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Summer Routines

Summer is a kid’s delight! They look forward to the end of school with anticipation. It is not long however, before many moms are counting the days until school starts again, even if they homeschool. Why? With school comes routine.

Let me ask you this – what do your kids do with too much free time? Do they look for creative things to do or start irritating each other? Do they follow you around telling you they are bored, wanting you to entertain them? Do they constantly want to go, go, go (another form of entertainment)? The number one way to eliminate chaos in your home is to get your household on a routine. A routine brings predictability, order, and stability to a home. As adults, you know how much better you feel, and how much easier life is for you when you are in a routine. It is the same for all ages of children.

How do you come up with a routine? Write down the things that you would like to see happen in a day. You want your kids to play together, play alone, read, have computer time, playtime with you, rest time and so forth. It is a good idea to have time blocked out where two siblings have time together as opposed to them all being together in a group.

Work in ½ hour segments. The first segment should be breakfast, followed by Devotions, then chores. After that, Justin and Austin and Abby and Samantha can play together in two separate places. One gets to pick what to do on Monday and the other gets to pick on Tuesday and on it goes. When the timer goes off they have individual reading time. The next block of time they switch, and Justin and Abby play together and Samantha and Austin too. I trust you see the flow and rhythm of how this works. Don’t forget to work in free time too!

If you have young children, make a list of things they can do alone and a different list of things they can do that requires supervision. Make a schedule each day of what you need to get done. Slot an activity they can do unsupervised for the few minutes you need to change a load of laundry. Next, do something with them that requires supervision and follow this with one that doesn’t require supervision. Keep alternating these and you will get your chores done!

For more ideas on establishing a routine, the Mom’s Notes presentations, “Structuring Your Child’s Day, Parts 1 and 2” are just what you need!


What’s a ‘Pre-Activity Warning’?

Let Them Know Upfront

Joey & Carla Link

Pre-Activity Warning

May 2012


We were at an orthopedic medical facility for an appointment. While we were walking down the long hallway to the department we were headed to, a boy, around six years of age was turning in circles not paying any attention to what he was doing. I was about to say something when his dad yelled at him to watch what he was doing. Further down the hall, a boy of about eight years was doing the monkey walk, where you walk an imaginary line, putting the heel of one foot against the toe of another. He was looking at the floor and didn’t see us coming. We moved out of his way as his dad, who was walking ahead of him, looked over his shoulder to see where his son was and yelled at him to get out of the way.


At what point parents, do you stop running interference for your children and begin training them? We would say both of these situations are an excellent life opportunity to train a child in the way he is to go (Proverbs 22:6). All too often, we are so focused on other things or pressing matters of the moment so we don’t take the time to teach into our children’s life moments.


I heard the father saying as we walked slowly past the eight year old, “What are you thinking? Why aren’t you watching where you are going? Can’t you see this isn’t the place to be goofing around? ” His son was not even looking at him, much less paying attention to anything he was saying. In other words the boy received a lecture and went on with life, not thinking he needed to change a thing. Yes, he stopped the monkey walk for a few minutes, but would he go back to it again? Since there had been no training and no correction, we were sure he would.


In reality, these children were trained. They were trained to do whatever they wanted to do for as long as they wanted to do it until someone in authority intervened.


What does biblical training look like? Training needs to start at home with teaching. ‘On-the-spot’ training is rarely successful. For the above situation, use a family night to role play situations your children encounter that they need to be especially watchful of where they are going.

  • Teach your kids that they always need to be looking where they are going.
  • Teach them what types of people they need to look out for. Tell them to move closer to the wall or shelves in stores to give these people more room.
  • Always tell them to be listening for additional instructions from you whenever you are out with people.
  • Use a pre-activity warning before you go.


A pre-activity warning is the use of questions to ask your kids before you get somewhere. When our kids were growing up we used pre-activity warnings on our way to church, the store, the park and anywhere else we went.



  1. Pre-activity warnings are not times for lectures. You are getting them to remember the rules for themselves, not lecturing them before they have gotten into trouble.


  1. Ask questions. “We are going to the hospital to see Grandma. Since Gram is so sick she has to be in the hospital so they can take care of her, how do you think you should act in her room? If you are unsure, what can you do? (Ask Mom) When we are at the store or at church, what type of people do you look for in the hallways that you need to be extra-careful around? Do you think you would know by looking if someone was sick? (No) So how do you think you should walk in the halls here? (They might say be extra-careful or hold your hand) See how this works?


  1. A pre-activity warning is a tool to support your training efforts. Before you can use it your kids need to know what your expectations are first and they need to be characterized by obedience.


  1. Pre-activity warnings work for young children too. When our young grandchildren are visiting (4 yr.s & 6 yrs.) before we leave the house to go to the park nearby we ask them what the “Park Rules” are. They will tell us they must hold our hands until we tell them they can run and play. If they are riding their bikes they will tell us they must stay on the sidewalk where we can see them and they can’t cross a street without our permission. Keep your rules simple.


Pre-activity warnings eliminate chaos wherever you go. Instead of correction and consequences your kids get the blessing of praise and encouragement because when they know what to do, they usually will do it. Please don’t ever think you don’t have the time to work issues through with your kids.


#preactivitywarningshelpkidsandparents  #askquestionsnolecturing  #parentingmadepractical

Do Your Children Know “Why” It Is Right To Do Something?

Pick up your toys.” “Clean your room.” “Be good.” “Stay out of trouble.” “Settle down.” “Be kind to your sister.” “Let your brother go first.” These are common statements made by every parent. As parents, we need to give our children the ‘moral reason why’. Which of the statements above would be ‘moral’ in context? Depending on the way your children do the tasks, they all could be. A task, such as picking up toys, is just that, a task. Unless of course, it is done incorrectly. It could become rebellion, or maybe not. If it is rebellion, it is usually done in anger. You know your child just didn’t want to do it. How do you know if it is not rebellion? The answer is simple: Did they know how to do it in the first place?


The problem today is we get so busy things slip between the cracks. In other words, have you told them ‘how’ to do the task? When you give your kids a task to complete, you have a picture in your mind of how it should be done. Do your kids come up with the same picture? The only way they could is if you have specifically showed them how you want it done, and this must be age-appropriate. When my girls were in preschool, I had their toys in bins. I would carefully sort them each week into the bins, and expected them to stay that way when the girls put their toys away. They didn’t stay that way and the toys would be such a jumble the girls could never find the toy they were looking for, a frustrating occurrence.


My mom was visiting one time when this happened, and she asked me how the girls knew what went into each bin, as they were all the same color. We went out and got different colored bins. That problem was solved, as all I had to do then was say, “Please put your books in the red bin.” With older kids, do they know exactly what you expect to see when you say, “Pick up your room?” My son, when in 5th grade once said to me, “My room is picked up!” He had picked everything up off the floor and put them in piles on his dresser and shelf. We set some guidelines that worked for both of us.


Be good” “Stay out of trouble” and “Settle down” are neutral statements. You really expect your kids, especially if they are with other kids to stop and define what ‘good’ or ‘trouble’ looks like, or to know what you mean by ‘settle down’? A different way of handling this would be to say, “Stay out of trouble. Give me two examples of what you think I mean by trouble.” ‘Trouble’ can vary given the circumstance, so having them define it on the spot puts you and your child on the same page.


Instead of telling your son to be kind to his sister, ask him to give you one way he can show kindness to her. If he doesn’t know, have him sit until he comes up with something. Then ask him if he is willing to do what he came up with at that time. Again, if he says no, he sits until he is willing.


The best way to teach your children the ‘moral reason why’ is to talk about it as you go about the normal tasks of the day. When you read a book to a young child, ask a couple questions like, “Why do you think the elephant thought he should be kind to the turtle?” When my kids could read for themselves, when I was making dinner or folding laundry, I would ask one of them to come and read to me and then we could talk about ‘the moral reason why’.


Asking questions will show you what they know. One of my daughters was impulsive and always wanted to be first. To work on this, we told her she had to wait to get in the car when we were going somewhere until her siblings got in. I asked her why I wanted her to do this, and she immediately said it was because she pushed her way in to be first. When I asked her why this was wrong, she said because it was not fair. That was an acceptable answer for a 1st grader. That is the other thing to keep in mind when teaching your children the ‘moral reason why’, it changes, not in definition but in application with age. Keep your ‘defining’ as simple as they have the maturity to understand.


Showing Love to Your Children

Every child needs to know his parents love him every single day. How do you show your kids love? Many parents see it as a time to buy them more things. Think about it, do your children need more stuff? Is this the only way you can show your kids you love them? By showering them with gifts? If your kids are not ever satisfied with what they already have, giving them more may be teaching them greed is okay.

Perhaps you choose to show your children love by allowing them to do what they beg for. Unless your kids/teens are good at setting their own boundaries, we hope you use caution when opening the door to unlimited freedoms. Giving children freedom of choice is another way parents think they are showing love to them. Well, it seems harmless enough to let them choose what they want to wear, eat, drink, play, and so forth. Harmless that is, until they choose not to pick up their toys when you tell them to. They don’t understand in their parents’ minds, freedom of choice is a one-way ticket – they can choose what they want to do but not what they don’t want to do.

You might be thinking that the only kind of love we think is appropriate to show children is ‘tough love’. What some call ‘tough love’ we see in a different way. We encourage you to set a biblical standard for your children’s behavior at all ages and stick to it. So if you want to show love to your kids in a way they will truly benefit from, then be consistent when training them to submit to the standard you and God have set. If you are consistent in setting and reinforcing boundaries when they are young, you shouldn’t need to when they are teens (because they will know how to set them for themselves) and you will be able to enjoy your teens instead of trying to rein them in.

We all know children need unconditional love. What does this mean? It means you need to show your children you love them without conditions. Do your kids think you only love them when they do their chores, keep their room picked up, homework done and so forth? Find a way today to show each of your children you love them without conditions!

The Mom’s Notes presentation, “Understanding the Funnel” and “Structuring Your Child’s Day, Part 1 & Part 2” will assist you with setting appropriate boundaries for your children.


Children Can Have Quiet Times

There is a parenting resolution that we think it is worthy to consider making, and that would be that all of your children have devotions. How many of you have trouble consistently having your own Quiet Time? To teach your children to do so at a young age will be giving them a wonderful gift for their entire lives. Even infants love to listen to their mommies tell them a story and sing to them.

If you have children under 5 years, set aside a time each day to read to them from an age-appropriate Bible or devotion book, sing a song about God and pray with them. How long will this take? The only way to make time for it consistently is to do just that, plan a time in your schedule when you know you can do it. Given their attention spans, a few minutes at most is all that is needed. When our son or daughter-in-law tell our 19 month old grandson it is Bible Time, he hurries to a certain chair, picks his Bible Storybook off a table and hands it to his parent.

Children in Kindergarten – 2nd grade will still need to have their devotions read to them. Get a notebook and write down their answers to the questions at the end of each day’s lesson and their prayer requests. Be sure to write down the answers to these requests too! Can you give up ten minutes a day to help your child with this?

When kids reach 3rd grade and above, have them start their day by having devotions on their own and write down their answers themselves.

After dinner on Saturday nights, Joey would have our kids get their notebooks and Bibles and would invite them to come and share with him what Jesus taught them in their devotions/Quiet Times that week. Our children looked forward to this time with their dad.

Take the time now to start your children in the habit of daily Quiet Times with God if they do not already have them.