Five Mirrors in My House04/18/2013
Connecting with my Party of Five
Being Happy by Meagan Francis
I have five kids. One is a moody teenager, one is a moody two-year-old, and the three boys in between span a variety of ages and stages. And I’ve seen just how easy it can be to go a whole day without doing much besides chasing them out the door to the bus in the morning and then chauffeuring them around all evening, without ever having a moment to just be together. It can be hard not to get caught up in a go, go, go lifestyle that has us so busy we barely have time to breathe, let alone talk to each other.
I’ve found, though, that even on my busiest days, being mindful to connect with each of my kids leaves me feeling calmer and more satisfied. Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to do it:
To me, spending time together as a family is just as important as outside activities, so I set aside a couple of hours, several evenings a week, just to be together – no playdates, no practices, no standing meetings. It’s a lot easier to connect when we have time to relax and just hang out.
Find common interests.
Since four of my five kids are boys, it’s easy to let all their little obsessions blend together in a blur of action figures and attack kicks. But being a mom is so much more fun when I can find some common ground with my kids! I can’t play a video game to save my life, but I can read books that interest them or teach them to bake.
Step outside your comfort zone.
Sometimes embracing your child’s interests can be a little scary! Take it from me: two weeks ago, I got on downhill skis for the first time. I was more than a little bit terrified, but my oldest son is into skiing, and was so excited to share one of his favorite interests with the rest of his family: how could I say no? I have to admit, I had fun, and now we have a family activity we can all enjoy as the kids grow.
I’m a big believer in the power of regular family dinners. There’s something about sitting down together and sharing a meal that brings out great conversation and makes everyone feel at home. But eating together doesn’t always have to mean a dinner meal. For example, when I know we’ll be away from home at dinner time, I often take a few minutes to sit down with the kids as soon as they get home from school and share a snack. We still get to sit, eat, talk about our days and connect - without the time and pressure of a big meal.
As a mom, I do a lot of talking. “Wash your hands!” “Take turns, please.” “Did you get your homework done?” With all the directing and questioning I do just to keep the household running, I sometimes have to remind myself to listen, too. Taking a moment to turn away from whatever else I’m doing to look my child in the eye and really listen to what they’re saying helps me get to know them better and understand their problems and point of view. Most important, it helps them realize that they are important and that I really care about what they have to say. What better way to connect?
How do you connect with your kids?
For more happy thoughts from Meagan visit http://thehappiestmom.com/.
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