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!)

summer survival tips

School's out for summer...The kids across Knox County are cheering for full days of play and fun, while parents have a new duty of planning summer activities and being prepared for whatever the fun days might hold! Here are a few ideas to help you be extra prepared: 

Image via Yummy Mummy Club blog.

Image via Yummy Mummy Club blog.

  • In the car...

You never know what you (or your various passengers) might need. This pop up organizer has a place for everything. Consider keeping the following items on hand: paper towels, bandaids, umbrella, trash bag, activity books, bungee cords, sunscreen, nonperishable snack, and a beach towel. 

  • In the garage...

Coming home from trips, pool days or picnics - the garage sometimes becomes the landing place for these items. Having a trash can and recycle bin will help with efficiently clearing out the trash before taking bags into the house. Keeping Clorox wipes near by to wipe out coolers after being used, will keep them from getting nasty over time. Make it a priority to always wash the wet bathing suits & towels from a trip immediately. Rinsing off any items with sand or dirt on them will save you from future mess! 

Image via Market Square Farmer's Market instagram.

Image via Market Square Farmer's Market instagram.

  • In the kitchen...

It seems like everyone is snacking more than ever in the summer. After a successful trip to the Farmer's Market, fill up a bowl with your fruit for anyone to grab on the go. Granola bars, PB&J, hummus, nuts are great snacks to grab on the run. If you have kids, designate areas for their snacks and drinks, separate from what you are using to cook meals to avoid confusion or clutter. Having paper products for an impromptu picnic will allow you to spontaneously decide to take your meal outdoors, and provides a quick and easy clean up. 


Keys to a peaceful summer

A big hooray for students, teachers, volunteers and parents who worked hard this school year!

Kids have been counting down the days; eagerly awaiting pool play time, road trips, and freedom to roam the neighborhood day & night. While summertime is sweet it can also add some chaos to our homes and cars. Here are a few tips to keep peace in your home & car this summer while the fun summer activities ensue!

  1. Fill a small tote with the summer outdoor essentials and keep it in your garage or laundry room (easy access to grab and go). Fill it with these items: outdoor/picnic blanket, sunscreen, bug spray, band aids, frisbee, and the ever useful Eno hammock. 
  2. Designate a section of the pantry and refrigerator for kids snacks and drinks. Make sure to pick an easily accessible shelf for your kiddos. These snacks and drinks will take up more room in the summer than they do during the school year, so it saves everyone from clutter and hunting for the right snack to designate a specific shelf. 
  3. Plan some free family fun - check out these local hikes from Outdoor Knoxville. Be sure to check the weather forecast, grab some snacks & hit the trail together. This is a great alternative to more expensive indoor activities. You could even incentivize the hike by allowing your kids to invite a friend if they consistently keep up with their chores around the house for a week straight! 
  4. Check out the Children's Festival of Reading hosted by the Knox County Public Library. This Saturday, May 21 is the free kick off event at 10:00 AM! The library is a great resource to continue education and reading throughout the summer, especially on those rainy days.

Happy summer to you!