A mother plays a really important role in their kids' lives and my mother was no different. Growing up, I was raised in a fairly privileged household. I was able to do almost every activity I ever wanted and I was able to travel to a lot of different places. There are a lot of values she instilled while in the comfort of our own home that I continue to incorporate into my own parenting today.
Here are the biggest values she taught me:
Be your kids' biggest fan
My mom used to drive me an hour away for gymnastics. I’d get off school and we’d high tail it an hour away for a 4 hour practice, 4-5 days a week. Along with that, we traveled to competitions all over the US. She sat outside in the freezing rain and snow to cheer me and my siblings on during our soccer games, lacrosse games, football games, and track meets. I don’t think she ever missed a game. She spent the weekends shuffling us from basketball games to different activities we signed up for. Any and all activities we wanted to participate in, she was there supporting us. She was there cheering us on and making sure we knew how proud she was of our accomplishments.
Eat dinner around the table as a family
We didn’t pull up a TV tray in the living room, gathered around the TV when dinner time came. We ate dinner as a family around the dinner table every single night. The TV was turned off and we sat, talked, and ate all together. The importance of a home cooked meal, eaten around the table with those you love continues to be a staple in my own family with my own children.
Eat healthy food
My mom would always cut up a huge plate of veggies and fruit for us to devour in minutes. While we weren't 100% perfect in our eating habits, my mom always did what she could to instill healthy eating for us. I specifically remember her serving salads before we were allowed to eat our spaghetti, and offering us a roasted vegetable sauce instead of just a plain meat one. She served us eggs before school more than we ate sugary cereals or pancakes with syrup. She wanted us to know that good food is what fuels our bodies, not the over-processed kind.
Treat your spouse right
My mother was a loyal wife to my father and was always looking for ways to make his day. She thought outside the box when it came to birthday and Christmas presents for him. She loved spoiling him and showing him her love. She treated him with respect and dignity on a daily basis. While their marriage wasn't perfect and they divorced when I was an adult, I still value the way I was raised around her constant love and support for her husband. It has made me a better wife to my own husband and I now appreciate the way she treated my father.
Be a good friend
My mother always nurtured my young friendships growing up. Some of my best friends from Kindergarten are still woman I cherish today. My mom encouraged the weekend hangouts with them as well as sleepovers. She taught me from a young age that in order to have great friends, you have to make great effort. She really allowed me to spend a lot of time forming these relationships outside of our home. If I wanted to have trustworthy people around me, I needed to be just as trustworthy towards them. It doesn't have to be hard to be a good friend, it just takes effort. She taught me to never lose that effort.
Keep a clean and tidy house
Now this one....I'm not great with. My house growing up shined like the top of the Chrysler Building. That's not a joke. My mother was a fantastic housewife and cleaner. Me? I struggle with this one a lot. I just....really loathe cleaning. But, it's always in the back of my mind that my mom had an immaculate house for us to grow up in. So while my skills are still being fined tuned, I appreciate the heck out of her hard work. It pushes me to be better in my own home.
Many hands make light work
I can distinctly remember doing yard work and us three siblings moaning and groaning about having to help. But my mom would always say, "if everyone pitches in, this will be done in 30 minutes instead of 3 hours!" She was right and I now pass on this advice to my own five children. The more hands that help, the faster the toys are picked up!
Never leave dishes in the sink for the next morning
Again, I'm not perfect with this one. But! How nice is it to wake up in the morning to an empty sink and all of the dishes clean? It feels pretty amazing! I strive to get them all done the night before, leaving our morning routine a lot easier as I'm not digging through a nasty sink looking for spoons for my kids' oatmeal. Sometimes doing the dishes after everyone is in bed seems like a cruel joke. But I promise, it feels so nice the next morning!
Take your kids on vacation
This one is a huge one for me. My parents took us EVERYWHERE! We went to Disney World and Florida so many times. We went to Virginia Beach, northern Michigan, Jamaica. I feel so blessed with all of the trips we took as a family. Those are my best memories from my childhood - seeing new places and experiencing them with the comfort of my own family. It gave me really amazing experiences and memories that I cherish so much today. While I know it's easy to buy toys for your kids, I promise that the trips to new places are way more meaningful for them.
An emphasis on traditions
Traditions are one of those things you don't appreciate much until you have your own kids. We made Christmas cookies together every year, my mom made cinnamon rolls every Easter morning, and we had a family Easter Egg hunt. Those are only a handful of the major traditions we did and while I have created some of my own with my children, I still look back and am so thankful for those traditions. I might not have really known it then, but I looked forward to those every year. I look forward to them more so now as a mom.
Take part in your community
My mom coached my T-ball team and cheerleading team when I was younger, as well as being one of the Girl Scout troop leaders when I wanted to try that. She helped facilitate our participation in town parades throughout the years and she helped with fundraisers that came up. She took the time to take us to all of the town events throughout the years, making sure we felt part of the community from a young age. She showed me how important it is to be a familiar face in your community. The friendships you make alone from being present are priceless and valuable.
Take good quality family pictures
Some of the best pictures any of us will have are the professional ones taken by photographers. The importance of getting these done as a family at least once a year can be so important. Our phones these days can take some really great pictures, but nothing compares to the ones a photographer can produce. Spend the extra money on a good photographer and get in the pictures with your kids! My mom made us do the photoshoots and while I remember loathing them in the moment, I am grateful as heck for them now. She knew we would cherish them eventually, which is why she made the effort. Make the effort!
Get a degree so you can support yourself
She always told us to go to college and get some sort of degree. She always wanted her daughters to know that we should never depend on a man for any financial reason. It was important to her that her girls would not be tied down with no way out if they ever needed one. She stressed the importance of being able to take care of ourselves and always having a backup plan.
While this is just a short list, these are the major values my mother has taught me. I now recognize the sacrifice and love she gave throughout all of those years growing up. Being a mom is a tough job and I'm thankful for the job she did.
I think I turned out pretty well ;)