Tag Archives: motherhood

Teaching Manners to Children - SmartMom

Teaching Manners to Children: When Should You Start?

Manners are an important social tool that children need to learn in order to be successful in school and life. No time is too early to start teaching manners to children, even if only by example.

Even as infants and toddlers, children pick up on how people in your family treat each other and whether there is courtesy and respect shown daily. When my daughter was three, I was trying to reinforce good behavior by thanking her when she did something well and “tank oo” became one of my son’s first words. No matter that he didn’t know what context to use it in yet, he learned, in time.

The time to be a good role model is inside the house, and out. Grumbling at other drivers or people in public is also noticed, and unfortunately, sometimes copied, too, to great embarrassment.

As toddlers and preschoolers, there a number of ways you can begin teaching manners to children.

Say Please

If you make a habit of using please when you ask your kids to do something, they will become more accustomed to hearing it and using it.

Say Thank You/You’re Welcome

Ditto. The more you use them, the more they will. This good behavior will help in disciplining your little ones as well.

Do Not Interrupt

Kids are pretty self-absorbed at early ages and expect you to respond to their needs immediately. When you are in a conversation with another adult, remind them not to interrupt (unless it is an emergency).

Then, when there is a break in the conversation (this shouldn’t be too long, if they are young, but long enough to get the point across) give them your attention and respond to them.

Do Not Touch Things that Don’t Belong to You

This can go for stores as well as other people’s houses. Teaching children to only handle what you have established belongs to you can save you some embarrassing moments and set some ground rules for purchases. I avoided many requests at the store and merchandise dragged off shelves by teaching my kids that those things didn’t belong to us and they needed to stay where they were.

Share and Take Turns

These skills are very important when your child enters social settings with other children. Preschool-age children notice, and complain, when other kids in their classes don’t take turns or share.


There are consequences when your child strays outside the guidelines that you are trying to enforce. Teaching your children to apologize when they make a mistake gives them pause to think about it and let’s the other person know that your child realizes they should have acted differently.

Stay calm and be prepared to repeat these lessons over and over again. It can be frustrating, but I have found that losing my temper negates the lesson and nothing is learned. Manners will come if you are diligent, but it takes time.

Once it becomes second nature to your kids, it is nice to see their interactions with people outside your home and even with you. The other night, before we even sat down to dinner, my son sang out, “thanks Mom for the great dinner!” It can kind of make your day.

Check out our roundup on the benefits of house chores for your little ones!

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5 Ways to Avoid the Summer Slide

If the idea of workbooks fills you with dread and the words “the summer slide” make you want to slide into a corner and hide, don’t worry. Your kids can have a mentally engaging summer — without resorting to formalized school work style learning.

Hit the Beach

Wait, what? How can a trip to the beach help avoid the summer slide? Well, it’s all in what you make of it. Before you go, read up on tide pools, creatures that live in your local body of water and other info about the ecosystem. Then, while building sandcastles and jumping waves, point out the snails, hermit crabs and horseshoe crabs and share little facts with the kids.

They’ll love hearing what exactly the snails eat and why clams squirt water through airholes when they bury themselves beneath the sand. Or focus on tides and teach them how the moon impacts the tide, as well as where the water goes when it “goes away.” And you’ll love continuing to help your kids learn in a total no-pressure way.

Take a Hike

Like the beach, hiking can provide infinite opportunities for learning. You can teach about rocks, plants, animals and so much more. Choose your trail wisely – some nature centers have self-guided tours that can help with the learning on the go. Or try geocaching, which is a sort-of scavenger hunt that requires you to use GPS coordinates to find special spots where geocaches are hidden.

Another option? Hike a waterfall – then you can talk about water flow, erosion and more. Again, this is a fun and active way to enjoy summer without falling into the Summer Slide trap.

Visit the Library

It’s no secret that instilling a love of reading in kids is important. Stories let children explore new worlds, discover creativity and linger in their imagination – all good things. So, if you haven’t already, join your local library and go weekly.

The kids will love choosing stories, and you can tap into all the resources that libraries offer for families – like story hours for kids, author visits and more. And just the act of going to the library will help prevent the Summer Slide since the kids will be inspired to learn.

Also, check to see if your library has any summer reading incentives for kids – they can range from prizes to cold, hard cash just for reading a certain number of books. Pretty sweet, right?

Get Cooking

When it comes to practicing math, cooking is an awesome way to do it without even thinking about it. Between number recognition, fractions and time (this takes 15 minutes to cook – when will it be done?), numbers are part and parcel with everything done in the kitchen.

Better yet, if you are working from a recipe, kids can practice their reading skills and their direction-following skills too.

Plus, the help in the kitchen is a priceless way to bond too (it’s not just about avoiding the Summer Slide!).

Garden Together

Psst! There’s a lot of learning that can happen just by doing – like by planting and maintaining a garden. It’s not too late to get pretty flowers in the ground and cultivate them.

Have the kids help with the planning, planting and care-taking of the garden. They will learn first-hand about what makes plants grow, garden pests and so much more.


Here are some ideas on fun summer activities!

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How to Teach Table Manners for Children

How to Teach Table Manners for Children

Maybe it’s just me, but whenever my kids and I go out to eat and someone, whether it is another patron or our waitress, compliments me on how well the kids are behaving, I puff up a little. Not with arrogance, of course, but with pride. I love that my kids all have good manners- even my two year old!

Manners Are a Lost Art

It’s kind of sad, but it seems like kids with good manners are hard to find these days. It hurts my heart a bit to see children that are absolutely out of control in restaurants and the parents just sigh and give an apologetic smile that says “Kids… what can you do, right?” It makes me sad. Granted, I don’t live with these families and I don’t know their own personal story or situation, but it still makes me sad. I tend to get on a bit of a soapbox when it comes to good manners but my kids know their boundaries. They’re not always perfect. They are kids, after all. But more times than not, they know how to behave and for that I’m eternally grateful. There are a couple of keys that I’ve learned when teaching children table manners that seem to help make the lessons stick in their busy little brains. These are the cornerstones that I often return to when we all get a little lax and need a good reminder to get back on track.

Bad Behavior Has Consequences

In our house, going out to eat is a privilege, not a right. We have plenty of peanut butter and jelly at home if you can’t behave. If any of the kids get belligerent, disrespectful or outright defiant, the very next time we go out to eat, that child does not get to go. They usually get a babysitter and some quiet time at home. All of our kids are fairly social so this typically gets their attention. That and they just love to eat out. Watching their siblings go out without them and enjoy themselves is hard but it drives home the lesson that the privilege of dining out is not to be abused.

Share the Compliments

Whenever anyone gives us a compliment about the kids, we try to make sure that the kids know about it. Often, we do it while the person is still standing there so that they can hear the kids say thank you. In the moment, I will point out when one of the kids is doing something well during the meal. I’ll tell my son that he’s doing a good job holding his fork or that my daughter acted just right when she passed the salad bowl. It’s easy to reinforce the good behavior as it’s happening and it also makes the other kids pay attention to their own behavior because they want me to compliment them too. Conversely, when we are out and we notice that another family has well behaved children, we compliment them too and again, it’s often in front of the kids. They see that we appreciate it everywhere and that we aren’t living in a bubble.

Build on the Victories

When our kids are well behaved at a family dinner, we can look at larger and more upscale locations to eat. And if that works well, we can go another step up. The kids think it is a treat to dress up and go to fancy dinners and since those are only every once in a while, they know that it’s something special. When we do things like this, we help connect the dots for them. We tell them “because you guys have been so great at other restaurants, we’re ready to let you try out this fancy one.” They feel a little more grown up for a day and they can see that they have earned the privilege to try something exciting for an evening.

Model What You Want

I cannot tell my children to behave at the table, use proper cutlery or put the napkin on their lap before the food falls if I’m not doing it myself. It just doesn’t feel right. I’m very conscious of my own manners when we are out and I model the type of behavior they should be demonstrating from my own seat. This is a huge part of how to teach table manners for children. I realize that I have a high standard when it comes to my kids and their manners but every time I get a compliment from a stranger, I know we’re on the right track. It has been something that I’ve invested a lot of time and energy into, but it has been well worth it. And I think that the kids would agree.


What is one thing you’re FOR SURE teaching your kids? I’m teaching my son basic manners, a lot of people I know lack that and I will not let my son grow up thinking that’s ok.

We just got standard visitation of my four-year-old stepdaughter. She has very bad manners and is just flat out rude. Her mom doesn’t make her say please and thank you. We are trying to break her out of that bad habit but she doesn’t listen very well. Any ideas?

My daughter is 2 and has started the “I want” phase. It’s driving me nuts! How can I deter her from it? We are all about manners and lately they have gone out the window.

So I have heard from tons of parents out there that terrible twos are bad but nothing tops three! No manners, not listening, bully and worst of all potty training regression…

Me and my husband have a month on month off custody over our LO. When he leaves us it seems like his speech and manners are improving but by the time we get him back its hard to understand him and he wants to whine over everything little thing that happens. Any advice?

My fiancé and I are struggling on keeping his 3 minis in line when they come to our house every other weekend. They all 3 have potty mouths and act like animals. Sorry, it’s the truth. No manners or respect. He feels helpless…

Every time my daughter is in trouble she says I’m so so sorry mom in the cutest voice. She is so respectful I hope it stays that way…

What age did you moms start teaching table manners/ eating behaviors? Am I out of line to make my 21 mo. old niece be still while she’s eating?

Most of the mama’s here know I have been having a hard time with my 10 year old daughter for a while now…
Yesterday we had a breakthrough…


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When should you begin disciplining your child? - SmartMom

When Should You Begin Disciplining Your Child?

Once children begin walking and talking, it’s time to begin the early stages of discipline. Between the ages of 12 and 18 months is a good time to start disciplining your child, using simple techniques that focus on teaching your child acceptable behavior.

Preventing Behavior Problems 

Discipline for toddlers should focus on prevention, not punishment. Prevent behavior problems by creating an environment where your child can explore and play safely. Remove breakable and potentially hazardous objects and give your child an opportunity to throw, bang, and pound indestructible age-appropriate toys.

Create a Schedule

Establish a routine so your child’s body grows accustomed to regular eating, sleeping, and playing times. Plan your errands and community adventures according to your child’s schedule. A well-rested and well-fed toddler is more likely to behave when you’re in public.

Redirect Your Child’s Attention

Redirection is a wonderful discipline technique that allows you to use your toddler’s short attention span to your advantage. For example, if your child bangs his toy on your antique table, give him a pillow to safely bang on instead. Redirect his energy and attention by giving him a more acceptable alternative.

Provide Praise and Positive Reinforcement

Children begin responding to praise and positive reinforcement at an early age. Whenever you catch your child being good, use your words and your body language to cheer him on. Clap, celebrate, and show him how pleased you are with his efforts. Such positive attention encourages good behavior to continue.

Give Short Explanations

Give your toddler short explanations about why his behavior needs to change. For example, rather than giving a list of reasons why biting is bad, say, “No biting. Biting hurts.” Skip the long lectures and stick to the facts.

Apply More Complex Discipline Strategies

Discipline strategies need to change often to keep up with a child’s development. Once your child understands cause-and-effect relationships you can begin implementing consequences, such as time-out. Prior to the age of 2 or 3, most children won’t grasp the concept that their behavior is linked to a consequence.

Once your child develops an understanding of consequences, begin adding other discipline strategies, such as removing privileges. In the meantime, focus on safety issues and prevention. Remain consistent with your rules and responses to lay a firm foundation for future discipline efforts.

Here are a few ways to discipline your child effectively!



What are some of the ways you will discipline your children? Will you spank or not and why?

I caught my boyfriend spanking my 5 year old daughter. He considers it discipline and I think it’s wrong…what do you think?

I give my children three chances to change their behavior before spanking them…What do people think about this approach?

How do you moms feel is the best way to discipline or enforce consequences with your children?

My boyfriend and I have different ideas of discipline, and he and my son don’t get along. How can I help them?

I need advice for ways for us to stop screaming at each other and find better discipline methods so my kids actually listen to me

How do you handle your kindergartener going to the principal’s office for the third time this year?

Some advice for parents – I think the moment your kid can throw a temper tantrum they are old enough for a time out

How do you moms discipline your kids without feeling guilty?

How do you discipline your thirteen month old?

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9 Things to do this Summer - SmartMom

9 Free Summer Fun Activities for Kids

Summers almost here – and that means the kids are nearly out of school. So what fun things will you be doing this summer? These ideas for free summer fun activities for kids are totally worth trying.

Take a hike – If you’ve been cooped up all winter like us, then you are probably more than ready to get outside. So what are you waiting for? Fill up the water bottles (that’s key!) and head to your favorite local trail for a hike with the kids. Don’t be afraid to make it more interesting by having them take photos of their favorite plants (or all the bugs you pass along the way!).

Catch fireflies at dusk – Grab a jar or two, and teach your kids the fine art of catching fireflies. It’s a summer tradition that’s worth passing on – and after a little teaching, they will be all about doing this one on their own. Sit back, and enjoy their joy.

Build a massive sandcastle – Headed to the beach? Don’t forget the buckets, shovels and whatnot for sandcastle building. But to create truly great memories with the kids, get right down into the sand with them for a massive sandcastle building session. You’ll want to bring the serious shovels (no wimpy plastic ones here!) to get a huge sand pile ready for the shaping.

Head to the playground – Your local playground is always a fun (and free!) thing to do with kids. But this summer, branch out and try other local playgrounds too. You never know when you might stumble on a playground gem a little out of the way.

Water fight! – Water balloons? Check. Water guns? Check. Hose? Check. Break out your favorite water gear and have a big backyard water fight. The kids will love getting each other wet – and you too. Just be sure that if you are going the water balloon route, you plan ahead and fill the balloons. It takes awhile (trust me, this one I know from experience).

Get gardening – Do you have a plot for your favorite flowers or veggies in the backyard? If not, now’s the time to get started with one. Gardening with your kids not only makes your yard pretty, but it also imparts important lessons – like responsibility, follow-through and how to grow things.

Geocaching, anyone? – Have you heard of geocaching? It’s like a treasure hunt for modern families. You use your GPS-enabled mobile device to seek out treasures. It’s fun, and totally free – plus the adventure is absolutely worth it. Check out www.geocaching.com/ for details and how to get started.

Be a visitor to your town – It’s funny how we can live somewhere for a long time, but seldom really look around. Pretend you are visitors to your town, just passing through. Go on a local adventure, dropping into the stores you pass but never experience and trying that little restaurant you’ve seen but never really noticed. And don’t forget to drop by local special spots – like gardens and monuments – for some great photo-ops.

Volunteer together – Whether it’s a local soup kitchen or food pantry or your library, there are so many opportunities for families to volunteer. Phone around town and find out who needs help. Then head out with the kids to give back. It’s so rewarding – and that’s always fun!


Check out our tips on how to avoid the summer slide!

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mother's day celebration

5 Last Minute Mother’s Day Celebrations

Don’t look now, but Mother’s Day is just days away. If you aren’t sure what to do for the moms in your life yet, here are a few ideas to please, pamper and surprise her this Mother’s Day.

Breakfast in Bed

Psst! Breakfast in bed is still awesome. Is it a little cliche? Absolutely. But nothing quite compares to lounging in bed alone while reading and enjoying a delicious meal without interruption. Don’t worry — it needn’t be fancy. Just put together a simple breakfast and don’t forget the coffee.

Brunch, Baby!

If breakfast in bed just isn’t going to work — or you want to include all the moms in the family — brunch is a great option. Choose a fabulous, favorite restaurant and take her (or them!) there. She’ll love being taken care of by someone else … and you can enjoy a delicious morning meal too.

Spa Day

She’s always on the go, keeping up with the kids, home and maybe work too. If you want to really pamper her, book a Mother’s Day spa day for her. But don’t just choose any services — choose ones she’ll love (hint: if she isn’t into massages, skip that and go for the spa pedicure and manicure instead).

Mama’s Garden

Does your mama love having a beautifully designed garden? Indulge her this Mother’s Day by taking her to a local nursery and letting her loose to choose new plants. Then help her get them all in the ground. She’ll not only love the beautiful garden you create together — but also adore the fact that you did it together.

Mom’s Day Off

Looking for something to really recharge her? Take the kids and give her a day to do whatever she wants. Be sure to leave her with a gift card or two for a little lunch, shopping or her favorite coffee shop. And bonus points if you enlist her bffs to spend the day with her too.

Something Wild

Not all moms are created equal. In fact, some moms won’t be into pampering or days off. If that describes a mom in your life, skip the spa and plan a fun adventure outing — like whitewater rafting, ziplining or mountain biking as a family. For the adventure mom, these experiences are absolutely priceless.


Don’t forget to celebrate your own mother – after all, you’re probably turning into her!

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inspirational quotes

10 Inspirational Quotes for your Mother’s Day

At SmartMom, we love honoring everything that is beautiful about motherhood. From stunning photography that captures quiet, intimate moments between moms and babies, to inspiring words about what it truly means to be a loving parent.

In honor of Mother’s day, we wanted to take a look back and remember some of the best, most inspirational quotes about the love and affection of motherhood. 

Happy Mother’s Day, Mamas! And be sure to check out the SmartMom app, our very own mobile community where moms can ask questions, receive support, and participate in a community that’s just for moms.

Thanks to all of the wonderful, talented photographers credited in these photos: Lexia FrankJamie Jones, Eden Lang, Martine Payne, Julie Adams, Frida Ramstedt, Natalie Jean, and Peter Lindbergh.

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Work at Home Moms

Tips for Work at Home Moms

Women currently make up nearly half of the U.S. workforce and 66% percent of mothers with children 17 or younger work either full or part time. In 2010, 13.4 million people (around 10% of the workforce) worked at home at least one day a week, and that number is projected to rise. If you can carve out a work-at-home schedule – congratulations – it can be a terrific way to balance motherhood and a career. However, working at home as a first-time mother or with very young children can be challenging. Here are some tips for work at home moms:

Simplify your life

If you are currently volunteering, serve as the head of any committees, or are planning any large events, now is the time to cut down on those obligations.  Or, at least take a short break for the first few months that you are settling into a work at home schedule with a very small child. Once you get into your everyday work/life groove, you can start back at your other activities.

Child care

Some may find that they can work at home while being the sole caregiver, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Arranging some type of child care coverage allows you to focus on work, and will allow you to get through tasks with a clear head.  The same amount of work might take much longer when your focus is split between work and children.

Having someone come into your home and watch your children (even for just a few hours) gives you time to focus on work. If licensed child care is outside your budget, consider swapping child care with a friend or neighbor, or asking a family member to help. Being able to dedicate time to work means that you can then dedicate time focused on being a mom.

Share household chores

If you don’t already, now is a good time to work on equitable division of household chores, especially if both parents work full-time. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, has long asserted that she couldn’t have risen as far as she has without the active support and participation of her husband in their household.

Work Space and Boundaries

If you can, dedicate a certain space in your house specifically for working, preferably a place with a door to shut out distractions. Also, a general work/life schedule that you try to follow each day helps with productivity and the consistency can help your children get used to your new work routine.

Flexibility and procrastination

If you are usually someone who gets things done at the last minute, now is the time to break that habit.  Anything unexpected could happen (i.e. your child getting sick or having some other issue that needs immediate attention) even if you have a deadline or an important call.  It’s important to establish boundaries so you can divide work and home, but it’s also important to be flexible when you need to be. Building in extra time to complete deadlines alleviates some stress when unexpected situations come up.

Time for yourself

Running back and forth between work and child care, even in your own home, can be exhausting and can take up every waking minute, if you let it. Now, more than ever, it is important to carve out time for yourself. Take a walk, read a book, or do whatever will take your mind off things for a short while each day.  This will help you decompress.  Or, find time to spend with friends and family.  Working at home can be isolating, so it is really important for moms who work from home to make time for community.

Working at home can be a really a great way to spend more time with your family.  It definitely takes some planning to not feel overwhelmed, stay connected to people outside the home, do your best work, and find quality time to be a parent, but with extra planning, it is totally possible.


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Better Mom - SmartMom

11 Ways to be a Better Mom

Photo by Kylie Turley

Ok, before you get all worked up about the title, let’s be really clear about something: you’re already a good mom. The fact that you’re even reading an article about how to be a better mom proves that you care. So you’re on the right track.

But no one is perfect. Goodness knows I’m not. I have a long way to go. But I’m still here and I keep trying. And clearly, so are you.

Every year I reflect on the advice I’ve gotten from others and how I’ve been doing on incorporating it into my own life. Some things I do really well, other things, not so much.  My mom is one of my heroes. I go to her a lot for advice and guidance when it comes to my children and she always has these incredible nuggets of wisdom for me.  I want to continually be a better and better mom for my kids.  Here are some bite-sized pieces of wisdom that I’ve gleaned from my own mother (and others) that will help me be a better mom this year:

  1. Take care of yourself. There is nothing heroic about not taking care of you. And if you’re not taking care of yourself, how are you going to be able to fully take care of your kids?
  2. Kids are not little adults. They are kids. So let your kids be kids. When they make a mess, get really loud, say something silly and otherwise start driving you crazy, remember they’re just kids.
  3. Go with the flow. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if things don’t go along perfectly, the world won’t end. Just go with it.
  4. So you didn’t get the kitchen remodeled but you managed to organize the silverware drawer? Embrace the baby steps. Tomorrow you can tackle another small project.
  5. If your kids walk all over you, it could be because you’re not holding your own boundaries. If you want to stand your ground and insist on being treated with respect start with respecting yourself. Don’t put yourself down (especially not in front of the kids) and be an example of great self-respect.
  6. My kids love to hear about when I was little and I love to hear about my mom’s childhood. So, Tell your Story. Do it out loud or in a journal, but get the story out there for your kids.
  7. I used to say that my kids had a better social life than me. Not anymore. I made it a priority to have regular social time with other adults, girlfriends and professional connections and then I make sure that I protect that adult time.
  8. Not everything you do needs to be educational and constructive. Sometimes, you just want to have a dance party with your kids. So dance.
  9. Stop chasing work/life balance. It doesn’t exist. Seek out opportunities to demonstrate work/life harmony instead.
  10. I am guilty of getting so caught up in the busyness of life that I don’t really take the time to absorb what’s happening around me. It’s at those times I remember that I need to breathe, listen and appreciate.
  11. And just for good measure, remember to give yourself a break. No mom is perfect and those that claim to be are hiding their mistakes pretty diligently. Embrace the imperfections and know you’re on your way to becoming the mom that you’re supposed to be (not necessarily the mom that you think you should be).

Above all else, enjoy your children. They grow up so fast and before you know it they’re calling you to ask you advice about their own kids. I just hope that when my kids call me I can share even half the wisdom that my own mother has given me.

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10 Ways I'm Turning Into My Mother - SmartMom

10 Ways I’m Turning Into My Mother

Photo by Eden Frangipane

When I was growing up, I thought my mom and I were so incredibly different that I would be nothing like her when I grew up.  We couldn’t be more different, and it’s not just because I was adopted. We didn’t look alike, sure, but we also had completely different tastes and personalities. Years later, with age and with my own children, I’ve realized how strong nurture really is. 

Although the list of ways we are different is still pretty long, there are many habits, ideas and parenting philosophies that I can directly trace back to my upbringing.  I’m truly turning into my mother.

1. Making homemade things to eat. My mom was, as I like to tell people, a pioneer woman – we ate so much off the land, it seems amazing now. Then, my friends thought we were weird. We had a large garden in the back that I picked vegetables and fruit from for most of our meals, and what we didn’t have, we spent the summer going to orchards and picking, to then can, freeze or turn into jam or applesauce. I would like to say that I have followed faithfully in her footsteps, but I haven’t come close to her dedication. However, I am working on it. Last fall, I spent 4 hours one Sunday making homemade applesauce (pureed gold, I tell you) only to have my kids say they didn’t like it. However, they love hers and her jam, so I am refining my technique. The more I read about the questionable ingredients in so many foods, the more I appreciate her efforts, and strive to be like her.

2. Good shoes, warm coats and boots. We grew up, like many, on a small budget, so my mom had some philosophies about how to best use it. For clothes, we bought few and well-made, from consignment shops sometimes. But, since we lived in a cold climate, she made room in the budget for good shoes, warm coats and boots. We played outside for hours, and she made sure we were comfortable. Now, I do the same. We have many hand-me-down clothes and swap liberally with friends, but my kids always have sturdy, well-made coats, shoes and boots.

3. Quality over quantity. This goes along with her clothes philosophy, but she always strived for quality over quantity in all things. If I picked something out, room decorations, clothes, whatever it was, I was expected to use it until it wore out or didn’t fit. Changing fashions had no place in our house. We bought quality items for house and person, and we stuck with them.

4. Team player. I’ll give this one to my dad. As my soccer coach, he stressed team playing over everything. If I was a hotdog, scored four goals and won the game for us, he considered that a fail. As part of a team, I was expected to support my team members, cheer for them and do all I could to make my team successful, and he considered those efforts more important than the final score. Now that my kids are playing team sports, we encourage the same behavior.

5. Conserving the environment. As a landscape architect, my dad was a treehugger in a time when it wasn’t popular, and as kids we had toys without batteries and kept away from motor sports.  Living on the Great Lakes, our friends embraced motor boating and jetskiing, while we canoed and kayaked in silence, taking it all in. Today, my kids sail, paddleboard and kayak in the same peace.

6. Put everyone to work. You know when you are a guest at someone’s house, and you offer to help put dinner on the table or something similar? Well, at our house, you would be put to work, no matter who you are. My mom did a lot of work around the house, but did not appreciate other people lying around. Everyone had chores and tasks to help out. She worked outside the house and we all were expected to help with household tasks.

7. Responsibility. My mom (and dad) were big on responsibility. If you said you were going to do something, you did it. Even if you didn’t feel like it, you went to practice or kept plans with someone or volunteered. If you did something wrong, you admitted it.

8. Importance of family. That says it all.

9. Community service. My mom started a low-income health care center in the basement of our church, and sews quilts for foster kids so they have something to hold when they are removed from their homes. She set a high bar. I haven’t saved the world yet, but maybe my kids will.

10. “Because I said so.” I hated those words growing up, and now I say them constantly. Sometimes that should be the only reason for doing something. Every mom knows that.

Most days I fall short of most of these things, but at least I feel like my mom (and dad) gave me a good framework to strive toward. For all the times I said I would never be like my mother, well, I take it all back 🙂

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