While there are many things that make us different as mothers, there is one thing we all have in common: we want to see our children thrive. Homeschooling mother of five, Jodi Mockabee, joins me today for a conversation about her new book, The Whole and Healthy Family, where she walks through how we can support our kids’ well-being in mind, body, and spirit. We covered so much ground in this conversation—from parenting babies all the way up to older teens—that moms in all stages will benefit from listening in. I feel like Jodi and I could have continued talking forever, and I hope you feel like you are sitting down with us having a chat about all the things that make motherhood so beautiful and challenging and worth it.
In this episode, we cover:
- What it means to support your child in mind, body, and spirit
- How to approach extracurricular activities in a way that doesn’t overtake your schedule
- Noticing and adapting to each child’s individual personality, strengths, and weaknesses
- A discussion on picking your battles in parenting based on what matters most to you
- How parenting can change from the oldest children in a family to the youngest
- Beginning the transition of teens spending more time outside the home
- Creating time to spend with each individual child in a large family
- The surprising ways that simplifying your home can bring peace to your family
- Recognizing and addressing the mental clutter that comes from technology
With over ten years experience making a home, author and mom of seven, Lisa Bass, shares her love for from scratch cooking, natural living and all things handmade. As a full-time blogger and homeschooler, Lisa also mixes in a little mom life and business tips.
As a mother of seven, I get so many questions about all the baby things: feeding, sleeping, babywearing, bonding, navigating transitions, and more. I am so excited to bring fellow mother of seven, Ariel Tyson, on the podcast to chat about the baby days. We both share a love for the early newborn days, and we dive into how we approach the newborn stage in a way that allows us to enjoy it. We also talk beyond the newborn stage and address some of the transitions that come as babies get older. May this discussion encourage you in your motherhood and give you some practical ideas to implement in your own home.
In this episode, we cover:
- The importance of resting in the early weeks after birth to prioritize bonding, breastfeeding, and your own recovery
- How babywearing can help you embrace the newborn days
- Must-have baby products vs. what you don’t need
- Different approaches to baby sleep and baby schedules
- Introducing solid foods through baby-led weaning
Thank you to our sponsors!
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Join us in the Simple Farmhouse Life Facebook community!
Thank you to our sponsors!
Toups and Co Organics uses nourishing, organic ingredients to create simple and safe skincare products. Toups and Co is offering my listeners 10% off any one purchase with the code FARMHOUSE. Visit ToupsandCo.com to order today. And check out my interview with the founder of Toups and Co, Emilie, to find out more about this amazing company and their products.
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Jodi Mockabee is a photographer, writer, blogger, speaker, social media influencer, and homeschooling mother of five living in the Black Hills of South Dakota. With a passion for health, wellness, parenting, and more, Jodi blogs her family’s journey and shares tips for a healthy and active lifestyle. She also writes curriculum for creative and artistic learning in a homeschool environment. Find her at JodiMockabee.com.
The Whole and Healthy Family by Jodi Mockabee
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Lisa Bass Welcome back to the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. Today I’m going to be having on Jodi Mockabee. She talks about intentionality when it comes to parenting, your marriage. She has a brand new book that goes into all of this. So in the interview, we are breaking down a lot of that both as moms of many children— how we are able to spend time with them individually, how we cater to their different personality types and help them to grow, but also to accept certain parts of their personality that might be different than your own. So we’re going to go into that. I wanted to—before we dive into the interview—make a quick mention about this episode. So this is the 150th episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast. I started it on a whim in January of 2020. I heard that podcasting was something that a lot of people were gravitating toward because when we are going about our day—homemaking tasks and taking care of children—a lot of times it’s nice to have something educational that we can just put into our ears while we’re doing a lot of those more mundane tasks. And I decided I wanted to be a part of that world in this space. And I have had many times throughout that two years or two and a half years—I cannot believe it’s been that long—where I’ve thought, you know what? I’m just not sure that this is worth— not necessarily not worth my time. But just I have a lot of stuff going on. I’m not sure I can keep devoting that much attention to this. But then in the early part of 2022—so the beginning of this year—a new podcast manager reached out to me and it’s just been so much easier to handle this with extra help. And I have a new enthusiasm for this podcast. The format this whole year has been guests. So each week I’ve been interviewing someone new and that has just snowballed into so many new ideas and exposing you all to people who have an expertise or at least wisdom and knowledge in some subject. And it’s been really refreshing for me to be a part of that. I have met so many people—and I hope that you have, too—that I now feel like I know and I could be friends with in real life and it’s just been awesome. I have a lot of new ideas coming up. So I already have all of 2022 all planned out and booked— not necessarily the guest booked, but I have all of the ideas along with who I want for the guest, so the proposed guest for that. And then I have probably at least 10 to 15 episodes planned for 2023. So doing it with this format has really helped me to get excited about it and come up with all these ideas. I think I could just podcast forever now and always have new ideas. You all also send me ideas and I really appreciate that because sometimes I don’t get a whole lot of feedback from this podcast. Because it’s a format where there are reviews, there aren’t a lot of interactions. So I don’t have comments, I don’t have DMs, I don’t even have a Simple Farmhouse Life podcast Instagram. So in a lot of ways, I know you’re watching and listening to this because I see my metrics and I see that there are people who are definitely listening to every episode—thousands and thousands and thousands people—but I don’t get a whole lot of feedback. So if there is an episode idea that you have, you can email me, Lisa@FarmhouseonBoone.com. I get them. Some of you do find my email address and send me emails, and you will notice that in a lot of episodes I do a listener question, and so I do get the ones that you send. Feel free— if you have something you just want me to go in-depth on for an entire hour or a guest that you’d really like to hear, go ahead and shoot me an email and let’s do another 150 episodes. I don’t know, that’d be like close to three years. So we have persisted for two and a half years, and at this point I am loving this podcast. I hope that you are, too. If you are— also another thing that really does help this podcast grow and of course does give some feedback is by leaving a review. So if you’re listening on Apple— I believe I know where they are on Apple. I can’t say I know exactly where reviews are on the other platforms, but I’m sure there is some really easy way that you can find where the reviews are. Hit a five star review—obviously, hopefully a five star review—and leave any feedback or any encouragement for this podcast. Thank you so much for all of you who have been listening for the last two and a half years. I keep feeling like I must be getting that wrong, but I know that’s what it was because it was before 2020 craziness. I—with bright eyed optimism—started a podcast. And a lot of things have been crazy through that time, but I’ve loved connecting with you in this format that is so different from YouTube and my blog and my Instagram. And I really hope and pray that you’re enjoying it, and it really does seem that you are. All right. Well, let’s dive into the interview—without further ado—with Jodi Mockabee.
Lisa Bass My name is Lisa, mother of seven and creator of the blog and YouTube channel Farmhouse on Boone. Join me as I share with you my love for creating a handmade home, from-scratch cooking, and a little mom and entrepreneur life along the way.
Lisa Bass Hi, Jodi, thank you so much for coming on. I’m really glad your agent reached out to me about your book because I received it. I actually have it right here. And my husband and I have both been reading it. So whenever— we just leave it down on the couch and he’ll pick it up and he has his spot and I have mine. So let’s start with introductions. Tell us about you, your family, your new book, The Whole and Healthy Family, and why you decided to write it.
Jodi Mockabee Okay. Well, first, hi, Lisa. Thanks for having me. And I love that your husband is reading it, too. That’s kind of my hope is that it becomes kind of this primer for families to just kind of gather some information and maybe adopt some ideas and— I don’t know. I love the idea that your husband is reading it and I hope other men and fathers read it as well. My husband and I have been married for—oh, gosh, this is like a test—I think 18 years? I believe it’s been 18 years. And we have five children ranging from ages 16 down to 10. And at the very end, we got some identical twin boys in there.
Lisa Bass Wow.
Jodi Mockabee So we had five under five at one point. And that’s kind of the heart behind this book is writing to the mom that just is in the trenches of daily life with little ones and just kind of urging parents to really accept the fact that it’s a huge responsibility in those early years, but also recognizing how difficult it is, too. And if we can kind of lay a healthy foundation holistically for our children, that really sets this solid foundation for them to kind of launch out into the world with. And so the time is not wasted spent walking through your children with— whether it’s discipline or good habits or healthy eating and all those little conversations that you have when they’re so young and argumentative, although that doesn’t ever really— they don’t grow out of that.
Lisa Bass Probably worse.
Jodi Mockabee It’s true. It’s true. But those early years— it’s not wasted all of the work that’s put in. And so that’s kind of the book is hopefully to be this encouragement that that time is important even though they’re younger and sometimes harder to understand and little, it’s still very important to put kind of the work and the time in to establishing a family culture that they can kind of thrive and learn in.
Lisa Bass Okay. Yeah. My sister and I were actually having this conversation yesterday about our really little ones. And you sometimes wonder whenever they are a baby and one and two and three, they’re not going to actually remember any of that time of their life. And so sometimes you wonder if that’s just a wash, like it doesn’t really matter. And I do feel that your book goes into why it’s important to establish that foundation even whenever you are sure that what you’re doing— it appears to not matter. It definitely does. So I love that heart behind it. Now, your book is divided into three sections: the whole mind, the whole body, and the whole spirit. Can you give us a brief overview on each of these sections?
Jodi Mockabee Sure. I kind of go into separate chapters within each section. The whole mind really addresses mentally what children need to thrive kind of in an environment, how to nurture them through their mind whether it’s through understanding their personalities, whether it’s through kind of establishing good communication in your household. And even on the communication chapter, it goes from communicating over conflict but also creating like a healthy sexual culture within the home. And I talk about nature and how profound and important it is to have nature a part of your life because as you grow older, there are so many different places that you can go to “decompress” that are not healthy. And somehow culturally we have normalized video games and television and all of this stuff as a healthy place to decompress, and that’s not necessarily the healthiest place to re-energize. And so nature kind of can play a role in that. And it starts from a very young age, kind of planting that in a child’s heart to go to nature when they need to decompress or wind down or get energy out or any of that. So that’s all part of the whole mind. Also just kind of creating a simple environment in the home so that children could really focus on what’s important. If there is a lot going on in the home, then it’s distracting and it’s difficult for everyone to thrive. But if you can kind of create a simple environment in your home, it allows you to focus on the really important things. So that’s kind of the whole mind and section. Whole body talks about food, fitness, health and wellness. I share some of our just very basic kitchen staple natural remedies that— you know, for us, when our kids were really young, we were on an extremely tight budget so we couldn’t even afford like colloidal silver. We had to stick to really basic kitchen staples like apple cider vinegar that made sense financially to treat our family with ailments and different things like that. And so just kind of sharing some tips and tricks for wellness— kind of budget friendly tips and tricks. So that’s the whole bodies section. And then the whole spirit section really goes into just sharing how to have a biblically grounded family, how to serve together. I talk about chores and how we work with responsibility and finances and different things like that. And speaking over your children and just listening to the Holy Spirit as he kind of guides you and helps you parent these children. So there’s a lot covered and hopefully there’s just little things here and there that people are able to grab and make a part of their own family culture.
Lisa Bass So with you and your husband, it sounds like you have really thought through this family culture. Was that something that you talked about really early in marriage? That you prayed about? Or how did this come about for you guys?
Jodi Mockabee I think we’re both very different, first of all. My husband, Jason, is a processor. He thinks a lot. We have a joke that I’m “Ready. Fire!” And he’s “Ready. Aim, aim, aim… Fire!” And so ever since I was a child, my biggest heart’s desire was to be a mom and a wife and just manage a home well. And so I think the desire of wanting to do that and do it well started with experiencing problems with your firstborn. They’re not sleeping. Why not? It starts with these little problems. And I wanted solutions. I wanted answers. Even if I couldn’t have an immediate solution, I wanted to understand what the cause was of the issue. And so that’s why there’s a lot of scientific studies throughout the book that I used to really help support my understanding of why my child wasn’t sleeping or why these behavioral issues were not being solved through discipline alone, that it actually was food that was perhaps causing some behavioral issues. And so for me personally, it was more from a problem-solving perspective that all these intentional choices started to be made. And then for my husband, I would say for him, he thrives in a peaceful environment. And that’s kind of his motivation behind everything is peace. And so for him, every decision for him required thought and a process because he didn’t want to add a bunch of things onto our plate at all times. And so it kind of slowed down our lifestyle in a sense to where we had to discuss these things very thoroughly. Just something as simple as signing your your kid up for rec soccer would be a week long—
Lisa Bass We are so here right now.
Jodi Mockabee But yeah, it would be a week long conversation of how does it affect our family? What does it look like on our time? What does it look like financially? And so, yeah, our whole marriage and parenting journey has been filled with thoughtful conversations from different perspectives. His is more how does this affect our family? And mine is more how do we fix this?
Lisa Bass You guys sound really similar in personalities to me and my husband as well. And so we definitely come from things from a different perspective. We were talking about the simplicity of your home, so I was going to break down just a few of the different sections of your book for us to go a little deeper into. And with that comes the thing you just talked about, which is activities. And this is something we’re currently going through because we have seven kids. And we started off that we weren’t going to do all the activities because whenever you have something going on every single night, there’s not those evenings where you’re just hanging out thinking, “Oh, do you want to go on a drive over to such and such a place? And take a walk at this park?” You’re always going on to the next thing, and it happens really easily that you fall into this because we had this idea that we aren’t doing this, and slowly we’ve added enough stuff that this fall we’re going to have—I think—one night a week that we don’t have something going on. And that’s because no kid has 12 things, but each kid has a thing. And we’re starting to think maybe we need to think about this. How is this going to affect our family culture? Because we’re always going to be go, go, go. And all of a sudden now, it seems like we’re running into this chaos that we’re really just putting on ourselves when we said we weren’t. So how do you simplify your schedule? Talk a little bit about that with your five kids. They’re all a little bit older now, so they all have their activities. How do you decide—especially if you have a lot of little kids—what makes the cut?
Jodi Mockabee Yeah, I think that’s the biggest problem that’s kind of plaguing our current culture right now is we want to cater to our children’s gifts and weaknesses and— well, we don’t want to cater to their weaknesses. We want to stretch them there, but we want to cater to their gifts and their interests. And if you have seven children with different interests, that’s going to change your family dynamic very quickly. And so for us with sports, we are an active family. We love competing. We love sports. We had to really simplify it down to one sport so that we were all together for all of that. And so we eliminated— different kids had different interests and golf and baseball and all these different things. And we did try it originally, and it was like what you’re facing right now where we were gone almost every evening and we felt stretched thin and we couldn’t focus on what was most important to us, which was our family. We were not home for dinner together. We didn’t get to laugh together. And even though you feel like you’re doing it for your children, you’re sitting on a bench watching them, you’re not necessarily spending time with them. And so we took a few years off of organized sports just to refocus and figure out, okay, how do we meet this athletic need in our family? How do we meet these desires and needs without it stretching our family super thin? And so what ended up happening is a friend suggested skiing to us. And I know it’s an expensive sport, but what we were able to do is get hand-me-downs from friends. And I traded my photography for ski passes at the local resort. And here we discovered this sport that all seven of us could do together. And we would sit on the lift together and we would recite our poetry from school and memory verses, and we would do math facts on the lifts. And it ended up just being this really special family sport that we all discovered together that kind of scratched that athletic itch, and we’re outside together, which was just wonderful.
Lisa Bass And it’s seasonal, so you’re not locked in year round either.
Jodi Mockabee Yes, exactly. It’s seasonal. It was a really wonderful experience for us and we haven’t given that up. That’s something that—for a few of my children—is planted really deep in their hearts to where now they’ll save up their money and buy passes and drive to a larger resort that we wouldn’t be able to afford. But they pay for it. And it’s fun to kind of see them stretch out and exercise their independence there. But the sports thing still is an issue in our family. We decided to stick with soccer, so all five of the children played the same sport. We decided to switch over to a club so that we can control the evenings that they played. So they all played on the same evenings. So we were only—
Lisa Bass Ooh, I could do that.
Jodi Mockabee Yeah, yeah. We were only busy on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and so any of the games as well—because it was the same club—was at the same location. So we were basically tunnel vision on the sport aspect. And unfortunately that means that they can’t try hockey or volleyball or these other sports. We’re really focused just on one sport. But what we’ve been able to see is now that we have high schoolers, my high schooler decided that he didn’t want to play in a high school level with soccer, so he took up golf and track and he’s doing that on his own. And he’s able to do that because he has a car. So it’s still not necessarily— he might be gone certain evenings, but our family is still together eating together. So it’s a really tough subject to try to manage that time. And I know exactly where you guys are at. It’s a really difficult subject. And one of the challenges, too, is now high school sports are so competitive, most of these kids are playing club sports all the way up to high school. So you can’t even really walk on a team anymore. You actually have to have years of experience before playing. That’s what we’ve recognized a little bit, too. So it really does kind of and pigeonhole your kids to a specific sport if you choose that lifestyle. But my oldest son ended up not choosing that specific sport, and he’s doing great with golf and running. So I hope that kind of answers it. There is no solution.
Lisa Bass No, it’s just being intentional about it. There’s really no solution except to say, “Do you want that? Then I guess you have to be proactive and actually just do it.”
Jodi Mockabee Exactly. And I think what’s interesting— you guys homeschool, right Lisa?
Lisa Bass Yes.
Jodi Mockabee Okay, so in the homeschool culture, sports— there’s not a lot of homeschooling families that do sports. And I think it’s because it is overwhelming, and you get used to being able to control your time and all of this. And so then all of a sudden somebody is requiring your kids to be at practice and you’re like, “Wait, what? Nobody tells me what to do.”
Lisa Bass Exactly.
Jodi Mockabee So it’s interesting navigating—as a homeschool mom, too—the sports world because it’s kind of a dichotomy or it’s not common in homeschooling. So to try to navigate that has been difficult, too. We don’t have a lot of homeschooling friends that balance sports and home life.
Lisa Bass Right. And I guess we can get away with it to an extent because we are home together all the time. That is it that bad that we are out in the evening? I just— there’s a lot of things that happen just naturally whenever you’re a little bit bored, and I don’t like when that goes away. That’s something that I instantly start to notice. Oh, this is why this feels stressful and chaotic. We now have somewhere we have to be and just getting all the kids out of the house with their shoes on and— it takes away that time where, before, you might have come up with something like going on a family walk or making something special for dinner, like homemade pasta that takes way too much extra effort. You’re relying more on easy meals, which is fine, but it just creates a whole different feeling at home in the evenings, and I don’t necessarily love that.
Jodi Mockabee It’s true. And that’s kind of how we were able to find our balance is unfortunately, we can’t cater to everyone’s desire to pick up hockey or volleyball or this, but we are meeting the needs of competition and being involved. It’s just under very strict parameters so that we can have slow dinners on the other evenings. But five nights a week is a lot and that’s taxing, and you’re in it. And we’ve had those years before. So we ended up quitting it all, taking a few years off. And to be honest, athletically, the kids picked up right where they left. I mean, they were fine. There was no deficit or issue. So I think maybe starting young is maybe the biggest problem and issue. And then as you look at their developmental needs as they get older, they—especially I’ve seen in my boys—they have this desire to compete. They have the extra testosterone. They need to be out there pushing limits. And so that’s when we finally said, “Okay, we’ll jump back into this world, but we’re going to do it on very strict terms.”
Lisa Bass Yeah. And then for us, two of the nights of the week, actually, it’s really only— well, I guess it’s three nights a week that we have sports because a lot of the kids do double up with what they have. But then we even have two nights of the week where we do church stuff, and I don’t want to take that out. And so that’s where we end up having something going on every night. And I look at the calendar, and I’m like, we literally have this one night a week that nothing’s going on, and you’re even choosing between good things a lot of times. And that’s what makes it even trickier.
Jodi Mockabee It’s true. And for us— so Tuesdays and Thursdays are typically our soccer nights, and Wednesday night would be a church night. And we actually chose to stop doing church on Wednesday nights because we wanted to maintain that family dinner. And so like you said, you’re battling between but community with church is good, but—and I mentioned this in my book—I see our family as a church. I see our family as the body. And so that’s where if you are unable to carve out other time, then perhaps even carving something good out is essential to protect the family. And that’s not putting that on you guys. You have— each family has to go through these decisions. It was just for us personally that we were faced with the same thing. Even though church is good, ultimately the body within our household is more important to us than the body within our church down the road. So if it requires saying no to that to nurture our children and be intentional and disciple our children, then we’re going to have to say no to that. And that’s seasonal. It may pick up another time, but for now we felt the weight of the schedule and that was one thing that we could carve out that we wanted to just to protect those family meals at night.
Lisa Bass Yeah. Yep. It’s tricky for sure. Definitely not a cut and dry answer.
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Lisa Bass Now in your book, one of the sections was awareness, and this one I really liked because this is definitely me and my sister’s favorite topic of all is talking about kids and their individual personalities, their gifts. We have, between the two of us, 12 almost 13 kids— she’s due this week with my nephew or niece. And it’s so interesting when you have a lot of kids, especially in a short amount of time because we have— my oldest is 13 and then, you know, I live closely with my sister and so we’re always comparing everything— to see how different kids are even whenever you parent them the exact same. They have different needs and gifts. And you talk a lot about getting to know our children for every part of parenting, from discipline to how you speak to them with love language stuff. So why is it so important—in your view—to get to know our children?
Jodi Mockabee Well, I think, Lisa, both you and your sister— probably one of the things that’s so fascinating about that is because you have so many children, you really have to be efficient in almost everything that you do for anything to get done. And that even means parenting. And so for me, I feel like I don’t want to have a one size fits all and be shooting in the dark all the time and and have whatever acts that I’m trying to do to show my children that I love them or support them. If they’re not hearing that, if they’re not taking it in, then it’s completely inefficient and it’s kind of useless motion, if you will. And so understanding each child, it does take time. It takes becoming a student of your child, really watching how they react to things. One of the habits that I got into pretty early is after you end up disciplining a child or working through a rough situation, contemplating what could have gone different. Why did the child respond this way or how did that happen? And just kind of analyzing all of these little situations. It helps paint a picture of who your child is, how they respond to certain things. I have five kids and some of them are very quick to respond and others need very long explanations. And especially I have my oldest son. He’s a little bit on the spectrum, so he has some special needs of his own. And I just had to learn the hard way that slow is fast. And I put that phrase in the book—a mentor had taught me that—that he needs the full picture. He needs every angle to understand why I’m requesting something from him. And it’s exhausting. And in my logical— my small capacity of logic, of understanding the situation, I don’t understand why he needs every angle. It’s just just do it. That’s all I’m asking you to do. It’s literally like just put your shoes on. But he wants to know why, when, how? What’s the scenario? How can I change it? And it always caused great conflict for me because I wanted somebody to just obey. I didn’t want them to have to ask why or when or how or why now and all these questions. But for him, I had to learn that’s the way his brain works. He needs process. He needs to understand that. And he cannot process the request unless he has enough information for it to make sense for him. So the struggle with that, too, in parenting is you always fear, well when they’re out in the world on their own, how does a world accommodate to a person like that that needs all the information? And the truth is, my husband is similar, and he has done just fine.
Lisa Bass Right. Yeah.
Jodi Mockabee So we put so much pressure on ourselves that everything’s going to translate to this disastrous adulthood. But the reality is you just give them the tools that we need. But on the awareness aspect, it’s just really, truly understanding the most efficient way to love your children, to teach your children, to walk alongside of them, to disciple them. And they’re all so different. But as soon as you start understanding their differences, it becomes kind of a targeted approach with your parenting.
Lisa Bass Yeah, and it really helps to understand it so that way you’re not always comparing certain things— like certain aspects of a child’s personality will make them able to really excel in some things, but then be very behind on others just because of the way they just are. And so being able to know that so that you’re not comparing them— it’d be like comparing height. You just can’t. They’re all going to grow to their different heights. Now, in your book, there’s a quote that stood out that really puts it into perspective for me. You said, “We can shape their characters and help steward their hearts, but their gifts and personalities they were born with will always remain the same.” And that is so true, I find. Especially with a lot of kids, I notice this all the time. Why would you say it’s important to help them in their weaknesses and help them to improve instead of just saying this is who they are? Because that’s what I tend to fall into, and I think it’s just— every once in a while, it’s just laziness, to be honest, to where you wonder, “To what extent can I shape this person? I can’t change them, but I can shape them.”
Jodi Mockabee I don’t know if you’re familiar with Charlotte Mason at all, but she’s kind of an educational— she’s got an educational philosophy out there. And one of her phrases is something along the lines of, “Tiny habits shape the character of man.” And another one of my favorite mantras is, “Start as you mean to go on.” And so we’re all sinful human beings. We always tend to be selfish and we all have weaknesses in one way or another. But the tiny habits in place— I think from the beginning, I mean, from like nine months old, you can see will in a child. A small example is a child standing up in their highchair. And they could have a stronger will than another child. One child, you can say, “Sit down, please,” and they’ll sit down in their highchair, and another one will test you to your limits on that.
Lisa Bass Yeah. I think I have all strong willed. Nobody’s just going to sit.
Jodi Mockabee Yes, but it’s just kind of picking what is important to you. I always felt this, and I know not every family is similar. One of my closest friends, she parented very calmly. She never required manners from her children. She unschooled her children. She was very kind of child led with her children. That was not my style. But she parented in a way that brought peace to her household because that style of parenting brought her peace. For me, having my children kind of know and understand expectations and have rhythms and systems in our home— that brought me peace, which then makes me a better mom. I felt like if I was operating at a level of peace and joy and love in my household, my children just kind of followed suit. And it was the same for her, but peace for her was, “I’ll let my children socially figure out that it’s important to say please.” And the craziest thing happened. They use their manners now. It’s been so fun to watch the fruit of her own philosophy because her children do. They use their manners. She never made them. She never taught them. But they socially watched all of their other friends, you know, “Please, can I have some water?” And they just started alongside. So part of that is just kind of understanding yourself as a parent and what expectations you have in your home. And I would say just being consistent with that. The inconsistency is probably the hardest thing for children to follow when they have got these weaknesses. If at one moment you’re trying to hone in on that and then the next moment you giggle and think it’s cute, that is inconsistent, and it does not create anything positive. It actually is confusing for them. So you kind of have to find where you want those habits to take place and just be consistent with them. So if you don’t mind that your child is standing up in their highchair, then just let it go entirely. If you do, then you need to make it a habit to correct that child every time they stand up in their highchair. I don’t know if that helped answer that question.
Lisa Bass Yeah. It did. With that, we were basically talking about picking your battles. That’s something I’ve had to figure out a lot with parenting. Sometimes I want them to do something and I have to realize, “Why did I even want them to do that? That was really just because it was more convenient for me, but not necessarily better for them.” It’s okay to require them to do things that are more convenient for you, but not every last thing needs to make it to where it’s just easy. I’ve definitely seen that with my own kids, just choosing which things are the one I want to stay consistent on and actually follow through with.
Jodi Mockabee I do have a question for you, too, since you have a spread of kids because this is just a theory. It’s not in my book or anything like that, but it goes alongside of the habits and just choosing your battles and what you prefer to exercise in your home and the expectations that you have. Have you found that what you set in place for your older children that you were kind of super diligent about or maybe sometimes too controlling or a little extra on the parenting side— that the younger children see that and they fall in suit and you find yourself parenting less than you did with your older children because the younger children are benefiting from that system or those expectations in your older children? Have you noticed that at all in your household?
Lisa Bass To an extent. I don’t know, because my oldest two are 13 and 11. And it’s so hard to remember what it was like 13 years ago, but I know for sure I was way more serious about everything I think just because I had the time to be. And they either were really easy or I did something right there or a combination of both. And my third born is more challenging on just about everything. And so they’re very helpful and they can manage everything, and that really helps. But I’m not sure that it’s just worn off on the younger kids, all those habits, honestly. I feel like it does take intention on the next ones. Like, for example, with with the older kids, it’s really easy to not really train the younger ones to, say, put away laundry or do the dishes because it’s already so easy just to ask the older ones that I’m finding that there is a lot that I need to re-instill in the middle children because I had it so good with the older ones that sometimes passing those chores off is really difficult.
Jodi Mockabee Yeah. And I think I’m kind of just thinking about your family dynamics, too. And you have more children than I do. And perhaps that’s one of the reasons why there might be a difference. Mine came all kind of fast and furious.
Lisa Bass Yeah, mine are real spread out. And so I’ve changed as a parent over the years, too. And so I know families like yours, personally, who have a bunch of kids at one time, and they almost went through the stages with them all together. And that’s a very different thing— just from my observation. Obviously, I don’t live in their house. I’m not their parent. But it’s so different than having a child when you’re 23 and having a child when you’re 36 and just all the stages in between and you have different stuff going on. Nobody’s in the same stage. They’re in very different stages. It is different, and I guess I wish—as you’re saying that—that it would have rubbed off more and been easier than it actually is. And I do think that it just requires the same thing over and over again whenever they’re all spread out like that.
Jodi Mockabee And I have to remember, too, to understand that in other families because in a sense, having them all together, it was easier to just put these systems in place and these expectations. And by the time the twins were maybe one or two, they’re able to comprehend and pick up on everything that’s going on. And so while you’re still teaching the older ones these habits and responsibilities and chores and different things, the twins are capable of watching and learning from that.
Lisa Bass Right. Mine weren’t even born when I was teaching that— the last ones.
Jodi Mockabee Right. And so that’s— I mean, essentially you’re like re-parenting in stages basically, where we’ve really only had one stage. So of course it’s easy to be intentional when they’re all in just one stage. I mean, I know they’re not technically now all in one stage, but it is probably a little bit easier to implement a lot of systems and expectations when they kind of can all understand and respond.
Lisa Bass Yeah, you had your five in the span of about me having my first three, and I do group those kids together. Well, actually I kind of do the oldest four. I’m always like— whenever we divide up— Luke and I will do that a lot. And I hate that because I’m thinking about you, and you’re going to the ski resort, and you guys are all doing this thing together. We don’t do that because we can’t take the toddler and the teenager to the same place, and so we divide them up. We’ll be like, “Okay, you take the older four camping, and I’ll stay back with the three babies and the milk cow.” So we do that a lot, and I do group them together. And so I think I see what you’re saying about it being this like punch of time— which you had so many that I wouldn’t call it easier. It’s just very different.
Jodi Mockabee Yeah. And that might be it. And I think along the lines of— some of those habits, I only had to really instill once because they were all conscious and aware and could understand. So enough repetition with the first two or the first three or all five at one point is enough to really instill those where you’re having to reintroduce them to your second or third wave of kids, in a sense.
Lisa Bass Yeah, and I definitely think I’ve gotten lazier over time. We’re actually— just the other night, Luke and I had a meeting together about the school year because summer is this time where we never really intend to let it all just go to just whatever happens, happens, but that’s always what happens. And so here we are mid-late summer, and we’re finding that, okay, we need to tighten literally everything up down to waking them up in the morning at a certain time. These kids are doing this. And we laid it all out— how we’re going to homeschool which kids, who’s taking who, what the schedule’s going to look like, we ordered curriculum, we did the whole thing. And yeah, it’s just a very different dynamic that I didn’t really anticipate whenever I was a young mom of just like— whenever they were all six, four, two, baby. You know, I put them in the car. We did this, we did that. I was very much in control. That whole thing sort of goes away whenever there’s just like this— it just goes way beyond like what you can wrangle in. You try.
Jodi Mockabee Yeah. And those are always— I call those like boot camp moments where you finally feel like you can breathe a little bit and everything gets loose and then it’s like, whoops, it got too loose. And so then it’s let’s tighten it all in, and everyone’s in for a rude awakening because tomorrow we’re talking real business.
Lisa Bass Yeah. It’s actually next week. The kids are like, “Are we starting this week?” I’m like, “Well, it’s August, so next week we’re doing this thing. Set your alarms. You’re going to bed early. We’ve got it all— but not today. It’s next week.” Because we’re ready for it, but also a little bit like, oh, boy, here we go. Once you fall into it, it’s not bad. But we do have to constantly—my husband and I—we have to sit down and reevaluate and figure out, like, okay, now that we have this situation, who’s doing what? And yeah, those meetings are very much important for us.
Jodi Mockabee They are. And hard. And the logistics get harder and harder as the kids become more independent and have their work schedules and sports schedules.
Lisa Bass Oh, my goodness. Yeah, we’re not there. But that sounds—
Jodi Mockabee It’s nuts. It’s nuts right now. And I’m just, like, grieving it immensely. It’s really surprising to me because I always loved breaks from my kids. I wasn’t one of the moms that was like, “Oh, I miss them so bad when I’m grocery shopping.” I was always like, “I’m going to go to the thrift store and I’m going to do some extra errands.” But this whole high school older kid thing is just so hard. We were a unit for so long. And even with school, we learned everything together. And now they’re taking college classes, and my oldest son is— he just left me for three days to go on a golf tournament, and he’s got classes, and he had to pack all of his bags because he had to go straight from his college classes to his golf tournament, and he’s in charge of all these logistics. And I’m just blown away that A) we made it to the point where he can even do that on his own. And then B) just it’s heartbreaking. He is missing at our table. And that is really sad. It just happens in a blink of an eye. It’s insane. So, yeah, the logistics get crazy, but then you also get to see them becoming these young adults, which I never got that far in my dreaming of motherhood. I only got as far as like, “Oh, let’s just get them to their teen years.” And now I’m like, “Oh gosh, wow, we haven’t got through the next stage.”
Lisa Bass Yeah, you’ll just learn as you go, I guess. I’ve heard other moms describe exactly what you’re saying where you have five kids, and every time you make dinner, you have seven plates and seven forks. And then next thing you know, they’re just not there because they have their job and all good things. But I’ve heard enough mom say that that I’m sure that I will definitely grieve that stage because it’s really not that far off. And to think they won’t be sitting there because they’re off doing their own thing— and yeah, I think that’s why moms, whenever you’re young, they always tell you, “Oh, that goes so fast,” or “Those are the easy days,” and you don’t believe them, but then you start to realize it more and more it was actually right.
Jodi Mockabee It’s true. I never had anyone prepare me either, but— I’m sure with you guys homesteading and doing all this stuff at home that each child has a role or several roles and different chores and things. And you put so much effort into teaching them these skills and how to contribute to the household and how to help outdoors and mow lawns and wash dishes and do laundry. And you spend years teaching them how to do it adequately, and then they get jobs and they’re gone.
Lisa Bass Right.
Jodi Mockabee And you’re like, “But you’re my dishwasher. I’m so confused.” I have to start washing the dishes again.
Lisa Bass Yeah. You realize that whenever they go somewhere. We’ll do that where we’ll divide up and all of the sudden I don’t have my older four, and I’m like, oh, my goodness how did I do this? This is— like I have to think through logistics on how I’m going to do all the things without the help that’s usually—
Jodi Mockabee It’s true. And it really does make you reflect on the beauty of everyone contributing to the home and everyone working together and all the work that went into that. It’s a really beautiful, functioning machine. But then when you lose one of the parts to the machine, you experience this jolt of like something’s missing. So yeah, that’s the stage that we’re in now as well. And so I think, man, that was a lot of effort to get them to adequately wash the dishes or mow the lawn when now we’re back doing it.
Lisa Bass Yep. For them to wash their own dishes in their own house. What?
Jodi Mockabee Yes, exactly. Exactly.
Lisa Bass One of the questions I get all the time from people who maybe are dreaming of having a large family or a larger family is how do you prioritize spending alone time with your kids when you have multiple kids?
Jodi Mockabee Yeah, that’s a hard one. I had seen lots of friends, you know, in my early mom days— it was a big trend to like date your children. And in the blogging world, these moms would post these elaborate dates they were taking their children on. And I always just kind of thought like, there’s no possible way that I can date all five of my children. That would be a night a week, so how does that happen? So we kind of just—for sake of efficiency, again—looked at our lifestyle and just thought, “How can we integrate special time with our kids and based off of what’s already going on?” And so that’s how we kind of got in the habit of if we had an errand to run in town or something like that, you bring one child with you and you do something in that errand that caters specifically to that child and their interests. And so my daughter is really into dogs and dog breeds and dog training and agility training, and so for her, it looks like taking the dogs with us when we go on an errand and bringing them to the dog park, which is just like my least favorite thing to do. I mean, they have acreage they can run on here. We don’t need a dog park. But it really speaks to her. She loves being there and looking at all the different breeds and having her dogs interact with other dogs. And it sounds so silly, but it really speaks to her heart. And so we’ll just walk alongside each other with the dogs and talk about the dogs. And none of this is stuff that I’m interested in, but she is. So it’s just really trying to connect on those things. And I think— I hate to use the word efficiency because it sounds robotic. The connection is the most important part, but we connect more at the dog park than we ever would going on a date to get ice cream or something like that because she loves dogs. So if I can meet her at her interest and connect with her there, that’s going to speak to her heart so much more than going out and getting an ice cream, believe it or not. And other kids have different passions. Another one loves fishing, and the twins love playing any kind of sport together. If I take them to the tennis courts and play with them for a half an hour, they just love it. They thrive in that environment. They love playing with me. So just kind of trying to target that one-on-one time with your child to whatever really speaks to their heart more so than just dating them. That’s important, too— those conversations. But when you have several children, you can’t carve out two hours to go out on a date. But you can swing by the dog park for 20 minutes before you go to the hardware store or something like that. So that’s just kind of what we have learned to do. I do love when families can fit in that special dating time or they go on trips with individual children or something. That’s super special. It just doesn’t work for our family.
Lisa Bass Yeah. At least not all the time. There might be some special times where that makes sense, and when that happens, you can take the opportunity. But I think a lot of people feel guilt around it as if they have to do that. So they’ll want large families, but think, “Well, then how will I date them or something?” And I’m like you. It takes a lot of intentionality. There’ll be times— I have one child who loves cooking, and there will be times when it’s like, but if I just knock it out here in the kitchen, I can get this done so fast. But I have to remember that this is a pocket of time, a moment of time where we could easily spend quality time together here in our own house just by being in the kitchen together. And sometimes you inconvenience yourself for doing things that you’d rather not do, but you can find those times pretty often— daily, really.
Jodi Mockabee Yeah. And I think that’s the nature of relationship is it’s not always convenient. The nature of being in a marriage is sometimes you have to listen to things you don’t want to listen to or be involved in things you don’t necessarily want to do, but it’s to support your spouse. And so the same would be with our children. If we want to build a solid relationship with them, it looks like sacrifice on our end of kind of having to take a longer time in making dinner or not being able to listen to your podcast while you’re making dinner because your child’s with you. So yeah, the small inconveniences add up to really big relational—I don’t know—pushes or or connection there.
Lisa Bass Yeah. No, that’s a lot of times what it is. Well, man, if you guys just play outside, you know you could listen to a podcast you’ve been meaning to catch up on, and it’s way more fruitful, too. And you feel like that connection has been made and you feel better about it if you take the time to just— you know what? This is going to take a little bit longer. We’re not going to be able to put on the show we wanted to or the music we wanted to, necessarily, but it’s worth it. And it’s there. It’s just structuring it so that you find those amounts of time. Actually, I had Abbie— I don’t know if you know Abbie from M is for Mama. I’ve had her on the podcast. And she talks a lot about her schedule and people ask her, “Well, how do you find alone time as a mom of ten?” And her answer is basically, “I don’t. Late at night, that’s when I’m talking to my teenagers.” Middle of the day, she’s focused on homeschooling and chasing around toddlers. And her—I guess—somewhat hard answer is just you don’t, and you don’t need it either. You don’t necessarily have to have that. You might think you do, but you don’t actually.
Jodi Mockabee And I mean, looking at Scripture, in Deuteronomy, it talks about teaching your children diligently. And that looks like conversations, teaching them about God on your walks. I love that part because it just— to me, it’s like, no, you’re not sitting at a little café table setting aside time to teach or connect with them. It’s while you’re walking from one place to another. And so finding those moments.
Lisa Bass Going from the garden to the barn.
Jodi Mockabee Exactly. And that’s where the teaching comes in. That’s where the connection comes in. It does not have to look like an elaborate time set aside. It literally is finding windows of connection in your daily activities.
Lisa Bass Yeah.
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Lisa Bass Okay. Before I let you go—because we didn’t touch half of this, but we could talk forever—let’s talk a little bit about simplicity in your home. You talk in your book about sharing— or you shared your philosophy on keeping a simple environment when it comes to toys, clothing, house goods. We already talked about sports and activities. So yeah. How do you keep your home simplified or why is that a priority for you?
Jodi Mockabee I think originally the quest for simplicity started with just having like a neurodivergent child and understanding that he was highly sensitive to any kind of sounds. The more sensory situations he was placed in, the harder it was for him to function. And so I kind of began researching autism and sensory processing disorder. And what are some of the tools that you can bring into your home to help these kids thrive and not struggle? And that’s where I uncovered just some really beautiful information, even through the Waldorf philosophy. Waldorf philosophy—for those who don’t know—is a school philosophy, and there’s actually schools all around the country that are Waldorf schools, but they have this philosophy of meeting the needs of the whole child. And I love how they approach that because they take into consideration sensory issues, too. And I think as adults, we probably a lot of us have sensory issues. I discovered I probably do.
Lisa Bass I definitely do.
Jodi Mockabee So once I kind of started understanding, for example, natural materials absorb sound and energy. Synthetic materials actually make noise louder because the sound bounces off of them and moves around the room. And so learning a little bit about Rudolf Steiner and his philosophy and then also learning about sensory processing disorder in children with autism, they are always encouraged to wear natural clothing—cottons and wool—and the families are encouraged to have as much natural furniture and materials in their homes so that sound can be absorbed versus made louder because neurodivergent children, they hear larger sound decibels. Everything’s louder for them. Everything’s brighter for them. And so trying to create this very calm and comforting environment really does kind of ground them and allow them to focus on what’s important, which is just hearing instruction or being a part of the family, not having to process all this extra noise. And when I say noise, I don’t just mean sound. I mean visually, too. So we started really just removing things from the walls that had no purpose, removing furniture that was just there to fill a space. If it didn’t have purpose, I started just taking it out of the house. We got rid of all the plastic, noisy toys. We slowly replaced—through birthdays and Christmas—those noisy plastic toys with wooden toys and not even very many. We just had a basket. At one time, we only had a basket of wooden blocks and those little Schleich animals and a little wooden kitchen for my daughter, and that was all we had in the house. And the kids played nonstop with those and came up with all different ideas. And it was just a really beautiful time with having young children realizing they don’t need a lot. They don’t need a lot of entertainment. And you mentioned boredom earlier and how important it is to have those windows of boredom. And it’s the same with toys in the household, is if you eliminate most of them, they’ll come up with creative ways to utilize what they do have. And that boredom is good. It only expands creativity. It doesn’t squash it. By giving them extra options, you’re actually taking away their ability to get creative with what they have, and you’re just filling in that space so that they don’t have to utilize that part of their brain. So yeah, it started with him just having specific needs, but then I started noticing I was much calmer. I started dressing them in neutral colors with no brands that were loud and vibrant on their shirts or anything to just kind of calm the visual in our home because, again, we had five children fast and furious and we were in a 1200 square foot home and it was loud. And so if I could kind of tame the noise—and I don’t just mean, again, through sound, but visual noise as well—then everyone was just calmer and it really did create a peaceful environment. And so that’s when we started just noticing— I would notice any time I opened a cabinet and there were layers of dishes or Tupperware things that never even got used, it would bother me. I would look at those and it was just extra traffic in my brain because it’s just stuff that’s not even used. And so we just started donating stuff that wasn’t used and really began to just, again, become a student of my kitchen. What do I use in my kitchen? What do I need? Do I need extra pots? Actually, no. I only can use up to four pots at one time. So why would I have six pots?
Lisa Bass Right.
Jodi Mockabee You know, so I just kind of started editing down everything to the point where our cabinets were very empty and our shelves were empty and the dressers were empty, but everything was utilized. So it became almost addictive to just see how simple we could get and to see if that really made a big effect on our mental well-being. And it really did. So I can’t say that that would be the case for every family, but oftentimes when I talk to a mom and she is feeling frazzled, to me, I ask her before any relational question, “What does your house look like? When you open your fridge, do you know everything that’s in your fridge? Or when you open your pantry, what does your pantry look like?” All those little things add up to this heightened sense of frantic, you know, not being able to feel like there’s any organization or structure in your life. So those are little things that we can do that we can control that will give us a sense of order and simplicity in our home.
Lisa Bass Yeah, yeah. I think it goes right along with that. Like that same mom. I also would probably look at the apps on the phone, too, because I know for me I can feel very chaotic. And even if the house is in order, if I’m just spending a little extra time each day or maybe every like 20 minutes checking in on something, my brain’s all cluttered. And there’s really nothing that chaotic going on around me, but I realized that that chaos came from, like you said, visual clutter, but then also packing extra things in your brain that just don’t need to be there. I’m like, “Why do I now know that this person did this thing? That does not need to be in my brain right now.”
Jodi Mockabee That’s one of those— when stories came out on Instagram, I just made a pact like, I can’t watch stories. They just suck up my time. And I always— when I’m done visiting them, I’m like, what did I gain from that? Absolutely nothing other than, like you said, mental clutter. Like, all of a sudden, oh, maybe I need a bike. It’s like, where did that come from?
Lisa Bass Like, wait a minute, why am I thinking this? Well, I’m all of a sudden— like, it’s good stuff. Like, now I know that so-and-so’s child—I don’t know—is reading some book, but I’m like, but why do I know this? This is, you know—
Jodi Mockabee It’s true. And I think that when you eliminate that, then the book issue— like being exposed to good books to read to your kids, that comes from a place of need. So you realize, oh, we just finished that book and now we need to find another new book. So now I’m going to look and find the new book. You don’t necessarily need to be exposed to it at the wrong time, you know?
Lisa Bass Yes. Yeah, I’m just thinking about this right now because I guess this happens to me around— I’m going to say late summer, early fall, that I somehow suddenly feel the need to remove myself from social media. Last year this time, I—for five months—had a dumb phone. And then this year, I’m on like day four of I deleted Instagram and Facebook off my phone. And so I haven’t looked at them like at all. I don’t know what it is about this time of year. It’s probably just that we’re wanting to like tighten the reins on literally everything and feeling like, okay, we got to buckle down. But oh, man, I feel like that clutter is just more stressful than any other clutter.
Jodi Mockabee It can be for sure. And as a young mom— I mean, I can honestly say now I have a normal phone. But as a young mom, I chose not to have a smartphone. And even when I finally got one so I could take pictures of my kids, I didn’t have a data plan, so I had to be in wi-fi in order to be able to look at anything. And so when we were out adventuring—which was a big part of our days—I had no access to any kind of social media or internet or anything. So I could just fully be present with my kids, and I’m so grateful for that decision. It was partly financial and partly just knowing myself that if I’m out somewhere with them and they’re all playing and they don’t necessarily need me, then I would probably sit and look at my phone. So that kind of prevented me from doing that. Now I have a phone and it does have a data plan and I can see the difference and it’s really sad.
Lisa Bass Yes, I think that you and I could go on about simplicity and parenting for a really long time. For anyone who wants to dive deeper than this conversation, make sure to check out The Whole and Healthy Family. If you want to just wrap up by telling us where best to find you and find your book or anything else you want to say, that would be awesome.
Jodi Mockabee Yeah, absolutely. The book will be available September 13th, and it’s available anywhere where books are sold. So Amazon, of course. I love sending people there because then you can leave a review if it was a positive experience for you, but also any other bookstores, it will be available there. You can find me on @JodiMockabee through Instagram. I also write creative curriculum for homeschool families, and that is all sold through my website, JodiMockabee.com. So you can find me in either place. And yeah, I hope that the book encourages you all and that you’re able to grab a nugget here or there that can just help bring peace and simplicity into your home.
Lisa Bass Well, thank you so much for sharing with us.
Jodi Mockabee Thank you so much for having me, Lisa.
Lisa Bass All right. Thanks for listening to this episode of the Simple Farmhouse Life podcast, this 150th episode. Thanks so much for listening, and I will see you in the next one.