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10 Ways To Teach Your Kids Not To Take Everything For Granted In An Entitled World

10 Ways To Teach Your Kids Not To Take Everything For Granted In An Entitled World

A couple weeks ago, I sat in on my daughter’s first day of school and listened to the teacher as she described the rules for her class. I snoozed through half the lecture, not needing to hear the rules about using the bathroom, raising your hand, yada yada, until she got to the last one: the cell phone rule.

Say what?

This is fourth grade.

No cell phones allowed. Leave them in the back pack, turned off. Or leave them at home. 

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Man, that got sighs and eye-rolls and (practically) tears. In fourth grade.

More than half the class has cell phones. Not just cell phones, either. These kids are packing top of the line smartphones. This is definitely a sign of the times. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those kids having phones. In fact, on the way out, I heard one classmate use a voice-to-text to tell his mom, “I’m walking home now.” I wonder, though, did he do anything to earn the phone? Or does he appreciate the phone?

Don’t get me wrong – our son has a smart phone (an iPhone, to be exact). What’s great about this is it’s our biggest piece of leverage we have with him. He loves his phone and the second we make the threat (to take it away), whatever the issue is, it’s fixed. Of course, we’ve also taken the kids to an “old-school” pay phone, one we searched high and low for, and made them call us. Our daughter almost vomited from whatever sticky mess was on the mouth piece of the phone. Thank God our son is a numbers wiz because he actually had several phone numbers memorized. They needed lessons on how to put the money in (like a candy machine) and then what to do. “You push the buttons…like a cell phone. Hello!” They couldn’t understand the concept, hence, their instantly renewed gratitude for the cell phone.

“Please, Mom,” my 13-year-old son said, “I’ll do any chore. Just never make me call from one of these again.”

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Okay, so the lesson wasn’t exactly torture (minus the three required hand washing sessions because both my kids are heart patients and therefore not equipped with the best immune systems), but it did the trick. It was one of the daily, weekly or monthly lessons in gratitude I so love to spring on them.

I will say this: I have a slight benefit in this over-entitled world. My kids were born with chronic illnesses. They’ll never have it “easy”. They’ve learned the hard way not to take things for granted. There’s times when they’ve been so sick, we worried about living. Period. There’s not a lot of BIG things we take for granted. I find, though, like normal kids in the 21st century, they tend to take some of the little things for granted. So how do I make sure this doesn’t happen?

1. Be a role model.

I work hard every day not to take things for granted. I teach gratitude by showing my own gratitude. You shouldn’t need to on the brink of death or have had something happen to realize how important people or things are in your life, or how lucky you are. If you don’t take things for granted, neither will your kids.

2. It’s always a WIP (Work In Progress).

Learning gratitude is something that never stops. You must always take the time to be grateful for what you have and the people in your life.

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3. Choose just one thing and practice.

You can’t expect entitled 21st century kids to change their spots in a day. Choose one item or one person to focus on and pick one activity to show how grateful you are for that choice. Make a list of things you like about that person. Write a thank you note for the item you received.

4. Thank your children.

Again, when you model gratitude, you’re teaching them the behavior. If they do something right or complete a task without being asked, thank them. They’re human, too. They like to be appreciated. When you appreciate them it teaches them to appreciate you.

5. Teach them about freedom.

Regardless of your political beliefs, and without spouting off your ideas about politicians, teach your children about the freedom they are awarded in this country. Remind them regularly to be grateful for that freedom. It’s a privilege.

6. Ask them to give back.

By asking them, you’re putting the ball in their court. See what ideas they come up with. Kids are more prone to commit, follow through and understand, when they come up with the ideas themselves. It can be as simple as giving flowers to a neighbor or as detailed as planning a large toy drive for a local hospital.

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7. Teach the fine art of thank you notes.

Make sure you always have thank you notes on-hand. Teach them how to write a basic, age-appropriate thank you note. Be sure to write it and send it in a timely manner. Even better, make sure you’re sending thank you notes. Yes, even as an adult. Practice what you preach. (Not e-mail or text, either.)

8. Change “entitled behavior” at that moment.

Use an entitled behavior action as a teachable moment. Turn it around. Teach your child at that moment what’s truly important. Ask them what’s important and why they deserve something. Nip it in the bud right then and there.

9. Look at the little things with new eyes.

Point out the smaller things and talk about them. Clean water. Food on the table. Clothes on your backs. Toys to play with. Friends. Smartphones! Point out the obvious and the not-so-obvious and teach your kids to be grateful for all these things.

10. Entitlement is learned. Don’t teach that subject.

Look, nobody wants spoiled brats. (Think Veruka Salt from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.) Teaching kids not to take things for granted seems easy, but it takes a little work every single day. Make sure you wear your gratitude glasses every day because you’re kids are not only learning from your words, but from your behavior as well.

Featured photo credit: Carissa Rogers via flickr.com

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Published on September 21, 2018

11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

11 Smart Pieces of Advice to Help You Thrive as a Single Mother

Becoming a mother is one of the most difficult challenges a woman can take on in her life. Whether this happens the “natural” way, with the help of science, or through adoption, being in charge of nurturing another human being is a herculean task to take on.

Typically, when we think about parenthood, we imagine two parents sharing the responsibility and having each other to lean on. However, according to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised by a single mother.[1] This is a significant portion of the population that often gets overlooked.

If you are one of these mothers raising your children on your own, you are undoubtedly aware of the additional challenges that motherhood has placed upon you, including the constant struggle to find sufficient time, energy, money, and support.

For single mothers who find themselves bogged down by their daily responsibilities and struggle to stay afloat, don’t be fooled by the belief that you have to do all. It is possible to thrive and live as a single mother if you take advantage of all available resources and adjust your priorities based on your situation.

1. Find your community and ask for help

As the sole caretaker of your kids, going through the successes and struggles of parenthood can feel isolating and lonely. You have probably developed a strong sense of independence because you’ve had to go at it alone.

Being self-reliant is necessary in many situations that you have to face, but do not fool yourself into thinking that you don’t need support from others. If you have family nearby, strengthen your relationship with them by visiting and talking more often. Find time to catch up with old friends or co-workers, and don’t assume they don’t want to hang out if they are not parents themselves.

Would you prefer finding mom friends[2] who have more in common with you? Use resources like apps, Facebook groups, and community events to meet local moms in your area.

After you have established a support group that you can depend on, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is NOT a sign of weakness or incompetency to admit you can’t do it all, and others are probably more willing to lend a hand than you think.

If you feel uncomfortable burdening others, suggest trading favors such as taking turns babysitting. Because after all, helping is each other is what community is all about.

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2. Make peace with the past

Before you can move forward, you must make peace with your past and not let it define you or rule your life. Whether your journey to single motherhood was through divorce, death, or never having a relationship the father, it is crucial that you leave behind the feelings of abandonment or betrayal you may be struggling with.

You cannot change the past and the hurt you had to endure, but you can use the strength that you gained from overcoming those obstacles to work towards making the best life for yourself and your child. Learn from the past but live in the present and look towards the future.

3. Make plans and set goals

The daily repetition of trying to balance work and home life can make you feel like you are on operating on autopilot. However, it is imperative to set goals for yourself and to keep working towards self-improvement.

In your personal life, you can set a fitness goal (train for a 5k), a reading goal (read 20 books in a year), or a travel goal (take a trip to Europe). At your job, you can set career goals such as gain leadership experience, get a promotion, or earn a degree or certificate.

Spend time creating a realistic plan to on how you can go about achieving these goals. Not only will working towards these goals make you a more well-rounded and successful person, they will bring more purpose and fulfillment to your life.

4. Look for role models

A great way to jump start your plans for the future is to find a role model or mentor who is further along in their life or career experience. This person can be a great resource when you need guidance on what types of goals to set for yourself and how to achieve them.

It’s also important to have people to turn to for encouragement during difficult seasons of life. Someone who has been through it before can provide the most genuine reassurance that tough times will get better and that staying positive is best approach.

5. Rethink your priorities

Single parents have twice as many responsibilities to take care of, so priorities and expectations must be adjusted accordingly.

Know that you are not superwoman and striving for a perfectly clean home, no dirty laundry, and home-cooked meals for your kids every day is not a reasonable expectation. It’s okay to take shortcuts sometimes, like serving your kids cereal for dinner or waiting until the next day to wash the dishes.

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Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and let go of the guilt that you feel for being the only parent that your kids can count on. Give yourself a break and don’t sweat the small stuff.

6. Make time for me time

Even though it can be difficult to find, making time for yourself is critical to maintaining your sanity and well-being. Without a built-in partner to take over, finding time to be away from the kids must be done intentionally and planned in advance.

If you are sharing custody, use the time away from your kids not only doing productive things but also making sure you are taking care of yourself. Sleep, exercise, and balanced diet are not things that can get pushed to the bottom of the priority list. Also make time for fun activities, such as hobbies and creative outlets.

Even though being a mother is the most important job you have, don’t let it be the only thing that defines you. Time for yourself is more difficult to find if you are the sole caretaker of your kids.

Use the resources that you have to devote time to self-care, and you and your kids will thank you for it in the long run.

7. Stay organized

With so many things to juggle, great organizational skills are an absolute must in order to keep everything moving smoothly. Use apps such as Mint for your finances, Mealime for meal planning, and Cozi as a family organizer for everything from appointments and shopping lists to after school activities.

Maintain constant contact if you are sharing custody so that it is clearly communicated who will be responsible for what when it comes to your kids. Follow consistent routines in the morning and nighttime so that your kids also know what to expect on a daily basis.

8. Be flexible (Don’t be a control freak)

Although it is important to be prepared and stay organized, things don’t always go according to plan.

When kids get sick and have to stay home or babysitters cancel at the last minute, allow for flexibility by having a contingency plan for childcare and with your employer.

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For example, make a list of people you can call when you need last minute childcare, or talk to your boss in advance about working from home when emergencies come up.

Most of all, don’t let unexpected changes stress you out and ruin your day.

9. Learn to say no (Don’t feel guilty)

Single mothers have limitations in time, energy and resources that families with two parents wouldn’t be able to understand. Because of these circumstances, it’s important you let go of feelings of guilt and stop trying to do everything and be everywhere.

You don’t have to say yes to every single birthday party your child is invited to. Your kids don’t have to be involved in sports and extracurricular activities every night of the week.

Limit the things you do to only the ones that are the most enjoyable and meaningful for you and your family. Doing more things does not make you a better mother; simply a more tired one.

10. Live within your means

When you have to raise your family on a single income, budgeting and spending within your means becomes more important than ever.

If you have outstanding debt that is accruing interest, make it a priority to pay those off as soon as possible. Outlining a budget is the best way to visualize how much money is being spent every month on various things and what is left over.

Find ways to save money on the necessities by looking for sales at the grocery store, buying some things secondhand, planning out meals.

After the necessary bills are paid, determine how much can be spent on luxury items such as eating out, vacations, and going to the movies.

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Don’t let finances be a source of anxiety for you and your family. Keep your bank account in good shape while teaching your kids how to spend money responsibly at the same time.

11. Spend quality time with your kids

The time you spend with your kids is so precious and much more limited as a single mother. Make the time that you spend with your kids count.

Rather than sitting in front of the TV, take them on fun and budget-friendly outings to the park, the playground, or a museum. Use meal times as the perfect excuse to ask them about what they are learning in school and the friends they spend time with.

When your kids ask you to play with them, look at it as a privilege and an opportunity to bond with them, rather than a distraction or waste of time. Be present when you are with them, with no work or multitasking on your mind. Your relationship with your kids will absolutely reap the benefits.

Final thoughts

Being a single mother is not an easy job. That’s why it’s important to use all the resources available to you in order to make this job a little bit easier.

Using technology, an organization system and a supportive community are just a few examples of things you should utilize to your benefit. It’s also important to shift your mindset and be more practical when it comes to things like priorities and finances.

Most of all, don’t forget about your own self care. Only when you take care of yourself can you best take care of the people you love.

Single mothers are some of the most hard-working people out there, and you deserve to have a happy and fulfilling life.

Featured photo credit: Alvaro Reyes via unsplash.com

Reference

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