10 Useful Household Products to Make Life Easier

Which is worse? The Craziness of the morning getting kids ready for school, or the afternoons of homework and after-school activities as well as little league games. Oh, and everyone’s favorite part of the day, dinner. Oh, no, did I forget to plan dinner? Okay, I will pick something up on the way home. Only on the way home, half the city decided to do the same thing and traffic is ridiculous! Your annoyance grows as you are standing in line that because of this you are behind on picking up people at the correct time. All you can do is pray that this day will be over soon because tomorrow you get to try again.

Every household needs to function like a well-oiled machine. Matter of fact, the more children and extracurricular activities + the more parents with jobs and social engagements = better functioning machine becomes crucial. Day to day events require us to tick them off the to-do list at lightning speed and without hesitation conquer the following one as well. Anything that happens to cause the wheels to slow down or even stop can cause frustration. There has to be something that can help a parent/guardian keep things rolling smoothly.

Well, Ta-DA. There are useful home products that this writer would venture to say that they are must-haves for every home. Let me first say that I am not trying to sell you these particular products. I am merely placing ideas before you for your consideration. You purchase, test and use at your own discretion which products and brands are right for you.

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Storage Bags No Copyright Infringement Intended, Display purpose only

STORAGE/FREEZER BAGS

Life in our home would come to a screeching halt without storage bags. We use them for all kinds of things. I will make a list of things we use storage bags (all sizes) for in our house.

  1. Craft supplies
  2. Buttons
  3. Index Cards
  4. Cupcake baking cups
  5. Cake picks
  6. Legos
  7. Pens
  8. Medicine on the go
  9. Storage Blankets

There are probably a dozen more I could find if I just looked, but you get the idea. They are cheap enough to toss out if it gets too dirty, plus all the kids can have identical bags on trips. Do not forget freezer bags. They are great for breaking down those large packages of meat into smaller, into easier to handle bundles. Your garden Veggies keep much better that way too, and you can eat them after the season is over.

ALUMINUM FOIL

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Roll of aluminum foil…no copyright infringement intended. For Display purpose only.

This is an item that will aid cook and dishwasher by becoming a convenient way to cook and clean. Foil can be used to line baking pans or the grill, and also to make a pouch of food for quick and easy cleanup. It works wonders to cover the drip pans beneath the stove burners, to keep things looking pristine, and simple tidying up for sticky messes. Sometimes casseroles or meats must be tinted with foil for part of the cooking time to keep it from overcooking. The foil is very versatile and can be used in many different ways. Craft projects too. I try my best to always keep our kitchen stocked with Aluminum Foil.

CROCK-POT LINERS

crock pot liners
silver crock-pot with black crockery, covered in a clear liner no copyright infringement intended. For display purposes only

Now, these little darlings are some of the greatest inventions that man ever made! Second only to the reason it was needed: the Crock-Pot/Slow Cooker. To use these precious gems, simply place them on the pot like a backward shower cap. Now it is ready to hold all your food and liquids. Cook as usual. The best part is that once the food and liquids are removed unless you have spilled down the side of the pot when you throw the liner away your slow cooker is ready for next time! And your next chicken dish! To understand that click here.

SMALL TRASH CANS FOR EVERY WORK AREA

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Small garbage can NO COPYRIGHT infringement intended. For Display purposes only.

I know that this may sound like a bit overboard, but trust me when I say it will help with frustration. Small trash cans are pretty inexpensive, and as I always say but my nerves are not. I have a can at all work areas, all desks, all sitting areas. The laundry room, and every bedroom and even my dining room. Now, these cans can be decorated to match the decor of the room or space. Or you can keep it simple and stick to one color. The idea is to not to have to run searching for a trash receptacle. Everyone is responsible for dumping their own trash can or assign all or some of them as a weekly chore. No matter the small details these small additions to your home will keep things running more smoothly.

A RECYCLE BIN/AREA

Green Can with white recycle logo on side
Green recycle can with white logo NO COPYRIGHT infringement intended. Photo used for display only.

Recycling is a wonderful way to help the planet as we all know. But do not be fooled, it is a great way to help yourself as well. Once we had our recycling area, the amount of trash we had to deal with reduced significantly. I created some nice, neat containers for inside that everyone uses constantly. They were large grey totes, with green lids, and I created a sticker for the side that said recycle. It took a little while to get everyone into the habit of what to recycle, but now it is just an everyday maintenance.

COLORED GARBAGE BAGS

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Colored garbage bags No copyright infringement intended. Display purposes only.

Have you ever asked a question like who put this garbage in the big can and were met with complete and utter silence? I mean we are taking tumbleweeds here. Well, we have color-coded our garbage bags so we always know what type of garbage and where it came from. Let me see if I can break it down for you.

WHITE bags, kitchen 13-gallon size, used for kitchen garbage including food trash.

GREEN bags, Large, lawn, and leaf, used for recycling–never used for food.

BLACK bags, Large, lawn, and leaf, used for regular trash–never used for food.

Small Colored Bags-These fit small trash cans-purchased on a roll. Can be designated for a particular room or person. You can recycle plastic store bags for this purpose as well.

PERSONAL BATHROOM KITS

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Personal Bathroom Kit No Copyright Infringement Intended. For Example only.

Hate a messy bathroom? So do I! Bottles cluttering the sides of the shower, razors, and sponges ready to slide off the side. Well, I have an answer for that. Personal Shower Kits. These can be made from zippered pouches like a man’s shaving kit, or a small over nite bag if you need something just a bit bigger. Just make the kit personal to each family member. Then when bathtime arrives everything you need is ready and waiting. once you are clean just toss it back in and take it back to your room. The bathroom stays tidy, and mom keeps her sanity.

Whiteboards

 

 

How in the world did we ever manage life before them? Oh, I know, it is just so much easier and much less mess.

We use them for:

  1. Calendars-month
  2. Calendar-weekly
  3. Chore Chart
  4. Mommy don’t forget

A LARGE BEVERAGE SERVER

clear and teal beverage server with silver spout, latch and handle full of ice and water
Large Beverage Server NO COPYRIGHT infringement intended. For display purposes only.

I am not really sure about other places in the world but here in the south, we love sweet tea. I am partial to mine with some lemon also, but that has nothing to do with this, so I digress. It is really easy to go through a gallon of sweet tea a day here at my house. who has time to stop and make the tea that much? I propose a large beverage server. Now, this bad boy will hold up to 5 gallons of tea at the time. This keeps that precious nectar flowing without mom having to stop every single day and make more drink. After all, it could be lemonade, kool-aid, juice with water, doesn’t matter. Kids can serve themselves and Mom can spend that time on something else, because you know there is always something else.

CLOTHES HANGERS

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Silver Metal Hangers NO COPYRIGHT infringement intended. display only

Now you are probably saying about now, duh. Everyone knows we need hangers.

But do not be fooled. All hangers are not created equal. According to HomeStratosophere.com, there are 29 different types of coat hangers. The basic design is about the same as the original one created in the 1800s. Do some research and find a style that you like and whatever you do, do not take a single plastic, “crap” store hanger when you buy clothing. These are cheaply made in bulk and will not hold up well at home. I mean if they break at the store they have a gazillion more and they just replace it, me not so much.

I personally also think that the wire hangers from the dry cleaners are best saved for arts and crafts. These fall into the category of bulk made, and low quality.

Save yourself some trouble. Color code if you want. No matter, but get something sturdy that will not leave your delicates on the floor and your blouses only partially hung. Everyone will have a favorite and a style that they loathe, but good hangers, my friend, are a bare necessity of life. (Disney Reference there. Did You Catch It?)

Now you need a good recipe for dinner.  Try this one on for size: Porcupine Meatballs

Succulent Themed Pom Pom Rug

   My daughter, Elyssa is a junior at the Baptist College of Florida and has moved from a large dorm around 30 girls to a small house with 8-10 young ladies.  It is a much smaller and with a few touches, it would be a homie space.  The young lady in charge of the house decided that she wanted to decorate with succulents.  Elyssa was joined in on the fun.  She came home for the summer with ideas and questions about what could be made.  Enter Mom.  We made several things together including a wreath for the front door. Follow the link here to see that also. succulent wreath

“Can we make a pom, pom rug, Mom?”  She questioned with excited anticipation.  I agreed, yet I must confess, I did not really know what I was getting myself into.  However, as you can see in the picture above it turned out awesome!  So let me try and show you how we did it…

 

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Rug Underlay

1.  We purchased 2 nonslip rug underlays.  (These actually came from Dollar Tree.)  You can cut it down smaller if you wish.

2.  Yarn and lots of it.  Choose the colors and thicknesses you like.  Whatever you choose, it will need to be something that can be made into a secure pom-pom.  Approx. 10 small skeins.

3.  Create pom poms with long tie strings left on them.  We made poms of 3 different sizes to simulate different sized plants.  You can make them all the same size and color if you so desire.  Our rug has over 100 pom poms.

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Colored Pom Poms

 

Here is the picture to the right, you can see the different colors of yarn and combinations that we used.  Some dark and some light.  Some multicolored.

 

 

 

 

TO ASSEMBLE THE RUG:  Fold the underlay so that you can find the center so you will know where to begin.  I marked ours with a black marker.

 

 

 

 

 

Take your first pom and thread the ends through so the pom is on one side and the knots and strings are on the other.   See the picture directions below:

 

 

 

 

 

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat X?  This will be decided by the size of the rug and how full you want it to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once it is completely covered.  Go over the top of the rug with your hand and feel for gaps.  These must be filled before moving on.  Take the second underlay and place it evenly on the bottom.  Line it up carefully.  With a tapestry needle use more yarn to bind the edges.  If you run out of yarn.  Tie more on and keep going.  Tie off the last piece and carefully secure.  Turn your rug over.  You are ready!

 

 

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Completed rug on a dark green carpet.

I hope you be brave and make one!  It is challenging fun!

 

 

Bats in the Belfry Disturbing the Cobwebs of my Mind

    My boss had me on a tight deadline, and I was behind schedule.  My insides were full of those proverbial butterflies, and they had begun to annoy the devil out of me.  I was short additional help.  Part of my equipment was down.  For some reason, everything I touched that day seemed to turn to sand in my fingers.  I felt defeated and lost.

I knew that in a mere couple of hours the phone would ring and I would be forced to listen to the voice of my supervisor.  He usually reminded me of all the things that I was not doing to his satisfaction.  If you sell well this week.  Then you better sell more next week.  Should you receive recognition from the home office for a particular win, he would quiz you about why you didn’t receive two.  However, this particular day seemed more stressful than ever.

Customers would enter the establishment, and I would feel relief.  They were the reason I stayed.  They brought me joy and happiness.  I enjoyed meeting people and doing my best to supply them with what they were in need of that particular visit.

The bell on the front door sounded the leaving of another satisfied guest and I returned to my task.  I grabbed the stickers and went up the ladder.  Being short was never any help in retail. I tagged a few more products and realized I was in need of more tags.

I tried to hurry so I could get this ordeal complete quickly and that is when my life changed forever.  A searing pain like being stuck with a hot iron jabbed me in the center of my back.  I thought I would collapse.  I tried to continue working, but this monster that had a hold of me was not kidding.  A began to sweat.  It hurt to breathe.

I never returned to work.  They could not fix the problem.  They tried many times but nothing seemed to accomplish killing the pain.

I went through the loopholes for workman’s compensation, and suddenly I was declared MMI.  Maximum Medical Improvement.  I was not well, but they didn’t know what else to do.

So, I find myself not old, but moving like an old woman.  I suffer from back pain, Sciatic pain, nerve pain in my arms and legs.  Migraine headaches, depression and anxiety with panic attacks.  NO WONDER I FEEL BAT CRAP CRAZY!

Crazy people are defined as mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way.  Now, let’s be honest there are all kinds of crazy pictures running through your mind right now.

 

I can not sit or stand for long periods of time.  I become tired easily.  And anxiety can rear it’s disgusting head any time.  I can become nervous because someone looked at me or because the Mart store moved something.  It is enough to make a person feel completely out of control.

 

I am not telling you this for a pity party or for you to feel sorry for me, I do, however, want you to know that I am doing my very best to create something here that is unique.  Something that is worth sharing.  I believe that there are a ton of people out there that find themselves in a similar place to mine.  Like, Man, even the government says,” No you are not bad off enough for benefits.”

I want regular people to know that someone understands that it is tough out there.  I want you to be able to glean something from my experiences.  I want to be able to teach you a trick I have learned, or a craft that I have created.

I want you to be able to smile and laugh.  Even if you start the sentence out by saying,” I think this lady is a bit crazy, but guess what she wrote!”  Get my drift?  More on my situation: Follow this link: Future?

I am not an expert on anything.  Unless you use the definition of an expert as a drip under pressure.  Okay not the best joke in town, but I still think it’s funny.  My point is I don’t know everything, but what I do know, I try and do my best at.  This is all I can figure to do now, in my physical and mental condition.  I set my own hours, and see the doctors and rest as needed.  I wish there was more I could do.

I pray to the precious Lord above that you will enjoy reading the musings of an unbalanced middle-aged woman.  I pray that you will subscribe to the email list, and receive freebies and exclusive offers that other folks just won’t get.  I also pray that you will be praying for me and my blog to succeed.  I pray that you will share it will your friends, family and even people you don’t know.  I pray for God’s blessings on you and your situation too.

So, here I sit practically in the dark.  My computer is in my lap and my feet are propped up and my back is leaning against pillows.  My little dog, Bryant, is right beside me on the loveseat.  I am becoming exhausted from finishing this up.  Do not remember how many times I had t take a break.  Yep, I must be a crazy person.

My best wishes to you and yours!   It’s time for my nap while the bats are quiet.

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CHEAP vs. THRIFTY

Wow, there’s a title that will stop a crowd!  Are you a Thrifty or Cheap?  Have you ever considered that one of those titles could describe you?

Sometimes we honestly have to reevaluate things to be sure we are getting what we really want.  Google defines thrifty as an action by a person using money and other resources carefully and not wastefully. Sounds really practical.  Most people this day and age work paycheck to paycheck and need as much thrift in their lives as possible.  Afterall, the prices of everything has risen except for our bottom line.

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Dollars

Now cheap is defined by Google as an item low in price that is worth more than the cost.  However, there are some items that are considered cheap that really end up being a waste of money.  If you purchase something and it does not work once the package is open, or falls completely apart once you have freed it from its plastic tomb that could definitely be defined as junk.

Cheap carries with it such negative connotations.  Why would anyone want to spend more on something just for the ability to say that they did so?  I suppose there are a few of those folks around.   But if you can get a deal then why not?  That is why sales and coupons are sought after treasures.  We really like saying things like,” Look at this pile of canned goods that will take my family through the Apocalypse and I got it all for ten bucks.”  Crazy as it sounds we will go bats over a sale, but let someone say that we are cheap or thrifty and we take issue.

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Elyssa (background) Michelle (Foreground)

I asked a close friend of mine to snap some photos of me and my daughter while we were out looking at a Thrift store.  She was slightly taken aback. “Do you want people to know you shop at Thrift Stores?” she asked.  I assured her that I did not care about that.  I honestly think people would like to learn that I am not one that lives, as they say, high on the hog.

Second-Hand or Thrift Stores are in my opinion a no-brainer for the Cheap-n-Thrifty Crowd.  Another place that has been created out of people’s need for the less expensive is the dollar store.   Dollar Tree and Dollar General are my favorite.  We joke in our family that there must be a trip made to Dollar Tree every other day.  It’s not every other-sometimes it is every day.

There are still a few people who refuse to shop in these places and my response is, “Suit yourself.  That leaves more for me!” And I can tell by the number of shoppers I run into when I am there, that I am not alone.   I have found items in both of these stores that I have not been able to find anywhere else.  That is a champion thrift move because I not only get the best deal, but the quality is still decent.

Now, there are everyday items that are used in the kitchen at these stores, and my advice is to take time to do a little math.  Decide what is the best buy.  It is not a huge deal, and remember since you have your cell phone, there is a calculator at your fingertips, so you have no real excuse.

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Cell phone 

I have, as you already know, been around for a day or two so here is my personal advice on some items that can be purchased from dollar stores.    Storage bags are a good purchase.  I am not too keen on the freezer bags, but storage is good.   Fun size candy bar packages.  Vinyl placemats, hairbrushes, and deodorant are also a fair deal.

There are many other things that I could name that are good, but then let us not forget the bad.  Canned goods that are normally 89 cents and below are not a good deal at the regular price of $1.  Usually, dairy products are not for the short of money.  Laundry detergents can go either way.  Remember, you can also use manufacturer coupons at the dollar stores which can aid the Thrifter’s totals.

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Groceries and Receipt

So during the writing of this, I have done a lot of thinking.  Am I Cheap or am I Thrifty?  I seem to go back and forth here.

I guess it depends on the moment, and what I am shopping for.

So, I am no longer cheap.  I am no longer thrifty.

I shall now and forever more call myself:  A penny-pinching bargain shopper.

Aka: PPBS

No matter where you shop, use your money wisely.  If someone wants to call you cheap.  So be it.  These days you gotta do what you gotta do.  So grab your sales papers, clip those coupons,  & even visit the dollar stores.  Let’s be PPBS’s together!

 

Back-to-School/Back-to-Sanity

Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. Ding-Dong. The school bell is beginning to ring. In a matter of minutes, little people will scamper up the steps of the big yellow school bus and start a new chapter in both their parents’ and their own lives. Teachers are ready in their classrooms. Beautiful characters and borders decorating each room in hopes of grasping each child’s attention and subsequentially kicking off a fantastic school year for everyone. Lists have been made and photocopied and are waiting at the store so everyone will know exactly what they need on the very first day.

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School supplies: Crayons, Scissors, and Markers

On the purchase list pencils and crayons, notebooks and paper, book bags and lunchboxes. Some schools require uniforms while others let you show your individuality as long as you are within the guidelines. No matter what style you need, it is imperative that one go through the shopping and finding the proper sizes and fit of clothes and shoes.

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Backpack, Cell phone, paper, pencils, pens, iPad, and the perfect shoes!

Yes after the busy summer alive with activities, and vacation trips, we parents grab a colorful list and fight through the crowds of other stymied guardians to fulfill that supply list for each one of our children. Now here is the million dollar question: What possesses a relatively sain adult to trade away the fun and frolic of the summer for the long lines, disgruntled cashiers, and general frustration of the stores? It is the absolute peaceful silence and the sheer joy of an empty house when the children are off to school.

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Mom enjoying the first day of school in the first socks she found!

Now I am speaking on this subject from personal experience. I have lived quite a while, we will say, and I have come to the realization that school is good in many ways for our children. Yes, there is bad in it as with anything, but I am speaking of the good at this time. School -be it public or private- teaches students many things besides just the curriculum. My children are at the high school level and above now, and things are quite a bit different. However, when they were in grammar and middle school, in the midst of all the hubbub of getting ready to return to classes, we would joke about the party we were going to have on the first day of school. This imaginary party was parents only, no kids allowed. It would be during the day while they were safely in class. In the beginning, this received quite a stunned reaction. Although they finally caught on after a few years and would suggest for us to call some of their friend’s parents so we would not have to party alone. This was a part of our family’s Back -to School ritual, and we had a lot of fun with it! Honestly, my son who is a junior in high school this term asked me who was coming to my back to school bash this year?

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Back-To-School spelled in wooden tiles.

When my little hatchlings were small they finally grew big enough to go to school. As each of the three entered preschool I believe my heart broke just a little bit. There were tears that I had to hide from them because I did not want them to know how frightened I was for my baby to be with someone else. I took each of their pictures on the first day in their crisp and clean new clothes. Of course, with a new hairstyle and perfect curls for the girls, it was most expectedly a Kodak moment. Those first-day pictures are always great. Of course, the older the boy gets the harder it is to get a picture. Yet, I will try!!!

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Preschool beauty in an antique desk.

Those are pictures that I will cherish forever. I have sat in the car after drop off and cried, and I have followed the bus to the school tears pouring down my face that another little one was growing up. My son actually went to a preschool that was across the street from our apartment. When they went outside to play I would, more times than naught, peek out of my windows to catch a glimpse of my little angel.

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Life moves in stages. As parents, we love those little darlings. We care for them and nurture them. To them, we are the whole world, and they are ours. Then they start school and discover that the world is much larger than Mommy and Daddy. It’s good for them to grow and eventually, we realize that it was also healthy for us as well.

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Daddy, Mommy, and Baby

It is extremely important to realize going to school is not really a kick in the teeth to parenting, it is an extension of it. Parents+teachers+faculty=working together can cause great things to happen for our students. Afterall, great things for your baby is what you have wanted from the first moment you saw them.

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The first look at a newborn baby.

Summer Vacation can be filled with wonderful experiences! You may have camped or seen an 8-foot mouse or stayed home and played outside. Movies at home or at the theatre are also a great time. Time together as a family is unquestionably a necessity in the rambunctious world we live. However, Moms and Dads need to remember that it perfectly okay to have time for themselves as a couple as well as each individually. We can not care for our families properly if we are stressed out and exhausted all the time. So plan a few minutes for you once the kids return to school. You will be glad that you did.

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Okay, those of you in Okaloosa County Florida. Monday- Party at my house…NO KIDS ALLOWED!

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Party!

Have a great and safe new school year everyone!

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That goes for parents too! God Bless!!!

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Confessions of a Pusher

I remember the glorious day that my children were born. The moment that I held them in my arms. I already felt like I knew them from holding them inside me for so long, but there is something so overwhelmingly stunning about gazing at them for the very first time.

You do your best to keep them safe. Teach them all the things they need to know. From feeding themselves, to doing homework, we mold those tiny lumps of clay into small people, and then guide them into a preteen, teen, high school graduation, and then hopefully onto higher education. And somewhere in all of that, we deal with sickness, broken hearts, sports, driving, dating, body changes and acne.

Like a tornado ripping through a small town, you turn around and do not even recognize the grown individual standing before you. So what to do with this person? Now in my generation when you became an adult you wanted to get out and try on the world. Apparently, that is not the case in the new generation.  It is statistically more likely for young adults to reside with their parents these days.

This last week my oldest daughter (23 yrs) and her husband (30yrs) were told they had to move out of our home. This did not go well. It began to cause all sorts of anger and hurt feelings. Why is it wrong for me to want my kids to prosper outside my house? They had spent much more time than we had expected in our nest, so we decided that there was nothing left to do but become a pusher.  Now when a momma bird pushes a baby bird out of the nest so it will learn to fly on its own, that is a beautiful part of nature, however, when a human momma pushes her child out it can appear not so beautiful.

I have learned three things that are imperative as a pusher:

  1.  You must use tough love in this situation.  This is, in my opinion, tougher on the parent.  You must look stern on the outside while you weep on the inside.  You must seem indifferent as your heart breaks within you at every nasty comment you endure.  You must say what you intend and stand by it, if at all possible.  Treat it as a business transaction.  Remember,  there is no crying in Business.
  2. Stop allowing them to depend on you, remain neutral.  You can not solve their issues for them.  They have to learn by themselves.  They must make their own mistakes.   The longer you do it for them, the longer it will take them to become independent.
  3. Remind them that you do love them, but that does not mean that you can rescue them.  Your thoughts, prayers, and love are their’s and they should hear that even if they do not understand it right away.

 

Our children are our blessings from the Big Man upstairs and they take a lot of time and energy to raise.  I love all 3 of mine and am thankful that God allowed me to be their mother.  I heard it said the other day that age 18 was an invitation to move out, and it made me chuckle.  If only those kids realized that.  The quicker the younger generation starts accepting adulting as a real part of life.  This would include paying bills, rent/mortgage, working, etc, because anyone who has made it to the mature side of life knows that they did not get there by doing nothing.

Okay, so, I admit it. I did it.  I pushed one of my birdies out of the nest.   I looked my  beautiful daughter in the face and I said, “I know you don’t understand this now, but you will thank me for this one day.” My statement was answered only by a negative head nod. I know she can not grasp it now, but once she learns to fly it will be a different world, and she will have a better outlook and attitude.  She will grow from this experience and so will I.