Calling Mrs. Cleaver

Lessons to learn from TV's perfect mom.

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  • Take a look around. The world is moving faster and faster. The pressure is on families to work, sometimes two jobs, to keep up with the Jones'. (Whoever the Jones' may be.) I remember a mother looking me straight in the eye, telling me my 5-year-old wasn't going to have much of a chance at a scholarship because he hadn't had three years of soccer already. The drive to be a perfect parent can be hard to suppress.

  • How many times do we see a mother on TV, like Mrs. Cosby or Mrs. Brady, and find them hard to live up to? It can be depressing to compare their director's cut lives to our own. And why should we? Their lives are written, their scenes are played over and over until perfect. There are so many of us who would love a chance to replay a scene in our own home.

  • All those TV mom's don't need replays, they seem to do it perfect the first time. They may depress us at times with their spotless houses, and home baked bread. But maybe there is something we can learn from them, too.

  • So, here is where Mrs. Cleaver comes in. For those of you who didn't grow up in a house where your mother loved old black and white TV shows, Mrs. Cleaver is the ultimate mother from Leave It to Beaver, a television show in the 1950s. Warm baked cookies after school, a spotless home and perfect parenting moments mean she is impossible to live up to. Everything in her home was white, or black, without any spots, unless they were adorable polka dots on her crisply ironed dress. She always wore a dress and pearls. She was always wise, and always calm. Wouldn't it be nice never to make a mistake?

  • So what can we learn from this domestic goddess? How can we adopt some of her wonderful traits in today's not so wonderful world?

  • The dress makes the day

  • Oh how I loved Mrs. Cleaver's dresses and pearls. Have you sat around in your yoga pants and wondered where your motivation went? It's hanging in your closet. Get up and get dressed, every day, even if you don't want to. Spend time on yourself every morning, get dressed, at least jeans and a T-shirt. Life seems more do-able if you are dressed for the occasion.

  • Smile, it gets better

  • . It seemed to me that Mrs. Cleaver always smiled. Even when things were tough. If we follow this advice, we can be a little happier as well. Smile, even when it's hard, especially when it's hard. Show your kids you can do it.

  • Be there

  • . You're at your dentist appointments on time, the doctor visits on time, the movies on time. Be on time for your children. If you find yourself too busy, schedule it. Put your children on your schedule first and don't change it for anything. Make them number one.

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  • Make small traditions

  • Like her fresh baked cookies after school for Beaver every day, you, too, can make small traditions your children will look forward to. Whether it's a special handshake before bed, or a song or poem for wake up. Every small tradition can make the difference. Each of our children has created their own special handshake with their dad. This has become part of our nighttime ritual. My husband may not be able to spend hours with them, but the small rituals he has created are looked forward to every day.

  • Evaluate your life. Are you running too fast? Don't let yourself become overwhelmed with the non-important. We can all use a little advice from Mrs. Cleaver, let's put our families first and see what happens.

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Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.

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