completely unasked for advice

Dec 15, 2009

As I was driving Blythe to seminary this morning, my mind filled up with all sorts of things I have learned as a mother that I could share with you. None of these things are critical or life-changing (okay, they might be a little life-changing!), but they are things I have found that make mothering easier and more enjoyable.

  • 1. Buy high quality winter gear in gender neutral styles. This way when you buy coats, gloves, hats, and boots you can pass them down to all subsequent children. Get good stuff that will keep your children warm…don’t be tempted by the stuff at Wal-mart or Shopko. Go for good brands like L.L. Bean, Patagonia, and Land’s End…and of course, buy them at thrift stores! Don’t ever actually pay those prices, just search for good stuff at cheap prices. As an example, my friend, Stephanie, bought a $75 Patagonia fleece at DI last week for $4!
  • 2. Shop at thrift stores. Do not be tempted to buy your children new stuff because you can find better stuff for far cheaper at thrift stores. Our favorites? Savers, Once Upon a Child, Kid to Kid, and the winter store up in Victor. DI is okay and sometimes you can find great stuff there, but lots of times the stuff is VERY worn out by the time it gets to DI.
  • 3. Get outside as much as you can during the spring, summer, and fall because winter will come and it will be cold. On those warm summer days when you want to read a book, go to the park instead…or take your book with you!
  • 4. Play outside a lot in the winter. Go sledding, skating, walking, build a snow fort, etc. Your children will think you are totally cool if you spend time playing with them outdoors.
  • 5. Use the resources of your library liberally. Use it to expose your children to an endless array of subjects that you don’t have in your home and don’t want to purchase. Check out audio books every week. Children can get through TONS more books that way. Use inter-library loan.
  • 6. When you are in a busy or exhausted time of life (for me it is pregnancy/newborn period) only check out books that you are willing to buy because there is a good chance you will have to buy them when you lose them and don’t have the time, energy, or brainpower to find them. This may seem to contradict #5, but it does not. I certainly don’t want to buy a book from the library that is mind candy, poorly illustrated, or just plain worthless because when it does eventually turn up I don’t want it to stay in my house.
  • 7. A bag of balloons brings weeks full of fun.
  • 8. Buy hardbound books whenever you can.
  • 9. Buy clothes out of season.
  • 10. Only have one towel for each person in your family. Make them different colors so that it is obvious whose towel is whose. This way you know who left their towel on the floor and whose towel is missing from the swimming bag. Cuts way back on the amount of laundry!
  • 11. Make breakfast for dinner sometimes.
  • 12. Build a fort and read books in it with your children.
  • 13. Make music a huge part of your home with singing, instruments, dancing, history of composers. Every thing goes better accompanied by music.
  • 14. Smile.
  • 15. Use Don Aslett’s toilet cleaning routine.
  • 16. Go camping.
  • 17. Have lots of art supplies in your home and encourage children (and yourself) to create.
  • 18. Learn to play an instrument. It is a great example to your children and will help you grow.
  • 19. When you find a great price on something you use frequently, stock up!
  • 20. Invite people over for dinner.
  • 21. Make traditions that you really are committed to doing so that you are excited about doing them again and again and again. Make sure your traditions build your family, bring you to God, or serve others.
  • 22. Do hard things. Not only is it good for you, it teaches your children to follow in your path.
  • 23. Avoid plastic, electronic toys. They break, they limit creativity, they are loud and annoying, and they do not build the soul. Invest in high quality play things that a wide variety of ages can use…like wooden unit blocks, play silks, zip lines, kick sleds, musical instruments, books, and cloth dolls.
  • 24. Make things from scratch. It is cheaper, healthier, and teaches children that food does not come from a box.
  • 25. Take your children swimming frequently so they are comfortable in the water.
  • 26. If your child’s friend has a birthday, your child can make or buy a gift, not you! I am always amazed at the extravagance of birthdays today where mothers are buying $20+ presents and the birthday child has a pile of gifts that have nothing to do with the relationship between them and their friend. I for one refuse to participate.
  • 27. Make playdough from scratch. It is softer, smells better, and children love it!

Well, that is all for now, I must get back to hand sewing!

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  1. Love them all! Great words of wisdom. :)

  2. girlsmama

    Well said.

  3. Kari

    I wish there was some way we could anonymously, yet effectively share #23 with my mother!

  4. Sally

    love all of them! especially 21!

  5. Tasha

    I love those ideas! All except #20. Inviting people over to dinner has always seemed totally overwhelming to me. I just can’t bring myself to do it very often. Perhaps I worry too much and make too big of a deal of it. Maybe when my children are grown I will be better at it? Although, we do have lots of big potluck extended family dinners here at our home. Maybe that counts? Thanks for sharing all your wonderful words of wisdom! You are such a fun person!

    • tracy

      Oh, I TOTALLY find it overwhelming as well! BUT, I still think its a great thing to do and I am always so glad when we have done it. My goal for 2010 is to have one family over each month.

      We’ll see how long that lasts!