I’m a big believer in having a “family motto.” Some kind of mantra that speaks for what our family is all about. Growing up our family went through several phases to come up with what stuck, “Broaden and Contribute.” I know it seems like a small thing…just a few words stuck together, but that little phrase became a big part of what we thought about and who we have become. One year right after my sister and I left for college we got it made up all fancy for my parents for Christmas and it’s been on our wall ever since:

Well, it’s been a process for my own little family to come up with our own family motto too. When Dave and I were first married we had all kinds of different ideas. But after much deliberation and thought those ideas have evolved into something we all agree on (even the kids). And it is super simple. We purposely chose very elementary words because we want those words to be the seeds from which great things will come (we have big visions).

So what we came up with for our motto is “Learn, Work, Serve, Respect.” One little blog post can’t really do justice to explain the background behind why we chose each word, but believe me, this is quite thought-out. There are so many different levels and underlying messages behind each word, which we tend to talk about a bunch for FHE. (Dave even wants to change our awards to be just these four words but I’m not quite convinced yet since I just got done getting our original awards all dolled up and laminated.)

The only thing I felt was missing in our motto was somehow incorporating “LOVE” into the mix, because really, love is sort of the underlying theme through all of it. In deciding out how to display our motto in our home (I’m pretty choosy on what things we put up on our walls which I explained here), I tried to figure out how I could draw those words into a heart, or something that would show that love was part of the very fiber of the motto.

Well, my talented sister-in-law Kara came up with the answer for that one with her whiz-bang skills at adobe illustrator and I fell in love:(See how LOVE is incorporated in there? Thank you Kara!!)

So, after I had the basic model it took like six months to figure out how to hang it up and display it.

Wait, let me say that again, it took six months (although I don’t need to remind Dave of that because I about drove him batty with all my deliberating). But I must emphasize this because, well, since it was such a huge pain let’s just sit and oooo and ahhhhh over it for a minute and have a moment of silence.
There we go.

Now I feel much better.

I know it looks super simple, which is what we wanted, but sometimes super simple takes time to figure out.

This hangs above our fireplace smack-dab in the middle of where we live life every day, and I’m so thankful that it’s there, reminding us of what we are…and what we want to become.

One of the things I grasped onto at our Motherhood Retreat a couple weeks ago was how important it is to create unity in a family. It led me to think of what ways we have unity in our home…things like family dinners, Family Home Evening, “Fasting Club” (more on that later) and other things to make us feel like we are together. It made me glad we have a family motto because I know it helps us feel united in a cause. One of the girls at the retreat has a little saying they stand up and say together in their family when they get together with actions and all. So, inspired by her idea (and much to Max’s chagrin), I came home and taught the kids how to stand up and say the motto together before we start the “family business” of Family Home Evening each week (complete with our own actions we came up with together). I must say it’s pretty darn cute. I’ll have to record it before Max’s eye-rolls become more evident.

So, there you go…that’s why I love family mottos.

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  1. Shawni, I spotted your motto in the background of a picture on your mom's blog earlier this week, and thought it was neat how the word LOVE was incorporated into the design.

  2. Good On Ya Shawni. We also have a "family Mantra". Well, we have two main mantras. One is "OCC" which stands for Options, Choices, Consequences. Whenever I say OCC to the five great kiddos, they know how to weigh things out. Occasionally it is a reality check word as well. For example if someone is acting inappropriately then I will say something like, "Uh Oh….OCC" then they know they are on the edge of a negative consequence. My kiddos have learned that consequences can be good too. Our other mantra is "I Can". Robinson's never say can't unless they have expired all other options. I read about "Family Mantras" in your book. I think that's when I started ours.

  3. Can I just say I "Love" it!! Thanks so much for your amazing simplistic ideas..I feel motivativation coming on for my own family motto, goals, etc. Keep it coming 🙂

  4. Shawni, I seriously love all of your ideas and think you are amazing! Since I have been so inspired by your blog, I wanted to share a fun family tradition that we do…the blue plate! I bought a random large blue plate at TJ Max and when someone in our family does something that we want to recognize, they get their dinner served on the blue plate! Sometimes a child gets the blue plate for a little thing and sometimes it is a big thing. I try to look for things to let my husband have the blue plate once in a while too. We even made up a cheesy little song (blue plate, blue plate, someone got the blue plate and it is _____)to sing when the plate comes out. It is a super fun tradition and I love that it makes us celebrate each others successes in a fun way!

  5. I LOVE your family motto and the design is beautiful!!
    I showed it to my hubby and asked, "what is our family motto?" and he said, "How about, put that thing back where it can from or so help me!"
    Ha, Ha, I am still laughing and I think I will make a plaque with that on it and hang it in the playroom! 🙂

  6. That's beautiful. I love the colors. We also have a family motto that I've been wanting to frame for sometime. I just need Kara's skills to get it done for me. Our motto is "POWER"…Polite, Obedient, Workers, Enthusiastic & Righteous. We also do a little "Jones Power Cheer" that my kids love now, but someday I'm sure there will be eye rolling. Thanks for sharing. You've inspired me to blog about my motto {maybe I'll get around to it}. In the meantime, I hope you don't mind that my most recent post has a link to your blog. I just love it so much I couldn't help but share!

  7. I love this and have already put on my FHE schedule with a lesson on unity a plan to make a family motto. BUT, I love the Fasting Club. Tell me more!! We struggle at our house with fasting and would love to make it more fun. Thanks for all the inspiring ideas. After 20 years of mothering, I still need all the great motivation I can get. And with little ones still at home, I need to keep reteaching things, but keep it fresh for the big kids. Thanks

  8. Just another reason I love your blog. Brilliant. We've been working on one for our family but haven't got it nailed down yet.

    Now, I can't wait to see the family chant thing you learned at the retreat! Please post.

  9. I like it! The design for your motto is awesome. It's been fun reading the other comments to hear about what other families use for their mottos.

    We came up with our own motto a few years ago: Choose the Right and Hold on Tight. The CTR part doesn't need much explanation, but the Hold on Tight part works on many levels for us. 1) Hold tightly to the iron rod of the gospel 2) Hold on tight to each other, staying unified and close as a family and 3) Hold on tight while we're on this roller coaster ride! I happen to love that it all rhymes.

  10. Fantastic!! I am in awe of you and all your amazing parenting/family ideas. I LOVE the finished product.

    Thank you for sharing and continually inspiring us. Have a fabulous Spring Break!

  11. Love it! Both the idea, and the design! I bet it looks wonderful on your wall and serves ans a great reminder at all times!

    Oh, and I second Kelly!

  12. Shawni,
    Yours looks great and is a wonderful motto. When I read about it in the book we started thinking about ours. Currently, the family slogan is "Flush and Wash" which Saydi thought was so funny she told me I should go for it. We aim low around here!

  13. Shawni,
    I love your blog! I am the mother of 4 boys, and I found your blog after reading "A Mother's Book of Secret's" (which I LOVE) I love the family motto idea, and we are seriously deliberating over what we should have as ours. We made a family flag one time that said "Live Laugh Love." But, my husband and I are contemplating all of our hopes and goals, etc. for an official family motto. I just wanted to tell you thank-you!!

  14. Shawni-

    I love your ideas and love that the things hanging on your walls have meaning to you as a family, rather than just mere decoration.

    I love that I was able to see your walls a few weeks ago!

  15. You don't know me, but I know your neighbor, Ashby, and one of your friend's sisters. Anyway, growing up our family motto was "Our family is our biggest fan club." It was said when we needed reminders to be kind, build each other up or support each other. Thanks for your example of loving your role as mother and taking it so seriously.

  16. I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to you at the retreat, but I’m so glad you were there to share your wisdom as a mother and be inspired with all of us! I love checking in on your blog b/c your insights often bring out the best in me.

    Your family motto is fantastic! And the accompanying visual is a perfect way to make it a salient and unifying goal for your family. Coming up with a family motto always felt like such a final ultimatum that I’ve just let it simmer in the back of my brain for years, thinking I needed more time, more perspective, to decide upon such an important, guiding mantra. But when Vanessa mentioned at the retreat that her family has had several mottos, it liberated me from the notion of coming up with The Perfect Motto, and now I’m so excited to come up with the motto that’s right for our family now…and to refine and revise it as the years march on!

  17. Shawni–I am a new reader and I've fallen in love with your thoughts about family and how to improve and focus family life. In fact, I love this post about family mottos so much that I want to post something on my blog to send readers your way. Are you okay with that? I really am so impressed with the idea of family mottos. I don't have children of my own yet but I think it is never too early to start.

  18. I really really really sorta love that family motto. I like how it is displayed and talked about. Our family is just 3 1/2 years old and we have been trying to come up with something. I like that LOVE is incorporated into it. I gotta get to work on one of ours!

  19. I ♥ your Motto!!! The colors are so happy! So smart the way the design of it is done…..I found your blog….bacause when my son called home on Sunday from his mission in North Carolina for Mother's Day…he asked me to look at your Mormon.org and there you mentioned your blog……I love your outlook and I love the kind of Mother that you are…..you are pretty amazing and a great role model even to someone who doesn't know you or visa versa….thank you for your example..

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