Monday Motherhood: My Top 10 Parenting Books

I have been thinking a lot about some of the books I have been reading lately! I love reading helpful books, which most people may think are boring, but I LOVE them! I will be sharing a few lists of my top ten in different categories in hopes that you might find them useful.

So, here’s my top ten list of parenting books! Yay! No? What? Why do people hate parenting books? I know, I know. Parenthood is supposed to come “naturally” to “good” parents. Well, I don’t think so! I have been a mom for a measly seven years, but I have been learning that I have no idea what I’m doing! I have also been learning that there are a lot of great people out there who have figured a few things out, and as I’ve read their work I have found them insightful! I hear people complain that there are no instructions for raising kids. Well, there are! You just need to know where to look, and how to sift through the noise to find what works for you and your family. Well, here is what is working for my family, and if it helps you too, great! This list is basically all the books I wish I could hand out at every baby shower I go to!  Anyone who interacts with children needs to read these.  (Click on images to purchase any of these on Amazon.)

1. The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems by Tracy Hogg

I love this book because I really struggled with my first baby. Tracy claims to be an “advocate for your baby” and I love that because she has figured out how to strike a balance between coddling and crying-it-out! I don’t care what “healthy sleep habits, happy child says”, I could never make my kids cry it out. Yes, sleep is important, but it’s important to meet all their needs. Kids need consistency and rhythm and routine. But they also deviate a lot from the schedule, and parents need the tools to know how to handle those upsets. When my daughter refused to sleep in her bed, this book gave me the tools to work with her because I felt that if I created that monster, I needed to work with my daughter, not against her, to conquer that hurdle.

2. Hold On To Your Kids by Gordon Neufeld

I cannot say enough about this book. As a homeschool mom, I often hear complaints that kids need a social life. Well, actually, kids need nurturing parents who put them first! This book describes all the issues kids endure and describes how the root of the problem is peer attachment. Ever since the end of WWII, kids have been encouraged to spend unlimited time with their peers. That has not always been the case. Now, it is like the blind leading the blind. Elder Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in the October Conference of 2015, “Prayerfully select mentors who have your spiritual well-being at heart. Be careful about taking advice from your peers. If you want more than you now have, reach up, not across!” This book has amazing insight about how we need to pull our children near to us to prepare them for true independence.

3. The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

I know it might sound like common sense to read to your kids, but it’s not! This book gave me a lot of great advice about how and what to read to my kids from birth until they are adults! Yes! I plan on reading to my kids even after they can read to themselves. Babies and children need to hear the spoken word to develop their language skills and vocabulary. It is crucial to their cognitive development. This book, as well as a few others, has a pretty good book list at the end to encourage a love of reading in all kids. Other great books lists include: Honey for a Child’s Heart, Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time, A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century (go to tjed.org), and PLEASE check out LibrariesOfHope.com!

4. Family: A House United by Nicholeen Peck (TeachingSelfGovernment.com)

I loved meeting this author at a homeschool convention. She is truly amazing. I know I added my associate link on this, but you need to go to her site and check out all she has to offer. This book has taught me how to establish a family government, with vision and mission, standards, and goals. She taught me how to empower my kids to feel like a part of something bigger than themselves and teach them to respect themselves and others.

5. The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman

I have made myself a student of my children, studying their character and personalities. All kids need to feel like they are loved and this book has great ideas to help us pay attention to what our kids need as opposed to what we need! Affirm them, give them a gift, spend time with them, hug them or wrestle with them, do something nice for them, whatever they respond to best will help your relationship!

6. The Child Whisperer by Carol Tuttle

I also enjoyed meeting this author. I loved studying energy profiling through her Dressing Your Truth program, and now I understand even more about my kids and how their energy shapes who they are! I understand now why my Type 1 daughter is so outgoing and spontaneous. I see how my Type 3 son likes to get into things and get out the milk and cereal all by himself at age two! I also understand why my own Type 2 energy gets overwhelmed by clutter and long to-do lists. Awesome information!

7. How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

I love the language in this book that grants kids the power to think! I never realized how much I kind of belittle my kids by giving them my own thoughts and opinions! This book as taught me how easy it is to verbally abuse kids, and how easy it can be to change those destructive patterns.  I am going to study this on more.
In conjunction with this book, I add Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Awesome stuff!

8. Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family by Ellyn Satter (http://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/)

This book was recommended by my nutrition professor at BYU. I wanted to study dietetics, but my path diverged away from it. I learned the importance of the feeding relationship: I provide what and when, kids decide if and how much. This is insight help avoid feeding fights and stress, avoid eating disorders if possible, and encourage kids to eat well.

9. The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown

I have learned so much from Brené’s work. What I have learned has helped me overcome some of the blue feelings I have experienced from the perfectionist expectations. She helps me understand that there is a difference between shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment. Guilt leads us to repentance, while shame leads to self-loathing and justification. The antidote to shame is empathy, and I would also say, hope. Being vulnerable by opening yourself up to empathy is crucial to growth. Vulnerability is a powerful tool of peace and happiness.

10. The Anatomy of Peace by The Arbinger Institute

I was inspired by this book. I once went to a class called the Landmark Forum where I learned about integrity. This book reflects a lot of what I learned. When you do something that is inconsistent with your character, you will either try to make amends, or you will try to justify your actions. When you treat someone poorly, you might begin to tell yourself they deserved it and you might start to see them as something less than a person. This is another great book that combines communication and vulnerability. Awesome book.

Honorable mentions: I enjoyed these books a lot. They didn’t make the list just because I felt they reinforced much of what the top ten books embody. I felt like they are great appendages to the principles in the above books. I still recommend reading them for great insights. This is not a complete list! I am still reading more, and I know there are lots of amazing books that I am still learning about! This is a good start.






Note: This list could contain a lot of classics that are great guides to motherhood: Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Laddie, to name a few, but those are truly for you to explore and read over and over again!

Wednesday World: What I learned about the Atonement from a gorilla

I know everyone is talking about the Cincinnati Zoo incident. I won’t retell it here or even weigh in on whether the outcome was right or wrong. However, I was thinking about how I would feel if it happened to me. What would I do if it was my kid? What would I do if it was me? 

Then the thought came to me that that kid is going to grow up with this thought: that gorilla died because of me. I’m alive because he died! Holy crap! That gorilla died for ME! Would I not want to honor the life of that gorilla by making the best of mine? 

In that way, the Savior gave His life for me and for you, collectively and individually. I love Him for this, and I owe Him my life. 

We all make decisions we regret. Or, we all suffer and ask why. 

“And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.

“And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

“And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities” (Alma 7:10-12). 

Wednesday Wellness: 10 Ways to Avoid Emotional Eating

  1. Don’t eat when you’re bored.
  2. Don’t eat when you’re thirsty. Drink water. 
  3. Don’t eat when you’re distracted. Don’t munch while mindlessly staring at your phone. While I enjoy my popcorn while I watch a movie, I try to avoid thoughtless eating. Pay attention to what goes into your mouth and savor it. Some activities trigger eating. Pay attention when you get cravings whether you are actually hungry or if you are only eating because it’s what is expected. 
  4. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking up and eat healthy snacks throughout the day so you don’t get over hungry. The more hungry I get the more I think I will only be satisfied by a big juicy burger or chocolate!
  5. Don’t look for treats as your consolation for stress. In Candace Cameron Buré’s “Reshaping It All” she says she finds strength when she looks to God for comfort rather than food. That resonated with me. 
  6. Start each meal by filling half your plate with veggies and/or fruits, then add your whole grains and lean proteins. Add some legumes. These will keep you satisfied even between meals.  
  7. Be deliberate about when you will eat fun food and then have self control not to overeat them. Treats aren’t the enemy when eaten in moderation. 
  8. Recognize the natural flow of your day. In “The Power of Full Engagement” I learned how our day ebbs and flows in a 90-120 minute rhythm. If you catch yourself in a lull and it has been an hour or two since your last activity, it’s time to do something else before diving back into your work. Have a healthy snack, read something uplifting, move your body. Don’t just reach for something to stimulate you and then keep on plugging away. Honor your natural rhythms. Take a break. 
  9. When you find yourself having consistent cravings for treats, cut them out for a week. In the book “Parenting: A House United” Nickoleen Peck talks about exercising self-government when you feel like you are drawn to a luxury that you think you cannot live without. This would apply if you found you are watching too much tv or if you look at social media too often, or whatever your vice is. Quit it for a whole week to purge yourself of the craving so you can better moderate your consumption. 
  10. Substitute a craving for something healthy. Have some veggies, protein, herbal tea, water, exercise, read/listen to something uplifting, pray/call someone for support. 

How do you overcome emotional eating?

Monday Motherhood: Why I’m Glad My Kid Is Spoiled

I couldn’t resist using a click-bait title for such a topic. I’ve seen them all over social media with those shocking titles and the not-so-surprising spin as you read on. Yeah, I guess that’s kind of what this post is. I’m not much of a blogger but this thought came to my head and I couldn’t put it away without putting it down. 

  
I just celebrated my oldest’s sixth birthday, and yes, she was acting a bit spoiled. My husband and I were trying to figure out where she had created such inflated expectations about birthdays (though if you knew my daughter you’d know she has inflated expectations about pretty-much everything). But, we aren’t well-off and any little bit we can offer her should be enough. My mind was immediately cast into the near future on how I could teach her humility and gratitude. I lectured her about lowering her expectations and being grateful for anything she gets! 

I was reflecting on this that evening and then it occurred to me why it’s not so bad that she is spoiled. No, I’m not glad she is spoiled, but I am grateful. I’m grateful she expects to be treated right. I’m grateful she has people around her who care about her and have shown her the love and appreciation every child ought to receive. I’m grateful that we have had enough to give her a happy life and the potential to continue on that path throughout her life. I’m grateful we live in a country that is relatively untouched by the turmoil raging throughout the world. I’m grateful she is yet ignorant of abuse or neglect knowing there are children everywhere experiencing such things. She has parents and grandparents and friends who love her! What a blessing! I’m grateful she is growing up with the knowledge of the Lord and the Plan of Salvation that will give her peace and joy throughout her life if she chooses to follow that plan. She is part of a chosen generation that I pray will be prepared for a life of service and positive influence – that she  will be endowed with power, having the full armor of God because her circumstances have allowed her to treasure up the things of righteousness and hope (Ephesians 6:13-18). “The purpose of my message is to help you envision your future. Have faith and hope for the bright future you face. Young men are future fathers; young women are future mothers and nurturers. Together you are ‘a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people’ (1 Peter 2:9) (“Face the Future with Faith & Hope” By Elder M. Russell Ballard Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles).

So while I’m not happy she is spoiled, I pray that her situation will always appear bright and hopeful. Don’t worry, I will find ways to help her appreciate what she has – she already does in her own way – and how to turn it around in acts of service and charity. I hope to prepare for a life of service in whatever capacity the Lord has planned for her as His disciple. 

Sunday Social: Sylvester McMonkey McBean

https://youtu.be/W52yDOmQjWg

I read “The Sneetches” to my kids often, and a thought occurred to me. I think in our society there are two sides to most conflicts that are so heated, and they generally include conservative vs. liberal. Yet no one seems to notice this third party, the “fix-it-up chappie.” Is he mediator, catalyst, or con artist? It seems he is anyone whose goal is to come in and milk the controversy by escalating the dispute and conning us into believing one side is going to win the debate. Perhaps these are “conspiring men”, politicians or corporations, and media in all its forms who are capitalizing on our ignorance and pettiness. And it’s not just groups, it’s anyone that does anything to pit us against each other, returning hate for hate rather than love and tolerance. These are people who are convinced that we will never learn, but are willing to give up our freedom to be right. In reality, we are missing the big picture and no one seems willing to just suck it up and agree that we all just need to get along. There are bigger problems that need our cooperation – problems in healthcare, education, economics, and crime that are blind to religion, skin color, and sexual orientation. And if they aren’t, then perhaps we all need to rally behind one another and find real solutions, not bicker.

Still, I always wonder why the plain-belly Sneetches didn’t just go have their own frankfurter parties. Why was their happiness so dependent on the star-bellies?