences than others in a family? Where do the children want to spend the holiday? Which home is more feasible? All of these questions are necessary when planning. Taking time to discuss and plan long before the holidays season arrives will create a more peaceful atmosphere and will help everyone prepare without unexpected changes.

Create a New Tradition

Growing up, Christmas time was such a wonderful time of year. The entire month of December was filled with activities, such as, driving through the neighborhood looking at decorations, making Christmas chocolates, my Aunts famous homemade cookies, and more! I remember every Christmas morning, we would wake up extremely early, open presents, call our grandparents and our close friends to chat about all of the things we got. My mother would then serve homemade waffles with all the fixings. Through the years, my brother and I have continued many of these same traditions with our own children, right down to the homemade waffles.

After my ex-husband and I divorced, we realized we both wanted to be a part of Christmas morning. We stepped out on a limb and my ex-husband decided he would arrive before the kids woke up, open presents together, and enjoy Christmas breakfast all together. When I remarried, my husband humbled himself, knew that this day was about the happiness of the children he also calls his own, and opened his home and heart to my ex-husband. Although the whole thing is strange to many, our tradition is the perfect fit for our family.

In a blended family, someone will most likely be without the children on the holiday. Does this mean the beauty of the holiday has to become non-existent? Absolutely not. This is the perfect time to create new traditions! Celebrate the holiday on a different day, if logistics permit celebrate the holiday in the morning and in the evening. The options are endless. Thanksgiving can consist of a family breakfast buffet at one house and dinner at the other house and Christmas presents can be opened in the evening or on Christmas Eve. Step out of the norm and do what makes the most sense for your family.

Remember the Reason for the Season

It is so easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the holiday season that we forget why we celebrate the holiday at all. Taking time to reflect on things we have to be thankful for during Thanksgiving and celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas is the Reason for the Season. Despite the circumstances of becoming a blended family, keeping the reason at the forefront of your mind will help you to stay focused and positive. If you end up with your children for the holiday, encourage them to reach out to their other parent. If you end up without your kiddos for the holiday, try celebrating with someone who has no family or friends, volunteer to serve at a shelter, take a meal to an elderly neighbor or family in need. Be the hands and feet of Jesus.

There is no doubt about it, blended families are challenging! No book, article, or person can give you the answer to what works best for your family. Keeping your children’s best interest first and having an open and humble heart will save your family a lot of stress during this holiday season.

CHIME IN: What tips do you have for blended families during the holidays?

Need a few gift ideas for the kids to give? Check out 8 DIY Christmas Gifts from Kids

 

 

 

 

Family, Homeschool, Organization

How to Rock Your Meal Planning

The dreaded phrase: Meal Planning!

Meal Planning for my family is hard work!. My husband, 8 children, and myself all have extremely different taste buds. I was exhausted after planning our meals for the week. Between taste preferences, severe allergies, and making sure meals were healthy, I felt like we were eating the same foods over and over again.

A while back, I knew it was time to come up with a solution for our house. I decided that I did not want to be limited to just the things that I “knew” how to cook, but I also wanted to begin to explore new foods. I knew before I began adding to our meal list, I needed to write down all of my family’s favorite meals. You won’t believe it, but I went straight old school. I wrote each meal on an index card. By the time I was done, I had 30 index cards.  Each time I decided to make our meal plan for the week, I took out the cards and selected 7. I wrote them down on a piece of paper and then took the list to the store. Can I just say, this process was a true nightmare? I had tiny index cards all over the place. I knew this wasn’t the best system, but for a while it worked.

Needless to say, my anxiety got the best of me and I no longer could stand this system. I still felt like we were eating the same thing. Some how, I was still selecting the same few recipes every few weeks. Then it hit me! I decided to take each of our meals and break them down into categories, beef meals, chicken meals, pasta/turkey/pork meals, seafood meals, slow cooker/freezer meals, and fun Friday meals. Once again, I took out my little index cards and sorted them according to their category. I decided that each day of the week, we would have a different category of food. I created a meal plan that allowed us to have a different meal each day for four weeks.

The birth of an 8 week meal plan!

I challenged myself to come up with 8 meals under the six categories (I doubled our beef meals) for a total of 56 meals. I enlisted the help of my hubby and kids. We sat down, selected our favorite meals, and even created a Pinterest board for new ideas. Ya’ll, we created an 8 week meal plan. It was amazing! Each week, I would just select something from one of the categories and add it to the list. I could decide meals based on supermarket sales and even how our weekly schedule was looking. I thought I found the magic solution.

In comes Organize Your Life With Trello

After thinking meal planning could not get any easier, I saw a post over at A Purpose Driven Mom about being a Beta Tester for a new online course that would help Organize My Life!! As a work at home mom, homeschooling mommy, Director of a non-profit, and wife, I am always down for anything that helps organize my life. I signed up for the course and the way I look at organization has changed forever.

Trello is an online tool that allows me to have my meal plans, task, and daily planner at my finger tips. I decided the first area I would test out this course was in the area that I needed it the most, Meal Planning. I figure the best way for me to get you to see how this program has revolutionized how I meal plan is for me to show you. So check out my video below:

 


Now tell me that is not awesome!! In less than 5 minutes, I am able to create our meal plan for 8 weeks and create a grocery list to go with it. I no longer have to carry around my little tiny index cards or even a paper with our meals on it. Since Trello is also an app, I am able to take my phone into the store and grocery shop with ease.

More than Meals!

I know you might be thinking, “O.K. great you can plan your meals, but what else?” For the record, I have now begun to use Trello for multiple areas of my daily life. I have a board for Perfectly Blended and Blessed, our daily chores, and I am even working on one for my kid’s to use for as their home school planner. Don’t think Organize Your Life with Trello is all that big of a deal? I invite you to take a FREE Mini Class. Take some time look around and see for yourself and when you sign up for the course (which I know you will), come back here, click on Meal Plan to copy my board to get you started. Also, download this Ultimate List of Trello Boards (freebie)

   

 

Chime In: How do YOU Rock Your Meal Planning?

Family, Free Printables, Freebies!, Homeschool

Listen So Your Kids Will Talk: Back to School Conversation Starters

Over the past few weeks, I have spent countless hours preparing for the upcoming year. I created a home school planner to keep me organized, research and purchased our curriculum, battled the stores to find school supplies, created a file folder system, and even managed to be a Beta Tester for this amazing course called, Organize Your Life with Trello (which truly changed the way I look at organization). Raise your hand if you can relate. It doesn’t matter if your child is in traditional school or home school, it is easy to forget the importance of Back to School Conversations.

What is the point of designating time for Back to School Conversations?

Back to School Conversations are an excellent way to get a handle on the direction and goals for the upcoming school year. It sets up a dialogue between parents and children and creates an avenue for families to create tangible plans and task before the school year even begins. These conversations aren’t just for older kids, even your preschooler has thoughts about their school experience.

You may be saying to yourself, “…but we homeschool. I know my child’s plans because I created them.” The fact is, Back to School Conversations gives your child voice in the planning. It gives them the floor to express their likes and dislikes and lets you witness them maturing before your eyes.

If your child is in a traditional school setting (like my older children) or if you are homeschooling your child (like the rest of my squad), taking time to have an intentional conversation about school should be at the top of your to-do list before the year officially begins.

So, how do you get started? Check out these Tips for a great conversation.

Pray

Before you embark on connecting with your child, parents should take time to pray for guidance. Raising children is something that I don’t take lightly. I see it as a huge God-given privilege and feel the only way to be successful is to seek Him for wisdom and guidance. I want our conversation to run smoothly and have God at the center is the key. The best way for me to accomplish that, is seeking Him first.

Make an Announcement

I am notorious for having impromptu, super deep conversations with my children after dinner, while driving home, shopping in the grocery store, or just hanging out in the living room. Some of our fondest memories are from these moments.

Over the years, I found Back to School Conversations worked best, when I informed my kids of the meeting and told them the purpose upfront. Making an Announcement gives kids a chance to also prepare for the meeting and think of any questions or concerns they want to bring to the table.

Make it Special

Back to School Conversations are a great time for a heart to heart with each child. This intentional conversation is one that should be well thought out and made special. In fact, it can be turned into a yearly event the kids look forward to. Select a place that will lend to minimum interruptions. Depending on your family dynamics, a one-on-one over ice cream in the yard might be perfect. Perhaps, dinner at your child’s favorite restaurant or a picnic in the park will work best. Whatever the location, the most important thing to remember is having a candid and open conversation with your child.

Open the Lines of Conversation

When you ask your child for their opinions or feelings, are you genuinely seeking their input? Back to School Conversations are meant to be a time where your child has your undivided attention and your unbiased listening ears. Although the conversation is designed for you to get them excited and ready for a new year, it is also a time where you can really connect with your child and develop a stronger relationship. Our family likes to begin by seeking God and asking Him to guide the conversation and end by asking Him to cover us throughout the year.

Back to School Conversations gives children a designated time to spend with you before the hustle and bustle of school begins. It allows you to praise their strong points and assess their weaknesses. Don’t be surprised when your kids open-up and tell you what is really on their heart. They have been waiting for this moment!


Listen So Your Kids Will Talk is designed to give families a tool to implement upfront and honest dialogue about the upcoming school year. Filled with journal pages, 15 suggested open-ended questions, 25 questions to ask your child at the end of each school day, and a few Bonus Lunch Notes, Listen So Your Kids Will Talk is a perfect book to get you ready for Back to School!

Download Your Copy Today!

 

 Now that you’ve gotten some great tips and resources about Back to School Conversations, head over to

Michelle at With the Huddlestons

and read about Ideas for Homeschooling Multiples, and be sure to snag her freebie – Activity Printable Bundle

 

 

 

Service Learning
Family, Guest Post, Homeschool

4 Reasons Service Learning Beats the Summer Slide

Over the years, our family has made a point to spend our summers engaged in vacations, camps, and light school work to prevent the infamous Summer Slide.  As a former overnight Camp Director, I would find the best camps for my children to ensure they walked away with amazing memories and experiences.Three years ago, my husband and I decided to throw away our familiar summer strategy and take on a new adventure. We loaded up our van and created a mini camp of our own!  We enlisted the help of our older children to serve as counselors and decided to help create amazing memories for 15 children from under-served neighborhoods. It was at this moment, we decided we would strengthen our own children’s natural gifts and abilities, prevent the summer slide and enrich the community around us using Service Learning.

Service Learning Vs. Community Service?

One day, your family is driving down the street. On the corner, there is a homeless man asking for food. Your child reaches into their backpack, takes out their sandwich, and hands it to the man. That night at dinner, your child asks to collect snacks for homeless people and take them to a homeless shelter. You are delighted to see the compassion and love in your child’s heart and eagerly get started. Before you know it, your family has collected over 500 snacks. You load them in the car, drive to a homeless shelter and your child drops them off. They walk away thrilled and excited that they were able to help someone in need.

Community Service is the act of helping others and can be done at any time and any place. The emphasis is placed on the people being helped and the service that is offered. Community Service is designed to impact or improve the quality of life for those being served.

Service LearningClick Here to Find Out More @ With the Huddlestons

 

Continue reading “4 Reasons Service Learning Beats the Summer Slide”

The Fatherless Father's Day
Family, Family Dynamics

The Fatherless Father’s Day

The Friday before Father’s Day at school finally arrived. “Tell us about your dad, Christel” Mrs. Brown excitedly said. I remember standing before my 1st grade class with tears in my eyes. “Tell them about my dad? What was I going to say?” I stood quietly, hoping she would just skip me for not answering quickly enough. My clasped hands started to sweat as I shifted my weight from one foot to another. Softly, I said, “He is really nice.” I hurriedly sat down in my seat.

Father’s Day Without a Father

This Sunday, I will celebrate my 40th Fatherless Father’s Day. Four months before I was born, my father was killed in active duty in Germany, while my mother was pregnant with me. The darkness surrounding my entrance into the world was something that I felt for many years after I was born. There was always an unspoken void in our home that could not be filled by anyone. No matter how hard my mother and family tried, I always felt that I was missing something…someone.

I was always told stories about how amazing my father was, about his kindness, and how much I resembled him. The well-meaning sentiments of others did absolutely nothing to fill the emptiness that I faced on multiple occasions. Daddy Daughter Dances, being called Daddy’s Little Girl, the Father Daughter Dance at my wedding, and Father’s Day were always the most emotionally stressful times in my life.

The presence of a father is something that is critical to the natural development of a child. God’s perfect design for families ensures that children receive a delicate balance of nurturing from both a loving mother and a loving father. Fathers are innately designed to protect and cover their family.

Throughout my life, my longing to be loved and protected, caused me to make bad decisions and place myself in situations that left me feeling emptier than before. No matter how hard I tried to fill the void of my father, nothing worked. My search for love led me into abusive situations, suicidal tendencies, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.

The Impact of Fathers

My life, as well as the lives of many children around the world, is a living testament to research conducted on Fatherless Children. According to a report in “Fathers and Their Impact on Children’s Well-Being”:

Even from birth, children who have an involved father are more likely to be emotionally secure, be confident to explore their surroundings, and, as they grow older, have better social connections.

Don’t get me wrong! My mother was and is one of the best mothers in the world. Her ability to love me, mold me, and lead me is what, I believe, kept me in some of my darkest moments. However, she was unable to show me the love of a father. According to the 2017 U.S. Census Bureau, 1 out of 4 children are being raised without a father. My heart breaks hearing those numbers because I know first hand what it feels like to be a Fatherless Child.

Over the years, Father’s Day was just another day for me. I had no reason to celebrate, make cute crafts, or find a tacky tie for my father. So, I acted like it was no big deal. I even tried sending my mother a Father’s Day card using the rationalization that she was both my father and mother. None of these things worked to fill my void.

Almost 4 years ago, I met an amazing man.  He listened to all my stories, accepted my personal baggage, and loved me for who I was. I remember spending hours just talking with him. It was like I had known him all my life. After 37 years, I was finally, “Daddy’s Princess!”

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy.” Psalm 68:5

Yes! I grew up knowing about this man, Jesus Christ, but I never really met him. I never realized how amazing it was to be loved by our heavenly Father. Everything that I was searching for all my life, was fulfilled in an instant. God’s love for me is so indescribable and unexplainable that I no longer feel empty inside. Although my dad was unable to be with me throughout my life, God was always there. Despite the circumstance that surrounds a child becoming fatherless, there are:

3 Keys to Supporting Fatherless Children:

  • Acknowledge and validate the void of the absence of a father in a child’s life.

No matter the age, a person who lost their father or never had a father feels the emptiness in even the smallest ways. Helping that person acknowledging and validating their feelings is important to helping them grieve their loss.

  • It’s okay to grieve.

Just because a person did not lose their father in a tragedy doesn’t mean they do not go through the 5 stages of grief (You can learn about those HERE). Some people say, “you can’t miss what you never had.” This is not true when it comes to the absence or loss of a father. Allow a person to move through the process. Seeking counseling from a professional is nothing to be ashamed of and may ultimately be what is needed to heal.

  • Meet Your Heavenly Father

God loves each and everyone of His children so much that he sent His only son to die on the cross so that we all could spend eternity with Him. By introducing your child (or even yourself) to God, you will find a relationship with a Father who loves you for who you are. It doesn’t matter what you have done or been through, He is waiting to love you with open arms.

 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

So, this Father’s Day, when everyone is posting on social media about their amazing dads, don’t feel left out. Tell them about your Father. Tell them He is with you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Let them know your Father hung the sun, moon, and the stars in the sky. Put a post online that you are the child of a King and “The earth and everything in it exists for the LORD the world and those who live in it.  Indeed, he founded it upon the seas, he established it upon deep waters.” (Psalm 24:1-2).  Lastly, share that your Father is the King of All Kings, the Beginning and the Ending, and the Alpha and Omega.

 

To those who feel that they are a Fatherless Child, Celebrate Father’s Day!

Your Daddy is the Best of them all!

 

 


 

Christel is a wife and mommy to 8 exceptional children When she isn’t busy with her squad, you can find her blogging at Perfectly Blended and Blessed or on Facebook.  She spends her days homeschooling their youngest 6, running the families non-profit organization, Focusing on Families, Inc., working as an Educational Consultant, and finding ways to be the “Chaos Coordinator” in their ever so crazy and quirky blended family.

 

 

 

 

Faith, Family, Freebies!, Organization

6 Sanity Savers for Getting to Church on Time!

And We’re Off…

The blaring sound of the alarm clock is ringing in your ear! You jump out of bed, run through the halls shouting for the kids to wake, hurry, and get ready for church. As you load up into the car, you notice that one of your lovely children has somehow managed to wear clothing that looks like it has been balled up in a corner for days. Your tires screech into the church parking lot, your children file out of the mini-van like circus clowns, and you manage to make it to your seats just as the first note is played by the worship team.  You think to yourself, “Hey, at least I made it, but man we could use some sanity savers to get here!”

Does this scenario sound a bit familiar? Do you find your family consistently just making it to church each week? Are you so flustered by the time you get to worship that you are unable to really receive all that worship has to offer?

As a large family momma, with 6 kiddos still home, this was our normal for so long. I started to dread going to church. It felt like another task and obligation added to my already overflowing to-do list. I was so overwhelmed with the thought of getting there, that I couldn’t even hear God over the silent sound of the chaos that came into the sanctuary with me.

Two years ago, our family moved to a new state. In the process, we also had to find a new church home. Through God’s infinite wisdom, he led us to an amazing new body of Christ.

It was at this time, my husband and I realized that we needed to come up with a new outlook on  “HOW” we would make it to church. We were very clear about why we were there, but we knew that we no longer wanted to continue the chaotic mornings.

We prayed, met with our children and brainstormed a list of all the things that created chaos in the morning. Then, the real work began. We knew that it was now or never. We worked together and created a list of 6 Sanity Savers for Getting to Church on Time!

Sanity Saver #1- Pray

When our family first started on our quest to get to church on time, we knew that we had to first come in agreement with the will of God for our lives.  Our family didn’t want church to feel like one thing we could check off each week.  Learning God’s word is important to us and we realized we needed to treat it that way. We took time as a family and prayed, asking God to order our steps and help us come up with a plan that worked for our family. We knew that this step needed to be the foundation for controlling our chaos. With God’s direction, everything else would fall in line.

Sanity Saver #2- Manage Your Mindset

Saturday nights are notorious for events to take place. Everything from a wedding reception, birthday party, cook outs, family game nights and more, are planned for Saturday. I can’t even begin to count the number of times that my husband or I have woken up on a Sunday morning too exhausted to go to church. We would look at one another hoping the other would be the initiator to get the house moving. It never worked. Our kids are also involved in sports. In our community, a lot of teams would hold games or practices on Sundays, right during the middle of church.

This is where Manage Your Mindset comes into play. After we decided that we were going to make church a top priority for our family. We knew we had to shift how we planned and scheduled our time. Don’t get me wrong, we haven’t stopped going to special events and spending time out as a family. Our kids also still participate in sports and extra-curricular activities. We have just changed our tactics! We no longer stay until the party is completely over unless it is truly necessary. So, instead of leaving at midnight, we now leave an hour or two early. We also have decided that we would not sign our kids up for activities that required participation during church. At first, some of our kiddos were a little upset, but after reminding them about “why” we were making these changes, they got on board.

Sanity Saver #3- Organize Your Wardrobe

When you look in your family’s closet, what do you see? Too many options for church? Too little options for church? Absolutely no clue because things are toss all around. Organize Your Wardrobe is something that might sound like a daunting task. With 6 kiddos and 2 adults in our house, this Sanity Saver lived up to its name. Our church does not have a formal dress code; however, I still like my kids to look presentable when going to church. We decided to go into the closets and pull out clothes that were designated “church clothes.” These items were placed on hangers and put to the side. This allows the kids to be more independent when it is time for our Saturday night routine of pulling out our church clothes. All clothes are taken out and hung on the over the door hook, like this one all the way down to socks, underwear and shoes. When we rise Sunday morning, the hassle of scrounging for clean clothes, matching socks or shoes is eliminated!

Sanity Saver #4- Lend a Helping Hand

With 6 children in our home, we have managed to create an instant buddy system. Outside of being a good sibling, we ask that each of the older siblings helps with one of the younger kiddos. Task can range from helping a little one put on shoes and socks, overseeing morning hygiene, such as washing their face or brushing their teeth, or being a mother’s helper and entertaining the baby as I get dressed. Regardless of the task, the idea is to be a help and not a hindrance to getting out of the door. Ultimately, my husband and I give the kids a once over, but having helping hands makes a world of a difference.

Sanity Saver #5 – Basic Breakfast

When I grew up, my mother would cook an elaborate breakfast on Sunday mornings. I am talking about eggs, bacon, biscuits…the works! It was almost without fail that we were late or really cutting it close to church. Although I love the memory of those great Sunday morning breakfasts, I decided to forgo the Sunday morning breakfast routine. Those Super Breakfasts are not scheduled for Saturdays or days where we have nowhere else to go. In our home, we have a Basic Breakfast using recipes from Easy Kids Breakfast: Quick Healthy Recipes which can range from pre-made casserole dishes, cereal to toaster waffles. I find that this Basic Breakfast makes our mornings run much faster and smoother! I even use an amazing free Recipe Binder that Cara Harvey put together over at A Purpose Driven Mom.

Sanity Saver #6- Plan to Arrive Early

If you are on time, you are late! This has become our new motto for our home. Gone are the days when we say church starts at 9 am. Yes, Sunday School starts at 9 am. However, it takes approximately 15 minutes for our family to find a parking space, take the kids to their classes, drop the baby in nursery, walk to our classroom, and find a seat. If we plan to get to church at 9 am, we are not leaving any time for all the possible obstacles we face, such as, traffic, last minute bathroom breaks, a whiny 4 year, or my favorite, a baby blow out! Although it only takes 10 minutes to drive to our church, we have set it in our minds that we will arrive early. Since I am the one who absolutely HATES mornings, my husband is the gatekeeper to ensuring that everyone is up, moving, and out of the house by 8:30 am.

Being a mom to many is not easy task. Getting us all out of the door on time is an adventure. Regardless of your family size, time management and organization are essential to relieving stress and chaos in your home. Take some time out and call a family meeting. Discuss what is important to your family and develop a plan.

What are some Sanity Savers your family has put in place?

Need Help Getting Started?

Download my Sanity Savers Worksheet

 



4 Self Care Time Outs for Moms
Family, Freebies!, Self Care

4 Self Care Time Outs for Moms

Hey Mom! It’s Time for a Time Out!

Most moms would agree that they don’t have time for self care because they are too busy caring for everyone else. Almost six months ago, the day after Thanksgiving, I found myself rushed to the hospital believing I was having a stroke. I remember the urgency of the nurses and technicians as they were examining me. I was experiencing slurred speech, left sided numbness, blurry vision, and an excruciating headache. While laying on a stretcher in the emergency room, the only thoughts running through my mind were:

“The kitchen sink has a pile of dishes!”

“The baby needs a bath.”

“There is no way I can stay here. The kids have a party to go to next week.”

As my blood pressure continue to climb well past the mid 200’s and I could not even speak or see clearly, my mind was still consumed with all of the things I needed to accomplish at home.

I don’t know about you, but for the most part, each day, my mind is filled with all of the things that I need to accomplish for those I love. School, finances, extra curricular activities, church, and so much more are always at the forefront of the day. From the moment I open my eyes to the time my head hits the pillow at night, my loved ones take the front seat.

Time for a Self Care Time Out

After what seemed like an eternity and an MRI, the doctors informed me that I did not have a stroke, but was experiencing the symptoms of having extremely high blood pressure. I was also told that because of my uncontrolled blood pressure over time, I now had damage to my heart and was at risk for heart failure. If I did not make major life changes, I would not be alive to see my children grow up. My tears stung my face as the doctor explained my next steps. First and most importantly, it was necessary to take TIME OUT for me! This mommy needed to become a task and priority on her own task list.

In order to accomplish this Time Out, I knew my self care plan could not feel like a chore and it needed to be flexible. After much thought, The Self Care Checklist was created. Focusing on only 4 areas of things I enjoyed the most, I was able to develop a gentle reminder to take care of myself.

 

Time Out #1            Eat Something Tasty

I come from a family where food is not just for nourishment. It is an experience! Most of the people in my family are chefs, so food is always delicious and plentiful. After several years of some really tough points in my life, I became an emotional eater. Along the way, I lost sight that I needed to be more mindful about what I was consuming as well as how much I was consuming. Thinking about what I was putting into my body became my number one on The Self Care Checklist because I knew that what I ate was going to have a huge impact on how I felt and my long term health. I started by making a list of the the Top 6 Foods I love to eat. Then, I found a healthy alternative and put those on my list. Each of the things on my list are foods I enjoy eating, but are also healthy. So, whatever you enjoy eating, find a healthy alternative and write it down.

Time Out #2            Read a Book

Hmm.. let me guess. The last book you read had brightly colored pictures, super heroes, animals, or famous cartoon characters. If that sounds about right, this Time Out is for you! Researchers at the National Library of New Zealand  say that reading for pleasure “improves literacy, social skills, health and learning outcomes.” Who in the world has TIME to read a book for pleasure? Well, certainly before being Forced Into Self Care , reading for pleasure was the furthest thing from my mind. There was just too much to be done in the course of day. Then it hit me, reading for pleasure was the perfect way to momentarily forget and unwind, even if just for fifteen minutes a day. Don’t forget about the awesomeness of e-books and audio books. There are tons of ways to take this much needed Time Out.

Time Out #3            Get Yourself Something

How often do you walk into a store set on purchasing something for yourself and then buying something for the kids instead? Have you ever been given a gift card for a present and spent the money on someone other than you? I am guilty of this on a regular basis. My family knows that if they want me to buy something for myself, they have to practically take me to the store and buy it right then and there. Sure, there are tons of things I would love to buy for myself. I just end up thinking of all of the things the kids can use instead. This Time Out gives you permission to write down at least six things you really want. Putting those items on a list makes them tangible. It allows you to see that, although the kids have things they want and need, so do you!

 

Time Out #4              Enjoy Life

Two weeks ago, a few friends and I decided to go out for a bite to eat without our husbands and children. We chatted, caught up on all of the crazy things going on in our lives, and laughed at some of the old times we used to have. We had such a great time, we decided that we would make this a frequent activity. For many moms, finding time to go out seems like a daunting task. The planning and preparation involved feels like too much of a hassle. I have found myself cancelling an outing just because I didn’t want to go through the process of setting things up at home. After being Forced Into Self Care, I decided it was time to start enjoying life! I wrote of a list of a few activities and things I enjoy doing and made a goal to accomplish one each month. Taking time to enjoy life and do things you love will give you a renewed energy you forgot you had. Do you love walks in the park, having coffee with friends, getting a manicure? Sit back, call a friend, and make some plans.

Taking Time Out for yourself and practicing self care isn’t as hard as you think. All you need is a pen and The Self Care Checklist. Moms spend so much time pouring into their families that they often become the last person on their to do list. You are loved and you are important. Make yourself a priority this Mother’s Day!

 

Did you enjoy these Self Care Time Outs? Pin the Image below and share it on Facebook!

 



A Beautiful Blog Beginning
Blogging, Family

Blogging Life is For Me

I spend countless hours on Pinterest and other social media sites reading articles by blogging mommies, such as Cara Harvey @ A Purpose Driven Mom.  Reading tips and ideas on how moms manage to keep their houses clean, kids schooled, and husbands happy is so interesting to me. My mind always thinks, “Blogs are for perfect moms! I could never do this.”

At least that’s what I thought…

Our family moved to a new state almost two years ago. During this transition, we found a new church home that totally met the needs of our family. Most people were impressed by our ability to successfully get our 5 children to church on time for Sunday school each week. When we would share that we also had two adult daughters and were expecting our 8th child,  then their jaws would hit the floor.

I remember sharing with others about our amazing blended family and some of the tips and tricks my husband and I use to “Control our Chaos.” A woman said to me, “You should do a blog! You have a lot of information to share.” Christel, a blogger, no way! I have nothing to share that isn’t already being talked about. What makes our story so different or unique?

Then it hit me, blogging isn’t about sharing something completely new or different, it is about allowing others to have a window into your life.

Blogs-Passion BeginsA Beautiful Blog Beginning

Being who I am, I took days to find a platform, and come up with a niche for my blog. I asked my husband, my children, and finally decided that I would blog about our crazy, quirky blended family.  Instantly, Perfectly Blended and Blessed was created. This blog became not only a place for me to share our world and ideas with others.  It became a place that allowed me to begin to process, express myself, and connect with other women who were as passionate about their lives and families as I am.

Blogging is becoming a way of life for me. It is that one thing that I look forward to doing each week. Since our world is always turning and moving, I had to become intentional about nurturing Perfectly Blended and Blessed. Although I have to add “work on blog” as a task on my ever expanding to-do list, it never feels like a burden. I am blogging because it has become my passion. I love taking time to share bits and pieces of our world with others. The same window that I love looking into when I read mommy blogs, is what I love creating for others to experience when they read Perfectly Blended and Blessed! 

Blended families are not easy. They take commitment and dedication from everyone. Our family is filled with love, joy, and, as you can read in my my post, High Powered Blending.   It is the foundation and passion for why I created my blog.

What’s your passion? Now, get writing!

 

 

-Christel is a wife and mommy to 8 exceptional children. She spends her days homeschooling their youngest 6, running the families non profit organization, Focusing on Families, Inc., working as an Educational Consultant, and finding ways to be the “Chaos Coordinator” in their ever so crazy crazy and quirky blended family.

“Guys, can we PLEASE take one serious picture?”

 

 

Faith, Family, Free Printables, Freebies!, Self Care

New Year! New Vision!

New Year! New Vision!

It’s the first day of a new year! Are you looking for a new vision for your life?

Have you made a resolution?

Decided that this year is the year?

I remember the new year’s eve after my 40th birthday. I resolved to finally make this the year that I lost weight. I was 6 months pregnant with my last child and I knew that he would be my last. I made a plan to begin a new way of eating, exercising, and cooking, all in an effort to lose 40 pounds by my 41st birthday. I had plans for our home, our school, and our business.

Well folks! Here I am. One year later and I have not lost anything. I am only 10 pounds lighter than I was after delivering my son. I started an intense exercise routine after being cleared for my 6 week post delivery check up. I made shakes, join the YMCA, and still here I sit. I even ended up in the hospital with my pressure so high, I almost had a stroke. Check out what I realized after that here!

Oh and those plans for our home and school, let’s just say we are still in the trenches and they have been rewritten multiple times.

No! This isn’t a post about how I have now joined a program, started a new diet, or have some exciting new opportunity! In fact, this is the opposite.

What is my New Vision?

This post is about when I realized WHY I have not accomplished what I planned. After much reflection, self doubt, tears and  prayer, I realized that all of the plans and goals I had for myself were pointless.

I realized that no matter how hard “I” tried, I would continually miss the mark. This past year, I realized that I created tons of goals for my life, but never checked in with the One who made me. I never asked God to tell me what He had for my life. My purpose and God’s purpose were not lining up because

“I never sought after Him and asked Him to reveal to me anything. “

So what do I do now? This year, I took the time to dedicate uninterrupted time to seek an answer from God. I asked Him to show me my purpose. You won’t believe how clear everything seemed. I mean it was almost instant! I became so clear on what God wanted for my life. I was reminded of the verse,

“…write the vision, make it plain…”  (Hab 2:2)

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How to Find Your New Vision

I am looking forward to what God is about to do in my life and the life of my family. I am beyond grateful to have a husband who fully supports me and also seeks God for guidance in his life. I am equally thankful for children who realize that seeking God for their purpose is a necessity. We even sat down and had them complete their “Write the Vision” vision boards for the year. (Make one with your kids using the (Write the Vision  e-book)

Now I ask you: Have you given thought to what is ahead for you and your family? Have you taken the time to seek God first?

Don’t start this year off without first checking in and asking for guidance!

Come back here often to see how things are going and find out what we are up to.

Happy New Year!

Sincerely,

Christel -Chaos Coordinator