How to Help Your Boy Discover His Gifts and Purpose

One Friday morning earlier this month, we made the trip to an area arts and academic meet for our oldest son. He had been chosen to participate in a math competition as well as have his artwork displayed at the art show. The fact that he was doing well in both math and art at school really got me thinking about the gifts God places in our kids and how unique they are for each child.

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As a mom to three growing boys, I have a front row seat to see these gifts being revealed in each of my sons. It is quite the show and I’m realizing I am not a passive viewer in this situation. God has a role for us as parents in helping our children discover and grow in the talents given to them by Him.

As my oldest is only 10, I don’t have any expert advice for you, but I do have real-life experience, right now in the trenches with you, and I’ve observed these ways to participate in this process without taking over the lives of my kids.

I’m sharing my thoughts on a parent’s role in this process over at the Tommy Nelson blog today! Head on over there to read more and join the discussion!

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Teaching Kids About the Character of a Jesus-Follower

I received this book to review. I have included affiliate links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

So here’s the deal…

I’m not a big fan of what the world thinks a “Christian” looks like these days. If you were to ask a person on the street about the character traits of a Jesus-follower, I’m afraid you would hear words like self-righteous, judgmental, and close-minded. These are ugly words and the furthest thing from the character of Jesus.

This is the world in which we are raising our children. It is more important than ever to teach our kids to be Jesus-followers not just in name, but in everything we do. My character has to speak louder than any label I may claim. And I want the character of my boys to do the same.  

When we look at the life of Jesus, there are so many character traits for us to emulate and teach to our kids. I like to narrow down our focus when the kids are little and build upon it as they grow and mature in their faith.

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I Will Follow Jesus, a bible storybook by Judah and Chelsea Smith, is a great starting point for sharing these character traits of a Jesus-follower with our young kiddos. Every family should choose their own focus, but here are a few we emphasize from an early age:

Loving

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. -1 John 4:18

Jesus loved people. All people. He loved like no one ever has because He is God and God is love. When we look at the two most important commandments given to us by God, they come down to love. Love God. Love people. A Jesus follower is loving.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the great and first commandment.And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” -Matthew 22:36-38

Brave

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. -Joshua 1:9

We’ve already talked about the negative view much of the world has of Christians. Living and loving boldly in the name of Jesus takes courage. One day it might look like standing up for a classmate who is getting picked on at recess. Another day it may mean stepping out of your comfort zone to share a bible verse with someone who needs encouragement. We’re not scaling physical mountains, but sharing the love of Jesus in a hostile world most definitely requires bravery. And Jesus is the one who makes us brave!

In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect… -1 Peter 3:15

Humble

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. -Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus was the only perfect person to ever walk this earth, yet He was humble, even to the point of death. We live in a world where pride matters and we don’t want our pride hurt. Being a Jesus-follower means leaving our pride at the foot of the cross and walking in humility.

What does humility look like for our kids? Sometimes it means putting others’ needs before our own, which goes hand in hand with loving well. It also means not always having to be “right” all the time. We have some stubborn boys in this house (they might get that from their mama), and they like to be right about things. They also like to correct someone when they are wrong. A humble person knows how to take constructive criticism, as well when to keep their “right” thoughts to themselves. If we as Christians are always pointing out what others are doing wrong, we are exhibiting pride and opening ourselves up to a big fall when someone catches us in sin.

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. -Proverbs 16:18

When we look to Jesus and see His grace and mercy to us even when we were still sinners, we can’t help but be humble.

We can talk about all these characteristics to help our children in their walk of faith, but being a Jesus-follower comes down to one thing. We must be willing to follow what Jesus asks of us – no matter the cost, no matter what we look like.

We look at the life of Jesus, as told so well for kids in I Will Follow Jesus, for how to live, but we must also pray and listen for His voice, calling us to do the work He has just for us here on earth. Invite your kids to live out these characteristics, open their heart to the call of Jesus in their life, and follow Him!

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” -Matthew 16:24

I Will Follow Jesus

GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away three copies of I Will Follow Jesus to you lovely people! Just use the widget below to enter!

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Holy Week 101 for Parents and Kids

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Although we have observed Holy Week in our own way as a family, when I asked my oldest son what he knew about Holy Week, his first question was, “What is Holy Week?” I apparently had never specifically labeled the week with that title, so my question and his response opened up a wonderful conversation about the week leading up to Easter!

Holy Week is extraordinarily significant to Christians and I have always felt strong desire to share all aspects of what Jesus went through in that week with our children. Maybe that is your desire as well. In my post over at Tommy Nelson today, I recorded some of the more relevant questions and answers from the conversation with my son in the hopes that it would be a guide for your own conversation with your child. Think of it as “Holy Week 101!”

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Head over to Tommy Nelson to read the answers to my son’s questions, including:

  • What is Holy Week?
  • What happened to Jesus during Holy Week?
  • What am I supposed to do during Holy Week?

We’ve kept The Story of Easter board book around our house to help introduce the events of this week to our kids at a young age. And we always follow this simple plan with the Jesus Storybook Bible as a family to remember the events leading up to and including Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Do you observe Holy Week as a family? What are some of your favorite traditions?

 

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Knowing God by Naming Names

I have included affiliate and referral links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

We take names very seriously in our house.

The Hubby and I pored over the meanings and bible verses as we chose names for our three sons. We prayed, asking God to guide us in choosing each name, and He answered each time. In our dining room, a print hangs on the wall with the first and middle name of each boy along with the bible verse that goes with that name.

A name holds so much. In our society, your name is your identity. When people know your name, you feel valued and important. You feel known.

My kids get this feeling. When they started at a new school this year, hearing another classmate call them by name, inviting them to play at recess or sit with them at lunch, was a huge victory.

God wants our kids to know Him in this way. He wants them to know His NAMES (yes, plural) and to call out to Him with those names. And I believe when our kids know the variety of names by which we can call God, they will know Him even better. As it says in the Bible:

Those who know your name put their trust in you. —Psalm 9:10

Knowing God helps us, and our kids, trust Him better. That’s a pretty awesome reason to get to know His names, right?!

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What names of God should you share with your kids first? Let’s start with these:

Immanuel

This is a name we hear a lot around Christmas time, but I like to keep in my mind year round. “Immanuel” means “God with us.” Before my kids know about all the ways God works in their lives, I want them to know He is always with them! Because God is with us, He can be all the things we need Him to be in our lives.

Rabbi

Jesus was often called “Rabbi,” which means teacher. I understand not all kids have a good relationship with their teacher, but I’ve always connected with Jesus as a teacher and my kids do as well. He is not here to scold us, but to teach and guide us through His Word. The best teachers lead by example and we see that holy example all over the Gospels.

Jehovah-Jireh

“Jehovah-Jireh” is a name for God that means “God will provide.” I love this name because it is something we can be on the lookout for as a family. When we talk about God as our provider, we are also opening the eyes of our children to watch for how He shows up to provide in our lives. Whether it comes through meeting financial, physical, or emotional needs, I want all of us to be on alert for the care and faithfulness of God. He provides for each one of us, sometimes in unusual ways, but always abundantly and graciously.

We also think of God as our Shepherd, Comforter, Healer, Father, and Friend. He is the Great I Am. The names go on and on because He is everything we need and more. If you’re looking to share more about the names of God with your children, you will love I Am: 40 Reasons to Trust God by Diane Stortz. This book, available for pre-order right now, offers bible stories, prayers, and devotions all centered around the names of God. It is perfect for family devotions or for your readers to enjoy on their own!

What names of God do you love?

 

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3 Ways to Involve Your Kids in the Kitchen This Christmas!

I have included affiliate and referral links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson!

Confession: I love to eat.

Many of my fondest memories involve food. This especially holds true for the holidays. Christmas makes me think of my dad’s party mix, my mom’s plates of sweet treats, and big bowls of warm soup. The holidays have always included full days of baking in the kitchen with my mom and sister – measuring, mixing, baking, and decorating to share delicious food with family and friends.

I have three boys of my own now and I am so grateful they enjoy time in the kitchen as much as I do! Their involvement in holiday baking has evolved over the years based on their age and level of interest. My aim is always to make it fun for them AND productive for me with as little stress as possible. When I get started on my holiday baking list, I know they will want to join in, so I have several go-to ways to get them involved in the kitchen!

3 Ways to Involve Your Kids in the Kitchen this Christmas

Here are my three favorites:

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Reading the recipe

It might not seem like the most exciting job, but as soon as my boys could read, they couldn’t wait to tell me the ingredients, measurements, and directions. I think they might also enjoy it because they feel like they are in control! It is helpful to me because I can go about measuring and mixing while they tell me what to do.

When the kids are in the kitchen with me reading handwritten recipes passed down from my mom or grandma, we end up sharing lots of stories. Family history has been passed down from generation to generation in our kitchens and I want to keep that tradition going!

Kids in the Kitchen Chocolate Chips

Measuring the mix-ins

I usually measure out the messiest ingredients during our baking sessions – flour, oil, and so on. Those are also the ingredients that need to be the most precise, so maybe it’s a little about me being in control! I’m trying to hand over the measuring duties little by little and even our youngest can help measure mix-in type ingredients, such as chocolate chips, nuts, and dried fruit. These measurements don’t need to be quite as exact and I don’t mind if they sneak a few to snack on along the way!

Kids in the Kitchen Egg

Cracking eggs

I know I just talked about control issues in the kitchen and this was probably the hardest for me to let the kids try. But here’s the truth: kids love cracking eggs. And egg cracking is a skill every person should learn at some point, so why not teach them early?

When the kids crack eggs, we follow a few simple rules. Eggs are cracked one at a time into a separate bowl, then added to the mixture. This prevents accidental egg shell pieces from ruining an entire batch of cookies! Hand washing is a must as soon as all eggs are cracked to prevent any cross-contamination. I’m all about preventing food-borne illness because there is already enough sickness going around this time of year!

On this particular day, we were making my grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, but holiday baking with kids could also involve frosting, sprinkles, rolling out dough, and lots of other fun!

And when the kids lose interest in the kitchen…

This happens all the time. The boys are so excited about baking with me, but after about 30 minutes, they lose interest. It pays to have a backup plan and I often choose a holiday movie for that plan. In keeping with the Christmas baking theme, check out A Fruitcake Christmas from the Hermie & Friends series by Tommy Nelson! There is fun, adventure, mystery, and all of it points to Christ, the true reason for Christmas.

I love to bake all year round, but there is something extra special about baking this time of year and I’m so glad my kids are a part of it! What is your favorite way to get the kids involved with holiday baking?

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5 Ways to Win the Day On a Snow Day!

I was compensated by Nestle for this post, including product to review. I have included affiliate and referral links below. When you purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission. Thank you for supporting this site and our sponsorship of our Compassion child, Samson! All opinions are 100% my own.

It’s going to happen. I just know it is. The boys are in school this year and we live in Nebraska, so we will have a snow day and I want to be prepared.

We used to homeschool, so a snow day meant a normal day of school for us, but all of that has changed this year. If the boys are home for a snow day, we won’t be doing any school work! Since snow days could pop up unexpectedly, I’m making a game plan right now so I’m not caught off guard looking for something fun to do!

When coming up with a game plan to win the day on a snow day, consider your child’s interests and activities you find fun as well! Snow days are a chance for us to enjoy unexpected extra time with the kiddos and great memories can be made.

Here are five ways we’re planning to win the day on a snow day!

Snow Day

Get Outside

We’ve had a few snow days that were just too cold for outdoor play, but as long as the wind chill is not dangerous, we’ll be playing in the snow! Now is the time to make sure everyone has snow gear that fits, sleds are out of storage, and all the supplies for snowman building are on hand. I finally bought myself some real snow boots this year, so I’ll bundled up playing with my boys!

Warm Snacks

There is nothing better in this world than coming in from playing in the snow to enjoy hot chocolate and warm cookies. I feel all cozy and happy just thinking about it right now! Stock your pantry with hot chocolate packets and make some cookie dough to keep in the freezer – this will leave more time for fun when that snow day arrives.
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Art, Art, Art

Our kids love to draw, paint, color – just about anything artistic! They could spend hours being creative and that sounds like a perfect (mostly) quiet activity for a snow day. Before the cold and snow arrive, I’m checking our art supplies to make sure we have plenty of paper, paint, crayons, etc. We also have several great drawing books, like this one from Ed Emberley, that I save for days like this as something special to do. Art time can be for Mom, too! Adult coloring books are fun and relaxing – this is one of my favorites!

Movie Time

We are a family who loves to watch movies together. We often snuggle up on the couch, turn on the fireplace, pop some popcorn, and enjoy a good movie. This sounds like the perfect snow day activity to me! And sometimes we pair movie time with an…

Jack's Pizza Snow Day Picnic

Indoor Picnic

Our boys get super excited when we put a blanket down in the living room and have an indoor picnic. It’s a simple thing, but they love it so much! They also love pizza, so I have my freezer stocked with Jack’s Pizza to pull out for a snow day picnic in the living room.

Jack's Pizza Snow Day

Jack’s Pizza is a great choice for a snow day because it is easy to make, delicious, and a great value – what more could you want?!

Jack's Pizza Snow Day Pizza

It is made in the Midwest with 100% real Wisconsin cheese and a preservative-free crust, so you can feel good about gathering around a few Jack’s Pizzas on a cold, snowy day!

I’m not crazy about ice, wind chills, and dangerous roads, but these ideas still have me excited for our first snow day of the year! We will be ready for family fun as the snow accumulates!

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Snow day or not, our lives as moms are BUSY. Even getting food on the table for dinner can be a challenge. This week, I’ll be talking with Jack’s Pizza for a Twitter party to share an easy way moms can win the day. Join us for the fun and you could win! Here are the details:

  • When: Wednesday, November 11 at 1 p.m. CT
  • Where: We’ll be on Twitter – follow the #RealCheeseRealLife hashtag to track the conversation. You can see the details and RSVP via this Vite: http://vite.io/themotherhoodchats
  • Hashtag: #RealCheeseRealLife
  • Prizes: We will be giving away four prizes to randomly selected participants who answer the trivia questions correctly. Each prize includes a $50 Visa gift card. Prizes limited to U.S. participants only. See official rules.
  • Hosts: @TheMotherhood, @TMChatHost, @CooperMunroe, @EmilyMcKhann

Hope to see you at the party – maybe you’ll be one of the big winners!

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Get Your Family Healthy with Triple Play!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Boys & Girls Club of America. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Our love for running has rubbed off on our children. They have done a few races and their interest keeps growing. It has been so fun to run with them and cheer them on along the way! I am so thankful for this development because this active lifestyle isn’t the normal for kids in America these days.

Kids are spending more time than ever sitting in front of screens – TV, video games, mobile devices – and, due in part to this, 3 out of 10 kids in the United States are either overweight or obese. Children should be spending 60 minutes a day doing moderate to vigorous physical activity, but only 25% of youth ages 12-15 are actually meeting this requirement.

I’m not ok with this current trend and neither is Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

That’s why BGCA has teamed up with The Coca-Cola Company and Anthem Foundation to fight the growing rate of childhood obesity among our nation’s youth with the Triple Play Program. Through this program and partnership, BGCA clubs will build the next generation of leaders, motivating kids to be healthy through nutrition and health education, more access to healthy foods, avoidance of risky behaviors, and a lifelong commitment to fitness.

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Over the past ten years, the Triple Play Program has connected with 10 million kids, sharing the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition through the program’s three components focused on mind, body and soul.

The Triple Play Program doesn’t only have an impact at BGCA clubs. Every family can benefit from Triple Play through the Parents Game Plan!

In the Parents Game Plan, you’ll find guidance for introducing a healthier lifestyle to your family, tips for setting goals, and activities to try to benefit mind, body, and soul!

My kids love games and puzzles, so they had fun with the “What’s the 411? Relay,” a true/false game about healthy eating.

I’m always looking for ways to help the boys get active and burn off some extra energy after school, so I loved the Fitness Relay idea from the Parents Game Plan!

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One person starts off and does a fitness move, such as pushups or jumping jacks, and then the next person performs the move, and so on.

Triple Play Jumping Jacks

My kids love that they each get to lead and I love how active it gets them! And it’s even better when The Hubby and I join in! Pushups, jumping jacks, squats, sprints, and high knees were the picks for our boys.

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These are just a small portion of the many ideas shared in the Triple Play Parents Game Plan! It is a valuable resource for families looking for ways to get healthy and active together.

Now it’s your turn: download the Triple Play Parents Game Plan and get your family moving in a healthy direction together!

How do you make healthy living a priority for your family?

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Just When You Think He’s Not Listening

We have that one child who seems like he never hears us the first time around. Getting his attention and holding it isn’t always easy. While he is very smart and does so well in school, sometimes I’ve wondered if anything we say is soaking in.

Do you have a child like that? Let me give you a little hope today.

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As we drove to school one morning last week, our three-year-old asked: “When do we get to be with Jesus?”

That’s a pretty deep question for 7:30 in the morning while stuck in stop-and-go traffic. I took a big breath and readied my answer, but seven-year-old Little J chimed in first.

“We get to be with Jesus when we go to heaven! And in heaven, there is no pain or sickness or sadness. It’s all happy!”

This definitely got my attention in the best way possible. Double J (our three-year-old) seemed very interested as well and his big brother wasn’t done yet.

“You get to go to heaven if you ask Jesus into your heart! Big J and I have both asked Jesus to come into our hearts so we’ll be in heaven with Him. You can ask Him, too!”

Cue the big mommy tears.

Our rides to school in the morning have been a highlight of my day. We always start with prayer and then the kids take turns picking music to listen to and sing. It feels like some calm in the middle of a chaotic morning.

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But that morning last week. That morning topped them all. The child who doesn’t always listen, who seems to often be in his own little world…he has most certainly been listening. He has soaked up the true meaning of the Gospel over the years, and he was fully ready to share it with his little brother, without being asked.

His younger brother has been listening as well, because in the midst of hiding tears of joy behind my sunglasses and trying to keep my blurry eyes on the road, I heard his little three-year-old voice say:

“And Jesus is in heaven because He died on the cross and rose from the tomb!”

All those days of reading Bible stories over and over again, of memorizing verses and singing worship songs, of answering the same questions over and over again…they are 100% worth it, moms and dads. Our kids coming to know the love and saving power of Jesus is all His grace, but you are doing His good work when you share the Good News with your children day after day.

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In the days following, three-year-old Double J has talked a lot about heaven and death and what he will get to take with Him. So much of this is a mystery even to us as mature Christians, so I don’t have all the answers for him. He’s pretty sad that his Duplos won’t go with him to heaven. But I love the conversation that is happening in our home, all because our seven-year-old was bold in sharing the message of salvation he has been hearing all through his young life.

All this discussion led to a few little words with big weight from our youngest earlier this week:

“Mommy, I can’t wait to be with Jesus in heaven.”

Me neither, buddy.

May we all live with the boldness, the faith, and the joy of our children, soaking up every little bit of God’s goodness.

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Pete the Cat: The Musical! {Giveaway}

This weekend, my guys will head to The Rose Theater to experience a whole new kids’ musical that debuted here in Omaha just last week and I know they will totally love it! How do I know? Double J and I got a sneak peek last Friday!

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Pete the Cat: The Musical is based on the beloved character of the same name from the children’s books. He’s a rockin’ and rollin’ blue cat and, in the musical, Pete and his friends are headed to their first day of kindergarten. Their day is filled with new experiences, lots of fun, and great music!

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The show covers a wide range of topics relevant to kids, particularly emotions and colors, but the music is what will captivate your whole family! While the story will appeal mostly to preschoolers and early elementary age children, the quality of the music and vocal performances are top notch and will be appreciated by everyone. It delights me so much when something intended for children is of the highest quality – they deserve the best, too!

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And all of this is why we love The Rose! Great theater experiences for kids are hard to find, but not here in Omaha. With most performances running around an hour, even our three-year-old is able to pay attention to and enjoy the whole show. The Rose also adds extra special touches just for the kids: booster seats, post-show Q&A, and the most delightful atmosphere! For all of these reasons, we didn’t hesitate to get a family membership for this year and I know we will enjoy every single show.

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Pete the Cat: The Musical started last weekend at The Rose, but it runs through September 27th and we want to help your family experience it! You can grab your tickets for $18 each or you can find ticket vouchers at your local HyVee for just $14 each! After getting your vouchers, you will need to make reservations directly with The Rose.

OR you could WIN four tickets to see Pete the Cat: The Musical right here!

Just leave a comment on this post telling me who you would love to take to see Pete the Cat: The Musical! For extra entries, share this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter and leave a separate comment tell me how you shared!

This giveaway will close Thursday, September 17th at noon CST to give the winner time to make reservations for the show of their choice!

Who is ready to groove with Pete the Cat? Do you already have plans to attend?

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3 Ways to Motivate Your Kids for Monday Morning!

The older our kids get, the harder it is to get them up and moving in the morning. Our three-year-old will still often bound out of bed, all smiles, well before any of us are ready wake up. The nine and seven-year-old? Not so much. The alarm goes off, I go in to make sure they’re getting up, open the curtains…and sometimes they don’t move an inch. I know there are other moms with me in this experience.

Mondays are usually the worst. After a weekend of family fun, my tired boys need some extra motivation to jump start their Mondays. I try to give them some extra things to look forward to on Mondays so they are ready to tackle another week. Here are a few ideas that have worked well for us:

3 Ways to Motivate Your Kids for Monday Mornings

Make a special Monday morning breakfast

“Special breakfast” can mean a wide variety of things and is different for each family. For my kids, pancakes or muffins on a Monday morning would be a special treat. These guys get pretty excited about food, so knowing they have something extra yummy waiting for them for breakfast actually gets them moving pretty well! Your children might like cereal, so save a special kind just for Monday mornings. I have one kiddo who loves eggs, so this would be a treat for him. Find a family favorite that you can make ahead of time or without much effort to bless your family to start the week! Can I recommend these chocolate chip scones that are our back-to-school tradition? The boys ask for them for every special occasion!

Talk about the week ahead

Does anybody else have calendar-watching kids? My boys area constantly checking the calendar to see what is coming up – holidays, events, lessons, days off – they want to know it all. They thrive when they know the plan and they get excited about what’s coming. We like to talk them through the week ahead on Sunday night or Monday morning. They know what to look forward to and what we expect of them for the week. It might sound less-than-thrilling, but in our family, it works as a great motivator!

Morning devotions

You might not see your kids get all excited about reading a devotion before school, but having time with God before they head out or get to work at home is the most important motivator I can think of! Whatever has happened the day before or over the weekend, I want our children to go about their days motivated by the love God has for them and the love He wants them to show others. That’s what it’s all about, people. The love of Jesus in and through our kids. We have a copy of Every Day a Blessing that has been worn out by two kids going all the way through it during morning devotions. It’s easy to understand, short enough to fit into even the busiest morning, and packed with truth. If you’re looking for a great daily devotion for your elementary kids, I highly recommend this one! Your reading kiddos could read it on their own or you could read it aloud to them during breakfast.

Monday can be rough or Monday can be the start of something epic (my son’s favorite word right now). Try some of these ideas or pick something that would energize and encourage your kids and make Mondays the best part of your week!

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