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Family History Tips for Busy Parents By Jana Greenhalgh, The Genealogy Kids

I know what busy means.

In any given day, I try (try is the key word) to keep track of six young kids, feed them, keep them reasonably clean, drive them around town, and insure they practice their music and do their homework & chores. I battle the never-ending laundry pile, do dishes, weed the yard, can the garden veggies, shop, remember birthdays, fulfill church callings, volunteer at the school, run to the dentist, orthodontist or doctors’ offices, tidy the house, exercise, entertain the toddler, pay the bills, provide meaningful activities for my children that are not just video games, teach them, guide them, correct them, pick their Legos out of the carpet.

I’m also a family historian. I strive to stay current with what’s up in the genealogy world and maintain and improve upon my college genealogy education. So over the past several years, I have earned a professional genealogy credential, taught online for BYU-I’s research degree program, served on the UGA (Utah Genealogical Association) board of directors, helped my neighbors & church members with their research, given presentations, attended conferences, and occasionally squeezed in some of my own research (if I’m lucky).

I do (or try to do) all of these things because FAMILY and FAMILY HISTORY mean a lot to me.

A few years ago, a sudden epiphany changed my life. In a stressful moment of an inner personal battle, I realized that my role as MOM and my role as FAMILY HISTORIAN don’t have to compete. It’s not “cook dinner OR do family history.” It’s not “run the kids around to basketball games OR teach them about their ancestor.” These two roles can be combined! I can cook a family favorite for dinner and tell my kids where it came from. I can tell them stories about their ancestors while we’re in the car on our way somewhere. I can involve them in my own family history research. I can encourage them to explore their family tree online. I can plan family vacations around ancestral homes or historical sites.

So, my #1 tip for BUSY parents who want to include family history in life is this:

Stop looking for free time to squeeze in family history … just make it part of what you’re already doing. Family history doesn’t need to be elaborate for children to benefit from it. Keep it simple! Pat yourself on the back for indexing one batch of names WITH your 10-year old on a Sunday afternoon. Reward yourself with a couple of Grandma’s cookies when you bake her recipe with the kids. Congratulate yourself if your summer vacation includes at least one stop at an ancestor’s tombstone or hometown.

This takes a little bit of thought, but pretty soon, you’ll find that family history becomes an easy habit. Almost everything we do in life can be related to our ancestors in some way or another. Making family history a routine part of life is a fantastic way to parent. It’s still a busy life, but it’s a good life.

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