What I Did To Reduce The Craziness

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My husband gave me this towel as a present the other day.

 

stress-cartoon

It is amazing how this one little saying can mean so much to a person, but it summarized one of the main struggles that I recently went through as a new mom of two. I have a 2 year old boy and a 4 month old little girl, I have a full-time job, and my husband and I run our family farm.  Let me tell you, making the adjustment from one kid to two kids can be pretty overwhelming (especially when your kids are only a year and a half apart).  One of the main struggles that I dealt with was that I felt like I couldn’t get anything done. Between helping run our family farm, my own full-time career, caring for an infant, keeping a toddler entertained, cooking for my family, cleaning our two-story farmhouse, laundry, bathing and bedtimes I felt like I could never keep up.   Having that feeling of never really accomplishing much was very frustrating for me, and I felt like this quote:

 

mom-quote

So one day a couple of months ago, I sat down, said a prayer and made a list of the things that could use some improvement in my life.

Here is the list of problems that I came up with:

  1. Morning Madness
  2. Messy House
  3. Piled-Up Laundry
  4. Suppertime Craziness
  5. The Toy Tornado

After looking at this list, I was pretty discouraged.  I realized that most aspects of my life were a mess.  I was wasting time being unorganized and scattered and worst of all… I was missing out on quality time with my husband and my kids.

I then realized that in order for me to be the best mom that I could be, I needed to get my act together.  So I did some research and I found that there are so many books and websites that are completely focused on helping new parents become more organized, and I felt a little better about myself knowing that there are tons of other people that felt the same way as me!

Fixes to the Morning Madness

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people show up late.  If I am less than 10 minutes early to work or an appointment, I feel like I am late.  All of that changed, however, when I had kids.  I felt like it did not matter what time I got up in the morning, something would happen right before we would all walk out of the door that would cause me to be 5 or 10 minutes behind.  I have to get myself up and ready, feed the infant, cook breakfast for the toddler, get both kids dressed, get a bag packed for the babysitter, get a lunch packed for my toddler, and also pack my own lunch.  And all of this needs to be done before 7:30 in the morning.  Mornings at my house got (and can still get) a little hectic, and I constantly felt like I was racing around while never really getting anywhere.  So I went to the internet.  I found an article from Parents Magazine on their website called No More Manic Mornings.

One of the tips from this article really helped my family with our morning madness: Start the Night Before.  That was their tip.  Now I know that this sounds pretty obvious, but I had never really considered how much I could get organized and put together at night.  I now pick out all of our clothes the night before.  I find the outfit that I am going to wear to work, and I also lay out what the kids are going to wear.  I also restock and pack the bag that the kids take to the babysitter’s house.  I make sure that the diapers and wipes are full and that each of my kids has at least one extra outfit, because you never know what they will get into or get on them during the day.  I even go as far as to pack the lunch bag that I send with the kids every morning.  I put everything in the lunch bag and keep it in the refrigerator overnight.  That way in the morning, all I have to do is grab a freezer pack and throw it in the lunch bag.  I do the same thing with my own lunch.  With all of these things prepared the night before, our mornings run so much smoother.  I am calmer, I get to spend more quality time with my kids as they eat their breakfast and we almost always get out of the door on time.  I would rather spend an hour on these things at night after my kids have gone to bed, than race around for an hour in the morning trying to get all of this done.  It starts all of us out on a good note, and makes our days more productive.

Fixes to Suppertime Craziness

One main issue that constantly posed challenges at my house was suppertime. As soon as I picked my kids up from the babysitters in the evening, my son wanted to eat supper.  I don’t know if any of you have had to experience the wrath of a toddler that is hungry… but let me tell you that it is not a pleasant experience.  My normal routine included getting home from work and try to figure out an idea of what to make for supper.  Then once I would get an idea of what to make, I would then have to figure out if I even had the correct ingredients.  I don’t know how many times I ended up pulling a frozen pizza out of the freezer to cook because I couldn’t find all of the ingredients to make a healthier meal.  By the time I was finally able to start supper, 20-30 minutes had already passed.  And remember, this whole process is going on while a toddler is screaming, “Hungry Mama… Hungry”.  I would then cook supper, and it would be after 7:00 when we finally all sat down to eat.  With us eating that late at night, the kids didn’t get baths until late, and they don’t make it to bed for their 8:00 bedtime.

One overwhelming response that I got from my research was the idea of Meal Planning.  This is something that takes a little extra time in the planning stages, but let me tell you it helps so much during the week, especially when I am standing in front of the fridge trying to figure out what to cook for supper at night.  Here is my process:

  1. Plan a meal for each night of the week, find the recipes and print them off.
  2. Go through the ingredient lists for your recipes and write down the ingredients that you are missing.
  3. Grocery shop on the weekend to prepare for the next week.

Every weekend, I sit down and figure out the meals that I am going to cook for the rest of the week.  I use Google and Pinterest and all I do is search for quick and health recipes that are kid friendly, and print off the ones that I want to use.  It is amazing how many people post recipes that are simple and that actually taste pretty good!  Here is an example of a recipe that I found on Pinterest for Family Style Roasted Chicken Bake and it came directly from Kraft Food’s website.

Once I have a menu planned out for the week and all of my recipes are printed out, I then go through the ingredient list.  I figure out the ingredients that I currently have (either in my pantry or in my fridge) and I figure out the ingredients that I need to purchase.  This makes making a grocery list SO MUCH EASIER!  I know the exact things that I need at the store to make the recipes for my weekly meal plan, and I spend less money because I am not buying random grocery items that are not needed.  I also plan my grocery shopping for the weekend, that way I do not have to make last minute trips during the week.  With all of that done on the weekend, when I get home from work I look at my meal plan menu and choose the recipe that I want to make.  This has simplified my life, and my toddler has been so much happier.  We now normally eat around 6:00 each night, which leaves me with plenty of time to spend with my family before we have to start bathing and putting kids to bed.

My next few blog posts will show the tips that I found and the plans that I have incorporated into my life that has really made a huge difference for my family.  We still have our crazy moments and life is still hectic at times, but a few changes have really helped to organize my time so that I can spend more with the ones that I love.jess-family

Jessica Winter, on behalf of the Quakerdale team.

Rest Easy

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One of the big issues that impacted our recent restructuring at Quakerdale had to do with a lack of employees willing to do the jobs we needed done. I was reading about a survey done with workers hired to do the types of helping jobs Quakerdale hires and the results were interesting.

Tom Woll, a consultant to non profits like Quakerdale, recently interviewed three hundred workers in our field what it would take to stay at their position for two years. (Just two years!)  Tom stated that the answers revolved around five issues associated with the work: Stress, discouragement, belonging, purpose and fulfillment.

These were Millennial workers exclusively and all of them had concerns about the work that were very practical. They felt like the work they were doing was beyond their skills and that their training didn’t prepare them for the task. This led them to feeling discouraged and stressed out. These feelings of discouragement followed them home and had a negative impact on their personal lives. Many stated that if they do not feel calm in their work they will leave.

I know we all like to feel encouraged, stress free. We like to feel that we are fully prepared for the task and that those around us show appreciation and give us the feelings of purpose and fulfilment.

Where do feelings of stress, discouragement or belonging, purpose and fulfilment come from?

The last time I checked lasting feelings of contentment and well being  don’t come from others. The process of growing and “becomming” demands stress, anxiety, challenge and general discomfort.  Then we move to the next level and become the person we can ultimately become.  Then we better know our purpose, where we belong and what fulfils us.  Have you ever went and listened to a survivor story?  Someone who overcame something really terrible?  These people know who they are and it is because of the difficulty they experienced.

We as parents, friends or co-workers can model how to overcome hardship and take on challenges because we all have them.  We can find contentment in the midst of the trials and challenges of life even if our challenges are not bad enough to put us on the 6 pm news!   When we are modeling how to handle these challenges we must allow our kids  to experience increasing levels of hardship or challenge when they are young.  Kids who face difficulty or challenges experience stress and discouragement. Kids can learn that belonging, purpose and fulfilment come from going through difficult things instead of quitting.

So where are you helping yourself or your children avoid something difficult? Are you actually helping your child grow if you allow them to avoid the problem or fixing it for them?

Today try to take a look at life through the lense of growth and remember good things always require extra effort and they don’t come easy! Then we are better prepared for the next hard thing that always comes!

James chapter one is the place I go when things are hard in my life and I realize I am in a growth opportunity. You see as the old hymn says: “My hope rests in nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.” You see when our happiness is dependent on others or even the circumstances of this world we are surely going to be disappointed. Teaching our children, co-workers or our friends how to find happiness isn’t quitting or avoiding. It has to do with where we put our trust and happiness and how we go about our lives.

on-christ-the-solid-rock-i-stand

I want to share a great song with you with an introduction in a concert. Not only are we expected to extend ourselves as in James chapter one, but then we can also rest easy knowing God will carry our burdens!

#makingadifferenceQ

Hey, have you heard that corn causes cancer?

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What would Iowa farmers do if the world believed corn causes cancer?  At first, farmers would protest, reminding people that corn is great for feeding cattle, pigs and poultry.  But if consumers stopped buying corn, would Iowa farmers keep growing corn?  NO!  Corn production would stop FAST!

The shocker statement about corn is a metaphor for what Quakerdale is going through today, one that could also be applied to churches as well.

Would cancerous corn mean farmers were no longer farmers?

Farmers would still be farmers, but I believe  farming  would change radically and almost instantly.  For a few years, it would be tough.  Farmers would go through some really hard times and some would quit. But farmers would still be farmers with the goal of feeding the world and our rich black Iowa farm land would still be here.  The idea of growing crops would still be the mission of farmers and another crop or two or three would replace corn, and eventually Iowa farmers would be busy again through adaptation and planning.

Today, “best practices” taught in universities and among social service professionals claim that out-of-home group homes and shelters are universally bad for families.  This movement started back in the 1990’s.  This summer, responding to diminishing placements and these  “best practices,” Quakerdale closed the last of our group homes and shelter programs.  We closed our Waterloo and Manning campuses because enrollment had dropped (again) 20% from the previous 12 months in our remaining shelter programs.  The state (our customer for those services ) rarely requires kids to be helped in out-of-home services anymore.

Since June people have asked, “Does Quakerdale help any kids anymore?”

Quakerdale has a mission, just like Iowa farmers, and a cultural change will not stop our efforts.  Quakerdale exists to teach children about God and teach them discipline and work skills, a mission begun by our founder Josiah White in 1851.

Thankfully, Quakerdale has many other ministry programs which help thousands of children and their families each year!  Even though we are renting and willing to sell the Manning and Waterloo facilities,  we continue to have a clear mission to teach people about God and life skills,  just as we have been doing for over 165 years.

Just like the farmer with a mission to grow crops, Quakerdale is still a ministry with a mission.  While the approach was primarily group homes and shelters in the 70’s – 80’s, other programs and ministries have been developed.  Last year, Quakerdale served 3464 children and their families (some were served in more than one program).  167 of those children were served in our group homes and shelters.   That means that in 2015, 3297 were touched to by Quakerdale through home and community based programs!

Yes, folks, Quakerdale is still #makingadifference for kids and their families in Iowa and the midwest.  Our methods might be forced to change, and the means may change, but our mission remains the same!  That mission is what makes Quakerdale so special…

Please come to our web site www.quakerdale.org to learn of all the different things going on at Quakerdale.   Or, if you are a facebook friend, like us there to see regular updates on what is happening at Quakerdale.   We are excited to see what God has for us in the future as we make room for his guidance and change at Quakerdale.

And PLEASE NOTE that Quakerdale ministries are made possible by the donations of volunteers and gifts of donations or assets of those from the past and present! Keep us in your annual or monthly charitable giving.  Remember us in your estate planning so you can leave a legacy with Quakerdale!

Rob Talbot, Quakerdale Executive Director
rtalbot@quakerdale.org
641-497-5294

PS. I mentioned the church in my opening “shocker” metaphor. Have any of you noticed church attendance changing?  I believe that the church, like Quakerdale, and like the farmer, has the same important mission it has always had, but how it does it needs to change, and as soon as churches figure out what the change needs to be we will see church participation rise.  Watch this interesting video spoken to college students about the revival of our selves and of the church into the future.  It takes pruning and faith to go to the next place God has for us!  We have to stop doing old things in order to start new things for Christ!

 

Please share you comments on this blog and give us feedback on the impact Quakerdale has had on you or someone you know!

#makingadifferenceq