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parenting go with your gut

Parents, when you don’t know, go with your gut…

(Inside: Parenting is hard, but go with your gut. One of the most powerful resources we have is that pressing on our heart that knows the next step.)

In parenting, go with your gut

I think we know what we’re doing more than we give ourselves credit for.
 
I know, it’s hard to discern when to push and pull back – that’s the big question in parenting.
 
But our insides often know which direction our family needs to go…
 

The waitress clicked the fresh parmesan cheese over the mixture of lettuce, tomatoes, and black olives.

I sunk my teeth in garlic bread smothered with butter. My son looked up from his menu as he finished ordering. Because the fridge had exhaled its last cold breath, and the repairman couldn’t come until Monday, my family was tucked into a booth at Olive Garden.
 
We were discussing favorite childhood memories.
 
“I loved reading, especially the Harry Potter books,” said my high school junior.
 
“All the time playing outside with the neighborhood kids was fun,” my middle schooler answered.
 
“I like doing well in school,” my sophomore added.
 
Then, he went on, “Also, this year’s soccer season has been my favorite.”
 
That moment felt sacred, like a validation that play and unbridled joy had moved through our home weaving picturesque memories for my children.
 

But, that’s not the whole story. For each one of their favorites, there was a fight to get there.

My 17yo hated reading from kindergarten through 1st grade. It wasn’t until his teacher had a good hard talk with us about how he couldn’t read that we woke up. And working at home with him was painful: we all ended up in tears, and it had nothing to do with the green eggs and ham.
 
My three sons would always choose screens over playing outside. Despite loud objections, I would kick them out the door to find a neighborhood friend.
 

My 15yo didn’t like middle school, especially the schoolwork that he refused to complete.

We tried about twenty different angles to spark a better educational experience until we found a “different way to communicate.” A light bulb turned on and he started completing his work independently, not exactly loving it, but not despising it either.
Want to learn how my teenage son and I better learned to communicate? Read more in the description.
And my son had quit club soccer (burnt out) but made the high school team. But he tried out only after I reminded him that he’s a happier person when he’s in an activity and that he had to choose something. He went through the high school website, said “no” to 79 of the options, and landed back on soccer with a reluctant, “I guess.”
 
It’s so hard to discern when to pull back and when to push.
 
And in each of those moments, I had my doubts.
 

But my inner voice told me this: my husband and I know these boys better than anyone else. We held them in our arms when they were football size. We’ve fed them, cared for them, wiped away their tears, watched them grow, and loved them with every ounce of our being. With close observation and reflection, we’ve seen their personalities unfold and tried to stay in tune with their needs.

We also know they must have opportunities to make their own choices so they can mature. But each of those moments didn’t feel like “choice situations.” Because we could see the big picture clearer than our kids…
 
Reading would make our son’s life easier.
 
Playing outside would grow friendships.
 
Learning to get organized in school would build confidence.
 
Being involved in a cocurricular activity would bring fun.
 

Kids need their parents.

They need the adults in their lives who love them more than anyone else and will put time into reflecting on what they need to learn, how they need to grow, and what they crave. Then guide them in that direction with lots of explanations, relationship-building, grace, and care. Kids need our lived-and-learned wisdom wrapped in love and tenderness.

 

We’re not going to conquer every raising-kids moment – that’s like trying to nail jelly to a wall.

There are certainly times when I’ve stepped into my kids’ lives, and really should’ve just taken the dog on a walk. But, not in the examples my kids were telling me around the restaurant table.
 
The validation felt good. It reminded me that our inner voice very often knows the next best steps.
 
Parents, we do know what we are doing.
 
We really do.
 
So listen to your gut with confidence.

In parenting, go with your gut. These conversations and more when you join this community of moms raising tweens and teens.

You just dropped your kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below.

gifts for moms
In parenting, go with your gut – join our community of moms learning to listen to our hearts here.

In parenting, go with your gut.
Read about these topics and more…

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler. 

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens’ Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing


COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

PARENTING
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like…

 

Watching Kids Grow Up

We NEED the Pain from Watching Kids Grow Up

(Inside: Watching your kids grow up is painful, but maybe that pain serves you well. Maybe you need it. And this is why…)

I think I know why it can be so painful for parents to watch our kids grow.

Let me back up…
 
Once my second (of three) sons started high school, a panicked feeling of where-did-the-time-go hit me like a Mack truck. I’m not exaggerating when I say, I’d wake up in the middle of the night, heart pounding, thinking how is this period of time with kids in my home almost over? I love raising big kids; I don’t want this season to end. How am I actually here, and where did the time go?
 
(I am never dramatic or hard to be around at all.)
 
This happened night after night.
Want parenting resources? Check out EMandK’s Etsy shop.

Until a random thought hit me in the middle of an ordinary day and made me feel a smidge better: maybe moms-of-bigs NEED that sinking feeling that time is slipping through our fingers. Perhaps the pain in our hearts helps us “finish strong”?

Even though I’m closer to the end than the beginning, I still have years of big kids in my home in front of me. And we all know that that means…
 
Grocery shopping.
 
Games and activities.
 
Checking grades.
 
Maintaining household routines.
 
Appointments.
 
Carpooling.
 
Busyness.
 
And in the whirlwind…
 

When we’re exhausted from a long day at work and our teen wants to talk at 10 pm, we find the energy because we know how fast it all goes.

When we’re busy juggling activity drop-offs, signing field trip permission slips, flipping the laundry, and running to buy poster board, we still rinse and repeat daily. We find the time to volunteer to be on the booster club and live stream the game so the far-away grandparents can watch because we know how fast it all goes.
 
When we’re overwhelmed with our tween’s middle school behaviors or lack of school engagement or friendship struggles, we continue to stay present and look for solutions. We find the resources because we know how fast it all goes.
watching kids grow up
Connect with your kids over these conservation starters for families of teens.

When our teens need to learn to drive, we teach.

When they can’t seem to remember to hang up their wet towels, we explain. When their friends descend upon our home like locusts, eating our food and staying too long, we welcome. We find the patience because we know how fast it all goes.
 
When the mail holds the graduation announcement of our friend’s child, we just stop everything and soak in that we’re not quite there yet. Then we book the vacation or slow down dinner or linger at the park on the swings. We focus on just enjoying our people because we know how fast it all goes.
 

I hate the pain I feel over how fast our kids grow. But as I look back over the time with my kids in my home, how many times has that sad feeling helped me just stop all the things I think I should be doing and focus on what really matters to me?

My family.
 
My home.
 
Noticing, despite all the things that go wrong, how much goes right.
 
That pain becomes purpose. It gives me perspective, so I take the good from it and carry on feeling grateful for the exact season I am in.

Are you watching your kids grow up? Read the full parenting tweens and teens series.

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler.

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is, as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

 

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN

How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
How to Get Your Tween/Teenage Son to Open Up to You
*400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

PARENTING
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
To the Mom of a High School Freshman
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like…

HEARTWARMING STORIES IN RAISING OLDER KIDS
I Will Miss These Years of Raising Tweens and Teens
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best
To the Mom Who Mourns That Kids Grow Too Fast
Moms of Big Kids, Did You See Your Sacred Moments Today?

Want parenting resources? Check out EMandK’s Etsy shop.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens

You just dropped your kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below. 

 

gifts for moms
a moms prayer

A Mom’s Prayer: Transform Your Anxious Thoughts Through Prayer

(Inside: A mom’s prayer: untangle your anxious thoughts and find extraordinary joy in your ordinary day. Let God minister and nourish you through prayer.)

My thoughts weigh me down. They mess with my mind, so I just don’t feel right.

The twelve tabs open in my brain bounce between ‘I need to grade a stack of tests,’ I wonder if my dog puked because she’s sick or just ate something,’ what times are practices tonight,’ ‘what’s for dinner,’ and ‘why are four of my brain-tabs frozen.’

My thoughts feel tangled and heavy, and I don’t know why. There are hints of depression and anxiety, but those labels seem too strong. My brain just feels scrambled. It’s frustrating because I’ve lived long enough to know-on-paper that good comes from bad, God is in control and I’m not doing life alone…

But, still – I feel unsettled…

 

However, I have this strategy that I use to help me sort out my mind-mess. Do you remember that game you played during 5th grade field day?

Around seven people would circle up. Everyone would extend their arms into the middle of the circle and grab a random hand so a knot of humans resulted. As a team, we’d work together to lift arms, walk under, turn, and step over joined hands to unravel the knot. We’d end up in an untangled circle holding our adjacent classmate’s hands.

Related Article: Imperfect Faith is Still Faith

 

a mom's prayer
Do you want to learn more about how prayer works? Read more about praying as a family here.

That same process is how I unsnarl my thoughts. I do this through prayer.

Because I can’t pinpoint what exactly is revving up my anxious heart, I don’t worry about what to pray. Instead, I just start praying – here and there – throughout my day…

I pray for my oldest son – for protection, wisdom, and confidence. (In my brain – with my human knot of tightly woven thoughts – two connected hands are lowered and I step over.)

I pray for my middle son – for happiness, friendships, and direction. (I spin under a raised hand I’m holding, slightly shaking loose a corner of the knot.)

 

I pray for my youngest son – for joy, focus, and positive influences. (I bend under two arms.)

I pray for my husband – for his work, protection, and that I love him well. (I turn clockwise, step over arms, and loosen another tangle.)

I pray for my students, coworkers, and community. (Deep breathe, figure out the next move, and tuck under another set of arms.)

I pray for my parents, in-laws, my grandma, and friends… (Another turn…)

I pray for direction and the next right step… (Another step over…)

 

a mom's prayer

I could care less about following any prayer rules or formulas; I simply spend my day talking to God.

Just like in 5th grade when I was slightly in awe of how we could always untangle the human knot, I’m often puzzled by why this prayer process unbinds my mess. But I know that as I say a prayer here, words there, the gentle peace of an ever-present God emerges. I feel him helping me not just know but also believe the words he presses deep within me: I am here with you always and forever.

The peace, the message, the act of continual prayer clears my head.

Not in an I-know-have-all-the answers way, but instead in a God-is-with-me-and-for-me-despite-my-worries way.

Prayer.

It’s one of God’s best tools to nurture us.

God is always near and FOR US. If you don’t believe me, start your day with one tiny prayer…

 

Join this community of moms of older kids

You just dropped your kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life-phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life-chapter. It’s totally free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community below.

 

gifts for moms

Read the whole “power of a praying mother” series

Prayer. I’ve had a tricky relationship with prayer over the years. I’ve bounced between ‘what’s the point?’ and ‘Lord, God, THANK YOU so much for the powerful gift of prayer.’

Here’s what life experience and the study of God’s word have taught me about prayer:

God hears our prayers.
God sometimes answers prayers.
_
God shapes us and changes our perspective in uplifting ways through prayer.
God nourishes us through prayer.
God speaks to our hearts with quiet “knowings” deep inside of us through prayer. 
God builds his relationship with us through prayer.
_
Prayer is powerful in ways that we fully don’t understand.
Science proves that prayer is a healthy, life-giving practice with both physical and mental benefits. 

If you also believe a mom’s prayer, can be powerful, keep reading…

A Praying Mother is a Strong Mother
A Mom’s Prayer: Transform Your Anxious Thoughts Through Prayer
A Mother’s Prayer for Strength and Faith and Courage
A Prayer to Conquer Your Mountain

a moms prayer
Do you want to learn more about how prayer works? Read more about praying as a family here.
school memory printable

School Memory Book Printable: a Simple, Beautiful Keepsake Parents will Cherish

(Inside: Grab a school memory book printable that as parents, you will cherish. This is a keepsake you will be glad that you have.)

I am a memory-junkie mom.

Specifically, photos and words.

I’ve always been the mom with a camera, snapping way too many photos of games, holidays, closed-eyed wishes in front of candles, kids with grandparents, and the dog playing fetch with the family. Then, I have plastic bins full of kids’ schoolwork, art projects, and planners. I love flipping through pictures of my growing kids and holding papers showcasing my boys’ handwriting, words, and drawings.

Time moves so fast, keepsakes are a kind of therapy for me.

They help me see where the moments went – to school, to sports, to concerts, to special occasions, to meals, to walks with the dog around the lake, to family movies watched in the living room.

However, I am not a things-memorabilia-junkie. Clutter makes me nervous, and I’ve donated an excessive amount of participation trophies, clothes, uniforms, toys…etc. I felt good about my mass exodus of outgrown goods until I went to a grad party and saw a mom who had saved all the “things” and displayed them so beautifully. I went home and cried buckets that I had donated the soccer jerseys and Awana vests.

Mom emotions are complicated like that.

But I digress…
 

Every year, I make an end-of-the-year photo album on Shutterfly that I order three copies of – one for us and one for each set of grandparents as their Christmas gifts.

 
I usually asked my kids questions about their year: what were their favorites, whom did they hang out with, what did they learn about themselves…and record that in the book.

This year I decided that instead of my typing their answers into my photo album, I wanted to see their handwriting.

So, I created two pdfs – one for the start of their school year and one for the end. I emailed the pdfs to them; they opened them on their school iPads and filled out the beginning-of-the-school-year page by hand using Notability. In June, I’ll remind them to fill out the end-of-the-school-year reflection. Then, I’ll upload the pages to Shutterfly, and it’ll be a nice addition to my annual memory books.
 
memory book printable
Get the memory book printable here.

That’s how I like to preserve memories, but these printables could be printed out to be put in memory boxes, kept in folders, or displayed at grad parties.

Or they could just be stored in the folders of pictures and memories on your computer. It’s just lovely to have “things” that mark your kids’ years and bring you back to that sweet season of raising kids.

I never look back and am sad I took the picture or recorded my kids’ thoughts.

Because I’m a mom.
 

A keeper of the memories.

Specifically, a photos and words person.

A memory-junkie.

And I love it.
memory book printable
Get the memory book printable here.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens. We try and come up with great ideas like a memory book printable for big kids and more…

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

 

If you grab the memory book printable here, you will automatically be signed up for emails.

Read more in the “Raising Tweens and Teens” series…

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler. 

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens’ Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing


COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens


PARENTING
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like…

 

memory book printable
Get the memory book printable here.
kindness at home

Kindness at Home is Everything, Let’s be a Family that’s Kind to Each Other

(Inside: Kindness at home means the world. We all want to go home to a kind family. A kind family that nurtures and supports. Read on..)

Let’s be a family that’s kind to each other.

A family that looks up from their devices and smiles big when we see the other arrive home.
 
And asks about their day, because even though you don’t always feel like answering, it’s sure nice to be asked.
 
Let’s see – really see – one another every. single. day.

Let’s be a family that’s kind to each other.

When big emotions hit, a family that takes a deep breath and exhales slowly before answering. Who tries to respond instead of react.
 
And when words spew out, pelting across the room instead of controlled, thought-out responding, is quick to apologize. Who takes ownership over their actions.
 
Let’s recognize that we’re each other’s safe place, so we can all hold it together out there and unravel at home. Let’s put hard moments in perspective and freely give grace.

Let’s be a family that’s kind to each other.

Big kids who notice when the parents are juggling all-the-things and are quick to help in the kitchen.
 
Or parents who see their teens studying for the big test so make their lunch for the next day and bring them a glass of water.
 
Let’s be aware, help lighten loads, and try to meet needs.

kindness at home
One of my favorite things to do to create family connection is go out to eat (especially after a busy couple of weeks), and while we wait for food, ask a few of these conversation starters.

Because the world out there is tricky.

Navigating it can be like eating spaghetti with a spoon – messy, partially effective, and just plain hard. So, let’s recognize that small acts of daily kindness send big love through all of our lives.
 
Kind attitudes uplift.
 
Kind words heal.
 
Kind actions revive.

And doing our part matters: if we want to live in a home that is kind, we need to be the type of person who is kind.

Every family member is important. Vital, even. Each must daily show kindness, so we create the kind of nourishing home that we all want to come home to.
 
It won’t be flawless.
 
Perfect families don’t exist.
 
But families who continually come back to kindness do.
 
So, let’s be that.
 
Let’s be a family that’s kind to each other.

Kindness at home matters. We all want to live in a kind home and feel connected to our families. Read more in the Create Family Connection series.

We all want to feel connected to our family. I know, I do. 

One of my favorite things to do with my family is to create family time. Yes, life gets busy, and no I don’t do this all perfectly (who actually does!?!), but it sure is fun to try. 

I hope you enjoy these family connection articles and ideas too…

FAMILY ACTIVITIES
Know Your Child: One Way to Learn How Your Kid Feels Loved
400+ Great Conversation Starters for Families of Teens
7 Powerful Reasons to Pray as a Family

INSPIRATIONAL STORIES
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best
My Big Kids, No Matter How Fast Your Grow, I’ll Always Be Your Mom 
Moms of Big Kids, Get Lost in Motherhood if You Want

kindness at home
Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens here.

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens. We’re working together to create kindness at home…

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

kind family
kindness at home
Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens here.
goodbye to elementary school

Goodbye, Elementary School: Honoring the Past and Moving Forward with Joy

(Inside: Today we are saying goodbye to elementary school. Our family’s been there for over a decade. I can’t believe this day is here. )

Today we’re saying goodbye to elementary school.

Our youngest son is wrapping up 5th grade.

We’re saying goodbye to so many memories.

Captain America backpacks and little shoes climbing on the bus.

Unpacking school supplies into small desks and taking pictures of our kids by the locker with their names on it.

Book fairs, ice cream parties, parent meetings, Bingo night, and family dances.

We’re saying goodbye to sifting through the take-home folders stuffed with stars-stamped-on-top papers.

The baggie books brought home to be read three times each to a family member.

Field trips to the Nature Center, Mill City Museum, a local pumpkin patch, Target Field to see their rainwater recycle system, and Mall of America Nickelodeon Universe.

goodbye to elementary school
In middle school, one of our sons did not want to do his schoolwork, and it became a huge source of tension in the home. I didn’t handle the situation perfectly, but I kept trying and finally figured out how to better communicate with my son to where we both felt things were going smoother. Read more in the description here.

We’re saying goodbye to finding a show-and-tell item to tuck into a brown paper bag.

Signing reading logs, checking daily planners, and listening to them practice their recorders.

The Fun Run and Field Day and outdoor recess.

We’re saying goodbye to their projects, like the Living History Museum where they researched someone famous, dressed up like them, and showed off their information board and iMovie in front of tables in the library.

The cute Mother’s Day crafts like the Time Magazine cover where the mom is drawn with lines for hair and big round circles for glasses, and shaky crayon words spell out “Mother of the Year.”

Coasters with their picture decoupaged onto it, crooked mugs shaped out of clay, cards stamped with a heart-shaped print of their overlapping hands, pictures drawn of the family, and square 1 art magnets of their painted masterpiece.

We’re saying goodbye to the Halloween parade with proud kids walking through the halls, showing off their costumes.

Decorated Valentine’s boxes stuffed with cards and candy.

Class parties with rotations of candy corn bingo, bowling in the hall where you have to hand pick up the pins, snowman fingerprint ornaments crafts, and creative snacks like Oreo worm dirt pudding.

We’re saying goodbye to musical performances called things like “Wild Things Zoo Review” where they sang “Never Polka with a Porcupine” and “Raptor Rap.”

Parent-teacher conferences where we look at all the various art projects hung around the room, and we snap a picture of the crest they created representing all the things their classmates should know about them.

And chatting with other parents as we wait in the lobby for our kids at the end of the day.

But mainly we’re saying goodbye to the most wonderful teachers and the best school community.

I’m all nostalgic over here.

I’m not remembering any of the hard stuff.

Instead, I’m just feeling grateful.

For eleven years in a place that nourished and taught my kids well.

Today, we’re saying goodbye…

Then looking ahead…

To so many more great family memories still left to make in whatever the next chapter might bring.

You’re saying goodbye to elementary school and hello to the big kid years. Be encouraged by the full “raising tweens and teens series.”

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler. 

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.


ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
A Simple and Effective Way to Encourage Your Teen
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens’ Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
How to Get Your Tween/Teenage Son to Open Up to You
*400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

PARENTING
Parenting is Hard: This One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
To the Mom of a High School Freshman
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like

HEARTWARMING STORIES IN RAISING OLDER KIDS
I Will Miss These Years of Raising Tweens and Teens
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best
To the Mom Who Mourns That Kids Grow Too Fast
Moms of Big Kids, Did You See Your Sacred Moments Today?

goodbye elementary school

Join this community of other moms who have said goodbye to elementary school and hello to so many other new wonderful seasons…

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

goodbye to elementary school
goodbye elementary school
perfect mom

Moms Have a Weird Relationship with Perfect

(Inside: Perfect mom life – isn’t it what we all want? How moms have a weird relationship with perfect, and how this one realization can improve your happiness.)

Moms have a weird relationship with perfect.

We know we get this one shot at having kids in our homes, so, of course, we want to say/do the “right things,” create a positive experience for our children, and enjoy this season.

Yes, yes, our heads KNOW that it’s not going to be perfect, but our hearts THINK it just might be anyway.

We could possibly be the exception.

Because we REALLY love motherhood and maybe that will help us pull off “getting it all right.”

But this rose-colored thinking misses one big thing…

Yes, motherhood comes with so many beautiful moments where you think your heart might burst, but it also comes with dips and curves and stumbling and getting back up again.

Imperfect IS THE PARENTING EXPERIENCE.

You can’t avoid it. It’s the eggs in the cookie recipe. It’s the cream in the chicken wild rice soup recipe. It’s an ingredient that comes with parenting. For everyone.

In mom life…

We’re going to lose our cool when we wanted to be a great listener then say something wise.

We’re going to struggle with when to push our teens and when to pull back.

We’re going to question if we’re leading our family in the best direction.

But, in the imperfect parts of parenting, we reflect. We pray. We talk it out with trusted people. We read a helpful article. We go for a walk. We cling to hope. Then we continually come back together as a family and try to figure it out.

Our teens are going to sometimes not turn in that assignment.

Our teens are going to keep it together at school, then unravel their big emotions when they get home the debris ricocheting off our hearts like hail.

Our teens are going to fall for the peer pressure when we wanted them to stay strong.

But, in the imperfect parts of being a teenager, we listen. We remind them how loved they are and that God is working in their lives. We go back to our family values and share the “whys” of good choices. We hold them accountable so they mature. We give space and grace. We maybe seek professional help. We cling to hope. And we continually come back together as a family and try to figure it out.

The dog is going to chew up the soccer cleats right before the game.

The family’s going to forget the orthodontist appointment.

The house is going to get messy.

But, in the imperfect parts of living together, we revisit routines. We talk about needs and how we can help each other. We divide up tasks so that everyone is contributing. And we continually come back together as a family and try to figure it out.

perfect mom
Read more about our family overcame a huge challenge in one of our sons not wanting to do his school work in the description here. I didn’t handle the situation like the perfect mom, but I kept trying and finally figured out how to better communicate with my son to where we both felt things were going smoother.

Moms have a weird relationship with perfect: we know perfect is unattainable but wish for it anyway. But then as life rolls out, we find that…

Through the imperfect, we get to know each other on a deeper level.

Through the imperfect, we grow and mature.

Through the imperfect, we learn to persist and find hope.

Through the imperfect, we build a strong family

And maybe, shaping a family that continually comes back together to figure things out just is the perfect experience.

You won’t have the perfect mom experience (because imperfect is the only experience to have), but you can join our community of moms raising big kids.

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below.
 

gifts for moms

The perfect mom doesn’t exist, but imperfectly thriving in motherhood is all around us and exquisitely beautiful. Read more stories in our “imperfectly thrive in motherhood” series.

Parenting is one of my biggest joys. I’ve always wanted to be a mom. From a young age, I prayed to have a family, and sometimes I pinch myself that my dream came true.

However, because this phase of life means so much to me, I can put too much pressure on myself to make the most of every moment, handle every situation flawlessly, and be the best mom ever. The truth is, I won’t do it all well and it’s not supposed to be that way. 

One of God’s goals for me is to lean on him – to turn to him, to trust in him, to seek his guidance and favor in this motherhood experience. The dips and turns and messy in mom-life help me do that.

What a gift the imperfect can be. I do my best to try and articulate this idea in my imperfectly thrive in motherhood series. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing. 

Do You Need to Simplify Parenting? Collect Moments, Instead
Healthy Helicopter Parenting: A Story to Life You Up
Why Mom Mistakes Can Be Good
Parenting Regrets: 3 Truths About “I Wish I’d Parented Better.”

family at dinner table

The Lasting Power of a Simple Meal: It’s Not Just Your Family at the Dinner Table, It’s More

(Inside: Moms, we think it’s just our family at the dinner table, another meal, nothing special, but it’s so much more than that…)

It’s not just dinner.

Moms, we think it’s just dinner, but we forget.

It’s not just noodles, a jar of spaghetti sauce, and a side of broccoli.

Or pizza showing up at our door.

Or chicken sandwiches ordered from a booth.

It’s a place for our family to fill their empty bellies – a mood booster and an energy-giver.

It’s a place to unpack your thoughts and process your day. To be heard and to listen. And for your family to speak truth and encouragement into each other’s lives.

It’s a place to just focus on eating because everyone’s too tired to talk, but it’s your safe place to simply sit and be. The dinner table is a place to belong.

It’s a place for good conversations. And belly laughs. And heated debates. And dumb topics. And intellectual thoughts.

family at dinner table
Do you want to make your meals more interesting? Discuss these awesome conversation starters for families of teens.

At the end of a busy day, we can quickly throw together/order/pick up something to eat and not think anything more about it. But it’s not just dinner.

It’s a pause in life to soak in the people you love. To refuel your body. To show and receive emotional support. To create and deepen family connections. To nurture a sense of belonging.

Life gets busy and this certainly isn’t going to happen every single night.

But, that rhythm of continually coming back to family meals.

It’s not just dinner.

It’s life.

Want to connect more than over your family at the dinner table? Read more in the “Create Family Connections” series.

We all want to feel connected to our family. I know, I do. 

One of my favorite things to do with my family is to create family time. Yes, life gets busy, and no I don’t do this all perfectly (who actually does!?!), but it sure is fun to try. 

I hope you enjoy these family connection articles and ideas too…

FAMILY ACTIVITIES
400+ Great Conversation Starters for Families of Teens
7 Powerful Reasons to Pray as a Family (+ Prayer Journal)

INSPIRATIONAL STORIES
My Big Kids, No Matter How Fast Your Grow, I’ll Always Be Your Mom 
Moms of Big Kids, Get Lost in Motherhood if You Want

CELEBRATING HOLIDAYS
30+ Ways to Connect With Your Family Over the Holiday Season

family at dinner table

Join this community of moms raising tweens and teens…

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kids, and celebrate the awesome momma you are.

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time.

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

gifts for moms
family at dinner table
get lost in motherhood

Moms of Big Kids, Get Lost in Motherhood if You Want…

(Inside: “Don’t get lost in motherhood” was a piece of advice I got when I first became a mom. Unpacking the mixed messages moms receive.)

“Don’t lose yourself in motherhood.”

I rocked my third child to sleep, enjoying a few tender moments of holding a baby and reading on my phone. Mom blogs were new to me, and I ate them up like honey. Hearing the hearts of fellow mothers felt beautiful, beautiful, beautiful – and the piece of advice that was dancing in front of my eyes was…

“Don’t lose yourself in motherhood.”

I’m not sure I knew exactly what the recommendation meant, but I took it as this: To fully enjoy life and be a strong woman, I SHOULD meet some of my goals (personal and professional) during this season of motherhood.

“Don’t lose yourself in motherhood.”

This suggestion grew deep roots in my mind. Maybe because I needed to work at least part-time for financial reasons, and it felt like validation. Also, I love chasing dreams, so despite the busyness, it felt great to give wings to a few of mine.

But then somewhere in this mom journey, the advice that once empowered switched to burdensome.

Because you know the “blip” from Avengers: Endgame?
 
Blink – it happened here.
 
My kids are in 10th grade and 9th grade and 5th grade and oh-my-heart, their focus has shifted to activities and friends and driving and talking about college. No one has listened to my suggestion of stopping all this growing up so fast.

I’m big emotions over here. Now, when I hear messages about going for one’s dreams or meeting that goal, I think – that’s such a great idea FOR ANYONE OTHER THAN ME.

I just need a hot moment. Or ten. Or a hundred.
 
I’m not feeling a full-steam-ahead season.
 
I don’t want to sign up for all the things.
 
I don’t want to work longer-than-necessary hours.
 
I don’t want extra obligations, no thank you.
 
And please, I need zero suggestions of some long quest for self-improvement.
 
I don’t want to feel like a failure because I’m not doing enough self-care or meeting the “right” kind of goals.
 
Off, off, off noise.
don't get lost in motherhood
Do you want a simple, fun way to connect with your family? Read more in the description.

The only “more” I want right now is to focus on simply being present.

I want to not sweat the small stuff but still invest the time into guiding and parenting my kids through the important stuff. I want to say yes to the family movie. I want to cheer from the sidelines at their games and concerts. I want to go out for ice cream. I want to open our home to friends and not worry about the mess, noise, and late hours. I want to pile into the booth, order dinner, and hear about my family’s day. I want to walk around the mall with them to shop for hoodies. I want to smile at the pile of shoes and backpacks by the door because that means everyone’s safely home.

I know I’m not going to enjoy every moment of raising big kids. Of course, there will be hard parts. But I just want to be around so I can lean into the moments that I do enjoy.

I’m sure someday I’ll be back to wanting to chase that goal – but not now. Not even a little bit.
 
“Don’t lose yourself in motherhood.”
 
Not every message we hear about mom life is for us.
 
And if it is for us, that certainly doesn’t mean the message is for every season.
 
Previously, maybe I didn’t want to get lost in motherhood – but right now, I don’t care if I do.

Read the full series on how important you are, momma!

Do you really understand how important, how vital, how life-giving your role as a mom is?

Maybe you feel like you just poured the bowl of cereal this morning, but that’s not all you did. You nourished your kid. And through simple daily interactions, you teach responsibility, leadership, love, grace, faith, courage, and kindness. Your child will go out into life and share his or her gifts. Then pass everything you taught down to their kids. And next, their grandkids – your impact keeps rolling.

I’m getting chill bumps. Your ordinary work is extraordinary. 

Let me continue to convince you through the full series on the importance of motherhood: 

Why Moms are Important: This is the Impact You Make
Momma, How You Inspire Other Moms in Every Day in Amazing Ways
3 Realizations that Will Help You Enjoy Motherhood More

don't get lost in motherhood

“Don’t get lost in motherhood” and other mixed messages. Join this community of moms of older kids as we unpack this mom life together.

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below. 

gifts for moms
moms of big kids

Moms of Big Kids, Did You See Your Sacred Moment Today?

(Inside: Moms of big kids, did you see your sacred moment today? They sneak in unexpectedly. And only take a sliver of time.)

Momma neck deep in raising big kids, did you see your sacred moment today?

I slowed the car into the drop-off lane as the sun peeked over the edge of the high school. My oldest (of my three sons) usually flies out the door with a hurried bye, but he just sat there. Big sigh, he turned and looked at me, “Can I just go back home with you?”

He might as well have just thrown his arms around my neck. That beautiful sentence.

And there it was for the day – my sacred moment.

They sneak in unexpectedly.
 
But every single day.
 
Quietly.
 
And only take a sliver of time.
 
Like when my non-chatty son interrupts my freezer-search for peas to tell me about how his teacher paired him with a new person in PE basketball, “but we won our game, mom, and it was so fun.” He beams, grabs the milk over my shoulder, pours it over his cereal, and is gone.

Or when my middle son is ricocheting the ball around that our puppy dives to get. He passes the ball to me and my whole world pauses for a few throws.

Or when the screen flickers a football game, my husband and sons lounge on the couch, the chair, the floor, and I feel my day exhale. For the first time in the past 24 hours, I see – really see – the wonder of my family.
 
Or I’m sitting on the stairs, fingers laced around a steaming mug, watching my youngest methodically packing his 5th-grade school folder, his iPad, his lunch. The snowflakes blow from the trees and flicker the sun as they pass the window and, for an instant, all things feel perfect.
 
Connect with your big kids over these powerful 400+ conversation starters for families of teens.

Or when my big kid is working a tournament and calls me because he can’t find where to go. He could solve this himself and normally does. But this time, he chose to call me, and I absolutely eat up the whole conversation.

Or when I ask at bedtime what I could pray for them about, one of my teens shares something vulnerable.
 
Or when my teen texts his after-school activity is canceled, and he’s coming home.
 
Or when one of my sons says yes to running to Target with me.
 
Or when my boys and I are leaning over the counter sharing chips and queso.

The whole day is a hamster wheel of busy, but then it all pauses for a split second, and it feels like God moves through my life gently shaking the overlooked beauty so that I actually notice it. And for that teeny second, I am overwhelmed with how exquisite my ordinary life is and how grateful I am to live it.

And then the moment is over and I’m annoyed about my messy home, and one kid can’t find his shoe, the other is grumbling about schoolwork, and the phones/electronics are back to driving me crazy.
 
But that one second is so powerful.
 
It fills my heart all the way up.
 
A mom’s sacred moment – did you see yours yet today?

Read the full Raising Big Kids Series

My two oldest sons are in high school now, and I’m still in a coma because of it. Even though I’ve taught high school for over two decades, I’m confused as to how I’m actually old enough to be a parent of a high schooler.

Teaching high schoolers has always been a passion of mine, but now parenting them is as well. I could research, write, and talk about this topic until eternity. I hope you are encouraged by some of my articles.


SCHOOL
Teen, Forget Grades, These Big Reasons are Why You’ll Like Trying Hard in School

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR TEENS
A Simple and Effective Way to Encourage Your Teen
You Can’t Fix Your Struggling Teens Problems, But You Can Do This One Powerful Thing

COMMUNICATING WITH YOUR TWEEN/TEEN
How to Get Your Teen/Teen to Their “Aha Moment”
How to Get Your Tween/Teenage Son to Open Up to You
400+ Conversation Starters for Families of Teens

PARENTING
Parenting is Hard: This One Thought Can Help You Better Thrive
Dear Kids – Know the Difference Between “Chores” and “Maintenance”
To the Mom of a High School Freshman
Your Teen’s Maddening Behavior is Age-Appropriate and Here’s Hope
Raising Tweens and Teens – THIS is what it looks like…

HEARTWARMING STORIES IN RAISING OLDER KIDS
I Will Miss These Years of Raising Tweens and Teens
7 Reasons Why Raising Tweens & Teens is the Best
To the Mom Who Mourns That Kids Grow Too Fast

big kids
For more resources, encouragement, and stories (written in the descriptions), check out my ETSY SHOP.

Join this community of moms raising big kids

You just dropped one kid off at practice, picked up another, and are trying to decide what to make for dinner. Your days are filled with work, parenting, and waiting for password reset emails.

You are parenting tweens and teens.

It’s an amazing life-phase, but also challenging in unique ways. In it all, you’d love a little encouragement to help you laugh, grow in faith, see parenting hacks, get ideas to connect with your kid, and celebrate the awesome momma you are. 

I got you, friend. Sign up for Empowered Moms and Kids monthly emails and get encouragement in your inbox geared for someone exactly in your life-chapter. It’s free and you can unsubscribe at any time. 

Plus, you’ll get instant access to all the great resources in the freebie library. Join our community here or below.