May 29, 2015

Taking your Children to a Restaurant

by Belinda Letchford
If you go prepared you can take your children to a restaurant.

It is possible to have a night out with your kids at a restaurant.



Dining out was never a big thing when I was a kid – in fact I think some of the towns I lived in didn’t even have a restaurant.  But these days are different.  Though it may not be a regularly activity in your family, it is likely that there will be the day when you need to (or want to) take your kids out to a restaurant:


My top tips for taking kids to restaurants:


  1. Choose family friendly restaurants when possible – if unsure of the menu phone ahead to ask so you can choose something quick for your kids once you arrive. If dining during the day – pick a restaurant that has a kiddy corner.
  2. Consider where you sit. Sitting at a table near a wall takes you away from others, and often gives you a little nook where kids can sit on the floor and play after dinner.
  3. Pick your time – if younger children are too tired – you are better off not going. Don’t stretch them.  Another aspect is to go early and make it an early night.  Stretching children beyond their ability to cope does no-one any favours.  Be creative if you want to continue your night out with friends – buy a special icecream and go home for dessert and coffee!
  4. Order your kids food first and ask for it to come out as soon as it is ready. Then peruse the menu leisurely for yourself.
  5. Have activities for the kids to enjoy at the table. We used to have books to read from the time we placed orders till the food came out.  After dinner, if we were lingering the kids would sit and colour or continue to read.  This kept them occupied and gave the adults some conversation time.
  6. Take some time out and read a story to them – don’t ignore them – just because they may be quiet!
  7. Time their dessert for when they need a distraction – it doesn’t have to be in time with your dessert. You may not have dessert usually at home – make this as special treat.
  8. Take a Vegemite sandwich (of course Vegemite isn’t the key here – but take something the young kids will eat). Though it is good manners to order something from the menu, if food is too slow in coming out, or your kids throws a fit, familiar food may ease the situation.  Use this to get your child through the unexpected but go expecting to order from the menu.
  9. When/if they become disruptive, take them out. Don’t let your ‘telling off’ be just as disruptive as their behaviour was in the first place!  Be aware of other people also having a special night out. Don’t be nagging, bribing, or repetitive.  Respond quickly and don’t let their bad behaviour escalate.  Take them outside or to the bathroom to calm down and be ready to co-operate.
  10. Prepare them – practice at home – use your best manners at your own dinner table on a day to day basis.



I have a very few memories of eating at a restaurant when a kid.  One time I remember being with a bunch of other teens at a family style restaurant and them not having a clue how to order, the different cutlery being laid out confused them, and they didn’t really try different foods (and complained about the food being fancy!)  As a teen I remember being very thankful that my parents, though we didn’t eat out often, had taught me how to handle myself at a restaurant.


I also remember going out once as a family and Dad paying particular attention to teaching my younger brother how to phone ahead to make a booking, to introduce our family to the waiter (confirm the booking), and how to place order for us all (but Dad paid for the night!)


These two memories have helped me in teaching my older kids about restaurant behaviour.  These things don’t have to be learnt in a fine dining setting – a local café gives teenagers the confidence and experience they need to then, one day, handle themselves in a restaurant.


  • Phone ahead and make a booking
  • Be confident in choosing something from the menu
  • Speak up, loud and clear, when placing your order
  • Ask questions if you need something different, or if you don’t understand the menu
  • Know how to pay for your meal


Once when we were on holidays we were meeting up with some old time friends of Peter’s and mine.  Both families were bringing our teens.  My teens were dreading having to spend a few hours with kids they didn’t know.  They took a few card games/board game with them as an ice breaker.  They talked with each other over food, but then when things to talk about started to run out, they pulled out their card games – it was a bit hit!  We need to give our kids the tools to handle social situations they find themselves in.


One other thing that kids need to know – of any age – is manners! Here are a few to consider:

  • Look people in the eyes when talking
  • Don’t talk with a mouth full
  • Don’t hog the conversation, involve others – stop talking and give someone a chance, or ask someone to contribute
  • Elbows off the table
  • Don’t start eating until everyone is served (unless you are dining with a very large crowd where it is most likely people will eat as they are served)
  • Don’t move on till everyone is finished
  • If someone else is paying, be considerate and careful of the price before you order
  • Make sure you say thank you if someone has paid for you
  • Say thank you to the wait staff – and even pass on your compliments to the chef if you thoroughly enjoyed your meal


Restaurants are a great opportunity to have fun together but everyone has so much more fun if everyone – kids included – are behaving well!


Also sharing and linking with others:  

Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)

Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful Spot, Mama Monday MusingsHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),  Capture your Journey,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home, Shine Blog Hop,  All things with PurposeA Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool Linkup,Weekly Wrap-up, Collage  Fridays, My Week in ReviewTip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape



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May 27, 2015

I’ve already told you Once!

by Belinda Letchford
I've already told you once.

I’ve already told you once! Just words that bounce around in our children’s heads.

  Revisiting the archives:  I’ve already told you once!


I am sure we’ve all said it, “I’ve already told you once!”  “How many times do I have to tell you!” and other such useless verbiage.  And it is useless verbiage – it is just words that bounce around in our children’s heads – they don’t really hear it and it certainly doesn’t make even a dent on their hearts.  Useless verbiage – but it sure does makes us feel better.

This is because we really know that the reason why we are having to say this over and over again to our kids is because we haven’t been on the ball ourselves – but it is much easier, and more comfortable for us, to blame them than to look at our selves and take the blame.

Now, I’m not really into blame games but lets be honest – as a parent we have a responsibility to teach and train our children.  If they haven’t got it then we keep on teaching and training.  There is no sunset clause – there is no due by date.  We just keep on training.  That is our job description.

These words – “I’ve already told you” or” How many times do I have to tell you”, are most likely the beginning of a negative communication pattern we have with our children.  We say this and then it spirals down into anger.  If this is true for you, then when you next hear yourself saying something along these lines, stop, pull yourself up, and get yourself on a better line of thought.

There are two main things that we, the parent can do to stop the situations that make us snap:

  1.  Respond to the first instance of their disobedience.  This requires self discipline and often we are a bit like an ostrich with its head in the sand, we hope the child’s disobedience will disappear and we won’t have to deal with it.  The thing is it doesn’t – it spirals, grows worse and we suddenly snap.
  2. Keep boundaries around our children until they can make good and right choices for themselves.   A boundary can be a routine, structured and planned activities, only letting them  play with appropriate toys in an appropriate way.  A boundary simply helps them do the right thing.

A second response we can have is to short change the training process.

We know in our heads that our children need to be trained.  We know in our heads that telling them once doesn’t really train them.  But our actions are often inconsistent with what we know.  We have to be committed to the idea of training.  This may mean we lay aside our desire to read a book, talk on the phone, browse the internet, finish a scrapbook page.  None of these things compare to the importance of our children’s hearts.

Training means that we

  • Know where we want our child to be (in either behaviour or belief)
  • Know where our child is at
  • Know how we are going to help them grow in the truths that are in God’s Word

Training means that we need to be practicing these things ourselves, that we need to teach them to our children, give them time to practice and only then can we eventually expect it of them.

Training is a long term project – it will not be over and done with any time soon.

Training our children is hard work – are we prepared to put in the effort?  Probably a better question would be – are we prepared to deal with the consequences if we don’t put in the effort?


May 26, 2015

Setting Goals: There’s nothing special about January

by Belinda Letchford
Anytime is a good time to set some goals.

Setting Goals: There’s nothing special about January.


Though January is known as the time we set ourselves new goals – really, there is nothing special about January.  It is a new year, a fresh start – that is what we tell ourselves.  But really, every month is a new start.  Every Monday is a new start to a new week.  Every sunrise is a new start to a new day.  There is nothing special about January.


One of the ideas that has shaped our family all through their homeschool years was “Productive Free Time”.  This was a time in the afternoon where the kids chose how they were going to spend their time, but they needed to be productive, to be intentional, to do something.  This was the time in their day where they focused on their interests, passions, talents.  They experimented with new hobbies or skills.  They read books, played board games, built projects.  They used technology, took online classes, played music, took photographs, wrote stories.  Through this time they became proficient in some things and interested or knowledgeable (even a little bit) in other areas.  And they learnt to use their time wisely.


I have observed though that as they get older their focus narrows in and they start to dig deeper into a few interests.  And this is a good thing.  There needs to be a time where they do dig deep, and not be so board.  But it can also get a little overwhelming, and they lose the fun side to life.  It is all about being good at this skill, and less about discovering, exploring, and enjoying life.  It is tricky to find the balance as an adult – and they are heading into adult life.


So I decided to encourage them all to write a bucket list.


Family night around the computer writing a bucket list.

Family night working on our bucket lists


Last week I told the kids we were going to have a family night – to grab their dinner, and laptops and gather around the table.  They immediately looked at me with suspicion, but did it anyway!


And with a little intro along the lines of my desire for them to be productive, to focus on things that excite and interest them, and the need sometimes to have external motivators; though of course, we would all like to have internal motivation, sometimes a list is a good thing!


The penny dropped – they all knew where I was headed!  Jessica had found a bucket list web-based app that she was enjoying.  I wanted us all to write up a bucket list and to do it together so we can sharpen off each other, and encourage each other with different things that came to mind.


Day Zero Project provides a place to write 100 goals with the idea of achieving in 1001 days – which is of course not quite three years.  There is no prize – other than the adrenaline of ticking off a list – and there is no goal-police checking that you get it all done.  It is just a list of ideas and dreams.


As we started to write our own list, we started to talk about how the list would work for each of us.  Some found it to broad, some found it too specific, some found it just right.  I gave them the freedom to find other apps that would help them monitor 100 goals.  You can purchase a version of Day Zero Project that gives you far more flexibility, but we decided against that and want to use free apps at this stage.


As you start to write different things you want to accomplish, or learn, or explore you can browse different goals and ideas that others have used.  This is helpful, as was hearing the banter and discussions around our table.  As I started to write my goals I considered the categories I’ve used in educating the whole child: relationships, responsibilities, intrapersonal skills, talents, academic learning.  I want, for myself, and for my kids, to have goals for all areas of life not just travel, or health, or developing good habits, which are the normal things we get stuck on when setting goals at the beginning of the year.


So now we all have a bucket list.  And I hope that it will help us all use the little bit of free time we have productively, I hope it will help us not forget dreams in the midst of the busyness of today.


Also sharing and linking with others:  

Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)

Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful Spot, Mama Monday MusingsHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),  Capture your Journey,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home, Shine Blog Hop,  All things with PurposeA Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool Linkup,Weekly Wrap-up, Collage  Fridays, My Week in ReviewTip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape

May 23, 2015

Rise up and Worship

by Belinda Letchford
Rise up and worship - stir yourself to focus on God.

5 Minute Friday prompt: Rise


Five Minute Friday is a weekly writing challenge and linkup, where you write for 5 minutes on a designated word.   Every so often,  when I find myself with some writing time between Friday and Sunday,  I plan to take this challenge.  When I have done this I find that my 5 mintues of writing tends to reflect something that is going on in my life or my general reflections.  So I share these short posts with this in mind – this is simply my immediate thoughts when I read this word today.

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is: Rise


Rise up – when I saw that ‘rise’ was the word to think on this weekend, the phrase “Rise up and Worship” came to mind.  It is a phrase we are very familiar with as Christians – many songs stir us to rise up and worship so it was no wonder it came to mind.  But in looking through the Bible, admittedly fairly quickly, I couldn’t find such a phrase.  But the words ‘rise up’ certainly are used.


There is the plea for God to rise up and rescue

To rise up against something – to stand against something

To awaken – both from a physical slumber, but also from a daze (inferred)

To get up – to act, move, stir yourself


There were a number of words that were used in original language that has been translated ‘rise up’ but I was left with a sense of action, purpose, strength when I glanced through these translations/definitions.  This isn’t to be a strict exposition but rather trying to get an understanding of what God wants me to reflect on.  Rise up – stand against something, get up out of my slumber, stir myself.  God will rise up and rescue.


To worship God is to focus on Him, to make him bigger in my life, to lift Him up so that He is bigger than everything.  But there are times in my life that I need to truly rise up to worship:


  • I need to stand against my selfish desires to do my own thing (rise up Belinda!)
  • I need to get up out of my slumber, stir myself from this haze of physical, emotional, spiritual slumber (rise up Belinda!)
  • I need to let God arise


Worship is always a choice – will I focus on myself, will I focus on God?


One of the key sermons that shaped my life as an early 20-something, was the idea of Objective Truth.  That something is true, regardless of my feelings, regardless of the circumstances.  God is God regardless of my feelings, regardless of the circumstances.  Rise up Belinda and worship – make Him bigger in my life, lift him up so that He is over everything, love him as He has loved you!  It is a choice to rise up and worship!


Read more thoughts on Rise over at 5 Minute Friday



May 22, 2015

A Mothers Work is Never Done!

by Belinda Letchford
A mother's work is never done.

A mother’s work is never done – but what is our attitude about that?

The old saying “a mother’s work is never done” is true – there is always something to do.  How we think about this will reflect on how we get through our day.  A mother’s work is never done – but that doesn’t make it a hopeless case.


We can say “a mother’s work is never done” with resignation, with frustration, despair, tiredness – and fair enough – some of our tasks are repetitive, seemingly thankless, and not particularly inspiring.  Alternatively, we can focus on the purpose of being a mother, and from that gain a sense of significance for the things that we do.


  • Mothers nurture the hearts of children – this takes time and availability
  • Mothers create a home – not just a comfortable house, but a place of security and belonging
  • Mothers create memories – tangible memories of doing things together and for each other, as well as intangible by just being there
  • Mothers teach – and our lessons shape the very being of our children: spiritual, moral, social, emotional, and physical being


A mother’s work is far more than looking after the physical well-being of everyone in the family; of making sure there is good healthy food, clean clothes, and fresh sheets, of getting people to the right place at the right time, or wiping snotty noses, toilet training, and organising all our stuff.  It includes those things, and yet when we give ourselves to the whole role of being a mother, it is much more.


Being a mother is all about Relationships

I think the most significant task we can take on as a mother is to foster relationships in our family.

  • Husband and Wife relationship – This relationship alone has several significant purposes. In nurturing this primary relationship I am looking after my own emotional and social needs, which in turn creates a safe, stable and strong family life for my children, and it shows them how to build a strong and healthy marriage for themselves one day.  This issue alone is a generation builder!
  • Parent to Child relationships – without relationships we are just adults and children living in the same house, without relationships we are just living by house rules and waiting to grow up. To be any influence in my children’s lives, to be able to help them, encourage them, give them wisdom and confidence we need to have a relationship – a healthy relationship.
  • Sibling relationships – we say that siblings don’t choose to be friends, that they are just put in a family, but reality is that a healthy sibling relationship is a choice – and we as mothers can teach, guide and encourage our children to choose to love their siblings.
  • Friendships – mothers teach, guide and encourage friendships beyond the family walls. We not only teach the skills to be a good friend we help our children make time for their friends.
  • Community connections – The home is the base for all social connections – as we teach our children the value of other people, and the importance of being a friend and meeting people’s needs, and as we make time and opportunity for this to happen, our children’s world expand

And last but certainly not least

  • Relationship with God – As I live an honest and open relationship with God myself, I introduce Him to our children.


Busyness kills Relationships

Busyness kills relationships – or at least maims it!  This is where the idea that ‘a mother’s work is never done’ becomes harmful – we focus on all that we have to do.  And then we let our attitude stink about it, because it is exhausting, and endless, and ….well, exhausting!


There is always going to be work to do – it is the nature of our world.  Dust happens, dirt, grime, spills, mess.  Our family will always need to be fed and clothed.  The baby needs to be bathed, the toddler needs a band-aid, the school kid needs help with their school project, the teen needs to be driven to their sport practice, the young adult is buying a car – and this only covers the sphere of motherhood, I am also a wife, homemaker, homeschooler, friend and volunteer!


These things are good things – it is good to be busy, to work hard, but when we talk about busyness there is an underlying dissatisfaction: we know that we are focusing on the wrong things, that our priorities are out of order, that these things are taking the best of our time and energy – and it is these things that are affecting our attitude.


Choose your focus – Tasks or Relationships

As with all things we have a choice – we may not feel like we have a choice, considering all the things pushing in on us, all the things left undone – but we do have a choice.  We may not be able to choose the circumstance we find ourselves in but we can choose our attitude.  We can also choose our priorities.  Will I choose to focus on tasks or on relationships?  Will I choose to see the eternal perspective of the things I do during my day or will I choose to be frustrated and overwhelmed by the many practical things?

We may not choose our circumstances, but we can choose our attitude.

We can choose our attitude.


This does not mean that we sit around with our kids sharing  milk and cookies all day – no, there are things that need to happen, but our heart should be tuned towards relationships.


First we need to know that building and fostering relationships is our number one task.  You may need to change your thinking here – the mother’s role is to foster relationships – have you thought about that before?  Think about it now, and start to see the things that you do with those glasses on.  Relationships should tint all that we do.


When we have relationship coloured glasses on, we will value our time differently because we are not only with the people we love, but we can use this time to influence them.  Our energy is focused on how to help my child.  And my attitude can be one of thankfulness for the material things we have around us, that allow us to be together.


A mother’s work is never done!

You see, a mother’s work is never do ne, not because it is mundane and repetitive, not because kids are sloppy and not picking up their responsibilities – a mother’s work is never done because we are always a mother, a mother who values relationships.


Also sharing and linking with others:  

Throughout the week I share with one, or more of these blogs (see more details on my Link Parties page)

Monday’s Musings,  Thoughtful Spot, Mama Monday MusingsHip Homeschool Moms Blog Hop, Titus 2 Tuesdays,   Coffee and ConversationFinishing Strong (Middle & Highschool years),  Capture your Journey,  Thriving Thursdays, Hearts for Home, Shine Blog Hop,  All things with PurposeA Little R & R,  From House to Home,  Fellowship Fridays,  Homeschooling Highschool Linkup,Weekly Wrap-up, Collage  Fridays, My Week in ReviewTip Tuesday with Debbie in Shape



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