Archive for the ‘Encouragement for Parents’ Category

Why Can’t She Keep Her ROOM Clean?

August 15, 2014



Sizzle Bop Mom, Cori, has had it with  her daughter’s disorganized bedroom. Her frustration is apparent in her note. So take a look, then keep reading for some solutions we’ve found successful.

Dear Carol,

I have an 8 yr. old daughter who has a difficult time with performing her tasks completely & thoroughly and it makes me crazy. For example, if she goes to change clothes, the first outfit will land on the floor or bed or someplace else other than the drawer or hanging up in the closet. There are times that I will tell her to put a brush or hairclip away and it doesn’t always make it to the proper place. It may land someplace close to where it belongs, but doesn’t always get to the designated spot. 
Another thing, I let her re-arrange her drawers. Upon opening one drawer I found pajamas/jeans/a shirt/skirt…all in the same drawer.  All of these get me very frustrated with her and I don’t want to be.  I want to be understanding of how she processes different things but I just don’t understand it.      

PHOTO-Carol Off-Center LEFT

Dear Cori,

It’s certainly difficult when a very ordered mom is parenting a very distractible child. Two people could not be less alike. So, BOTH parties need to bring much grace to the game just to survive. But along with that, I think you have to attack this from two different angles.


Angle One: Equip Your Child
There’s no doubt that your child needs to learn skills that keep chaos at bay. But the strategies that will work effectively for this kid may be very different from those that will work for others. Consider some of these.

  • Ditch hangers and drawers–Many distractible folks are happier in a room with lots of shelves in the closets instead of drawers. And loads of pegs or hooks instead of hangers. All their pants are folded, on a single shelf, and they can see them all at a glance. Have them create their own organization plan, and then LABEL everything. Because sadly, even THEY will forget their own system. (Trust me on this. I actually have a drawer labeled “underwear.” Sad but true.)
  • Tie it down–I grew so weary of the inability to find a hairbrush, since I knew darn well we owned about 3,000 of them. So once my kids passed the toddler stage where I had to worry about cords, I began tying down anything I could. If I ever found myself looking for the same thing over and over again, I considered tethering it to something. Here are a few.

PHOTO-Tethered Scissors

PHOTO-Tethered White Board Eraser

PHOTO-Tethered Hair brush


And you should know, just in case my girls pop into the van as we head out for church on Sunday and they tell me they didn’t have time to brush their hair. . . I have a brush tethered in the van. Cha ching!

  • Melinda Borings Hair Dryer Wars Solution— Two daughters, one tidy, the other one a bit, well, less so, shared a bathroom. One loved it when all things were in their place. The other, well, less so. The big item to create the war between them was the hairdryer. Read a post  HERE from our good friend Melinda. of and learn how a simple solution ended the war.
  • Pinterest ideas–We have bunches of creative ideas on the CHORES BOARD on our Pinterest page. Cori–I think you’ll especially like the Uh-Oh-Chores Pocket idea.
  •  MORE options can be found on our blog. Here we address the very real problem of simply forgetting to do things. Take a look at this idea packed post called “I-Forgot-My-Chores Strategies.”

Angle Two: Shift Your ThinkingPHOTO-Absent minded Professor Word photo

  • Pick your battles. Ask yourself “Is this really a crisis? Or just an annoyance.” Will this child truly be unable to go through adulthood with this behavior. And sometimes the answer is, “Well, yes. But I won’t like it.” This is a good time to remember the beloved caricature of the absent minded professor. We’ve all met one (or seven) whose filing systems involve stacks of papers and towers books on the floors, files in an order that only “a beautiful mind” could follow, and a daily disheveled appearance that denotes a particular disregard for fashion. He isn’t going to win any prizes for most Zen working space. But is he functioning? Yes. It may be worth releasing this child to be more like this professor. And, of course, step away from the area of chaos singing “Let it Go!” at the top of your lungs. 🙂


  • Test It: This idea comes from Cynthia Tobias, author of “You Can’t Make Me!”. She claims that we need to constantly ask ourselves “What’s the point?” Do we want them to be organized OUR way simply because it’s OUR way? Or do we want them to be able to find things they need. Tell your child that you don’t care what their room or other spaces look like, as long as they can function. In other words, if you ask them to find object X, and they can find it within 2 minutes, then we’re good. The point is NOT was the item retrieved from a neatly stacked group of similar items on the third shelf. Rather, the point is, given their own system, can they find it. Not everything should be dismissed as “not important.” That’s not where I’m going. But it is worth putting some time and energy into deciding just what IS important, and choosing carefully where you make your stand.

What Moms of Sizzlers REALLY Want

May 1, 2014

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????I used to see those homeschool conference classes on “How to Avoid Burn Out” and I just passed right on by. I was NOT experiencing burnout. On the contrary, I was heartily energized by our homeschooling and the delight of discovering the gifts in my Sizzler and his siblings. How could so many moms be signing up for these clearly popular classes? I was oh-so-self righteously thankful that whatever I was doing was not resulting in the clear distress being experienced by so many others.

Well…that was many few years ago, when I was still new to the game.
And while I may once have looked upon those burned out moms with a bit of smug and arrogant judgement in my glance, I would now willingly stand shoulder-to-shoulder in line for just such words of wisdom which might be dispensed at just such a meeting.

I am tired!
This Sizzling child IS a lot of work.
To deny it is like denying the blueness of the sky.
And yes, sometimes his antics will fill me with mirth, delight and even, yes…dare I say it….energy.
But just as often, I sigh. I’m want sleep. My head hurts. My bones ache. I need to go to bed. I have yet another cold.
And tomorrow’s lessons and errands and activities loom LARGE in my head.

So to any of you who may have been judged unfairly by smug ol’ me in years gone by, I offer the HUGEST of apologies.  (please note the clear groveling in her tone.) And now, let’s consider one solution. (more…)

No Sarcasm. Not Today.

January 2, 2013

PHOTO-Carol and Emma ChristmasSo often I post semi-snarky comments about life with Sizzlers. It’s always tongue-in-cheek. And it’s a good let-off-valve for all the stress that these intense kids can bring into our lives.

But this evening, I’m struck by how much I adore this child. How her unique and quirky ways add so many layers of wonderful to my life. Life would be so much LESS. . .less of everything, if she’d never been in this family. And what’s more, I wouldn’t even have known what I was missing.

I love that when she has those million-and-one thoughts in her head, I’m the one she wants to share them with.

I love that when she opens her mouth, it will seem (more…)

ABCs of a Sizzler Christmas

December 25, 2012

hA is for always….no, make that never assume you’ve got your Sizzler all figured out. If you do, God will smile wide and send you tomorrow.

B is for Blast off, words to be feared in any season, and usually followed by a frightening thud, clunk or shattering sound.  For more details, see letter I.

C is for change which should be embraced. Nothing will ever be consistent with your Sizzler, even more so during the hectic holiday season.  Constant change will be your steadfast companion for years to come. Hug it now. Make friends. Buy it candy.

D is for don’t.  Don’t call any friend who has yet to bear children if you. . .  (more…)

THIS Mom Exhausted by Sizzlers

September 8, 2012

Letter Week is almost over here at Sizzle Bop. We have one more letter we want to share, this time from a Mom who is NOT a Sizzler herself, but runs a house full of them. She’s so busy meeting their oh-so-labor-intensive needs, that she finds she runs dry by the end of the day. Anybody feeling her pain? Take a look.



Do you or your readers have any wisdom for a mom who ISN’T a sizzler?  That mom who has an actual, real need to finish what she starts, to get from point A to point B without visiting point Z, 37-1/2, Mars and all points in between?

I have two boys.  I have your books, and your ideas have literally saved our family and our homeschool.  I love your wonderful messages and your blog. I’m totally on board.

BUT.  (You knew there was a “but…”)

At the end of each day, after I’ve done my Vaudeville show, my spinning and running, and ridden the roller coaster ride that is teaching in our house, I am literally exhausted and completely unhappy.  I have not had many of my OWN needs met. 

My needs are simple: to finish what I start, at least some of the time, to get to the place I started to go, to have some small amount of order and peace.  You can guess how many of those needs get met in a houseful of sizzlers.

It feels that I am catering to their quirks all day long, and because of their… “sizzliness,” they are not ABLE to do the same for me. It’s not that they don’t care, it’s simply that it’s just not possible for me to expect it in return.  So the cycle continues.  I do all it takes to meet their needs, and my own very real needs go unmet.  

As a result it becomes very, VERY hard to keep looking for the positive, to keep making it fun, to keep chasing rabbits with them, to keep them motivated, to stay enthusiastic about all of this.  I don’t always rejoice in intensity of emotion, in dawdling, daydreaming, ignoring my first 15 requests to do something, or in the constant neglect of my own very real needs.  And boy, do I get cranky.  I’m not naturally a cranky person but WOW can I become one.  

What’s a mother to do?  It’s all on me.  And I’m tired of being a Vaudeville act all day long.  I like classical music. 


Dear Classical Mom in a Vaudeville House–

I am honored by your letter. I have heard that women such as you exist who long to finish what they start, who find a rabbit trail excursion distressing, who seek this odd sounding thing they call “order”?

Remember, you’re talking to a woman. . .


Homeschool or Public School? Terrified Either Way.

September 5, 2012

Letter Week continues here at Sizzle Bop.

Yesterday we took on LETTER ONE–the issue of learning to Wait Before Speaking, a very tough skill for Sizzlers to learn. We’ve gotten some nice feedback from you on that one. (Thanks, by the way.)

Today, let’s hit a tougher one.

LETTER TWO –Should We Homeschool or Public School? I’m Afraid Either Way!

Here are key pieces of a letter from Carri–

. . .My son (with a severe case of ADHD and mildly autistic) will be in 6th grade this next fall and our schools here are terrible for middle and high school. I have always wanted to homeschool, even before our kids were born, but the challenges with my son were so over whelming that I just did not have the strength or courage to do it. I was scared. I am still scared.

. . .I fear that I will fail him if I send him to public school. I also feel I will fail him if I homeschool him.

. . .He’s also very small for his age. This is also a problem, and I fear it will become worse. . .

. . .I just don’t know what to do. I have no support in this decision. My husband trusts my judgment but is gone a lot for work, so the decision is mostly mine. I could really use some words of wisdom from someone who knows a little about what I am facing. A few encouraging words or some kind of answers to the millions of questions I have. I would really appreciate any help you have time to give.

And now for an answer. . . (more…)

Hold That Thought. . .If You Can

September 3, 2012

Sizzlers often miss what’s going on around them. This can be a problem in many ways. Read this mom’s letter to learn about one of them.

I have a sizzler who is a great talker. The challenge is creating boundaries.  For instance if I need to change little sister’s diaper and little sister is busy playing catch me if you can, it may not be the best moment to ask to play a video game or tell me about a favorite event from 2 weeks ago. Is it even worth trying to set that boundary?  Or is it a futile cause in your opinion/experience?

Thanks for your wisdom!


Dear Sara,

What pleases me most is that you’ve assumed I had wisdom. A thousand blessings on your day.

I have experience. I have headaches. And I even have Sizzler stories I can now laugh about that typically involve some mix of fluids like motor oil and peanut butter. Whether or not I have wisdom has never satisfactorily been determined. The jury is still out. And there are days, my children will tell you, that the jury is not even out. In fact, they’re are IN, have pitched a tent and ordered Chinese for dinner.

Nonetheless, I will provide an answer based on (more…)

Finding a Social Group for Sizzlers

April 10, 2012

The kids were all playing nicely on the grassy area of the State Park. <cue carefree happy summertime music. Release romping puppy. > But oh, wait. Who’s that eager young man leading a small pack of wild-eyed young children across the rocks that traverse the rapidly moving stream?

Ah. . .that would be my son, the Sizzler.

Elsewhere, children were happily engaged in a friendly game of tag at the group family camp out <cue soundtrack of squealing, playful-but-still-safe children making laughing sounds>. But oh, wait. Whose feet are those dangling from the bottom of the chimney indicating that someone had left the playful group and was now stuck in that giant unused (we hope) outdoor Barbeque?

Ah. . .that would be another Sizzler. (It took about an hour to get him out. No kidding. We were minutes away from calling the fire department.)

And what did all the other parents have to say. . . (more…)

Letting Go of the TEACHER in You

July 3, 2011

Ever think about quitting homeschooling?

Yeah. Me too. The question is. . .when you get to that point, what do you do next?
Take a look at a note from a mom who is right at the crossroads.

I am homeschooling my 2 very active boys. Age 7 and 5 and I am stuck. I think the biggest reason I am stuck is that I taught special education in the public school system for 9 years and I just have in my mind how our school day “should look” and it doesn’t fit and honestly homeschooling is really frustrating and I don’t like it.
 I just can’t seem to break out of that and embrace what works best for us! I also think I have “too many” ideas and things I want to cover and have trouble focusing on what is best.
Anyway…. I would love your thoughts and prayers.

                                                                                                                   –Losing Heart

Dear Losing Heart,

I have SO been where you are. I understand your heavy heart.

You might expect I’ll give you a pep talk saying “Never give up! You can’t surrender! The collapse of family structure is on the line” and so on. But those talks tend to heap loads of guilt on someone who’s simply looking for solutions. My guess is you already have guilt (It’s a mommy’s way). The truth is you can give up and it would not be the end of the world. I won’t join the ranks of those who tell parents that if they quit homeschooling they’ve failed.

All that said, I still don’t believe you need to give up. There is so much of value in the homeschooling life that I’d hate to see you and your boys lose out on. So we’ll go straight discussion B.



January 17, 2011

Back in December we said that we’d be looking at ways to make Math fun come January.
Was that really just a month ago?
No matter. Here we are, into January and ready to start making math fun.

We’ll be pulling out some of our old math favorites and gathering new ones.
It’s been almost 2 years since we visited this topic and since then, we’ve added over 1700 people to Sizzle Bop.
Even I, with my less-than-stellar math skills can calculate that it’s been waaaay too long since we chatted about Math.

Let’s go for it. We’re always looking for another tool to give our Sizzlers that lead them to success.

So get ready for. . .
A new year.
A new idea.
A new plan.

Here goes– (more…)