As a public school mama with a huge family-centric heart, I have found the adjustment to both girls being in school all day a rather rocky one. Having little ones at home was such a blessing and I never regretted my choice to stay home. I had plenty of time to play, read, teach and observe how they were growing. Now? Not so much.
When the school year began I had grand ideas of how to fill the after-school time with academic enrichment, character training, engaging field trips and the like. Imagine my shock when I discovered the girls were actually tired at the end of the day! They didn't want mom to be their teacher. They needed space, alone time and rest. I can't lie, I wanted to snatch them out of school, bring them home and give extra big hugs all around. This isn't how I pictured this going and it certainly didn't fit how I wanted to stay connected to my girls. I longed for time together and what they seemed to need was time to unwind and relax.
Desiring that our home be a haven, a place of peace and rest, I knew I had to adjust my plans, expectations and ideas about what our new normal would be. I don't believe in child-led families but I do believe in observing and following the cues of my children. So I put my schedule and expectations to the side. What I didn't do though was lose sight of my desire to be connected and influential in my children's lives. I keep that one with me at all times and continue to view things through the lens of developing a deeper relationship with my daughters.
I started (and continue) observing when the girls seem most responsive to the teaching and training I feel important. I look for cues as to when they want to talk and when they need to be left alone. I pray all the while that God would make me attentive to what, when and how to relate, connect and grow our relationship. Observing and following their cues has given me the ability to have more meaningful and fulfilling times together than if I had forced and demanded things go my way.
Though I have learned/am learning a lot, here are the top things.
1. Connection requires sacrifice. I have learned that the times when the girls are ready and most eager to relate are not always the most convenient times for me. I cherish my early morning routine of getting up before the rest of my family, reading my Bible, journaling and spending time in prayer. The girls are also early risers, so I set aside time from what I want to do to relate with them. I started having a book club with each girl 1 day a week before school. We meet, discuss the book and then take turns with who gets to choose the book for the next week. They are in love with the alone time they get with me, they love having the opportunity to choose books for me to read and I couldn't be happier with the one on one time to teach, train and mold their precious minds and hearts.
|Reading and discussing Helen Keller|
|Around the World in Eighty Days|
I also spend time each night at bedtime talking to them about their day. I've been a subscriber to iMOM's daily emails for awhile now. They have some great resources and I regularly use their pillow talk questions during my nightly conversations with the girls. The 10-15 minutes I spend alone with each of the girls is worth it. Sure there are nights I would rather just kiss them, say goodnight and go on my way, but this is important for our relationship. They won't always be here and I want to make the most of our time together.
2. Connection requires flexibility. Not one of my strong suits. In fact, I am a pretty inflexible person naturally, but if I can't learn to be flexible it's gonna make me snap. For instance, the girls had it on their minds that we were going to go the the grand opening of the newly renovated McDonald's (opened earlier this week). I never told them yes and it certainly wouldn't be my top way to nurture health or spend our money. All the time though, there was not a good reason to say no. So I became as"yes" mom. On the day it re-opened we went there and I bought both the girls a yogurt parfait for an after school snack. You would have thought that I was the worlds best mom. And so it goes, I am learning to say "yes" when I would normally say "no" in order to build relationships. Obviously no is still a hugely important word but I don't want no to stand in the way of nurturing relationship.
3. Connection is rewarding. I love, love, love that my girls most favorite place to be is home. I know that the future is unknown, that there may be rocky years ahead. I can get caught up in the "what if's" of the future or I can enjoy the present time of being connected. I want to build ties now that bind our hearts together forever so that when there are troubles (and yes, they will come) I have firm foundations as anchors for my soul.
Thanks for reading. Again, feel free to share in the comments your favorite ways to stay connected to your family. Blessings!