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These southern mama tips and hacks should help make the job a little easier. Before your children came into this world, you probably had no idea how difficult it could be. Now you know better.
Never fear. I’ve been there, so all my southern mama tips are tried and true.
Goal of a Southern Mama
A southern mama’s main goal is to make life as wonderful for everyone around her as possible. She wants her young’uns to be productive, law-abiding, and gracious.
Her home needs to be clean, but not necessarily immaculate because she knows ya gotta live. And life is certainly messy.
Finally, she wants to make sure folks show up at her funeral after she passes. (Southern folks don’t die. They pass.) And the more people who show up, the better.
What to Do When You’re Pregnant
Being pregnant is fun for some people, but for me, it meant nausea for about three months. After that, I was able to enjoy the different stages of pregnancy. But you have a big responsibility, so you need to do some things to make life better for you and the baby.
Here are some southern mama tips for when you’re pregnant:
- Eat really nutritious food, like these fruit kabobs and vegetables.
- Take the vitamins your doctor recommends. Make sure you’re getting enough folate.
- Stay on a schedule with your doctor checkups.
- Get enough sleep, including both nighttime sleep and naps. Your body is working overtime to keep two people alive. So get some rest, girl.
- Get a baby book and discuss names with your spouse. Have a list of both girl and boy names, even if you know the gender of the baby before birth. I’ve heard of people being surprised when the gender didn’t match what appeared obvious on the ultrasound.
- Narrow down the names and choose middle names. Make sure the two names roll off the tongue in a way your young’uns know you mean business when you say them. For example, when someone said, “Deborah Lynne,” I cringed because I knew that meant I was in trouble.
- Start getting your nest ready. I went through the house and removed all knickknacks. Now, decades later, I still haven’t put them back. I discovered I enjoyed not having to clean those little dust catchers.
And That’s Not All! There’s More!
- Make food and put it in the freezer for those nights when you’re too overwhelmed to cook. Some of the things I recommend are this chicken rice casserole and this tasty cheesy zucchini ham bake. I also like this delicious and nutritious sausage and kale bake.
- Prepare a shopping list with standard essentials. When people ask what they can do to help, hand them your list and some cash. This might sound very basic. But it’s never fun to run out of milk on those days when you can’t get out of your pajamas until after lunch. Babies have a way of disrupting even the most thought-out schedules.
- Pay close attention to your southern relatives—especially the southern mamas. You need to learn some of their expressions like these southern sayings so you can use them on your young’uns. After all, if you’re in the South, you’re a southern mama.
- Play classical music and stand with your belly next to the speaker for a healthy dose of culture.
- Learn how to monogram.
When the Baby First Comes Home
Back when I was a brand new southern mama, I was amazed by all the things I didn’t know. In fact, I didn’t know more than I did know. However, I was too embarrassed to ask anyone for help. So I went to the library.
That was a huge mistake. Books don’t teach the things a southern mama needs for child rearin’.
Here are some things you need to work on when you’re brand new at this parenting thing:
- Don’t let others tell you what to do. And trust me when I say plenty of people will try to boss you around. If you want to breastfeed, do it. If you want to bottle feed, that’s fine too. Just hold on to what you feel is best and don’t give it another thought.
- When the baby’s napping, take time to work on “the look.” Stand in front of the mirror and try lifting one eyebrow. If you can’t do that, narrow your eyes and turn your head slightly. That’s typically just as effective. You need to develop a look that lets your children and everyone else know you mean business.
- Dress your baby in the most smocked, monogrammed outfit you can find. Don’t ask me why. This is just what southern mamas do.
- Put a hat on that baby. The sun is blazin’ hot in the South, and you don’t want to scorch the sensitive skin on that cute little bald head.
Southern Mama Tips for When Your Sweeties Start Walking
Teach your young’uns to do chores when they’re little. This is a skill that’ll impress the daylights out of your mother-in-law. While your little one is on a task, shrug and say something like, “She’s always so industrious.” You don’t have to share the fact that you had to bribe your angel with the last Krispy Kreme chocolate glazed donut in the box.
More Child Rearin’
- Teach the importance of polite words, such as, “ma’am,” and “sir.”
- Childproof your house. No matter how much you love your valuable Hummel figurines that have been passed down through the generations, they’re not worth a dime when shattered.
- Have useful rainy-day activities. Keep a can of cheap shaving cream to squirt on the kitchen table and some spoons. The kids can play in it for hours, until it’s time to wipe it off to get ready for supper. Have your young’uns fill sand buckets with the shaving cream and give each of them a cloth to remove the remaining residue. You’ll have the cleanest kitchen table in town.
- If you have a full-time job, make sure you find ways to have some time alone. Take turns with child duty with your spouse.
- If you’re a stay-at-home mom, find a mother’s morning out so you can have a little time to yourself. Many churches and some community centers offer this service for a small fee. It’s totally worth every penny to have some “me” time.
- Don’t feel guilty unless you intentionally do something wrong. Like everyone else on this planet, mamas make mistakes. Do whatever you can to fix the issue and move on.
When the Young’uns are Near ’bout as Big as you
There comes a time when the sweet little cherubs grow up. And there’s that time when their bodies are grown, but emotionally and mentally they’re still young’uns. As difficult as it is at times, you really need to remember that.
Here are some southern mama tips on dealing with preteens and teenagers:
- Have “the talk” if you haven’t already. You know exactly what I mean, so don’t even pretend you don’t.
- Major in the majors and let the minor stuff go. After all, life is too short to always be squawkin’ about every little thing your teenager does wrong. And trust me, they’re probably doing stuff you don’t want to know about.
- Even if you do know, pretend you don’t. However, this is only good for insignificant things, like painting the city’s water tower or rolling someone’s yard with TP. If they do something really bad, get right up in their face and let ’em know how you really feel. Then ground ’em ’til the end of time.
Getting Them Ready for Adulthood
There are some things you might have forgotten to teach your young’uns. You can try now, but it’s probably too late to make much of a difference at this point.
If they can’t cook, they’ll figure it out on their own … or starve. And you know as well as I do, that’s not likely to happen.
My mama taught me how to sew before I had my first double-digit birthday. I did the best I could with my own girls, when they’d be still long enough to listen. But now, I understand most folks take their clothes to Goodwill when a button pops off. I think that’s a cryin’ shame.
When the Baby Bird Finally Flies from the Next
Whether your kids choose college or they simply move out, let ’em go. Even if you don’t want them to, chances are, they’ll boomerang right back within a few months. Enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts.
Here are some southern mama tips that help prepare for the adult young’uns leaving:
- Make a care package. Add some things they’ll need, such as soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, and other stuff. Next, toss in their favorite snacks, some stationery to write home (don’t count on it), and their favorite stuffed animal.
- If you have a daughter heading off to college, remind her that if she wants to join a sorority, she needs to use her legacy status (either from you or another close relative). She still isn’t a shoo-in, but it still doesn’t hurt to be a legacy when the competition is tight.
- Don’t even think about having “the talk” with your young’un at this time. If you haven’t already done it, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s too late now, and they’ll probably laugh at you. They already know stuff you’ve never heard before because that’s how it is these days.
Southern Mama Tips for Kitchen Duty
Know when to cook from scratch and when to make it look like you cooked from scratch. Do you love southern fried chicken? No one has to know it came from KFC.
Just put the KFC chicken on your prettiest platter and smile as you present it. There’s no point in getting your kitchen all greasy just to fry up a mess of chicken. And don’t forget to dispose of the KFC carton before company arrives.
Casseroles are your friends. These essential meals-in-a-single-pan come in handy when you bring home a new baby, when your church or neighborhood has a potluck, when someone dies, or any other time when you need food. While you’re making one, go ahead and double the recipe to freeze one for later.
If you don’t want your rice to boil over in the rice cooker, pour in a little vegetable oil or spray some nonstick cooking spray on top of the water. I don’t know why this works, but it does.
Test your eggs for freshness by putting them, shell and all, into a full glass of water. If it sinks, it’s fresh. If it floats, it’s been around for a while.
Never turn anyone down if they offer to help clean up. And praise them the entire time. You might not think they deserve the praise, but you catch more flies with honey than vinegar. At least, that’s what my southern grandma said.
Decorating Southern Mama Style
Everyone is different, and that includes southerners. That’s why humongous home décor stores with more options than people on this planet flourish in the South.
I use baskets to store blankets in the living room. This is one of those tips I actually picked up from my daughter, and I think it’s a good one. Check out her blog Make It to Friday.
I’m one who prefers to keep my home décor simple, mainly because I don’t like to dust. My mama loved trinkets and knickknacks, but she didn’t dust them. I did. And I vowed to eliminate as much work as possible.
Although I’m not into a lot of “dustables,” I do love flowers. My opinion is that you can’t have too many flowers—either single buds or bouquets—in the house. I also believe that all colors work together when it comes to bringing the outdoors inside.
One of my favorite flowers is the alstroemeria, also known as the Peruvian lily. If you change out the water and trim the bottoms of the stems every few days, they’ll stay pretty for several weeks.
Since we have a cat, I have to be careful with what I bring into the house. So I always research whether or not the flowers and plants are toxic to kitties. And now I have some fake flowers, which is fine because they’re still pretty. Unfortunately, the alstroemeria can make cats very sick.
Southern mamas know that they need some personal time. That’s why I recommend picking a TV show you can record to binge watch later. If you’re a reader, you’ll also enjoy finding a cozy corner, curling up, and reading something fun, like the Summer Meadows Cozy Mystery Series by Cynthia Hickey.
Southern Mamas Know Stuff
Keep this list and add some of your own southern mama tips and hacks. And then pass them down to your daughters and granddaughters. Most of us figure out how to solve problems, but it never hurts to have a little help.