Mom Week tips for becoming a better Mother

Are you ready for more of Mom Week? I’ve got Mom Chat #3 all ready today, it’s Tips for finding One-on-One time with each of your children. I share some things that I’ve done, and my goals where I’m trying to be better. Hope you’re enjoying the videos as much as I’m having fun making them!

You Tube video

CLICK HERE to view the video on You Tube.

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Now, to share with you another one of my long time besties. I met Natalie the week I moved to Texas, just days before I began my freshman year of high school. It was a tumultuous time in my life, and she was truly sent from heaven to me. Nat just had her 5th baby, this was taken just before her 4th. See more of this session HERE.

Natalie's family

Natalie’s mom was a dear friend to me in high school, and even still is. I often think of her and her soft way of handling conflict, and I try to emulate that. Here what Natalie has learned from her.

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vintage mother and child

On Spirituality:

My mom possesses a certain calm that I have always been amazed by.  When there’s a tornado, the eye of the storm stays still and calm, even when everything else is swirling in chaos.  My mom is a great example of being the eye of the storm.  I know that part of the reason she is able to be like this is because she has the influence of the Holy Ghost in her life. She is firmly rooted in the gospel and ultimately in Jesus Christ.  My mom is a soft spoken person, I don’t know that I ever remember her raising her voice at us.  She has six kids, so that’s kind of amazing to me. She is someone who has always taught by her example more than through words.  Not only is she soft spoken, but she often jokes about how she doesn’t always have a lot to say.  I feel like the things she does each day speak so loudly about who she is.  I don’t think a day went by that I didn’t see her, at some point, with her scriptures in her lap, or on her knees in prayer.  I try to do both of these things in my home but sometimes find myself doing them before or after my kids are in bed.  A few years ago I realized that while those times are more quiet, if my kids never see me doing them, they may not realize that it’s a priority for me.

On Creating:

 My mom loved to play the piano and I remember how much I loved hearing her play when I was a girl.  She also loved to sew and bake.  I feel like my mom is someone who hasn’t always taken a lot of time for herself.  Maybe some people need that a little more than others, but I never felt like she resented not being able to take more time for herself.  She always seemed so happy to be home with us, making the simple parts of life like cooking, laundry, and childhood play, her “hobbies”.  I know it wasn’t always easy, but I always felt and still feel like her children and her family are her priority.  There’s a certain safety and security that comes from knowing that.  On Friendship: My mom is always serving people.  Many of the friends that my mom has, and that our family has, are people who my mom was serving at one time or another.  She always has time to listen, and always makes people feel welcome in our home.  I always felt like my parents were friends with my friends, and that made people want to be at our house. I know there are several friends who she still keeps in touch with from high school and college, and through the miles, and death, and birth and all the things that tint our lives I feel like she has a handful of women that she will always be friends with, even if they only talk a few times a year.  For me, that’s the mark of a true friend, someone with whom you can just pick up right where you left off. My friends bless my life by helping me know that I’m not alone, that I’m not the only one who has a bad day, or who questions my parenting abilities.  

On Sibling Relationships:

One way that I try to help my kids establish friendships now is by pointing out the good in everyone in our home at times when everyone else is listening.  We all laugh and enjoy the funny, amazing, wonderful things about each other.  We also have a rule that if you have a friend over and you or your friend leaves a sibling out, or is rude to a sibling, the friend has to go home.  It may sound harsh, but I feel like creating that feeling of loyalty between siblings is so important.  There have been a few times where I’ve had to remind one of my kids, or their friend personally about this.  I always do it in a loving way, but I feel like it sends a message that our family comes first.

work

On Work: 

My mom is a worker, she doesn’t ever expect things to be given to her, and she doesn’t have a sense of entitlement that anyone owes her anything. I think that attitude really trickles down.  She isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, or to do unpleasant tasks.  Again, I feel like she taught more by example than by anything else.   On Happiness: My mom will be the first to tell you that she doesn’t think she’s very FUN. :)  She may not be joke around, play practical jokes on April Fools day fun, but she is happy and joyful. One thing that I think made my childhood happy is that she never made things a big deal.  If you messed up, it was ok.  She always has a smile on her face. She always found joy and happiness in simple pleasures like going to the park, or taking a walk.  Simple fun is probably a good way to describe it.  Sometimes, in this pinterest/instagram age I think we feel like we need to over do things a little.  When my mom comes to our home my kids spend hours playing play dough with her, or cutting out paper dolls from construction paper, or making puppets out of paper and popsicle sticks.  The thing that’s “fun” to me and to my kids, is that she is willing to pay attention to us.  Our kids don’t care if the craft we make is pinterest worthy, and sometimes I think we can spend a little too much time trying to make it that way that we forget to just enjoy the moment and really engage with our children in a meaningful way.  My mom is good at doing this, good at being present, good at making people feel loved in simple ways.  

On Marriage:

My mom is one of the most unselfish people I know, almost to a fault, almost to the point that you want her to take a week and only do things for herself sometimes.  One way I feel she has strengthened her marriage is by taking care of things that are important to my dad.  Simple things like having dinner on the table at night when he got home from work.  My parents are very different and the things that are important to my dad aren’t exactly the same things that are important to my mom, I feel like she does a good job of doing things for him that she may not necessarily need herself.  

One thing I do to strengthen my marriage is I always thank God for Matt in my prayers while Matt is listening.  When we kneel down together at night to pray I always try to say the reasons I’m thankful for him.  If there have been any bad feelings during the day, this sort of heals those, and helps us remember how much we love each other.  I also feel like a weekly date of some sort has helped us.  Another huge thing in our marriage is keeping a sense of humor.  We always try to find something funny about the situations around us, even when it seems impossible.  We look back on some of the most trying times in our marriage now and crack up laughing about something or other.  There is humor all around us, if we’re watching for it.  Sometimes it’s being able to laugh at ourselves that helps the most.

photo-8

On Parenting books: 

I love the Eyre’s, they’ve written so many great books about parenting.  There’s also a book called “Bonds That Make Us Free: Healing Our Relationships, Coming to Ourselves” by Terry Warner that will solve most any problem you’re having in a relationship. The book of Mormon, and the Bible provide guidance for me every day.  There’s a lot of great books out there, but the bottom line is, if we’re living a life centered around Jesus Christ, and trying to treat others the way he did, we’re going to be ok.  

On Scriptures: 

A few years ago, when I had several small children at home, and no one could do a whole lot for themselves I was feeling somewhat overwhelmed.  My husband’s job was busy, and I was usually on my own day and night to care for everyone’s needs.  I read this scripture in Doctrine & Covenants 64:33 “Wherefore, be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.  And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” and it occurred to me that this wasn’t supposed to be easy.  This work of raising children into responsible, God fearing adults, is not always easy, and it’s definitely going to be a sacrifice at times.  But every little thing that we do, every encouraging word we speak, every smile we give even when we want to sigh, every meal we make,  every bedtime story we read, every prayer we say, they’re all laying a foundation.  A foundation of security, and love, and stability.  I believe that the cumulative effect of all of these tiny drops in the bucket are worth the sacrifice.

mom

On Phrases:

My mom used to always say “Be honest in all your dealings”, and I also remember her setting a great example about not gossiping or talking negatively about others.  When someone would say something negative about another person she’d always say “I wonder what they’re saying about us right now.”  That helped people snap out of rude comment making pretty quickly.  
On Mothers: 
Trying to make them grow up too quickly.  Expecting them to be tiny adults who do everything perfectly.  There’s only one time to be a kid, and I want to create a magical, safe, happy place for my children to be children.  I want them to have so many happy memories of their childhood that they’re able to give that gift to their children.  
On Confidence: 
My mom is a genius at this.  She has always accepted me for who I am, even though I’m different than her.  I always feel like I’m enough when I’m around my mom.  Like the effort I’m making is worthy of something.  She is so great at loving people unconditionally and making people feel like they’re worthwhile.  I feel like she is a master at loving you even when you might not deserve it, and her love makes you want to be better.  

momma

On Communication:

 My mom and I have always been close friends, I think it goes back to the question before this one.  She is very non judgmental, and that fostered an environment of open communication.  She never freaked out about things that we did, she was calm when she didn’t agree with our choices and I feel like that helped me want to make the right choices.  I wanted to please her, and I wanted her to be able to trust me.  She is also a great listener.  She would always come into my room late at night after the younger kids were in bed and we’d lie on my bed and talk about boys and school and everything else.  I am the oldest of six kids, so there was always a lot going on at our house.  I loved these quiet moments when I got my mom all to myself.  It made me feel so special and so loved. I know she was tired, and ready for bed, but she’d stay up as long as I needed her to, and listen to anything I wanted to tell her about.  I feel like with my own children this has been a key point in encouraging open communication.  It starts young.  If I’m willing to listen to my four year old go on and on about which princesses she loves the most, I hope it will establish a pattern and habit so that when there’s something more serious going on in her life she’ll already know that I’m there to listen to her.  This is one real gift that my mom gave us.  She wasn’t so busy with her own hobbies and pursuits that she wasn’t able to see when we needed her.  She was keyed in to what was happening in our lives.

Kristen Duke

Kristen Duke

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Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
Kristen Duke
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Comments

  1. Kristen Duke says:

    Thanks for sharing such wisdom, Nat! I have a vivid memory of your mom reading your scriptures out in front of us, too. So many reminders of little things I want to be better at, thanks for sharing your heart, friend.

  2. Mackenzie+Welker says:

    Each mom that has been interviewed or talked about so far has had some key foundational pieces in common and yet also has her own flare. We are all different with different kids and different lives BUT we all need to make the important things count. Thanks for doing this mom week! I love the inspiration i’m gaining as i read and watch along.

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I’m so happy to hear that you’ve been inspired! I look up to each of these women a great deal, and glad that some of their wisdom is rubbing off to others! I’ve been inspired as well, and I already knew a lot of the things mentioned! Thank you for sharing with me/us;)

  3. What a wonderful mother you have! God blessed you :)

    • Kristen Duke says:

      Truly, a blessing, indeed. I feel blessed to know them both, and have learned from them throughout the years.

  4. Heidi B. says:

    Natalie is one of the greatest moms I know; proof that good mothering is passed down. It’s always fun reading your blog and it was great to “see” a friend. I sure miss that fantastic family:)

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I love finding these connections! A fun surprise to see your friend and hear her insight! Good mama love was passed down, for sure.