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!

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. 

Monday Motherhood: Socialization

family-walking-765098-gallery

Whenever I bring up that I will be homeschooling my preschoolers who are approaching kindergarten age, the response is often well-meaning concern over how my kids will be socialized.  I know my daughter is very social, and I understand what she loves to do right now.  This may come as a shock to many of you, but I don’t care about socialization.  I have no intention of stressing over socialization at all.  It’s the least of my worries.  It’s funny to me that people really worry anymore whether homeschool kids get enough social interaction.  There are enough resources now for homeschooled kids that it is overwhelming!  There are opportunities for groups, activities, and classes to pack our schedules.  I have no doubt my children will push us to use many of these resources, and I intend to use them.  If you still have a misguided worry that homeschool turns out “weirdos”, consider that public school has its share of “freaks” as well.

What kind of socialization are we really even talking about?  The kind of socialization kids get in public school often leads to peer dependence.  “Dr. Urie Bronfenbrenner and his Cornell teams found that children who spend more elective time with their peers than with their parents until the fifth or sixth grades…will become peer dependent.  Such knuckling under to peer values incurs four losses crucial to sound mental health and positive sociability.  These losses…are self-worth, optimism, respect for parents, and trust in peers” (Moore, p49).  Children will adopt the values of the most influential people around them.  I would rather those people be their parents and siblings.  Children who spend a lot of time with their peers depend on peer approval, even though they are insecure about their peer connections.  “Does anyone who knows children believe that the yellow school bus takes children down the road to constructive, positive sense of society?” (Moore, p50).  If my kids seem strange to you, maybe it is not so much that they are weird as it is that they are just different because they will not base their worth on whether or not you like them.

I am not worried about whether my kids will get the kind of socialization they would get in public schools because I don’t intend to give them mere self-esteem, which comes from peer approval, and too much praise.  I intend to teach my children to gain self-confidence, self-efficacy, self-control, self-respect, self-worth, self-sufficiency, and a healthy self-concept.  This will come through exposure to true society, work, service, culture, classes, real life situations, sports, art, and music from a wholesome and eternal perspective.  Family is the foundation for these characteristics.  “There is absolutely no evidence to support the prevailing assumption by parents and educators that the average school is more of a positive socializing agency than a good home…And there is powerful evidence that we are schooling our youngsters today to be young narcissists” (Moore, p50).  I am homeschooling my children because I want our family to mean something.  I want our family to matter to them.  That bond that we create will give them the resilience they need to reach their full potential.

“Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities” (The Family: A Proclamation to the World).

And more:

“The home … is the workshop where human characters are built and the manner in which they are formed depends upon the relationship existing between parents and the children. The home cannot be what it should be unless these relationships are of the proper character. Whether they are so or not depends, it is true, upon both parents and children, but much more upon parents. They must do their best.
“If I had to suggest one thing which I think we as parents are most lacking, it would be a sympathetic understanding of our children. Live with the children; follow their paths. … Know everything that claims the interest of the children, be a good sport with them.
“We have been trying to impress upon parents the need of paying more attention to their children, having a little more of the spirit of the gospel in their homes, a little more unity and a little more faith; a little more responsibility religiously, spiritually on the part of the fathers; also, of the mothers; more of the teaching of the gospel in the home.
“To parents in the Church we say: Love each other with all your hearts. Keep the moral law and live the gospel. Bring up your children in light and truth; teach them the saving truths of the gospel; and make your home a heaven on earth, a place where the Spirit of the Lord may dwell and where righteousness may be enthroned in the heart of each member” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith,Chapter 4: Strengthening and Preserving the Family).

There is a lot of pressure to just give in and let my kids go to public school.  There is a misguided assumption that parents are not capable of teaching their own children.  My first stand to resist peer pressure will be to not buckle under the pressure, but to remain firm in my belief that I am doing what I believe is best for my family.  Socialization will come naturally.  Learning will happen too.  Rarely do you hear people ask, “What about their education?”  There are innumerable resources for kids who want to learn, and parents who support them.  The most important resource I can offer my children right now is love.

(Moore, Dr. Raymond & Dorothy, “The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook”)
Image courtesy of lds.org

Monday Motherhood: Homeschool – A Beginning

IMG_4327

I don’t claim to have any answers about homeschooling or parenting.  I just know that if I don’t start somewhere, then I’ll never get anywhere.  That is what I have learned about grace.  You do what you can with what you have without expecting perfection, and then you keep modifying the results until you get to where you want to be.  Maybe we will never “arrive” at where we want to be, but we will never even come close if we never begin.

If there is anything I have learned from studying about the different homeschool methods, it is how to be a better mother.  If I never hold a single day of “homeschool” in my life, I will at least have learned how to be a better mom to my kids, to manage our time better, to be more patient with them, and to respond more tenderly to their needs and their questions.  They are a real treasure that I hope to cherish whatever we end up doing with their education.

I have been enjoying reading about the “Moore Method” in “The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook” by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore.  Very encouraging.  I also gleaned insight from the LDS-NHA (http://www.lds-nha.org/homeschooling-philosophies/) to determine what kind of homeschool I want to run here.  I am trying to skim through books about the Montessori Method, and the Thomas Jefferson Education, and other books recommended for understanding the different methods.

On one hand, I really appreciate the Classical approach because I am convinced that making standard works a part of our education and character really is an eternal principle.  The Lord said in Doctrine and Covenants 88: 118 “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”  The first thing God did when restoring His church was instruct Joseph Smith to translate The Book of Mormon.  And, within that book, the first thing the Lord needed Lehi to do was retrieve the Brass Plates so that the Nephites would not “[suffer] in ignorance” (Mosiah 1:3).  So, to that extent, I know it is important that my children read the standard works of our church and our nation, at the very least.

I guess that puts me in the “eclectic” category because, while I like classical education, I don’t want it to be the only thing we do.  I am leaning more toward the “Unit studies” method because I really like the idea of exploring topics thoroughly, understanding the whys and the hows, and exploring other subjects within that topic.  The Moores explain this method pretty well.  It pretty-much encapsulates what it is to be a teaching parent at all times.  It promotes natural teaching as part of the process of raising a child, and I love that.  But unlike “Unschooling” I like the idea of directing the conversation while fueling their desire to learn.

I also love the Moore Method’s idea of promoting “study, work, and service” (http://www.moorehomeschooling.com/article/68/about-moore-home-schooling/moore-formula).  I believe those are all crucial to raising balanced leaders.

I was excited when I read the schedule the Moores suggested in their book because it was almost the exact same schedule I was already trying to establish in my home!  In my mind, if I can establish this foundation, everything else will fall into place.  Remember, it may not be what works for you, and it might not always be what works for me, but it is what I have to work with at this time in the process of my learning.

6:00 am Mommy shower and study the scriptures
7:00 am Breakfast, and chores*
9:00 am “School”, beginning with morning devotional (which for my tiny kids, means play together, some phonics and basic math, music time, and motor activities)
12:00 pm lunch and quiet time
2:00 pm exercise, errands, service, projects, work, cook/prepare meals (this leaves room for extra chores, visiting friends, field trips, serving our neighborhood, and generating other ideas).
5:30 pm dinner, and family time
7:00 pm Kids’ baths, bedtime routine, and night devotional
7:30 pm Kids in bed.  Mommy finish up chores
8:00 pm Mommy free time, read, play, exercise, etc.
10:00 pm Mommy bedtime

Here is how I maintain my home: the kids and I always work together.  The rule is that if someone is still working, then everyone is still working because we’re a family and we work together.

*Morning chores: Empty the dishwasher, pick up main level, sweep/vacuum, switch laundry, do weekly chore.**

Throughout the day: put dishes into the dishwasher, pick up toys.

**Weekly chores:
Monday – collect garbage and recycling
Tuesday – Clean up bedrooms
Wednesday – Bathrooms
Thursday – Collect garbage
Friday – Catch up on laundry
Saturday – Landscaping

Evening: Clean up kitchen, switch the laundry, fold.  When you do this stuff every day, it starts to become a quick 15 minute fix (See http://www.flylady.net/d/br/2012/05/11/15-minutes-worth-of-messy/).

This varies a lot.  Maybe if life were perfect we would always keep this schedule, but it is ideal. I don’t beat myself up if it doesn’t work one day.  I just try again the next!  The point is to find what works for you and give it a try!

My goal at this point is to just keep this schedule, which includes being WITH my kids for that three hour “school” time block in the morning.  Like I said, if there is anything I learn from all of this, it is just how to be a better mom because I cannot recall any time in my kids’ lives that I have actually sat down and played with them for even that long.  While I was pregnant, I was too tired and awkward to get down and play with them.  I realized how much I relied on TV to get me through the day, or how often I would leave them to play and dink around on the computer/smart phone!  Now we watch very little TV.  It rarely even factors into our schedule except when the kids are up before I shower.

Anyway, this is a work in progress.  I think it will become easier as time goes by.  My daughter is really catching on to it and will occasionally tell ME what is next on the schedule.  She is pretty awesome.

Monday Motherhood: Sleep

Yesterday, my daughter gave me the best mother’s day gift: she went to bed! If you knew what we have gone through to get her to sleep, you would clap and cheer and jump for joy! Of course, it was a fluke because the only reason she went to sleep is because she refused to take a nap during the day, so by 6pm she was exhausted. Still, I was surprised that she didn’t wake up, even when I moved her from the couch to her bed. My son didn’t know what to think. He’s a really good sleeper and is almost always asleep before my daughter, and almost always wakes up after she does. He was almost concerned to actually see her sleeping!
If it were up to my daughter, she really would never sleep. When she was a baby she would just scream if we left her to sleep. We were pretty naive so we would cuddle her as much as we could. We resorted to letting her sleep in her car seat a lot, and even used that as a solution when she wouldn’t sleep. She would fall asleep in our arms but as soon as we sat down if we were up, or got up if we were sitting, she would start to scream!! It got to the point when she was around fifteen months old that we would be working on her to sleep until deep into the night. I refused to believe in letting her cry it out, especially since trying that didn’t work, but in fact made it worse. She just cried herself hoarse night after night. I also don’t believe in co-sleeping because I believe that proper sleep requires autonomy…but I just wasn’t sure how to attain that. By then, we were expecting #2 and there was just no way we were going to carry this on with two of them. I knew I had created this monster, so I needed to be the one to train her out of the bad habits I’d created for her, but how?
A friend recommended the Baby Whisperer. I checked it out and skipped to the part about sleeping. In extreme circumstances, the recommendation is a routine called “pick up, put down” which is exactly as it’s name suggests. If you put your baby down and she cries, pick her right back up and hold her just until she is calm and then lay her back down. Repeat if she cries. Don’t console her or cuddle her. The moment she stops crying, put her back down. I did this. It was my way of acknowledging that I had made a mistake by creating bad habits, and taking the time to help her out of those habits rather than just leaving her on her own. What does she know about sleeping? She’s just a baby!
The first night, it took an hour and a half before my daughter was finally comfortable in her crib, but to have her in her crib at all was a miracle. As time passed, we were able to get more and more independent. At first, we had to stay in her room until she fell asleep in her bed. Then, we could wait with her door open. Finally, we just say good night and she generally goes to bed, but now she still has to get up several times to check on us. It is still a struggle, but I am forever grateful for what I learned about sleep training and giving my kids the gift of sleep. I followed a sleep, eat, play pattern with my son and he sleeps incredibly well! I still never let him cry…but once when we transferred him from the bassinet to the crib. He cried for about fifteen minutes, but I knew all his needs were met. He was just tired.
So, someone asked why we need a book to tell us how to be a mom. Most moms probably don’t need a book. Our maternal instincts kick in right away – surprisingly, at times. Still, it doesn’t hurt to be educated. For me, parenthood is kind of like knowing how to cook (bear with me on this analogy).  Some people want nothing to do with cooking.  Some people like to watch cooking shows, and are really good at following a recipe.  They have good instincts, even if the recipes don’t always taste very good.  Then there are people who read a few books about cooking and get really good at cooking great recipes.  Their instincts are refined, and have become more comfortable in the kitchen.  There are also people who go to culinary school and become experts.  I guess they’re the ones who write the books, but they aren’t the only people who can cook well – especially if they still make crumby food even after all their studies.  Still, cooking is something everyone can do, but how well depends on their level of desire and involvement.

There are four types of parenting: authoritarian, authoritative, passive, and neglecting.  The chart below summarizes what each style is like (from “Lifespan Development” 5th ed. Boyd, pg 221).  Yes, we may follow our instincts when it comes to parenthood, but are our instincts always what is best for our children?  Some tendencies to be permissive to our kids may actually be harming them.  Being over protective could also be keeping them from developing autonomy which will later affect their feelings of self-efficacy and self-esteem.  Likewise, if we are constantly correcting them, they may question our love for them.  According to psychologists, the authoritative parenting style is the best parenting style for kids.  It provides structure and consistency paired with love and nurture.  Authoritative parents will often put their child’s needs before their own.  In contrast, permissive parenting is what The Baby Whisperer calls “accidental parenting” when parents give in to kids to keep them happy in the moment.  In the long run, these kids suffer with bad habits, and are less independent (Boyd, pg 222).

Nurturance

Responsive, Child-Centered  Rejecting, Parent-Centered

Control

High, Demanding Authoritative  Authoritarian
Low, Undemanding Permissive  Uninvolved, Neglecting

Parenthood is a great privilege not to be abused.  Parents are stewards of God’s children to raise them with wholesome attitudes and habits.  A great scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants can be related to parenthood: “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of [parenthood], only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy” (section 121:41-43).

In general, parents can see the bigger picture.  We can see where our kids are headed once they grow beyond their current stage.  It’s our job to guide them through each stage of their lives with good habits that will help them become happy, well-balanced adults.  But most importantly, it’s our job to love them unconditionally, through the good and the bad.

P.S. I am NOT a perfect parent.  No where near it.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I never see other parents shouting at their kids at the grocery store because they are running off in two directions!!   These are just my thoughts about what type of parent I HOPE to be, and strive to be…but again, I live each day in grace.

Monday Motherhood: Order vs. Chaos

;

I’m not totally convinced there is a wrong or right way to parent (with the exception of abusive or dangerous situations, of course). Our differences are what make us unique and beautiful. However, I wonder if there isn’t a way to make parenthood a little less chaotic. I say “less” because I’m pretty sure chaos is unavoidable. I recently read two (almost) conflicting articles about parenthood: order vs. chaos. Of course, I DO NOT claim to be a great parent, but I do try. I think there just has to be some kind of order and schedule that helps me keep my head on straight. Here are a few of my own methods/suggestions to help things run smoothly in my house:
1: Keep a schedule, even if it’s very broad. Schedules helps kids anticipate what is going to happen and they take comfort in knowing the plan. My schedule looks something like this (ideally):

6:30 – Time to get up and read my scriptures

7:00 – breakfast for my family, put away dishes, switch the laundry

7:30 – the kids can watch an hour of tv while I exercise and shower (I put gates up to keep them out of the kitchen, and my bedroom)

8:30 – my breakfast time

9:00 to 11:30 – my time with the kids to play, run errands, etc., etc.

11:30 – lunch, and clean up (dishes, toys, switch the laundry, whatever)

12:30 – nap/quiet time. This is when I study or catch up…or take a nap too 🙂

3:30/4:00 – cook dinner and clean up

5:00 – dinner time

6:30/7:00 – get kids ready for bed/bedtime routine

8:00 – my time (unless I’m in school, then that’s when I’m in class, sadly)

2: Plan – weekly and daily. My mission taught me that planning is crucial. Even if things don’t end up going as planned, it is good to at least HAVE one. Every night, sit down with your planner and map out how the day should go, then make preparations for the next day’s events. Every week, go over the general schedule and bear in mind your limits. If you can, sit down even each month and plan what that will look like.

3: Hold family council. You have maybe heard of Family Home Evening where you have a night each week that is JUST for your family to play games, have a spiritual lesson, sing songs, pray together, and have a yummy treat (it’s doesn’t even have to be that elaborate). Well, just tack family council on to your FHE plans, or pick another night where you can discuss important things with your family: scheduling, budgeting, family rules, etc., etc.

4: Have a meal plan. It is so frustrating to have to rush around at dinner time trying to figure out what to feed everyone, especially if you don’t have all the ingredients for what you think you will make. Have staples in the house for nights when you forgot something or need a quick fix. When you have a plan, you can pick up everything you need at the grocery store and you won’t have to make any “quick” runs to the store midweek (we all know there is no such thing as a quick run to the store with two toddlers in tow).

5: Make mealtimes more bearable. Read “Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family” by Ellyn Satter. The food relationship with kids goes something like this: parents decide WHAT and WHEN to eat, and kids decide IF and HOW MUCH. It makes mealtimes such a chore when it becomes a power struggle over whether or not your kids will eat. Serve them the food you prepared and hope they try it, but then always have two (healthy) things on your child’s plate you KNOW they will eat.

6: Make bedtimes more bearable: Read “The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems” by Tracy Hogg. The pattern to start out with is SLEEP, EAT, PLAY, SLEEP. This has been a miracle for me. I followed this pattern with #2, and now he sleeps almost on command. Of course, #1 still fights me, but I used a method in this book that prevented things from being A LOT worse.

7: Don’t overextend your poor tired/hungry children. I avoid going out when it overlaps nap time or bed time. It just makes life easier for everyone. Then when we do go out, I always have some snack or drink for my kids because when they’re crabby, it’s either fatigue, hunger or thirst. Life is much less chaotic when my kids are not screaming at me!

In my opinion, parenthood takes a fair amount of SELFLESSNESS. That’s just how it is. There are lots of things I would rather do than plan out every minute of my life, but I have to give up things I want, especially my time and energy to help things run more smoothly. That’s just how it is.

I hope this helps someone. What do you do to make your day run more smoothly?