Thursday, February 27, 2014

Seasoned Moms Speak Out-February with Gail (Part 1)

My sister Becka married this amazing man named Josh. He is amazing because of his parents; his mother Gail is really one of the wisest mothers I've ever talked with. She let me interview her this month and I couldn't help but feel humbled that she would take the time to teach and share with me on her precious Sunday afternoon.

Gail has raised 5 incredible children who are talented (the list goes on and on of what these kids can do!) loving, grateful, fun, silly, respectful and most importantly: they LOVE Jesus. She taught them to be disciplined, independent and how to care for each other and their home at a young age. Her list of family traditions is out of this world (really a "vacation cry"?? You've got to be kidding me- I want to be this family!!!) She shares how having a large family pushed her into training the older kids in household chores at a young age and how teaching them independence was so important for helping them discover their own passions, skills and life ambitions.

Grab a latte and cozy up with February's Seasoned Mom: Gail Andersen.

1.) I think of you as a disciplined, no-nonsense mom-were you always that way?

Yes! It's my tendency, to be structured and disciplined.

2.) Were there women in your life you admired or gleaned from when you were a new mom?

Yes! Christie Wildly went to church with us and her impact was huge in my life. My family life was dysfunctional and my mother was not always the best example for me; my parents lived in Dallas and my in-laws were out in Colorado. Nobody was close enough to babysit or help us, even when my mom did visit she was still parenting.  So that's one of the reasons now I want to be a help to my sons and daughters so much.

I had to find people I could glean from; I looked around in the church and saw people who I did not want to learn from, some people who were doing OK and then there was Christie. I gleaned in the area of discipline, even when it was new to my husband and I, Christie was very specific in that area. One of the first things she helped me with was in my marriage- she gave me great advice on how to honor my husband and let him take the reigns in our finances and working to support our family. I would wake up early and pray scriptures over my husband, I would speak over my husband the things that I was believing to see in him. He is not the man today that I married, not at all.

3.) This is skipping ahead a little bit- but what was it like having twin girls after having 3 boys?

Oooooh Fantastic! Ha! Well you must realize we prayed for twins. We always kind of wanted twins, our oldest Josh was not quite 7,  Jared was 4 and Jesse was 1 year old when the girls were born. And I knew that after I had the twins that nothing could come close to that experience, as far as the excitement. It was a heck of a lot of work. But it was exciting. So I never could have had a singleton after that. So 5 would be it, the number of Grace!

4. How did you train your older boys around the house.

Oh my! This is my teaching background- 3 of my younger siblings were handicapped. One of them (my sister) went to a Montessori school and I would sit and watch for hours. At Montessori school there is a place for everything and everything has its place. Everything is broken down into steps, so when I wanted to teach my boys how to run the washer and dryer; I would break it down into steps. But before we even got to the machines, you have index cards with all the steps on them (a little drawn picture) The laundry was presorted in color-coded baskets, we had step-by-step cards and markings on the machines- but we PLAYED with those cards and put them in order, its a game, I believe if you teach your children early enough- it's a game! This stuff is part of being in a family, especially a big family. It's part of being a good husband or wife or roommate. These are life lessons. Part of my homeschooling was teaching those things, I had lists: OK today we are going to learn to dust or learn to clean the sink. It's a game and its fun for a long time. I'm real big into rewards and consequences. So when you are trying to teach something new there can be rewards, then the rewards lax of because then its expected.  Depending on their age, once they hit a certain age they were completely responsible for that chore.

5.) Why did you decide to homeschool?

My friend Christie- recommended a book called Better Late Then Early by Raymond Moore. He explains why kids especially boys do better if they start late or aren't pushed. So I made the commitment to the Lord at that point to keep them home until 2nd grade. But once my oldest got to 2nd grade I was loving what I was doing, there were more people doing it, there was more of a following at that point and I took every single year as an option, OK Lord what do you want me to do this year?

By the time my oldest was in junior high he had the desire to go to school and get more social interaction in- so we got him involved in a Campus Life ministry. That was his social outlet and he was apart of a discipleship team and in leadership. Each year I prayed the Lord would help fill in the gaps of where I wasn't able to be everything for them as a teacher. Another area of socialization for the kids was the church, every time the door opened we were there. And we created time into our schedule with other families, we had friends over on Fridays and it was our day to lax a little bit.

The kids also saw the value of working diligently on their school work, sometimes they would bring their Mondays work to church on Sunday and get ahead a day. Then on Monday morning they have the freedom to get up and decide what they want to do, they aren't waiting on mom for the lesson. They can choose to practice an instrument or pursue a hobby. It trains them to discipline there time and discover their own interest. When I was growing up I played piano and I didn't want to practice after school- I wanted to play when I got home. So I would get up 30 minutes early and practice before I left. Then when I came home from school- I was free, I had my day to myself!

Scheduling your day is very important, your kids need a schedule and they will thrive within one. I am a fun teacher mom so I love taking breaks from that but there is always a schedule to come back to, and you have to look at what you are characterized by. Are you characterized by the schedule or are you characterized by the laissez faire (doing whatever you wanted to do) Every child craves creativity within structure. Do you realize that's why they misbehave!? They are misbehaving because they can't find the boundaries and when they hit the boundaries they stop. We as parents train them to misbehave, misbehave, misbehave because we don't stop them, they don't hit the boundaries until way to late. The parents set exactly where they are, when the boundaries are small the children will stay within them, as the parent you are in control. When they know where the boundaries are they can function, have fun and be free. But they have security in that boundary.

Wow what insight and wisdom. Gail really challenged me to think about what my boundaries are with my kids and what a difference some Montessori style teaching could bring to simple house hold jobs. I'm so grateful to learn early on in my mom "career" if you will, these ideas and strategies for teaching and discipline are really exciting!

Check back soon for {Part 2} there's still LOTS of amazing stuff (and don't forget about the famous list of family traditions! Eek, I'm so excited to share those)


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