With growing anger and a sigh of exasperation, I picked up Jeremy and took him back to bed.
“This is the last time,” I threatened. “Don’t get out of that bed again.” With those words, I turned and marched from the room.
“Why?” I asked my husband as I collapsed on the couch. “I’ve been trying to get those boys in bed for over an hour and they keep popping up for a drink, to go to the bathroom, or just to say, ‘Mom, I need you!’ Here it is ten o’clock, and I’m exhausted.”
That remark inspired my husband. “Let’s try something new each night—a chat.”
“A what?” I almost choked. I thought he was planning extra work.
“A chat—spending a few minutes with each child at the end of the day.” After he explained his plan, I agreed to give it a try.
First, we picked an appropriate bedtime for each child. Then, beginning at least one-half hour before that time, we take care of the preliminaries: baths, brushing teeth, getting drinks, reading stories.
After this, it’s time for chatting. We eliminate arguments by keeping track of whose turn it is to talk first. And we have a strict code of silence for each child until it is his turn to chat.
“What was the most fun thing you did today?” is just one way we might begin. Our children choose the topics and do the talking. We sometimes guide the conversation, encouraging topics important to the child or bringing up problems he might be facing.
Chatting sessions are great parent-teachers. Through our chats, we find out what our children are interested in and what they need help with. And no matter what, we convey a positive attitude toward each child.
Bedtime around our house is calm and peaceful now. We have grown closer to our children, and daily talks have helped us understand them better. We hope these chats will continue, in some form, throughout our lives.—, Salt Lake City, Utah
The Game of Family Life
In today’s mobile society, we are often separated from our extended families. We may live on opposite sides of the country, far away from grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Our family found itself in this situation when we moved to New England and left loved ones many miles behind in Michigan.
Eager to maintain our children’s sense of belonging to a larger family and to reinforce the good times we had had in the past, we created “Our Family Game.” The object of the game is to start from our house in Bedford, Massachusetts, and travel to visit relatives in various parts of the country. The first to get to “Home At Last” (to our three patiently waiting cats) is the winner.
In addition to keeping our hearts turned to relatives far away, this game draws our immediate family closer. The moves are based on experiences that take place in our daily lives. Good behavior is reinforced by advancement on the game board.
A player advances on the game board by drawing a yellow card (we used yellow 3 by 5 inch cards, cut in half) and following its directions. For example:
“You did a great job cleaning your room … advance 5.”
“Sorry, you missed the school bus … go back 2.”
“You made a new friend in school … advance 3.”
“You forgot to feed the cats … go back 3.”
To add interest, a yellow card might say “Pick a pink card.” Pink cards involve more dramatic moves:
“Go to Gram’s house or go back 5 spaces and miss a turn.”
“Visit Aunt Nancy and Uncle Herb or go back 10 spaces.”
A choice is given, because if one is advanced on the game board, it might not be desirable, for example, to visit Aunt Nancy and Uncle Herb, which would be a very large backward move. Going back ten spaces is less of a penalty.
On the game board path are additional instructions:
“Miss a Turn”—These are scattered throughout the game.
Special Moves—Also scattered over the board, these allow the player to move ahead. For example:
“Mr. and Mrs. Myers want you to see their lambs … move ahead to the Myers’s farm.”
“Gram misses you … pay her a visit!”
We made our game board from a twenty-eight-inch square of colored mat board, purchased at an art supply store. (If you want your board to fold, score it once down the center back with a knife or similar tool, then fold it and reinforce the cut with cloth tape.)
The players’ path is made with all-purpose labels. I used the one half by three quarter inch size.
For graphics, we used family photographs, magazine cutouts, and pictures from calendars. All family members helped cut out, arrange, and paste the pictures on the board.
Instructions can be written on the board by hand or with letter transfers purchased at an art supply or stationery store.
We made playing pieces from small photographs of each family member and mounted them on plastic holders recycled from an old, purchased game.
If you want to design your own family game board, take a closer look at the format and graphics of games on the market—the possibilities are limitless! A family game is as much fun to design as it is to play.—, Bedford, Massachusetts
A Jar of Love
Last Valentine’s Day, I gave my husband a “love jar.” Using my imagination and supplies I had on hand, I decorated a wide-mouth quart jar (an empty shortening can or a box would also work) with red and white lace, ribbon, fabric, wrapping paper, and construction paper to make it look festive.
Inside the jar, I put about thirty slips of paper; on each I listed either one reason I love my husband or a specific incident when I appreciated what he said or did.
My husband treasured this gift—and it helped increase our feelings of love for each other.—, Salt Lake City, Utah
To Market, to Market
To make my grocery shopping easier, I made up a master list of items I buy most often, then made several photocopies of it. Now, when it comes time to head for the supermarket, instead of having to stop and compose a list, I simply check off the items I need. I keep a copy taped inside my cupboard door, too, so I can easily keep track of items as I use them up.—, Spanish Fork, Utah
My Three-ring History
There it sat in a pile, the contents of my would-be life story. It had come a long way, though, from an attic full of mementos to a cardboard box. The problem now was to organize it.
After considering many different systems, I decided on one that I knew would work for me. I could include almost everything—photos, cards, letters, programs, awards, and journal entries—in a three-ring loose-leaf binder.
I’ve organized my record chronologically, with a subject divider for each year. I mount photos on loose album pages and paste heavy items on plain sheets, reinforcing the holes so they can accommodate the extra weight. For old letters or items too small to anchor, I punch three holes in the side of a manila envelope, place it in the binder, and file those treasures inside. I write my daily entries on journal filler paper.
I concentrate on keeping my journal up-to-date; at the same time, I’m gradually incorporating the contents of the cardboard box.—, Logan, Utah