A few weeks ago, at the request of my six year old I spent 2 weeknights in church. (Who can argue with a six year old who begs to go to church!) They had kids life camp activities in the Sunday school and they brought in this couple to talk to the parents. Being a single mom, I groaned. The last thing I wanted to hear was some couple telling me about how perfect their family was. But to my delight couple talked about all kinds of things, including how no family is perfect, and they mentioned this one thing about being deliberate in your parenting that really stuck with me.
It got me to thinking about all of the things that I do deliberately to keep my family close, and my sanity in tact.
- Girls night out At least once a month I go out, at night with friends, and no kids. We go dancing or out to a restaurant that does not have weird things hanging on the wall, or a playground.
- Exercise With the girls playing and the dogs barking I slip on my headphones for 15-20 minutes and get on the exercise machine that I recently moved into the game room. The tap me on my leg, and stare at me while I am doing it but, there is usually nothing that they need in that few minutes that I can’t do while sweating to the old school (usually Beastie Boys or KRS One)
- Sleep My friends may laugh and call me old, but my kids have a bed time, and so do I. If I am not in the bed with the covers on by 10:00 I am not a happy camper. I am pretty adamant about getting my 8 hours.
- We have fun together We do crazy things like have random spontaneous talent contests in the living room, and take crazy road trips. We laugh so hard when we are together you would thing there is something wrong with us. Last week, we set up a rock band in the living room. With a inflatable guitar, a teddy bear on drums and sunglasses for everyone. My teen was the band manager, she ran the ipod dock, picked our music, and named the band… We are officially called “The Lames”
- We talk I mentioned this in a post last month. We talk about everything, hard things, funny things, nothing at all. If we have an issue we discuss it. We talk about faith, and television, music… just whatever.
- We actively love each other I remind them very often of their strengths, not only their beauty, but their intelligence, and talent. We hug and kiss and are very affectionate. This was a bit hard for me at first, because I did not grow up in a family where affection was the norm. Hell, my dad shook my hand at the airport once when I came home from college. It was actually my oldest daughter that forced me to become more affectionate. She has always been very hugg-y and kiss-y so at some point I just decided to love on her as much as she does me. My little one is more like me, not naturally affectionate, but I smother her with kisses on a daily basis anyway. It is not strange to hear I love you mom, or I love you baby shouted across my house between commercials, or on the way out to play.
The couple that spoke at the church offered some other ideas, that I thought were good, like using you calendar to schedule time as a family, and buying a joke book, and entertaining the kids at dinner with your really bad jokes. Of course, the also offered their family activity kit for sale, but who’s to blame them, they do have 4 kids and they have to make a living.
No matter what you do, and how you choose to tackle it, I think if you just decide what is important to you as a parent and deliberately and consistently share those values with your children, then your family will evolve into exactly what you want it to be.