Do your kids know that you delight in them?
Someone asked me this question recently. I have been thinking about it and feeling a little convicted.
I’m pretty sure that my kids know I care about them, because I work really hard to take care of them. They see me on my feet all day responding to their needs, running around like crazy. I’m the kind of mom who fantasizes about being able to drink her coffee while it’s still hot. No doubt many of you can relate.
But, anyway, I’m pretty sure my kids know I love them. After all, I tell them I do. I work hard to show them (see above). I give them hugs almost every morning and night. I read them stories and try to listen when they talk. I schedule family fun nights.
They know I love them! Right?
Maybe if you’ve read my posts before this, you have learned that I’m a little bit Type A and I enjoy crossing things off my to-do list. Sometimes I regret that I am as accomplishment-oriented as I am.
Life is not ultimately about a to-do list. It’s about relationships. I know that. But it is hard to keep that truth at the forefront sometimes, when there’s so much to do.
Why do I homeschool? Is it because I get some high from being able to plow through x-amount of subjects before lunchtime? No. (But I won’t complain if that happens, either.)
I homeschool for a variety of reasons, but near the top of the list is a desire to love and nurture my kids by spending quality time with them. I want them to look back on their childhood and—even if they roll their eyes at the crazy things I did and how imperfect I was—I want them to know they were truly loved.
I’m in the habit of looking at my to-do list every morning, but I also wanted to be in the habit of adjusting my way of thinking about checking things off every day. So, I’ve tried a new little trick to help me remember what my priorities should be. I have a recurring reminder on my to-do list that says: “Do my kids know that I delight in them?” That’s the first thing I see, when I reach for my list.
Okay, this may seem cheesy to some. But it really has helped to readjust my frame of mind.
When I focus on trying to accomplish the minutiae on my list, I am only looking at the small picture. When I think about delighting in my kids, I’m thinking about the big picture.
Here are some ways I am trying to show my kids that I delight in them:
1) Smile at them, often, but especially first thing in the morning
2) Sing with them (happy people sing and whistle—have you noticed?)
3) Get on my hands and knees with them, and stay there for a while
4) Stop working/multi-tasking when they start talking to me, and give them my undivided attention, even if it’s only for five minutes (that’s usually all they want, anyway…my e-mail can wait)
5) Be interested in what they are interested in (even if it’s a really stupid super-hero figurine, or a joke I have heard 137 times already, or a slimy insect they found)
6) Speak with a cheerful voice
7) Actively look for ways to verbally praise their character and build them up
8) Not rush the bed-time routine. I have found that this is usually the time the kids open up to me the most. Because I am always tired and want them to just-go-to-bed, I am trying to be careful to not rush them too much, so I don’t miss out on this important time to connect with my kids. This might mean starting the bedtime routine sooner.
I want to point out that, I think it’s okay to be honest with my kids when I am having a hard day. (Goodness knows they see me having bad days!!) None of the above means that I have to be fake. But intentional cheerfulness and purposefully showing delight in my kids is a gift I can give them.
Since thinking more about delighting in my kids and less about getting everything done, I am also more relaxed and am having more fun with the kids. I try to remember that God is the only one who accomplishes his to-do list every day, anyway!
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; Other image by Amy Koons.