Mom to Mom with Keightley Garnett

Mom to Mom May 2023 AOP

AOP: You have children in all different milestone brackets. How do you keep your family organized when it comes to all their activities?

KG: We have two daughters who dance (one is on the competition team), our middle daughter played school and now club volleyball, and our son plays basketball and travel baseball. I often joke that I should have majored in logistics!

This mama couldn’t do without my “old-school” paper calendar and Google voice reminders. Whenever I get any new schedule or appointment, I plot it out and each kid gets a different highlighted color. There’s probably a more high-tech method, but I like seeing what our weeks look like at a glance and it also helps me to build in margin and rest when our lives look especially busy. Whenever I get overwhelmed, I’m reminded that this is the good stuff. Years from now, I expect my calendar will not be as rainbow colored. With the help of carpools, Google alerts and grandparents, we usually make it all work!

AOP: What has been the most difficult challenge you have faced as a mother? How did you overcome it and what did you learn?

KG: The moment my children were born, I felt the natural mama instinct to protect and hold them close. As they grow, obviously that instinct doesn’t go away, but I’m continually trying to find the right balance of when to step in teaching and training them while also allowing consequences of their choices to happen. From forgotten lunch boxes to staying out past a curfew to navigating middle school friend drama, it’s hard to watch your child make mistakes or have their feelings hurt and not want to swoop in to make it all better. I want them to learn some of these ‘tough love’ moments now so that they will hopefully be confident when they are ready to launch as young adults.

AOP: How do you handle the challenges of raising children with different personalities?

KG: Sixteen years into this parenting gig and I’m often still surprised at how different all of my children are from each other. I tend to parent ‘one size fits all’ and then I often feel shocked to receive four vastly different results! I’m learning to appreciate each of my children for who they are and try not to compare them to their siblings. I also have to remind myself not to assign labels – referring to them as ‘the sensitive one’ or ‘the funny one’ is limiting, even if it’s meant as a compliment!

AOP: What’s one important lesson you have learned as a mother?

KG: Having a high schooler and a kindergartener right now, I am learning that there is something sweet about every stage. I still miss the coos and exhausting bliss of babies and toddlers, but there is something pretty cool about watching my kids grow in independence. They can carry on deep conversations, know how to prepare meals and drive a car! We will continue to look for the best of each stage of parenting.

AOP: How do you help your children navigate social relationships and peer pressure?

KG: This has become more challenging as my children have gotten older. When they are little, we parents get to be their best buds! Somewhere near the middle of elementary school they begin to prefer time with their friends. Friends become their world! My husband and I have encouraged our kids to show kindness to all, but also remember who they are and what they value. Social media makes this especially hard so we encourage them to remember the difference between Instagram and reality!

AOP: What values do you prioritize in your parenting?

KG: As Christians, we strive to model and teach our children through the lens of God’s Word. While we don’t want them to just have a carbon copy of our faith, we want to point them to the Lord as we walk alongside them. My hope is that God has got them from there.

AOP: What advice would you give to mothers who may be struggling with their parenting journey?

KG: I think for every parenting victory we celebrate there are twice as many moments where we are humbled and wonder if we are messing this up. Moms sincerely need community and support. Forming friendships with other moms in those early years was vital for me when I was sleep deprived and covered in spit-up. I still keep in touch with moms that I met at the breastfeeding support group at the hospital with my oldest. I’m thankful for my mama friends who have come alongside me during this wild crazy parenting ride!

Keightley Garnett and her husband Dusty will be celebrating 20 years of marriage this summer. They have four children – Libby (16), Annie (14), Charlie (12) and Hope (6). Keightley owns Simple Joy Photography and considers it a privilege to capture memories for families in her area. She also enjoys reading, traveling and baking when she’s not chauffeuring kids to school, dance and sports.

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Mom to Mom with Keightley Garnett

by Guest Contributor time to read: 3 min