Wednesday, April 28, 2010

How to Save Your Sanity as a Mother (and Help the Earth too)

 I am certainly far from an expert on motherhood, but in my 15 years of experience I have learned that there are certain cultural expectations placed on mothers that just aren't worth hanging onto.  You may not necessarily agree with all of my ideas, but these are some of the things I've let go of over the years that have, in effect,  preserved my sanity as a mother (and helped the earth too).

1. Getting kids involved in activities at too young of an age--the day will come soon enough when their lives will be filled with comings and goings, why make their life (and your life) prematurely crazy?   Too much competition and running to and fro is not going to help their development or arguably their athleticism (remember I'm talking about kids 8 and under).  I personally believe that one of the contributing factors to the childhood obesity epidemic is making kids believe that the only way to be active is at a sports practice or game.  For as great as sports are for teaching teamwork and learning about healthy competition (when they're old enough), it's not real life.  Running, jumping, and good old-fashioned playing with other children will teach them just as much about teamwork as any sport and help them to develop a fitter and healthier lifestyle.

Lest anyone accuse me of being anti-sports or anything, I have to say that Glen and I were both high school athletes (and Glen a collegiate athlete) and we both feel very strongly that sports are a great thing for our kids....just not too much too soon.  While you may not agree with my ideology, it has single-handedly been the biggest stress reducer in our lives (and saved the earth {and my behind} from all those extra car trips too).

2.  Daily baths.  Okay, don't call me an unfit mother here.  I just don't see any reason why my kids need daily baths, unless they're actually dirty.  If my kids don't smell good or are filthy, they'll get an extra bath, but otherwise twice a week works great when they're young.  As soon as they're old enough to care enough to bathe themselves (in the shower), they can bathe whenever they want.  This idea has streamlined our bedtime routine significantly and saved us from using 35-50 gallons of water per day.

3.  Cooking three course meals.  With as much as I like to cook, this one may surprise you, but I really believe that a healthy main dish, with a raw fruit or vegetable to be a perfectly fine meal.  I serve a salad kit, or  a handful of baby carrots with ranch dressing, or have apple or orange slices, or a simple fruit and spinach smoothie (which they love by the way).  I feel like the raw fruits and veggies are better for them anyway and it lets me focus in on making the main dish, rather than spreading myself even thinner at that crazy time of day.   It means I'm less stressed, we eat earlier (so the kids are happier),  and I don't use any more energy (mine or the earth's) in giving my kids a side dish.   My exception to this is that I often make homemade bread when we have soup for dinner. 

4.  Getting kids into too many activities (at any age).  Going along with my #1, I think if an older child is excited about music or sports or art, by all means find an outlet for them to develop their talents (and interests), but why on earth do so many people think that their kids need to do it all?  With heavy homework loads that seem to be creeping ever earlier into their school years, I feel like it's so important that kids have time to be kids.   Like #1, it benefits the earth reducing the daily car trips we take. 

5.  Saying, No, too quickly.   When I'm tired and busy, it is often my knee-jerk reaction to bark out, "No," to every question they ask of me.  I'm trying really hard to be better at pausing before I answer one way or the other.  While there's certainly plenty of opportunities to say no, but I feel like, in general, kids should hear more yeses than nos.  I remember a quote from Marjorie Hinckley who said that for every no she said to her children, she followed it with a yes...."No, you can't have a doughnut for dinner, but you can have one for breakfast tomorrow morning."  I'm definitely still working on this one!    This one benefits the earth by reducing the noise pollution coming from my house. 

6.  Trying to solve the kids problems for them.  Whether it be kids fighting, an argument with a friend, or a homework woe, it is my natural instinct to rush to the rescue and try to fix it.  While I still have to interject when they start yelling and screaming, I'm trying to be more hands off when it comes to finding their own solutions.  It saves my sanity and teaches them better coping mechanisms and it saves the earth by me sending out more confident and capable children into the world who know how to deal with their own troubles.

7.  Caring about what they wear. As long as they're clean and modest, who cares?  I have a child who 9 nights out of ten wears their jeans to bed.  It used to drive me crazy, but then I realized that he was still sleeping fine despite his uncomfortable attire, and the only person who cared one iota was me.  Same with the child who completely refused to wear collared shirts.  And the other who continues to dress in mismatching layers.  And the other who went an entire summer without wearing shorts because he didn't feel like it.  And still another who is growing so fast their clothes are almost always too small. I still have to fight my tendency to say anything, but I'm learning it's just one of those things that just doesn't matter a tiny bit and it's not worth the stress caring about it.  And the earth?  I'm stretching here, but letting my kids out of the house in their goofy outfits makes the world a little brighter and brings smiles to people's faces.   Plus if you have a child like mine who refuses to wear pajamas, it's just one less thing in the laundry pile.  :)

8.  I know it's cliche, but sweating the small things--Things that involve their safety or eternal salvation are too important to mess up on, but life is too short to spend fretting over all the things that don't matter or that we don't have any control over anyway.

What would you add to this list?  

This topic is taken from #11 on the list, 30 Things to Blog About , so if you have any more requests feel free to go back to that post and write in your vote for a topic for me to cover.

Coming next:  What parts of motherhood are worth sticking with, despite the time they take.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Mother's Day FHE Lesson (Honor Thy Mother)

 This is one of those family home evening lessons that mom is not allowed to teach.  Pass this one along to dad (or the kids) and sit back and enjoy.  I love how this lesson focuses in on showing honor and respect to mom every day as well as on Mother's Day.  It's a cute lesson and I hope you enjoy it! 

Click here for my other ready-to-print FHE lessons (with more every Monday). 

PS  For optimal printing performance, it is best to create a free account with and download the PDF file before printing.  As always, feel free to email me at if you are having troubles viewing or printing these lessons.  I will send you them as PDF files. 

Honor Thy Mother FHE Lesson (A Lesson for Mother's Day)                                                            


Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Best Birthday Ever

 I've thought many times about how cool it would be to be wealthy and to be able to go around and do random nice things for paying their rent.  Or buying their groceries.  Or starting a scholarship fund.    But for as cool as it sounded, it always seemed too hard.  We're not wealthy and my life is crazy busy.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I read here about a woman who decided to celebrate her birthday by performing random acts of kindness around for every year of her life.

So it was, that I realized that while we may not be wealthy, we certainly aren't destitute either.  I decided to copycat her idea and celebrate my 37th birthday by spending the week performing 37 random acts of kindness. I hesitated sharing this special experience here in a public forum, but decided that since I had been inspired by someone else, that perhaps I, too, may inspire someone else to start their own ripples of kindness, thereby perpetuating the good going forward.

Here is my report:  

1.  Let Emma and friends hold a cookie and water stand in the front yard, despite me being busy and not really wanting to have to clean up from a 9-year-old cookie baking spree--it sure made their day though when they each earned a couple dollars from nice neighbors who humored them and their latest foray into the business world

2.  Let the preschool kids come over for a last minute playdate when the teacher had sick kids

 3.  Took a walk around the neighborhood and picked up 2 bags full of trash--I was shocked at how much trash we found, especially in the area near the busy road.  We decided we need to do this on a more regular basis.  

4. Made homemade bread and brought it to the kids' teachers for no reason

5.  Sent a surprise package to unsuspecting recipient

6.  Paid for car behind me at Chick-fil-A drive-through--this was actually one of the first "jobs" of my kindness spree and I was totally unprepared for how choked up I got when I looked through the rear-view mirror and saw her previously somber face turn into a big grin at being told that her bill had been paid

7. Visa gift card set on the front seat of a car with an open window
8.  Gave a friend an unexpected gift

9. Forgave Cami and didn't ground her for 25 years when she announced my actual age from the pulpit during her sacrament meeting talk today--I figured since I was announcing my age here for the world wide web to know, I couldn't get too mad at her

10. Taped a grocery store gift card  to the windshield of car in elementary school parking lot--I found I really liked the anonymity of putting things on people's cars. 

11. Gave balloons to a family with 4 kids--This was a good lesson on sharing for Ellie, who was insanely jealous that I had not gotten her a balloon as well.

12. Brought an unexpected dinner to a family who is moving soon

13.Taped exact change onto 3 vending machines

14. Gave money to a homeless person in DC--it sounds small, but it's definitely something I don't do on a regular basis

15. Taped  goofy candy bar notes onto 2 people's windshields

16.  Paid for someone's dinner at McDonald's

17. Donated generously to Gifts of the Heart (a church sponsored clothing and household item exchange)

18. Taped packs of gum with nice notes onto 2 car's windows
19. Carried bulky bags for a friend while she ran in a race

20. On the way out the door after eating my birthday dinner at Chevy's, dropped a gift card onto a neighboring table 

21. Brought an unexpected dinner to a friend having a crazy day--this is one of those things that I need to do more often.  While I'm always willing to sign-up to bring a dinner, sometimes I don't think of the people who haven't asked for help. 

22.  Sent an old friend a "real" letter.  You know the kind you have to put a stamp onto.

23.  Taped a Barnes and Noble gift card  to the windshield of car
 24.  Walked into Target and handed a lady a Target gift card--she actually didn't seem very excited about it, but still I felt strongly that she was the right person to give it to.

25.  Dropped a basket of flowers off at a random person's house

26.  Taped an Itunes gift card onto the windshield of a car 

27.  Brought treats and cards to local fire station to say, "Thanks for serving our community."
28.  Didn't yell at the kids when they were grumpy and quarreling on my birthday

29.  Found a lady walking in the park and handed her an Itunes gift card 

30.  Brought treats and a note to someone who just moved in

31.  Gathered stray carts scattered around a parking lot and returned them to the store--this one was something that was actually noticed by the store manager who was quite happy and expressed his gratitude. 

32.   Left kind notes in random places

33.  Brought a bottle of laundry soap with several quarters taped to it and dropped them off at the local laundromat

34.  Paid for car behind us at McDonald's drive-through--this probably ended up being one of my favorite ways to surprise people.  I got to see their reaction through the rear-view mirror, but did not have to talk to them. 

35.  Handed out lollipops to children after church was over--sorry if I sent your kids home on a sugar high 
36. Put an Itunes gift card on the front seat of someone's car

37.  Said yes to the kids when they wanted to eat spaghetti and meatball dinner outside in the yard--I'm quite sure our neighbors think we are a little on the strange side, but, hey, it made the kids happy and kept the meatballs off our floor! 

Although, there's no way I could keep up this frenetic pace of handing people gift cards and candy, I do hope that in the future that I will better be able to recognize opportunities for reaching out to large and small ways.  It truly was an experience of a life-time and I want to thank my family for being supportive of our crazy adventures that took us all over town.  It truly was the best birthday ever.  :) 

Acts of kindness are like pebbles tossed into a reflecting pool. The ripples radiate outward long after the deed is done.


Monday, April 19, 2010

No FHE Lesson today

I know there are a few people out there that look forward to these, so I wanted to let you know that unfortunately there will not be a new FHE lesson today.  We're having a little computer panic today that has made me feel driven to spend the day backing up our important files instead of digitizing a new lesson.  I hope to be back on target for next week.   Upcoming lessons....Holy Ghost and Honor Thy Mother. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sabbath Day FHE Lesson

 I love this cute lesson for teaching kids about keeping the Sabbath day holy.  I love the imagery of the sundaes with the silly toppings and how some activities (or toppings) are really good on their own, but that they don't "taste good" on a Sunday (sundae). 

Click here for my other ready-to-print FHE lessons (with more every Monday). 

PS  For optimal printing performance, it is best to create a free account with and download the PDF file before printing.  As always, feel free to email me at if you are having troubles viewing or printing these lessons.  I will send you them as PDF files. 

Sabbath Day FHE Lesson                                                            


Monday, April 5, 2010

Sacrament--Remembering Jesus FHE Lesson

 Here is a lesson for teaching kids to keep their hearts and minds focused on the Savior as they partake of the sacrament.  We love the cute story that shows what some different children are thinking about.  Hope you had a wonderful Conference weekend! 

Click here for my other ready-to-print FHE lessons (with more every Monday). 

PS  For optimal printing performance, it is best to create a free account with and download the PDF file before printing.  As always, feel free to email me at if you are having troubles viewing or printing these lessons.  I will send you them as PDF files. 
Sacrament--Remembering Jesus FHE Lesson                                                            

Friday, April 2, 2010

General Conference Activity Packet

Here is the General Conference Activity Packet as promised.   My friend Mirien just sent me the link of some awesome activities the church puts out as well.  Most of the resources I used  came directly from, but I have to brag a little about the Apostle Wheel.  My kids LOVE, LOVE using the Apostle Wheel during Conference to figure out who is speaking, but they did not have one with all the latest apostles, so I updated it myself.  My photoshopping isn't great, but I'm excited about it!

Click here for my ready-to-print FHE lessons (with more every Monday).  Have a wonderful Conference weekend!

PS  For optimal printing performance, it is best to make a free account with and download the PDF file before printing.  

General Conference Activity Book