This is a guest post by Melinda and Kathy of Mothering from Scratch.

A three-day vacation to Disney World?  An all-day shopping trip at the local mall?  A two-hour conversation where we delve into all our kids’ childhood angst?

These are the kinds of scenarios we believe will lead to mothering bliss. Over the years, we have learned that what really captures our children’s hearts are “the small things with great love.” We don’t have to plan for them in advance. They don’t require an elaborate savings plan. Only our willingness — and five minutes or less.

Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

1. A snack surprise.

Our kids each have their favorite snacks. Ones they might not get every day — which makes them extra special. Every now and then, surprise them with it. It can be in the van when you pick them up or waiting at home for when they come from school. Or even by the desk where they do their homework.

2. Make their bed the “fancy hotel way.”

Even down to leaving a Dove’s chocolate square on their pillow. Our moms used to say that the bedroom looks 80% better just by making the bed. And even the neatest kids sometimes don’t get a chance to make the bed. And when they make it, it’s not the way we’d make it. Fluff the pillows. Turn down the sheets. Leave the chocolate. They’ll feel the love.

3. Start a back-and-forth journal.

It can be used to write notes of encouragement, life lessons or even apologies to our children. Hopefully, our kids will be inspired to write back as well. It’s a technique that worked very well with my (Melinda) daughter.

4. Undivided eyeball-to-eyeball attention.

Our daughter comes home excited about a new friend. Our son can’t wait to tell about the latest trick he can do on the playground. And we say “uh-huh” as we unload groceries or throw in a load of laundry. Instead, we propose something radical: Stop. Sit. Look directly into their eyes. And listen.

5. Mirror our thoughts.

A quickly scribbled, heartfelt note in eye pencil or lipstick on the bathroom mirror can speak volumes to our children. It says, “I’m noticed.” An encouraging note in their lunchboxes is also a way to feed their souls while they’re nourishing their bodies.

So much of mothering is complicated. But reaching our child’s heart is really simple.

Sometimes, it just takes five minutes.


Kathy and Melinda met on a Little League baseball field. The coach — Melinda’s kids’ pediatrician — also happened to be Kathy’s husband. They discovered their shared passion for writing, as well as a common desire to serve and encourage other mothers. Kathy(the redhead)mothers four kids ranging in age from late teens to early elementary years. Melinda (the brunette) is mother to an adorable middle-school-aged son and a beautiful and entertaining teenage daughter. Kathy and Melinda blog at