By Kendra Johnson
Being a mom is hard. Being a mom is lonely. And being a mom is exhausting. So how am I supposed to even have time to think about leaving a legacy for my kids?! At Small Legacies it's my job to try and figure out the answer to that question. What are the important life skills for kids? What are mom tips and tricks or mom hacks that I can learn and pass on to others? I can't guarantee that the parenting advice I give will work for you. But as a working from home parent, I'm trying my best.
Parent, SAHM, and Working Mom
My name is Kendra. I am 33 years old. I used to teach elementary school and in an attempt to spend more time with my kids, have switched from full time teaching to working a variety of jobs. I substitute teach, I work at the grocery store at nights, and I teach theatre to children. Most recently, I have joined the Small Legacies team as Director of Digital Resources.
All that said, the hardest job I have by far, is being a boy mom. That’s something Amanda and I have in common. Amanda, founder of Small Legacies, is my cousin-in-law. Both Amanda and I have 3 sons (all under the age of 6) and it’s made our lives very busy and kind of overwhelming at times. You should see our 4th of July parties! When we bring in the rest of the crew it’s actually 9 boys all under the age of 6, and the number is growing.
I have watched Amanda build this company from the ground up with much admiration and respect. Her story is amazing and I hope you get to hear it one day.
Amanda started this brand creating educational, playful and decorative gifts for children. It’s very exciting to see that she is now expanding the brand to build more than just a company that sells products, but a community of parents who are trying to do the best we can for our kids.
And that is why we are here. I have a 2 month old, a 2 year old and a 4 year old. It’s isolating, it's overwhelming and it's just plain difficult. Through this forum, I want to connect with other parents. I want to share parenting ideas, and I want to feel like I’m not alone in this.
How can we make a difference for families?
When Amanda first approached me about joining her team at Small Legacies, she asked me to reflect on how I personally am leaving a legacy for my boys.
How am I leaving a legacy for my kids? Quite honestly, I had to take a pause and think about what that looks like for my family. I’m a teacher. Realistically, I’m not going to leave my children millions of dollars or pass down a family business. They’re not going to inherit hundreds of acres of property from me.
So what does “leaving a legacy” look like for a regular mom? Marelisa Fabrega says it perfectly: “It means putting a stamp on the future and … [feeling] that their life mattered,” How beautiful is that?
Putting a Stamp on Future Generations
Isn’t that what we, as moms, do every single day? The investment of time and energy we make in our children is an investment we make in our future generations as a whole. If I teach my kids to separate garbage from recycling, and I teach them the whole reduce - reuse - recycle philosophy, will that in some small way have an impact on the future of our planet? I hope so.
The values and character we instill in our children will have a lasting impact on their lives well into adulthood. Their kindness, their work ethic, and their self-sufficiency will, in turn, impact each and every life they touch along the way.
Just this morning I was doing laundry and asked Shane (4) and Seth (2) to put the washcloths away. Seth immediately threw his on the ground and said he didn’t want to do it. So I picked them up, put them back in his hands and said, “We all need to do our part.” Is this going to help establish work ethic long term? I don’t really know. I have so much to learn, but I know I need to at least try.
I don’t have all the answers but I’m trying to find these small moments where I can instill these values in my kids so that as they grow into adulthood they are able to contribute positively to the world around them.
Feeling That Your Life Matters
When we talk about leaving a legacy, we really are talking about knowing that our life made a difference. As a parent, your life matters more than you could imagine. Do you realize this? These children depend on you for love, guidance, comfort, and stability. No matter how chaotic and messy this life gets, know that simply by being there, your life matters.
I have to remind myself of this sometimes. It’s easy to get lost in the day to day repetitive motions. So how do I personally offer love and guidance? This morning, for example, Shane and Seth were having a throw-down over the toy fruit because they both wanted the toy red grapes. I tried to show them love and guidance. I did the usual, “sit down, take a breath, let’s come up with a solution.” speech. By the end they were both calm and came up with a way to share the toy. This type of guidance seems so ordinary, but I think it will make a difference in developing their conflict resolution skills.
In addition, providing comfort and stability is one of the most important jobs we have as parents. The day to day routines I set aren’t just for my own sanity, but because it helps my children thrive. Last summer my husband broke his leg running across a water splash mat in the yard. That seriously threw us for a loop. My husband Ben, is an ACTIVE player. He is always running and battling and playing with the boys. His being immobile for an entire summer really put a dent in our routines.
But even though we were hit with this challenge, we agreed we needed to try to keep our lives as consistent and normal as possible, for the sake of the boys. (There were lots of sword fights from the rocking chair that summer).
There are always going to be changes we don’t expect. We switch jobs, we lose someone we love, we get sick. But through those times, I am trying my best to be the stability, the comfort and the constant presence my kids need. That’s what makes my life as a parent matter.
The Day-to-Day Reality of Leaving a Legacy
As I sit here at 5 o’clock in the morning, feeding my baby while simultaneously trying to get work done on my laptop, this is a comforting thought: leaving a legacy isn’t just about the big things; it’s the small legacies that truly matter.
Each day, all we can do is try our best to manage it all. In this blog, we will explore what the day-to-day reality of leaving a legacy for our children looks like. What are the little things we can do along the way to ensure we are putting a positive stamp on future generations?
Through this blog, I’m going to share my life with you. I’m going to share how my husband and I are trying to instill work ethic in our boys. How we are trying to teach them about money. How we are trying to manage working and keeping a home in decent shape. Every month I’m going to share with you my journey of how I’m trying (and probably falling short in many ways) to be the best mom I can be.
And I would really love your input. Please share with me what strategies I should try. What I can do to help my children thrive. Please comment below with any questions or ideas that I can explore in raising independent, respectful, kind, and generous little humans. Share with me your home organization tips. Share with me your favorite parenting resources. I look forward to trying them out and letting you know how it goes in the following blogs.