There is a book that I refer to a lot. It is called A Mother’s Book of Secrets. It is a great read full of wonderful ideas that have helped me as a mother. I am re-reading it again for probably the fifth time. The author’s also have a blog. I enjoy reading this one from time to time. I seek guidance here as a mother often. These two women are my go to gals when it comes to parenting tips.

Last night, while I was reading the book, I started wondering what my little book of secrets would hold.

I have been a mother for ten years now. Sometimes, I think that I still don’t know what I am doing. I have found a few little things that work well for me and my family.

Last week, I had the realization that I am in full-swing as a mother now. Jonathan and I are done having children. No more pregnancies, late night feedings, or nursing babies. No more excuses to not be on my game. I have always felt that I am not fully with it as a mom in the chaos of new babies. I always think of that time as survival mode.

I have never been at this point before. I have always had the excuse of pregnancy, and now I don’t. It is time to get my parenting skills together. I know I need to give myself more credit, but now that I am in to the stage of just raising kids, not having them; I want to make sure I get it right.

I always learn so much from other mothers. Hence the reason I love to re-read the book.

I thought it might be fun to share ten of my little secrets. These are the ten things that get me through the trenches of motherhood. The ten things that help me find the magic in motherhood. Being a mother is not an easy job, but it is the most rewarding job I have ever had. When I do these things, I find more peace in our home, and more time to just BE with our children.

1. I try not to go to bed with a dirty house. Well, let me rephrase that. I try to go to bed with a straightened house. I love waking up to a house where things are put away. In order to do this, I enlist the kids to make sure the house is all put together before we lay our heads down on our pillows.

2. How do I enlist the kids? my best tidying up secret; stations. Each one of our kids is responsible for a station in our house. They are responsible to make sure their rooms are clean, and their station is clean. Stations consist of; den, playroom, dining room, and family room. Each child has a room, and I pair the older kids up with a younger child to make sure they know what to do.

Their station needs to look like we would want it to look if a visitor was coming over. That means every pillow needs to be put back on the couch and toys picked up. We do stations just before bed time, and while they work on theirs, I work on mine. I tidy the kitchen, wipe off the table and chairs, and clorox wipe the bathrooms. It takes us between 10 to 15 minutes, and then we go to bed with a clean house.

3. Bedtime routine, and two thumbs up. Every night, rain or shine we join together as a family. This is the most important time in our family’s day. We start our time together by talking about what is happening in our family. We discuss anything that might be important to remember or something we have going on. This is also an opportunity for the kids to tell us important points about their day.

Then we do one of my favorite things as a family. Jonathan or I pick someone to receive “two thumbs up.” Two thumbs up is a way to reward someone in our house for doing something awesome. For example, “Isaac you get two thumbs up for being reverent in church, or Tess ate all of her dinner tonight.” It is the perfect opportunity to point out the kind of behavior that we like to see.

I remember a friend telling me that her daughters self esteem grew when she started riding horses and receiving awards. She had never gotten an award before. I believe that kids grow when we acknowledge their successes. In our family one of our kids gets an award every night. Someone is always a winner. When him or her receive two thumbs up, we give them an actual two thumbs up, we clap for them, and they receive 3 extra tokens(I will share this secret in a minute.) After our two thumbs up ritual we end the night with family prayer. I believe this routine to be one of the greatest things we do as a family.

4. Ok, tokens. We have been doing this in our family for a couple of years now. We are still doing it, because it works and our kids respond to it. I did a post on this a few years back. Go here, if you want to read more about it.

sidenote: I am a little more relaxed with the tokens and what we give and take away for, then I was in the beginning. If you choose to do this, find what works for your family.

Tokens are our way of rewarding our children for chores, good behavior, and good choices. We also take them away for the opposite. Tokens can be redeemed for money, or used to spend on computer, tv, or other special rewards. We love the token system. Our kids cash them in every Monday night.

5. Plan out your week. I have a beautiful calendar. Which I absolutely love. I bought it here. I sit down with it every Sunday.

I use it to plan out my week, and make sure we are all on the same page around here. I write everything down that I want to accomplish in the week as well. Once I have done that, I fill in the days with my kids stuff, hubby’s stuff, and my stuff. That way I make sure I accomplish things that are important to me as well. A mom that does for herself, is a happy mom.

Included in my list, I have clean the house, laundry, and exercise. I figure out which day that week those will squeeze in the best and plan accordingly. I also plan when and what I will exercise for the week. If I want to do it, I have to have a plan.

6. Lay out their clothes. I lay out my kids clothes every night before bed. It is so helpful, and saves so much time. When clothes, sock, and shoes are already out, then there is no rushing around looking for them in the morning. I even lay out the bows that I will have the girls wear in their hair. Saves me so much time, and brain power. My brain doesn’t think so well in the morning when I have just crawled out of bed. I have to say this is one of my greatest mommy secrets.

7. Enlist your kids to help. I have heard my friends say that they don’t have their kids do chores. My kids do chores every day.

In the morning, they are responsible to : make their bed, put away pj’s, brush teeth, say prayers, eat breakfast, get dressed, comb hair(with mom’s help), and clear breakfast dishes. At bed time: put their pj’s on, put away clothes for the day, brush teeth, say prayers, and do their stations.

I also enlist my kids to help me when I need it. They help clean bathrooms, load and unload the dishwasher, and wash windows. Even Tess has chores that she can do. It is so important that kids learn to be helpful. My kids have always helped, and they rarely complain because they just know that is what we do.

My favorite times are when we are working on it together. We turn up the music, and crank out a clean and tidy house in about 30 minutes. 5 or 6 people working together is so much easier than 1 person doing it alone.

8. If something isn’t working, fix it. If there are little problems in your house, work together to find a solution.

For example, after school at our house was making me crazy. We just recently came up with a solution so my brain didn’t explode from over stimulation. The kids all wanted to talk at once, or have me sign this, or read this. With 3 school age kids coming at me, I found myself wanting to crawl in a hole and hide. So… this is what we came up with:

Once they get home, they pick a snack from the snack basket and take it outside to eat. This gives me five minutes to tie up any loose ends from what I have been working on, and also allows them five minutes to decompress. After snack, they work on their homework, and when they are ready they call for an FM. FM stands for five minutes. Each child gets their own five minutes where no one can interrupt them. We discuss what went on that day, we talk about what might be coming up, and I look over homework and any papers that came home and might need to be signed. I love this because this allows me to talk to the kids one on one. I also find out important bits of information that they might not have shared with me when everyone else is around. This is a solution we came up with together. If something isn’t working, come together to find a solution.

9. Calm equals power. I have recently figured this out, and I am still working on it Staying clam does give you so much power. Try it. Instead of freaking out. Just try staying calm. You will be amazed at how much better the situation turns out. Now, if I could just remember to do this every time.

10. Be assertive, not passive. Mothers who are passive, rarely accomplish what it is that they want with their family.

It is so important to be assertive with your family. Set the limits, and enforce them. Set the tone, and try to live by it. Find time to assert some fun. Be assertive with love and understanding. Be assertive with rules.

When we let too many things go, we never accomplish what it is we want to do, or who we want to become.

Limit your passive moments to only things that really don’t matter, like a battle over shoes. Be assertive in moments that matter like, respect of others, or others property. Even if it is your property, you don’t want them to think that it is ok to do that to others things. When we are assertive, we show are children that we love them.

I know I said 10, but number 11 is my most important secret.

11. Laugh. Take the time to have fun. STOP!! what you are doing and be with your children. Laughter changes your mood. These moments will pass, and if you don’t have any fun while you are in them; you will regret it.

That is all folks; those are the secrets that I have stumbled on that have helped me along this hard hard journey of motherhood. I still fail every day. I still worry that my kids are going to grow up to hate me. I still make BIG mistakes, but I wanted to share what I have learned. I wanted you to know what I am working on to make my children’s childhood and our family more successful. Hopefully they can help you in some way.

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