I took the boys to the library last Monday night. I don’t usually look forward to it because Kamren always opens the elevator, he and Rigel try to run upstairs, and one or both run in the aisles. When in line to check out, Rigel was trying to touch the big screen. I asked him to stop, and went to get him when he didn’t. I then heard a voice call my name, “Amanda.” I looked up to the other young man working. He asked: “How do you do it? How do you raise
I answered that they love each other very much and are usually good boys. I chuckled as I told him that they bring me much more joy than pain.
As I walked to the car, I felt that I needed to give this young man a better answer, and I thought about it all evening. As I started to pay more attention and take notes, I was shocked at how much thought and work goes into raising kids. After over a week of pondering, here is “how I do it:”
Make the most of my time.
I speed walk around the house, doing everything as quickly as I can before the kids start fighting or something gets broken. On my way to do a task, I pick up toys and books from off the floor.
I also multitask all the time, often using one arm to do one thing, and the other to hold a child. I help Casey with his homework while starting dinner and cleaning the kitchen, or make a phone call to an insurance company while playing outside with my kids. If I put something in the microwave, you better believe I am using that minute to wash a few dishes. When there are groceries to bring in the house, I use all my strength to make only one trip.
Make the most of nap time.
There are a lot of things that can’t be done well when the kids are awake. During these couple hours, I usually pick up the really messy things as quickly as possible, and then spend the rest of the time doing things that I need or want to do – church responsibilities, reading, shopping online, talking to friends, planning, and blogging. You would think I would nap during nap time…
Get some me time.
This helps rebuild my sanity, and also helps me miss my kids. I am with them most of the time, but when my husband is home, sometimes I go work out, go to a church activity, or go to the movies with friends. Sometimes, we get a babysitter, and go somewhere fun together!
Deal with daily destruction.
Boys are really rough and crazy. They are constantly jumping off things, pretending to fight with “swords”, throwing things, and tumbling around.
Every week something in my home gets messed up. We try to learn from every destructive act by putting something up higher, locking more doors, listening for when it is “too quiet,” or buying more durable or less expensive
My house is also a little greasy, and I have to be okay with the fact that I can’t keep it spotless. We often find dried up food on door knobs or the wall. There are always crumbs on the floor and smeared food on the couch. We just clean it up as we see it and move on. The kids will probably always have stains on their clothing, or messy hair.
Making a mess often makes the kids so happy, so sometimes we sit back and let them do it (or help them in the process). Seeing them make memories and have fun is more important than avoiding a mess.
Do a lot of physical activity.
My boys love to have piggy back rides, play “run from mommy,” pretend to be super heroes on the trampoline, and spin around so much, everyone falls down in dizziness. They want to run, and run fast. They want to be outside all
the time. I have to somehow find the energy to do all this physical activity. Luckily, I have their dad, who can take on that role a lot of the time.
Do activities together.
I want my boys to be best friends. My husband and I really think hard as to what toys to have inside and outside, and what special things we can do that all of the boys will enjoy, at their very different ages. We also encourage them to play together, to hug each other, and to help each other.
Going places as a family helps us make fun memories, and learn more about each other’s interests. It also helps decrease boredom and irritability to have something to look forward to. The kids always enjoy going to the children’s museum, the library, the playground, the park, and play dates. Sometimes we take them out to eat, to a movie, or on a trip.
Things aren’t always going to go according to plan. Kids can get sick or hurt. The weather might change. Someone might cancel a play date, or an activity might be postponed. It is important for me to stay positive and flexible, so I can help my children do that too.
When I am having fun, being silly, and laughing with the children, they enjoy life even more. The house is lit up in joy. We do a lot of tickling, and making goofy faces and funny sounds. Much giggling ensues.
Show love and attention to each child.
Our boys have very different needs and personalities, so they all need individual attention. They want to show me what is important to them. I need to make sure I focus and show them I care.
They also communicate in different ways. Kamren barely talks, so I have had to learn how to decipher him. I often tell him to “show me,” and he takes my hand.
All of my boys really treasure affection. It could be by cuddling, giving hugs and kisses, playing with them, or saying “I love you.” It is so important that they feel equally loved.When they are in bad moods, it is usually because they need attention, so I give extra hugs, talk to them, or tell them I love them.
Praise and reward them.
My boys need to see their mother as their biggest fan. I congratulate them on their hard work, hang up their drawings, attend my oldest’s award ceremonies and performances, reward my oldest when he does well on a
report card or gets an award, and do lots of high fives and fist bumps when they cooperate, do something nice, or learn to do something new.
Celebrate special occasions and have family traditions.
We make every child’s birthday special. We do a special meal and cake. We usually have family over, but also sometimes do parties. We also do special things for all other major holidays. They are definitely times to
look forward to.
We have some fun traditions too, like whenever we make pizza or get a fun snack, we eat it picnic style while watching a movie. Every Sunday, we eat dinner with our extended family, and when the weather is good, we take walks together.
Capture adorable moments.
We always need reminders of how much we love and cherish our children. I feel it the most during those quiet moments when they are reading together, watching a movie together, or sleeping. This is when they appear the
most angelic. I treasure the pictures I take and the stories I write about my three boys.
Teach them constantly.
I do my best to answer their questions. I read them a lot of books. I point things out, and explain things when I see teachable moments. I help Casey with his homework daily.
Jad and I also teach by letting the kids help us cook, fix things, fold laundry, vacuum, and garden. We share our talents and hobbies with them to build connections, and expand their capabilities. For example, I teach Casey
piano, and Jad teaches the children Arabic.
If one of the kids is trying to do something, but struggling, I don’t just take over. I give them some time to try again before I help. Often, they teach themselves.
Manners are also something we constantly teach. I don’t know what it is about boys, but they think all kinds of bodily functions are funny. I try to teach my boys to say “excuse me” when they burp, etc. I also remind them to
say “please (Kamren gives me a kiss instead),” “thank you,” “you’re welcome,” and “yes, ma’am/sir.”
Give them responsibilities.
I want my children to be self-reliant and learn the value of work. My oldest has the most responsibilities because he knows how to do the most. However, the little ones know they need to clean up their toys, put their dishes in the sink, and put their leftover drinks in the refrigerator. We sing the “clean up” song a lot in our house.
Be strict and enforce the rules.
My kids need to know who is boss. Having a lot of rules helps discipline them, and enforcing the rules helps them learn the value of obedience and respect. “Yes, you are always going to wash your hands after using the bathroom or eating.” “No, you are not going to play and run around until after you have eaten all your food.” “You can’t play with your friends if your room and bathroom are disgusting.”
There are so many rules the kids, especially my little ones, ignore. My husband and I have to follow them and make sure they are following the rules, and if they aren’t, we have to redirect them. If my oldest breaks a rule on purpose, there are consequences.When they hurt each other, we always make sure they apologize and give each other hugs.
Provide for their temporal needs.
My husband and I make sure our children are fed, clothed, rested, bathed, warm, socialized, and happy. This includes in the home and outside it (got to keep the diaper bag well-stocked). As they get older, we help them learn how to do these things themselves, but we are always focused on their well-being. Most of the time, we make sure their needs are taken care of before our own.
Keep them safe.
There is a lot of looking around, holding of hands, calling of names, yelling to stop, and running to catch up in my mom life. Kids do not understand how dangerous the world is, so my husband and I are constantly teaching them about looking both ways before crossing the street, wearing seat belts, staying close to mom and dad at all times, not touching certain things, etc.
Run errands with them, even though they are crazy.
I always kind of dread going to the store, the library, or anywhere the kids need to reigned in and quiet. The opposite always happens. I could just wait until my husband is home to run all the errands, but time with him is limited. I want our family to have fun when Daddy is home, not worry about all the things we have to do.
Don’t worry about what everyone else is thinking, but just do my best.
People are going to judge me for having three kids, and for going out in public with them. They are going to judge my parenting by how my children behave. It is very important for my self-esteem, my sanity, my productivity,
and my relationship with my children, to not care what other people think.
Even without thinking of what others are thinking, I can sometimes be hard on myself when I can’t keep the house clean, stay patient, or have the time or energy to accomplish all my tasks. I try to remember to just do my best
based on my capacity for that day, and then strive to be a little better the next day. My children know I love them. With faith and hard work, I know I can endure all the hardships of parenting.
Ask for advice.
There is no instruction manual for moms. It is really hard to know what to do in every situation that comes up. I ask for help from other moms who have gone through things I go through. Often, I get really good advice on how
to help my kids, and even how to be a better mom.
Be united with Daddy.
It is so important for my husband and I to be united in rule-making, disciplining, traditions, and in all other aspects of raising our children. Children need a safe haven. If Mommy and Daddy show love for each other, they will know they are safe. They will feel loved, and want to be at home.
Keep God in our home.
We sing a lot of children’s hymns in our house. We also read the scriptures every night, and pray as a family often. We have pictures of Jesus around the house, and talk about how He loves us. We do family nights where we
talk about how to be better children of God. Our sweet kids find comfort in these routines, even if they don’t always seem to be paying attention. Love is stronger in our home as we make God a big part of it.
Pray a lot.
My husband and I aren’t perfect parents. We really struggle with stress, lack of sleep, and concerns about our children’s behavior and happiness. We pray constantly for patience, for guidance on how to better teach and show
love to our children, and for the well-being and safety of our family.
I don’t parent my children alone. My husband, God, and I raise them together. That is how we raise three boys.