20 Things I Will Not Regret Doing With My Kids.


1. Tucking them into bed at night. Someday they’ll be too big and I won’t get that moment back. Saying good night, pulling up the covers, and kissing their heads is a gift.

2. Telling them I love them. Start this when they’re young. I love you is a powerful three word phrase that matters.

3. Listening to their stories. Their stories teach me about them and their hearts and what they love. I think of the stories as a way to learn more about them. And this is the real listening. Not the distracted mom who wants to move onto the next thing on her never ending to-do list.

4. Looking them in their eyes. Nothing tells another person you matter more than looking at them in the eyes while they talk. It shows that what they are saying truly is important to you. I want my kids to remember that there were times when their mother looked them in the eye and smiled. And for me this often means shutting my laptop, putting down my phone, stopping my list, and just giving them time.

5. Saying yes when it’s easier to say no. Like those times when I just want to keep to my agenda and they want to join in. Or for those late night sleep overs. Or those times when I am simply tired and don’t want to walk up the stairs to say goodnight. Or for the extra story. Or to play a game. Yes simply matters.

6. Showing them new things. I can read to my kids about history or I can start to show them history. Last week, when Grace and I were in Mexico, it was such a cool experience to show Grace the Mayan ruins in Tulum. Now, I’m not saying go to Mexico, but there are things we can show them. Do science. Look at the stars. Go to the museum. Let them learn and see the world.

7. Teaching them to say please and thank you. No explanation needed. Politeness matters.

8. Letting them help even if it means it takes longer for me. Does it take longer to wash the windows if I’m teaching my children how to wash the windows? Yes. Same with laundry, cooking, cleaning, folding, and more. But they need to learn – these are life skills. I would be doing them a disservice by NOT teaching them and letting them help.

9. Saying no to things even when it would be easier to say yes. There are movies and television shows that I don’t let my kids watch. Books that I want them to wait to read. ipods and computers that are only allowed on the main level. Sometimes the answer needs to be no – even if everyone else’s answer seems to be yes.

10. Laughing with them.Or smiling with them. Or having fun with them. I simply want them to know I love being around them.  This is the aspect of liking my kids, not just loving them. I want them to know both.

11. Making them learn the value of work. I want my kids to know that work matters and that a good work ethic – where you go above and beyond and don’t complain – is an excellent skill. My kids know how to do laundry, to sweep the floor, to bring their dishes over, to clean their rooms, to make their beds, and so on. I will never regret teaching them the value of work.

12. Rocking them to sleep. Holding their hand. Giving them a kiss. I love them. Even after those days where they drive me a bit crazy and I wonder what in the world I’m doing. Those little acts of love are important life acts of love.

13. Saying I’m sorry. Because lets face it – I’m not perfect. I mess up. I make mistakes. So they need to hear me say I’m sorry and that I love them and that they’re important to me. So that means sometimes I will say I’m sorry.

14. Teaching them to be respectful of others. This. And this again. And this. I want my kids to respect others. To listen to them, to learn, and to not judge. This starts with me teaching them this skill and me being respectful of them. Often it is looking for the good first and giving grace.

15. Encouraging them to take risks. Sometimes the fear is the biggest obstacle. Kids need to learn to look at the fear and to push through the fear.

16. Not holding onto a record of wrongs. Each day is a new day. Learn from the past, but don’t hold onto the past. I want to see the good first and not all the negative – so often that means letting go of the record of wrongs.

17. Letting them see me thrive. I don’t want my kids to grow up thinking I was a good mom, but a not too happy and joyful mom. They need to see me thrive and be interested in things and to expand my creativity as well.

18. Teaching them compassion. I want them to see the world beyond me and ourselves. I want them to give back, to care about others, and to be a person of change.

19. Showing them that the stuff doesn’t matter. Nothing in Target really matters. Nor the stuff on the shelves. Or the clothes one wears. Or the fancy birthday parties. If the stuff clouds the vision then the relationships are lost. Relationships first. Stuff after that.

20. Letting them grow up. Sigh. This. It has to be done. So I look back with nostalgia, and embrace today, and look forward to tomorrow. They’ll grow. And I’ll savor the moments that we’re blessed to share.

Those are just twenty things I won’t regret doing with my kids. Simple, things really. They’re the living intentional type things that sometimes just need to be written down.

For more inspiration read The Real Mom Manual and The Mom Confession.

What is on your list?

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All photographs used by permission and credited to Hannah Nicole.
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53 Responses to “20 Things I Will Not Regret Doing With My Kids.”

  1. August 19, 2013

    Hands Free Mama Reply

    Well, you did it again. Another masterpiece. So much wisdom, inspiration, realness here. What I love most about your work is that these are not just words. This is your life. This is HOW you live. To me, that speaks volumes. I feel so affirmed for the decisions I am making as a parent when I read your posts.Thank you for sharing your life.

  2. August 19, 2013

    Rachel Martin Reply

    My goodness, thank you, Rachel, for such a kind comment. I appreciate it and I appreciate you.

    Yes, this is the way I live. Or at least try to live – that’s why the “I’m sorry” one is on the list because I recognize that I make mistakes so often. It’s about learning and trying and pulling up my boot straps and giving myself grace.

    Motherhood is a journey. Yes, not a destination, a journey.

    Blessings, my friend.

    Rachel

  3. August 19, 2013

    Beki Reply

    This was good to read this morning, especially #9. There are some things that I don’t let in our house, and some things that I don’t allow my kids to have because I feel that they will not be spiritually beneficial to them at all.

    Just this morning I sat at breakfast as I listened to my 6 year old son beg and plead for a specific video game that I’ve already said no to. I stood firm, but part of my heart ached because I know he doesn’t understand, and I can’t explain it to him very well.

    How do you tell a child that there’s something about the game or toy that Mommy doesn’t think Jesus would like? It just doesn’t make sense to him, but I still have to stick to what I feel is right or not right for my children.

    For a brief moment, I sighed and contemplated my decision. For a moment, I thought, “It’s not that bad… there are a lot of other Christians who have and play that game, maybe I’m overreacting.” And yet, as soon as that thought came into my mind, I shook my head and thought, “no. I can’t say yes to something I feel is not right, just because it will make him feel better or fit in better with the other kids.” That’s not an example I want to set.

    Thanks for the reassurance this morning.

    • August 19, 2013

      Sarah Reply

      We have the same discussion in our house all the time. It is hard. A friend suggested we use the passage in Philippians as a guide and talk to the kids about whether they find things in whatever it is that is good, noble, true, lovely etc. Or whether it makes them feel these things inside because God gave them to us as a guideline. This has helped us, especially with small brains who want to see where it says watching certain things isn’t a great choice!

      I love the values in this post, so affirming.

    • September 27, 2013

      Anonymous Reply

      That is so tough sometimes with our little ones. We try explaining to our six year old daughter that the things we put into our heads eventually come out of our hearts and we want our hearts to be filled with Jesus so we need to fill our heads with things that look like Jesus. I also think, as Sarah said, teaching them scripture is a great help. They may not understand it all right now, but the Holy Spirit will remind them of those scriptures in the exact moments they need to apply them :)

    • January 26, 2014

      Liz Reply

      Hi,

      good for you for sticking with your decision. I have three grown children and starting to set limits and saying no to things when they are six will prove to be very valuable and smart. Keep up the good work. Stay consistent and mean it when you say no. Of course, say yes sometimes too.

    • September 26, 2014

      Victoria Reply

      From my point of view, one day your kids gonna look back, think about his childhood, and think ‘so momma didn’t want to allow me play that game because of HER beliefs? Why did she not give me a CHOICE to try it and decide on my own?’ Sure, your kid’s little, but still. I think just letting the kid know you do not agree with it but letting them decide what they want to try or not is a better way. Also, why would people force their kids into THEIR beliefs/traditions etc.? Let them grow up and then they can decide for themselves if they want ANY religion etc. This whole ‘I’m Christian so my kid has to suffer the consequences’ or ‘I’m vegan so I won’t let my kid taste Mac Donald’s’ – that’s the kind of logic the kid will hate once they start to understand these things.

  4. August 19, 2013

    Jenni Reply

    So, so good! I have really got to start looking my 12 year old in the eyes again. We are both distracted by our technology, and I don’t want our future to be that way. Thanks for the reminder.

    BTW, when someone comments that I am “so good with kids”, I always tell them that the secret is to look them in the eyes when they are trying to tell you something. Even 2 year olds understand the importance of having someone’s full attention! Of course, an encouraging smile or word is always helpful, too. =)

  5. August 19, 2013

    Carrie R Reply

    Love your list. So true. My boys are in their 20s and I wish my husband and I had had the list “way back when.” Feeling the effects of some of the worst mistakes like not letting them (okay making them haha) learn how to do things like cook, clean, etc. Love your blog and your tidbits of wisdom. Keep writing girl!

  6. August 19, 2013

    Marybeth Hamilton Reply

    Your post serves as a great reminder that kids grow up FAST. It’s so bittersweet, but I like reading things like this to help me remember to savor the little things.

  7. August 19, 2013

    Kristin Kat Reply

    LOVE love LOVE as always :-)

    I will not regret letting them fall asleep at night with me in my bed or crawling into my bed in the middle of the night. Even though I may be extra tired and weary right now, the time will soon be gone when snuggling with Mama in the bed at night will be missed.

  8. August 20, 2013

    Lynn Reply

    21. Take them to baseball games!

    What amazing words of comfort. The Holy Ghost Himself is praying for you!
    Romans 8:26-28 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
    My email address

  9. August 20, 2013

    HappinessSavouredHot Reply

    Letting them discover the consequences of their actions (in an age appropriate manner of course). This way they will have realistic expectations about life.

  10. August 21, 2013

    Heather Ruppel Reply

    You hit the nail on the head again. I enjoy reading your writing so much!

  11. August 21, 2013

    Lynn Reply

    More comforting words from Romans 8! Praying!
    Romans 8:35, 37-39 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?…Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

  12. August 21, 2013

    tricia Reply

    I’ve pinned and am sharing this on my Facebook Page. I love the message. It is hard to know if we’re screwing this whole mothering thing up until it’s too late. But, I think following some of these guidelines is a good way to feel confident that we’re doing the best that we can. :)

  13. August 23, 2013

    soberrose81 Reply

    “They’re the living intentional type things…”

    So, so, so incredibly true. Living intentionally, especially with your child(ren)is, in my opinion, much more important than the doings.

    Some days (or times in a day) it may be more of a struggle than others, nonetheless, it is incredible when I make that decision. When I let the everything outside of the mothering or wife relationships go and simple stay with the moment – that’s when even I can be most proud of myself!

  14. August 28, 2013

    Magic and Mayhem Reply

    Wonderful list and great reminders. One that I’d add for myself is “being silly, even in public.” That’s made everything from boring grocery store trips to hard days all more fun for all of us over the years. :)

  15. September 3, 2013

    Angela Morse Reply

    Well this is just wonderful ^_^ I had tears sneaking in as I was reading this. Would you mind if I shared this on my Facebook group page? It’s an open group if you wanted to check it out first. It’s an education page for homeschoolers, teachers, parents etc. and I know tons of my members would truly love this! It’s called ‘A Beautiful Education’, here’s the link… https://www.facebook.com/groups/464801230278909/ You’re welcome to join the group, the more the merrier! :)

  16. September 18, 2013

    Dana Bowman Momsieblog Reply

    Oh I adore this. My little ones still have some very weary sleepless nights and even then I find myself loving that feeling of their weight as I rock them. It will not always be possible…

  17. September 20, 2013

    Shawna Cevraini Reply

    My kids are growing up so fast – this list is an awesome reminder for me that I’m doing ok. Saying I’m sorry was something that our parents rarely did but is something I’m sure to say to my kids. Even if it means that they see that I’m not perfect either.

    My list also contains Teaching them about nature – I’m glad I take the time to teach them where to find strawberries and how to dig potatoes and what kind of tree this is. Letting them have late nights and sleep in days in pj’s because it’s OK to have a day where you do nothing but what YOU want to do.

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  18. September 20, 2013

    Laila @OnlyLaila Reply

    I love this.

    One thing I want to continue to do with my son is encouraging him to take risks. And also to love. Love himself and others.

  19. September 27, 2013

    Liza Reply

    Lovely! And all so true. I would also add “Nothing.” Doing nothing, but doing together, is not to be discounted. I’m learning it’s not what we do but just I’m with my kids. That’s all they want.

  20. September 27, 2013

    Rachel Martin Reply

    @Angela,

    Yes, feel free to share it on your facebook group. Thanks so much for asking and for your kind comment. I appreciate it greatly.

    Rachel

  21. September 27, 2013

    Mark DeJesus Reply

    Well done and well expressed!

  22. September 30, 2013

    Wendie Tobin Reply

    Lowering the volume of my voice. It all isn’t important, anyway.

  23. September 30, 2013

    The Beauty Reply

    What a great, thought provoking post, Rachel. It inspired me to write my own list. I pray you are blessed.
    ~ Retta

  24. October 4, 2013

    madhu Reply

    The blog is very informative about hcl kids learning laptop and helpful for education of kids.

  25. October 11, 2013

    Hannah Jurgens Reply

    I love this!! Would you mind if I shared it on my blog? It is a blog about me and my mom, and I am currently drafting a post about some of these things!!! My mom always said her only regret, was not giving me a playhouse. She had no other regrets (ha! ha!) This list is fantastic though! Very true

    Thanks!
    Hannah

  26. October 25, 2013

    Anonymous Reply

    This is gay as fuck. Fuck you niggas for all I care. I din’t have a mom, so fuck ya’ll gay ass momma-having niggas.

  27. November 3, 2013

    Anonymous Reply

    Great post, I would like to add my 21st :)

    Encourage them to think out of the box. They can do better things and get a happy life if they go beyond of what is provided in school, college or society, they just need creativity and a good heart (my 21st Tip will not work if we do not follow your 20 tips)

    Thank you

  28. November 10, 2013

    Lynn Reply

    A wonderful one to repost (and yes in my tired state it did take getting to where you said you were in Mexico last week before I realized it…aren’t you proud that I actually remembered you WEREN’T in Mexico last week?)
    Praying for the Lord’s strength in your heart to face whatever each day brings!
    2 Corinthians 12:9-10 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
    My email address

  29. November 14, 2013

    feroz khan Reply

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  30. November 18, 2013

    Missy Marion Reply

    This is some great reading. I love how at not even 2 years old yet my granddaughter says Thank You, Please, Im sorry, Love me(How she says she loves you) and many more. Some may not be super clear but they are understandable. As my daughters were young I taught them alot of the same values that I read in your post and Im happy to say they are following the same with their children :-)

  31. January 27, 2014

    Kenneth Agudo Reply

    You are a great mom and i could feel it based on what you have written above. In future, i would be a good father to my children, and i have learned something from this post, learn to appreciate time.

  32. […] Having a 17-month old Little Miss who is growing up so fast, I can very much relate to this wonderful blog by Rachel Marie Martin […]

  33. January 31, 2014

    ami Reply

    great article. can i put you as the author and put it our mother’s club newsletter?

  34. February 5, 2014

    Yanic Reply

    What a wonderful reminder… Thank you.

  35. February 5, 2014

    iammetx Reply

    I don’t regret carrying them when they were babies. Everyone used to tell me that I shouldn’t carry them too much because I was going to spoil them. I used to tell them that I was the one getting spoiled, not them, because the day will come when I want to carry them in my arm again and they’ll be too big to do so. I took advantage of that so much, I miss carrying them. I hate when they fall asleep in my car and I want to carry them inside, but I have to wake them up and tell them to walk :(

  36. February 5, 2014

    Amy Hollingshead Reply

    I’ll never regret being honest and open with my children. And for that they have been open and honest with me. I always remembered the best answers were short direct and to the point. It has served us all(I have 5 children) well. Thank you! This was fabulous!!!

  37. March 14, 2014

    Joey Reply

    I had a really nice #5 moment this morning. My daughter, a third-grader, told me that we recycled a little scrap of paper that she realized she needed. It was three minutes past the time we should have already been in the car and I said, “Yes. We can dig through the recycling bin.” We found that little scrap of paper (lucky it was green or we’d never have seen it) and she rode to school with it clenched in her rapidly growing hand. My instinct was to tell her no. We needed to go, but in thirty seconds I gave her a little gift. She said “thank you” three times on the way to school. There’s no reason to ever regret that!

  38. March 14, 2014

    Krystle Reply

    I love this. I can say, at 30 years old, my Mom did these things and it has had a profound impact on me. I rocked my kids longer than some of my friends, and I don’t regret it. I tuck my kids in and let them ask question after question because my Mom did.
    Your kids will remember these little things. They matter. And it’s not too late to start these things!

  39. March 15, 2014

    Lynn Reply

    Definitely need to be reminded of this over and over again! Thanks for reposting it!
    Lifting up prayers right now.
    Psalms 70:1, 4-5 Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O LORD. (4-5) Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified. But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help and my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying.

  40. March 16, 2014

    Minuschka Reply

    Dear Mothers,
    I am astonished that so many of you use God or Christ as the ruler one has to obey. Wouldn’t it be much better if your own word are the most important? Aren’t you making it too easy by giving your responsibility away to some other authority, especially f it is a figure that a young child can not actually fathom? That figure will be dreaded because He has the power to regulate your child’s life? Please never use fear as a means of raising your children.!!

  41. March 16, 2014

    Lisa Reply

    I enjoy and look forward to reading everything that you write. Thank you so much for all that you share.

  42. March 16, 2014

    Lynn Reply

    Glad it went well in NYC!
    Praying!
    Psalms 69:1-3, 13 Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God…But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.
    My email address

  43. March 17, 2014

    MB Reply

    “Stuff” matters. Don’t fool yourself. Having nothing sucks.

    • March 17, 2014

      Rachel Marie Martin Reply

      Yes. Having nothing is horrible. But when stuff takes over we lose perspective. It’s truly a balance.

  44. March 17, 2014

    Lynn Reply

    Pour out your heart to the Lord! He hears! Lifting you up in prayer!
    Psalms 42:1-5 As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

  45. July 19, 2014

    Meeghan Reply

    Awww, this is a great list. Thanks for bringing a tear to my eye… :-)

  46. love this list. especially #9. i will definitely be sharing it with my readers. thank you.

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