As a mom, do you ever feel like if one of your little people complains one more time, you may literally morph into a wolf beast and join your pack with Jacob Black in the Twilight series? It’s that feeling that your life and parent-child relationships are out of control, and you’re unraveling with it.
As we head into the season of togetherness to celebrate family and friends, here are some key ideas and mindsets to help create meaningful relationships with your kids on a daily basis and with time cultivate more harmony in the home.
- Family Board Meetings – I know what you’re thinking. I’m not talking about having family lessons straight out of an episode of Full House. Actually in the book “The Family Board Meeting,” author Jim Sheils unpacks the successful steps to creating authentic and deep relationships with your kids through one on one dates. I know this isn’t a mind blowing concept, but Sheils shares story after story of the emotional breakthroughs, newfound bonds and deeper connections that parents and their children feel after implementing regular meetings in their lives. He encourages parents to treat these dates with the same importance that they would treat a business board meeting, hence the name. He suggests to schedule them quarterly, in advance, and for about 4 hours, offering them your full undivided attention. Each meeting includes a shared meal and an activity of the child’s choosing. Sheils also unpacks tips on how to facilitate successful conversations so as to not feel forced but allow your children to genuinely open up. I’ve personally started implementing “meetings” for each of my children, and it has become an exciting time that they look forward to every couple of months!
- Travel Together – Author and mother, Deborah Haile, has been traveling the world with her son Jonah since he was seventeen months old. Through “Jonah’s Global Footprint,” the children’s book series that she co authors with her son, Deborah helps encourage other parents to experience the many benefits of traveling with their kids. She says, “There are invaluable benefits to traveling the world with your kids. Modern life has many struggles and challenges, particularly for families. Between the school-run, after-school clubs and household chores, it can be extremely difficult to have quality time together, so Jonah and I spend that quality bonding time during our travels. Traveling allows you to fully dedicate your time to each other, creating a bonding experience like no other. Away from the demands of fast-paced, modern-day life, taking a vacation means doing fun activities together whilst making life-long memories both you and your kids will treasure.”
- Play More – Sometimes we just need to get out of our daily grind and have some childlike fun! Connect with your child through age appropriate games and make-believe fun – play freeze tag, ninjas or dolls. Go climb a tree, create a scavenger hunt, or make mud pies. Disconnecting a little and tapping into your creative side will raise your endorphins and in turn boost your mood, rejuvenate you and bring you closer to your children through a shared memory. Everyone wins.
- Invest In Your Child’s Hobby – As moms, we have a never ending to-do list to think about, and it’s tough to allow things like Minecraft take up our precious mental space. But when your child wants to describe their carefully crafted world to you, listen. When your child feels free to engage with you about something that interests him/her, there is a connection made. A mirror bond is created. They can see part of themselves in you – they can relate with you. This is a powerful pathway to building trust and respect in your growing relationship.
- Mindful Messages – Author of the book “Picking Up The Shards”, Anita Oommen, unpacks how to heal from a broken maternal relationship. Reflecting on her own experience, she emphasizes the importance for parents to be aware of how they speak to their children because we hold the power to create a child’s inner voice during the formative years. In a social media driven world, it is so important for parents to cultivate strong children grounded in who they are as a person. Be your kid’s most encouraging influencer.
- Focus On What Really Matters – Mom and life coach, Margaret Webb, encourages moms to ask the question, “What am I making this mean?” before doing anything. She suggests asking this question to get clear about what really matters in the moment because oftentimes it’s different from what might seem important at first. This small action is empowering because it offers big insights into what is actually true or helpful in a tough moment.
- Create Intentional Outcomes – Life becomes more meaningful when we live with intentionality. When I heard Maureen Gibbons, author of “Live Happy First”, suggest pausing and asking yourself what the desired outcome is from the interaction with your child, I thought YES! This is intentional parenting! To help figure out what outcome you want, think about asking yourself questions like: Do I want to win the argument? Do I want to connect with my child? Do I need to teach him something? Questions like this have the power to drastically change the direction of the interaction and produce a much better connection with your child.
- Be Un-offendable – When I realized that every hiccup in life wasn’t a personal infringement on my plans, time or capability to be a good mother, I could finally escape the negative cycle that kept my sanity spinning. For instance, when my daughter painted her hair with yogurt right before we needed to leave for an appointment or when my son yelled “I don’t love you anymore” because he didn’t know how to express his feelings when I said he couldn’t have a Tootsie Pop for breakfast, I had a choice to see it as a personal attack or to let it go. These moments tested my heart. Innocence does not warrant taking an offense. I learned that taking the focus off myself and my personal expectations allowed me more space to actually see my children’s heart and to parent them more graciously. This, I discovered, was the pathway to living a freer life where I was no longer reacting to what life threw at me but responding to it from a grounded perspective.
When circumstances no longer control your attitude but you do, you start to create the life and connections with your children that you truly want. When things get overwhelming, it’s easy to lose a sense of clarity. Hopefully, as 2020 comes to a close you can produce more peace and harmony within your home by having these clear intentions and insights on how to create meaningful relationships with your family.
Photo Credit :: Lindsay Herkert Photography