By Jaime Mathews

How I Choose to Raise My Family

Mamahood + Homeschool

The Sweet Life

November 8, 2021

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. And I also knew that whenever I was blessed with kiddos of my own, I would choose to raise my family a little differently.

I will never forget the day my girlfriends and I were sitting at a ski lodge in Bear Valley, California. Most of us had opted out of skiing and instead decided to sit in the lodge, sipping hot toddies and talking about life, love, and everything in between. One of my friends asked each of us about whether or not we wanted kids. None of us had kids at the time and many of us didn’t even have boyfriends or husbands, but most of us were 30 years old and above, so the kid question was something we had all thought about. Some of my friends said they weren’t sure they wanted kids while most of us said we did or thought we did. She followed up with another question that I will never forget and still think about to this day. She asked those of us who said we definitely wanted to have children, “Why? Why do you want to have kids?” The question stumped our girls’ group. Some of the girls didn’t really know how to answer. In all honesty, I’m not sure anyone had ever asked us. 

When it came for me to answer, I blurted out exactly what was on my heart. “I want to have kids because I think I will be a great mom and will raise kids who will be game changers.” This might have sounded arrogant of me but since the future generation is who will one day care for this earth and all the species in it, I wanted to be a part of raising them. I was raised with a solid foundation. My parents are happily married after 47 years and are solid parenting role models. I have always loved kids, was a great babysitter, and adored my niece from the second she was born. I went into my Master’s program in holistic health and nutrition as a deep dive into learning how to be my healthiest self so that I could then raise healthy children. I also had a foundation built on Jesus, and in this day in age, I think that makes all the difference. 

How I’m Raising Some Game Changers

I was blessed with twin girls, a boy, and two step kiddos. From the time my twins were young, we established traditions that some thought were awesome and some thought were a little bonkers. But my vision for my kids has never wavered (raising them to be game changers), so the way we do life looks a little different.

1. How we birthday

In our home, when my kids have birthday parties, we request that no one bring presents. Yes, from my twins’ first birthday to now, their friends don’t come to the party with loads of toys they don’t need, dolls they’ll lose, and games they might not play. Instead, we have a donation drive. The birthday invitation will include the pet organization we are collecting for or the homeless shelter food drive we are a part of. It’s not that my kiddos don’t get birthday gifts. Of course they do! But those gifts come from us, their grandparents, and their uncles and aunts. 

My kiddos may not have understood at first and they may not have even liked it at times, but they quickly forget about the presents when they get to drive with me to the shelter to drop off the dog blankets, the canned food, and the cat toys. 

For my son’s first birthday party, I asked guests to bring a succulent so that I could plant him his own succulent garden. Our home is now full of beautiful plants and because our succulents have thrived, we now share our succulent cuttings with our community so they can start a succulent garden of their own. Last year, we gave away over 40 cuttings to our neighbors when we placed them out by our Book Nook (that is what we call the community library we set up in front of our house).

2. How we holiday

The holidays are a crazy time of year for us. On top of the holidays, school programs, and holiday parties, we have four birthdays in December. But something we do regardless of the craziness is a homeless shelter gift bag collection. From September to early December, our family, along with a handful of family and friends, collect over 3,000 items to give to the local homeless shelter. On bag stuffing night, when we close our business to the public and open it to our friends to fill all of the bags with the shelter items, my kids consistently say that this tradition is by far their favorite. They are not quite old enough to take the bags to the homeless shelter to hand them out or partake in the homeless shelter Christmas dinner that our family’s church puts on, but when they are, I know they’ll love it. They may not be able to articulate the feeling that they get when they are in service but they know it feels good and they know it makes other people feel good. 

3. How we family time

We watch movies and eat popcorn together almost every week. We eat dinner together nearly every night and talk about our highs and lows of the day. We say goodnight prayers, we snuggle on the couch before starting our day, and when we go on family walks, we pick up garbage along the way. My 4-year-old son shares the same enthusiasm when he finds a hidden piece of garbage or a dog poop bag as he does finding colored eggs on Easter morning. We have had seed planting family parties. We shovel out the barn together. We paint furniture, tend to our farm animals, and harvest our garden—all together. Yes, it often takes much more time when I involve my kids in the chores and projects on our little farm. But what they gain in confidence and connection is worth so much more than the exact time it took to complete. 

4. How we love

Our family is a hugging family. We kiss a lot. We snuggle a lot. And I would say that our kids feel adored overall. But part of the way we love our kids is by having high expectations of them. Not in a critical or judgemental way, but in a way where they know they are capable. We love them by letting them make mistakes and to learn their own lessons rather than us telling them. We love them by giving them the chance to work out disagreements without running to tell on one another. They do that, of course, but when the tattle-telling starts, we typically give them a few things to consider about the situation and then tell them to go work it out together. And guess what, they do!

What Kids Need
Beyond the Maslow hierarchy of needs, I think that one of the most profound things we can do as parents is give our children the wings to fly. Expect greatness from them at a young age and watch what they are capable of. Raising game changers means equipping children with the knowledge that they can do anything and then watching as they turn “I can” into “I did!”


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Jaime Mathews      Author

Jaime is a woman of many hats: follower of Jesus, wife, mama of three, homeschooler, business owner, blogger, writer and aspiring homesteader. Follow her on instagram @jaimeleemathews.

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