8 Things I’ve Learned About Being a Mom to Three Girls

8 Things I Have learned raising 3 girls

Raising a family is not easy.  It’s much more difficult than I ever imagined it would be, but the rewards and the lessons I’ve learned are also far greater than I could have imagined.  There is no better feeling than listening to my girls laugh together or show kindness toward one another.

Now knowing how quickly each stage of childhood passes, I’ve learned to embrace and enjoy each stage while it is here and face each new challenge as it comes up.  We’ve met some pretty difficult challenges along the way, but one thing I have learned is that they all pass.  When I’m faced with a new challenge, I simply remind myself that we will get through this just as we did in the past.

My daughters are currently ages 15, 13, and 10.  I know some of the most difficult years are probably just ahead of us and I’ve got so much more to learn, but here are the top 8 things they have taught me about life and parenting so far.

  1. Accept each of your children EXACTLY AS THEY ARE.  Acceptance is something we all seek as humans.  The greatest thing you can do for your children is to love them and accept them for who they are.  Each of us has been sent here for a unique purpose, and we were given the unique character traits needed to help us serve that purpose.  If you have more than one child, you know how different they can all be.  The best thing you can do for them is to let go of any expectations you have of them and encourage them to be themselves.  Your children were sent here to teach you things you need to learn about life just as much as you are here to teach them. Recognize that life is not a competition.  Every child cannot be the smartest, best-looking, most talented, most athletic, and most kindhearted child out there, but what they can be is themselves.  Embrace that and encourage that in each of them.
  2. Encourage them to shine.  We are all sent here to shine in our own way.  Each of us was born with a unique combination of gifts and talents that the world needs.  I have learned that my job is to help each of my girls discover her own unique gifts, help her to embrace those gifts, and encourage her to use them to make the world a better place.  I’ve learned that it’s important to expose my girls to different things to help them discover their own interests, but I have also learned not to force them to participate in activities they are not interested in, especially any unfulfilled dreams that I may have had.  My mission is to teach my girls how to be authentic and encourage them to follow their own dreams, not the expectations others may have of them.
  3. Never compare them.  Every child is different.  What works for one is not guaranteed or even likely to work for all of them.  I’ve learned to recognize that they are all individuals, and there is nothing they hate more than being compared to their sisters or to their peers.
  4. Don’t do things for your children that they can do for themselves.  I’ve realized that my job is to teach them how to survive so they are able to care for themselves in this world.  I am their teacher, not their slave.  I need to remind myself of this often because my girls are very good at seeing how much mommy will do for them.
  5. Make each one feel special.  I believe the best gift you can ever give to anyone is your undivided attention.  In our family, my husband and I make an effort to go on individual dates with each of our girls as often as possible.  My girls treasure this one-on-one time, and so do we.  They are always on their best behavior during these dates because they are not competing for our attention.
  6. Be Present.  Take time to stop and observe your children once in a while and give thanks for them.  Time goes by way too fast!  It is so important to make an effort to stop and take it all in every once in a while.  Make an effort to really listen to your child when she is talking to you, look at her and recognize the gift she has been in your life.  Don’t worry, the dishes will still be waiting when you’re done.  Recognize that each moment is a gift.  You are never guaranteed to have tomorrow with anyone.
  7. Teach them Self-Respect.  I believe there is nothing more important than teaching girls to love themselves as is and to respect their body and treat it as the beautiful gift that it is.  Teach them to become aware of the things they put in and on their bodies, to never tolerate disrespect from anyone, and to make good choices.  I believe the best way to do those things is through example.  Take care of yourself, and make your self-care a priority.  Let them see you participating in hobbies you enjoy.  They are always watching and listening, especially when we think they are not.
  8. Start New Traditions.  I LOVE traditions (and my girls do, too!)  Some of my favorite memories from my childhood involve traditions we had.  Some of them I chose to carry on to my family, and some I did not.  Do not be afraid to let go of old traditions and beliefs that do not work for you.  As a family, we have started some of our own  (see Valentine’s Day Wall of Love and Thanksgiving Turkey).  These are some of the things I think my girls will remember most from their childhood.

These are just a few of the main lessons I have learned from raising my girls so far.  I learn new things every day and with each challenge that arises.  Raising children is a big responsibility, and not an easy one.  It does take a village, so embrace those surrounding you at this stage in your life and work together to help one another.

What advice do you have about raising children?  Feel free to leave a comment below.

If you need help with acceptance (of your children or yourself), defining your beliefs, or learning to be more present, my book The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge is a guided journal that was designed to help with that.

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Book Review: The Gift of an Ordinary Day

The Gift of an Ordinary Day:  A Mother’s Memoir

by Katrina Kenison

the-gift-of-an-ordinary-day-cover

My Rating: ***** (5 out of 5 stars)

Why Did I Read?

I bought this book at a library book sale several years ago, and it has been sitting on my bookshelf ever since.  Whether I purchased it because of the title or because of the cover (yes, I do initially judge books by their covers), I don’t remember.  I had never heard of it before, so it wasn’t because of a recommendation.  It may have just called out to me, as books often do.  So, I bought it, and it sat on my shelf for years.  The reason I chose this book to read among all the books on my shelf at home is just as puzzling to me.  It just had a way of calling out to me, saying “now is the time to read this.”  When that happens, I trust…because those are the books that often have the greatest impact on my life.  This one did not disappoint.

Summary (from Goodreads)

The Gift of an Ordinary Day is an intimate memoir of a family in transition-boys becoming teenagers, careers ending and new ones opening up, an attempt to find a deeper sense of place, and a slower pace, in a small New England town. It is a story of mid-life longings and discoveries, of lessons learned in the search for home and a new sense of purpose, and the bittersweet intensity of life with teenagers–holding on, letting go.

Poised on the threshold between family life as she’s always known it and her older son’s departure for college, Kenison is surprised to find that the times she treasures most are the ordinary, unremarkable moments of everyday life, the very moments that she once took for granted, or rushed right through without noticing at all.

The relationships, hopes, and dreams that Kenison illuminates will touch women’s hearts, and her words will inspire mothers everywhere as they try to make peace with the inevitable changes in store.

What Did I Think/Recommendation

I loved this book!  This book must have been calling out to me because I chose to read it at a time in my life where I could really relate with the author.  As her teen boys approach the end of their time living at home, she feels a desperate need to spend more time being present with them, holding onto what is left of their time together under one roof, and appreciating every moment of it.  My daughters are a few years younger than her boys were when she wrote the book, but I still feel the urgency of savoring those moments, those “gifts of an ordinary day.”  I really loved the author’s writing style, and I felt like I was right there with her throughout the entire story, feeling her every emotion.

The author offers so many valuable insights in this book!  I recommend that every mom of a teenager read this book.  Although I imagine nothing can really prepare us for the inevitable day when our children leave the nest, this book helped to remind me that every stage of life is a gift, and learning to slow down and practice presence and gratitude in each stage will help to ease the transitions.

Find more reviews about this book at Goodreads.

Some of My Favorite Quotes from the Book:

“When we focus on what is good and beautiful in someone, whether or not we think that they ‘deserve’ it, the good and beautiful are strengthened merely by the light of our attention.  When we choose to see and appreciate what is good and beautiful in our children, that goodness can’t help but grow, and their beauty blossoms forth.” (p.169)

“The life we have right here, right now, is the best life there is.” (p.209)

“Grace is available for each of us every day — our spiritual daily bread, but we’ve got to remember to ask for it with a grateful heart and not worry about whether there will be enough for tomorrow.” ~Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance (p.264)

“Do your work, then step back.  The only path to serenity.” ~Tao Te Ching (p.231)

“The only trust required is to know that when there is one ending there will be another beginning.” ~Clarissa Pinkola Estes (p.197)

 

Valentine Activity: Wall of Love

 

VALENTINE WALL OF LOVE 

Wall of Love 2016 logo

I LOVE family traditions, and my kids do, too.  Some of my greatest memories from my childhood are of family traditions.  When my girls are grown, I hope our traditions are something they will look back on and recall as some of the greatest moments of their childhood.  I know I will certainly treasure these memories forever.

Here is a fun new tradition that we started in our family last year.  I call it our Valentine’s Wall of Love.  We used tape to hang a huge poster board on our door.  On the poster board, we drew a heart for each member of the family and wrote their name inside.  Then, each family member writes things they like about each other in their hearts.  Here is last year’s poster:

2015 Wall of Love

Last year, we kept the poster up for a few weeks.  My girls love reading all the nice things that everyone writes about them, and I feel like it brings us closer together as a family.  This is a tradition I can see us keeping for years to come.

Every February, as a family we participate in the February Acts of Kindness Challenge.  Basically, the challenge is for each of us to do at least one act of kindness each day throughout the month of February.  We each have a log on the refrigerator to track our progress.  This Wall of Love project made it very easy for us to complete our Act of Kindness for the day.  Anyone is welcome to join us in the challenge at any time.  Simply join the February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook group, and begin spreading your love.  We love it when people share their own acts of kindness stories to the group or other kindness stories they encounter.

I got the idea for this “Wall of Love” from Harvard Homemaker last year on her Facebook page.  We have adapted it a bit for our family, but here is her original blog post describing the activity.

You can certainly use poster board or kraft paper and write on them with markers if you wish.  That is the easiest and quickest way to make this, but if you would like it to be a little more uniform, I have included the images that I used to make this year’s poster.  Feel free to print them out and use them as you wish (they are all JPG’s, so click on the image you would like.  Then, right click and select “Save image as” to save to your computer.  Then you can print them or edit them as you wish.)  If you want to make your own, PicMonkey is a great, free tool that can help you design something that suits your family (PicMonkey is what I used to design all of these images).

2016 valentine label  Happy Valentine's DayDad heart blue mom heart purple Things I love about you feb 2016Blank Heart

I hope you enjoy this project, and I hope it becomes a family tradition that your family will treasure for years to come as well!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Update 2/8/17 – Here is the 2017 image:

2017-valentine-label