Start 'em young

Taryn with Kate, Will, and Eli Ruth // 2008

Taryn with Kate, Will, and Eli Ruth // 2008

I became a mom with very few plans in place for how I’d spend time with my child or children, how I envisioned my home being set up for little ones, or how many kids I wanted to have. I’d always hoped to be a mom. I just didn’t really have specific ideas of exactly how that might go down. Almost 17 years into motherhood, and 3 amazing kids later, I am both thankful for that somewhat clueless beginning and at the same time, a bit regretful that I wasn’t more intentional.

Image:  Texture Photo  // 2018

Image: Texture Photo // 2018

I’ve found that not having concrete expectations of how motherhood would go was a gift in that it allowed for a whole lotta grace. Not so much pressure on them or on me to be someone I had dreamed up in my head. I think I have been able to pay closer attention to each one of my kids and their unique personalities, ways of relating, and specific needs better since I didn’t have rigid expectations of what I wanted parenting and my kids to look like.

Being somewhat clueless also paved the way for new relationships and a sweet reliance on family. I am fortunate to have started motherhood off with some incredible new mamas who I’ve shared this crazy adventure with and who are still some of my dearest friends. We learned so much from one another. I am also a very blessed gal to have a mom and mother-in-law who have shown me what great love and sacrifice for your kids looks like. All good gifts in the midst of my cluelessness.

However, there is one area that I do wish I had been more thoughtful about at an earlier stage — how to create spaces in my home, and spaces in our days, for my kids. I had to make a lot of mistakes in this area before realizing there’s a better way. Of course hindsight is 20/20, but if I had taken a bit more time to think through what items &/or areas in my home that would encourage my kids to learn, explore, and love well, I would’ve saved myself lots of hours of singing (and doing) the “clean-up, clean-up, everybody everywhere” song and dance, procrastination, guilt, and frustration.

On May 2 at The Back Porch Mercantile, this is the exact topic we will be teaching on.

  • How do we get a baby’s room ready with all the needs but not the excess?

  • What’s the best way to create a play area for toddler’s that allows them to explore but doesn’t turn my house into a plastic toy jungle?

  • Do I keep all my preschooler’s handprint art and the other 724 pieces of art they’ve created?

  • Toys through the years and how to store them in a way that your kids can actually clean them up.

  • How do we do birthdays and holidays well without filling up on too many gifts?

  • What to do with all my elementary-age child’s school work?

  • How do teach my kids to organize?

I have learned lots raising this boy and my two girls. I’m still learning. And whether you’re a new mom or a few years in, my hope for you is that through some intentional, thoughtful planning, you can create the best space for your kids and for you to be the best mom you can be.

Image: Paige Severance (and her cutie twins!)

Image: Paige Severance (and her cutie twins!)

Father's Day Gift Guide

On June 21, we celebrate the dads in our lives. HYD's gift guide gives you a head start on your hunt for the perfect thing. Some finds are local, some regional, others just straight from the heart. Let us know if you've got any to add to our list!

A dad is someone who wants to catch you before you fall but instead picks you up, brushes you off, and lets you try again

1. The Traveler Mug by Go Forth Goods is one of our favorite handmade gifts for dad this year. Great for a mason jar full of coffee or sweet tea on the go!

2. A vintage-inspired, super soft T-shirt from Nothing Too Fancy located near Knoxville's Market Square on Union Ave. They have an amazing selection of T-shirts with all kind of Tennessee goodness.

3. Give dad a basket full of his favorite treats while you let him eat it guilt-free! HYD recommends checking out Mast General Store on Gay St. for a selection that never ends.

4. My husband's favorite accessory, his Patagonia Tech Web Belt. This guy is multi-purpose keeping dad looking handsome, his pants up and opening a bottle if the need arises. Find it in Knoxville at River Sports Outfitters or Uncle Lem's Outfitters.

5. Wildsam Field Guides not only navigate you through a city but tell the story of the place as well. Part documentary, part map, part oral history, these guides give the dad in your life just the adventure he's been looking for.

6. A gift card to one of these fine coffee establishments is great way to thank dad & to get his engine revving in the morning. Find them at Old City Java, KBrew, or Remedy Coffee.

7. If none of those strike your fancy, give dad a gift he will always cherish. A photo of the people that gave him his title. (Choosing a pic that includes the time he caught that really big fish is just a suggestion.)