There are 12 things you must do with your daughter before she’s grown and each one will help to mold her into the woman she’s meant to become.

We have two daughters and I’ve spent the last 11 years wondering how in the world I will teach them that they are enough, that they have worth and that we love them. In fact, I recently posted a question to our readers on our instagram. A photo of my daughter and I on a mother/daughter date, and the caption, “If you could grant one thing for your daughter what would it be?” I’ll let you go read my answer, but it was a moment for me to refocus on my true role, to raise children who are a light in a dark world, children who love and can be loved, and children who do good.

The more I’ve pondered on that the more I’ve realized that I will need to actively help her discover who she is. She’s going to be 12 soon, and as parents we all know that the years fly by and suddenly she will spread her wings and fly, while I wonder when she grew up.

In an effort to remember my role as her mother and teacher I’ve decided on 12 things you must do with your daughter before she’s grown.

reading a book with your daughters

1.Read a Book Together

My mother often read to me as a child and I developed a great love for books and learning. Somewhere there’s even a picture of me reading to my Care Bear, who I loved.

What I didn’t realize was that reading together helped me to become a strong reader which helped me in school. Reading together helped me to feel loved, and I still do today. Reading together gave me a desire to read to my children which helps them feel loved. She set a pattern all through a little book called, The Pokey Little Puppy.


Cooking with your daughter

2. Make a Recipe Together

Other than being a mother I write the food blog, Oh, Sweet Basilbut don’t think that I just love food so much I’ve thrown this in there. Being in the kitchen together doesn’t have to be an episode of the Food Network, in fact, it’s almost better if the recipe doesn’t turn out. Let me explain.

Cooking together helps kids to better understand math and science. Even something as simple as using a 1/4 cup twice to measure out 1/2 cup of flour has now helped a child understand fractions. But even more than that, cooking with your children and allowing them to help makes them feel important. It allows mistakes to be made and that it’s ok. If dinner turns out awful, let her see you laugh and go pick up dinner. She needs to know that she can get back up again.

cooking with kids

One day, no matter who she becomes she will need to know how to be respectful and eat things others offer her even if she doesn’t like it. One day she will need to cook something and teaching her now will help her to be a more successful adult and to feel in charge of what she puts into her body. Healthy habits, fun in the kitchen and even budgeting are all a part of cooking.

Most important of all, cooking together, side by side makes communicating less intimidating. Many children report that school was fine, but you get cooking together and everyone loosens up and start to share things of the heart.

utah mountains

3. Go to the Mountains/Beach

I believe there are two type of people, mountain people and beach people. Give you daughter an opportunity to get out in nature and appreciate the fresh air, the beauty of the world and just how small they are compared to the creations of the world. There is a peace that is only found in nature and it is indescribable.

seaside oregon

Getting out into nature together removes all the distractions, opens you both up to feeling and talking and it helps her recognize peace. Once she knows that feeling she will seek it out in life. If she isn’t feeling that peace she will know to make changes to find it again or take herself to a place where she can readjust and get it back.

utah ballet

4. Enjoy the Arts Together

Every Christmas my mom took us girls to the Nutcracker. Girls need to know that creating beautiful things is a gift. Help her to experience good, uplifting things. Help her to see what hard work can become. And have fun!! Sometimes kids need to experience fun in new ways. I mean, just look at that chocolate face before we hit the ballet. She slept through the whole thing and still said it was the best night ever.

So much crying right before this picture was taken.

5. Cry Together

This is not hard in our house, both the one I grew up in and my own today. I have a tender heart and our daughters are showing signs of the same. Crying is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you know your feelings and that you can feel for others. Whether it’s a sad movie, talking about real things, or whatever, let her have a moment to know that moms cry too, and that it’s ok. Sharing in tender moments will create a more open relationship. Talking doesn’t even have to happen, just let yourselves be vulnerable.

rexuburg, idaho

6. Visit Your Alma Mater

Now that we are done crying, let’s go on a trip. This is the house I lived in my first year of college. I recognize this could be hard, but visiting my parents’ alma mater sealed up in my heart that I would go to college. Seeing where they met, the experiences they had and lives that were created that otherwise would not have happened all because of continuing their education made me feel empowered. Do not be afraid to encourage your daughters to get all the education they can. Resources not available? Teach them there is help. Didn’t go to college? Take them anyway. Tell them that they deserve it, and that you will help them get there.


7. Have an Overnighter

One of the best memories I’ve got is of spending a week at Girls’ Camp where my mother was a leader. I saw her love and lead. I saw her make plans and carry them out. I got her all to myself and learned who she was outside of being a mother. You don’t even have to leave the house. Send your spouse away with the kids or even take a whole day to be alone. The details don’t matter, what matters is being together without any distractions. I needed to see my mother outside of, “have you finished your homework?” and your daughter needs it too. You are not here to be her best friend, but you are here to love her and sometimes you must step away in order to really see each other again.

8. Make A Mailbox

When I was in high school my mother gave me a letter with a special trinket as a Christmas gift. In that letter she could tell me her deepest feelings for me and most important, I could read it over and over again. This sparked the idea to use a small box as a mailbox in my room and our daughter’s room. We can leave each other uplifting or apology notes, ask important questions she may not feel comfortable doing face to face and she can even seek counsel in the letters. It’s a safe and private way to communicate on top of face to face conversations.mommy daughters

9. Create a Tradition

I love variety. I make new dinners and desserts all the time. At one point I noticed that Cade and the girls were doing crepes every single Saturday morning. Oh, I was over it! And I got a little ornery about it. Cade, being the good man he is, pulled me aside and said, “One day our daughters will not care to be with their dad anymore. There will be bigger, better things and more interesting people. I need this tradition to help them know that I love them and that home is where they can always return to. It will be a tradition that helps us to have time together.”

Wise words from a gentle man. Create traditions together. We do mother/daughter dates and more and the girls know that this will continue forever.


10. Do a Challenging NEW Activity Together

Ok, golfing isn’t new for me, but I hadn’t done it in so many years it felt new! I think it’s important for your children to do something you’re good at and something a little more challenging. Take an art, cooking, or acting class, go do a sport you don’t usually play or whatever. The point is to have fun doing something new. As an adult it’s important to know how to try new things, get out and meet people, have successes and failures!

11. Serve Someone in Need

This is a really, really big deal in our house. We serve each other, neighbors, friends, family and even those we don’t know. Have you ever seen the Random Acts show? We even have a box full of dollar bills, window markers etc so we can do random acts of kindness. Serving together creates unity, teaches compassion and helps your children to be mindful of those around them. It doesn’t matter who they are, just serve because it is our duty in life to care for humanity.

As a young girl my parents constantly did the same with our family. I can remember giving up a Christmas gift and shopping for other so my parents could deliver gifts to a family in need. How did they know? Well, they were watchful always and when they saw a need they made sure to fill it the best they could. I am who I am today because of service and I hope our girls will continue the tradition.


12.Work Together

“Whistle while you work…” Our yard needed a lot of work when we moved in, just look at that grass!

Whether it was cleaning, doing laundry, yard work or tending the garden we had family chores growing up. My parents turned on the music, sang silly songs with us kids or told stories while we worked together. Life is work. It just is. You work to bring home the bacon, care for your home and children, and so on. Every young girl needs to learn to find joy in getting a job done.

Working together also teaches them to care for their surroundings. When we clean and do laundry we show respect for the things we have so that they will last longer. Please, please work together. Teach them that there is a sense of accomplishment and pride in a job well done. Teach them that work brings things to be. And you know what, working together is always better than doing things alone. You learn to be a team, communicate and solve problems.

Joy In The Journey

I don’t know what the future has in store for my daughters, but I do know that we will tackle things together because I will have shown them all their lives that they can do it, they matter, and there is joy in the journey.