I had to give a speech a few weeks back.

It was about parenting, and because I had no clue what the heck to say, I pulled out my trusty “parenting” file I started compiling the day Max emerged into the world (a.k.a. the day I was finally bequeathed my much anticipated, longed for title of “mother.”)
I loved going through that file.

As I sifted through all the weathered, torn-out articles from magazines, worksheets from classes, ideas scribbled here and there I got this overwhelming feeling of gratitude for what I get to do: Mother my children.

It made me thankful not just for the mushy-gushy stuff I talk about like watching their eyelashes rest on their cheeks as they sleep each night or how my heart wants to burst out of me when I see them being kind to each other, but it made me think about the power that I have as a mother to make a difference in the lives of children. Five of them to be exact.

It is exhilarating to think about.

And very daunting as well.

I can really mess things up if I’m not careful. Or I can choose to work and read and pray my guts out that Dave and I can make the right decisions and parent in the right way for each of our unique children.

It made me thankful for the examples and writings of others that have helped me find some direction in this tricky thing called parenting.

And it made me thankful for Parenting Magazine (man alive there are a whole slew of good ideas in there).
These are the chicken-scratch notes I scrawled out as I went through the ideas enclosed in that folder:

–love notes to family members
–museum — have kids sketch there and love art
–“caring can”
–avoid lavish praise
–whatever you take note of, you get more of (beware of giving negative behavior any attention)
–Dave and I are the “King & Queen” — teach respect
–“cleaning faries”
–tell stories about childhood
–flashlight/candlelit stories
–put list of “money jobs” in clear view
–“Moral development is to move from ‘self’ to ‘others’…your children will not grow up when they can take care of themselves, but rather when they can take care of others– and want to.”
–get to know jr. high and high school teachers
–blessing box
–service websites: heifer.org, boxproject.org, worldvision.org
–money–help kids buy stock in fav. company
–start family savings accounts with interest

Man alive, I’ve got a long list to work on!

I came across our old “Family Rules” in that folder too.
It made me miss how simple life used to be back then…

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  1. Shawni,

    I love your blog! You have helped me to change the way I see motherhood. If before it was hard to think about giving up on the "fun stuff" (work, trips around the world) to have a baby, now I can't wait to have one.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences about motherhood. You have now idea how much you've been able to help me! 🙂

    (now I just have to convince my husband to have a baby… Oh, boy!)

  2. Good idea to periodically write down a list of things that you, as mom, needs to work on. I think I should do that, also. Interesting, isn't it, that even with the best of intentions every morning when we wake up, that life can feel like it's just taking over if we don't have an actual plan in place? This is why I love plans. And love this idea. Also, I really love your cute little family rules sheet. Very fun. 🙂

  3. this is so awesome. I am so often inspired by the wife and mother you are. If you don't want to make someone have a bunch of kids then I don't know who does!

    And your old rules sheet is adorable. Did you draw the pictures?! So good!

  4. I wish I could've been there to hear you speak! I am new here, but I love getting to know you and your family. I am a new mom and I appreciate the tips! 🙂

  5. Shawni,

    Could you share some details about the talk?

    Curious to know what you actually said.

    The idea of having to give a talk on Parenting would send me over a cliff.


  6. i love it! i need more advice for young kids as i am only starting out as a mom and only have one! more advice on how to set up family traditions and rules for your little ones please!!!

  7. as a mother considering homeschooling her children, i wanted to ask your thoughts on the topic. i know each family has different needs and it's a personal decision, but i think you seem like a person who would've considered it at some point. why don't you homeschool your kids?

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