Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

When my kids come out of the womb my main goal is to get them to self-sufficiency. I enjoy every moment of their newborn lives, but as soon as they can hold their own bottles – Operation Independence begins! Here are a few ways I help this independence grow.

  1. If they can do it, I don’t. Based on their age and ability, this includes feeding themselves, tying their shoes, making their breakfast or lunch, brushing their teeth, potty duty, zipping/buttoning jackets, and with the last baby, buckling herself in her car seat. Our rule at the time was whoever sat next to our 2-year-old was to buckle her into her car seat. One Sunday, after leaving church, we were on the highway and she shouted out, “Is somebody gonna buckle me?!” Her older sister who was next to her immediately buckled her into her seat. Thank God, we made it that far without incident. When we got home I taught her how to buckle herself in for future reference.
  2. Chores for everyone. If you can dump your toys on the floor, you can pick them up and put them back in the toy chest. If you can sleep in your bed, you can make it up. If you can open a snack, you can put the wrapper in the trash. If you can work a cellphone or tablet you can work a Samsung VRT Washer and Dryer. Simple as that. By the age of 9 my kids chores range from loading the dishwasher to doing their own laundry. And no they don’t get paid. We all have a role in this family and everyone is expected to do their part free of charge.
  3. Encourage their realistic talents and abilities. One thing we’ve learned not to do is waste time and money on talents and abilities we know our kids don’t possess. I’ll never forget the time our oldest daughter decided to try basketball. We were a bit surprised because she’s not athletic but we decided to support her because hey, you never know….right? Wrong. She was awful. Yes, I said it, my baby was awful and her team was awful too. On the ride home we encouraged her to think about what she loved to do and focus on that. She chose singing and acting so we paid for lessons and she blossomed. She went on to win her high school talent show two years in a row and was selected to appear in a statewide Public Service Announcement about the dangers of drinking after prom. She’s also showcased her ability during her first two years of college.
  4. Teach them life skills. Oh, how I miss the days of Home Economics. It was there I learned how to sew, write checks, address letters, cook, take care of a baby egg, prioritize my schedule and budget a paycheck. Sadly, this class is no longer offered, so we teach these and many more life skills at home. You just never know when they’ll need to iron because their dryer goes out or when the debit machine will go down and all they have is a check. Life skills are essential in teaching self-reliance. These lessons get our kids one step closer to leaving the nest and my husband and I one step closer to traveling the world!
  5. Encourage them. My son was the kid on the playground who played it safe. As a matter of fact, he’d rather not go to the playground, especially if Daddy was gonna be there encouraging him to take risks. One day, my husband started him out on the small rock climbing wall and slowly moved away. My son who was 4 at the time became terrified but my husband kept encouraging him, talking him all the way to the top where he promptly threw up his hands and yelled “I did it, Daddy!” I have to believe that if my Husband wasn’t there to encourage him, he would have never given that wall a second look. He gained new self confidence that day and has been taking “safe” risks ever since.
So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Danielle Lyles

Danielle Lyles, is a freelancer and screenwriter from St. Louis, Missouri. A seasoned Navy wife and momma of 4, she enjoys writing faith-based films and blogging about the African American parenting and military experience. She’s been featured as a guest blogger on Army Wife 101 and currently writes for Purpose Driven Women Magazine launching in 2018. 

Dear Child, You Are Not Responsible for How Anyone Else Feels about You

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Teen girl looking in the mirror putting on earrings

Dear kiddo, I have so many dreams for you. A million hopes and desires run through my mind every day on a never-ending loop, along with worries and fears, and so, so much prayer. Sometimes, it feels like my happiness is tied with ropes of steel to yours. And yet, the truth is, there are times you disappoint me. You will continue to disappoint me as you grow and make your own choices and take different paths than the ones I have imagined for you. But I’m going to tell you a secret (although I suspect you already know): My...

Keep Reading

Being a Hands-on Dad Matters

In: Kids, Living
Dad playing with little girl on floor

I am a hands-on dad. I take pride in spending time with my kids. Last week I took my toddler to the park. He’s two and has recently outgrown peek-a-boo, but nothing gets him laughing like him seeing me pop into the slide to scare him as he goes down. He grew to like this so much that he actually would not go down the slide unless he saw me in his range of vision going down. When it’s time to walk in the parking lot he knows to hold my hand, and he grabs my hand instinctively when he needs help...

Keep Reading

5 Kids in the Bible Who Will Inspire Yours

In: Faith, Kids
Little girl reading from Bible

Gathering my kids for morning Bible study has become our family’s cornerstone, a time not just for spiritual growth but for real, hearty conversations about life, courage, and making a difference. It’s not perfect, but it’s ours. My oldest, who’s 11, is at that age where he’s just beginning to understand the weight of his actions and decisions. He’s eager, yet unsure, about his ability to influence his world. It’s a big deal for him, and frankly, for me too. I want him to know, deeply know, that his choices matter, that he can be a force for good, just...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Love is the Best Medicine

In: Kids, Motherhood
Child lying on couch under blankets, color photo

When my kids are sick, I watch them sleep and see every age they have ever been at once. The sleepless nights with a fussy toddler, the too-hot cheeks of a baby against my own skin, the clean-up duty with my husband at 3 a.m., every restless moment floods my thoughts. I can almost feel the rocking—so much rocking—and hear myself singing the same lullaby until my voice became nothing but a whisper. I can still smell the pink antibiotics in a tiny syringe. Although my babies are now six and nine years old, the minute that fever spikes, they...

Keep Reading

Right Now I’m a Mom Who’s Not Ready to Let Go

In: Child, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and daughter hugging, color photo

We’re doing it. We’re applying, touring, and submitting pre-school applications. It feels a lot like my college application days, and there’s this image in my mind of how fast that day will come with my sweet girl once she enters the school doors. It’s a bizarre place to be because if I’m honest, I know it’s time to let her go, but my heart is screaming, “I’m not ready yet!” She’s four now though. Four years have flown by, and I don’t know how it happened. She can put her own clothes on and take herself to the bathroom. She...

Keep Reading

Each Child You Raise is Unique

In: Kids, Motherhood
Three little boys under a blanket, black-and-white photo

The hardest part about raising children? Well, there’s a lot, but to me, one major thing is that they are all completely different than one another. Nothing is the same. Like anything. Ever. Your first comes and you basically grow up with them, you learn through your mistakes as well as your triumphs. They go to all the parties with you, restaurants, sporting events, traveling—they just fit into your life. You learn the dos and don’ts, but your life doesn’t change as much as you thought. You start to think Wow! This was easy, let’s have another. RELATED: Isn’t Parenting...

Keep Reading

Our Kids Need Us as Much as We Need Them

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy sitting on bench with dog nearby, color photo

During a moment of sadness last week, my lively and joyful toddler voluntarily sat with me on the couch, holding hands and snuggling for a good hour. This brought comfort and happiness to the situation. At that moment, I realized sometimes our kids need us, sometimes we need them, and sometimes we need each other at the same time. Kids need us. From the moment they enter the world, infants express their needs through tiny (or loud) cries. Toddlers need lots of cuddling as their brains try to comprehend black, white, and all the colors of the expanding world around...

Keep Reading

Your Kids Don’t Need More Things, They Need More You

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young girl smiling together at home

He reached for my hand and then looked up. His sweet smile and lingering gaze flooded my weary heart with much-needed peace. “Thank you for taking me to the library, Mommy! It’s like we’re on a date! I like it when it’s just the two of us.” We entered the library, hand in hand, and headed toward the LEGO table. As I began gathering books nearby, I was surprised to feel my son’s arms around me. He gave me a quick squeeze and a kiss with an “I love you, Mommy” before returning to his LEGO—three separate times. My typically...

Keep Reading

This Time In the Passenger Seat is Precious

In: Kids, Motherhood, Teen
Teen driver with parent in passenger seat

When you’re parenting preteens and teens, it sometimes feels like you are an unpaid Uber driver. It can be a thankless job. During busy seasons, I spend 80 percent of my evenings driving, parking, dropping off, picking up, sitting in traffic, running errands, waiting in drive-thru lines. I say things like buckle your seat belt, turn that music down a little bit, take your trash inside, stop yelling—we are in the car, keep your hands to yourself, don’t make me turn this car around, get your feet off the back of the seat, this car is not a trash can,...

Keep Reading

So God Made My Daughter a Wrestler

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young female wrestler wearing mouth guard and wrestling singlet

God made my girl a wrestler. Gosh, those are words I would never have thought I would say or be so insanely proud to share with you. But I am. I know with 100 percent certainty and overwhelming pride that God made my girl a wrestler. But it’s been a journey. Probably one that started in the spring of 2010 when I was pregnant with my first baby and having the 20-week anatomy ultrasound. I remember hearing the word “girl” and squealing. I was over the moon excited—all I could think about were hair bows and cute outfits. And so...

Keep Reading