Stance: Studies on the Family

Brigham Young University Student Journal

Month: March 2018

“Special Time”

The year is 1991, my husband and I just had our fifth child, and the oldest is only seven. In the next seven years, we will add four more children to our family. I loved having all of our kids close in age; our home seemed like a constant party to me, and I love parties. What we lacked in peace and quiet, we made up for in planned chaos.

However, there was a certain problem that began to stand out in that memorable year of 1991: I began to notice that moms are always having to say, “no” in one form or another. Needless to say, when five young children were repeatedly asking for individual things such as wanting to go to a certain fast-food place, begging me to play Barbies with them, or asking if they can help me put gas in the car, I would have to reluctantly respond with, “not this time.” Saying, “no” to five kids, all day long, was wearing on me, emotionally. Don’t get me wrong; we did fun things all the time, every day, but it was always in a group setting. I longed for the chance to create one-on-one time with each child so that I could be a “yes” mom. I needed to come up with an invention that would satisfy me.

Plato said that “necessity is the mother of invention,” and it was necessary that I invent something that would turn me into a “yes” mom instead of a “not this time” mom. The day of invention came and there was no question as to what to call it. Out of desperation to be a “yes” mom and to be able to be alone with each child, I easily named my invention “special time.” Once I had a name, I came up with a plan. The first thing I did was to choose a night of the week that our family could set aside for individual “special time.” The next step was to write on the family calendar, on that night, each week, the name of one of the five children, until each child had had a turn. My plan included the goal of each child getting to do something they wanted with each parent. I wrote the names of the children, in birth order; Stephanie, Brian, Chuck, Missy, and Emily. Then I alternated “mom” and “dad” with each child. Therefore, it would take ten weeks for all of the kids to have had a “special time” with each parent.

I was determined that this goal would not be like a New Year’s goal where it would fizzle out within a few weeks. We needed simple “special time” rules so that we could continue this for the duration of raising our family. The first rule was that it could only last about an hour. The next rule was that “special time” would not become a “shopping spree.” This was a time to enjoy each others’ company and to be able to say, “yes.” The last rule was that each child could choose where or what they wanted to eat and what they wanted to do for an activity. Many of our “special times” were spent driving to pick up whatever fast food they wanted and then coming home to watch one of their favorite videos. We had a room we could go in, to be alone, and the rule was always that the other parent would be sure to take care of the other four children so that “special time” would not be interrupted.

It took no time at all to realize what a blessing this idea was. It was so peaceful to be in the car with just one child; I could ask all the questions I wanted and listen to everything they had to say, never being interrupted by either a more talkative child or a baby crying. And the best thing of all? If they asked to help me put gas in the car, I could say, “yes!” I immediately reveled in my new life of being a “yes” mom!

One “special time” that stands out to me was the time my four-year-old son had chicken pox. It was his time for “special time” but obviously we could not go anywhere where there were other people. His choice for dinner was McDonalds and his choice for an activity was to drive around and look at the Christmas lights. We went through the drive-thru to get our food and then proceeded to drive around town enjoying the beauty of the lights everywhere. After about twenty minutes, he asked if we could go home. This night together was proof that “special time” could be as simple as it needed to be, yet special enough to stay in my memory for over twenty-five years.

My “invention” was out of the necessity, for me, to be a “yes” mom. Your invention can be anything you need it to be. Everyone in your life deserves to feel special, whether it be immediate family, friends, small children, adult children, relatives, or colleagues. Choose who it is that you feel needs your extra attention and set aside some reasonable amount of time to be with them. I promise that you will quickly feel the blessing of one-on-one time, and that one day, you will look back and hold those memories in your heart as some of the finest in your life.

The Whole “Keeping Track of Money” Thing

My mom has always been fantastic at money management. She’ll sit down in front of the computer with all the receipts for an entire month and keep track of where any money was spent. She makes a grocery list and looks for coupons. She shops sales so that she can get the best deals. She has a budget with an amount set aside for everything that we might spend money on. Ever since my siblings and I were little and first started earning money, my mom has had us set aside some money every month to save to go to college and to serve missions. When my dad changed jobs and started getting a smaller paycheck, my parents went through the budget and decided what to cut. We got rid of most of our channels on TV, my mom started making homemade bread, and we stopped buying a lot of unnecessary items.

My mom is excellent at the whole “keeping track of money” thing. I, on the other hand, am not. There was one time when I was in high school that I had to keep a budget for three months for a project. Of course, I went to my mom for help, and she told me all sorts of things about money management, but I mostly just rolled my eyes and did the bare minimum to complete the project. Back then, I didn’t worry much about money. I didn’t make very much in a month, but I also had very few expenses, so it just wasn’t a big deal! But now I’ve moved on to a different story. Now I have to pay rent, buy my own groceries, pay for myself at restaurants, and pay for my own gas. Life is expensive! So this month, I decided to make a budget. I wrote down everything I could think of where I might spend money, and then I called my mom (of course) to see if I missed anything. But then came the hard part: staying within my budget!

I haven’t had a budget for long, but I’ve learned a few things already:

1) There are always unexpected expenses!
2) Some of those unexpected expenses can be controlled but some can’t be controlled.
3) It’s a lot of work to keep track of all my expenses; it’s easy to lose those receipts or forget that I bought something.
4) It takes a lot of self-control to stay in a budget, especially when I really want to buy ice cream at the grocery store!

Hopefully, I’ll get better at the whole “keeping track of money” thing. Maybe one of these months I’ll even manage to spend less than I earn! But until then, at least I’ve taken the first few steps towards successful money management.


Killer Recipes: Fixed-Up Cake from a Box

This is a super easy and cheap recipe that will impress anyone!
Be creative with flavors and frostings; you can even throw in
marshmallow fluff or Nutella. Professional cake without the effort,
just don’t tell anyone (it will be your secret that it is box cake)!

1 Box of Cake Mix
1 Small Box of Instant Pudding
½ Cup of Warm Water
½ Cup of Vegetable Oil
1 Cup of Sour Cream
4 Eggs

Mix all the ingredients together and place in a greased pan (can
vary in size) Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.


Overcoming the Daily Downs in Your Marriage

Wake up on time, work out, get the kids to school, pick up the groceries, drop off the package, visit your sick friend, clean that mess in the backyard, go to work, get along with your coworkers, put gas in the car, get in a petty argument with your spouse, get over the petty argument, scold the dog for breaking the lamp . . . are you feeling stressed yet? Daily hassles are a part of every married couple’s life. They kind of suck, huh? But! Although they may never disappear, they can become bearable and less stressful, if we know how to deal with them in a positive way.

As a married college student, I am finding my family adaptation and resiliency class to be extremely helpful. I am learning about how to help families, including my own, deal with many different causes of stress, including daily hassles. I will include one of the concepts we have studied that can help take the unavoidable stressors in our lives and turn them into positive learning experiences.

We all have daily tasks that can start to pile up throughout the course of a day. These stressors are real, and I want to focus on is the stressor of daily marital distress.

Whether there was a mess made in the kitchen, your spouse disciplining your children in a way you did not agree with, your being late to leave, or an argument about that mistake your spouse made last week, marital distress often occurs daily. What causes these daily stresses to happen? I mean, you both know you love each other and there are plenty of great times. So, why do there have to be so many stresses from what seem to be petty arguments? A good place to start looking to fix the problem is in communication.

Communication. That thing we use to say I love you, express gratitude, create inside jokes, and form a relationship could be the same thing causing so many daily marital stressors. Sometimes tensions are high and tempers are short due to all the responsibilities we hold in our lives, and we explode over a simple cup of milk our spouse spilt at breakfast. Then, we say things we don’t think about and don’t mean. It just comes out leaving both parties hurt and stressed. I have seen this same process happen in my marriage. I get frustrated and start to complain without thinking about what I should say first.

My mother once made a cross stich for me that said, “Forgive quickly, kiss slowly,” and I think it applies in this situation. Instead of being quick to anger and slow to rationality, we should be quick to forgive and slow to respond (which can also lead to kissing!). For those minor, harmless daily hassles in a marriage, we need to have better communication. We need to slow down our reactions to analyze the situation and respond rationally, without high emotions leading the response. When we do this, we can resolve the stress quickly before it turns into a monster snowball rolling over the rest of our day.

This is one of many solutions to the daily hassles in a marital relationship. It may not be the solution for every hassle, but it is definitely one to be recognized and considered in our pursuit to ease our daily burdens. Good and healthy communication is arguably the most important aspect of marriage. Let’s all take time to practice it in the stressful moments of life. In those moments, anger might seem easier, but it’s pausing to communicate that will lead to a positive resolution.


New Month, New You

To all of our Stance readers, Happy March 1st!

Although the happy feelings of Valentine’s Day are over, that doesn’t mean that we can’t continue showing our love for others. For me, I’ve never seen Valentine’s Day as only one noteworthy day of love to one significant person, but to everyone! It’s a day to help others not only feel of your love but also of God’s love for them. Helping others see and reach their potential is one of the most beautiful things we can do to help others come unto Christ and know that we are each a child of God. I’m making it a goal this month/year to love others and show them my appreciation more often than just on holidays. Who’s with me?!

Here are some ideas of things that you can do today to help others feel loved, without breaking the bank!

  • Call someone to let them know you’re thinking about them, and share your love and appreciation for them in your life.
  • Send a snail mail letter. I think a handwritten letter is one of the kindest gestures you can give. It shows that someone values you enough to sit down, ponder on what to say, and use their time towards making you smile. Pass it on!
  • Make someone their favorite meal instead of going out to eat.
  • Leave sticky notes around the house or on someone’s car to say that you’re thinking about them.
  • Pick someone up and go on a drive. Talk and enjoy your time together.
  • Make a movie fort, and enjoy a night in together with some popcorn.
  • Create a treasure hunt of your favorite memories with someone.
  • Simply listen.
  • Smile at strangers.
  • Send a text with a picture of your favorite memory with a certain person.
  • Pray for your enemies.
  • Pray for an opportunity to serve someone today.

Whatever you decide to do, help at least one person know that he or she is valued and are enough. So here’s to you, our Savior and loving example, and every gem we come in contact with every single day.