Navigating the Changing Seasons of Family Life

Dakotapastor and I celebrated 18 years of marriage last month. I’ve been a mom almost that whole time, as our oldest was born a week or so after our first anniversary.

In this time I’ve been a stay at home mom to one and then of many. I’ve been a homeschooling mom, I’ve scrimped and saved to be a private school mom, I’ve been a public school mom. I’ve been a part-time working mom. I’ve been a work at home mom.

Now I’m in full-on career mode. Juggling the home and work and work travel and daycare are totally new concepts to this 40 something.

I’m probably not doing everything right.

Others juggle way more.

But, I’m pretty proud of myself. Stepping put of my comfort zone and seeking out not just a job, but a career, was a big step for me.

And now, as I travel around visiting colleges with my nearly-grown firstborn, I know that I made the right decision for our family.

While I would not trade the time spent raising the kids for anything, I also know, all too well, how quickly the children grow.

In a blink of an eye, our children morph from completely dependent to nearly independent.

I knew that I needed an outlet to focus my talents on. I knew that I needed more than a hobby. And, let’s face it, I knew that we needed a second income stream to fund college for six.

I love working more than I ever thought I would. I’m finding that not only am I bringing home a paycheck, which is a nice feeling, but I am gaining much more. Working in the non-profit sector, I feel like I really am making a difference in people’s lives. I am growing in knowledge and experience, I am gaining confidence, and I am slowly (very slowly) beginning to look and feel like a professional.

I am so thankful for ALL of these seasons. I would not trade my stay at home mom or homeschool mom seasons for anything. I feel so blessed to have been the main caregiver for all of my infants. I’ve taught all four boys to read (and hope to do the same with the girls.)

In many ways, I do feel like I have it all. I may not have it all at the same time, but, I truly have experienced the best of all worlds.

My advice? Acknowledge that where you are happy today may not be where you are tomorrow. Realize that no season lasts forever. Be open to knowing when a change may be warranted. Don’t let your past “I’ll nevers” rule your present. Remember that change takes time.

Chime in! Are you experiencing a season change? How are you dealing with the changes?

How To Share Your Proud Parent Moments

family I’m a mom to six awesome kids. I’d like to say that they are awesome due to my superior mothering, but that would be a lie. In many ways they are awesome in spite of my many flaws! I’m usually pretty careful about bragging about my kids, in public and on this blog, partially out of a sense of humility and partially because I don’t really want to sound like a perpetual annoying Christmas letter.

At the risk of sounding like a braggart, I think that we need to spend more time building up our kids, by praising their childhood achievements.

The temptation is to bemoan our kids, and point out the very burden of raising them. Trust me, I know. A quick glance through some recent posts would lend you the idea that my girls only cry and fight and that my sons sit around and make messes without cleaning them up. While this may be true at least part of the time, most of the day I am super proud of my kids!

Lately I’ve been shouting from the rooftops that my son who has always struggled in school is now earning As and Bs! The really awesome thing is that the more I praise this achievement, the harder he works and more responsible he acts.

I have a sporty son too. He is way sportier than Dakotapastor or I. Now, he may or may not be the most athletically gifted kid, but what he does have is a great attitude towards sports. He sees the sports he participates in as entertainment. He does not need to win to have fun…though winning is fun! His good sportsmanship is something to be proud of, and I let him know this all the time.

And those toddler girls? They are starting to talk! And the more that they talk, the less they cry…and that, my friends makes me a happy and proud mama!

Here are some tips to share your pride in your kids.

Don’t be afraid to brag at home.

The dinner table is not a Christmas letter. There is no shame in playing up everyone’s strong points around the table. When you have dinner as a family (and I hope that you do), spend a little time sharing achievements. Teach your kids to “toot their own horn” when needed. Let them know that the things that they achieve are worth being proud of.

Let your kids “catch” you bragging on them.

Next time you are talking with your friends and the kids are within earshot, take a moment to talk up some of your children’s achievements. Trust me, they do hear, and it will make them feel great!

Don’t stop documenting milestones with the baby book.

We tend to obsessively keep track of the baby and toddler years. Find a way to document elementary and high school milestones as well, either with a scrapbook, journal, photo book or even a blog.

Teach your kids to watch out for other people’s achievements.

Have your family cultivate a culture of encouragement in which you point out and praise other people’s achievements! The more they praise others the prouder they will be of themselves.

Older kids are harder to praise.

Sometimes it takes a “captive audience” to praise teens for their achievements. They tend to be more self conscious and are not fond of talking about themselves. Take advantage of times driving them around town to let them know just how very proud of them you are. Or, every once in a while, write them a note and leave it on their bedside table or desk. They may not look like or act like your approval matters, but it really does!

Chime in! What are some of your kids’ latest and greatest achievements? Do you have a special way to mark them? I’d love to hear from you!

This post was sponsored by Electrolux. The Electrolux Perfect Steam washer gets your clothes cleaner than any other washer2, keeping kids looking their best, so parents can focus on the moments that count. Kelly Ripa and Electrolux want to know your proud parent moments. Visit facebook.com/Electroluxto share your BEST moments and enter for a chance to win a new laundry pair.


[1] Based on AHAM washability test protocol for leading brand front-load washers with normal cycle times less than 60 minutes.

[2] NO PURCHASE OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.  Sweepstakes ends  6/26/12.   Full rules available at facebook.com/Electrolux.