making memories

Making Memories: How I Lowered My Expectations for "Fun" Mommyhood

When my twins were babies, I couldn’t wait for them to be old enough to do mommy-kid activities. I wanted to fingerpaint, cook, play Memory and Candyland, snuggle and read for hours, and make happy, rosy memories with my boys.
When they were around 2 years old, inspired by the success of my mommy friends and the parenting blogs I adored, I excitedly laid out paper and paints, prepared elaborate craft projects, bought games, and borrowed books from the library. We were going to have FUN and be happy and laugh and I would take pictures and make photo albums of my happy kids and my happy motherhood.
Here’s what really happened:
The paints were a mess. The paper got soaked and ripped. The colors were mixed into a color that resembled a really bad poopy diaper. The art project took longer to clean up than the boys spent "painting."
My boys played “Ants in My Pants” instead of moving their gingerbread men through Candyland. The colored cards flew all over the living room, joining the tiny demon-cherries from “Hi-Ho! Cherrio!” The homemade Memory cards were ripped and crumpled.
Cooking was a circus. Cups of flour were dumped on the counter instead of in the bowl. Eggs slipped and smashed on the floor. And one of my sons was so afraid of the hand-mixer that he ran screaming out of the room before it was even turned on.
There was no snuggling and reading for hours. My two year olds could barely sit still for one picture book. “Green Eggs and Ham”? WAY too long! I learned to flip through books at the library and throw back the ones that had more than 15 pages or 10 words per page.
I was discouraged, depressed even. I was failing at Mommyhood. Most days I thought, “Well, that was a fun 5 minutes. What am I going to do for the rest of the day? I guess I could start by cleaning up this mess.”
One day we made snakes with beads for 3 minutes. Then I cleaned up beads for the next 3 months. 
I wanted to make those special memories with my kids but every activity was either a failure or over before I could even snap a picture.
Plus I was going nuts and yelling things like “THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN! We are GOING to have FUN, OK???”
I was a real fun mom.
I eventually gave up. I lowered my expectations for fun mommyhood.
We didn’t do messy craft projects anymore. I threw “Hi-Ho Cherrio” and the memory cards in the trash. I made cookies while my boys napped. We read “The Foot Book” instead of “Green Eggs and Ham.”
And this was the best thing I could have ever done.
I discovered that the things I liked to do were not the things that my kids liked to do. The happy memories I had of coloring, playing board games, cooking sweets and treats, and reading on the couch with my mom for hours were not the same things that made my boys happy.
I had to accept that they loved running and wrestling, not sitting still playing board games.
I swallowed the fact that they weren’t interested in coloring or “making things.” And I realized that any craft that took longer to prepare or clean up than it did to make and play with was way overrated.
I still made them sit and read with me but we would read one board book instead of three picture books.
And when I did tackle that Pinterest Project from my “Fun Activities for Kids!” board, I learned to say “Well, that was fun!” after 3.5 minutes and really mean it.
Most importantly, I discovered that my kids are different from me and that is ok. And I learned that the best memories I could make with my children was not “doing things” together: it was seeing my boys happy, grins that lasted for seconds, not the “activities” that lasted for hours.

Consider Your Holidays

With the changing leaves and falling temperatures, there's no doubt that fall is here! As mothers, we always try to stay a step ahead of the chaos and this month we're taking some time to share our thoughts on holiday celebrations, family traditions and maybe some new ideas about how to enjoy the upcoming season. So grab that cup of cinnamon-spiced coffee, prop your feet up on a pumpkin and enjoy what our writers have to say this month. ~TMC  

The holidays can be such a hectic time and we as mothers shoulder much of the responsibility for decorating, baking, shopping, costume-making, hostessing, among many other things. We are goaded by commercials and sale papers to buy, buy, buy to make the perfect house and have happy children. We walk into stores and are bombarded by sales encouraging us to buy generic gifts that no one needs or just one more cute decoration we never knew we needed. We spend money we don’t have, use time we don’t have and end up feeling burnt out and unable to really enjoy and rest.


I would encourage you to think about all the things you tend to do for various holidays. Then think about what each of those holidays actually means to you. What you are trying to communicate to your family through all the activities you do? Does decorating make you feel invigorated and your family feel blessed? Then do it! Is it a burden to you that makes you feel overwhelmed? Then don’t feel obligated to do it or do less. Does the idea of making another Thanksgiving turkey give you a panic attack? Then ditch it and make something you enjoy making that your family enjoys eating!

Jesse Tree


Build in time to be with your family and friends to reflect on what each holiday really means to you. Find activities that point your children to the meaning of the holiday and encourages giving and generosity and a focus on others. Last year our family began using a Jesse tree as an advent activity. Each day for the month leading up to Christmas, we read a different Bible passage related to the coming of Christ and hung an ornament on the tree that stands for that passage. It was a great way to keep us centered on the true meaning and doing it each day provided a built in time for reflection, a moment of rest, as well as time together.


Simplifying your holiday activities to ones that really mean something to you and are a blessing to your family help to make the time more meaningful, reflective and restful—as it is meant to be!