5 Ways Candles Can Make Parenting Easier + Giveaway!

It’s Candlemas! And even if you have absolutely no idea what that’s all about (see here for the awesome details – Jesus alert!) here’s what else it means: It’s Baking Humble Pie’s first ever giveaway!! Woot!!

Today’s giveaway is care of Big Dipper Wax Works.

Disclosure: I am not an affiliate of Big Dipper Wax Works. All opinions are my own. This giveaway is offered with no monetary benefit to me. Just the joy of brightening your day! 

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Growing up, I collected candles. I liked the scented ones best.

I’d save my allowance, and whenever there was a sale at the mall, I’d go and pick out as many apple spice, lavender, and cinnamon-bun votives as I could afford. Of course, I was rarely allowed to light them. My parents were naturally concerned about unattended flames and burn spots in the carpets. We had a policy of strict supervision.

I won’t say I was a pyro (okay, maybe just a little), but I defy anyone to find a kid who isn’t fascinated by candlelight. It’s magical.

Especially in an era superficially alight with the ambient glow of computer screens, cell phones, and televisions, candlelight is elemental. It draws us back to a simpler humanity, one that was codependent with the natural rhythm of a world set apart from our demands and beyond our control. It is centering, humbling, and calming.

But what I didn’t expect (and was surprised to discover) is how powerful candles can be as a parenting tool.

I use candles nearly every day in my parenting. (Especially in wintertime when we’re all prone to a bit of cabin fever.) They are my secret weapon.

Things just tend to get crazy with four kids, ages 7 and under. Transitions can be especially difficult. Grumbly tummies, tired eyes, and the stress of shifting from one thing to the next, and suddenly there’s a lot more shouting than I’d like most days.

Enter candles.

I can’t calm every storm, but candles have helped me to target the most difficult parts of my day and transform those very trouble spots into some of my favorite touchpoints.

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1. GOOD MORNING.

A bit of an oxymoron, right? If your kids are anything like mine, getting ready for school or church can be like pulling teeth. One day, fed up with the dog-and-pony show, I asked my oldest why it was so difficult for her to get out of bed, put her clothes on, and get to the table so we could eat and get out of the house on time.

She looked at me and blinked. “The light’s too bright, Mommy. It makes me want to shut my eyes, and then I go to sleep.”

Lightbulb.

The next morning, I went into her room with a lit candle. I gently sat down on her bed and rubbed her back to wake her. Her eyes lit up when she saw the candle on her dresser. Delighted, she scooted out of bed and immediately began to get dressed.

Now let’s be honest, I don’t have the time (or patience, or frankly the inclination) for candles every morning, but on days when I know we’ve stayed up late and getting going is likely to be a struggle, I strike the match. It’s magic. Every time.

2. THE CHILDREN’S HOUR.

There’s a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow called “The Children’s Hour,” which describes the magical twilight hour between day and dusk.

“Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Children’s Hour.”

Well, I don’t know about you, but in my house, the Children’s Hour can be anything but magical. In fact, it used to be so bad that I’d renamed it “The Witching Hour.”

There I am, innocently trying to get dinner ready. My children (already hungry) are screaming for snacks. When told no, they act as though I’ve just condemned them to a life of cannibalism. In protest, they catapult toys like fluffy, plastic shrapnel over every surface they can reach (and even some they can’t). All I want is for my husband to get home so I can sneak downstairs and ruin my appetite with my hidden stash of chocolate (please tell me you’ve got one of those, too). I’d also settle for a bottle of wine.

After five years of this (yeah, I’m a bit slow in the uptake), I figured there had to be a better way.

One day, more for my own sanity than because I thought it would do any good, I lit the three pillars on our mantle as the sun went down. The soft glow settled my kids without a word from me. Wow, I thought, maybe I’m onto something.

Two years later, the magic is still working. Often, the kids want to stay close to the candlelight, which means fewer toys strewn over fewer surfaces. The calmer atmosphere means fewer requests and complaints, which means I can get dinner ready faster. Some days I even have time to snuggle up on the couch with a read-aloud before daddy gets home, and clean up is…well, at least way easier than normal.

Don’t get me wrong, we still have those days, but candles have definitely gone a long way toward making Longfellow’s enchanted twilight something more than fantasy.

3. CONVERSATION STARTER.

My husband said it first. Dinner conversation with littles isn’t so much conversation as it is a very drawn out attempt to craft a single sentence before you lose your train of thought.

I know, I know. We’re the parents, and when the kids interrupt we should be disciplining, teaching them not to do that, but let’s be honest. Discipline is hard work. The last thing I want to do at the end of a long day is deal with it. During dinner. When I would actually like to eat the food made… preferably while it’s still hot.

So instead–suprise!–I light candles (tapers can be tricky with littles, I prefer a couple of low votives that we can see over) as part of our “set the table” routine. The kids love it! I don’t know, maybe there’s something subconsciously “polite” about candlelight, but I find that when they are candles on our table, my husband and I have a much easier time getting a word in edgewise.

Bonus: The kids vy for the privilege of blowing the candle out at the end of the meal. There’s just one rule: To be eligible, you have to finish everything on your plate!

4. A PRAYERFUL ATTITUDE

As a Christian parent, I believe the most important job I will ever have is helping my children to know and love God. Because of this, my husband and I are committed to developing a routine for family worship in our home. Unfortunately, it isn’t always easy to establish a prayerful routine when your family is young.

God put the wiggle in our littles, so I don’t think he minds their squirms so much. But it sure makes it hard for me to feel prayerful. Lighting a candle at the beginning of our family worship time is an unspoken signal to my kids that it’s time to focus. Set down the toys, calm the wiggles (within reason), and put a lid on the chitchat. Gather around now because there’s something special about to happen.

Candles aren’t a cure-all for wiggles, not by a long shot, but go ahead and give it a try. See if it doesn’t help your family prayer time to become a little more…well, prayerful.

5. GOOD NIGHT.

A glass of water.

A trip to the bathroom.

Just *one* more story. Snuggle. Kiss. Bathroom. Argh!!

Some nights, you just really need your littles to stay put. And isn’t it always the nights when they don’t want to?

I can’t guarantee this will work on every kiddo, but it is the one and only bedtime routine that can tame the most tenacious in my crew. Here’s how it works.

Light a candle toward the end of your bedtime routine (for us, this means after family prayers in the living room). Walk with the child to her bedroom, carrying the lit candle. Set it down someplace safe, then seat yourself somewhere in the room. Softly, while your child is focused on the glow, tell the story of his day. “Once there was a little boy named Huckleberry who woke up and ate oatmeal for breakfast…”

Cover all the details. Make sure you use all your senses. What did your child see, smell, taste, hear and feel? Let him correct you and fill in the parts you didn’t see. It may seem silly, but I’ve found this trick really helps my kids to unpack their busy day and let it go. You can actually see the overwhelm drain out of their bodies.

When the story is over, invite your child to blow out the candle. One more kiss and then (with any luck) good night.

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And now it’s

GIVEAWAY TIME!!!

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I fell in love with Big Dipper Wax Works when I stumbled across their candles in my local grocery store. And the more I learned about them, the more I found to love.

It turned out they were a local company (well, local to me), begun right here in Seattle. A Green America approved business, Big Dipper’s candles are made from 100% beeswax and all natural scents. But it wasn’t just their outstanding products that caught my attention. Big Dipper’s commitment to giving back through outreach, education, and sustainability efforts had me sold for the long-run.

For me and my family, it’s worth it to pay just a little more to know we’re supporting an outstanding company that’s committed to making (and leaving) the world a better place. (Frugal tip: check out their sales + seconds.)

This past fall, my kids and I were fortunate enough to take a tour of the Big Dipper factory in downtown Seattle with a group of fellow homeschoolers. (The pictures in this post are from that tour.) We chatted with Big Dipper’s friendly and knowledgeable staff while they dipped tapers, melted giant slabs of beeswax, and poured molds. We even got to make our own birthday candles to take home! It was an incredible experience that the kids and I will never forget.

Today, Big Dipper Wax Works is generously offering one Baking Humble Pie reader a beautiful floral beeswax pillar + a lovely spring blend glass! Lavender + Lemon – mmm.

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In honor of the day (Candlemas) + Valentine’s Day coming up, I’m offering YOU, dear reader, a giveaway that will literally brighten your home.

As I said at the top of this post, I am not an affiliate of Big Dipper Wax Works. I just love them so much that I wanted to share the love!

So here’s how our little giveaway will work.

  1. Leave a comment below telling me which Big Dipper Wax Works product you would most like to try – then enter yourself in the giveaway widget below. That gets you entered in the drawing.
  2. For bonus points (and extra chances to win!), use the widget to follow Baking Humble Pie on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

The lucky, randomly selected winner will be announced next week on Monday, February 2nd (Candlemas Day!)

Be sure to stop back to see if it’s YOU!!!

So, get clicking, and tell me what’s on your wish list?

Personally, I’ve outgrown my love of synthetically scented candles. Maybe it’s because I can leave them burning longer these days, but the synthetic perfumes tend to give me headaches. Lucky for me Big Dipper has a wide range of fantastic, natural aromatherapy options! (Their peppermint + birch is my favorite holiday scent.)

I love the honey glow and scent beeswax pillar candles anywhere, any time.  Big Dipper also features a natural body care line and accessories. (I’m really wanting these recycled glass tea light holders.)

How about you? Anything strike your fancy?

Don’t forget to leave a comment! And remember, the more entries, the more chances you have to win!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

sweetness + grace,

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14 comments

  1. Caitlin says:

    Oh, the lavender + peppermint pillars would be welcome over here! Such good tips. My girls loved candles during advent so much that I’ve been thinking I should incorporate them more often.

  2. Katherine says:

    I have my eye on the pumpkin candles for next fall! What a unique and good idea for a post. We light a candle fairly regularly at the dinner table. There does seem to be something subconsciously “polite” about it as you said, that even young children seem to pick up on. Of course, much of the conversation then revolves around the candle with my three year olds…We don’t light candles elsewhere, so I think I might try out some of your good ideas!

  3. Molly says:

    Oh no I think my comment has been directed to the spam folder. Sometimes this happens when I enter my blog in website line.

  4. Jessi says:

    Lovely post! I wish I lived near such an awesome candle store! If I could try anything from the Big Dipper Wax Works, I’d pick either their Holiday Aromatherapy Pillars of their hand salve – perfect for winter!

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I want lavender to keep the germs away and help me relax! Also I want to know when you next do a homeschool field trip, please.

  6. Amelia says:

    I would first snatch up the set of Advent tapers. The cheapo ones I’ve found in parish bookstores drip horribly and can’t make it through one Advent season, but stores around here don’t seem to carry purple and pink candles, either!

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