How often do you think of family life as an adventure or delightful experience? If you and your children are having a good day, then you might buy into this idea. However, many of you are probably laughing hysterically now. What is delightful about the children fighting for the umpteenth time today? Sometimes I bet your family life feels like a jungle with screeching and swinging monkeys.
It can be all too easy to get caught up in trying to control what is happening in the home instead of enjoying what is. God blessed us with beautiful children and we are most in touch with that precious love when the house is quiet and we watch them peacefully sleeping. So how can we connect to that love and enjoyment in the midst of family life?
Spend Quality Time with your Children
Spending quality time with children requires your full and undivided attention. Oftentimes moms are so busy trying to manage everything that we have one ear to the children and our mind on a million other things. Our children talk to us and we say “uh huh” without really hearing them. We take them to their games, lessons, etc. but how much do we really interact with them? To be delighted by your children, you need to be fully connected to them. You need to listen and marvel at how truly wonderful they are. Participate in activities they love. Relish their laughter and their unique personalities. It won't be long before your children are grown and gone from the house.
Understand Each Developmental Stage
To really enjoy your children, you need to understand who they are and what they are going through. The journey of a child to adulthood is filled with a multitude of changes. It is helpful to get inside your child's shoes by learning about the various stages of development. For instance, the other day I stripped my 3-1/2 year to get him ready for his bath. I said, “Come on, it's time for your bath.” He looked at me with the meanest face he could muster and said, “NO!” It is much easier to deal with the defiance if you know that a 3 year olds' mission is to exert his independence. Here's this little guy wanting to grow up and be independent, but he knows deep down, he is still dependent on mom, and he doesn't like that. So I picked him up and held him in front of the mirror. He exercised his most defiant no over and over until he started laughing. Each stage of life, from infant to young adult, brings new behaviors and new growth. Educate yourself so you know what to expect from your child. Sometimes just understanding that your child is “normal” will help you relax as a mother.
Don't Be Afraid to Discipline
No one likes being around an unruly child. Children with a lack of discipline make motherhood stressful and less than pleasurable. Our job as mothers is to raise respectful, productive and loving adults. In order to do this, we need to teach our children boundaries. They need to know what acceptable and unacceptable behavior is. You have to set limits and avoid setting up a child-centered family. Children need to understand they are a part of a family and each individual has their own needs. Help them work together with other family members to create a peaceful and loving environment. An effective and disciplined family unit is truly a wonderful adventure.
Be Intentional about Motherhood
What would make motherhood more enjoyable for you? Take the time to reflect on what needs to change in your family to increase the level of enjoyment for you. Be intentional about those changes. Maybe you want to make time to take care of yourself as a mother. Perhaps you long to be a more consistent parent. This month I am focusing on encouraging independence in my family. My motto is “everyone will do what they are capable of doing for themselves.” Not only does this teach my children valuable skills, it frees me from unnecessary responsibility and gives me more time to be with my family. Setting intentions help you create a life you love.
Keep a Positive Reflection Journal
How do you want to see your children and your family life? Do you want to see motherhood as challenging or delightful? If you focus on the undesirable aspects of your family, then that is the experience you will create. If however, you can concentrate on the positive qualities of your children and your journey, you will create a rewarding family life. At the end of every day, take the time to record in a journal all the positive things your children said or did that day. Reflect on all the fun you had that day. Notice the wonderful qualities of each person in your family. And on your bad days when you find yourself wondering why on earth you ever decided to have children, pull out your journal and remind yourself what a truly amazing journey you are on.