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: Order vs. Chaos

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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?