By Natascha Jaffa
Sibling relationships are so underrated!
Most--if not all--research in psychology, family science, and social work has been focused on the relationships between parents and their children over the years, but it's excluding one very important aspect of a child's life: the relationships with their sibling(s).
💜 Siblings often confide in one another instead of their parents
💜 Siblings have the longest running relationships in our lives
💜 Evidence shows these relationships are key to promoting academic achievement. positive social behavior, and empathy (Sidhu, 2019).
So how can you encourage your own relationships with your siblings and that of your children's?
I'm so glad you asked!
1. Be on the lookout for sibling bullying and address it right away. This may include setting a boundary with your own sibling or disciplining one of your kids for something they said to the other.
2. Never compare siblings to one another. Comparison only builds animosity between siblings and promotes low self-worth. Mentally catch yourself before uttering the words, "Why can't you be more like your brother/sister?" Was this common in your household growing up? Perhaps you and your siblings need to have a conversation and expose those wounds to one another to start the healing.
3. Create opportunities for siblings to work together. Have them make dinner together or build a fort. Have big living room sleepovers or family game nights. Make being siblings fun rather than an inconvenience or a call for attention. Happy memories outlast the annoying ones! Haven't seen your sibling in a while? Get some one-on-one time in this month.
ARE YOU UP FOR A CHALLENGE?! Print out this pack of 4 printables provided by Anne Willa, and your whole family can upgrade their kindness skills as a fun game!
By Phyllis Moyes
Recently, a Christian friend of mine sent me a TikTok. As I watched it, the truth of its message encircled my heart. It began by asking a simple question: "Do you know how most whales die?" Hmmm, I thought, sharks? Fishermen? Disease? Nope. Nope. Nope. They drown. The TikTokker @russelldafourth is a Christian minister, and he said, "they spend their entire life living in and swimming in a world that eventually kills them...Whales live in a world they are not of; they are in the water, but not of the water. So while other fish can swim around for their entire life, with gills breathing in the water, the whale has to come up out of the water to live. There is a life source that is not in the world that he lives in that he needs access to."
You see, whales are mammals; just like us, they need air to survive.
I am a Christian, and I believe this message applies to all of us. Regardless of religious preference (or lack of one), we need a higher power (God, Yahweh, Jesus, Brahman, The Universe, Allah, etc.), and we must prioritize our spiritual health and mindfulness. For me, it is reading scripture, praying, and meditation. For a friend of mine, it is meditation and yoga. How you choose this connection to God/Higher Power is up to you, and your way may look different from my examples. It doesn't matter; the critical thing is that you do it. Keep reading, and I will tell you why.
I remembered another fact I had read about whales many years ago. It came from a book titled, The Book Of Nurturing: Nine Natural Laws For Enriching Your Family Life, written by Linda and Richard Eyre. In the book, they give parables for raising children; number three is the Law of the Whales. This law pertains to how whales speak within their families, creating phenomenal teamwork. The Eyre’s wrote, "The gentlest, most tender, and touching humpback song seems to be the one a mother sings to guide and encourage their baby calves. Humpback babies are born far below the surface, and the first challenge of the new mother is to lift and nudge her new child (with her nose) to the surface, where it can draw its first breath of air. Those who have witnessed this nurturing act say they will never forget the mother's song that goes with it, a song of love and confidence."
Isn't that a beautiful illustration of love and nurturing? I can envision myself feeling a little panicky shortly after giving birth, doing all I can to ensure my babe makes it to the top of the water so they don't drown in the world they are not of. I am singing my best song, you know, the one that is full of confidence, assurance, and love. And then we both crest the water - my baby breathes, and I breathe.
But here is the rub: Sometimes, I feel my proverbial lungs will burst because it has been too long since my last spiritual/mindful breath; can you relate? It is not because I don't know where to find it, how to do it, or because it isn't lifesaving. Instead, I have over-committed myself with cares of the wrong world, worrying, stress, wasting time, judging and feeling judged. These characteristics are fish traits, not whales. The bad news is numerous “fishes” are vying for my and my child's attention, but they only supply water, which will never save but instead dooms these lungs to death. We need AIR to live -- Quoting @russelldafourth, "YOU are IN this WORLD, but YOU are NOT OF this WORLD."
Mothers, we are irreplaceable examples to our children. Teach your babies what source they can depend on for the Breath of Life; they are watching you.
By Phyllis Moyes
Diversity is a buzzword for our day; it should be. Diversity enriches innovation and creativity, cultivates a feeling of just security, and helps every age, gender, race, or culture feel represented. But what if I told you that we (every human) have the same needs at the center of the heart? It's true! It doesn't matter who you are; everyone has Core Needs.
Look at this list. Do any or all of these resonate with your heart?
Basic Core Needs:
When Core Needs go unmet, Primary Emotions are activated. Look at this list and see if you can relate.
Examples of Primary Emotions
Primary Emotions usually set off an avalanche of Secondary Emotions. Can you relate?
Examples of Secondary Emotions
Here is a video clip created by BYUiDo.org that explains the concept well. (This video speaks about the Core Needs Model for bettering marriage but it is applicable to any relationship.)
Can I share an example with you that will help illustrate this idea better? From the time my daughter was in eighth grade and up until she graduated from high school, we had a complicated relationship. (Moms, if your child is in junior high, stop what you are doing now and hug them! Chances are, they need it.) I am grateful for hindsight because I can see the complexity of our relationship clearer now. I didn't have words for it then, but I have since realized that I wasn't angry (Secondary Emotion) with her; I was scared -- a primary emotion that came from my unmet core need for security. She was involved in a rough crowd, and they scared me. I didn't trust that her choices would keep her safe. Further, my core need for a genuine connection with her felt severed so I felt lonely (a primary emotion), which I usually expressed through the secondary emotion of anger.
For an even clearer illustration, pretend that you are hiking with your daughter when suddenly, a grizzly bear begins charging for her. Immediately, your heart starts to race; you are so scared (primary emotion). Fight or flight takes over, and you start charging for the bear, using a secondary emotion of anger. You are a warrior who will stop at nothing to save your daughter!
At that moment, what is the need? Is the need to be angry at the bear? No. The grizzly is an immediate threat to your core need of keeping your daughter safe, so there's a surge of fear (primary emotion), which triggers something inside us to fight; so we become angry and fierce.
My daughter also had unmet core needs. She was desperate for connection and security at home, but every interaction seemed hostile and contentious. Remember, I was in fear mode and expressed it through anger. She wanted to feel independent, have a sense of sovereign power, and feel respected and heard. But I was too busy feeding the worry from my own unmet needs.
Do you see the pattern? It is cyclical. We both had unmet core needs, leading to primary and secondary emotions.
I remember the day it changed -- or rather, I changed. I made a conscious effort to have ten positive exchanges for every corrective interaction. Sometimes it was hard because the fear was so great, but when I stepped back and took a breath, I could meet her core needs better. An interesting thing happened; when I met her core needs, mine seemed to follow.
As you engage your teenagers this week, ask yourself, "Which of my core needs are not being met, leading me to feel _____ (angry, anxiety, sadness, irritation, etc.?)"
And please be sure to also ask yourself -- or even your teen directly -- "Which of my child's core needs are not being met, leading them to feel ____."
My experience is that once the core needs are met, the emotions and relationship change organically.
By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Cultivate Leader
Here's a riddle for ya: What doesn’t cost a cent, is non-fattening, and we literally NEED it to survive? If you guessed a HUG, you are right! Yes, a good old-fashioned hug! Can you believe it? Something so simple as a hug is actually a necessary part of our survival as human beings. The reason for this is that when we hug or are hugged our body releases oxytocin (a hormone that reduces that stress producing hormone cortisol). So, the more hugs we have, the better we can handle the stresses life throws in our path. In fact, Psychotherapist Virginia Satir found out that we literally NEED 4 hugs a day, just to survive, 8 hugs for our maintenance, and for 12 hugs a day for growth!
Just how powerful is a hug anyway? If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then it might not surprise you that 12 hugs a day might just do the trick as well. Medically speaking, a 10 second hug has a powerful effect on our health. It not only does wonders by lowering blood pressure, but it can fight fatigue and infections, improve your immune system, and ease depression. And if that is not enough, hugs have a positive effect on child development and IQ, and actually boost their self-esteem as well as their ability to project self-love as an adult. I like the sound of that!
The very thought of all of those great benefits makes me hope that we will say . . .
I will not play at tug o' war.
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins
Well, I like winning, don’t you? And I like having my children win. And if it means that I get to smother them with hugs and kisses, then so be it! In some wonderful way that we may not fully comprehend, hugs have the power to invisibly heal and lift. We might even call hugs our secret weapon to helping our children feel special and loved! With or without a word, a hug says, “You are so wonderful! I’m so glad you’re mine!” In times of stress, they communicate, “I’m here for you.” “Let’s work together.” When our children are sad, a hug reaches out and says, “I feel your pain,” or after a conflict, “Let’s start over.” And don’t forget the times of rejoicing, “I can’t believe this! You are SO amazing!”
We probably don’t have to worry too much about getting in our quota of hugs for the day. I believe that most of these will come naturally. We’ll greet our children in the morning with an “I’m so glad to see you” hug and enfold them in love with a “you’re the best” hug before they go to sleep. We’ll give them a quick “wishing you a happy day” hug on their way out the door and an “I’m SO glad you’re home” hug when they return. We’ll remember a “Hope you feel better soon” hug to sooth the sickies and an “I’m sorry” hug to help mend a quarrel. And at any moment throughout the day, we’ll slip in a “how are you doing?” hug and or an impromptu heart to heart “You are a joy in my life!” hug.
One way or another, we’ll wrap our arms and our hearts around our families, we’ll let our words match our actions, and we’ll let them know that rain or shine, they are the best thing that ever happened to us – a true win-win, and all thanks to our secret weapon.
by Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Cultivate Leader
When I was first married, I told myself that although I might not be rich, I could still be clean. In my exuberance as a new bride, I felt like that was something I had control over. Later, as children multiplied and the demands on this mother’s time began to pile up, I changed my tune a little to this familiar adage:
Cleaning and scrubbing can wait for tomorrow
While this poem has some truth to it, and we should definitely treasure the time we have with our children, I do not think it means we need to neglect our homes. And I have found that I am not truly happy in a dirty, cluttered home. In fact, I believe that if we do it right, our homes can be a refuge from the world – a happy oasis so to speak. And so, while it may be virtually impossible to keep an absolutely immaculate home, I do my best to help it be clean, orderly, and beautiful. Here are a few tips I have found to help our home be both clean and happy.
1. Everything is not always clean at the same time. What kind of promising list is it that must begin with a disclaimer? Yet, remember that the goal is not only to be clean, but happy – and that means the mother too. This means that I must be realistic. After all, even Betty Crocker has her limits. I have found that if the dishes are done and the downstairs is clean, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the laundry is folded or that the toilets are scrubbed. Time is always a tradeoff. If you see “clean” in one room, you must know that other things are not done. Likewise, if my day has been full of errand running, grocery shopping, or volunteering at the school you can be guaranteed that the house is not entirely tidy.
2. 10 Minute Tasks. My friend Caren taught me to do those unavoidable, yet necessary jobs as quickly as possible. She offered to do my dishes once. I felt it would be okay to procrastinate, but she insisted that it would only take 10 minutes. Soon, I began to follow this line of thinking and I have found great success with it. Seldom do I have big blocks of time. And other times, I feel too tired or overwhelmed with big jobs. So, I try to think small and simple. By setting the timer for 10 minutes, I allow myself success by working furiously to get as much as possible completed. Yes, racing the clock is a mind game for adults as well as children. And the snowball effect it has on me works wonders. And do you know what? The very process of just beginning gives me energy for more!
3. Put your “helpers” to work! Let’s call it teamwork, folks! I figure, if they can help make the mess, they are old enough to help clean it up. Giving them jobs not only prevents more mess in the meantime, but helps their self - esteem and sense of contribution and personal responsibility. What a great gift! True, this may take more time initially, but eventually, as children are trained, this tip actually becomes a time saver. A word of caution: A clean house does not equal happiness if it takes a fight to get it that way, so practice patience and use your creativity to make it fun and rewarding for them.
4. Get out one project at a time. There is definitely wisdom in not running faster than we have strength. We would not think of making our baby run a marathon before they learn to crawl nor would we hand our toddler juggle 50 pound weights, so why would we do it to ourselves? All right, I will admit that I am not always good at this, in fact, it seems that there are often many balls in the air all at the same time. Yes - never a dull moment! But I know that at those times when I have put away the first project before I proceed with the next, things are definitely less chaotic. For example, a few moments in the kitchen after each meal saves a lot of time later.
5. Have a cleaning schedule. Having a certain time of the day or week to do things helps me relax and not feel guilty about undone work. I know when and whose turn it is to help with this or that. Everyone is on the daily schedule to clean their rooms and do a dish job. With a schedule, I know which day I will do the laundry and I never have to scramble to take out the garbage. Chores that only come once a week are scheduled as well. I can calmly go about the tasks at hand and realize that even though there is always something waiting to be done, I can take it easy and tackle today’s load because the rest will be done on the proper day.
6. Be flexible: Now wait a minute. Didn’t I just say to have a schedule? And now I’m saying to be flexible... Well, yes. A schedule is great for some things, but if the baby is crying or your toddler needs a friend to play with for a while, a rigid schedule can become the family enemy. People are always more important than a task to be done. Sometimes other things call for our attention as well, don’t they? Sometimes we need a few moments to ourselves to rejuvenate. So, give yourself a little wiggle room. It’s okay when things don’t always run like clockwork.
7. Less is more. Years ago, I read a marvelous decluttering book by Don Aslett entitled, Clutter’s Last Stand. I fell in love with the ideas from it and would encourage anyone to read it who has a difficult time hanging onto EVERYTHING! The basic idea is that if you do not use it, like it, or need it, no matter who gave it to you, or how much it costs, or how long you’ve hung onto it, toss it or give it away! Just how many neckties, Legos, envelopes, and knick - knacks from Aunt Paddy Whack do you need anyway? While you’re at it, teach your children to go through their school papers and belongings as well. This is a life skill. And I find it incredibly freeing to realize that by simplifying, you have less to wash, polish, scrub, fold up, dust, or trip over and you have more space, money, and time to share with your family and others in meaningful ways.
8. Organize. There are a zillion and one ideas out there to organize every nook and cranny in your home. I had fun with an old book called Confessions of a Happily Organized Wife. (The title alone makes me smile). But to simplify, may I suggest some basic ideas.
9. Dovetail. It is really fun to do two things at once. For example, my mom taught me to put my “maids” to work in the morning (dishwasher, washer/dryer). I can also do this when I talk on the phone while sweeping, catch up on the child’s school day while folding socks together, or letting breakfast cook while I make lunch. Remember again, that relationships are always more important than “getting it all done.” If you neglect your children, for example by tapping away at the computer or scrolling endlessly on your phone while they are begging for attention, you have only fooled yourself.
10. Survival mode. Part of the inevitable with raising a family are those times when it is just less important to have a totally clean home – maybe someone is sick, you have a new baby or a time - consuming church assignment. Forget about cobwebs, dusting, cabinets, closets. At these times, I feel that it is better to settle for some clean for the sake of your sanity rather than to let the whole house fall to pieces. I have decided that the three main things of importance are dishes, laundry, and making my bed (which gives the general appearance that the room is mostly clean). My next favorite strategy is to whisk through the living area with a laundry basket for a little clutter pickup. I let everyone do their part to empty it. Aren’t I thoughtful?
At the end of the day, remember to smile. Don’t worry so much about perfection. A clean and happy home is within your reach, so be your own best friend. Put your feet up for a bit and give yourself a pat on the back for what you have done.
by Esperanza DeLaLuz
Organizing is what you do before you do something,
~~ A. A. Milne
Let’s start with this premise: Organizing things does not make you a better mom. But it does make it easier to find the Band-Aids, and for me, being ADHD, I am able to be a better mom when I have inner peace; and my personal inner peace is disturbed by chaos. But I know lots of wonderful mothers, including my own, who love and care exquisitely well, in a state of frequent disorder.
That said, I am a passionate organizer. People actually pay me to come organize their kitchen or garage. There are some basic principles to organizing that might be useful to most people to one extent or another, that I thought I might share:
1 Simplify – there are lots of wonderful systems to encourage us to simplify, but most of them boil down to only keeping things that you need, or use, or enjoy. Less stuff means less clutter and less maintenance. But there is also something to be said for having useful backup supplies like food storage, meds, or craft supplies, for preparedness purposes also. But remember, those things are only useful to you if you can find them when a crisis makes them necessary.
2 Contain things – using baskets, boxes, bags, bottles, tubs, cupboards, drawers, etc., This is probably the most important element of organizing. My grandmother used to say “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” My father used to line his top drawer with all kinds of tiny boxes with places for each thing he kept there: watch, coins, keys, etc. So I come by it naturally. But when things are where they belong, my environment is neater, I can find things I need, and I am aware of how much I have and if I have things I can do without.
It is also helpful to use similar sized and shaped things. For example, having all your dishes or food storage containers the same size makes them stack more neatly. This doesn't have to be expensive -- I actually cut the tops off plastic bleach bottles and used them to stack all my round containers of that size inside them, which kept them from falling over.
3 Put like things together – it continually surprises me when I go to help someone clean or organize, how often I find similar things in several different places. Now, it makes sense to have things in different places when you use them in multiple places. I have scissors in every room, for example, and of course, toothpaste in most every bathroom. But keeping things together that are the same, or that are used together makes sense. And subdividing those grouped things, so that each kind of thing has its own place can be very useful. You will notice if it is missing, for one thing, or if you have more than you need.
4 Label your stuff – I am probably too focused on labels, because I am absent-minded, and my labeler is one of my favorite tools. But labeling things helps us remember where they belong. Labels can help you identify what goes where and if it is missing. Most of the time you can do this subtly; you can have specific colors of towels for each bathroom, for example, or other visual cues that identify where things belong without actual labels. But you can also do them in cute ways, with fancy labels that are part of the décor.
My sister pointed out that using pretty baskets to organize my craft supplies was more appealing, more “Feng Shui” than using my labeled assortment of plastic boxes. She was right! So, over the years I picked up lots of fancy baskets at second hand stores. But then I found that they didn’t look good with labels on them. (But it gave me another fun crafting project to make a lot of cute little wooden plaques to attach to the fronts of the baskets.)
When keeping multiples for utility purposes, labeling which set goes where is very useful. For example, I write on those scissors with a permanent marker which room they belong in, so they don’t end up all in one room when I have used them.
5 Store things where they are used – we keep the dishes in the kitchen naturally, but sometimes don’t apply that same idea to other places in our home. Closets, cupboards or drawers are less likely to become catch-alls, if you limit them to containing only things that are useful in that place. Of course, there are things that get used in multiple places. Some people keep multiples like I do with the scissors, others make a specific cabinet or dresser drawer for all those things. I have a “utility dresser” with drawers for simple household tools, tape, batteries, lightbulbs, and other things that everyone needs to get to often. Some people keep a “junk drawer” for things that have no specific place, but this is a poor idea since it gets crammed full of stuff that does not ever get assigned to its own place.
6 List stuff – Keeping a list, in a notebook, on the back of a cupboard, or on a computer, can be very useful, especially with stored supplies. It also helps keep supplies current. If there is a list on the back of the medicine cabinet mirror of what you plan to keep in that cabinet, you might be more likely to notice you are out of Band-Aids. A list of what goes in each cupboard on the back of the door, or a master list of desired food storage items, or a list of where important documents are stored can be very useful. Just make sure you have a specific place to keep the lists!
7 Put things back! – This is probably the hardest part for most people. We are naturally lazy, and we don’t want to get up and put things away all the time. But a basket on the stairs for things that need to go upstairs, or a defined place in each room to set things that don’t belong in that room, can make it easier to go around and put things back. You can also make a game of it for little children. Some younger children actually think it is fun to go put Daddy’s tie in the bedroom for a few raisins! But you can also set up a pattern of going around gathering and putting things back once a day, if you cannot make yourself put things back right away.
8 A few clever helps – everyone has stuff in their house that other people left there. Setting up a basket by the door for these things not only contains them, but also makes it easier to remember to give them back or return them. A box by the garage door for things that need to go out of your home on errands makes it easier to get those errands done and get those things out of your house. Having a specific shelf for your purse, or for school books and back packs, makes finding them much easier.
Drawer dividers, hook racks, extra shelves inside cabinets, and tote bags can be very useful tools. Having a tote specifically to hold smaller things for organizing (tiny boxes, plastic packets, bags, and such) makes it easier to find something to use to contain and organize things. A place to set things when you first come home, such as a table, bench, or shelf keeps things from getting piled up on the floor.
Setting up a specific rack in which to put outgoing and incoming mail, a key rack, a mirror, the family calendar, and a place to leave notes, all by the front door can be very useful. A hook rack for hat, coats, sunglasses, flashlight, umbrellas, tote bags, sunscreen or other things that are often needed as leaving the house is useful, too, especially if it can be near the door.
I hope that these general principles can make your life a little bit easier!
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing.
~~ Doctrine and Covenants 88:119
By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Cultivate Leader
Have you ever noticed the oddities of life?
...like how the birthday cake you’re making never looks like the one in the picture?
Never mind comparing it to the picture – which is actually a cake made of four layers, so that means you actually have to use TWO cake mixes... but the picture won’t tell you that.
Pay no attention to the fact that the sad crack in your attempt at the cake will NOT stay “glued” together, no matter how much frosting you use to cement it together.
And don’t even notice the huge crumbs that are adhering to the once-white frosting (maybe some sprinkles will hide them!!). Perhaps, you conclude, the sides look better unfrosted anyway!
OR - Does it ever seem that the most meaningful conversation you get to have with your spouse is:
-- at the end of the day,
-- at the bathroom sink
-- while you are foaming at the mouth with an electric toothbrush wildly sputtering, unable in the least to utter a sensible word?
So, you play the game of charades or better yet – an impromptu sign language which you try to decipher without splattering toothpaste blobs on the mirror as you laugh through the hilarity of it all?
OR - Do you find yourself seething at the injustice of finding that there are always at least 3 diapers left in the package that absolutely WILL NOT fit your baby before they transfer to the next size up?
AND - Have you tried to mathematically explain why, with so few people in the family, every single cup in the house gets dirtied – including the measuring cups?
I’m probably not the only one who has had more than her share of Pinterest fails and foibles. But if my Better Crocker skills don’t take the cake at least my attitude will. If you’re like me, and even one of these scenarios rings true for you, this might be a good time to take a look at a happy principle that can help every mother and homemaker: realistic expectations. Yes, with a little reality check, you can take anything that comes with ease.
Did you know that some things are supposed to be imperfect?
Mismatched socks... scuffs on your best running shoes... sticky fingerprints on the fridge door handle... Almost imperceptibly, flabby bellies, burnt toast, and layers of dust just happen. Life happens!
There’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with your family. It is what it is.
And it’s not only OK for it to be this way, it is supposed to be that way!
Take the coffee table for example – an innocent enough piece of furniture wouldn’t you say? But in a house full of children, is it really going to stay a focal piece impressively set with elegant table top décor? Of course not! You and I both know that even the best homes aren’t picture perfect.
We can expect that homes with children have their fair share of crumbs, smelly socks, broken figurines, lost items, scattered toys, ripped pages in books, smears on the sliding glass door, and on and on. It helps when I know that some things will inevitably happen, because it allows me a great deal of sanity for when the unexpected happens and things don’t work out perfectly.
In fact, if you can look at it with a smile in your heart, you might just find it so ludicrous that it provides a moment of laughter that you look back on with fondness.
While mothering my Littles, I frequently found peace of mind through a quote often attributed to Marjorie Pay Hinckley to help me remember that my priorities were just where they should be:
I don’t want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor’s children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone’s garden. I want to be there with children’s sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here, and that I really lived.
Expecting reality doesn’t mean admitting defeat!
I can expect, for example, that my children will make endless messes (and I will too), but that doesn’t stop us from cleaning it up at the appropriate time.
My communication with my spouse may be spotty at times, but that doesn’t mean we neglect our relationship. We regularly and consistently schedule time to be with one another to just TALK (most times without a dental implement in hand).
We are gloriously imperfect in each and every way, but we set goals, and give assignments. And we put our plan into action with a little elbow grease. We do it, remembering the WHY of it all – not to satisfy some plausible guest who never seems to stop by, nor even to catch up to the Jones family (although we admit that they ARE a nice bunch!) - but because we like it that way. In fact, we even enjoy it!
I am enough.
I can be happy without being Pinterest Perfect. While the Internet world of “reality” sometimes creates a facade of perfectly clean homes, the Gerber baby who never cries, and homes decorated to a “T,” I can be happy with what we have and who we are becoming. I may also (heaven forbid) go without some of the niceties of the luxury homes in order to allow myself to spend more time concentrating my efforts more closely on building a strong home and family. We can also give ourselves credit for being creative, even if it means that we make a mess for a while. We are, after all, learning, growing, and developing together. In fact, we are a living, breathing work of art! I suppose the casual passerby may judge me and my efforts (or seemingly lack of them), but that judge won’t be me. I will give myself grace allowing me and my family space to be real humans. We ARE indeed “good enough.” We can have strength and self - confidence to do and be and achieve in real albeit imperfect ways.
By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom
You have waited and waited AND (have I mentioned?) WAITED for this day! Nine months – give or take – and now, couldn’t you just stare hour after hour, at this little bundle of joy? Can you even believe it? Your thoughts have centered around this little one almost every minute of every day. And – phew! After discovering why it’s called “labor!” the baby has (FINALLY) arrived! Way to go Mom!
Having crossed the finish line, the sheer wonder of a new life placed in your arms fills you with anticipation of what lies ahead. Caressing that sweet downy soft head. Kissing each tender tiny toe and marveling as you trace those little eyes, nose, lips, ears. Those mini-fingers wrap their adorable frailty and dependence around your soul.
Wonder and joy sit side by side with the exact opposite: nagging feelings of exhaustion, inexperience, frustration. The discomforts of pregnancy are now replaced by new ones: Cesarean or episiotomy wounds. Sore nipples. Baby blues. Tired… SO tired. As much as we want to enjoy this experience of Mommyhood, we instantly realize that it isn’t going to be a piece of cake!
So please remember to be kind to yourself.
You are a walking miracle maker and now is the time to take good care of you. A time to heal. A time to take it easy. A time to be good to that number one Mommy.
Survival mode - Just as you finish doing the dishes and laundry, another load is calling your name. How is it possible to keep up with the many demands on your time and energy? Remember that at these times, you and your baby’s needs come first. It is clearly time for Survival mode. We’re talking basics here. The goal is not to have a spotless house, but to “love on” your children. If I can get the dishes tidied up once a day, a batch of laundry running, and maybe even a garbage taken out, I feel accomplished. Or better yet, use paper plates and cups. Save the environment later, when you have more time and energy!
Savor the moment - As with each stage in the life of children, I have found over and over again that with a new baby, there are both really hard things and really beautiful things – things that will never happen again: The sound of the newborn cry, the darling startle reflex, peeling skin, the smell of their neck nestled into yours, their first bath, their tiny toes. You may want to jot down notes about firsts, funny things they do, milestones, and your feelings. Capture the moment with frequent snapshots. There will be plenty of time for scrapbooking later if that’s a priority for you, but for now, just share them with friends and family so you can rejoice together!
Sleep - You know the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!” Sister, it’s so true! The whole world looks like a friendlier place when you are rested. So toss out all the old important TO DOs on your list. Now is the time for a new list, and loving yourself enough to get some sleep is at the top of that list. If there is a choice between getting something done and getting some sleep, choose sleep. I know that this is not easily accomplished. So, for starters, sleep when the baby sleeps. Yes, this is harder to do once you have more than one child, so don’t be shy in asking for help from a friend or family member. Also, with a little know-how and practice, you can train your child to sleep. They’re going to have to learn how to do it on their own sometime anyway. Don’t be that mom that wished she had learned about sleep sooner, but alas, she was too tired! Two excellent resources on this topic are: Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. and The No-Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley.
Time away - Let’s face it – Sometimes being a mom is just plain lonely. You spend many quiet hours even in the middle of the night, rocking, feeding, cuddling, soothing. All good things, right? But the overall effect can be draining if you don’t get a little time for yourself. Remember that as much as you love your baby, it is good to “baby” yourself sometimes, Mama! What does that look like? A weekly date night! Time with a friend on the phone or in person. An hour or two for personal time to shower, read, relax, or even take a nap. A walk around the block for a little fresh air and movement. Mommy is a person too and someone has to take time to “mother” her. So schedule in a little time for yourself each day. Think of it as a time to rejuvenate rather than a selfish action, because dear, it is anything but selfish. You will come back energized and excited to spread a little love and sunshine in your children’s lives. And besides that, you are worth it!
By Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
One of my favorite things to do while growing up was to visit my grandmother’s homes on both sides of my family. I think everyone enjoyed it! I have to mention that while some people have “cookie” Grandmas, I had TWO "ice cream Grandmas!” My Grandma Durrant always had her freezer stocked with a favorite flavor at a moment’s notice. And my Grandma Tenney would let us sit on her back porch and grind the handle of the old-fashioned ice cream maker with a fresh cream mixture until the ice cream was nice and thick! YUM! So, was it the ice cream factor that made my Grandmas' homes such special places to visit? Being the ice cream lover that I am, I confess my answer to that question: “YES!”
But, of course, there was more -- much more!
In fact, everything in my grandmothers' homes spoke in a special way to my heart:
Don’t we all want that kind of a home? A home filled with warmth and love! Happily, it is something we can all achieve with work, creativity, time, and a whole lot of help from above! One song that describes this loving ambiance we want in our homes is called, “Home,” written by Caroline Eyring Miner:
Home is where the heart is
Where warmth and love abound
Home is where encircling arms
Go all the way around.
--by Caroline Eyring Miner
A home, as we all know, is more than just the furniture and the stuff we own. It is made up of the people who live there – our family! Therefore, in order for a home to have that ambiance of love that we desire, one of the most important things we can do is to prioritize our time to strengthen our relationships with our families.
In families, love is spelled T-I-M-E.
Time spent with our families is a true investment that pays long term dividends. When we spend time with our family, we increase our family’s capacity to feel loved and secure in our home. What we are really saying is, “I have time for you. You are important to me.” Time spent with family doesn’t have to be expensive to be effective, but both quantity as well as quality are important and consistency is key.
How do YOU spell love with your family? What message are you sending with the events on your calendar? Here are a few ways that strong families send their families a little love note to pump up the love-meter in their homes:
1. Set aside a weekly family night – What could be better than a time reserved just for your family each week where you all have a blast together?! Start out with one and build up to planning out a few at a time. Keep it simple or spruce it up. Just make it a night that the whole family looks forward to! It’s a great time to teach your family values as well as life skills. Play games and activities or go on outings! Maybe even work on a project together once in a while! And always – I mean ALWAYS - include a special treat!
2. Set aside a weekly family planning meeting – This is a great time to calendar events, share goals and dreams, and express ideas that will strengthen your family and leave everyone feeling calm and reassured. What can you do to assist them? How can they in turn help the family run more smoothly? You can do this as part of your weekly family night or at dinner. Just find whatever time works best for your family.
3. Individual Attention – One-on-one time with your children can be an effective way to connect with them even if it’s only a few minutes a day. Maybe you do this as you prepare dinner together, go on a short outing, run an errand together, or enjoy a special bedtime routine. Letting them talk about whatever is on their mind and really listening to them without judgment or criticism will help them to feel important and loved.
4. Unplug – In a world that is running at breakneck speed, we don’t want our families to get lost in the shuffle. So be sure to take a little time each day AWAY from phones, computers, television, and so on, not only to benefit yourself, but so that the whole family can really connect. This electronic free time becomes your chance to look each other in the eyes, talk together, laugh together and learn from one another, so don’t let it pass you by!
5. Eat meals together - Even if you can’t do it for every meal of every single day, do what you can to regularly schedule this important time together. Making it a priority to eat together blesses our families tremendously! Children whose families eat together not only develop healthier eating patterns and have better health, but they have a better vocabulary and academic performance, a higher self-esteem, a greater sense of reliance, and a lower risk of depression, substance abuse, and teen pregnancy.
6. Make and keep family traditions – Silly or special, extensive or simple, taking time to infuse family traditions lights a spark of joy and love in families. Some families have a song or a cheer. Some gather for a family prayer and group hug before heading out the door each morning. Some explore a special place each year. It really doesn’t matter what the tradition is, only that you do it and remember to keep doing it. Whether it’s as simple as having green eggs and ham on St. Patrick’s Day, strawberry pancake stacks on Valentine’s, or a treasure hunt on birthdays to find the presents, traditions not only give children something fun to look forward to, but help them to feel emotionally supported.
My grandmothers always had time for their family. They could have done a million other things, but instead they chose us. They turned on the love-meter in their homes by including us in their lives - teaching us how to do ceramics, raking the leaves together, playing a game of cards, going for a walk together to the post office. The ambiance in their homes was more than just physical surroundings, although that was certainly part of it. By opening up their calendars, what they were doing in essence was allowing us the time to open up our hearts to them, time with which they could then use to share their powerful influence for good. Now that’s what I call time well spent!
By Annette T. Durfee, Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom
They all do it. You know - that thing that drives you up a wall! No matter the age of your child and in spite of your best efforts, they inherently know exactly what button to push to get us to react. And it seems that the more we push for them to stop it, the more they pull back until the tug of war has escalated and within seconds, the sense of peace and beauty that we so desire in our homes is ruined. So what do we do? How can we conquer this frustrating behavior that frays at our nerves, fuels our frustration, and tests the limits of our patience?
Here are a few ideas that I have found helpful.
1. Take a break.
Take a few steps back. Retreat into my room for a few minutes – ALONE. Breathe! Regroup. Punch a pillow if it helps! Timeout for Mommy is not only healthy, but a sanity saver! As you remove your presence from the child they also get a chance to recover and try again. And while I take a break, I do what my knees were made for – I PRAY! When mothering moments go awry, I need help from a higher power. For me, this is God. I have found that He is always there – never too busy for me, never burdened by yet another plea for help. I pour out my heart with my worry, frustration, anger, and then, I LISTEN.
Sometimes I get an idea – I can see how I could have prevented the situation or how I could react in a better way next time or something simple I could do to help my child. It may not be the entire solution to the problem, but it is enough to get me headed back in the right direction. And as I implement that God-given idea, I regain confidence and my child and I regain a positive momentum. Other times after prayer, I am left with a simple yet reassuring sense of peace: I can handle this. I’ve got what it takes. I am a good mother. And other times, the answers aren't immediate but come along the way as God, my Father in Heaven goes behind-the-scenes with me and adds to my efforts.
2. Become curious.
Ask, “Why?” Why is my child behaving this way? What could he or she be feeling right now? What things are going on in this stage of their life that could cause this? Is there a little sibling rivalry going on? Is there a new baby that is diverting my attention? Perhaps something going on at school? I wonder: what is hard for them? How do they feel about themselves right now? Is there something I could do or say that would help to redirect their attention to something positive? When we become curious, we open up the door to the possible feelings of our children and we become more compassionate, empathetic, more loving. We can even help them to feel supported by helping them voice their own feelings. “Are you feeling sad, frustrated, lonely? How can I help?”
3. Model the behavior you want to see.
As hard as it may be to believe, it just may be that your child has not thought of a better way of doing things, even despite perpetual broken-record pleas from you. They may be in need of a consistent example to follow. Let’s say that your child has developed a habit of running through the house screaming. Although it may make you feel like pulling your hair out and yelling back, muster the mentality to smile and speak with a calm and quiet voice instead. “Let’s use our inside voices.” The important people in our children’s lives are like great big mirrors. What our children see in us, we will also eventually see in them. So, let’s be the best mirrors we can be accompanied with a smile, a hug, and a kiss.
Whatever we give our children attention for they will repeat. We already know that our children do the things that drive us bonkers often to get attention. So why not turn it around and use this to our advantage? Rather than handing out negative attention, we could choose to focus on those things that we want to continue and offer praise when we see them. For example, when I wish that the children would not fight and argue, I notice and thank the child at a time when they are being a peacemaker. “I love it when . . .” You fill in the blanks. My mom did this for me once in a simple way that stuck with me. One day she gave me a Mr. Goodbar candy bar with the explanation, “because you’re so good.” I didn’t know about shaping then, but every time I remembered that tasty treat, along with her other caring words and deeds, I felt like I was good and I tried to prove her correct!
5. Realize that we are not meant to control others.
I think I all too often learned this lesson the hard way, scraping the heels of my feet as I skidded along the road of hard-won control. As I struggled to learn a better way, I reflected often on a quintessential quote that I pinned on my Value Board:
“Never let a problem to be solved, become more important than a person to be loved.”
-- Thomas S. Monson
Such a beautiful reminder! This thought helped me to remember that the little people in my life were not bad, they were learning, just like I was learning how to mother with love.
Our children will inevitably do things that we do not approve of and this is not, I repeat NOT an indicator that we have failed as parents. And while that means that at times we need to discipline, we can leave out the empty threats, arguing, bribery, fighting.
Yes, our mission is not to control, but to teach, to influence, set an example, and - the best part of all - love them like crazy!
By Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
All is well! All is well! Or so we thought! Our oldest son had a GREAT idea: let's test our family’s preparedness level by holding a drill, evacuating from our home! So, without telling anyone about it (except for me), we gathered for our weekly Family Night, and he announced: We had 5 minutes to get whatever we needed and off we would go in the Durfeemobile to our designated meeting spot for further evaluation. No problem, I thought. Surely we know what to do. Easy peasy! Except that the kids had their own ideas on what was important . . .
While I was finding my phone and purse, my four-year-old son went directly to the pantry to get a large can of “fruit cottontail” (as he called it) -- then he dropped it on his toe, causing squeals of pain. Instead of spearheading our evacuation, I ran to give comfort and administer first aid to his bleeding wound. Four minutes later, I rounded the corner to find that our two-year-old had dumped his Halloween candy onto the floor in order to find the best pieces to take. I'm not kidding!
I hurriedly shoved some shoes onto his feet and grabbed our coats as the girls came barreling down the stairs with a laundry basket full of ... their stuffed animals. Really! I just about lost it, but time was up, so we all piled in the car. Once we arrived at the church, we laughed hysterically as we surveyed the load in our car. Thankfully, my husband and oldest son had managed to heave our 72-hour kits and a few jugs of water into the car, so we could have survived, but we knew that there were some things lacking in our emergency preparedness mindset that we needed to remedy.
If you’re like our family, you try to surge through life hoping for the best, but often find that accidents are just so, well, accidental! Life as we know is full of bumps: flat tires, injury, job loss, sickness, death, and natural disasters can sneak up on us without warning. I want to be ready, how about you?
When the time for an emergency arrives, the time for preparation is past. So let's head off the stress and panic that can come at the moment of an emergency by deciding now to be prepared? With a few guiding principles and a little time educating ourselves and planning well, we can create safe places for our families no matter the storm. So buckle your seat belt folks, ‘cuz ready or not, here we come!
1. Start small. Start today. There are about a billion ways we could begin, and endless resources, but don’t let that stop you! Don’t wait until you have a lot of $ saved up. Don’t wait for a better time! This is no time to be a victim of all or nothing thinking. Keep it small. Keep it simple. Your ideas are the right ones for your family. Gather a few items together that you already have and build from there.
2. Anticipate needs and make a plan with your family. Mr. Fred Rogers said, “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.” Likewise, as we talk about and plan for emergencies, they become less scary and we can help our families become emotionally resilient.
What disasters are prevalent in our area?
What might happen?
What do we do if . . .?
What needs could arise in each instance?
What would be helpful then?
What insurance do we need?
How will we communicate during an emergency?
Do the children know their phone number?
Who could be our out-of-town emergency contact?
What needs would our baby have? An elderly friend or parent? Pets?
When will we practice our plan?
By anticipating our families’ needs, we create more options and access to lifesaving supplies that would otherwise be in short supply at the time of a crisis.
(See also, “Helping Children Cope With Disaster,” https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/children.pdf)
“Family Emergency Planning,” https://www.ready.gov/kids/family-emergency-planning
3. Have the good sense to save some cents! I like Benjamin Franklin’s adage, “Watch the pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.” Since we never know when an emergency will pop up, it makes sense to have a little extra money in our savings. My husband and I were students for the first ten years of our marriage, so we learned early on the value of buying what we really needed and saving up for a rainy day. I’ll admit that sometimes I felt sorry for myself for not being able to buy some of the things on our want list, but as we continued to set aside a small (and I mean small) amount each month, it eventually added up. During those months when he didn’t get paid, we could pay ourselves - a true investment!
(See also, “One for the Money,” Elder Marvin J. Ashton, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2007/09/one-for-the-money?lang=eng
4. Home Safe Home: Because many accidents can begin in the home, it is important to make our homes a place of safety. Again, good ole Benjamin Franklin provides the answer: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” So the first step in having a home that is secure is to prevent a problem in the first place. Let’s start increasing our awareness of our home environment by taking a quick survey of our homes:
What possible hazards do you identify?
What can we do to prevent slips and falls?
Drowning, suffocation, and strangulation?
Fires and burns?
Medications and poisons locked away? Check!
Batteries for smoke alarm tested? Check!
Fire extinguisher within reach? Check!
What other preventative measures can you think of to reduce the risks and avert the booby traps in your home?
(See also, “Safe Kids Worldwide,” https://www.safekids.org/
“A Guide to Home Safety: Identifying and Preventing Hazards,” https://www.safehome.org/resources/home-hazards/
5. Having supplies, water, and food puts you in a good mood! With a little planning and occasional rotation, you can have lifesaving items ready for use right in the safety of your own home. And when hungry tummies come calling, you’ll be so glad that you’re ready! I found that by stocking up on basic items when they were on sale, we were able to build up our supply to a reasonable amount over time.
An easy place to start is to ask questions like these:
Water, as you know, is also important, not only when we’re thirsty, but to aid in food preparation, hygiene, and sanitation. And so, my friends, we ask the hard question, “what will we do if we can’t get clean water out of our faucet?” When the apartment of one of my daughters had to turn off the water for three days, she and her husband were well taken care of, having stored water ahead of time in juice and soda bottles that they had rinsed out and refilled. What could you do to prepare for such a time?
If we are truly going to be prepared at home, let’s not forget other necessities:
Is our first aid kit updated?
Do we all know where the flashlight is and do we have extra batteries?
Do I have a secret stash of cash on hand (in small bills)?
And do we have blankets and warm clothing in case the power is out and we have to dress more warmly?
Now there are a few sanity savers right there! And last but not least, may I mention that having some extra supplies in the cupboard such as deodorant, hand soap, toothpaste, dish soap, laundry detergent, feminine products and -- of course -- toilet paper (boy do we all know this!!) will go a long way in keeping this mama happy!
(See also, “Food and Water in an Emergency,” https://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/f&web.pdf)
“What’s That Smell: Sanitation When Systems Fail.”
6. On the Road Again: Because we are in our cars so much of the time, we would be wise to doublecheck that we are taking precautions to ensure that our family is safe there as well:
As part of our preparation, we might even include a little refresher course on a few things like how to change a flat or how to USE those jumper cables. I’m sure you can think of other things. Most of these safety measures only take a few seconds, but in the long run, you’ll thank yourself and your family will too.
(See also National Safety Council - https://www.nsc.org/road/safety-topics/child-passenger-safety/child-passenger-safety-home
7. Emergency Evacuation: In the event that you need to leave your home, what would be a good gathering spot for your family? Where will you meet if all of you are not home when the need to leave arises? As our family found out, in a moment of panic, it is easy for our minds to forget what things we need to have. To remedy this, we wrote up a list of our Top 10 items that we should grab in case of an evacuation and posted them on a paper by the garage door:
1. 72 Hour Kits
3. Important Papers binder
4. Cell phone/charger
6. Shoes and coat
8. Family Photos
10. Laptop Computer
My daughter, now a grown mother, has created a very nice detailed list prioritizing their list of items as determined by whether they have 5, 10, or 15 minutes to leave and stating where in the house the items are located.
What would be some things that are important to you in case your family had to leave your home?
Will planning and preparing make a difference? Well . . .When our family lived in Illinois, we often had tornados raging through our area. To help us to be ready for a possible disaster, we assembled 72-hour kits that we safely stored in the closet underneath the staircase with simple items such as a change of clothes, snacks, water, a battery powered radio, a flashlight, and books and small toys for the children. When the tornado sirens would go off, we knew the drill: we would gather the kiddos and go into the closet until the storm had passed.
Imagine our surprise when one day our son prayed that we could have another tornado! GASP! That’s going a bit far, wouldn’t you say? When we asked him why on earth he had said that, he replied that he wanted to play in the closet. It was fun! Well, at least he felt safe and we as his parents had greater peace of mind, knowing we had done what we could. We were ready!
By Meagan Waite from the Discovery Family Coalition
Dr. Seuss, the beloved children’s author, wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” on a bet. The co-founder of Random House Publishing, Mr. Bennett Cerf, wagered that Seuss couldn’t write a book that had fewer than 50 unique words. Seuss won 50 bucks, and we have a piece of literary art with which one cannot help but rhyme along.
If you haven’t read it, you should. It can get you thinking about the relationship between what you believe and what you experience. It can encourage you to think outside the box (no would-nots, could-nots for you!) and try new things. It can give you courage to show resilience in the face of challenges, opposition, and adversity.
Yes, reading can do that for you.
March is National Reading Month. It has been designated as such in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday, March 2. My Discovery Destination! is celebrating. How? With a Discovery Hunt, of course! In fact, we bet YOU that you are going to love this Hunt, and we dare you to try and prove us wrong.
Oh the places you’ll go! It’s easy! Download the GooseChase app and search for the Hunt with the name “Oh The Places You’ll Go” (named in honor of Dr. Seuss, as is this article) or with the game code “SEUSS”. You are going to want to get started right away. The Hunt is full of Adventures that are educational. They are fun. And they have the ability to strengthen your family and build resilience in your children.
Yes, Discovery Hunts can do that for you.
By Momivate's Atmosphere CouncilMom, Annette T. Durfee
Snuggled up in my arms, my little grandson stares up at me with his big beautiful innocent eyes. Together we rock back and forth in the overstuffed chair singing song after song and I’m convinced that I love him more every second! As I sing, my mind wanders back to yesteryear when my babies were tiny and I sang song after song to them – hoping to relax them and hush their sleepytime fears. Hoping to instill in them the things I knew were true. Hoping to fill their hearts with the love that I had for them.
It’s amazing how magical music can be! Music has a way of touching our hearts and filling our memories with the best things of life.
Music was at the heart of the home I grew up in, so naturally, as an adult, I shared it with my children. We sang lilting lullabies and fun children’s sing-along recordings. We also offered xylophones, harmonicas, recorders, and rhythm instruments for the little ones to explore creating their own sounds.
As a classical musician, I knew the benefits of classical music: an increased learning capacity, creativity, and self-esteem, to name only a few. Knowing that our children weren’t going to grow up on a farm (like my parents did), we still wanted to teach them hard work, patience, and discipline. We decided to instill these values through formal music lessons! Thus, we became the beneficiaries of practice sessions, morning-noon-and-night! We eagerly attended recitals and concerts galore! Music sweetly and simply lent a soothing atmosphere to our home and even our car, as we traveled to and fro.
Music became a parenting friend that would quiet the mayhem of the moment. When life became a little hairy and scary and the decibel level was a little too high, I would nonchalantly pop in a CD of classical music or church hymns (my secret weapons!) and - voila! - an essence of calm and peace would descend! Soon, things would settle down.
With a house full of rambunctious kiddos, we found that with a little creativity, there seemed to be a song for every situation that could gently persuade, teach, or motivate. Songs to make diaper changes more pleasant, songs to make hair washing less scary, songs to help children cooperate when it was time to brush their teeth. Sometimes songs distracted us from the mundane and helped to pass the time while we did the dishes or other chores. At bedtime, songs even helped us march up to bed in a happy way! We became a train connecting arms at the shoulders and chugging up the stairs singing, “Choo choo choo, what’s coming down the track?” The person in the lead would “pull the whistle” and up we went.
Music was an unseen friend that added joy and spontaneity to our lives at just the right time! Sometimes the music was a toe – tapping “Turkey in the Straw” for a Thanksgiving program! Or the girls would make up choreography to a whimsical children’s song, their fancy dresses swirling in a wide circle. Sometimes a child surprised us with an unsolicited solo of a kindergarten-melody as they stood atop a make-shift stage (aka a chair in the dining room). And impromptu Family Talent Shows gave us rousing marches, emphasized by mini flags in the front room!
With littles on the loose, life is more pleasant with a song in your heart. In your home or on the go, music has the power to create a sort of a haven that smooths the creases of chaos and lifts the spirit. So, whether your family chooses to learn an instrument or two, sing at top volume in the shower, or pop in a favorite CD, music is the power to make any moment a happy one!
By Esperanza DeLaLuz
Being a mother is a thing which changes you forever. Once you make that commitment to a child, it’s the child’s well-being, growth, and happiness that is the most important thing in your world. You’ll go without sleep, go hungry, clean up disgusting substances, labor for hours to create the perfect event or costume, and spend hours and hours repeating activities that would otherwise be incredibly boring.
Recently I found myself playing 27 games of Candyland in a row because my 5-year-old granddaughter loves that game and can play it competently. I don’t like Candyland, but I love the excitement on her face when she makes a good move, or the exuberant thrill when she wins. Even the sadness when she has to go backwards is just adorable!
Do you know the history of Candyland? An article in the Atlantic recently described it! During the Polio era, before vaccines, there were lots of very young children in hospitals and they were very bored, lonely and unhappy. But many of them were too young to read and unable to play games without adult involvement.
In 1948, a retired schoolteacher named Eleanor Abbott decided to create a board game that could become a distraction for very young patients. The outbreak had forced children into extremely restrictive environments. Concerned with the spread of polio, parents kept their children indoors, and children were frustrated. Games like Candy Land became an ideal way to keep them occupied.
Children who had contracted polio were isolated, physically weak and often confined by equipment. Candy land was designed to let young children play by themselves. As long as the child can count to 2 and match colors the child can play. Candy Land offered the children confined in hospitals welcome distraction—but it also gave immobilized patients a liberating fantasy of movement. The joy of movement, especially for polio patients, seems to have been integral to Abbott’s design philosophy from the start. The original board even depicts the tentative steps of a boy in a leg brace!
The game teaches pattern recognition and following instructions. It shows children how to play together—how to win humbly or lose graciously. The game is designed to be outgrown. As soon as a child realizes that there is nothing that, they can do to alter the course of the game, they begin to desire more challenging entertainments. But there will always be young children who need a game that they can play, and Moms and Nannas who will play 27 games in a row for the pure joy of watching a child play.
READ the whole history here: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/07/how-polio-inspired-the-creation-of-candy-land/594424/
By Diana Duke, Secretary on Momivate's MotherBoard
They say that patience is a virtue. Sometimes I wonder if it's a virtue I once mastered and then lost somewhere along the way. I think back to a time before I was a mother, when I had all of the patience in the world. I worked at a group home for children with disabilities and quickly found how much I loved it. As time moved on, I started a family and found myself venturing into other fields. However, at the top of my priorities was being a mother to my children. I had an amazing husband and, although we had our struggles, life was good.
I wish I’d had more time to be the wife I always wanted to be, but things took a turn for the worse and I found myself widowed at thirty-one. I completely fell apart for a while. I lost my sense of self, and that patience I’d had was now something that I was searching for. I feel that it is something I am really struggling with, yet all of the time everyone around me is telling me, “You have so much patience—I don't know how you do it!” I am constantly being told what a good mother I am and, though I am grateful for their kind comments, it leads me to wonder who I am.
I don't feel patient. I don't feel so wonderful all the time. I think we as mothers are often our own hardest critics. However, I am pretty competitive, so I have to believe that the bar that I set long ago for myself has to be attainable or I wouldn't have set it in the first place. I want to be happy, and I want my children to be happy. I find that getting back to the basics makes life so much easier. Being patient with ourselves, patient with our children, and being patient with those around us makes us kinder and more gentle.
I know that it can be hard when you don't know where to start. But you just have to start where you are. So that is what I'm doing--jumping in and starting where I am. Even as I write this, I have found myself worrying; not knowing what to write about; stressing out that nobody wants to hear about my chaotic struggles. But we are human and we all have our own challenges. We need to be patient with ourselves.
Right now one of my challenges is the never-ending laundry pile--I never get to cross it off my to-do list, so I never get the satisfaction of completion. However, what I can do is set a goal for how many loads I can do today. That way I am able to cross something off my to-do list with satisfaction. I can go on and on about the steps I have to take to be patient with myself. We are all different; what works for me isn't going to work for everyone else. But each of us can do something to quiet those negative, self-defeating thoughts in our heads. What are some things you can do to be patient with yourself?
By Cindy Thomsen, Momivate's Leader over Schedules & Systems and blogger at ResilientMotherhood.net
Summer break is here and it seems when kids are bored they spend their free time on a screen? There are so many fun electronic resources as well as so many distractions! What do your kids like? Youtube, streaming movies, playing games all day! How do we stop that from happening and help our kids get the most out of their Summer?
I started researching ways to help my kids put down their electronics and find more productive ways to spend their time. There are so many great ideas out there. Here were a few that stood out to me. Hopefully these can help you too to have a fun-filled Summer together with fun activities and a more focused and planned screen time.
... to read the rest of Cindy's post, visit her blog at: resilientmotherhood.net/tips-to-reduce-screen-time-this-summer/
My twin daughters are in a kickboxing class at the local community college and this video was assigned to them as homework. It struck me as so simple that it is well worth the couple of minutes to review information we likely are already aware of but need continual reminders about. Moms, this is what we do -- we are the reminders, the repeaters, the consistent, kind, and friendly reviewers and encouragers!
From the YouTube Description:
Wellness means overall well-being. It includes the emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. Incorporating aspects of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness, such as choosing healthy foods, forming strong relationships, and exercising often, into everyday habits can help people live longer and improve quality of life. The Eight Dimensions of Wellness may also help people better manage their condition and experience recovery. This short animated video explores the Eight Dimensions of Wellness and helps people understand the practical strategies and ways they can begin developing healthy habits that can have a positive impact on their physical and mental health. To learn more about SAMHSA’s Wellness Initiative, click here.
Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there.
Ours boasts it quiet openly,
The signs are everywhere...
For smears on the windows,
Little smudges on the doors.
I should apologize, I guess,
For toys strewn on the floor.
But I sat down with the children,
And we played and laughed and read,
And if the doorbell doesn’t shine,
Their eyes will shine instead.
For when at times I'm forced to choose:
The one job or the other,
I’d like to cook, and clean, and scrub...
But first I’ll be a MOTHER.
Too often we are scared.
Scared of what we might not be able to do.
Scared of what people might think if we tried.
We let our FEARS stand in the way of our HOPES.
We say "no" when we want to say "yes."
We sit quietly when we want to scream.
And we shout with the others,
when we should keep our mouths shut.
we do only go around once.
Try something you've never tried.
Enter a triathlon.
Write a letter to the editor.
Demand a raise.
Call winners at the toughest court.
Throw away your television.
Bicycle across the United States.
Speak out against the designated hitter.
Travel to a country where you don't speak the language.
You have nothing to lose.
EVERYTHING to gain.
JUST DO IT.
In each passing mortal hour
All around me there is need,
There are hearts that yearn and tears that fall
And hungry souls to feed.
I must seek the Spirit's wisdom,
Learn compassion's gentle art,
For I cannot give with empty hands
Nor love with barren heart.
If I would bear my brother's burden,
If I would share my sister's grief,
Extend the hand of sweet compassion,
Offer the weary ones relief,
If I would ease the thirst of strangers,
And serve His children heart and hand,
I must drink of Heaven's wells o'erflowing,
I must learn to fill the well within.
I will serve my Savior gladly,
Seek his little lambs who stray;
But if I would lead them safely home,
I must know the way.
I must seek for understanding
That I may teach His children well,
If I seek to fill the soul athirst,
I must first be filled.
That I may bear my brother's burden,
That I may share my sister's grief,
Extend the hand of sweet compassion,
Offer the weary ones relief,
That I may ease the thirst of strangers,
And serve His children heart and hand,
I must drink of Heaven's wells o'erflowing,
I must learn to fill the well within.
By Sally DeFord
I have enjoyed the privilege of being a mother to over a dozen foreign exchange students over the years! My Hindu son from India openly and enthusiastically shared his religion with our family. Some of the stories are quite meaningful -- I've included one below.
After reading it, consider how this perspective might influence how we treat ourselves? Our husbands? Our children? It gives depth to our relationships when we believe in the dignity and potential of each individual.
At one time, all men on earth were gods. But they so sinned and abused the divine powers that Brahma, the god of all gods, decided that the godhead should be taken away from man and hidden some place where man would never find it to abuse it again.
"We will bury it deep into earth," said the other gods.
"No," said Brahma, "because man will dig down in the earth and find it."
"Then we will sink it into the deepest ocean," they said.
"No," said Brahma, "because man will learn to dive and find it there, too."
"We will hide it on the highest mountain," they said.
"No," said Brahma, "because man will some day climb every mountain of the earth and again capture the godhead."
"Then where can we hide it where man cannot find it?" said the lesser gods.
"I will tell you, said Brahma. "Hide it down in man himself. He will never think to look for it there."
If you had a bank that credited your account each morning with $86,000 ----
That carried over no balance from day to day...
Allowed you to keep no cash in your account...
And every evening, it canceled whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day...
What would you do??
Draw out every cent every day, of course, and use it to your advantage!
Well, you have such a bank----and its name is "TIME."
Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds.
Every night, it rules off as lost whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose.
It carries over no balances.
It allows no overdrafts.
Each day, it opens a new account with you.
Each night, it burns the records of the day.
If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no going back.
There is no drawing against the "Tomorrow."
It is up to each of us to invest the precious fund of hours, minutes and seconds in order to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success!
The above is a quote I've had since high school and it has often influenced my decisions of how to spend my time. I used to think that sleep was a waste of time, until I realized that getting enough sleep helped me use the awake time more efficiently, plus it contributed to my health.
Due to this quote's message, I rarely watch television or get stuck in the rabbit hole of social media. I choose mindfully how much and which media to intake.
A few years ago, my brother died suddenly, with no warning, and that unexpected death taught me that procrastinating might mean I never have a chance to do what I really want to do!! So I learned that it's not just a matter of filling my time... instead, I invest my time and spend it on the people and projects that are most important to me!
I've figured out that I can't do everything, so I want to make sure that what I am doing is based on my priorities: People first (they have feelings!). Projects second. And the unimportant things are what go undone. What's unimportant to me (like cleaning out the kitchen sink everyday) might be important to someone else (like my mom), but we have to respect each other's usage of time!
Because I try to live according to this philosophy, I don't feel bad or guilty about taking down time when my body and spirit send the signal for it. I just relax, knowing I've made good use of my time, and that giving myself a break is important, too!
The Mom in the Mirror
When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you queen for a day,
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what *that* mom has to say.
For it isn’t your facebook or instagram likes
Whose judgement upon you must pass.
The woman whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass.
Some people may see all your beautiful posts
And think you’re free from all wrongs.
But the mom in the glass knows about the burnt toast,
And the flats and the sharps in your songs.
She’s the woman to please - never mind all the rest,
For she’s with you (and your kids) to the end.
And you've passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the mom in the glass is your friend.
You don’t need to convince the whole instagram crowd
That they’ll never know anyone dearer.
Adore your imperfect self and be proud
To love that real mom in the mirror.
For when you accept that perfection you lack
And pursue simple progress instead,
You offer yourself the best kind of feedback
And happier feelings are spread.
Other moms need to know that your struggles are real
And how optimism can play
A critical role in how you manage and deal
With life’s topsy turvy melee.
No need to complain, no need to hold back
Let authenticity be your goal
And the mom in the mirror will share her life hack:
“Be true to the mom in your soul!”
My life is but a weaving
Between my God and me.
I cannot choose the colors
He weaveth steadily.
Oft’ times He weaveth sorrow;
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I the underside.
Not ’til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas
And reveal the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the weaver’s skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.
He knows, He loves, He cares;
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives the very best to those
Who leave the choice to Him.
By Grant Colfax Tullar
By Elisabeth Balderree, former Director of Music, Inspiration, and Laughter
My son and I have a unique way we communicate with each other. I call it a pass-along book, and it’s a little bit of magic in our relationship.
I don’t remember how the idea of the little pass-along book began, but it’s something that connects my son and me together in a simple, yet meaningful way. He will write a question for me in it, or tell me something funny or important to him, then he’ll leave it on my nightstand. When I find it, I’ll write my reply, and then leave it on his desk. Sometimes I’ll ask if he wants to play a game, color or draw, or I’ll ask a specific question about his day or what’s on his mind. Other times, I’ll give him a sincere compliment. He writes similar things to me.
Maybe we will write in this one little notebook, or perhaps it will turn into years of passing notebooks back and forth. In some ways, it’s like a small journal for just the two of us, capturing moments in time. Although it may seem rather ordinary, it is very meaningful. Creating this unique, yet simple avenue for communication is important to me, because he knows he can come to me with questions, thoughts, concerns or anything else on his mind.
I know this little book has strengthened our relationship, and, to me, that makes this little two dollar notebook priceless.
Photos by Elisabeth Balderree
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