Monday, October 15, 2012

Mother’s little secrets

There is a book that I refer to a lot.  It is called  A Mother’s Book of Secrets.  It is a great read full of wonderful ideas that have helped me as a mother. I am re-reading it again for probably the fifth time. The author’s also have a blog.  I enjoy reading this one from time to time.  I seek guidance here as a mother often.  These two women are my go to gals when it comes to parenting tips.  

Last night, while I was reading the book, I started wondering what my little book of secrets would hold.

I have been a mother for ten years now.  Sometimes, I think that I still don’t know what I am doing.  I have found a few little things that work well for me and my family.

our life

Last week, I had the realization that I am in full-swing as a mother now.  Jonathan and I are done having children.  No more pregnancies, late night feedings, or nursing babies.  No more excuses to not be on my game.  I have always felt that I am not fully with it as a mom in the chaos of new babies. I always think of that time as survival mode.

I have never been at this point before.  I have always had the excuse of pregnancy, and now I don’t.  It is time to get my parenting skills together. I know I need to give myself more credit, but now that I am in to the stage of just raising kids, not having them; I want to make sure I get it right.

Tessa  (10 of 10)

I always learn so much from other mothers.  Hence the reason I love to re-read the book.

DSC_0163

I thought it might be fun to share ten of my little secrets.  These are the ten things that get me through the trenches of motherhood.  The ten things that help me find the magic in motherhood. Being a mother is not an easy job, but it is the most rewarding job I have ever had. When I do these things, I find more peace in our home, and more time to just BE with our children.

1.  I try not to go to bed with a dirty house.  Well, let me rephrase that.  I try to go to bed with a straightened house.  I love waking up to a house where things are put away.  In order to do this, I enlist the kids to make sure the house is all put together before we lay our heads down on our pillows.

New house in PA (18 of 35)

2. How do I enlist the kids?  my best tidying up secret; stations.  Each one of our kids is responsible for a station in our house.  They are responsible to make sure their rooms are clean, and their station is clean. Stations consist of; den, playroom, dining room, and family room.  Each child has a room, and I pair the older kids up with a younger child to make sure they know what to do. 

Their station needs to look like we would want it to look if a visitor was coming over.  That means every pillow needs to be put back on the couch and toys picked up.  We do stations just before bed time, and while they work on theirs, I work on mine.  I tidy the kitchen, wipe off the table and chairs, and clorox wipe the bathrooms. It takes us between 10 to 15 minutes, and then we go to bed with a clean house.

daddy's girls

3. Bedtime routine, and two thumbs up.  Every night, rain or shine we join together as a family.  This is the most important time in our family’s day.  We start our time together by talking about what is happening in our family.  We discuss anything that might be important to remember or something we have going on.  This is also an opportunity for the kids to tell us important points about their day. 

Then we do one of my favorite things as a family.  Jonathan or I pick someone to receive “two thumbs up.”  Two thumbs up is a way to reward someone in our house for doing something awesome.  For example, “Isaac you get two thumbs up for being reverent in church, or Tess ate all of her dinner tonight.”  It is the perfect opportunity to point out the kind of behavior that we like to see. 

I remember a friend telling me that her daughters self esteem grew when she started riding horses and receiving awards.  She had never gotten an award before.  I believe that kids grow when we acknowledge their successes.  In our family one of our kids gets an award every night.  Someone is always a winner.  When him or her receive two thumbs up, we give them an actual two thumbs up, we clap for them, and they receive 3 extra tokens(I will share this secret in a minute.)  After our two thumbs up ritual we end the night with family prayer.  I believe this routine to be one of the greatest things we do as a family.

Bank 2

4.  Ok, tokens.  We have been doing this in our family for a couple of years now.  We are still doing it, because it works and our kids respond to it.  I did a post on this a few years back.  Go here, if  you want to read more about it.

sidenote: I am a little more relaxed with the tokens and what we give and take away for, then I was in the beginning.  If you choose to do this, find what works for your family. 

Tokens are our way of rewarding our children for chores, good behavior, and good choices.  We also take them away for the opposite.  Tokens can be redeemed for money, or used to spend on computer, tv, or other special rewards.  We love the token system. Our kids cash them in every Monday night.

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5. Plan out your week.  I have a beautiful calendar.  Which I absolutely love.  I bought it here.  I sit down with it every Sunday. 

I use it to plan out my week, and make sure we are all on the same page around here.  I write everything down that I want to accomplish in the week as well.  Once I have done that, I fill in the days with my kids stuff, hubby’s stuff, and my stuff.  That way I make sure I accomplish things that are important to me as well. A mom that does for herself, is a happy mom.

Included in my list, I have clean the house, laundry, and exercise.  I figure out which day that week those will squeeze in the best and plan accordingly.  I also plan when and what I will exercise for the week.  If I want to do it, I have to have a plan.

Obsession

6. Lay out their clothes.  I lay out my kids clothes every night before bed.  It is so helpful, and saves so much time.  When clothes, sock, and shoes are already out, then there is no rushing around looking for them in the morning.  I even lay out the bows that I will have the girls wear in their hair.  Saves me so much time, and brain power.  My brain doesn’t think so well in the morning when I have just crawled out of bed. I have to say this is one of my greatest mommy secrets.

Stella's Chore Chart copy 

7. Enlist your kids to help.  I have heard my friends say that they don’t have their kids do chores.  My kids do chores every day. 

In the morning, they are responsible to : make their bed, put away pj’s, brush teeth, say prayers, eat breakfast, get dressed, comb hair(with mom’s help), and clear breakfast dishes.  At bed time: put their pj’s on, put away clothes for the day, brush teeth, say prayers, and do their stations. 

I also enlist my kids to help me when I need it.  They help clean bathrooms, load and unload the dishwasher, and wash windows.  Even Tess has chores that she can do.  It is so important that kids learn to be helpful.  My kids have always helped, and they rarely complain because they just know that is what we do. 

My favorite times are when we are working on it together.  We turn up the music, and crank out a clean and tidy house in about 30 minutes.  5 or 6 people working together is so much easier than 1 person doing it alone.

Family Hug edit CS5

8.  If something isn’t working, fix it.  If there are little problems in your house, work together to find a solution. 

For example, after school at our house was making me crazy.  We just recently came up with a solution so my brain didn’t explode from over stimulation.  The kids all wanted to talk at once, or have me sign this, or read this.  With 3 school age kids coming at me, I found myself wanting to crawl in a hole and hide.  So… this is what we came up with: 

Once they get home, they pick a snack from the snack basket and take it outside to eat.  This gives me five minutes to tie up any loose ends from what I have been working on, and also allows them five minutes to decompress.  After snack, they work on their homework, and when they are ready they call for an FM.  FM stands for five minutes.  Each child gets their own five minutes where no one can interrupt them.  We discuss what went on that day, we talk about what might be coming up, and I look over homework and any papers that came home and might need to be signed.  I love this because this allows me to talk to the kids one on one. I also find out important bits of information that they might not have shared with me when everyone else is around.  This is a solution we came up with together.  If something isn’t working, come together to find a solution.

gathered

9. Calm equals power. I have recently figured this out, and I am still working on it every.single.day.  Staying clam does give you so much power.  Try it.  Instead of freaking out.  Just try staying calm.  You will be amazed at how much better the situation turns out.  Now, if I could just remember to do this every time.

I am NOt

10.  Be assertive, not passive.  Mothers who are passive, rarely accomplish what it is that they want with their family. 

It is so important to be assertive with your family.  Set the limits, and enforce them.  Set the tone, and try to live by it.  Find time to assert some fun.  Be assertive with love and understanding.  Be assertive with rules. 

When we let too many things go, we never accomplish what it is we want to do, or who we want to become.

Limit your passive moments to only things that really don’t matter, like a battle over shoes.  Be assertive in moments that matter like, respect of others, or others property.  Even if it is your property, you don’t want them to think that it is ok to do that to others things. When we are assertive, we show are children that we love them.

The munsters

I know I said 10, but number 11 is my most important secret.

11. Laugh. Take the time to have fun.  STOP!! what you are doing and be with your children.  Laughter changes your mood. These moments will pass, and if you don’t have any fun while you are in them; you will regret it.

That is all folks; those are the secrets that I have stumbled on that have helped me along this hard hard journey of motherhood.  I still fail every day.  I still worry that my kids are going to grow up to hate me.  I still make BIG mistakes, but I wanted to share what I have learned.  I wanted you to know what I am working on to make my children’s childhood and our family more successful. Hopefully they can help you in some way.

Now, what are your secrets?

68 comments:

Marji Anderson said...

I loved this post!! I really needed it, I think I'm going to order one of those calendars too. I really miss you. I'm glad you are blogging and sharing your brilliance with me still!

Leslie Posey said...

i ditto that marji...you are amazing andrea...I just hate that I don't get to see you anymore to be uplifted with your awesomeness! I too will be ordering one of those calendars!! My life is way hectic right now!

Becky said...

What great thoughts! I also love that book but haven't read it in awhile. Thanks for your ideas - I'm always wondering what makes other families tick and if there's something we can be doing better. :)

We're not done having kids (hopefully), but I also realized that I'm in this strange "babyless" stage right now and you're right, it is a completely different motherhood!

Jen said...

I love these suggestions. And I can't wait to try a few out. Thanks for your insight!

Our Little Hatch Family !!! said...

Andrea you never cease to amaze me...I always thought, and still think of you as wonder woman, full of amazing ideas and talents...you always have a clean and tidy home and I too REALLY needed these simple yet extremely helpful little tips in getting my family and children moving in the right directions! I still remember the conversation we had when Rohnin was struggling with going to bed and that is because I am yet again experiencing it with Abram...SO thank you, and I think I too am going to have to pick the book up along with the calendar! Thanks again for your words of encouragement and ideas!

You really are missed around here and I am so glad you are enjoying life in Pennsylvania and that you get to eat dinner every night with your sweet hubby! I can't wait! Take care!!

Amy said...

Awesome ideas! I will definitely remember this post to look back on as my little guy gets bigger! Thanks!

Roxanne said...

We have the same secrets!! Or atleast a good 7 out of your 11. They really do make a difference. Miss you!

Jamie said...

I'm so glad that I stumbled upon your blog today. I'm excited to try some of these ideas out. I feel like I'm still in 'survival mode' with Isla, so I totally know what you mean!

KW said...

I loved that book too, I need to reread it. I love my planner as well, it saves me!

Tara said...

I love your tips, Andrea - I have to say that even when you feel like you don't have it together (ie, new baby days), you sure make it look like you do!!! :) Fake it till you make it, right? Your family is so blessed to have you working hard to always make life good.

Letti said...

Thank you so much for this post and taking the time to write it. I love learning from other moms. I think its important to know that we are all going through similar circumstances. I am going to try your afternoon rituals. This is by far the hardest time of day at our home. Thank you so much for inspiring me.

cyw said...
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Jess said...

Thank you so much for all your awesome ideas. I really appreciate you putting yourself and your ideas out there. I have "stalked" your blog for a while and just wanted you to know that I really appreciate you being open about your life and family.

Kari said...

You are a great mom and inspire many people. I do a lot of the same things you do (calendars, bedtime routine, kids with chores, trying to have fun) so we must be on the right track! Our kids (and their spouses, roommates, etc.) will hopefully thank us later for teaching them how to work! No maids here!

Erin said...

I came over here via Pinterest. What a great post, sweet blog & cute family! I love your number 11 and 9. I know those, but so need to work on applying them on a daily basis. Ah! I might get one of those calendars, too. Pretty cool looking!

Jenny said...

Thank you for this.

Our Paper Plates said...

Great post! I also found it via Pinterest. I love that you put where you look for mothering advice. Every mom can use a fresh prespective every so often. One of the recommendations didnt have a link attached to it and I'm curious to know what it was! But I for sure love 71toes too!!

Lyric said...

Thank you for taking the time to fill us in on your secrets. I have, over the years, found "secrets" that have worked for my family and have since let them slip when we've dealt with deaths in the family, and other traumatic events. I feel blessed to have stumbled upon this as I've been struggling to make things "work" again. This was perfect for me right now (and silly enough these are some of the things that have worked for us!). So thank you!! I just purchased the calendar/planner that you have and I'm SO excited to get it. I just started homeschooling 2 of my four kids and so this will help to be organized. Thanks again!! xo

Krysta said...

Awesome tips and I KNOW they work and are a huge part of raising a successful family and enjoying the journey since your list looks almost identical to mine. Surprise, Surprise! :) I am going to work on staying calm. I can tell that it makes such a difference. You have become a great example of that one!

Minnie Beechner said...

These are great! I already do a few, and am anxious to try some of the ones that are new to me. I am a single mom of four boys...twins 17, one 8, one 6. One piece of advice that I have used since the twins were little is...if kids are cranky, put them in water...it still works. :)

Amber said...

I have my token lists all made up and ready to go. But I don't think I understand the once a week cashing in process. Can you explain?

Diane Keys said...

My daughter, Melinda, has two sets of twins. She pinned your site and I am so happy she did. I found several ideas that would work with my 4th graders in the classroom. I must have been a pretty good mom, because my own 6 children are often the ones to teach me these days. Thanks for inspiring Melinda, who now inspires me! Your ideas about motherhood are spot on!

Ashlee said...

I loved this post! There are so many great ideas to help stay organized and keep the kids included in the family activities. I'll have to check out your keeping organized binder..I've been looking for the right planner!

KristinT said...

I like the tokens I will read more abt that. I have a 4 yo we give her puzzle pcs to earn (or lose) when the puzzle is complete she gets a treat.

KristinT said...

I like the tokens I will read more abt that. I have a 4 yo we give her puzzle pcs to earn (or lose) when the puzzle is complete she gets a treat.

Tamika Rybinski said...

What a great post! Thank you for sharing. This was so helpful!

Heather CubeFarm said...

Found you on Pinterest. BEST MOTHERING POST EVER!!!! Thank you so much! I really needed to hear this today....
May God bless you and your beautiful family this year and always!
Heather (cube2farm.com)

Marchelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
piperparadise said...

Can you tell me where to find the book? Great post and wonderful blog!

WillieburgScrapper said...

Fantastic post. I only have 1 child but now that she's three I've started to think more about what she can do to help so she learns that working is a good thing- she's a baby but the can pick up her toys after playtime- this post is giving me all kinds of great ideas!

Ileana said...

Thanks for your post. It has opened my eyes to new ideas. And I agree with you 1000% percent about chores. My daughter is 2 1/2 years old and she knows to clean up after herself. After she destroys her playroom, she would put everything back on the shelves/cubbies before she leaves the room. While I am cooking she closes the drawers/cabinets behind me. In the morning she even helps make the bed with dad. Her dad is OCD (lol) so she too can't leave a room before straigthing up and turning everything off. We praise her every single time. She loves when we clap for her and say yippee. I believe positive reinforcement is the best thing for children.

Kelly said...

What a beautiful blog! Do you do your own photography? It really draws me and in stay a while. And we'll be using "FM". Every kid just wants to be heard. Looking forward to reading more.
www.thesimplifiedfamily.com

Kelly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emily Park said...

Oh thank you! I just needed a refresher tonight. So many ideas to help me that I am already almost doing but needed a little more guidance or finesse. You are amazing. Thank you. I am going to link you to my blog.....

http://parkburgers.blogspot.com/

Melanie Engel said...

I love this post. I love all of your ideas. My kids are very young still but soon enough I will need to implement a lot of these strategies. I clicked the link for the book. It says that it's $500, Is that correct? Seems insane for a book!

Melanie Engel said...

I love this post. I love all of your ideas. My kids are very young still but soon enough I will need to implement a lot of these strategies. I clicked the link for the book. It says that it's $500, Is that correct? Seems insane for a book!

Melanie Engel said...

I love this post. I love all of your ideas. My kids are very young still but soon enough I will need to implement a lot of these strategies. I clicked the link for the book. It says that it's $500, Is that correct? Seems insane for a book!

elizabeth said...

I came here via Pinterest. As a new mother of a 15 month old and 4 month old, I was so encouraged in my current survival mode and inspired with ideas for the future. I just had to say thank you. God bless your family. I look forward to reading your blog more often.

Megh said...

I love this post! So many awesome ideas! Thank you!

kkmommy said...

I am so glad I've read this...it has made me think . maybe I should start a better calendar and have secrets lol I will prob be using some of ur as ideas. I am also in the no baby stage. my son is 5 & n KINDERGARDEN and my danger is 3. I am a single MOM bt want a better relationship and more stability for them. again thank u for posting this. I think u have made a great impact :-)

kkmommy said...

sorry lol my daughter is 3

Jessica Lynn Harrell said...

This is a great post and thank you for sharing. I have a 21 month old and know that this will be a big help. I went to the site for the calendar and she said she is not printing any right now and is sold out of the others. I can see in the picture what your headings are but what is the last one 9n the right after "groceries?" Thanks again!

keepsmeoutofmischief said...

What a great post! I start my gradual return to work tomorrow after my maternity leave with my first baby. I've been dreading it, but I'm going to use your ideas to keep me organised. Off to lay out his clothes for the morning!

thenotsogoodhousewife said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and I love it! My children are still very young, but will definitely use some of your advice as they grow. As a new mom I am learning everyday :)

www.thenotsogoodhousewife.com

thenotsogoodhousewife said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and I love it! My children are still very young, but will definitely use some of your advice as they grow. As a new mom I am learning everyday :)

www.thenotsogoodhousewife.com

Melissa S. said...

Awesome post. I can't wait to share with my husband and start implementing some if not all of your secrets in our household. This post gives me hope! Thank you.

Brittany said...

I saw this pinned on pinterest and came to your blog. I love your little secrets and they gave me inspiration and made me want to be better. Thank you. Your husband looked very familiar and then I saw your last name and his first name. I think that we were at Snow College together and took insect life together. Back then my name was Brittany Halladay. The internet is huge, but it really is a small world.

Brittany said...

I saw this pinned on pinterest and came to your blog. I love your little secrets and they gave me inspiration and made me want to be better. Thank you. Your husband looked very familiar and then I saw your last name and his first name. I think that we were at Snow College together and took insect life together. Back then my name was Brittany Halladay. The internet is huge, but it really is a small world.

Andrea said...

I just re read this post again. So much good wisdom in this entire post. I've been struggling a lot with motherhood and my current state this post reminds me why i mother. why it's such a gift!

Amon said...

I was wondering how long the evening routine, including the stations is, and what time your kids are in bed by-

Thanks.

Amy

Katya (Катя) said...

I like your planner, but I'm curious as to why the days of the week start on Sunday on one side and start on Monday on the other. It's a little disorienting. :(

Katya (Катя) said...

I like your planner, but I'm curious as to why the days of the week start on Sunday on one side and start on Monday on the other. It's a little disorienting. :(

Katya (Катя) said...

I like your planner, but I'm curious as to why the days of the week start on Sunday on one side and start on Monday on the other. It's a little disorienting. :(

Jessica said...

Oh my goodness, thank you so much! I too am a mother of 4, 2 boys, 2 girls ages 2(almost),4,6,8. I just needed to read this tonight and it helped me so much! Thanks for sending a message from Heaven!!!

Marshall and Staci said...

Fantastic! Thanks from one LDS mom to another! We are doing some of this with our (almost) 5 yr old daughter, but I definitely got a couple of new tips that I will try out. Our house is always a mess, so I like the clean before bedtime tip (though that's when I don't want to do anything but crash and eat ice cream), and I'm definitely going to start laying out the clothes for both my girls (and maybe myself too). I wholeheartedly agree with the assertiveness and kids' chores. One rule my husband came up with when we had our first daughter was that we would never let her come sleep in our bed. I thought it was a little harsh, but I'm so glad we have stuck to that rule. I know so many who struggle every night with kids wanting to sleep with their parents and ruining everyone's sleep. My daughter doesn't beg to be in our bed because she's never done it before and doesn't know the option exists. :)

Noelle said...

Just wanted to say thank you for your ideas. I instituted a new chore chart and "stations" on Sunday, granted it's only been three days, but my daughter and husband are doing so well with their assignments. :) My daughter anxiously awaits for 7:30 so she can yell "Stations!" and runs to clean the bathroom. Hope it continues!

Michelle said...

I love your advice! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. Love everything on here and want to implement it in our family too!

Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
H.M. said...

I want to print your post, put it on my fridge and just stare at it. It's a beautiful post with lots of ideas. I have a three year old and my head is spinning. I can't imagine having 4! But then, after reading your post, your house must work like clockwork. You're amazing. I am totally getting the calendars! You have inspired me. I just wish I could stick to it all. LOL.
Your newest subscriber!

Sonja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sonja said...

Such a great article - thank you! I feel like I have made a new friend! 
I have 4 boys, aged 7-12. One thing that has morphed over time is nightly Rose Reports. (get it? stop and smell the roses?:) Before one of us takes our turns with prayers, we take a turn (1-3 minutes) talking with undivided attention from the rest about what we're grateful for, what we might be working on, etc. Rose Report consists of FLOWER - something great that happened in my day, THORN - something not so great, ROOT - service is a root in our foundation. What is One nice thing you did today? BUD - something we're looking forward to tomorrow. WATERING THE ROSES - audience positive responses.
Raising a family is a work in progress!
Thanks again for more good ideas!

Joleen Fulcher said...

My boys get up with their own alarm clocks...a gift to them at the start of kindergarten. As far as "laying out clothes" goes, I put a shoe rack (the kind that hangs from the clothes rod in the closet)in their closet. It has six compartments, perfect for an outfit each. When I am putting away clothes, I put season/weather/school appropriate clothing in the slots. They get up in the morning and choose an outfit. This saves me from trying to lay out clothes each night.

Carrie said...

Thanks! I'm pinning this for the future!

Sassy Salvations said...

Your tips are amazing and I plan on putting some/most to use with my 4 kiddos starting tomorrow but I have a question about your tokens system which btw is brilliant! But what do you mean by cash them in on Mondays? For money? For that weeks tv time and goodies? I was under the impression the kids give you the tokens right when they want something. I read through your comments before I asked just in case you already answered this but I didn't see that you had.. sorry if you have and I missed it. Thanks! Natalie

Daniela Escobar said...

Love it love it love it!! You are an inspiration!!

www.aznannies.com

RaeLynn said...

This is a great list! I love the ideas you've shared and it has really motivated me to be better. I only have two kids and they are 8 years apart so things are always tricky with balancing their needs at the same time. You've got some really good habits here that I'd like to try though. Thanks for sharing!

RaeLynn said...

This is a great list! I love the ideas you've shared and it has really motivated me to be better. I only have two kids and they are 8 years apart so things are always tricky with balancing their needs at the same time. You've got some really good habits here that I'd like to try though. Thanks for sharing!

Cute as a Button said...

I'm not a mother, but if I were one, I'd want to be one like that! Excellent points and a very structured and yet fun look at motherhood! :) I teach first grade and this even reminds me about how to act in the classroom :)
Awesome!

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