Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Strategies for Sanity (or for keeping a Firm Mind & Peaceful Home)

[I've updated #3 recently with self-educating curriculum and resources]
1. Make Your Daily Spiritual/Mental Nourishment #1 Priority

Use the Quick & Powerful “tools” every day to train a firm mind to rule over your fickle feelings! (see the "Quick & Powerful" tools.) Post your most needed “tools” around your house & car where you will see them often and memorize! Rotate as needed, but always keep learning!

This is a small card in our powder bathroom.
In the family van!

On the wall near a busy stairway.

Also, spend a minimum of 15 minutes a day in studying the word of God (esp. The Book of Mormon) and writing down your thoughts.  One hour is much more ideal.  It is the spiritual, emotional & mental “air you breath”, and not a selfish luxury. You cannot give to your family what you do not have! Pray for guidance as to the best way to schedule this for YOU!

Start de-junking your mind of negative, critical thoughts (and words) for a much better mother for your children. Humble, sincere gospel study produces “higher” thoughts.

Also learn to nourish yourself while "feeding" your children spiritual and academic knowledge by teaching reading with "Learning to Read Using the Book of Mormon" by Camille Funk (or by purchasing the extra-large print version of The Book of Mormon). I have experienced miracles by patiently doing this! I was sure my son had dyslexia after trying several different phonics programs and also drilling with flash cards repeatedly. But progress was finally made after simply consistently reading The Book of Mormon with him. What a blessing!

"Pondering a passage of scripture can be a key to unlock revelation and the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Scriptures can calm an agitated soul, giving peace, hope, and a restoration of confidence in one’s ability to overcome the challenges of life. They have potent power to heal emotional challenges when there is faith in the Savior. They can accelerate physical healing." Richard G. Scott

2. Work for Physical Order & Guard Your Family:

These baskets make all the difference when cleaning out any needed area in your home!  I slipped the colored paper into sheet protectors (after writing titles) and used packing tape to attach to the baskets.  I left the open sheet protector side open so the titles can be easily changed for different types of organizing projects.  We just stack them inside each other and keep them in a closet when not being used (we have separate baskets for actual laundry.)

Get everyone to pitch in and work to bring physical order to your home. They'll be much happier souls without a doubt! But unless you've been one of those wonderfully consistent parents you may need to put up with a little or perhaps a lot of initial grumbling!

Fairness seems to rule at my house and I've been amazed at how this simple “Paper-Plate Wheel Rotation System” keeps my house from falling apart! Some wheels we rotate MONTHLY like "buddies" and "laundry helper".  Other wheels we rotate WEEKLY like the various kitchen jobs, garbage and pet jobs. This is especially helpful for the more time-consuming or less desirable jobs around the house. My children know everyone gets their fair turn and as a result there is little if any complaining and MUCH more compliance. Ahhh, I love it! This simple, inexpensive solution can be changed easily with the seasons or with changes in children's abilities or free time available. (i.e. we have "bring in wood" instead of "water garden" in the winter.)   I've tried countless systems and methods, but S-I-M-P-L-E spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S in my book! 

Paper-plate Rotating System (those are large tacks in the center because I couldn't find those "clasp things" at a store close by!)
Your children will be blessed with greater abilities, confidence and a feeling of being needed in the family as you have them be a part of your "team". All of this equals a happier, more balanced young person!
We have a chosen a "theme" for each day of the week to simplify meal planning.  (This is a small magnetic pad I got from the "dollar" section somewhere.) You can be as flexible as you wish, but general consistency helps!

Give Family Meal Time VERY high priority. 
Researchers at the U. of Minnesota “found that families that dine together tend to have healthier, more well-adjusted children. Their studies indicate that the more often children and teens eat with their parents—the happier, more structured these mealtimes are—the more the children gain these benefits: 

Better nutrition
Better language and literacy
Fewer eating disorders
Fewer risky behaviors

Columbia University found teens who have fewer than three family dinners per week are: 2½ times likelier to smoke cigarettes, more than 1½ time likelier to drink alcohol, almost three times likelier to try marijuana.

“I think you can’t put a price on the smells and chemistry that permeate the home at the dinner hour. This is what everyone wants in their home. Harmony and peace and love abound in a house where dinner is being cooked and served.” ~Liz Edmunds, The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner

We use "Screen Time" (found in your iPhone settings) on all phones and Ipads. We don't permit internet surfing while alone. We also keep our Apple TV put away until school and work are done to reduce distractions. This helps to greatly simplify life; however, we as parents must still be constantly on guard when it comes to electronic media, movies, and music. Sure, it would be much easier and more convenient to say, "But I want to trust my child or children." The fact is, as brain and developmental scientists have pointed out, that it is completely "natural" for children and youth to seek out things that will give their minds the most stimulation for the least amount of effort. Satan knows this all too well and is targeting them constantly with more and more entertainment options and alluring media content. But that is why they are "the children" and we are "the parents." Be a wise parent and do all you can to save the hearts, minds, and talents of your family!

Avoid starting the tradition of sleepovers while children are young. This will also simplify your life and greatly protect your children from danger. Both Elder Gene R. Cook and Brad Wilcox discuss this in their books. I've noticed this topic can be controversial with some people, but once again, be wise and prayerfully consider this, as these decisions can profoundly impact your children for the rest of their lives.

 Additional Resources:

"Clutter Be Gone! Cleaning Your House the Easy Way" by Don Aslett (I love all of his books! He is also a member of the church.)

"Raising Up a Family to the Lord" book & talk on cd’s by Gene R. Cook (Both excellent!)

"Raising Ourselves to the Bar" by Brad Wilcox


  1. Use Self-Educating Curriculums:

It’s best to not do for others what they are able to do for themselves. If you will just carefully observe your children, you will know the difference. In the long run, constant "spoon feeding" of your children does more harm than good. It will take patience to train your child to be self-disciplined if this is how you’ve been running your home school (or perhaps if they've been in a more formal school setting), but it’s well worth the effort. While reading Robinson Curriculum reviews, I found a mother who said she would not have been able to make it work if she had not first read the book Have a New Kid by Friday by Dr. Kevin Leman. (I haven't read this book in its entirety, just portions.) 

Elder David A. Bednar on Self-Education: Are you and I helping our children become agents who act and seek learning by study and by faith, or have we trained our children to wait to be taught and acted uponAre we as parents primarily giving our children the equivalent of spiritual fish to eat, or are we consistently helping them to act, to learn for themselves, and to stand steadfast and immovable? Are we helping our children become anxiously engaged in asking, seeking, and knocking? (See 3 Nephi 14:7.) General Conference Report, April 2010

Now, before you get nervous and overwhelmed about training these qualities into your children, I would like to share my personal observations: When youth or children (or anyone, for that matter) have the Spirit with them, they want to learn and are highly motivated to work hard. This inspiration and drive comes from within their own hearts and minds. With home education, we are blessed with many more opportunities to help our children have the spirit with them through various means, including using our own examples during more hours in the day. I feel I could have done a far better job in training "study habits" with my two oldest children; however, they have both excelled in college. My oldest daughter just graduated with honors from LDS Business College, was given scholarship money, and was accepted into Brigham Young University (Provo) (update: and has received a FULL TUITION academic scholarship). My seventeen-year-old son is just finishing his first year of college with all A's as well. He won an apprenticeship with the Utah Festival of Opera recently and will likely have a full-ride scholarship to Utah State University (amazing story: see Agency Education: Success Stories!). But I will tell you, far more important than their more "worldly" achievements, both of these children have strong testimonies of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. All the credit goes to our Lord for their successes.


For younger children, use Primary Songs and LDS Scripture Readers to bring the spirit and start the day (and/or start/finish the day as an entire family!) (Book of Mormon Stories, LDS Online Store) These things are also available online at LDS.org. My children love to follow along there as someone reads. (Though this doesn't make up for the conversations and insights we have while reading out loud together.) We also just discovered this fun scripture story radio program for children which includes musical numbers. Here is a sample:  New Testament Stories: Episode 22 - Ch. 35-36 | The Good Samaritan, Jesus Tells Three Parables

We have used the computer phonics program Reading Horizons, which also helps them learn writing. http://www.readinghorizons.com/markets/elementary/k-3-supplement.aspx  (It's expensive, but it just about acts like a private tutor.)


We have mostly used the Math It game to drill the basic math facts. Then we just starting them in Teaching Textbooks 3rd grade level.


My older, independently reading children use Saxon Math, and they follow the Robinson classic booklist, http://www.hstreasures.com/rc/booklist.html, the TJed booklist, or any other book in our house they feel inspired to read. We have a big foam board where they can mark off the books they have read.

For many years we have loved to watch Brother Brent DeGraff from Liahona Academy teach history from a Latter-day Saint perspective. He is a great, inspiring, and effective teacher for young people, and my children have told me he's had a very large impact on their lives. You don't need to sign up for the accredited courses; you can just keep it relaxed and even watch the lessons as a family (we do this during our lunch hour most days). The general age to begin is 4th or 5th grade, but my oldest son was in 2nd or 3rd grade when he began watching, and he loved it! Classes run on a school-year type of schedule but only four days per week.

  1. Outside Activities: Less is More

PRAY CAREFULLY before committing to ANY regular commitment or activity outside the home (other than standard church programs.) Once your children turn twelve, they will have many extra church youth activities to attend. Cherish your time with them prior to this! It will be gone fast!

You might be surprised by Heavenly Father's responses as you pray over these things. There have been various classes or things that I thought were great ideas, but after prayer, it became clear to me that Heavenly Father knew differently. If we will just finally be humble enough to realize that He can run our lives far better than we can, things will start to fall into place for us and we will find PEACE.

  1. Know Your Personality's Strengths and Weaknesses
    & Work to Improve. We can all improve in this area! Study books like "The Color Code" by Taylor Hartman Ph.D. and "The Likeability Factor" by Tim Sanders, and work hard to make yourself a truly effective leader in your home. Then gently help your family do the same with their own personalities. 

Think of coach Lavell Edwards (BYU football and one of 14 children) or coach John Wooden (UCLA basketball), people who have had tremendous success with young people. [Interesting side note: A dear friend of mine who is the 11th of 17 children also has a wonderful personality and is very balanced! She is currently homeschooling a young family of seven children and is an inspiration to many! See http://mommymita.blogspot.com/ for many more ideas with young children.]

Please NEVER say, "I can’t change." "That's just the way I am." Take the "Likeability-Factor" quiz while keeping your behavior around family in mind rather than friends or acquaintances, then get to work. (See the post "Personality Reality Check" on this site.)

  1. You’ve Only Got One Body, Take Care of It:

Study the Word of Wisdom found in Section 89 of the Doctrine and Covenants and do all in your power to live by its principles. Without your health, all of the above becomes much more difficult, if not impossible. My state of health has gradually yet dramatically improved since my first very difficult pregnancy, due to striving to eat nutritious and natural foods (well, most of the time!). My tenth pregnancy and delivery at 40 years old was one of my very best! My baby had a perfect TEN Apgar score immediately after his birth. I don't think I had ever seen that before with my other children. He was completely pink all the way down to the tips of his fingers and toes! BUT, I gave my body the nutrition it needed and was blessed with support and education from a nutrition- and supplement-minded chiropractor. It made all the difference for me and my family! If you're interested in the birth story, here is the link:

  Jason Thomas--born March 29, 2010

To see additional thoughts given in my talk at the LDSEHE Conference see post: A Joyful Mother of Many Children

Text Box: __________________
Karolyn never dreamed she and her husband, Tony, would be the parents of five daughters and five sons (ages 1-19), but is truly grateful for the daily joys, challenges and education that raising a large family brings.
firmnessofmindmom.blogspot.comSome helpful resources:

books by Dr. Joel Fuhrman
“Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon

This is a lot of information, I know! I've decided I could easily write a book, as I am just getting started with this post!!! :)


  1. I love this blog! I am already thinking of many who I will be sending this to.

    I needed almost every word...I think you should write a book. Thank you for sharing, you are so wise and committed!

    Summer Earl

  2. Oh, Summer, how I love you! You are just such a wonderful and great mom already! :)

  3. I really need to improve my health. I'm interested in how you do it and nourish such a large family. I am COMPLETELY amazed at all you do. Could you add one more thing to your list and be my mentor? Seriously. I don't take ANY supplements but am thinking it might be time to start (I'm 35). I'm so inspired by you. Thank you for sharing such wonderful advice.

  4. Thank you so much for your blog, and all the information I am finding here. It is exactly what I needed to read right now.

  5. I was wondering what supplements (and brands) you have found helpful for you? Do you like the vitamix or the blendtec for your smoothies ;)? Would you tell me more about the 'buddy'system you use on your job chart. What Sally Fallon recipes have you liked. Email me Kristen.streadbeck@gmail.com

  6. Just found your blog. I love this post. It's so nice to find a roll model like you who is where I want to be ten years from now.

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