Monday, 20 August 2012

Heather's Words of Wisdom

Meet my friend, Heather.  I'm so glad I met her, and I bet you will be too.  I still remember how excited I was 2 years ago when she knocked on my door and invited me to a little playdate at the park.  My baby was only 2.5 months old, and certainly didn't care if we were playing with other kids or not, but it meant a lot to me!  I was new to the area and new to my role as a mom.  I was so tickled that a more experienced mom thought I was cool enough to come to her playdate.  But that's Heather, for you: finding that person who needs a pick-me-up and being a true friend to them in her gentle, soft-spoken way.  She is the mother of 2 cute kids who we instantly fell in love with.  She is a gifted crochet-er.  She's the kind of mom that makes her childrens' interests her own interests as well.  She goes to great lengths to provide her children the tender love and understanding they need.  Like many moms on this blog, she is a shining example to me of the kind of mom I want to be.  I was very reluctant to say goodbye to my dear friend when they moved to Delaware last summer, but I'm determined to always keep in touch.  True friends like Heather are very hard to come by.  

Heather's words of advice bring up a very important point that I want to keep at the forefront of this blog:  we moms need to SUPPORT each other, and never COMPARE each other.  

The purpose of this blog is not to make anyone feel bad about themselves as a mom.  That's the very last thing I want!  Rather, the purpose of this blog is to help moms find ways to be there best selves and feel good about the things they are already doing.  Maybe that message doesn't come across well enough, but I feel very strongly that that is my goal.  Anyway, Heather expresses herself beautifully, so I'll let you read it yourself:  

I finally got around to reading your blog. I have to admit, I felt discouraged the first time I read it. Maybe it doesn’t help that I know most of the women contributors and I think they are stellar mothers and would love to follow all their advices and have the great outlooks they have and be perfect just like them.  Anyway, after initially reading, I had to step back and tell myself, “I’m a good mother too and these women aren’t perfect”. I don’t have the strengths, backgrounds, experiences, knowledge and interests as some of these other fabulous mothers, but I’m still a good mother and they are too. God has given my children to me for a reason. I know them best and have experiences, backgrounds, knowledge, interests, strengths, (and weaknesses), and interests that they need." Often I find that I compare myself to other moms and often ask myself “Why can’t I be like …… She’s great at this…. Or be like ……..Her home (or family) looks like this (or always does that)……” These thoughts can be debilitating and devastating to my emotional health. I don’t know if other mothers feel like this or have similar thoughts, but I wanted to stress the importance of always improving. There is no one perfect mother. There are zillions of ways to be a great mother. And every mother has the potential to be a great mother. It’s important that we’re always improving ourselves as mothers to be the mothers that God would want us to be. When we first become mothers, we come packaged differently (different family and cultural backgrounds, experiences, mother examples, interests, strengths, etc.). Sometimes some come better fit for the job than others. But I know the importance of taking one step at a time, finding one thing at a time to change and become better at. For example, as a kid, my parents both worked. They were tired. We ate out often. We weren’t a healthy family. But since I’ve been married and have had kids, I’m a much much much healthier eater and so is my family. I take each day at a time. Try a new meal. Try something from scratch. Try out a new vegetable or fruit. Grow some vegetables and fruit and find ways to use them. Use less meat and more beans. Try out a new grain. Try out foods known to be healthier for our bodies.  Drink more water. Eat packaged foods with less sugar or salt. Eat more whole grains.  I’m not near to having the perfect food and diet for my family, but I know I’m working on it and it is blessing my family. I know eating healthy is a strength to some women (maybe given to them from their mothers or interests), but it’s not a strength for me and I can’t compare myself with others in this area. Is isn’t fair to myself. And so I write these comments to remind myself, and maybe other mothers that it’s important to take the good we already do and make it better and to take the not so good and improve it and make it better. AND THIS ALL HAPPENS ONE STEP AT A TIME! One day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time, one year at a time. I know I’m a better mother today than I was a year ago or even a month ago. This improvement is what counts… not what this mother can do better than me or what I can do better than that mother. The improvements we make as mothers bless our families immensely.

I don’t know if this any good advice. When you invited me to try to add something to your blog, I tried hard to think of something. I couldn’t come up with anything. I finally took the time to read what others have posted. I do like their advice and tips. Hope to try a few, one at a time until it actually becomes natural so it’s not overwhelming. Anyway, this is finally my attempt to add. It’s not really a tip, maybe more of a reminder. I did try to start out writing about something I specifically know I try to focus on as a mother, but instead this is what you have. Work with it as you want. If it helps. 

Friday, 17 August 2012

Teaching Kids to Work

Submitted by Ashlee --

This is a chore chart we instituted several weeks ago in response to a truly horrible day.
I had reached a breaking point with uncooperative and lazy attitudes.

The chore chart works thusly: First thing in the morning I write down what chores need to be done. After breakfast the boys must accomplish their list of chores before any play. You will notice there are 3 boxes to check off. This is to address the particular problems we had been experiencing.
The first is to indicate that the chore just plain old got done... I always inspect their work to make sure that things were done properly.
The second is for staying on task (ie. I shouldn't have to tell you to "keep cleaning!" 20,000 times before the job is actually finished. I don't actually enjoy being a nag!)
The third box is for having a good attitude. Any whining, fighting, complaining, eye rolling, huffing or other like behavior is not permitted. You are part of a family. We all contribute to the cleanliness and happiness of this home.
If they get an "O," in any of their boxes I assign an additional chore so that they may try again.

Things have vastly improved since we started doing chores this way.
The boys are great little workers and their help has genuinely helped me keep the house cleaner. I give them chores that actually need to be done!
It's given me the chance to teach them loads of new and necessary skills and I have been surprised by what they are actually capable of accomplishing. They can sort laundry, clean all the different parts of a bathroom, pick up entire rooms, put dishes away, dust, wipe, organize... all kinds of things!
We genuinely have a good time working together each morning, and I am hopeful that they are learning good lessons like: Work before play, etc.

The system has been in place long enough now that it is simply an expectation. We have much, much less push-back when I tell them what they are doing, and they even seem to be proud of the job well done!


*** Listen to Music While you Clean.  It's the "Whistle While You Work," principle.  Everything is easier when you have a song to work to!  It makes the whole house feel different and happier.  I have a Pandora Station with Disney music that they like, CD's with Children's Music, or sometimes I just put on "Mom," Music - making sure I choose something uplifting and peppy.***

***Properly Teach your Children What you Expect.  Showing them how to properly get something done by modeling the chore first, and then staying with them as they do it themselves for the first few times alone is key.  They need to know exactly what is expected of them and how the job is to be done.  This helps prevent future arguing or having to go back and do something again.  It also shows that you care enough to spend time teaching them and helping them succeed.***

***Do Your Own Chores at the Same Time.  I like to be working in other areas of the house when my kids are doing a chore that they have mastered.  I think this shows them a few things.  First, that I trust them in their abilities to accomplish what I assigned.  Second, that I am not asking them to do something that I am not doing myself.  Third, it gives me the opportunity to show them that I enjoy working and getting things done.  I hope my example of working without complaining, enjoying the work, and enjoying my finished product will rub off on them.  How can I expect them to not complain if they see me complaining?***

***Think About What You Hope To Teach Before Setting the System.  You have seen how me and my husband set up our chore system... this may or may not be a good way for YOU to do it.  We had specific problems that we were trying to address and specific things we were trying to teach.  What YOUR goals are should determine how you do it in your home.  IE- Do you pay your children for their chores or not?  Do you set a specific time each day to clean or not?  Do you work all together as a team on one job or do you divide and conquer?... There are no "right," answers to these questions, it's all about what you are hoping to teach.***

***Praise Your Children and Thank Them for a Job Well Done.  Give a hug.  Say "Thank You."  Do a high five.  Admire and praise their work.  Play a game together afterwards.  Do SOMETHING to show them that you appreciate their efforts.  Children have the same needs as adults to feel accepted and appreciated!***

***Split up Bickering/Easily Distracted Kids.  This may sound simple but it took me a minute to figure out!  I have learned that for my 2 boys we are doomed from the get go if they are working together on a task.  They inevitably do one of 2 things: Fight about who is doing the work and who is slacking off.  OR... Forget the job altogether and play.  Having them work on separate tasks in different areas of our home sure helps!

***Stick with it Because IT MATTERS!  Some days no matter what tricks you pull out of your hat it just doesn't go well.  I know sometimes I think "This would be so much easier to just DO MYSELF!!!" But we can't stop.  I want my children to someday be responsible men and contributing fathers.  The only way they will learn is by consistency and love.  When I get tempted to quit I remember this quote by Julie B. Beck from her General Conference Talk "Mother's Who Know.":

"Mothers who know are nurturers. This is their special assignment and role under the plan of happiness.5 To nurture means to cultivate, care for, and make grow. Therefore, mothers who know create a climate for spiritual and temporal growth in their homes. Another word for nurturing is homemaking. Homemaking includes cooking, washing clothes and dishes, and keeping an orderly home. Home is where women have the most power and influence; therefore, Latter-day Saint women should be the best homemakers in the world. Working beside children in homemaking tasks creates opportunities to teach and model qualities children should emulate. Nurturing mothers are knowledgeable, but all the education women attain will avail them nothing if they do not have the skill to make a home that creates a climate for spiritual growth. Growth happens best in a “house of order,” and women should pattern their homes after the Lord’s house (see D&C 109). Nurturing requires organization, patience, love, and work. Helping growth occur through nurturing is truly a powerful and influential role bestowed on women."

That's what it's all about!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

A Story Before Bed.

This experience comes from my sister Jane:

I just put Halle to bed. It is 10:00pm and she is very tired. She asks me so sweetly if I will snuggle her. I consent. She is asleep within minutes.

I leave the room and go back to my desk to fill out a consensus booklet. My private self hates filling out all of this information and sending it to the government, even though they probably already have this information on file. Suddenly, my concentration is broken by Halle shouting, "Mother! Mother! (pause) Mother!"

I return to her room with a smile on my face. I get such a kick out of her grown-up words. She's in her bed. She says, "I was scared. And when I'm scared, I just need some milk." 

I leave, and return again with a small, blue, plastic IKEA cup full of milk. After 2 sips, she hands it back, smiles, and quietly says, "Thank you. That was deli-suss. I love you so much," followed by a big hug around the neck. She is so sweet and sleepy that I can hardly contain my grin. I feel so much love for this little grown-up child.

I ask if I can snuggle some more. She settles in to bed and embraces her Nemo fish (a gift from exactly one year ago). Then her imagination kicks into gear. She says, "My nemo was on my swimsuit, and now he's HERE! in my arms! He was swimming, but now he came back to me. (insert quiet smooch)." It's completely dark in her room, but I can just imagine her eyes shut so tight as she kisses the stuffed Nemo fish in her arms. She lives each moment so genuinely.

Then she POPS up in bed and says, "I forgot the food! My tummy isn't happy. It's still sad and mad. I need pickles and meat and cheese. Then my tummy will be happy."

I guess it's been too long since dinner and she's hungry again. Oh well. She's now sitting next to her father at the kitchen table as he finishes up homework and reading assignments from the first day of the new semester. It's mid-August and unbelievably humid outside. So humid that our windows fog up in the mornings and I'm soaked after a short early morning jog. But despite the heat and the late nights, life is good.

Life is so good.

After a few minutes of snacking and chatting with her father about "land use and planning" (boring!) it is officially time for bed. I climb in next to her one more time and say goodnight. Then she perks up again and says, "No wait! My tummy is still mad. and sad. and crying. forever and ever! And I am crying for you and I will say Mother! Mother! because my tummy is sick.

All the while, she is stroking my cheek and tucking a stray hair behind my ear. Then she pauses and says, "I love you so much." with a kiss on my forehead. 

I ask, "Really?"


I lay there without moving. Her hand on my wrist. Her breath like a gentle wind on my forehead. And within moments, she is again asleep. 

Heaven is close to my heart tonight.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Rachel's Tips: Part 1

I have been excited to share this post for a long time.  Rachel is one of my dear friends.  When I first met her, I had a newborn baby and was struggling with my identity as a mom.  Rachel was pregnant with her 2nd boy, had big responsibilities at church, and still managed to serve people around her.  You could tell by looking at her that she is sweet, humble and confident.  I admit that I was intimidated by her goodness.  I wanted to be a mom like her, but I thought "A girl like Rachel would never be friends with a girl like me".  How quickly she resolved that problem!  She now has 2 boys and is expecting a baby girl in December.  What a cute family! 

When I asked her to participate in FB&FM, she took her time to ponder what advice she could offer as a mom.  This is part 1 of what will be several posts, which I am very excited about :).  I have been thinking about this advice for some time now, and it has helped me realize the way I am portraying myself to my kids on a daily basis.  I want my kids to believe that it is my greatest joy to take care of them -- not my greatest burden.  What an important way to establish confidence and emotional stability in their young lives!  I especially like the last few lines: "they hopefully get the message that I am the mom and there isn't anything they can throw at me that I can't calmly deal with." Anyway, enough from me.  Here is what Rachel has to say:

Make my children believe that they are easy to be taken care of

I am the mom who is always seeking advice, or mommy tricks, from other moms so I've had a hard time coming up with something of my own to share. However, after a little thought, I remembered something that helps me keep it together--mentally--when I'm about. To pull. My hair. Out. Because sometimes I am despite how much I love my kids and my job (mothering).

So, on to one of my "french braids and freezer meals".

I try to make my children believe that they are EASY to take care of by believing, myself, that they are easy to take care of. It sounds kind of manipulative but I don't like to think of it that way. It's a frame of mind for me that keeps me sane, and it's a message, I can show through my example, that transfers to my kids and magically--or so it seems--they ARE EASY(er) to take care of. (Whether they are easier or whether it's just my frame of mind, if it makes my life easier and happier, I'll take it.)

Believing and showing my kids that they are easy to take care of can be very hard to do when I've heard the ump-teenth "why?" of the day (my son is 4). Or when I'm trying to make dinner and my boys are under my legs, screaming and crying, and asking for snacks and treats. Or when my son has colored outside of the lines and wants me to print out another Bob the Builder coloring page--the 5th in 10 minutes--because it has to be perfect.

These are examples of times (and they all happened today) that my children do things that frankly annoy me (can I say that?). They're not hurting anyone, and they're not necessarily being disrespectful. They're just being kids. But, at those times I don't feel like responding in the most loving way. I want to respond in a desperate way. I want to roll my eyes, use a frustrated tone, tell them to "Be quiet!" or even beg, "Just give me ten (boo-hoo) minutes!"

Doing those things sends my kids the message that they are HARD to take care of and maybe that I don't really enjoy taking care of them, which is far from the truth, and a message I do not want to send them. At those frustrating times, what I try to do is:

  • Catch myself getting annoyed (before I blow up or behave like a child myself).
  • Remember that they are just kids and I'm the "mature adult".
  • Take a deep breath, smile at them, and calmly offer my help, "What do you need?" 

*At this point my child is usually still frustrated or throwing a tantrum and makes the request in a childish way. Surprise, surprise. Despite my frazzled nerves I stay calm.

  • I smile at my child or show empathy (hold, hug, kiss). Do you think they're getting the message that they are easy to take care of/I know what I'm doing?
  • I tell myself, "this is easy; I can be the responsible adult".
  • My mentality is: I can show him by my example that I can deal calmly with frustrating situations (even if he's the one making this a frustrating situation). 

At this point my response to the request, or the consequence of my child's behavior is determined by the situation and the rules of our house (e.g. I normally wouldn't let my kids have treats or snacks while I'm preparing dinner, even if they do calm down and ask kindly). I use my parental discretion--and you can, too.

But, whatever I do choose to do, I show confidence and love in my decision. That way, even if my kids aren't happy with what I've decided they hopefully get the message that I am the mom and there isn't anything they can throw at me that I can't calmly deal with.

Taking care of them is--becomes--EASY.

Thursday, 9 August 2012


I have been thinking a lot about parenting and what I hope people get out of this blog.  I want this to be a place for moms to come to find ideas and feel appreciated.  I want this to be uplifting and never discouraging.  I want this to be a source of clarity and stress-relief.  Because of these goals, I think I'll re-focus my structure.  Originally I wanted to have a theme for every month and focus every post on that theme.  Now that this blog is up and running, I find that I would rather go with the flow because I so enjoy learning about everyone's individual approaches to parenting.

So let's scrap the "theme" idea and just have a good old-fashioned discussion!

On that note, let's talk about schedules.  If I were to describe myself and my approach to parenting/homemaking, I would say I'm pretty relaxed.  Some things are just not worth stressing over (especially when you have little kids).  In fact, the idea of giving myself deadlines in parenting/homemaking stresses me out!  It frustrates me when I don't get something done that I had every intention of accomplishing... just because life got in the way.

So instead of giving myself a schedule, I decided to give myself a general daily routine and to-do list.  It includes things like exercising, going to the store, putting kids down for naps, taking a shower, making dinner, etc.  It seems to work pretty well for me.  But the routine is basically the same for every day.  And because I try to hit all the big things on my to-do list, all the little things that need to get done start stressing me out.  Things like sweeping the floor, folding the laundry, doing the dishes, playing with my kids etc.  I try to fit them in whenever I have a moment of downtime... which sometimes NEVER happens.  And since it's impossible to do everything during nap time which sometimes doesn't happen, I start getting stressed.

Then I decided to set a day for doing laundry -- Wednesday -- so that every time I start stressing out over laundry I can tell myself "It's OK, I'll do it on Wednesday.  I can worry about something else right now."  And so far, it's working pretty darn well.  Who knew that making a schedule and setting a deadline could actually reduce stress instead of increase it?  (probably everyone but me, but I finally figured it out for myself).

So I'm trying a new approach.  I think I need a schedule, even though that word scares me a little bit.   But I can't make it too detailed or else I'll start getting frustrated when my kids don't let ME get the things I WANT to get done (see how silly and selfish it sounds?  My goal in making a schedule is to take care of my kids in an organized manner... this should reduce stress to I can be a better parent... not give me another excuse to be stressed and selfish!)

I want a few days a week when I don't have to worry about cleaning and/or cooking.  I want a day when I can completely ignore house work to read a book or play with my kids.  I don't want to go grocery shopping more than once a week.  Some things you just have to do every day (dishes) but it doesn't mean you have to stress out about it.  I'm slowly learning to ignore certain things so I can do more important things (yes, I think it is a skill to know when and how to ignore things, even if it's house work!)  For example, I am learning to ignore the dishes in the sink until after the girls are in bed.  No big deal!

So here it is (tentatively).  I did not include my personal daily routine things (like nap time), just my "to-do-at-home" things:

Monday -- grocery shop. cook and freeze left overs
Tuesday -- kitchen. sweep/mop.  vacuum.  Eat freezer meal.
Wednesday -- laundry.  organize.  playgroups.  cook?  baths.  
Thursday -- kitchen.  bathrooms.  Eat freezer meal.  Mom/Dad night out (for visiting/home teaching, girl's night, church meetings etc)
Friday -- sweep. mop. organize. Free time for reading.  Date night?
Saturday -- play with dad day.  take out trash.  vacuum.  baths.
Sunday -- rest.

I have a feeling this will change a lot over the next few weeks, but it's such a relief to have a starting point.

What is your approach to house work and play time?  How do you prioritize what needs to get done and when?  How do you get your kids to help out?

Friday, 3 August 2012

Summertime with Kids

It's time for a new month and a new topic!  Originally I wanted advice about "vacations with kids", but I think we should expand the topic to include the whole summer.  I want to know what other moms do to keep their kids busy and happy during the long school-less summer days!  

Here are some questions to get your juices flowing:
  • Do you keep a summer school schedule with art projects and reading assignments?  
  • Do you go to the pool every day?  What about the library?
  • What are some of your favorite vacations/staycations? 
  • How do you keep your kids happy on the airplane or in the car?  
  • How do you handle all the STUFF that you have to bring on a vacation?  How do you stay organized and avoid losing toys/luggage/purses etc?
  • What if your child is potty training and you're taking a long road trip?  
  • Do you stay indoors to avoid the heat or go outside to avoid boredom?  
  • What is your go-to summertime outfit?  For yourself and for your kids?
  • What are your favorite (easy) summertime meals/snacks?  
  • How do you keep up with the yard and/or garden without going crazy?
  • How do you keep TV/computer/video games to a minimum? 
And remember, I'm always looking for ways to uplift, inspire, and encourage us moms.  

I'm excited to learn more about your parenting styles!  Email your tricks and ideas to  

It's time to start spreading the word about this blog.  If you know someone who you look up to, send them the link and ask them to participate.  Don't forget to click "like" on our new facebook fan page!