GAIL WHITE Survival tips for mothers with young children

"Cleaning your house while your kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing."
The quote, by Phyllis Diller, can be found in the beginning pages of Ann Lloyd's new book, "Tips and Tricks for Homeschooling Survival."
I knew immediately I would love this book.
Ann is a local author from New Springfield. Her first book, "Just 'Til I Finish This Chapter," had a profound effect on the approach I used when confronting reading issues with my children.
Helpful for anyone: Though I do not homeschool, I found this book just as informative. Truly, I believe it may have been better named, "Tips and Tricks for Motherhood Survival." Along with specific homeschooling issues, she touches on the home environment and taking care of Mom.
Ann has a way of taking a seemingly complex and even overwhelming issue and "chunking it down" into small segments that are easy to understand and do.
Her directives are brief and to the point. When applied, they can be life-changing.
The first section of "Tips and Tricks" discusses issues of the home.
"The tips in this chapter will help you get dinner on the table, control laundry and simplify your housework," Ann explains. (The sound of that certainly made me read on!)
She begins with advice on how to create a child-friendly environment.
"Everything your child needs to care for himself should be within reach," she contends.
The chapter, "Water, Water Everywhere, but Not a Drop to Drink," hit home with me.
Much of my early life as a mother was spent getting a drink of water for one child or another. They never asked at the same time, of course. And they always seemed thirsty the moment I sat down.
Encouraging independence: Sports bottles placed within reach of even the smallest child solves the water dilemma.
Once a self-help environment is created, delegation of chores and responsibilities are established.
Ann encourages the use of "self-reminding" chores.
"Insisting that everyone put away his own laundry is a prime example," Ann says. If the drawer is empty, the child is reminded to go find his clothes basket.
"Arrange the environment, instruct the child on the task and allow him to try," Ann advises. "First efforts will not be perfect, but they are the start of a lifetime of learning."
The second section of the book deals mainly with homeschooling issues. Yet, every parent will benefit from many of the suggestions.
One of my personal favorites, "When in Doubt, Don't Throw it Away -- Yet," addresses the endless barrage of school projects and artwork.
My personal way of handling this dilemma could be titled, "The Art of Trashing -- Timing is Everything." My underhanded approach has caused more than a few tears over missing "treasures."
Ann advises a more level-headed position. Simply take a picture -- then toss. "Photos last forever," she says. "And best of all, they never need to be dusted."
This section goes on to give advice on dealing with siblings, selecting curriculum and using creative teaching techniques.
"Try practicing spelling words while dribbling a basketball," she encourages. That is definitely a tip my household can relate to!
Moms have needs, too: Finally, Ann confronts the issue of Mom.
She compares the need for mothers to take time to focus on themselves with the advice given on an airplane. "Parents, please secure your own oxygen mask before assisting your child."
The advice is sound, as is the reasoning behind it. Yet, Ann wonders, "How many of us would actually heed this advice ... place our own needs before those of our child?"
She admits that for many years, she didn't. "I had nothing left to give," she recalls.
"Take care of yourself. Make time for yourself," Ann urges. "For you are the best gift you give your children."
XInformation regarding Ann's books can be found at

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