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?
PS. My book The Brave Art of Motherhood shares how in all of these years to not lose your heart in the midst of motherhood. Get your copy HERE
All photographs used by permission and credited to Hannah Nicole.
Images and original content are sole property of Rachel Martin and may not be used, copied or transmitted without prior written consent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
But some things are just wrong- like inappropriate games, books, films, etc. Should I let my 6 year old play grand theft auto and decide himself if drugs and prostitution are okay? Sometimes I am the parent and I am wise and experienced and I know what is right or wrong for my child.
absolutely – that is totally true. 🙂
To follow your logic all the way through — we also need to allow our children to decide for themselves if: they should or should not take a bath, brush their teeth, walk down the middle of the interstate, kick dogs for fun, punch their brother or sister in the face, go to school or the doctor, drive a car the minute they think they know everything about it– which for my kids was usually around the age of 6 or 7, etc. Parents are parents for a reason. Every child needs boundaries or they won’t grow up to make their own decisions. When a child is burning with fever or has broken bones sticking out of their flesh, who gets to decide IF we are going to the doctor? Does the child get to say, “That just isn’t what I have decided is right for me.”?? Or does a child get to say, “School may have been fine for you, Mom, but I have decided it isn’t right for me.”?? When an infant is born, parents must impose their *beliefs* on them — like the *belief* that the infant must drink its milk, must get some sleep and have its diaper changed. To follow your logic to its ridiculous conclusions shows the fallacy of the premise. Children are not always innately equipped to make the decisions for themselves that are safe and acceptable. That is the reason they have parents. Granted, some grown-ups can become parents and also not be super equipped to make good decisions…that doesn’t mean the children get to take over. Be ever so careful before buying into the popular post-modern thinking that sounds “enlightened” on the surface — scratch just a little tiny bit of that surface away and you can easily see the preposterous results.
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. =)
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!
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.
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.
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.
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Letting them discover the consequences of their actions (in an age appropriate manner of course). This way they will have realistic expectations about life.
You hit the nail on the head again. I enjoy reading your writing so much!
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.
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. 🙂
“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!
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. 🙂
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… http://www.facebook.com/groups/464801230278909/ You’re welcome to join the group, the more the merrier! 🙂
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…
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!
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.
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.
Yes, feel free to share it on your facebook group. Thanks so much for asking and for your kind comment. I appreciate it greatly.
Well done and well expressed!
Lowering the volume of my voice. It all isn’t important, anyway.
What a great, thought provoking post, Rachel. It inspired me to write my own list. I pray you are blessed.
The blog is very informative about hcl kids learning laptop and helpful for education of kids.
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
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.
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)
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.
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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 🙂
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.
[…] 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 […]
great article. can i put you as the author and put it our mother’s club newsletter?
What a wonderful reminder… Thank you.
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 🙁
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!!!
[…] https://findingjoy.net/20-things-not-to-regret-doing-with-kids/ […]
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!
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!
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.
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.!!
I enjoy and look forward to reading everything that you write. Thank you so much for all that you share.
Thank you, Lisa.
Glad it went well in NYC!
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.
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“Stuff” matters. Don’t fool yourself. Having nothing sucks.
Yes. Having nothing is horrible. But when stuff takes over we lose perspective. It’s truly a balance.
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.
Awww, this is a great list. Thanks for bringing a tear to my eye… 🙂
love this list. especially #9. i will definitely be sharing it with my readers. thank you.
I love this and agree 100% Thanks for validating me!
Girl you couldn’t be more right with number eight. I was never taught anything because my mom said I was a nuisance. So now at 20 and living with my boyfriend I am having to learn how to do all that.
Though I don’t have kids (yet) I have MANY nieces and nephews… such a great post!
Great list! And I hate #20 – I know it’s a necessity and totally belongs on the list but I’m in the middle of letting our oldest go (he’s a senior in HS this year) and man is it tough! One minute you think “Boy, we did a good job – he’s ready” and then next minute, you can see they are still a kid and you want to be there to help when they need it. Very tough one (sigh…) but good to figure out how to transition to being a more distant parent.
Yes, please! I often ask my daughter’s forgiveness. I struggle with “the list”, not truly listening, etc… Our time with them is too short and as she’s my “only”, I must learn to cherish every moment, every day. It’s sometimes hard to remember this amidst the daily grind, but I try. Thank you for a beautifully spoken/written reminder. One that I would add to MY list: I will never regret teaching my daughter about God: to know Him, trust Him and live to serve Him and Him alone. May God bless you and your family!
Thank you for this! I just sent my daughter to pre school for her first day today, and letting her grow up was not fun! But these things reminded me gently that yes, I still need to run my house, go to work, and achieve things… But that every time I do one of these, I’ll value it. You reminded me that it doesn’t have to be either the housework or my kids, but that both have their time and place.
As a teacher, mother, and grandmother, I agree with everything you have said. Sometimes, though I think the whole respect thing includes “things” we have been given and entrusted to our care. Children need to be taught to respect others and their possessions–it is a mutual respect and much needed in our world today.
Really? What is the point of this? Who WOULD regret doing any of these things with their kids?
“Yep, I totally regretted telling my kids that I love them” -Said nobody ever.
I will do this with my kids. I haven’t felt and experienced this when I was one and I’m tearing up and my throat hurt while reading this article.
I would add reading to my kids! It’s our BEST snuggle time and they have learned to love reading.
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.
I would love to speak with you about publishing some of your blogs! I love them! I am the Publisher for Parenting Children with Special Needs Magazine and while I know your blogs are not specifically for my target they are very inspiring which we all need!!!!
[…] This is an older post from Rachel, but worthy of revisiting – 20 Things I Will Not Regret Doing with My Kids. […]