Families With Grace

Helping Christian moms create homes filled with grace, love & faith

50 Conversation starters for your family

Improve your bond with these family conversation starters!

Finding time and ways to connect with our family and improve our bond is important. Whether you’re sitting at the dinner table, in the car or lounging on the couch, sometimes you need conversation starters for your family to get everyone talking.

50 Conversation Starters for Families Pinterest image 5

We do a monthly check-in night with each of our children about what is going on in their lives. My kids tease me that I always have questions for them, and they end up talking when they didn’t think they had anything to say! That’s the power of good questions. As a journalist, I know the importance of asking good questions. I’ve carried that over into my family life.

For our family, we’ve found that once the conversation gets going, we usually have follow-up questions and keep chatting away. Having some conversation starters for your family to kick off with can get the flow started.

Fun family conversation starters

One of the easiest ways to kick off family conversation is with fun topics and questions. These questions are fun to answer. I am often surprised at my family’s responses to questions like these. And they usually spark some friendly debate as well!

  1. What superhero power would you choose and why? (Bonus: what is your superhero name?)
  2. Share one of your most embarrassing moments.
  3. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
  4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with? What would you talk about with them?
  5. What three items would you take with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?
  6. If you created your own ice cream flavor, what would it be and what ingredients would you use? (Bonus: name the flavor!)
  7. Which animal would you choose to be for a day? Why?
  8. Share your favorite family vacation memory.
  9. What kind of robot would you create to help you? Why?
  10. Tell a silly joke you’ve heard recently that made you laugh.

Daily dinner table conversation starters

Though any of these conversation starters for your family can be used at the dinner table, these questions in particular are great for connecting with each other daily. Work them into your regular dinner table conversation to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in each other’s lives.

  1. What was your favorite part of the day today?
  2. What was the most challenging part of your day? How did you handle it?
  3. Share something that made you laugh or smile today.
  4. Did you learn anything new today or recently that surprised you? What was it?
  5. How are you feeling emotionally today? Do you have anything you’d like to talk about?
  6. What upcoming activity or event are you looking forward to? Why?
  7. Who made your life easier today? How?
  8. Name three things you’re grateful for today.
  9. What did you accomplish today that makes you feel proud?
  10. Is there something you’re struggling with today? How can we help you?

Family conversation starters with young children

Family conversations don’t have to wait until your kids are tweens and teens. These conversation starters for your family work for even the youngest family members who can talk!

  1. What is your favorite toy right now?
  2. If you could have any animal as a pet, which one would you pick? Why?
  3. Sing a song you know. (Bonus: add in dance moves!)
  4. What’s your favorite food? What’s your least favorite food?
  5. If you could make up a new holiday, what would it be? How would you celebrate it?
  6. What do you like to do when you have free time?
  7. Come up with an idea for a new toy and how it would work.
  8. Which book character would you want to hang out with in real life?
  9. Share about someone who was nice to you recently and how they were nice.
  10. What is something that always makes you feel happy?

Deep questions about family

Of course, there are some times that you want to go deeper with your conversations. These deeper questions work well during one-on-one time with your children or serious talks. You can make them part of a family meeting once a month or whatever works best for you.

While I always want to have fun with my children, I also want us to be able to talk about deeper emotions and challenges together. In order to make that happen, we have to be intentional.

  1. How do you feel our family cares for each other during challenging times? What can we do to improve that even more?
  2. What is your favorite family ritual or tradition we have? Why do you enjoy it?
  3. In what ways do you think our family communicates well? How can we improve our communication?
  4. Are there any unresolved conflicts or issues within our family that you think we need to address?
  5. How do you feel about the roles and responsibilities within our family? Are there any adjustments or changes you would suggest?
  6. What can our family do together to make an impact on the world?
  7. If you were the parents in our family, what would you do the same? What would you do differently?
  8. Share your hopes for our family for the next year.
  9. Tell each family member one character trait you most admire or appreciate about them.
  10. Are there any routines or activities that aren’t working so well right now and we need to address? If not, what is working well that you enjoy?

Faith conversation starters

Finally, as a Christian family, you want to connect about your faith. I have been surprised at the depth of faith conversations our family has had with our children. They have great insights and questions. Use these faith conversation starters any time or work them into your regular family devotional time.

  1. Who is one of your favorite people in the Bible? Why?
  2. How do you spend time with God regularly?
  3. What are some ways our family can share our faith with those around us?
  4. What Bible story do you enjoy most?
  5. Do you have a favorite Bible verse? If so, share it and why it’s your favorite. If not, share a Bible verse you remember and what it says to you.
  6. How does your relationship with God impact your daily life?
  7. What three questions would you ask God right now if you could?
  8. How can we worship God together as a family?
  9. What’s one of your favorite hymns or worship songs? What do you like about it?
  10. In what ways can we show God’s love and compassion to those who believe differently than we do?

Download a free PDF with a list of all these questions!

Download a free PDF of the 50 conversation starters for families

Summer fun ideas for families

70 Summer family activities to do at home

Ah, summertime. The warmer temperatures. Children happily playing outside while adults sip lemonade in the shade. Wait. What?! That’s not how it goes. If your family is anything like mine, it’s a precarious balance between planned activities, downtime and pesky things like work and chores. And that’s not even including the mom guilt that kicks in during summer break.

70 Summer Family Fun Activities to Do At Home Pinterest Image

But you don’t have to make every moment of summer break Instagram fabulous to make good family memories. Lots of summer fun ideas for families are easy to pull off and create fabulous memories for your entire family.

Whether you’re looking for rainy day activities for families, outdoor family fun activities or a mix of both, we’ve got you covered!

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps support my blog. Thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Outdoor summer fun ideas for families

One of the great things about summer is beautiful weather. For those of us here in the Midwest, we enjoy the warmer days that aren’t too humid and hot to be outside. Check your local weather forecast and figure out when these outdoor summer fun ideas will work best for your family. Don’t forget that mornings and evenings can be great for being outside, even on blazing summer days.

Launch rockets

From rockets you stomp on for smaller kiddos to building rockets for older kiddos, this can be a great summer family activity that works in some science to boot!

Stomp rocket for younger children
Set of two rockets, Estes Tandem-X Launch set
Dinosaur rocket launcher
National Geographic Light-Up Sky Rockets

Water toys

Nothing says summer family fun more than cooling down outside with water. You can have a blast as a family with water toys. Be sure to leave some towels by your door for when you go back inside all wet! We usually follow up water play outside with showers, PJs and a movie.

Twister Splash game
350 rapid-fill water balloons from Zuru Bunch O Balloon
Nerf Super Soaker Toss 'N Splash Cornhole set
Extra large splash pad at 90.5 inches or 7.5 feet
Octopus sprinkler
3-pack water guns

Family yard games

Playing games as a family is always fun. We love tabletop games year-round, but summertime is the perfect time to get outside for some fun. Whether your looking for traditional field day activities or a classic croquet set, these yard games are terrific summer fun ideas for families!

Giant Sorry! game to play outside
Find and seek scavenger hunt card game to play outside (or inside)
Glow in the dark outdoor lawn darts with soft tips
Outdoor ring toss game
Beanbag toss game
237 Minute Challenges

Sporty summer family fun activities

If there’s one way to encourage kiddos (and adults!) to be more active, it’s by playing a game. These sporty games and activities are a great way for your family to have fun this summer as well as get in some cardio!

Obstacle course in a box
Light-up capture the flag game
Laser tag is a great summer fun idea for families
Pop, pass, catch ball game for families

Indoor summer fun ideas for families

These family fun indoor activities will keep your family entertained and having fun inside when it’s too hot to be outside. They’re also perfect rainy day activities for families and really can work any time of year. Who said you have to be outside all the time to have fun?

Educational and fun STEAM toys

Learning doesn’t sound super fun over summer break, but these STEAM toys are actually fun for the family. And they help your kiddos hone things like problem-solving skills, physics concepts and more.

60-piece set of magnet building tiles are great indoor family fun
Snap Circuits' Junior electronics exploration kit
National Geographic Earth Science kit
National Geographic mega magic set with more than 75 magic tricks
National Geographic Stunning Science chemistry set
Lego City Express Passenger Train Set, remote-controlled toy
K'Nex 3-in-1 classic amusement park building set
ThinkFun Freefall marble maze game
Bio Chem Creatures STEAM Lab Kit from Klutz
Circuit Blox Glowing LED FM Radio building kit
Melissa and Doug cardboard building blocks
Magna-Tiles Builder Magnetic Construction Set

Imaginative play toys

Most family have a decent amount of toys around for imaginative play, but adding some new ones to the mix can turn into a great family fun indoor activity. Imaginative play is not only good for our kiddos’ brains, but it also gives your family a chance to interact together in new and different ways. Take time to play!

Melissa and Doug Super Smile Dentist Kit Play Set
StikBots posable action figures set of 6
Coastal Living building blocks miniature house kit
Supermarket cash register toy with scanner, play money, pretend credit card and play food
Dinosaur play mat with dinosaurs and trees
A set of dinosaurs, farm animals and ocean animals
Teacher role play set from Ben Franklin Toys
Vet clinic and doctor kit with pet carrier and pets

Care for living things

Without springing for a new puppy, you can still have a great time this summer taking care of living things with your kiddos. From plants to easy pets, these ideas are perfect family fun indoor activities!

National Geographic light-up terrarium dinosaur habitat
Insect Lore Ladybug growing kit
Giant Butterfly garden
National Geographic flower growing kit

Crafts for your family

I am pretty inept at crafts and art, but with the right craft kit, I can hold my own. These craft kits and ideas are perfect rainy day activities to keep your family entertained. Work on them together and see what kind of masterpieces you can make!

National Geographic paint marbling craft kit
Pixicade Pets virtual pet creator
Magnetic mini tiles art kit is a great rainy day family activity
Monster hand puppet craft kit
Make your own clay handprint bowls kit
Mix and mold your own stepping stones kit with paint and more to decorate
4-pack DIY birdhouse assembly and painting kit
DIY Magi Bouncy Balls kit
Make your own felt succulents 61-piece set is a great summer fun idea for families!
Create your own window art kit
Make your own gem keychains kit
Sew your own felt animals craft kit: woodland animals for kids 7 to 12
National Geographic pottery wheel for kids with 2 pounds of air dry clay
Make a wind chime kit

Puzzles and games

Puzzles and games are perhaps the most quintessential rainy day family activities. And there’s a good reason: they’re fun! Make some snacks and prepare for a good time with these puzzles and games!

Melissa and Doug Pattern blocks and boards
United States map 500-piece puzzle
Glow in the dark space 500-piece puzzle
Spider-man 400-piece puzzle
Kids vs. parents game: How well do you know your family?
Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza game
What do you meme? Family edition
Charades for kids card game (no reading required)
Trivial Pursuit: Family Edition
Left Center Right Dice Game
Family Faceoff
Hasbro Trouble Game

Summer fun ideas for families

With so many outdoor and indoor options, you family can have lots of fun this summer. Make memories whether it’s a rainy day, hot day or gorgeous day with any of these 70 ideas!

Find more great family fun ideas in these posts:

Moms with Grace: Rachael Belle

Tips for Christian moms with a good dose of encouragement

The “Moms with Grace” series takes a look at modern Christian moms and how they handle daily life with raising children. You’ll find monthly posts from moms with older kids, younger kids and all those in between. Let real-life moms encourage and uplift you!

Sometimes when you get introduced to someone, you realize you are on the same page right away. That’s how it was for me with Rachael Belle. Rachael publishes a quarterly magazine called “Healing Home” that focuses on Biblical homemaking. She also maintains a related blog and a second site, Healing Home Recipes, where she posts healthy recipes for families.

Along with her online ministry, Rachael is a wife of nine years to Danny and a mom to three boys: Wyatt (5), West (3) and Wylder (8 months). Needless to say, she’s one busy mama! She and her family live on 40 acres in Minnesota where they homestead with gardens, bees, pigs, chickens and turkeys.

Recently she took time out of her jam-packed schedule to answer a few questions for the Moms with Grace series.

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps support my blog. Thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Can you share a little bit about your marriage?

It’s hard to talk about our marriage without mentioning a turning point that happened for Dan in 2005. At the time Dan was living a very different life. In God’s true sovereignty, He issued Dan a wake-up call in the form of a tree. The only problem with this tree is that it met Dan’s head as he was going 60 MPH on a brand-new Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Dan was found dead on scene. He died again in the ambulance and again on the operating table.

But God is gracious, and he saved my future husband’s life.

Dan’s life changed that night. He woke up with virtually no memory and had to relearn how to walk, talk, write, eat and everything else. Although I was not there during this tumultuous time, I have heard many of the stories. And to this day I marvel at God’s goodness in saving Dan’s life.

I met Dan in 2013 at our church, and we were married the next year.

How have you changed from the beginning of your mom journey until now?

The change in me could be summarized in one word: sanctification.

By no means, do I claim that I have arrived at any ending point of development, but again God is gracious. Motherhood and marriage reveal the sin nature in us in ways that nothing else has for me.

After I had my second child, I found myself seething in anger over the smallest of things. I never would have considered myself an angry person, but those little sinful boys triggered my own sin battle with bitterness, angry and resentment.

The beauty of the gift of motherhood is that God does not leave us helpless as we stand there wondering where all this sin is stemming from. He gave us His Word, other sisters in Christ, community and the church.

The biggest change in me from the beginning of my mom journey until now is God’s grace in my life revealing sin in me and His work in me as I learn to lean into His will for my life.

What are some challenges you’ve faced as a mother? How have you worked to overcome them?

The biggest challenge I have faced in motherhood is learning how to be a wife and a mother.

When Dan suffered his brain injury in 2005 it left his brain with certain damages. The section of our brain that allows us to feel empathy was greatly impacted. Our children need our empathy. When they are crying on the floor in frustration, our empathy is in part what allows us to offer them grace when it is needed.

When I married Dan, I thought I fully understood his brain injury, but I didn’t. I didn’t understand how his brain injury would impact our parenting. In our marriage vows I said, “I love you for you were, who you are and who you will become.” To this day that is the only section of our marriage vows that I remember, and it’s because God has brought them to my mind time and time again. He knew I would need that vow consistently in my head as I learned the balance of being Danny’s wife and my boy’s mother.

Your marriage is a covenant between you, your spouse and God. Your motherhood is a gift.

Out of the deepest of respect for my husband, I will be vague concerning this, but I have shed many tears of frustration and cried out to God in desperation as I have tried to learn the balance of parenting my children with grace when my husband’s brain significantly struggles to connect with empathy.

Yet at the end of the day, God is sovereign. He knew we would face this struggle before the beginning of time. I truly believe that if Danny is pursuing Jesus, I am pursuing Jesus and we are united in our love for our boys, we can conquer anything. If you are struggling in your marriage and parenting, do a deep dive into God’s sovereignty. I believe you will be blessed by the study.

In what ways have you and do you share your faith with your children? (I’d love examples!)

This past year we have started something that has been our number one discipleship tool! We make breakfast together and sit down as a family to enjoy a hearty breakfast and have family devotional time.

My husband can be home on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays, so on those days we sit down as a family of five. Most days we cook farm fresh eggs, bacon and some sort of sourdough bread or roll.

We eat and do a Bible reading or devotional. Our three favorites right now are: The Laugh & Grow Bible for Kids by Phil Vischer, How Great is our God by Louie Giglio and The Really Radical Book for Kids by Champ Thornton.

Sharing our faith comes in seasons, but in all the seasons we should be intentional. I have also used our drive time to listen to kids’ Christian podcasts and have discussions afterward. Our bookshelves are filled to the brim with books by Godly authors like R.C Sproul. His book The Priest with Dirty Clothes recently sparked some truly delightful conversations about our faith! Our faith is woven throughout our day and conversations. We are intentional about showing our kids that our affections should be for Jesus.

What are some of your favorite parts of motherhood?

I have endless favorite parts of motherhood, but truthfully my absolutely favorite part is simply watching them have fun.

Last night we were able to sit on our deck finally after such a long winter. My oldest son was in our field with a toy sword, and he was chopping down the tall grass and pretending to fight a dragon. My youngest was playing by a water table on our deck, and he looked over at me with such a big smile it melted my heart. Finally, I looked over at our middle while who was oblivious to the world. His hind end was sticking up in the air as he was trying to look inside a gopher hole.

It was absolutely perfect. Those are my favorite moments. It’s the moments I just get to enjoy watching them.

How does grace play a role in your daily life? Do you have any tips or advice for how moms can show more grace to their families?

I’m not perfect. Far from it. However, one of my prayers with my mothering is that in the moments where my weakness shows through that God’s strength would be evident.

Grace is a necessity in parenting. I need God’s grace to sustain me throughout the day, and my children need to see grace in my parenting. Grace is not the absence of discipline, but the evidence of it.

I often tell my children when I’m extending grace. It might sound something like this:

Wyatt, mommy messed up today and God extended me grace and forgave me. Right now, you directly disobeyed me, but I want to give you grace like Jesus did for me. Can we both repent and move on with our day?

What are you most proud of as a mom?

Right now, I’m just proud that my children seem receptive to what we have taught them about the Bible and Jesus.

Do you have any resources that help you be a mom with grace? (Music, books, websites, etc.)

I love podcasts and right now one of my favorites is The Art of Home: A Podcast for Homemakers by Allison L Weeks. She has great wisdom as a seasoned homemaker and mother.

Speaking of homemaking, I would love for you to join me in the most important step of my day, Bible reading! Inside my Homemaker Binder Planner (updated monthly) there is a Bible reading section. It has been a JOY to read my Bible with other mothers and homemakers. (P.S. You can still call yourself a homemaker even if you work another job!)

It would be a delight if you decided to join the monthly homemaker planner and joined me in the Bible reading challenge. During the month of May we have worked on reading a Proverb a day.

Do you have anything else to add that we haven’t talked about?

Your home can be a healing place! Allow Jesus to be the builder of your home and abide in him.

Connect with other Christian moms for support and encouragement in the private Facebook group, Moms with Grace!

Read more in the series:

Linda Mendible

Mandy Farmer

10 Family bonding ideas

How Christian families can grow closer family relationships

Since before we had children, my husband and I had a team mentality. It was us against the world. Once we had our children, we incorporated them into our team and have developed an attitude of family teamwork. Along with that, though, we also try to be intentional about family bonding and finding ways to make that happen — even when life is busy.

When it comes to family bonding, quality trumps quantity. Even during the pandemic and a year and a half of virtual school, my family had to be intentional about spending quality time together. We were together all the time, but we weren’t always growing closer as a result.

Of the various ways we spend quality time together, these are 10 of our favorite ways for family bonding.

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps support my blog. Thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

1. Play games.

Gaming is one of my family’s favorite past-times. My husband and I enjoyed games before had children and then were happy to play games with them once they were old enough. (Be sure to check out five of our favorite family games for small children.) Playing games together can be a great way to bond with the right attitude.

Another bonus to playing games together is it gives you a chance to teach lessons about how you can’t always win, and how to be happy for someone else we love when things go well for them. We’ve worked our way through some of these challenges and still do with one of our kiddos from time to time.

To keep competitiveness at bay, we also really enjoy playing cooperative games where the whole family works together toward one common goal. Role-playing games are often this way. One of our favorites with our kids now that they’re a bit older is HeroQuest.

A neat board game option to keep your family working together and strengthen family bonds is a mystery jigsaw puzzle.

2. Try new things.

Experiencing something new together can be great for family bonding. Whether you’re eating something new, doing a new activity or going somewhere new, doing something brand-new draws you closer as a family.

Recently, for instance, my daughter and I were alone for dinner while my husband and son went to a movie. We decided to try an Indian restaurant in our city that we had never been to. Neither of us had eaten Indian food before, so along with it being a new restaurant, it was also new cuisine. We learned together, which is a really neat thing to be able to do as a parent and child.

Our whole family tried geocaching together for the first time a couple of years ago. It was a fun way to connect as we searched for the hidden items in sometimes very common areas.

3. Travel.

Any adventure you can go on together is going to draw you closer. You can do this by traveling far from home or just going a city over. It doesn’t have to be complicated or pricey. This year, we spent spring break spelunking in various caves in Kentucky. We also got to feed kangaroos and eat good food. Our trip resulted in good memories and a chance to draw closer.

Traveling together as a family helps you stay focused on each other because there are not nearly as many distractions as daily life. And it also helps your family learn to be more flexible. We’ve navigated feeding a picky eater, finding our way around a new city and surviving tent camping failures as a family.

4. Eat meals.

While some family bonding activities are more out of the ordinary, others are more commonplace. Eating dinner (or whatever mealtime works best for your family) together is great for bonding. Family mealtime allows us to talk about what’s going on in our lives. We talk with the kids about what happened at school. Sometimes we make plans for the week. Other times we have random conversations that spring up like what our most embarrassing moments are. We’ve even had deeper discussions about religion and politics at the dinner table.

If you can’t have dinner together every night, set a goal of however many nights are feasible for your family and do what it takes to make it happen. If dinnertime doesn’t work, then have breakfast or lunch together a couple of times a week. And don’t think it has to be fancy or elaborate. Serve up cold cereal for any of those meals and enjoy the time together!

Be sure to grab the “Favorite Recipes from Families with Grace” cookbook to help you come up with some tasty dinner ideas!

5. Go to church.

There’s something special about being at church together as a family. These days, my 10-year-old prefers to stay in service with us instead of going with the kids. Sitting together with my husband and children listening to them praising God together is awesome. It makes my heart swell with gratitude for my blessings.

If your children go to children’s church, then be sure to talk together about what they did and what they learned. We usually talk about the sermon together after church now that we are all hearing the same one. In fact, Sunday after church is our one regular time to eat out. So we both have a meal together and talk about church. It works well!

6. Have devotion time.

Growing in our relationships with God together as a family brings us closer. Whether you’re doing family devotions at Christmas or throughout the year, make time in your schedule to do some sort of devotional as a family. It doesn’t have to be every day. If once a week is what works for your family, then do that!

Right now, we are reading through “The Action Bible” a couple of nights of the week. After we finish reading a section (or two or three!), we just a bit about what happened and how to apply that to our own lives. For instance, my children were scoffing at how quickly the Israelites turned to worship idols and forgot what God did by getting them out of Egypt. Then we talked about how easy it is for us to get distracted from God even now. We may not being making golden calves to worship, but we do have to make sure we are prioritizing our relationship with God.

Get started today with the FREE family devotion book, “Finding Grace at Home: 7 Days of 5-Minute Devotions for Families.”

"Finding Grace at Home" is a FREE family devotion book to help your family draw closer to God and each other in just five minutes a day.

7. Read for fun.

Reading out loud together is a great way to encourage family bonding. We started reading to our 13-year-old when she was about 3 months old, and we haven’t stopped since. We’ve read through a variety of picture books and chapter books together. Our family has particularly enjoyed the Harry Potter books and The Mapmaker Chronicles books. My son and I are reading the Wings of Fire series together and really enjoy it as special one-on-one bonding time.

The fun with reading fiction together is your family has a chance to enjoy the story, root for characters, loathe villains and more together. My son and I even come up with our own role play of sorts for many of the books we read.

(For ideas on what to read, don’t miss more than 100 children’s books worth reading and family read aloud chapter books for kindergarten through 5th graders.)

8. Pray.

Along with reading, we also started praying together with our children before bedtime when they were babies. That has continued to this day, and our kids are 10 and 13. Even though our daughter gets to stay up later than her younger brother, we have family prayer time every night. It isn’t elaborate and doesn’t have to be. Most of the time, our kids each say prayers out loud. Sometimes we do also.

Praying together helps our family draw closer. When we pray for each other, it helps strengthen our relationships as well. If one of us is sick or struggling and the others pray for that person, it’s encouraging. We also join together in prayer for friends and family.

9. Reminisce.

Doing things together creates memories. Talking about those memories together can draw your family closer to each other and strengthen your relationships. There is something special about a shared memory or inside joke.

And, here’s the thing, you don’t even have to reminisce solely about the big things like vacations. Talk and laugh about the small everyday moments that nobody will forget. My family, for instance, laughs together about the time I came across mice in our garage and started yelling and ran back into the house faster than they thought I could even move. It was certainly a memorable moment!

Just be careful that in your reminiscing you aren’t putting down each other or hurting each others’ feelings.

10. Cheer for each other.

When you have a team mentality about your family, it’s even easier to cheer for each other. Cheering for each other can look like listening when a family member is talking about something he or she is passionate about. It can look like your whole family showing up for concerts, performances or games and cheering loudly.

Feeling happy for and/or proud of each other only increasing your bond as a family. We want to celebrate life’s wins together so that whenever something good happens to one of us, we all are excited. This encourages our kiddos (as well as my husband and me) to share our good news with our family. And that’s a good thing!

5 Characteristics of good mothering for Christian moms

Encouragement for your motherhood journey

As moms, we can be hard on ourselves. This is true for us Christian moms as well. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered if I even have a clue what I’m doing. I question whether God should have blessed me with two such awesome kiddos. Am I honoring Him? Am I being a good mother to them?

I do know I’m doing my best, and I’m showing up every single day. Having been raised by a good, Christian mom, I have some insight as to what it looks like. And through the 13 years I’ve been a mom myself, I’ve learned a bit of what good mothering looks like.

None of us get it right all the time. We fall short. But those times give us a chance to model grace to our children, including what giving ourselves grace looks like. (Ouch! That’s a challenge for us when we are so good at giving ourselves a hard time!) And we keep at it. Motherhood never stops.

Check out these five characteristics of good mothering as a Christian mom. Give yourself some credit where it’s due and challenge yourself to improve where you need to. Through it all, love your kids and love God. You’ve got this, mama!

Be present.

We can spend a lot of time with our children and still not be present with them. Our kiddos need our love and attention. Good mothering means finding ways to focus on your children and nothing else. We need to be intentional about disconnecting from other things (hello, electronics!) and focusing on our children. They don’t always need our focus, but they do need to know we are truly listening to them.

One strategy that’s worked well for our family is giving each of our two kiddos two nights a week dedicated to them. After our family prayer and reading time, one child gets to hang with my husband and me solo for about 30 minutes. We focus completely on that child. It’s been a great way to intentionally be present and connect with our children.

Set boundaries.

Most Christian moms have heard the verse from Proverbs 22:6 that says, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (NIV) We want to start our children off well both in their faith and in life in general. Raising our children to love God, respect themselves and respect others is important.

In order to do that, our kiddos need boundaries. Boundaries actually help our children feel safe and allow them to grow in a healthy way. Set rules and boundaries — and enforce them. My husband and I made a pact when we first had children to not use empty threats. If we are going to tell our kids they’ll have a consequence for a misbehavior, it’s one we must be willing to follow through on.

And, honestly, sometimes good mothering means we have to say “no,” even when we don’t really want to because it’s the best decision for our child. I have this trouble sometimes even in small ways like when my son begs to read another chapter in the “Wings of Fire” series we’re reading together. I want to find out what happens, too, but I also know he needs enough sleep to have a good following day. So, I say “no.”

Be patient.

Ah, patience. Good mothering means being patient, which can be easier said than done! Whether our children are being challenging or we are just out of sorts, patience can be hard to come by. But, we want to be patient and grace-filled parents. So, we need strategies in place to help us during the difficult times.

One of the things I often do is take a deep breath and repeat the first part of 1 Corinthians 13:4 to myself: “Love is patient. Love is kind.” (NIV) Seriously. It helps me refocus and get outside of myself. There are other times when I get old school rapper with it based on a meme I once saw that said, “Love is patient. Love is kind. Ya’ll gonna make me lose my mind. Up in here! Up in here!”

5 Characteristics of Good Mothering for Christian Moms Pinterest quote image 2

Listening to Christian worship music throughout the day also helps me. It’s easier to be patient when I have Jesus music playing. Find a strategy that works for you. Our children need us to be patient with them because they are learning and growing. They’re going to mess up — just like we do! Our patience and understanding will go a long way in helping them feel loved and valued.

Be flexible.

I’m a planner through and through. However, I’ve learned a lot about flexibility in motherhood. A lot. I’m a decade out from newborn days, but I still remember how out of control life feels with a baby. Just when you think you can predict the baby’s schedule, it changes. Or right as everyone is ready to leave the house, you end up having to change a dirty diaper.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is let go of our plans and expectations. Living with chronic illnesses taught me this lesson, but motherhood has driven it home. Being flexible when plans change also allows our kids to see what it looks like to keep moving forward.

Over spring break this year, for instance, we had plans to go to a national park. A big storm went through the area two days prior, and the park was closed for the day our first tour was scheduled. The second choice we made also ended up being closed. But, our third choice option ended up being one of our favorite parts of the trip that we wouldn’t have even done without being flexible. (We got to feed kangaroos!)

(Check out more family travel woes in this post about our tent camping failures!)

Model good behavior.

Our kids are watching and learning from everything we do and say. They learn how to act and react based on how our actions and reactions. Good mothering involves modeling good behavior and values. If we don’t want our children to call each other names, then we shouldn’t call anyone names either. If we want our children to encourage each other, then we should encourage those around us. We want our children to have the tools they need to live productive, faith-filled lives as adults. One of the best ways we can help teach them is by modeling that to them.

Choosing our words wisely is also incredibly important. Proverbs 31:26 says this about how a virtuous woman should talk, “She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” (NIV) I try to choose my words wisely. As an introvert who tends to think before she speaks, I am pretty decent at this. But, I’m not perfect. And those times are ideal for me to model what apologizing looks like.

Good mothering requires grace.

None of us are perfect moms. We all fall short. However, knowing what good mothering looks like and striving to achieve it is exactly what we should be doing. One bad moment doesn’t make you a bad mom. It doesn’t define you. Pray about and learn from your mistakes, then move forward. Give yourself grace, because God gives it freely to you.

Just keep going, mama. You are the perfect mom for your kiddos!

Mastering the work and family balancing act

Working from home with children

Balancing work and family can be difficult. Even for those of us who work from home (like me!), the balance is still precarious. Colleen Stewart, a mom of two, has some ideas for how to make that balance a bit easier when you work from home. Stewart, creator of Playdate Fitness, shares some of her best tips with us in this special guest post.

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. This helps support my blog. Thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

Working from home can be the ideal way to balance your family and career. No more long hours commuting, after-hours meetings or missing work on those days when school is out of session.

But that doesn’t mean your at-home work office is an easy-peasy alternative, either. Small children don’t always make the easiest coworkers. However, working from home is still the better of the two circumstances. So let’s look at how to make it a more ideal work situation for you. 

Getting some help

Getting some help with your children in-house is probably the most ideal solution to help with balancing work and family. A spouse who works different hours or has a job with more time flexibility time-wise is one solution, though not the most doable. Hiring a sitter who can stay with your child for some or all of the hours you’re working can be the best answer to your situation. Sites like Care.com can make it easier to find help near you. Most of the candidates have gone through background checks and are open to working flexible hours and days. 

Creating a safe space for your child

If your child is an infant, then you at least have the luxury of long nap times. And baby monitors are getting more revolutionary every year. They’re available at every price point and offer a wide array of features, including night vision, two-way audio or wearable baby monitors that monitor baby’s heartrate, oxygen, sleep patterns and more. 

Pack-and-play yards can give your little one a safe place to play near you. Pack-and-plays are also easy to move from room to room. If your little one needs a larger crawling space, consider using a baby gate in a room that has been thoroughly baby-proofed. It’s critical, of course, to ensure all hazards have been moved out of harm’s way, like electrical cords and wires, trash cans and sharp edges. 

Recycle toys every few days to keep your child interested. And although you don’t want to keep the television on all day, for those times you need your child to be engaged and quiet while you’re busy on a call, if you do some research you can find some really good programs for children of all ages.

Other ways to keep your toddler occupied include learning toys that captivate a child’s attention for a while. When looking at toys like play kitchens or building blocks, look at online reviews to check for safety recommendations, types of materials and price to ensure you purchase safe, nontoxic toys your toddler will enjoy.

Using your time wisely

You don’t have to necessarily dress for success, but you don’t want to spend your workday in sweat clothes either. For instance, since you’re not pressured into having a different outfit every day, you can take that blouse, blazer and pant combo and mix and match them. And although you don’t have to wear heels to your home office, having nice ballet flats instead of house shoes can make you feel more professional. 

Prepare meals ahead of time on your weekends and thaw them for dinner or lunches. You’ll find yourself eating healthier that way, too. Even breakfast can be healthy and quick by preparing fruit and veggie smoothies. Oatmeal is quick, easy and, as long as it’s not loaded with sugar, healthy. It’s lots faster to prepare than bacon, eggs and biscuits. 

Considering a career boost

This time when you’re home and raising your child can also be the ideal time for you to make a career change. Whatever career move you’re considering, having a business degree can let you hit the ground running by learning key business concepts and skills. Online degrees allow you to choose a bachelor’s business degree in accounting, business, communications or management. And you can also receive a certificate to match your particular career goal. Some online programs can be completed in as little as five weeks.

Making time for family time 

Make a childcare schedule just as you do for any of your business tasks, too. Harvard Business Review suggests keeping a calendar for your childcare time, like the hours after they first wake up and before they go to bed for the evening. Write in the activity you’ll do together, like feeding the ducks at the park, baking cookies or reading bedtime stories. You and they will both find the rhythm of the day that way, and your child will be more patient when you’re busy with work, knowing they have their own special time with you, too. 

You can make this work-from-home opportunity both productive for your career and an ideal way to spend more time with your children as long as you make a plan, get help when possible, have the right home environment and even use the time to create your future with online classes. Balancing work and family really can be a way for you to have it all. 

About the guest author:

Colleen Stewart loves giving her two kids a healthy example to live by. Her passion for community and wellness inspired her and her husband to team up with their neighbors and create a playgroup that allows the adults and their kiddos to squeeze in a workout a few times a week. She created Playdate Fitness to help inspire other mamas and papas to prioritize their well-being and set a healthy foundation for their little ones in the process.

Connecting with other moms who are balancing work and family is also helpful. Be sure to check out the Moms with Grace private Facebook group to connect with moms like you!

Moms with Grace private Facebook group

Moms with Grace: Linda Mendible

Tips for Christian moms with a good dose of encouragement

The “Moms with Grace” series takes a look at modern Christian moms and how they handle daily life with raising children. You’ll find monthly posts from moms with older kids, younger kids and all those in between. Let real-life moms encourage and uplift you!

I’m excited to bring you another mom with grace. Recently, I connected with Linda Mendible when I was chosen to be a speaker at her Monetizing Mompreneurs Summit taking place throughout 2023. Linda is a web designer and podcaster with a passion for mompreneurs. She also works with momprenuers to grow both their businesses and their communities.

Linda is also a mom to three kids who are 4, 6 and 9. This year, she and her husband, Franklin, will happily celebrate their 13th wedding anniversary. With three young children, a husband and a successful business, Linda is in the thick of parenthood, marriage and life in general!

Linda has great advice and encouragement for Christian moms.

How have you changed from the beginning of your mom journey until now?

I’m learning so much from being a mom. My kids definitely make me a better person. I’ve learned that we must always keep God first.

What are some challenges you’ve faced as a mother? How have you worked to overcome them?

Andy has been one of my kids that God has definitely tested me with. Aside from a very difficult birth, he was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck and they had to call in other nurses to get him to breath. He was also born with a hole in his heart, which by God’s grace, is now completely healed.

When he was just a few months old, he had RSV and was admitted to NICU. At times he gets so sick that it makes it difficult for him to breath. During those times, I see him struggling and have to go through the process of helping him breathe and get some rest. Those days are tough. I do everything I can in those moments but they are the toughest moments when my little ones are sick. I’ve learned to say to myself, “I’ve been here before.”

I cast my cares on Jesus. My children aren’t mine, they are God’s children. I pray God gives me the strength to take care of them, love them and raise them in the way they should go, keeping God first and knowing the truth in Christ.

One of my go-to verses is Psalm 27:25 which says, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11 reminds me of God’s promises to us. And I remember God’s Word and what He said to Abraham. God told Abraham that his faith was accounted to him as righteousness. My faith is God and in Christ and I know I’m covered by His blood. I remind myself nothing is by my strength, and God does not see my flaws — just as when God told His people to take the lamb’s blood and put it over their door post. God didn’t see the people He saw the blood. It is by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that allows me to have life and live it more abundantly. God’s Word is the living Word.

In what ways have you and do you share your faith with your children?

My kids know the Lord’s prayer, and we pray at night with them when things are not to hectic. At first I was the one praying the Lord’s prayer and they would repeat what I would say; now they lead the prayers with it. It’s been amazing to see. Sometimes life can give us surprises. They know Jesus loves them, and when things don’t go their way I ask them to pray to God about it. I tell them to ask God for what they want and thank God for all that they have. It really calms them down.

What are some of your favorite parts of motherhood?

That’s a tough question. All moments are my favorite, especially the times we create core memories from. One of my favorite times are when we go to the beach. I just love seeing them play and enjoy themselves; we collect seashells. We have a whole glass vase full of the shells we collected over the years. I can’t wait for summer again.

But then, I also love it when they help me with the garden. We have a small garden we started in our small apartment, and now that we have a house and a bigger yard it’s so much fun. They love it. Then there’s the everyday small moments that make me laugh. Or I see their little hands and hear their little voices, and I’m so thankful for them.

God is so gracious and good to us. Thank you, Lord, for all that you have done for us!

How does grace play a role in your daily life?

It’s a necessity. More of Him, less of me. I’m not perfect — far from it — and I need Jesus daily just for me to get up in the morning and pour a cup of coffee. So you can imagine how I need Him in all areas of my life! I just cast my cares to Him and pray daily, because I need Him all the time. But I’m so thankful I can just cast it all on Him. I do my best, God does the rest.

Do you have any tips or advice for how moms can show more grace to their families?

Motherhood is one of the most fulfilling things you can ever do in your life, and it’s one of the toughest and hardest things. From mom guilt to moments you just need the pause button. From play dates to baseball, classes and karate. To teacher conferences, bullies and amazing times. Find peace in the everyday. What do I mean? Try to sit still and just be thankful for the moment. Whenever life gets too hectic, I know it’s the most important times for me to sit still, slow down and listen. To be grateful.

Have you ever had your kids running around and you just know someone is going to end up crying? So you tell them to slow down, calm down or stop? And when they don’t listen, what happens? Someone ends up crying. Imagine if that’s what God does with us. So, if you’re ever feeling the rush, slow down, calm down and sit at His feet. He’s waiting for you.

What are you most proud of as a mom?

Oh gosh, what a question! I think I’m most proud of is my kids knowing Jesus.

Do you have any resources that help you be a mom with grace?

As a mompreneur I like listening to Terri Savelle Foy. As a mom who needs more grace I like listening to Joyce Myers. And as a family woman I like listening to Jentezen Franklin from Free Chapel. Resources will always be God’s Word. There’s nothing better in life than reading God’s Word daily. Remembering His promises and casting our cares to Jesus. I’m very blessed to know just how real God and Jesus is.

I also have a free 30 Days of Grace Challenge moms can take to help them grow in grace. It’s a Bible study, devotional and visibility challenge all rolled into one.

Do you have anything else to add that we haven’t talked about?

Live your life with the knowledge and reality that God is truly real and Jesus truly saves. God bless!

Connect with other Christian moms for support and encouragement in the private Facebook group, Moms with Grace!

Looking for more resources to start a new business as a mom? Join me this year at the Monetizing Mompreneurs Summit!

Monetizing Mompreneurs Summit information for 2023

Read more in the series:

Mandy Farmer, a blogger, children’s book author, pastor’s wife, mom and grandma shares encouragement for Christian moms, including those with blended families.

Easter object lessons for young children and more

Ways you can teach little ones the story of Easter 

As a Christian mom teaching my children the real meaning of Easter has always been important to me. But, it’s not always easy to teach kids about the resurrection of Jesus Christ when they are young. 

The story is quite disheartening and even gruesome for young minds. However, the message is the same, no matter how many details we share or don’t. 

Easter is about celebrating how much God loves us.

That’s the message I most want my children to know. And that’s the message I shared with them most when they were toddlers and preschoolers. 

Between having my own two children and teaching Sunday School lessons for children ages 4 through 2nd grade, I’ve thought about this a lot and figured out some good, age appropriate ways to share the story of Jesus’ Crucifixion with little ones.

Affiliate links are used in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.

The right words to teach kids about Easter

Easter is about celebrating how much God loves us.

Before we get into any specific ideas, we need to figure out the general words we’re going to use as we teach our kids about Easter. Whether you’re teaching an Easter Sunday School lesson or just talking with your own children, the correct words matter.

Deciding what words to use to talk about Jesus’ death and resurrection with your children depends on their ages. 

Toddlers

Keep your language very simple. The biggest message to convey when children are 1 to 3 is that Easter is about celebrating how much God loves us. This is the main point of Jesus’ resurrection and the simplest way to state it for toddlers.

Preschool through early elementary

Children ages 4 to 7 are able to start grasping what happened during the Easter story. The best way I’ve found to describe Jesus’ sacrifice is to put it in their terms. 

So to talk about how Jesus took on and died for our sins, I compare it to someone taking all their timeouts and punishments. That’s more relatable for little ones.

I do share more details about the Easter story at these ages without getting too graphic. 

Upper elementary and beyond

This is the phase I’m currently in with children who are 11 and 14. Now we do talk about a few more details about Jesus’ death and how nail pierced through His skin. 

We talk about how our Lord Jesus was willing to sacrifice Himself to save everyone — even those who were killing Him! 

As kids get older and know the facts of the Easter story, it’s a great time to delve into what that ultimate sacrifice means for our lives now.

Resurrection eggs to teach kids about Easter

Resurrection eggs are a great tool to teach kids about Easter. However, I found that using 12 plastic Easter eggs was a bit too much when my children were little. Instead, I opted for six plastic eggs. 

So, starting six days before Easter, your children open one egg each day. Inside is a Bible verse about the Easter story along with something tangible to go with the verse: bread, rocks, etc.

​On the fifth day, the children open an empty egg to represent Jesus rising no longer being in the tomb. The final day ends with a sweet treat because the good news is Jesus is still alive.

This is an incredibly simple way to focus on the real Easter story in shorts amount of time for busy families or young minds. You can download a free version here or find a more detailed paid version here.

An image of the 6-day resurrection eggs that are good to teach kids about Easter

Use books to teach kids about Easter

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Obviously the Bible is the best source to find the Easter story, but when kids are younger, they won’t understand more adult translations of the Bible so well. There are a few versions of the Bible that Christian moms and dads can use to teach their children about God.

These work well for the Easter story. My all-time favorite is The Jesus Storybook Bible from Sally Lloyd-Jones.

Not only is this Bible great overall, it also tells the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection in a straightforward, simple way that focuses on God’s love. It is perfect for preschool through early elementary.

Honestly, it’s even perfect beyond that. As an adult I am moved each time I read this version.

Another great book for teaching your kiddos about the Easter story is “God Gave Us Easter” by Lisa Tawn Bergren. Bergren has a whole series of “God Gave Us” books that are incredibly great.

We started with “God Gave Us You” with our daughter and then “God Gave Us Two” when we were expecting my son. We got more after that. These are great picture books for sharing about God with our children.

Easter object lessons

Young children are often very visual learners. So including an object lesson as part of your Easter curriculum at home or for children’s church is a great idea. 

Don’t get the paper towel wet

One of the more creative ways I’ve come across to teach children about Jesus’ sacrifice involves just a few simple supplies you have on hand already. You need a bowl of water, a paper towel and a cup.

Put water into the bowl. Keep the cup out of sight of the children to begin with. Ask them for ideas of how to put the paper towel in the water without getting it wet.

As they come up with various ideas that won’t work (because a paper towel going into water is going to get wet!), share with them that the water represents sin in our world and the paper towel represents us. We get covered in sin and deserve to get in trouble as a result.

Then show them the cup. Place the paper towel into the cup. Tell them the cup represents Christ Jesus. As the Son of God, He took all of our sin on Himself at Easter by dying on the cross for our sins.

Put the cup with the paper towel in it down into the bowl of water. Emphasize to the children that the free gift of God we’ve received on Easter gives us protection and eternal life. We won’t get punished for our sins because Jesus took the punishment for us.

Simple play dough shapes

If you have little ones around, chances are great that you have some play dough around as well. (If not, hit up the Dollar Tree and grab a four-pack for only $1.25!) For this Easter object lesson, you’ll need four different colors of play dough.

Start with a dark color of dough and make an “X” with it. Talk with your children about how we have all made mistakes and done things God’s Word tells us we shouldn’t. Refer to Romans 3:23.

Next, make a cross with yellow dough, if you have it. Share with the children that because of our mistakes and sins, God sent His Son to earth to die for our sins. Jesus’ body was put on a cross on what we now call Good Friday, and He died. Share also Romans 6:10

Then use a different color of dough and shape it into the number “3.” Tell the children the great news is that Jesus didn’t stay dead. On Easter morning, on the third day after he died, Jesus’ friends found an empty tomb. Jesus rose from the dead! Share 1 Corinthians 15:4.

Finally, use red or pink dough and shape it into a heart. As you shape it, talk with the kids about how the Easter story shows us how much God loves us. This is the foundation of our Christian faith and why we celebrate Easter. Share Ephesians 2:4-5.

If you’re working with your own children or a small group of children, give them a chance to make the different shapes with the dough and tell you what they represent.

Easter story activity and color pages

You can find a variety of activity and coloring pages about the Easter story. These can be a great way to teach kids about Easter. Not only can they learn from the pages themselves, but while they are working on an Easter coloring page or doing the related activities, you have the opportunity to talk with them about the Easter story.

Having something to do with their hands — like coloring — can help children settle in and actually listen for longer. This printable activity pack comes with eight pages you print at home and can use right away.

This 8-page Easter Activity Bundle takes kids through the story of Easter from Jesus’ Triumphant Entry to His Resurrection. It’s designed for preschool through early elementary ages and includes 2 unique mazes, 2 color, cut & glue pages, 1 matching picture page, 1 Who Am I page, and 2 coloring & drawing pages. All pages are in black and white for easy printing and copying. This Religious Easter Activity Bundle makes a great – and easy – activity for Sunday School or home!

You can also find activity and coloring books to order and have shipped to you within a couple of days.

Our Daily Bread for Kids Easter Coloring and Activity Book
The Beginner's Bible: Come Celebrate Easter Sticker and Activity Book

Crafts to teach kids about Easter

Just like with coloring and activity pages, crafts can also be a good way to reinforce the true meaning of Easter with your children in a fun way. And also like with coloring and activity pages, you can find options to download and use immediately.

This cross picture, for example, is an ideal Easter craft for young children that only requires some pieces of paper.

Easy and simple Easter cross craft for children
Jesus died for us surprise folding craft
Reusable sticker sheets with the Easter story
Foam cross craft

Easter snacks

What kiddo doesn’t love snacks? (Um, what adult doesn’t love snacks either?!) There are some fun and simple Easter-themed snacks that can help teach kids about Easter. 

One of my favorite is the Resurrection rolls. Not only are the cinnamon-y goodness, but they’re also easy. And, even better, the kids can help make them and see that the roll is empty after it bakes — just like Jesus’ tomb!

I also really like this clever Easter snack mix. It would be very easy to make and each item included in the mix represents part of the Easter story.

Summing it all up

No matter their ages, you can teach kids about Easter.. Before the Easter season begins, think about how you’re going to approach the topic with your kids — especially if they are new to the story.  

Take advantage of a free Easter lesson like what is here to help you share the miracle of Jesus with your children.

Pray and ask God for His guidance as you go.

I’m good at messing up, but God is good at having my back through it all. I’ve learned many times through the years that sometimes I just have to trust that He’ll help me when I need it, because He always does. 

He wants your kiddos to know the real Easter story even more than you do. He will help guide you as you teach them.

Join in discussion with other moms about teaching your kids about Easter and Christian mom life in general in the Moms with Grace private Facebook group!

Moms with Grace: Mandy Farmer

Tips for Christian moms with a good dose of encouragement

Affiliate links are used in this post, if you make a qualifying purchase via my link, I receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and love. It helps support my blog, so thank you for your support! Read my full disclosure here.

The “Moms with Grace” series takes a look at modern Christian moms and how they handle daily life with raising children. You’ll find monthly posts from moms with older kids, younger kids and all those in between. Let real-life moms encourage and uplift you!

Today is the kick-off for the “Moms with Grace” series. Mandy Farmer is the featured Mom with Grace this month. Mandy has a blog, “Mandy and Michele,” for which I have shared guests posts a few times. I am thrilled to share her story with you.

Mandy is a 62-year-old mom to four children ranging from 26 to 48. The oldest two belong to her husband from a previous marriage, but Mandy has raised them completely since they were 9 and 14 and lost both their mom and sister in a car accident.

Her experiences as a mom and stepmom (though she says they never use the term “step”) are uplifting to those of us still in the thick of everyday life with kids. Mandy has survived the young years and is now reaping the benefits in her relationship with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

Please share a little bit about your background. Are you married? If so, for how long? What is your occupation? 

I was born near Canton, Ohio, and raised on the family dairy farm. At the age of 13, we moved, cows and all, to Wisconsin where I graduated from a small high school. I acquired a B.A. in computer science at Asbury University outside of Lexington, KY and went to work in Columbia South Carolina for about five years.  

At that point, my pastor’s wife introduced me to Michael Farmer, a pastor in her hometown of Barnesville, Ga. Michael had recently lost his wife and daughter in a fatal car accident. He had two boys, 9 and 14 at the time. She had been after me for months to go to Georgia with her and meet Michael. I didn’t think I was interested in a pastor with two boys but I finally went…just to get her to quit bothering me about it. 

Four months later, we were married! Now 32 years married!  

Fun note: I said I didn’t want to be a farmer’s wife or a pastor’s wife…I married Pastor Farmer! 

We added another boy and girl to the mix and continue pastoring around Georgia and for six years in Milwaukee, Wis. – my home state. 

I never worked outside the home or church after marriage and my degree quickly became obsolete, but my education was well worth it. 

I jumped full-time into my love of children’s ministry. Homeschooled our two youngest and founded a homeschool co-op. In between that, sometimes I served as Michael’s secretary. 

In 2011, I was struck with chronic pain. This changed a lot. Our daughter was 15. She became chief cook and bottle washer, making most meals, doing the laundry, keeping the house. She also, became my chauffeur! In 2016, we retired and moved to Savannah, Ga., and I began writing.

At first, I wrote about chronic pain and then I moved into writing Bible Studies for our denomination and an online group called Gracefully Truthful. Last year I decided to try to publish a book of devotions. That is still in the works, but in the learning process I wrote a children’s picture book about milk cows: Holly the Holstein Talks About Milk Cows.  I will publish another picture book about a family whose mommy has Fibromyalgia. You can follow me at my writing website to keep abreast of my publishing. 

How have you changed from the beginning of your mom journey until now? 

Another piece of my backstory is that I was number three of six children growing up. My youngest brother was 12 years behind me. My mom had a bookstore, so I did a lot of caring for him. This gave me a great deal of knowledge about childcare. I loved being a mom, and I can hardly wait to have grandchildren. (Our oldest has children and grands, but they have always lived far away.) 

Our children are all grown now. We live in the same city. Two kids are married. They all pop in all the time to check on us. Our oldest has two grown sons and a daughter. And we have six great-grandchildren! 

What are some challenges you’ve faced as a mother? How have you worked to overcome them? 

My initiation into motherhood started right off with a preteen and teenager. One got the chicken pox while Michael and I were on our honeymoon, and the other got them when we arrived home!  

My husband and I sat down with them before we married and talked about things. They wanted me to adopt them but because of moving several times it never happened. Michael told them that I would end up being their mother longer than their biological mother. And we decided they would call me “Mom.”  

Michael said he would always back me up when it came to discipline, and they were not to try to play us against one another. What I said would be “law” and if I dealt out a punishment, only I could change it. We had some of the typical teenager-mom issues. But really not many big issues that all moms don’t have.  

I love them like my own, and they love me the same. As a matter of fact, one of them sends me flowers every year on the anniversary of their mother’s death. The card always reads, “Thanks for being my mom.”

In what ways have you and do you share your faith with your children?

It’s a lifestyle. Everything seems to have something to do with faith in our lives. We have had many discussions around the dinner table. (Dinner table: what an important routine for the family!) 

Being a pastoral family, our kids were saturated in our faith. I wanted to have a family devotion time, but my husband felt that they got so much from being at the church A LOT that he didn’t want to do it. I did get them to have Advent devotions with me most years. We also homeschooled our children, and they received Bible training through that. Our church had children’s and teen’s Bible quizzing, and we were deeply involved in quizzing. 

Once they were old enough, they were involved in any special programs we had at church. They enjoyed every minute…well, maybe not every minute. 😊 

Pray for and with your children. After the car accident, going to school was very traumatic for Brian. He was dropped to his school that day and the accident happened on the way to the high school. We ALWAYS prayed with him before he got out of the car. ALWAYS.  

What are some of your favorite parts of motherhood? 

I loved it all. From as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a mom. I was involved in their lives and they in mine. I loved cooking and baking with them from an early age. Also, I taught them music, and we played and sang together often. Homeschooling was wonderful. I was nervous about it at first. But my sister was doing it, and so I tried kindergarten (which wasn’t required) and we enjoyed it. That was the year my daughter was born and it gave Brett and me bonding time. If Mikaela was fussy, she was in a snuggly around me which left my hands free to teach. I think she learned a lot that way, school came easier for her. We considered every year what we would like to do the next year. Every year the kids chose to homeschool. 

How does grace play a role in your daily life? Do you have any tips or advice for how moms can show more grace to their families? 

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Oh, goodness! Grace. Grace is the central theme. There are always mistakes made. On my side and theirs. Apologies and forgiveness are vital in a good family relationship. 

When discipline is necessary, it’s a good time to talk about the forgiveness of God. Be sure to tell your child how much you love them and that discipline is for teaching. Never discipline when you are angry. Always pray with your child after discipline. 

 What are you most proud of as a mom? 

 ”I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4 (NIV)

All four of my children are serving the Lord in some capacity. Daniel is on the church board and serves in so many basic ways. He does a lot of those things that no one notices – lawn care, general checking on the building, usher. Brian served as a pastor in a small church for about 10 years until his health failed. Brett is the tech guy. He runs the sound and live stream at church. Mikaela and her husband serve as youth ministers and are both on the worship team. 

Do you have any resources that help you be a mom with grace?

You have to have a strong marriage to have a strong family. 

These are some of the parenting books I highly recommend:

Do you have anything else to add that we haven’t talked about? 

Prayer is a big key. Pray for guidance and wisdom. Pray for your children and their future spouses. Be specific as much as you can. Pray more than “Be with my child today.” Ask for wisdom and knowledge and protection. If they are attending public school, pray even harder. 

Make sure your children know that their parents love each other. Yeah, they might get disgusted, but let them see you hugging and kissing occasionally. This makes your child feel safe.  

Tell them you love them every day! Hug them even when your teenager doesn’t want you too. 

Have rules and abide by them. Children need boundaries. Back each other up. 

Connect with other Christian moms for support and encouragement in the private Facebook group, Moms with Grace!

20 Spring break activities and ideas for at home

You don’t have to leave home for spring break fun!

Though spring break can be a time to travel, it can also be fun at home. Whether you’re staying home by choice or for budgetary reasons this year, these spring break activities will keep your family entertained and making memories. No need to pack a suitcase!

Before you start

The first rule is you have to treat spring break at home like a vacation. That means no chores! OK. You are going to have to do some basic chores like dealing with dirty dishes and preparing food. You may even have to do some laundry. But do your best to treat the time like you would if you weren’t home.

You also can designate your staycation days if you aren’t able to take the entire week off. Just plan for your spring break activities on Monday through Wednesday or whatever works best for your family. Whatever you pick, communicate about it so you, your spouse and your kids are on the same pages and know what to expect.

Another neat idea that we’ve done in the past and are doing again this year is a combination vacation and staycation. We’ll spend a couple of nights away on a family trip and then a few days at home for spring break. It’s the best of both worlds and, quite literally, what my children opted to do this year when we gave them choices.

Our family does like to have a meeting ahead of time to talk about what we’d most like to do. This helps us to prioritize our time and our budget for spring break activities. You can give your kids a list to pick from or just ask them for their ideas or both.

Finally, remember simple activities can be just as fun as more complicated ones. My kids’ biggest requests for the staycation part of our spring break this year were going to eat hibachi for lunch and playing games together.

1. Go see a movie.

We love movies in my family. Whether you go to the theater or watch something at home, a good movie is a great spring break activity. Find a movie you’ll all enjoy, have snacks at the ready and enjoy!

2. Check out local exhibits.

My family lives in a mid-sized Midwestern city. We’re not overwhelmed with choices of exhibits to visit, but there are always a few things going on. In fact, we have one art exhibit we’ve been talking about checking out and haven’t found time for. Spring break is a great time to make that happen.

3. Explore other nearby cities.

Because we do live in a city that’s not so big, exploring nearby bigger cities is a good option. We can drive an hour north or south and be in bigger cities that have more activities and things to do. Then, we come back home and sleep in our own cozy beds. Where you go will depend on what you do, but think about children’s museums, zoos, aquariums and any other family friendly venue.

4. Eat out.

Thanks to meal planning, preference and time constraints, my family only eats out on Sundays after church. Some weeks we have another meal out as well, but we don’t eat out very much these days. When we travel, though, we definitely eat out more often. So, another great spring break idea for at home is going out to eat. Go somewhere special or different. Or try a new restaurant.

5. Have a board game day, afternoon or evening.

We love playing games in our family. They can be a great way to pass the time and make some great family memories. Use games you already have, buy a new one or make one up.

6. Try out a new recipe.

Spring break can be a great time to try out a new recipe together as a family. Even better, find a recipe your whole family can prepare together like pizza subs, peanut butter honey nut cereal clusters or puppy chow. For even more awesome family recipes, be sure to get the “Favorite Recipes from Families with Grace” cookbook for free!

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If you’re staying home this year, these spring break activities will keep your family entertained and making memories. No suitcase needed! #springbreak #staycation #familyactivities #familyfun

7. Set up an obstacle course.

During remote learning, we had a gym assignment to set up an obstacle course at home. It was easier than I’d expected and we had way more fun with it than anticipated. Since then, we’ve done this a couple of other times. Use your chairs, pillows and whatever you have around to make a simple obstacle course. If you want, time each other to see who can do it fastest.

8. Have an indoor campout.

If you live somewhere warm, you can have an outdoor campout if you want. But for those of us in colder weather, an indoor campout is a much better spring break activity. Pull out sleeping bags, air mattresses or whatever works and sleep in the same room together. We used to campout in our living room, but now we campout in our bedroom.

9. Buy some “souvenirs.”

Our kids love buying souvenirs when we travel. They don’t have to be big purchases, but just something. Make souvenirs a part of spring break at home. Hit up the Dollar Tree and let them pick something. Or budget a set amount of money for souvenirs and head to their favorite store(s). Don’t forget a little something for yourself and your spouse, too!

10. Go to the playground.

Going to the playground can be a great spring break activity to help burn off some energy. Keep a check on the weather and pick a good time to go. Let your kids pick which playground they want to go to and plan to spend an hour letting them have fun. Be sure to get involved with them. (Personally, I love swinging with my kids!)

11. Play video games together.

If you’re a video gaming family, play together. Recently, my son was so excited to play Minecraft with both my husband and me. It was a treat for him to share that with us, and we all had fun with it.

Another great video game option is to have one person be in charge of the controller and everyone helps decide what he or she does. For example, we once had a blast playing Monopoly on the Xbox. My husband had the controller and we played against computer players. Our whole family talked strategies and made decisions for what to do in the game. It was incredibly fun!

12. Go to the library.

Libraries are awesome resources and can be great fun, even over spring break. If your town or city is small enough, chances are the library probably has some spring break activities of their own planned with extra story times and crafts. Check out those events or even just go and get some books to read together or individually (or both!) over break.

My kids always liked to play at the library when they were smaller. Our libraries offer a variety of toys and imaginative play items that are a hit. Explore the toys the library as well.

13. Try geocaching.

Geocaching was super popular a few years ago, but it still around now. We’ve had some fun with geocaching as a family. (It can also be a great date idea for parents!) Download a geocaching app and find locations around you. We’ve been surprised at the places we’ve found items. Our kids really enjoy it.

14. Get crafty.

Crafts aren’t really my jam, but small art projects together as a family can be fun. Color together at the kitchen table, use some of the craft kits you inevitably have stockpiled in your house, make cards or sweet crafts to send to grandparents or whatever you enjoy.

15. Volunteer.

Spending time together helping others is a great spring break activity. Not only do you get a chance to impact your community, but you show your kids the importance of helping others and get that warm. fuzzy feeling as a result.

16. Have a family yes day.

Having a family yes day can be great fun for kids and adults alike. Pick a day where you say yes to whatever your kids ask to do. We’ve done this a few times and do have some rules. For example, the kids can’t ask us to travel out of town or spend more than a set amount of money on something. We’ve been pleasantly surprised, though, at how well they work together and the fun activities they come up with. (Read more about how to have a family yes day.)

17. Make videos.

Speaking of family yes days, during our most recent one, we made movies together. My daughter and I paired up and my husband and son paired up. Each pair picked a song for the other to lip sync and make a video to. We had so much fun making the videos and then watching them together!

18. Have a cake decorating contest.

Our family enjoys watching baking shows on television. (Well, my son doesn’t so much if I’m being honest!) Seeing contestants bake and decorate cakes is especially fun. So we tried our hand at it. I baked a cake in two pans like it would be two layers. Each pair got a cake and a bowl of homemade buttercream icing. We picked a design to copy (a cartoon bear) and got to work. Without telling them who decorated which cake, we sent photos of the final versions to my parents and my husband’s parents to pick the winner. But, you don’t have to pick a winner.

And you can use store-bought cake, cupcakes or cookies along with canned icing to make it even easier. No matter what, it’s a great spring break activity that results in having some sweet treats!

19. Plan intentional one-on-one time.

When our two children were really young, we started having what we called “one-on-one playtime.” We’d set a timer for 30 minutes and separate so each child got one parent for a half hour. Then we’d switch kids and parents. During their 30 minutes with each parent, our children got to pick what we played. It’s a bit different now that they’re 10 and 13, but they both still enjoy having us to themselves. Spend the time talking, playing, reading or whatever you like to do to connect with each other.

20. Be lazy.

We all need downtime. Some of my favorite memories with my kids come when we are being lazy together. Put down electronic devices and see what you come up with wanting to do. Maybe you talk or make silly jokes. Maybe you put on a talent show or have a dance party. Unstructured time with our kids can result in the most awesome moments!